"We need wall"
December 20, 2018 3:08 PM   Subscribe

Did you want a quiet week? Events in US politics are occurring at an impossible to comprehend pace. Today, the President announced that Secretary of Defense Mattis will be "retiring" at the end of February. The Secretary's resignation letter cites differences of opinion with the President on "treating allies with respect and also being clear-eyed about both malign actors and strategic competitors." The President announced he will not sign any government spending bill that does not include funding for a border wall (WaPo), leaving the government headed toward a partial shutdown. New work requirements could take food stamps away from 750,000 people (Vox). A new policy will require asylum-seekers to be turned away and wait in Mexico (Vox) as they wait months or years for their applications to be processed. Ethics scandals around the Mueller investigation developed for both the acting (WaPo) and prospective (WSJ) Attorneys General.

• The President announced the immediate withdrawal of US forces from Syria (Washington Post) via Twitter, startling aides and allies as it upended plans announced as recently this week to continue to maintain a military presence in formerly ISIS-controlled territory. The decision provides no information on the fate of the US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces and the US's Kurdish allies in the region. The decision does not appear to have gone through the standard interagency review process, and promptly led to U.S. officials trying to slow Trump’s ‘everybody out’ of Syria Order (Daily Beast). The White House is referring questions to DOD, which is in turn referring questions to the White House. “Whether do we need the presence of the American military, I guess we do not need that presence,” Vladimir Putin happily agreed. But that's not all: the White House has also reportedly ordered the Pentagon to prepare plans to withdraw troops from Afghanistan (NBC).

• The President on Thursday announced his refusal to sign any spending bill that does not contain money for a border wall, leading large portions of the government headed toward a shutdown on Saturday. The House GOP will seek to force through a new bill with $5B in wall funding, but it's unclear whether this even has enough support to pass the lame duck House, let alone the Senate. Republican Senators were unamused as they headed to the airport: 'Are you ruining my life?': Republican senators in disbelief over Trump shutdown threat

• Former National Security Advisor Michael Flynn requested to delay his sentencing after Judge Sullivan lambasted the defendant, threatening prison time: "I’m not hiding my disgust, my disdain, for this criminal offense." The White House, confusingly, continued to stand by Flynn: Trump Thinks Flynn Is No Snitch Despite All His Snitching (Daily Beast). Emptywheel: In Defense of Emmet Sullivan: Van Grack Suggested Mueller Did Review Whether Flynn’s Behavior Amounted to Treason

• The Treasury Department announced its intention to lift sanctions on Oleg Deripaska's companies after he stated plans to sell portions of his ownership to the suspicious VTB Bank and Glencore, both entities linked to the Russia investigation, following a substantial lobbying effort by the oligarch. Deripaska (and Trump) also got himself reinvited to the World Economic Forum in Davos. The move comes as Treasury announces the imposition of sanctions targeting Russians involved in election interference and hacking the World Anti-Doping Agency, including the USA Really propaganda operation.

• WaPo: Ethics officials said Whitaker should recuse from the Mueller probe, but his advisers told him not to, officials say. Whitaker will now be briefed on Mueller's investigation going forward, despite the advice of DOJ ethics officials. WSJ: Trump’s Attorney General Pick Criticized an Aspect of Mueller Probe in Memo to Justice Department. Bill Barr also gave his memo opining the special counsel's obstruction of justice inquiry is “fatally misconceived” to a top White House lawyer.

• House Speaker Paul Ryan gave his farewell address. MSNBC's Chris Hayes describes how Ryan has "built an entire career around what has been for Republicans a very successful con." Vox's Tara Golshan summarizes Ryan's relationship to Trump's nationalism Paul Ryan wants you to know he has identified what’s wrong with the Republican Party, and "the problem with politics today, according to Paul Ryan, has nothing to do with Paul Ryan." Slate's Jim Newell tells the story of how House Republicans Got Away With It—Again: "Roughly five seconds after Nancy Pelosi takes the gavel on Jan. 3, House Republicans, as if struck by epiphany, will turn to each other and say, Good GOD, have you noticed the debt?!" HuffPost rips into Ryan's entire project with Matt Fuller and Arthur Delaney's And What Can You Say About Paul Ryan?: "Ryan is the man who, perhaps more than anybody else, normalized Trump, who led reluctant Republicans back to Trump, who went along with the president even when he knew he shouldn’t and traded his dignity for a tax cut."

• BuzzFeed: A Judge Strikes Down Sessions' Decision Limiting Violence-Related Asylum Claims. Judge Emmet Sullivan, who appeared as a special guest star on Tuesday in the role as Michael Flynn's judge, is back on Wednesday ruling against most of former AG Sessions' June order making it more difficult for people to claim asylum. "US District Judge Emmet Sullivan struck down parts of the June decision from Sessions that Sullivan found violated federal law, and ordered the federal government to return to the US the plaintiffs who had been deported because of Sessions' decision." Judge Sullivan found that Sessions' order was "fundamentally inconsistent" with the credible fear standard set by Congress. And now Vox reports Trump is officially turning back all asylum seekers who come to the US through Mexico.

• Buzzfeed: Hundreds of Detained Migrant Children Will Be Released By Christmas After the Trump Administration Relents On Background Checks. "The administration had required background checks for everyone in a household before a child could be released to it, but the administration acknowledged Tuesday that the additional checks were unnecessary." However, experts caution that [sponsors will still have to submit fingerprints](https://twitter.com/DLind/status/1075127930999726080), and the administration makes no promise they won't continue to be used by ICE, which will still deter families from coming forward. See also the AP's in-depth investigation: Where Have All the Children Gone? "As the year draws to a close, some 5,400 detained migrant children in the U.S. are sleeping in shelters with more than 1,000 other children. Some 9,800 are in facilities with 100-plus total kids, according to confidential government data obtained and cross-checked by The Associated Press."

Talking Points Memo's annual corruption awards' nominees have been named in the following categories: Best Scandal — General Interest; Best Scandal — Local Venue; Meritorious Achievement In The Crazy; Best Conspiracy Theory; Best Campaign Gaffe; Literary Achievement In 280 Characters; and Outstanding Ineptitude In the Cabinet.

IN OTHER HEADLINES:

• CNN: Trump Signed Letter of Intent For Trump Tower Moscow Project Despite Giuliani Insisting He Didn't. (Giuliani later admitted to the NY Daily News that Trump signed a 'bullshit' letter of intent.)

• CNN: What 2018 Looked Like for the Mueller Investigation A month-by-month timeline, tracking the major developments and the number of defendants charged, convicted at trial, pleaded guilty, and sentenced to prison. See also Mother Jones's David Corn: Remember the Big Story in the Russia Scandal: Donald Trump Betrayed America—In the flurry of new developments—and disinformation—it’s easy to lose sight of this essential and proven fact.

• Mother Jones: Every Insane Thing Donald Trump Has Said About Global Warming Fun fact: "Trump and three of his children signed a 2009 letter to President Barack Obama calling for a global climate deal" (before changing his mind completely a few months later).

• NYT (tempting Betteridge's Law of Headlines): Trump Still Makes Money From His Properties. Is This Constitutional? An interactive guide to Trump's conflicts of interest and potential emoluments clause violations.

• NYT: Trump Foundation Will Dissolve, Accused of ‘Shocking Pattern of Illegality’; CNN: Think the Trump Foundation case is over? Think again.

• Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse writing for Crooked Media: Stop Losing: A Senator’s Battle Plan for Beating the Right

• GQ's Zach Baron: The Fresno Bee and the War on Local News, featuring Rep. Devin Nunes.

Opinion: It Is So Much Worse Than I Thought How Can a Family that Can't Run a Charity Run a Country? (Charles M. Blow, NYTimes)

• Clickhole, a satirical publication, sums up what reading the news feels like these days: Legal Bombshell: Mueller Flipped Trump’s Confidant’s Lawyer’s Friend’s Associate Gorpman (Who Could Testify Against Bleemer!) And It’s Not Even Lunchtime

Today is the 670th day of the Trump administration. There are 683 days left until the 2020 elections.

Keeping Track: The Weekly List (Amy Siskind); What The Fuck Just Happened Today?; The Weekly Sift; The “Everything Terrible The Trump Administration Has Done So Far” Omnibus; Perjury Chart: Trump Associates’ Lies, False, or Misleading Statements on Russia to Federal Authorities (Just Security)

Previously in U.S. Politics Megathreads: "Very legal & very cool"—Individual 1

Megathread-Adjacent Posts and Sites: • Let's Get to Work (New Green Deal) • Bring Democracy To America (John D. Dingell, The Atlantic) • Spike in hate crimes for the third straight year.George H. W. Bush obituary threadHow a serial sex abuser got an extraordinary deal (Trump friend Jeffrey Epstein) • Truth Sandwiches (George Lakoff, framing, etc.) • OnceUponATime's Active Measures site • Chrysostom's 2018 Election Ratings & Results Tracker

Elsewhere in MetaFilter: On MeTa, what Mefites are doing to improve things; and on AskMe, nonpolitical volunteering from home.

As always, please consider MeFi chat and the unofficial PoliticsFilter Slack for hot-takes and live-blogging breaking news, the new MetaTalk venting thread for catharsis and sympathizing, and funding the site if you're able. Also, for the sake of the ever-helpful mods, please keep in mind the MetaTalk on expectations about U.S. political discussion on MetaFilter. Thanks to Doktor Zed and Box for helping to create this thread. U.S. Politics FPPs are generally collaborative, and a draft post can be found on the MeFi Wiki.
posted by zachlipton (2376 comments total) 135 users marked this as a favorite
 
Congratulations to Chuck Hagel on one of the shortest tenures as Sec. of Defense. Another terrible appointee by Obama.

-- @realdonaldtrump, Nov. 24, 2014
Hagel lasted 721 days.
Mattis lasted 700 days.
posted by Rhaomi at 3:13 PM on December 20 [103 favorites]


I can't even. I'm waiting to hear if I'm on shut-down or not, possibly losing 2 months of work, and listening to Mattis's resignation letter. This is chaos.
posted by acrasis at 3:13 PM on December 20 [51 favorites]


Also, re:the shutdown threat, I'd love for any parliamentary experts to comment on the feasibility of outgoing House Republican moderates joining with Democrats on a discharge petition to get around Ryan and bring a clean continuing resolution to the floor. After the exasperated comments from Corker, Collins, Curbelo, etc., I suspect there's a veto-proof supermajority in both chambers ready to overrule Trump's veto if he goes through with it.
posted by Rhaomi at 3:17 PM on December 20 [5 favorites]


Yeah, the guidance we’ve received so far at USDA is, to be kind, nonsensical.
posted by wintermind at 3:18 PM on December 20 [18 favorites]


Chris Hayes: It's gonna be Trump, Miller, Mulvaney, Jared and Ivanka roaming around a big empty White House like The Shining before this all over.

No work and all TV make Donny something something.
posted by Barack Spinoza at 3:20 PM on December 20 [93 favorites]


My goodness, these posts get more and more monumental. How is anyone supposed to get through them?
;-)
Kidding, I love you.
posted by mumimor at 3:21 PM on December 20 [13 favorites]


Also, re:the shutdown threat, I'd love for any parliamentary experts to comment on the feasibility of outgoing House Republican moderates joining with Democrats on a discharge petition to get around Ryan and bring a clean continuing resolution to the floor.

I'm no parliamentary expert, but they tried something like that earlier today after Pelosi introduced a privileged resolution for a wall-free CR. It was voted down, at least among those who showed up to vote.

It's looking like the House will vote for a spending bill that contains the wall funding (if McCarthy gets off Fox News and shows up to vote). The Senate has already skedaddled and wants nothing to do with this, and surely does not have 60 votes for $5 billion worth of wall funding (there's the alarming theoretical possibility they go nuclear over this, but it's really hard to imagine they have 50 votes and the will to do that either). Assuming the House passes this tonight, that makes a shutdown a whole lot more likely, and it's not even clear how many Senators will even show to work tomorrow.
posted by zachlipton at 3:26 PM on December 20 [1 favorite]


[Busy day and a shiny new thread; let's try and keep it functional as long as we can.]
posted by cortex (staff) at 3:26 PM on December 20 [27 favorites]


I miss the quiet of late Decembers past when the news hole was filled with Best of lists and updates on Santa's last known position.
posted by notyou at 3:27 PM on December 20 [117 favorites]


Trump, last March: "So many people have been leaving the White House. It’s actually been really exciting and invigorating. I like turnover. I like chaos. It really is good."

Politico's Dan Diamond racks up a list of major departures from the Trump administration:
In less than two years, Trump has gone through

— Three chiefs of staff
— Three national security advisors
— Two Secretaries of State
— Two DHS secretaries
— Two HHS secretaries
— Two VA secretaries

With Attorney General, UN ambassador, Interior, Defense vacancies now to fill
George Conway, on Mattis's resignation letter: "Not a word of praise for Trump. Speaks volumes."

TNR's Jeet Heer: Everything to date has been the calm before storm. Things are going to get really crazy and strange now.
posted by Doktor Zed at 3:31 PM on December 20 [81 favorites]


I will believe that House Republican moderates will do something productive about this on the day that they first do ANYTHING productive.
posted by delfin at 3:32 PM on December 20 [9 favorites]


Didn't Mattis send troops to the border to "stop the migrant caravan" a little while ago? And wasn't Mattis a government executive (a Cabinet member) as kids were being detained by the American government and separated from their parents? And wasn't he in charge of planning a possible nuclear war against North Korea?

Great public image, but I hope to God neither of my sons turns out like he did.
posted by JamesBay at 3:33 PM on December 20 [52 favorites]


I am super leery of conspiracy thinking and generally inclined to point out most things have mundane causes. Probably half the crazy things going on in the last week or two are themselves just the natural results of a corrupt and incompetent administration. But in total this all feels like a whole lot of crazy to be happening all at once, particularly timed to a point of the year when lots of people roam off onto vacations and long weekends.

Every time I see the other shoe drop I'm more certain there's another other shoe still coming and it's bigger than the last.
posted by scaryblackdeath at 3:33 PM on December 20 [9 favorites]


I am basically in shock and afraid right now of who might be appointed as SecDef. There are no adults right now to put any kind of brakes on anywhere, and I find I am shockingly unprepared to handle a US governed entirely by skin suits full of bees.
posted by corb at 3:37 PM on December 20 [112 favorites]


Thanks zachlipton, Doktor Zed, and Box for this shiny new thread. I plan to take a hiatus from the megathreads for at least the month of January, so this will be my last one for a bit. I want to recommend the all-women-hosted Mueller, She Wrote podcast for anyone who, like me, eventually lost their attraction to Pod Save America as well as those who love PSA. Mueller, She Wrote includes a fantasy indictment draft! Apologies if this has been posted before; I did not a search and did not see it.
posted by Bella Donna at 3:42 PM on December 20 [37 favorites]


When in doubt, when faced with a Trump vacancy, expect Mick Mulvaney.

Though there are so many other tempting choices... John Bolton! Stephen Miller! Ted Nugent! Judge Jeanine! Can Diamond and Silk split the job fifty-fifty?
posted by delfin at 3:43 PM on December 20 [10 favorites]


is today just nuts has something to do with it being his 700th day in office?
posted by numaner at 3:43 PM on December 20 [1 favorite]


HuffPost, Democrat Tapped For Climate Panel Channels Exxon In Critique Of Green New Deal Plan: Rep. Kathy Castor’s appointment effectively ends the high-profile push for a Green New Deal select committee.
The Democratic lawmaker tapped to lead a revived House of Representatives panel on climate change dismissed calls to bar members who accept money from fossil fuel companies from serving on the committee, arguing it would violate free speech rights.

In an interview with E&E News, Rep. Kathy Castor (D-Fla.) confirmed incoming House Speaker Nancy Pelosi asked her to chair a long-defunct select committee on global warming. Despite weeks of protests demanding Democrats focus efforts on drafting a Green New Deal, the sort of sweeping economic policy scientists say matches the scale of the climate crisis, Castor said the plan was “not going to be our sole focus.”

She then suggested that barring members who have accepted donations from the oil, gas and coal industries from serving on the committee could be unconstitutional. “I don’t think you can do that under the First Amendment, really,” she said.
...
In an interview with HuffPost on Thursday evening, Castor walked back her earlier statement, calling it an “inartful answer.” But she said she did not know whether, as chairperson, she could bar members on the committee from serving if they accepted fossil fuel donations.
...
The restoration of the select committee on climate change puts an end to a month-long effort to replace it with a panel focused specifically on crafting a Green New Deal, an umbrella term for a suite of policies that would include shifting the United States to 100 percent renewable energy over the next decade and guaranteeing high-wage, federally backed jobs to workers in outmoded industries.
...
Castor said the select committee she agreed to chair would likely have subpoena power, but not legislative power. She said she did not know yet which individuals or companies she would use that power to investigate.
posted by zachlipton at 3:44 PM on December 20 [10 favorites]


Also in today's news, Buzzfeed's Zoe Tillman reports: Former Senate Intelligence Committee Staffer James Wolfe Will Serve Two Months In Prison For Lying to the FBI—Wolfe pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI about his communications with reporters while he was head of security for the Senate Intelligence Committee.

On Twitter, she adds: "Meanwhile, in another court: The 4th Circuit has agreed to put the emoluments clause case filed by DC and MD against Trump on hold while they take up the government's appeal. Arguments are set for the week of March 19. This puts the entire case on hold while the 4th Circuit considers it. That means the Trump Org and federal agencies won't have to comply with the subpoenas just yet. "
posted by Doktor Zed at 3:44 PM on December 20 [11 favorites]


Yeah, the guidance we’ve received so far at USDA is, to be kind, nonsensical.

Sooooo new regs re: work requirements + government shutdown = ??????

I remember the last time the government shut down and I worked at a state agency that administered USDA programs. USDA's entire website shut down, leaving us without any access to specific USDA guidance and policy.

Oh, and when the website came back? Everything had changed and all of our links to their site were broken. It was GREAT. I'm so excited for it to happen again! /s
posted by elsietheeel at 3:46 PM on December 20 [13 favorites]


"“I don’t think you can do that under the First Amendment, really,”

It is a bit complicated, because donations from employees of oil and gas companies get reported as coming from those industries, but there's no reason to necessarily believe that everyone who works for such a company shares the views or incentives of their management. I dunno about you guys, but I personally choose not to donate to my company's corporate PAC for that very reason. But money I have given to Democratic candidates this cycle -- including some I have strong reason to believe my company doesn't like -- probably shows up as being "from the military industrial complex" on those charts.
posted by OnceUponATime at 3:49 PM on December 20 [18 favorites]


[Rep. Mark Meadows (R-N.C.)] tells federal employees who won’t get paid during shutdown: You signed up for this (Colby Itkowitz and Mike DeBonis, WaPo)
Rep. Ryan Costello (R-Pa.), who decided not to seek re-election this year and has been increasingly critical of Trump, blasted Meadow’s comments in a tweet:
Great way to recruit highly-qualified people to serve in gvt rather than higher pay in private sector. Not only will u make less, boys & girls, but your paychecks will always be subject to kamikaze political stunts in order to avoid attacks from Rush & Hannity. Awesome. https://t.co/cIUZ3iP6DE
— Ryan Costello (@RyanCostello) December 20, 2018
posted by ZeusHumms at 3:51 PM on December 20 [75 favorites]


Didn't Mattis send troops to the border to "stop the migrant caravan" a little while ago? And wasn't Mattis a government executive (a Cabinet member) as kids were being detained by the American government and separated from their parents? And wasn't he in charge of planning a possible nuclear war against North Korea?

Yes to all of this. I don't know why the fantasy of Good Guy Mattis persists.
posted by poffin boffin at 3:52 PM on December 20 [55 favorites]


There’s no plan, just a guy that will say anything to get through the next 10 minutes. Syria? Pull the troops out, who cares, we’re not building a Trump Tower Damascus. Shutdown? Fine, shut it down, I told people there’d be a wall, so I want a wall, and the government doesn’t do anything, anyway. Mattis? Never liked the guy, hardly knew him, kind of a Democrat. See you guys at Mar-a-Lago.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 3:56 PM on December 20 [30 favorites]


Yes to all of this. I don't know why the fantasy of Good Guy Mattis persists.

I think so some of us don't go entirely mad we have to believe that regardless of all evidence to the contrary there is someone between Trump and Nukes that isn't a complete idiot. But yeah. He's not a good person, and may god have mercy on all of us.
posted by Homo neanderthalensis at 3:58 PM on December 20 [21 favorites]


Sarah Kendzior retweeted this from investigative journalist Olga Lautman:

Why is Trump hurrying so quick to deliver for Putin?
In a matter of 72 hrs
-Russian base in Venezuela
-Deripaska companies sanctions lifted
-Mattis pushed out
-Troops being pulled from Syria
-Troops possibly being pulled from Afghanistan


And, uh, when you put it like that, it all seems pretty concerning. Personally, I had the uncomfortable thought that: if troops are being pulled from Syria, and if troops end up being pulled from Afghanistan...where are they headed next? Is someone going to decide they're needed elsewhere? What's the next war, and who does it profit?
posted by yasaman at 4:02 PM on December 20 [93 favorites]


look, I grew up on Star Wars and Final Fantasy IV. I'm never not going to hope that the comparatively less-bad guy shanks the really really bad guy at a dramatically opportune moment.

the fulfilment of my fantasy has turned out to be a resignation letter from which one can easily read some thrown shade between the lines. it's not much, but my expectations were low.
posted by prize bull octorok at 4:03 PM on December 20 [47 favorites]


Every time I see the other shoe drop I'm more certain there's another other shoe still coming and it's bigger than the last.

People on Capitol Hill and in the media are rattled

CBS's Rebecca Kaplan "“President Trump is plunging the country into chaos,” Schumer says. Both he and Pelosi mention nosedive in the stock market today."

Sen. Chris Murphy: "A Secretary of Defense quitting over a public disagreement with a President whose foreign policy he believes has gone off the rails is a national security crisis. No way around it."

WaPo's Seung Min Kim: "House leaders did NOT get a heads up about Mattis departure, according to a GOP leadership aide"

Rep. Will Hurd (R-TX): "I slept better at night knowing that General Mattis was protecting our nation, our allies, and our brave men and women in uniform – many of whom I’ve worked with in the trenches. This is bad news for the nation and the security of the world."

CNN's Jim Acosta: A House GOP member to CNN on Mattis departure: "The wheels may be coming off."

MSNBC's Chris Hayes: "The wheels are coming off the bus, except they've been coming off the bus for almost two years and the bus is still just grinding along the pavement propelled by the inertial force of Republicans not caring."
posted by Doktor Zed at 4:03 PM on December 20 [128 favorites]


if troops are being pulled from Syria, and if troops end up being pulled from Afghanistan...where are they headed next? Is someone going to decide they're needed elsewhere? What's the next war, and who does it profit?

It's either going to be Iran or somewhere other than Iran and my bet's on the former.
posted by Rust Moranis at 4:06 PM on December 20 [13 favorites]


It's either going to be Iran or somewhere other than Iran and my bet's on the former.

Or the border.
posted by supercrayon at 4:09 PM on December 20 [4 favorites]


Or both. :/
posted by sexyrobot at 4:10 PM on December 20 [4 favorites]


The Secretary of Defense resigning over a hair-brained* scheme to save the presidency by suddenly declaring war on Iran sounds all too plausible, especially if said president had a Mueller posed to drop truth any minute.

* Yes, hair.
posted by Celsius1414 at 4:14 PM on December 20 [24 favorites]


I understand the "Mattis isn't a good guy!" position but I think it misses the point. This is the first high level person to resign in protest; everyone else was forced out. And Mattis has the most stature and respect of anyone in an unelected position in the government (whether you believe he deserves it or not).

Everyone has been saying "why don't these people resign!" Well, here it is. Should he have done so sooner? Maybe so, but that doesn't make this any less of an important action both symbolically and practically. Mattis doesn't have to be the second coming of Smedley Butler for that to be true.
posted by Justinian at 4:17 PM on December 20 [136 favorites]


~if troops are being pulled from Syria, and if troops end up being pulled from Afghanistan...where are they headed next?
~It's either going to be Iran or somewhere other than Iran and my bet's on the former.


It kind of makes me wonder if the Syria announcement was the only thing that prompted Mattis to flip the bird and bail just as suddenly. Something along the lines of Trump demanding the bombing of Tehran or somesuch?
posted by Thorzdad at 4:17 PM on December 20 [3 favorites]


What's the relationship between Iran and Russia like right now?
posted by clawsoon at 4:17 PM on December 20 [6 favorites]


It kind of makes me wonder if the Syria announcement was the only thing that prompted Mattis to flip the bird and bail just as suddenly. Something along the lines of Trump demanding the bombing of Tehran or somesuch?

I was under the impression that Mattis was a bit of an Iran hawk? Not in a "lets start bombing immediately loololololollllllolo" way like Bolton but still a hawk?

My understanding is that Trump is leaning towards immediately ordering all troops out of Afghanistan as well as Syria. That plus Trump's toadying lickspittle attitude towards Putin is probably the catalyst.
posted by Justinian at 4:20 PM on December 20 [4 favorites]


I'd put a buck on Bolton for SecDef.
posted by tclark at 4:20 PM on December 20 [13 favorites]


I've been saying "why don't these people do the nation a solid and hunt down their coworkers like mad dogs in the street" but I guess resignation is also an option.
posted by poffin boffin at 4:21 PM on December 20 [26 favorites]


Realistically, Trump not listening to Mattis anymore is more than enough reason for him to resign. It's the really-for-reals warning to Republicans that nothing is stopping this moron from doing any moron thing he wants. They've slept under their St. Mattis blankets until now.

Mattis stood by smiling while Trump signed the first Muslim ban. But he doesn't have to be a good person to not want to deliver Putin a slate of Christmas presents. I'm disgusted by Mattis and in the immediate moment I feel like that disgust deserves voice because his PR rehabilitation campaign is already underway, but this is also still a very clear sign. The two concerns can coexist.

But as Chris Hayes said in the cited tweet above, Republican disinterest is an immense force and there's still every reason to worry they'll shrug this off like they've shrugged off every other giant red flag.
posted by scaryblackdeath at 4:21 PM on December 20 [35 favorites]


@NBCNews Exclusive: Special Counsel Robert Mueller may submit report to attorney general as soon as mid-February, sources say
posted by bluesky43 at 4:22 PM on December 20 [7 favorites]


[Folks, I know there's some actual meaty points of speculation out there, and that shit is just weird as hell 24/7 anyway, but I'd really appreciate if we could keep the speculation specific and grounded and avoid just kind of free-for-all doominess or You Know What Would Be Really Awful kinds of spitballing.]
posted by cortex (staff) at 4:23 PM on December 20 [30 favorites]


Is there a limit to the number of people who can leave before there aren't enough Senate-confirmed people to fill all the senior positions? If so, how close to the limit are we?
posted by Joe in Australia at 4:24 PM on December 20 [3 favorites]


This kind of petty grift pales in comparison to much of today's news, but its still exactly who these people are. NYT, A Top Aide’s Exit Plan Raises Eyebrows in the White House
After weeks of discussions about his future, Zachary D. Fuentes, the 36-year-old deputy White House chief of staff, had a plan. Mr. Fuentes told colleagues that after his mentor, John F. Kelly, left his job as chief of staff at the end of the year, he would “hide out” at the Eisenhower Executive Office Building, adjacent to the White House, for six months, remaining on the payroll in a nebulous role. Then, in July, when he had completed 19 years of service in the Coast Guard, Mr. Fuentes — an active-duty officer — would take advantage of an early retirement program.

The program, referred to as temporary early retirement authority, had lapsed for Coast Guard officials at the end of the 2018 fiscal year, and, according to people briefed on the discussions, Department of Homeland Security officials began pressing Congress in November to reinstate it. Administration officials said they had been told that Mr. Fuentes discussed the program with officials at the Department of Homeland Security, and after reporters raised questions with lawmakers of both parties, a provision to reinstate it was abruptly pulled from a House bill on Wednesday.

The White House declined to answer questions about whether Mr. Fuentes had pressed to have the program restarted, saying only that he planned to remain on for a time as a senior adviser to aid in the transition to a new chief of staff. But in interviews, nearly a dozen White House and administration aides, none of whom would speak on the record, raised concerns about how they believed Mr. Fuentes planned to use government resources in the coming months.

Mr. Fuentes has become one of the most controversial aides inside the West Wing, earning nicknames like “Zotus” (Zach of the United States) and “prime minister” for his approach to other White House officials.
"And I would have gotten away with it if I wasn't such an asshole that nearly a dozen colleagues turned me in" he says, as he realizes he's stuck. They're also blaming Fuentes for the decision to have Trump skip the military cemetery visit in France.

----

@NBCNews Exclusive: Special Counsel Robert Mueller may submit report to attorney general as soon as mid-February, sources say

Are these the same defense-side sources that were saying he'd wrap it up by September or by the end of the year?
posted by zachlipton at 4:27 PM on December 20 [22 favorites]


Is there a limit to the number of people who can leave before there aren't enough Senate-confirmed people to fill all the senior positions?

Could Individual-1 simply make continuous interim appointments, and avoid confirmations altogether?
posted by Thorzdad at 4:28 PM on December 20 [2 favorites]


Why is Trump hurrying so quick to deliver for Putin?

And why is Putin openly gloating? He even twists the knife with his public support of Trump's Syria pullout: “On this, Donald is right. I agree with him." Emphasis added, because never mind the lack of respect behind the false familiarity of using Trump's first name, Trump hates being called Donald.

Later, at his annual press conference, Putin derided the US presence in Afghanistan: “How long has the United States been in Afghanistan? Seventeen years? And almost every year they say they’re pulling out their troops.” And coincidentally, the WSJ received a leak that the Trump administration is considering substantial Afghan troop drawdown.

What did he and Trump discuss at the G20, however briefly, and have they been talking on the telephone since?
posted by Doktor Zed at 4:31 PM on December 20 [14 favorites]


The Year in Trump Freakouts. Jim Mattis is out, the President is leaving Syria without consulting anyone, and that’s just this week in crises of the President’s own making. Susan B. Glasser The New Yorker.

What we do know is that all the chaos at year’s end is a powerful reminder that the manner in which the President operates is so outside of any normal parameters for governing, so disdainful of process, and so heedless of consequences that his decisions don’t resolve crises so much as create them.
...
Remember when Trump dismissed vast swaths of the planet as “shithole countries”? That was less than a year ago, in January of 2018. Or when he fired his Secretary of State, Rex Tillerson, by Twitter? It seems like forever ago, but it was only this March. When Trump was touting himself to win the Nobel Peace Prize for his nuclear diplomacy with the North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un? That, too, was only this spring. Kim, of course, ends the year with his nuclear arsenal intact, and his ego boosted by lavish praise from the President of the United States; needless to say, the prize went elsewhere.
posted by bluesky43 at 4:34 PM on December 20 [6 favorites]


Are these the same defense-side sources that were saying he'd wrap it up by September or by the end of the year?

Sounds like it. NBC: Mueller May Submit Report To Attorney General As Soon As Mid-February, Say Sources—"They clearly are tying up loose ends," said a lawyer who has been in contact with the Mueller team. "The sources either did not know or would not say whether Mueller has answered the fundamental question he was hired to investigate: Whether Trump or anyone around him conspired with the Russian intelligence operations to help his campaign."

Although by this time Mueller probably has more than enough for an obstruction of justice case, Trump's interview notwithstanding, untangling the Trump-Russia connections will take a long time, even at Mueller's swift pace.
posted by Doktor Zed at 4:38 PM on December 20 [3 favorites]


Ana Navarro:
Oh hell. I remember when Mattis, John Kelly and Tillerson made a pact that one of them would always be babysitting Trump. With Mattis gone, #PresidentLoco is now without adult supervision. Be afraid, America. Be very, afraid.
posted by numaner at 4:44 PM on December 20 [13 favorites]


I predict Trump will be out of office one way or another by the end of 2019.
posted by kirkaracha at 4:54 PM on December 20 [12 favorites]


If only the founders had planned on something like this by building checks & balances into the system.
posted by kokaku at 4:55 PM on December 20 [57 favorites]


We need wall. From Language Log:

Here's DHS Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen testifying in congress today:
From congress I would ask for wall. We need wall.

And apparently a DHS press release posted on 12/12 began
DHS is committed to building wall and building wall quickly. We are not replacing short, outdated and ineffective wall with similar wall.

and continued in a similar vein. I'm reminded of the joke about the first lecture of Russian class for English speakers: "I start with good news! In English language, is necessary to use article! But in Russian language, no article!"

Someone at DHS (though apparently not Secretary Nielsen) seems to have had second thoughts, because the page was edited on 12/18 to add some articles:
Update:
The Department of Homeland Security appears to have edited the language of a news release that previously referred to the border wall as "wall." It now reads "a wall"
— Hamza Shaban (@hshaban) December 20, 2018
posted by bluesky43 at 4:55 PM on December 20 [23 favorites]


CNN's Jim Acosta: A House GOP member to CNN on Mattis departure: "The wheels may be coming off."

Wheels Coming Off Watch:

BBC's Joy Hackel: "@RepAdamSchiff just told @MarcoWerman “it does seem like the wheels are really coming off the wagon here.”"
MSNBC's Kyle Griffin: "A senior national security official told @JoshNBCNews that the "wheels are coming off" tonight. @TheBeatWithAri"
NBC's Ken Dilanian: “Former CIA ops officer on the Mattis news: "You ever wonder what’d be like if a wheel came off of your crossover vehicle with your whole family in it on the freeway? Well, your gonna get to experience it without your family being in any immediate danger. In February."”

Seriously, though, former Obama Deputy Asst. Secretary of Defense for Russia/Easter Europe Evelyn Farkas proposes an explanation for why Mattis apparently negotiated his departure for February: "Secretary Mattis explains in his letter, he selected the end of Feb date to ensure “the Department’s interests” “are protected” at the NATO ministerial. That means he’s staying until 2/28 to defend NATO from PresTrump."
posted by Doktor Zed at 4:56 PM on December 20 [20 favorites]


> A House GOP member to CNN on Mattis departure: "The wheels may be coming off."

"May be"? Sounds like somebody's still holding out hope for the fabled Pivot!
posted by The Card Cheat at 4:58 PM on December 20 [4 favorites]


Bette Midler -
NY Attorney General has ordered the Trump Foundation to dissolve. It’s always SAD to see a charitable organization fold, especially one that gave so much to the children— Ivanka, Eric, and Don Jr.
posted by growabrain at 5:01 PM on December 20 [28 favorites]


Yeah, the guidance we’ve received so far at USDA is, to be kind, nonsensical.

Hi Wintermind! And none is more nonsensical than the instructions I gave my students today: "You (to the intern on government funding) don't need to come in until next Wednesday. Unless the government shuts down. Then, if our leave is cancelled you need to come in on Monday so you can officially sign in so you can sign out. If our leave isn't cancelled, you need to come in Wednesday so you can officially sign in so you can sign out. You (to the intern on University funding) don't need to pay attention to this. Just don't come in."
posted by acrasis at 5:02 PM on December 20 [30 favorites]


“it does seem like the wheels are really coming off the wagon here.”"

Can't they at least come up with a new metaphor? That was one has been used for the past 25 scandals and the wagon is still scraping along.
posted by Liquidwolf at 5:05 PM on December 20 [13 favorites]


James Mattis’s Final Protest Against the President
The defense secretary, who resigned on Thursday, was one of the last senior officials in the government who could constrain Donald Trump.
The Atlantic.

Mattis’s departure will send an immediate shudder through both Washington and foreign capitals. The president will be hard-pressed to find a replacement who will instill confidence in Congress and the ranks of the military while still maintaining an effective relationship with the White House. Meanwhile, Mattis’s exit could even further strain relations with American allies, who have seen him as a calming influence and for whom he has often served as a direct conduit. In the end, Mattis proved to be the Trump administration’s most effective diplomat, whether negotiating the fraught internal battles of the administration or speaking to foreign leaders.
posted by bluesky43 at 5:06 PM on December 20 [4 favorites]


In the end, Mattis proved to be the Trump administration’s most effective diplomat

it really says something about trump's utter desecration of the state department that the most effective diplomat in his administration is in the post formerly known as the "Secretary of War"
posted by murphy slaw at 5:09 PM on December 20 [25 favorites]


In a resignation letter, Mattis laid out a series of differences with Trump, who he said deserved to have a secretary of defense who was aligned with him.

Do the rest of us, though? If there are still history books after this is all over, one of the chapters will be named NONE DARED SAY "NO."
posted by The Card Cheat at 5:12 PM on December 20 [21 favorites]


A majority of the cabinet and the Vice President can stop this. A supermajority in the senate can stop this. We need this now to save the long-term credibility of our nation and save our Kurdish allies from genocide.
posted by metasunday at 5:22 PM on December 20 [30 favorites]


Text of Mattis' letter, suitable for copy-pasting, with link to a PDF of the original scan/photo version.
My views on treating allies with respect and also being clear-eyed about both malign
actors and strategic competitors are strongly held and informed by over four decades of
immersion in these issues. We must do everything possible to advance an international order
that is most conducive to our security, prosperity and values, and we are strengthened in this
effort by the solidarity of our alliances.

Because you have the right to have a Secretary of Defense whose views are better
aligned with yours on these and other subjects, I believe it is right for me to step down from my
position.
So, he seems to be saying, "I think we should help our friends and not the bad guys, and... I'm leaving over differences of opinion."
posted by ErisLordFreedom at 5:28 PM on December 20 [31 favorites]


When this is all over, if we get through this, all of these people, cabinet officials and congressmen and various Trump allies and enablers are going to have book tours and speaking tours full of crazy anecdotes about their time with Trump. They're going to go on the Today show and talk about the all the evil shit they helped happen and be like, "Lol, can you believe, it was just nuts". And when they try this, we need to make sure they get what's coming to them, too.
posted by Ray Walston, Luck Dragon at 5:29 PM on December 20 [102 favorites]


I predict Trump will be out of office one way or another by the end of 2019.

Them's cakin' words!

To add a little meat to this, Mattis does say he's staying until the end of February, so with Mueller saying he's going to submit a report mid-February implies to me at least the possiblity of a window of redemption. We'll have a much better idea of how much cake to bake then.
posted by rhizome at 5:30 PM on December 20 [12 favorites]


Bloomberg, U.S. to Withdraw About 7,000 Troops From Afghanistan: Official
The U.S. plans to withdraw 7,000 troops from Afghanistan, about half the number that are currently there, according to a U.S. defense official, Bloomberg News reports.
I'm imagining Trump said "pull them all out," and Pentagon officials kept trying to bargain until they ended up with half.
posted by zachlipton at 5:33 PM on December 20 [8 favorites]


We need this now to save the long-term credibility of our nation and save our Kurdish allies from genocide.

Offer a full pull-out from Afghanistan in exchange for security guarantees for the SDF.
posted by Apocryphon at 5:35 PM on December 20 [1 favorite]


Regarding Mattis' letter of resignation. I am going to go out on a limb and suggest that not only did the president not give the letter a thorough reading, I am willing to bet he did not even skim over it.
I really feel bad for all you young'uns that are going to have to live with the fallout from this man's compulsive and reckless behavior for the next three or four decades.
posted by notreally at 5:41 PM on December 20 [10 favorites]




@JenniferShutt: House votes 217-185 to approve a bill that would provide
- funding through Feb. 8 for the nine departments and several agencies without full-year spending bills.
- $5.7b for border security
- $7.8b for disaster aid.
Bill now goes to Senate where it can't pass.

Here are the 8 Republicans who voted no. Vox has the broader shutdown state of play.

Spare a thought tonight for Sen. Schatz, who just flew from Washington DC to Hawaii, only to turn right around and come back after a 17 minute visit with his family.

But spare several thoughts for federal workers:
@sarahnferris: Tonight, I asked Scott Perry (R-Pa.) about effect of fed employees being furloughed. He argued it had no real impact since employees eventually get paid back. "Who’s living that they’re not going to make it to the next paycheck?"

@MEPFuller: Polls generally indicate that 70-80% of Americans live paycheck to paycheck.
posted by zachlipton at 5:47 PM on December 20 [71 favorites]


CNN's Manu Raju:
Mark Meadows told me that - after the WH meeting - he come away with the impression that Trump won’t cave - even after the Senate very likely rejects the bill now before the House.

I asked Meadows if he believes Senate bill would pass after House bill fails.

“It is possibility it gets put on the floor” of House. “It’s not a possibility it gets signed it to law. ... He made that very clear today.”

Meadows said that if there’s a shutdown he believes pressure will build on Schumer to cut a deal on border security. Trump seems to agree.
NBC's Heidi Przybyla:
If this is truly a moment for the history books, let the record reflect:

As the stock market tanked, the govt. was on the verge of shutdown & Mattis was finalizing his resignation -- Trump was tweeting a Green Acres spoof of himself in overalls.

Just stating the facts.
Seriously, @realDonaldTrump did. (Reluctant co-star Megan Mullally was chagrinned.)
posted by Doktor Zed at 5:52 PM on December 20 [33 favorites]


"Coyotes." Oh Lord above.
posted by homunculus at 5:55 PM on December 20 [18 favorites]


"Wheels coming off the wagon" is a super appropriate way to describe Mattis resigning. He did, in fact, prop up this corrupt, racist, cruel shitshow on its trip to Garbage Town, and at the same time his departure is a bad sign for everyone.
posted by scaryblackdeath at 5:55 PM on December 20 [12 favorites]


According to Lambda Legal, the Trump administration is using a new policy they implemented in February called “Deploy or Get Out,” which separates those who have not deployed in over 12 months from their military service.

Is "deploy" a term of art in the military? Because it sounds pretty draconian to this civilian.
posted by ChurchHatesTucker at 5:55 PM on December 20 [4 favorites]


They'll claim they're not specifically targeting HIV+ people; it's just incidental that the policy works that way:
According to Lambda Legal, the Trump administration is using a new policy they implemented in February called “Deploy or Get Out,” which separates those who have not deployed in over 12 months from their military service. When one combines this new policy with policies already in place which forbid service members living with HIV from deploying outside the United States without a waiver, you get the legal justification to fire HIV-positive service members.
Wilkie is very upset that there are a lot of medical waivers for deployment, and wants to throw those people out. He doesn't say who he'd like to replace them with; last I heard, the armed forces are having trouble getting enough volunteers, and it'll have a harder time with a pitch like, "career experience + education support... unless we screw up your vaccination schedule and fail to send you out of the country in time."
posted by ErisLordFreedom at 5:55 PM on December 20 [9 favorites]


The problem with the the wheels coming off the bus is that we are all stuck on the bus.
posted by emjaybee at 5:58 PM on December 20 [47 favorites]


My brother enlisted in the Army this summer. I am very, very scared for him.
posted by elsietheeel at 6:02 PM on December 20 [22 favorites]


i tacitly replace "bus" with "turnip truck" whenever the presspunditocrats use one of those unfortunate metaphors.

it has not, live, worked as zingy wordplay yet.
posted by 20 year lurk at 6:05 PM on December 20 [2 favorites]


"wheels coming off the bus" is the new "increasingly isolated" then?
posted by localhuman at 6:05 PM on December 20 [2 favorites]


[Y'all I am putting a boot on the wheel of the "wheels on the bus" bus, let's not go another twenty comments on it please.]
posted by cortex (staff) at 6:06 PM on December 20 [47 favorites]


Government shutdowns suck and Democrats tend to be less comfortable with letting people go without paychecks so there's a chance that Schumer might cave on this one. I mean "Schumer" and "cave" are close to synonymous. It is vital that we don't blink on this one though. The Republicans had the votes for the current plan without the wall funding and the go ahead from the WH and then Trump changed his mind because of mean tweets. They must be made to own this and that means that we must pressure our congresspeople to hold fast and not blink. And that means suffering for a shit ton of people. They will not be suffering because the Democrats refuse to fund something unconscionable thought - this suffering must be laid at the feet of the Republicans.

Now is the time for us to be loud and clear and persistent in reminding everyone we know why there's a shutdown. It's because of Trump. He wanted this, he's getting this, and he must be made to own this. Caving just let's the Republicans take the same hostages again next time.
posted by Joey Michaels at 6:07 PM on December 20 [18 favorites]


Is "deploy" a term of art in the military? Because it sounds pretty draconian to this civilian.

Yes. And that Krassenstein-wrtten article, like anything else ever written by a Krassenstein, is inaccurate: the policy is not to separate those who have not deployed in over 12 months, it's to separate (with various exceptions including for those who are wounded or pregnant) those who have been non-deployable for 12 months. The point is that everyone in the military should generally be able to be deployed to do military stuff somewhere, and that we broadly shouldn't have a lot of servicemembers who aren't able to do that long-term.

That said, there are plenty of servicemembers with HIV who would seem to be perfectly able to do their jobs. The fault there is the military's blanket no-deployment policy for those with HIV, not deploy or get out. The Post had a better, Krassenstein-free story: They tested positive for HIV. Then the military kicked them out.
posted by zachlipton at 6:10 PM on December 20 [21 favorites]


Just reflecting that the Dow was at 19,827.25 on Obama’s last day in office (Jan 20, 2017).

Eight months later (Oct 20), the Dow had reached 23,328.63, a gain that (if we are to credit to any President) arguably redounds mainly to the inertia of the Obama Recovery.

Today (Dec 20, 2018), the Dow is below that point, at 22859.60. And the folks on Nightly Business Report are talking about a possible recession in 2019.

If anything is going to change a Republican lawmaker’s mind about Impeachment, it’s going to be their wealthy donors, who are losing fortunes because of the idiocy of President Chaos, threatening to pull their future funding. And near-retirement Republicans who see their 401K plans losing a quarter of their value.

If the stock marked drops below 20,000, we will have wiped out all of the market gains from any continuation of the recovery under Trump. I’d expect GOP apathy to shift into something like panic. We’re not that far off.
posted by darkstar at 6:19 PM on December 20 [37 favorites]


I don't think anybody was ever under the impression that Mattis was a good guy... you don't get a nickname like "Mad Dog" in the US military while holding the sort of views that most people on Metafilter including myself would be particularly comfortable with. Plus, despite his protestations of being bound by duty, he still agreed to be part of the Trump administration, and associated with its manifest corruption and betrayal of the American people.

While he never showed real enthusiasm over the border militarization and camps, and almost certainly talked Trump down from hostilities with North Korea that would've seen a minimum of 500,000 Seoul residents dead, the man was definitely an Iran hawk. At least until the arrival of John Bolton (who in the majority of my anxiety dreams is the person most directly responsible for the apocalypse), compared to whom Mattis would indeed come off as "some kind of Democrat."

So, no, Mattis is not a good person on the whole. That said, there were a few things about Mattis that all of us were relying on, whether we knew it or not:
1) The man is deeply intelligent by the standards of any administration, and quite possibly the only one with an IQ higher than their pulse in this one. He is very much a student of history and not the sort of person that starts nuclear wars, carelessly or otherwise.
2) He has always exhibited profound loyalty to the people under his command, which extended to not throwing their lives away, particularly not over political posturing.
3) Within that weird, narrow definition of patriotism paleo-conservatives hold, he is intensely patriotic in a way that I find as off-putting as I find it useful because I live here. He wants to see America win, and his definition of winning does not include Pyrrhic victories like, say, being the first to strike in a full theater exchange.

These three points have always meant that up until now there was someone who understood the risks of brinksmanship and of nuclear weapons standing between Trump and the launch codes. Someone who all military decisions had to flow through who was asking "what do we gain by doing this?" I don't know about the rest of you but despite deep disagreements with his worldview Mattis was pretty much the only reason I've been able to sleep at night for the past two years.

And that's going away now, and whoever the replacement will be, there's a very strong chance of putting a bodycount on this administration that rises far beyond the usual background noise of the US military-industrial complex. I think we see a coup before anything potentially human-civilization-endingly bad happens, but I'm a lot less certain of that than I was yesterday.

My brother enlisted in the Army this summer. I am very, very scared for him.
posted by elsietheeel


Two members of my extended family this past year, and very much feeling the same right now.
posted by Ryvar at 6:26 PM on December 20 [67 favorites]


Reading now that after Trump’s Syria announcement, the Turkish defense minister expressed the intent to double down on attacking Kurds, who will be losing their U.S. backing. And Trump didn’t seem to care about leaving allies in a lurch.

And that’s what triggered Mattis to resign.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 6:27 PM on December 20 [35 favorites]


On a related note, the Dow is down about 10% since January 1. If this holds to the end of the year, it will be the worst yearly return since 2008, and one of the five worst yearly returns in the past 40 years.
posted by J.K. Seazer at 6:28 PM on December 20 [20 favorites]


Which makes sense, because Trump knows very well that his base neither knows nor cares where the nation of Kurdania is.
posted by delfin at 6:29 PM on December 20 [4 favorites]


Sure, there was lots of passive-aggressive shade in Mattis’ letter, but he was still providing cover for Trump, or at least the Republican brand. I mean, I get that he can’t be all like “Fuck you, fuck you, you’re cool, fuck you” on his way out the door, but it was still full of language about how proud he was to serve and what Trump “deserves” instead of warnings about how the President of the United States is an unhinged maniac blatantly in thrall to a hostile foreign power.
posted by The Card Cheat at 6:44 PM on December 20 [40 favorites]


On a related note, the Dow is down about 10% since January 1. If this holds to the end of the year, it will be the worst yearly return since 2008

I'm sorry, it sounds like you mean it would be the worst year since before Obama took office.
posted by kirkaracha at 6:50 PM on December 20 [22 favorites]


Couple things...

Mattis isn't a bad guy. He's a career Marine, a patriot, and while you may not like his politics or his job, he's done the job with utmost professionalism to the best of his ability. SECDEF is arguably a shit job in good times. This one has aged him too quickly. There was a reason he RARELY went on camera - never wanted to look like he was upstaging The Boss so that he could do his job and not be perceived as a threat. The fact that that even MATTERS, and that he was AWARE of it, should give you a sense of how dire the situation got.

His resignation is going to have lasting repercussions and not many of them good. Like him or hate him, he's arguably one of the top 5 people qualified for the job. Rumors are swirling that Tom Cotton may be his nominated replacement.

Anyway...one of those repercussions is what happens with Joseph Dunford (chairman, Joint Chiefs) - who has also been a normal, stabilizing influence. If Dunford goes, seriously....<> help us.
posted by Thistledown at 6:51 PM on December 20 [21 favorites]


...but it was still full of language about how proud he was to serve and what Trump “deserves” instead of warnings about how the President of the United States is an unhinged maniac blatantly in thrall to a hostile foreign power.

The warnings will come. Just not so publicly. Had he left a “fuck you, you colossal moron, you’re gonna get us all killed” letter, he would have easily been dismissed by pretty much everyone as a disgruntled crank. He knows how politics works. If, in fact, he has serious warnings for the nation, he’ll make them. To the people who matter.
posted by Thorzdad at 6:54 PM on December 20 [9 favorites]



The warnings will come. Just not so publicly. Had he left a “fuck you, you colossal moron, you’re gonna get us all killed” letter, he would have easily been dismissed by pretty much everyone as a disgruntled crank. He knows how politics works. If, in fact, he has serious warnings for the nation, he’ll make them. To the people who matter.
posted by Thorzdad at 9:54 PM on December 20 [+] [!]


He just did.
posted by Thistledown at 6:55 PM on December 20 [17 favorites]


Mattis isn't a bad guy. He's a career Marine, a patriot, and while you may not like his politics or his job, he's done the job with utmost professionalism to the best of his ability.

He willingly served a commander-in-chief who is an asset to a foreign power. Yeah. Great Marine there.
posted by valkane at 7:00 PM on December 20 [39 favorites]


If Dunford goes, seriously....<> help us.

From the WaPo's prescient article yesterday: Mattis, Once One of ‘My Generals,’ Loses His Influence With Trump
Mattis is also frustrated that Trump vetoed his choice to become the next chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, the nation’s highest-ranking military officer. Trump announced this month that he has chosen Gen. Mark A. Milley, the Army’s chief of staff, to replace the current chairman, Gen. Joseph F. Dunford Jr., who is due to step down next fall. Mattis had recommended the Air Force chief of staff, Gen. David L. Goldfein, people familiar with the discussions said.
So we have until the end of this February before Mattis, and the end of September for Dunford.
posted by Doktor Zed at 7:04 PM on December 20 [2 favorites]


Mattis isn't a bad guy... while you may not like his politics

It's been stated several times already that Mattis is overseeing the military imprisonment of immigrant children. That's not a simple political difference.

Point taken that the person is his position could be worse. That doesn't make this man acceptable.
posted by Emmy Rae at 7:05 PM on December 20 [72 favorites]


I'm used to having to take the "don't stereotype the military as awful" side on Metafilter but I'm gonna go ahead and say this anyway:

Mattis isn't a bad guy. He's a career Marine, a patriot, and while you may not like his politics or his job, he's done the job with utmost professionalism to the best of his ability.

Being a Marine or in any other branch is not inherently indicative of one's character. We have two Marine Raiders facing murder charges along with a couple SEALs right now 'cause they killed a Green Beret who was about to expose their money laundering. If you want something more widespread, Google up "Marines United" and "court martial." Those are just off the top of my head. That uniform doesn't mean someone is inherently bad (don't start) and it doesn't mean they're inherently good.

Mattis signed up with this crew. He didn't jump ship when Trump decided to ban people from coming here based on their religion. He didn't jump ship when this White House started putting kids in concentration camps. Again and again we've been at the moment of truth and again and again every "adult in the room" decided to stand there and see how it would play out.

Yes, Mattis may have been standing in the way of even crazier shit. For a while. Maybe. He also stood by long past the point of absolutely unacceptable actions. At some point we need to accept that maybe they really are all literally this bad.
posted by scaryblackdeath at 7:09 PM on December 20 [107 favorites]


David Frum: No More Excuses
For almost two full years, James Mattis has provided the nation with a collective security blanket—and national-security-minded Republicans with a credible excuse. Whatever outrageous or weird or even suspicious things President Donald Trump might do, Mattis was at the head of the order of battle: an American through and through, untainted and uncompromised
posted by ChurchHatesTucker at 7:11 PM on December 20 [7 favorites]


you don't get a nickname like "Mad Dog" in the US military while holding the sort of views that most people on Metafilter including myself would be particularly comfortable with.

There is a 95% chance people went with “Mad Dog” because his last name starts with an M.
posted by sideshow at 7:20 PM on December 20 [29 favorites]


These threads sometimes feel like Groundhog Day 'cause I swear we've had this convo before.

"Mad Dog" is ironic, like when a tall guy is nicknamed "Tiny" or a fat guy is nicknamed "Slim". He's supposedly a scholarly type.
posted by Justinian at 7:24 PM on December 20 [32 favorites]


There seems to be a lot of uncertainty & speculation for the reasoning behind the joint pullout from Syria & Afghanistan. I think the explanation's pretty simple, one we've already discussed: they're not his wars so they're not fun for him. He wants a war that's HIS & his alone. These other wars are tainted by other presidents especially the hated Obama whose very existence must be erased from history. Only then can he start his own lovely war & have all those soldiers dying for him & him alone.
posted by scalefree at 7:26 PM on December 20 [12 favorites]


he's done the job with utmost professionalism to the best of his ability.

You know, that is precisely what the folks at Nuremberg claimed in their defense. They were meticulously professional. Professionalism isn't the criteria. It's what you willingly choose to do that matters.

Like him or hate him, he's arguably one of the top 5 people qualified for the job.

Precisely the opposite, he was disqualified for Secretary of Defense by law. The secretary is supposed to be a civilian. His confirmation required a separate waiver of the law.

Congress when they set up the Department of Defense they specifically recognized that the position should be a civilian. Many people have cited Mattis' loyalty to his troops and that is exactly why you don't want a general in charge. There is a higher loyalty to the constitution and the country.
posted by JackFlash at 7:27 PM on December 20 [106 favorites]


Atlantic, Edward-Isaac Dovere, Barack Obama Goes All In Politically To Fight Gerrymandering
Barack Obama on Thursday night announced a major shift in the politics of his post-presidency, folding his Organizing for Action group into the National Democratic Redistricting Committee.

The consolidation focuses and directs Obama’s political activity and fundraising for a cause that has become a major focus since he left the White House: gerrymandering reform.

It ends the six-year existence of OFA, formed out of the pieces of Barack Obama’s re-election campaign, which at times struggled to find footing with a clear mission. The Chicago-based group will cease to exist.

“People want common sense gun safety laws, Congress ignores it. People want compressive immigration reform, Congress ignores it,” Obama said in a call with top supporters on Thursday night. “The single most important thing that could be done at the grassroots level over the next few years is to make sure the rules of the road are fair. If we do that, I think we’ll do the right thing.”
...
Holder said Obama has landed on redistricting reform as his central political cause as a way to get more action on climate change, gun control and health care. He argued that those would move if the state legislatures and House districts elect members who are more representative of the voting public than the current lines allow.
I agree, but with climate change, we literally do not have time to wait for a new cycle of redistricting and elections before we take action.
posted by zachlipton at 7:28 PM on December 20 [30 favorites]


I agree, but with climate change, we literally do not have time to wait for a new cycle of redistricting and elections before we take action.

I understand the feeling behind this, I really do, and I'd be overjoyed to find a shortcut to making the changes required to handle what's coming - but just in case it doesn't? I'm glad there are people hard at work pushing along the long road as well.
posted by AdamCSnider at 7:36 PM on December 20 [24 favorites]


Whatever we may think personally of Mattis, there is a large five-sided office building in Virginia full of people that no longer trust a single person in the White House, and that is going to get weird.
posted by RobotVoodooPower at 7:40 PM on December 20 [71 favorites]


@nycsouthpaw:
Mattis's letter gets at something more important than whether there's some smoking gun chain of text messages btw Trump and Putin. As he implies, the Trump admin, like the Trump campaign and transition, has put foreign adversaries' interests before America's and its allies'.

For various reasons related to consensus building, people have latched onto the possibility that Trump sold out the US in the specific context of a documentable conspiracy with a foreign govt. The precise outlines of US interests are arguable, an exposed secret plot less so. But ultimately, the betrayal itself, the promotion of adversaries' interests "at the expense of their neighbors, America and our allies," is more important than whether there was a secret agreement to do it. And Trump's own defense secretary seems to be saying that's happening.
What if we don't need a Mueller investigation? What if we declared that selling out our allies and advancing our adversaries' interests over our own was an impeachable offense in and of itself?

----

WaPo, ‘A tailspin’: Under siege, Trump propels the government and markets into crisis. It's a wrap-up of everything, but I just want to highlight this:
Trump spent six to seven minutes in the meeting with Ryan and McCarthy talking about “steel slats” and saying that the term was preferable to calling the proposed construction a “wall,” as the president has done for more than three years.
Usually, we can at least figure out where he comes up with some crazy scheme (Fox News), but where the hell did he get this one? He spent the whole campaign being very explicit that a wall is different from a fence, going into great detail on its height and other specifications. The only thing I can think is that a lot of the existing barriers are already made up of slats, and maybe he wants to take credit for them too, even though he campaigned on how bad they are?
posted by zachlipton at 7:46 PM on December 20 [21 favorites]


you don't get a nickname like "Mad Dog" in the US military while holding the sort of views that most people on Metafilter including myself would be particularly comfortable with.

There is a 95% chance people went with “Mad Dog” because his last name starts with an M.


Sorry if I'm taking this too far, but speaking of stereotypes? Military, in particular?

We had a "Mad Dog" at my last station -- in the Coast Guard. Pretty sure he didn't do a whole lot of rabid American imperialism. Also, that time we had a bull wander into our parking lot, our Mad Dog was the one who said "I did not sign up for this kind of crazy" and went back inside while the rest of us had to herd it back to its field. Which is to say that yes, you too can join the Coast Guard and wind up herding cattle. The military contains multitudes, folks.
posted by scaryblackdeath at 7:47 PM on December 20 [53 favorites]


Usually, we can at least figure out where he comes up with some crazy scheme...

Remember, it has to be see-through ("transparency" is important!) so we can see if they're going to be throwing bags of drugs over. Wouldn't want to get hit in the head with a bag of drugs....
posted by Weeping_angel at 7:57 PM on December 20 [1 favorite]


The US is the world’s largest steel importer. (Top 10 source countries for US steel imports include Canada and Mexico... and Russia and Turkey.)
posted by Iris Gambol at 7:57 PM on December 20 [4 favorites]


McConnell 'distressed' over reasons for Mattis resignation
“I believe it’s essential that the United States maintain and strengthen the post-World War II alliances that have been carefully built by leaders in both parties," McConnell said in a statement. "We must also maintain a clear-eyed understanding of our friends and foes, and recognize that nations like Russia are among the latter."

“So I was sorry to learn that Secretary Mattis, who shares those clear principles, will soon depart the administration. But I am particularly distressed that he is resigning due to sharp differences with the president on these and other key aspects of America’s global leadership," McConnell said.
You know, I think he actually sounds a bit worried.
posted by scalefree at 8:07 PM on December 20 [37 favorites]


Is he distressed about Mattis or the President?
posted by schmod at 8:12 PM on December 20 [3 favorites]


I don't think anybody was ever under the impression that Mattis was a good guy... you don't get a nickname like "Mad Dog" in the US military while holding the sort of views that most people on Metafilter including myself would be particularly comfortable with.

There's a lot of ironic nicknames in the military. Everyone I know who's ever worked with Mattis (more than a few) says "Mad Dog" is one of them.
posted by Etrigan at 8:13 PM on December 20 [15 favorites]


McConnell 'distressed' over reasons for Mattis resignation

okay folks i have to come clean, i MAY have wished that mitch mcconnell would have a terrible day while i was holding the monkey's paw
posted by murphy slaw at 8:16 PM on December 20 [118 favorites]


[Yes, I have gone down the rabbit hole, but...]
I have been privileged to serve as our country's 26th Secretary of Defense which has allowed me to serve alongside our men and women of the Department in defense of our citizens and our ideals.
Although he was elected as a Republican, the president shows little affinity for ideals long espoused by conservatives: free minds, free markets and free people. At best, he has invoked these ideals in scripted settings. At worst, he has attacked them outright.
I am proud of the progress that has been made over the past two years on some of the key goals articulated in our National Defense Strategy: putting the Department on a more sound budgetary footing, improving readiness and lethality in our forces, and reforming the Department's business practices for greater performance.
Don’t get me wrong. There are bright spots that the near-ceaseless negative coverage of the administration fails to capture: effective deregulation, historic tax reform, a more robust military and more. [See also about over a half-dozen other triple-lists across both documents.]
One core belief I have always held is that our strength as a nation is inextricably linked to the strength of our unique and comprehensive system of alliances and partnerships. While the US remains the indispensable nation in the free world, we cannot protect our interests or serve that role effectively without maintaining strong alliances and showing respect to those allies. …

Similarly, I believe we must be resolute and unambiguous in our approach to those countries whose strategic interests are increasingly in tension with ours. It is clear that China and Russia, for example, want to shape a world consistent with their authoritarian model - gaining veto authority over other nations' economic, diplomatic, and security decisions - to promote their own interests at the expense of their neighbors, America and our allies. That is why we must use all the tools of American power to provide for the common defense.

My views on treating allies with respect and also being clear-eyed about both MALIGN actors and strategic competitors are strongly held and informed by over four decades of immersion in these issues. We must do everything possible to advance an international order that is most conducive to our security, prosperity and values, and we are strengthened in this effort by the solidarity of our alliances.
Take foreign policy: In public and in private, President Trump shows a preference for autocrats and dictators, such as President Vladimir Putin of Russia and North Korea’s leader, Kim Jong-un, and displays little genuine appreciation for the ties that bind us to allied, like-minded nations.

Astute observers have noted, though, that the rest of the administration is operating on another track, one where countries like Russia are called out for meddling and punished accordingly, and where allies around the world are engaged as peers rather than ridiculed as rivals.

On Russia, for instance, the president was reluctant to expel so many of Mr. Putin’s spies as punishment for the poisoning of a former Russian spy in Britain. He complained for weeks about senior staff members letting him get boxed into further confrontation with Russia, and he expressed frustration that the United States continued to impose sanctions on the country for its MALIGN behavior. But his national security team knew better — such actions had to be taken, to hold Moscow accountable.
I pledge my full effort to a smooth transition that ensures the needs and interests of the 2.15 million Service Members and 732,079 DoD civilians receive undistracted attention of the Department at all times so that they can fulfill their critical, round-the-clock mission to protect the American people.
Senator John McCain put it best in his farewell letter. All Americans should heed his words and break free of the tribalism trap, with the high aim of uniting through our shared values and love of this great nation....

There is a quiet resistance within the administration of people choosing to put country first. But the real difference will be made by everyday citizens rising above politics, reaching across the aisle and resolving to shed the labels in favor of a single one: Americans.
posted by chortly at 8:18 PM on December 20 [10 favorites]


"I'm distressed, because there's nothing to be done!" says man clearly in a position to do something.
posted by Slackermagee at 8:18 PM on December 20 [32 favorites]


@RichardEngel: A sr military official told me US special forces troops distraught, upset, morally disturbed by having to tell their kurdish allies in Syria that, because of orders, their promises of defense won’t be kept.

@rabrowne75: Defense officials tell me Mattis went to the White House to discuss Syria & that he was livid after reading reports that Turkey's Defense Minister threatened to kill US-backed Kurds & put them in ditches once the US withdrew. He was incensed at this notion of betrayal of an ally

(Context for "put them in ditches")

Calvin Trillin wrote a little poem back in 2003. I was in school and happened to be writing a paper on the Kurds at the time, and I used it as epigraph. It's summed up US foreign policy in the middle east for years before then and years after:
The Kurds are in the way again,
And so, to our dismay again,
If we begin a fray again,
As it appears we may again,
It seems we must betray again
The Kurds: They’re in the way again.
posted by zachlipton at 8:23 PM on December 20 [103 favorites]


McConnell sounding worried but continuing to excel as the gravedigger for American democracy is just another day ending in "y", as far as I can tell.

To all replies re: Mattis' nickname: it was an ill-chosen throwaway line and I apologize. Doesn't change my basic point that the man has said some appallingly militant shit over the years including "it's fun to shoot some people", and that he pulled classic "just following orders" on the border situation this year. Even in the best case scenario where he thought he was ultimately serving a higher cause by continuing to protect America from Trump to the extent he was able, that's still super not-great behavior. The best I can say about him is that (paraphrasing A Few Good Men) while he's never been the person I wanted on that wall, I did in fact need him on that wall. At least while Trump is commander in chief.
posted by Ryvar at 8:26 PM on December 20 [5 favorites]


"Increasingly isolated" is old and busted, e.g. LA Times: Trump Increasingly Isolated As Aides Leave, Friends Flip and Investigations Advance

"Increasingly lawless" is the new hotness, viz. WaPo's Greg Sargent: Trump’s Island of Support Is Shrinking. He Will Grow Increasingly Lawless.
Trump’s mounting legal travails and his increasingly unhinged demands for victories like the wall — ones that will thrill his #MAGAhatter base and no one else — may well grow more tightly intertwined as narrative lines. As the former leads Trump to increasingly fall back on his base for support, he’ll need the latter to keep his voters energized, which means keeping them persuaded he’s “winning.”[…]

In a sense, Republicans are following what some European center-right parties are doing in the face of rising anti-immigrant populism: Adopting an accommodationist stance. As Shadi Hamid explains, this entails “meeting the far right halfway” on the ugly cultural dimensions of this populism — making peace, albeit in careful tones, with its overt treatment of immigration and multiculturalism and ethnic minorities as constituting a “problem” that must be “solved.”[…]

But here’s a prediction: It will be increasingly difficult for Republicans to frame all of these things as the true rule of law position. We have already seen this fail: The very fact that Republicans went all in with Trump’s campaign depiction of destitute migrant families as criminal invaders — and Democrats as their lawless enablers — helped produce the GOP midterm elections bloodbath.[…]

If ongoing probes bear fruit, Trump will double down on his immigration demands to keep his base in line. Republicans will cast that as the pro-rule of law stance. In reality, support for the investigations revealing the true depths of Trump’s corruption and lawlessness, and resistance to his cruel and arbitrary immigration policies, will constitute the true rule of law positions.
That's as optimistic a case for pessimism as I've encountered.
posted by Doktor Zed at 8:30 PM on December 20 [6 favorites]


Outgoing Senator Claire McCaskill of Missouri has done a couple of interesting exit interviews:
  • Senator Claire McCaskill on Losing Missouri and the Politics of Purity - The Daily audio interview, NYTimes
  • As she wraps up life as senator, McCaskill forecasts deadlock over health care, border wall - St. Louis Public Radio audio interview & article:
    The battle over the wall is part of the immigration fight that McCaskill says has helped Republicans build a huge edge among many rural voters who have been frustrated for decades over their economic decline. “Without question, the largest public-policy problem facing this country for the next 10-20 years is what do we do with the workers who have been displaced by technology,’’ McCaskill said, referring to the wave of rural factories that have closed over the last 30 years. Trump, she said, “convinced (rural voters) that it wasn’t the microchip that was the problem. It was Mexicans.”
posted by flug at 8:31 PM on December 20 [7 favorites]


over at the washington post, stopped clock jennifer rubin says some very anodyne, ordinary things on this, a very unremarkable day
I would suggest that three bipartisan steps are essential.

First, Mattis and other former national security officials should testify in open hearings in the House next year to lay out their concerns about Trump’s fitness and threat to national security. If they have not already done so, they should lay out their concerns to the special counsel about Trump’s reflexive support for Russian objectives.

Second, Congress must reassert its sole authority to wage war, denying Trump the legitimacy to unilaterally launch first strikes. In addition, it is essential to subpoena the translator’s notes from Helsinki to determine what, if any, pledges Trump made to Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Finally, it is time for Senate Republicans to seriously consider removing Trump in the event the House moves to impeach. Trump is a menace to our democracy and national security; unless and until Republicans recognize this and express a willingness to remove him, Trump may do untold damage during the time he has left in office. Supporting his reelection is entirely out of the question.
posted by murphy slaw at 8:35 PM on December 20 [50 favorites]




Well, let's see if it's Indictment Solstice.

As I posted not knowing the megathread had moved: the darkness around the motivation of the executive branch -- viewing the actions without considering the motivation is scary enough -- may give way to some kind of transparency, or at least an attempt at it. But not quite yet.

The shit you do when you think you'll get away with it is different from the shit you do when you hear the sirens from a distance.
posted by holgate at 9:09 PM on December 20 [5 favorites]


Frum is bad, but he identified Trump’s appeal at the start.
posted by Apocryphon at 9:12 PM on December 20


Suggested rules for the Democratic primary debates (Alexandra Petri, WaPo)
I read the phrase “Democrats will hold at least a dozen presidential primary debates starting in June 2019 and running through April 2020,” and a little something in me died. I think it might have been hope. I did not know that the thing was there until it gave a horrible shriek and ceased to move. I understand that this pales in comparison to the, I want to say, 800 (?) — it might have been 753 — debates of the previous cycle, but it is still an awful lot.

As I understand them, the debates (and, indeed, the primary process in general) are supposed to start as early as possible so that, where previously you thought there were many potentially acceptable or even exciting candidates for the highest office in the land, you might at your leisure discover exactly why they are all vile, problematic boils.
posted by Johnny Wallflower at 9:14 PM on December 20 [17 favorites]


If anything is going to change a Republican lawmaker’s mind about Impeachment, it’s going to be their wealthy donors, who are losing fortunes because of the idiocy of President Chaos, threatening to pull their future funding. And near-retirement Republicans who see their 401K plans losing a quarter of their value.

I took a brief trip to a deep-red part of Ohio a couple months ago and overheard two older men chatting at a diner. The one guy said something like, "well, I wish he would stop tweeting dumbass things... but I look at my portfolio and what's not to love?"

know what's fucked up? I was in my early 20s when the last recession hit, but I am actually hoping for another recession to really throw a wrench in the works before the 2020 elections. I'm hoping for that because I don't know if there is anything else that could finally, finally break the back of the Republican Party.
posted by Vic Morrow's Personal Vietnam at 9:23 PM on December 20 [16 favorites]


I don't know if there is anything else that could finally, finally break the back of the Republican Party.

i used to hope for this, too, but if the last two years have taught us anything, it's that you can't break the back of an invertebrate
posted by murphy slaw at 9:26 PM on December 20 [122 favorites]


I think a recession is quite likely before the election.
posted by Chrysostom at 9:26 PM on December 20 [9 favorites]


This is somewhat off topic, but I post it here as a bittersweet salve to everyone on this incredibly stressful day:

The final "Hamildrop" of the year is a remix of "One Last Time" featuring Christopher Jackson, Bebe Winans... and Barack Obama
posted by Rhaomi at 9:30 PM on December 20 [30 favorites]


Following up: the "Blob" -- the foreign-policy / national-security establishment in DC, which crosses party lines -- has plenty of culpability for the past couple of decades, but it is also fairly transparent about its policy goals: American prosperity and safety relies upon dependable alliances, soft power most of the time, and hard power when needed. That goes all the way back to George Kennan. Mattis belongs to the military side of that policy tradition. His resignation letter essentially says that those days are gone unless you want to do something about it.
posted by holgate at 9:31 PM on December 20 [7 favorites]


The final "Hamildrop" of the year is a remix of "One Last Time" featuring Christopher Jackson, Bebe Winans... and Barack Obama

It won't surprise longterm politics-threads readers to learn that I've seen Hamilton more than once, both during the Obama Administration and the Trump Administration. And one thing that stood out to me is that this song, "One Last Time" made me sad for what we were losing during the final year of Obama's term, but it made me unexpectedly angry seeing it during the Trump era. A song about public service and striving to serve to the best of your abilities is downright frustrating when sung against the background of somebody so out to enrich himself that he was surprised to discover 100 days after becoming President that the job "involves heart."

And after the day we've had today, hearing Obama read "forty-five years of my life dedicated to its service with an upright zeal" leaves me furious at the man who has never spent one day considering the notion of service, and hearing him read of the retirement wish, denied to him, to "realize the sweet enjoyment of partaking in the midst of my fellow-citizens, the benign influence of good laws" is a gutpunch.
posted by zachlipton at 9:35 PM on December 20 [53 favorites]


Here's the original moose-and-squirrel DHS "Walls work" article, with minimal use of articles and maximum fluffing of the prez: https://web.archive.org/web/20181212224326/https://www.dhs.gov/news/2018/12/12/walls-work. What's going on here? Are there so many Russians trudging around the white house that other cabinet members have picked up their speech patterns? Was this satire? A Russian intern? It's not the most odious thing that has come out of this administration, but it certainly points to a lack of institutional substance.
posted by morspin at 9:45 PM on December 20 [5 favorites]


@JBWolfsthal (Obama National Security Council senior director who directed nuclear and nonproliferation policy): This should scare everyone. Mattis has inserted himself into the nuclear weapons chain of command and reassured Senators for @GOP and @DNC that he could manage @realDonaldTrump dangerous nuclear impulses. This greatly increases risks of nuclear use.

The linked thread goes into more detail on the how, which honestly leaves a lot of questions about Mattis's duty to warn given his apparent assessment of the President, and I'd highly recommend not reading it before bed.
posted by zachlipton at 9:47 PM on December 20 [8 favorites]


If Mattis actually believes what he wrote in the resignation letter it would seem to be his duty to invoke the 25th amendment. A traitorous president doesn't "deserve" a compliant Secretary of Defense, what the actual fuck is Mattis even thinking with writing such a scathing letter and NOT TAKING some kind of action to STOP the things he sees as such a threat to the country? How fucking dare he try to walk away from this. He has a fucking duty to defend the Constitution. Fucking hell.
posted by odinsdream at 9:53 PM on December 20 [54 favorites]


It's big, it's heavy, it's tall.
it's wall, wall!
posted by quonsar II: smock fishpants and the temple of foon at 9:56 PM on December 20 [45 favorites]


what the actual fuck is Mattis even thinking with writing such a scathing letter and NOT TAKING some kind of action to STOP the things he sees as such a threat to the country?

I'm just going to choose to believe that that's why he's staying on for a couple months instead of quitting now and hope I don't wake up to some horrible news tomorrow.
posted by edeezy at 10:13 PM on December 20


Looking at it from the other side: the White House occupant likes big beautiful armies and military parades and spending lots of money on them, but doesn't really want them involved in the current messy conflicts. That's at least as much a recipe for bad things as being involved in messy conflicts.

There's a reason why standing armies were considered a threat to liberty in the late 1700s, and why there's constitutional two-year limit on appropriations. (The precedent comes from the UK, where maintaining a standing army in peacetime required parliamentary approval.)
posted by holgate at 10:14 PM on December 20 [1 favorite]


There's a reason why standing armies were considered a threat to liberty in the late 1700s, and why there's constitutional two-year limit on appropriations.

As one of your vice-presidents once said:
A standing army is like a standing member. It's an excellent assurance of domestic tranquility, but a dangerous temptation to foreign adventure.
posted by chappell, ambrose at 10:22 PM on December 20 [39 favorites]


I find I am shockingly unprepared to handle a US governed entirely by skin suits full of bees.

Cockroaches. Bees are cooperative and useful insects.
posted by Stoneshop at 10:32 PM on December 20 [52 favorites]


And matriarchal and communist.
posted by Scattercat at 10:34 PM on December 20 [54 favorites]


The only palace intrigue I’m particularly interested in, of which Mattis is related to, is our surrender in Syria, thus allowing Erdogan to commit ethnic cleansing against the Kurds. My heart aches for them. Knowing full well what the Kurds in the cantons of Northern Syria were trying to accomplish, I can’t even imagine what unbearable tragedy will befall them, especially the women. I have no more words. I hate America.
posted by gucci mane at 10:34 PM on December 20 [48 favorites]


The only palace intrigue I’m particularly interested in, of which Mattis is related to, is our surrender in Syria,

End of Mattis' resignation letter para 3, Mattis refers to the "Defeat ISIS Coalition", which is a real thing The Global Coalition To Defeat ISIS: Partners ( Dept of State ) , which has a [Would You Like to Know More?] leading to The Global Coalition against Daesh
The Global Coalition against Daesh was formed in September 2014 and is unique in its membership, scope and commitment. Together, the Global Coalition is committed to degrading and ultimately defeating Daesh.

The Coalition’s 79 members are committed to tackling Daesh on all fronts, to dismantling its networks and countering its global ambitions. Beyond the military campaign in Iraq and Syria, the Coalition is committed to: tackling Daesh’s financing and economic infrastructure; preventing the flow of foreign terrorist fighters across borders; supporting stabilisation and the restoration of essential public services to areas liberated from Daesh; and countering the group’s propaganda
100% Speculation. This Coalition was something Mattis cared about, and thought made a difference, so Trump's "Mission Accomplished" moment, shitting on people Mattis may personally know, ( in addition to leaving the Kurds out to dry, AGAIN ) was too much to bear.

I guess the "Don't contradict the military's C-I-C" is burned into him too deep to go full-25th Amendment, though.

110% Speculation. US Marine Mueller and US Marine Mattis, maybe the traditions still mean something, and Mattis knows something about February...

HOLY SHIT. Mueller may submit report to attorney general as soon as mid-February, say sources

Edit: rhizome figured this out earlier...
posted by mikelieman at 10:54 PM on December 20 [5 favorites]


This Coalition was something Mattis cared about, and thought made a difference, so Trump's "Mission Accomplished" moment, shitting on people Mattis may personally know, ( in addition to leaving the Kurds out to dry, AGAIN ) was too much to bear.

I think Mattis simply has taken a history class and knows that a The Dutch Leaving Africa strategy will make things not-good, even more not-good than they are currently slated to become, and for generations.

Trump's idea of battle strategy is to turn the board sideways and exclaim, "now we're playing Frontgammon!"
posted by rhizome at 11:11 PM on December 20 [23 favorites]


I'm wary of any reporting about Mueller's supposed timetable or intentions, because the sourcing tends to come from witnesses or their lawyers. However, NBC's report has a shared byline of Pete Williams (DOJ / SCOTUS) and Ken Dilanian (nat-sec / intel). That's pretty heavyweight, and "government officials and others familiar with the situation" is stronger attribution than usual. I'm guessing they pooled their sources, which may include Congressional ones, and it points to something like Marcy Wheeler's suggestion back in October that any report outside of indictments would be a vehicle to transmit grand jury information to the House Judiciary Committee.
posted by holgate at 11:29 PM on December 20 [3 favorites]


Alternatively, acting AG Whitaker is vacuuming up info, spewing it to Trump as fast as humanly possible, and the bloodsucking eels in both of their camps are monetizing their access to information.

With Whitaker (or Barr) in charge, I don’t think we can view the Mueller investigation as leak-proof. Mueller and his team are a locked safe but from Whitaker on up it’s all rot. Whitaker explicitly ignored information that he would be directed to recuse if he went through formal ethics review, so he simply skipped that step. Does anybody think he didn’t immediately slurp all information he could possibly get on Trump’s exposure and pass it on? Wonder why Trump is having the freakout of the century right now?
posted by SakuraK at 12:08 AM on December 21 [8 favorites]


There needs to be consequences for surrendering in Syria. We’re giving Erdogan free reign to slaughter our allies in a genocide. ”Turkey said Kurdish militants east of the Euphrates in Syria “will be buried in their ditches when the time comes”, after President Donald Trump began what will be a total withdrawal of U.S. troops from Syria.” Alongside giving Putin a strategic advantage, this is full-blown surrendering. I’m no fan of US troops being in any country, but I’m especially not a fan of ethnic cleansing whether we’re doing it or another country is doing it. Full stop. Turkey is gloating about annihilating an ethnic minority and burying them in mass graves.

It’s just incredible to me that any of this is happening. I wake up everyday thinking to myself “this can’t be real.” I know that we’ve been party to terrible, inhumane actions throughout our history, and have supported and propped up dictatorships, but it’s hard to wrap my head around the concreteness of our current reality versus the abstractness of history.
posted by gucci mane at 12:15 AM on December 21 [58 favorites]


I ventured, alone, into the fetid swamps that make up the comments section of a right-wing blog here in New Zealand. The most recommended comment on the Mattis resignation was something to the effect that no matter how bad Trump is, the Clintons would have been worse. We all know that is how they, i.e. Trumpists, think, but when you see it live in the field as it were, it is nonetheless still shocking. I mean, is that all they have? It could have been worse? The sheer irrationality of it all stuns me. But as has been noted here many times, this irrationality is a feature, not a bug. Trumpists are willfully ignorant. That is, they choose, deliberately and carefully, to be ill-informed and ignorant.

I so well remember when Sarah Palin railed against the government for spending money on fruit fly research. It would have taken less than 30 seconds for her, or any of her staff, to search the Internet to understand the importance of fruit flies in scientific research. It wasn't laziness or an unwillingness to learn about this issue that prevented Palin from finding out about fruit flies: it was that she chose to be ignorant. She was willfully so.

If you are informed and knowledgeable about an issue, then you are a liberal elitist who doesn't listen or care, about the problems of 'ordinary' people. You are the problem precisely because you are knowledgeable.

Thus with Trump and the Mattis resignation. To keep arguing that however mad and bad Trump is, his Presidency is preferable to some imagined world of a Clinton Presidency is insane.

I get that politics, like football, can be tribal. Sure. We choose our sides and stick with them. But arguing that the present chaos in American politics would have been even worse under a different President, that takes a form of madness and ignorance I really don't understand.
posted by vac2003 at 12:22 AM on December 21 [52 favorites]


A hopeful thought: Mattis is one of the Cabinet members who can vote to trigger an Article 25 removal of Trump, right? By announcing he's resigning but not for over 2 months, he may be broadly and publicly hinting to the other officials with a vote that he'd be happy to help organize such a move.

This makes even more sense if he has some inside information about damaging information (or reports or indictments) that might come out during that time.
posted by msalt at 12:27 AM on December 21 [6 favorites]


Well, at least it's not the Syrian government that's making those threats. The Turkish government ostensibly still has to listen to its erstwhile allies. If they actually try to commit war crimes then Turkey will be booted out of NATO, goodbye any potential EU ambitions, hello sanctions.
posted by Apocryphon at 12:32 AM on December 21 [1 favorite]


Sure, there was lots of passive-aggressive shade in Mattis’ letter, but it was still full of language about how proud he was to serve and what Trump “deserves”

I think there’s a crucial difference in that paraphrase and what Mattis actually wrote, that the president has a right to have [not "deserves"] a Secretary of Defense whose views are better aligned with [his] on these and other subjects. "Deserves" sounds more like Mattis admitting there may be some merit to Trump’s agenda but irreconcilable differences bla bla bla, when he’s really only going so far as admitting that Trump has the bare right to set the agenda.

And regarding his being proud to serve, it’s all about the country and men and women in uniform. Never once is he claiming pride in having served the president or the administration.
posted by xigxag at 12:33 AM on December 21 [7 favorites]


The mystery for us now is whether any mechanism remains to punish Trump for his crimes. The conspirators caught early, e.g. Papadopoulos and Cohen, got jokes of sentences compared to what they would have gotten if they were arrested while being Black and smoking pot. Flynn, who sold us out to both the Russians and the Turks, is on travel release so that he can go with his family on an overseas Christmas trip. No Trump has been indicted for any of the crimes they’ve committed in the past 30 years, and they keep committing new crimes with an alacrity that convinces me they believe they are untouchable.

Sure, the forthcoming Democratic House can impeach, but the Republican Senate won’t convict under any circumstances.
posted by SakuraK at 12:38 AM on December 21 [15 favorites]


Since the coup, Turkey must now realise there’s a snowball’s chance in hell of EU membership, so NATO membership and sanctions are the only thing standing between the Kurds fighting Daesh without the presence of their token US support.
posted by Wilder at 1:03 AM on December 21 [1 favorite]


The mystery for us now is whether any mechanism remains to punish Trump for his crimes. The conspirators caught early, e.g. Papadopoulos and Cohen, got jokes of sentences compared to what they would have gotten if they were arrested while being Black and smoking pot. Flynn, who sold us out to both the Russians and the Turks, is on travel release so that he can go with his family on an overseas Christmas trip. No Trump has been indicted for any of the crimes they’ve committed in the past 30 years, and they keep committing new crimes with an alacrity that convinces me they believe they are untouchable.

Sure, the forthcoming Democratic House can impeach, but the Republican Senate won’t convict under any circumstances.


the only thing that will feel right is like fairy tale punishments. They all get turned to stone, or whatever.
posted by The Whelk at 2:04 AM on December 21 [38 favorites]


I know that we’ve been party to terrible, inhumane actions throughout our history, and have supported and propped up dictatorships, but it’s hard to wrap my head around the concreteness of our current reality versus the abstractness of history.

Just like slavery and Jim Crow, this "history" isn't abstract to the millions of people who have suffered from it (and continue to suffer from it).

And we're not even talking ancient history here. The Iraq War, with its very real death toll in the millions, started just 15 years ago. Obama murdered a teenage US citizen just 8 years ago while Trump murdered his 8 year old sister last year. Yemen has become a very concrete hellscape of death and starvation thanks to the Saudi fighter-bombers that Hillary Clinton sold as Secretary of State just 6 years ago.

And some context to how America has treated "our Kurdish allies": the US provided material support to Saddam, even when he was bombing the Kurds with chemical weapons.
The Reagan administration did not stop aiding Iraq after receiving reports affirming the use of poison gas on Kurdish civilians.

Joost R. Hiltermann says that when the Iraqi military turned its chemical weapons on the Kurds during the war, killing approximately 5,000 people in the town of Halabja and injuring thousands more, the Reagan administration actually sought to obscure Iraqi leadership culpability by suggesting, inaccurately, that the Iranians may have carried out the attack.
Thank goodness for adults in the room.
posted by Ouverture at 3:34 AM on December 21 [33 favorites]


SakuraK: No Trump has been indicted for any of the crimes they’ve committed in the past 30 years, and they keep committing new crimes with an alacrity that convinces me they believe they are untouchable.

Sure, the forthcoming Democratic House can impeach, but the Republican Senate won’t convict under any circumstances.


Of course, "conviction" after impeachment only means removal from office, and thus isn't really a punishment at all; the point is just to save the country from any especially bad/criminal/etc leader. It's never possible for Congress to sentence anyone to prison.

So the presumptive Republican unwillingness to get rid of Individual 1 is totally separate from the question of whether he ever spends time behind bars, except insofar as being president may save from him that for the present (and of course the possibility of a pardon from a Republican successor, if it comes to that).

Also, I wouldn't infer a sense of untouchability from the boldness; they could simply feel they are in too deep to quit the life of crime now. Even if, say, Eric were worried about getting caught, would he have the nerve to raise those fears with the others? In effect, turning his back on the family and what it stands for? No. So they all trudge forward, with tunnel vision. That's how you prevent yourself from seeing that the emperor has no clothes.
posted by InTheYear2017 at 4:05 AM on December 21 [2 favorites]


Department of light relief:

Britain's Channel 4 has just announced that it's alternative Christmas message this year will be delivered by the actor Danny Dyer. As you can see from this preview, he will use the broadcast to call Donald Trump "an absolute melt", which urbandictionary.com defines as "an absolute complete fucking idiot" and "a person who has no balls, needs to man up, gives in to anything".

Dyer became a national treasure in Britain this year when he repeatedly called former Prime Minister David Cameron "a twat" on live television. Chances are it was that interview which persuaded Channel 4 to give him the Christmas Day gig.
posted by Paul Slade at 4:07 AM on December 21 [3 favorites]


Trump made a very strong point of "owning" a government shutdown just a few days ago. Now he tweets: "Senator Mitch McConnell should fight for the Wall and Border Security as hard as he fought for anything. He will need Democrat votes, but as shown in the House, good things happen. If enough Dems don’t vote, it will be a Democrat Shutdown! House Republicans were great yesterday!
posted by stonepharisee at 4:07 AM on December 21 [3 favorites]


From yesterday, which would have been big news on its own…

ABC: US Indicts Alleged Chinese Hackers For 'Unrelenting Effort' to Steal Tech
In a warning to Beijing, Deputy Attorney General Rosenstein said the U.S. and its allies “know what China is doing, why they’re doing it” and sometimes even “who is at the keyboard” while the alleged thefts are going on.[…]

The indictment, unsealed Thursday, accuses Zhu Hua and Zhang Shilong of being members of a hacking group known as APT10, also known as Stone Panda and MenuPass.

“From at least in or about 2006 up to and including or about 2018, members of the APT10 Group, including [the defendants] conducted extensive campaigns of global intrusions into computer systems,” the indictment said. The Justice Department says the pair worked for a technology company and “acted in association with” Chinese state security.

The Justice Department said that through the “technology theft campaign” that reached into companies and organizations in several U.S. states, APT10 “stole hundreds of gigabytes of sensitive data” from a “diverse array” of industries, from space and satellite technology to pharmaceuticals.
WaPo goes into further detail: U. S. Charges Chinese Hackers In Alleged Theft of Vast Trove Of Confidential Data In 12 Countries
The United States and four of its closest allies on Thursday blamed China for a 12-year campaign of cyberattacks that vacuumed up technology and trade secrets from corporate computers in 12 countries, affecting almost every major global industry.

The coordinated announcements in five capitals marked the Trump administration’s broadest anti-China initiative to date, yet it fell short of even stronger measures that officials had planned.

During debate, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin blocked a proposal to impose financial sanctions on those implicated in the hacking, according to five sources familiar with the matter. Two administration officials said Mnuchin acted out of fear that sanctions would interfere with U.S.-China trade talks.[…]

U.S. allies echoed the Justice Department action, signaling a growing consensus that Beijing is flouting international norms in its bid to become the world’s predominant economic and technological power.

In the capitals of the United Kingdom, Australia, Canada and New Zealand, ministers knocked China for violating a 2015 pledge — offered by Chinese President Xi Jinping in the White House’s Rose Garden and repeated at international gatherings such as the Group of 20 summit — to refrain from hacking for commercial gain.

“This campaign is one of the most significant and widespread cyber intrusions against the U.K. and allies uncovered to date, targeting trade secrets and economies around the world,” British Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt said in a statement.
In a highly informative thread, BBC China correspondent has their response: "More from #China Foreign Ministry's Spokeswoman Hua Chunyin today: These are "groundless accusations" from the #USA relying on "un-named sources" and "incorrect numbers". She said, unlike Washington, "China has never supported anyone in cyber espionage". Really?"

News just won't stop happening.
posted by Doktor Zed at 4:15 AM on December 21 [13 favorites]


Drilling in Refuge Is a Small Step Closer to Reality
The Interior Department on Thursday took a key step toward allowing oil and gas drilling in a pristine wildlife refuge in Arctic Alaska, putting forth proposals it said would protect the animals there but that would end decades of environmental protections.

The four possible plans, which would determine what parts of the coastal plain of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge could be opened to drilling, were included in a draft environmental report prepared by the Bureau of Land Management.

....

“This isn’t a legitimate effort to look at how to avoid impacts,” said Adam Kolton, executive director of the Alaska Wilderness League. “This is a race against a political clock, to get leases before a new administration takes office.”
The report is open for public comment (see "draft environmental report" link) for 45 days, until Feb 11, 2019.
posted by solotoro at 4:52 AM on December 21 [11 favorites]


James Mattis Is Out; What Comes Next?
(The New Yorker)
What happens now? It’s tempting to think that Trump, given his fondness for men in uniform, might reappoint another officer, and maybe another officer in the mold of Jim Mattis. There are plenty of retired generals with years of combat experience standing at the ready. But I wouldn’t bet on it. In pulling out of Syria now—so abruptly, so mindlessly—Trump has demonstrated just what he thinks of what America’s role in the world should be: minimal, transactional, and value-free.

And he’s the boss.
posted by Barack Spinoza at 5:08 AM on December 21 [5 favorites]


A morning of alarm’: Mattis departure sends shock waves abroad (WaPo)
The anxiety sweeping the globe Friday reflected the head-spinning news of the previous 48 hours. Not only was Mattis leaving, he was implicitly rebuking the president on his way out for undermining U.S. alliances and failing to recognize the threat posed by America’s enemies.

... “A morning of alarm in Europe” was how Carl Bildt, co-chairman of the European Council on Foreign Relations and formerly prime minister of Sweden, described the reaction to news of the defense secretary’s exit.

... The concern felt in Berlin was no less pronounced in Paris, where François Heisbourg, a former French diplomatic adviser, wrote on Twitter that Mattis had stabilized a dysfunctional administration and “helped preserve the Western alliance system.” “Believe me, America’s allies are already reviewing all options,” wrote Heisbourg, who is president of the International Institute for Strategic Studies.

“This is big bad,” he added.
posted by Barack Spinoza at 5:19 AM on December 21 [21 favorites]


I usually call him Condor Freedomdork, but even a broken libertarian clock...
And America’s ability to constructively debate the president’s actions is not helped by the fact that his corrupt political allies, dubious campaign behavior, opaque business empire, and bizarre behavior all raise the possibility that he is being blackmailed to act in the interest of Russia, Turkey or both.

Even so, disdain for Trump and excessive deference to the foreign-policy establishment has caused much of the news media to err in its coverage—to treat the risky, costly, unconstitutional policy of maintaining a troop presence in Syria indefinitely as though it is obviously best, and to fail to treat the withdrawal of troops as a legitimate, reasonable position, even though it fulfills a campaign promise, enjoys popular support, remedies ongoing illegality, and has many plausible arguments that recommend it over quite unappealing alternatives.
posted by Ouverture at 5:23 AM on December 21 [5 favorites]


It was a ways upthread, but: Rumors are swirling that Tom Cotton may be [Mattis'] nominated replacement.

Rumors have swirled about Tom Cotton being nominated for CIA director, and then for DHS secretary, over most of Trump's term. In the 2018 elections, Republicans in Arkansas held every House seat, and the Republican governor won easily. The Trump administration is a revolving door. If Cotton wanted a job, and Trump wanted to give him one, I think it would've happened by now.

Tom Cotton, like some other Republican politicians (e.g. Marco Rubio), is a fairly smart guy whose moral core, to the degree that he has one, is that he wants to be President. The highest percentage play, for somebody like that, is to support Trump's policies, but try not to go out on any limbs, and definitely don't get in bed with the guy. I don't expect Tom Cotton to take a job in the Trump administration.
posted by box at 5:33 AM on December 21 [6 favorites]


Trump threatens government shutdown ‘will last for a very long time’ if Democrats oppose House bill that includes border wall money (WaPo)
President Trump on Friday threatened that a partial government shutdown would last “for a very long time” if Congress does not meet his demand Friday for billions in funding for his long-promised border wall in a stopgap spending measure.

In a spate of morning tweets, Trump sought to pin blame on Democrats for a potential shutdown even though he said last week that he would proudly own one if lawmakers did not provide at least $5 billion toward his marquee campaign promise.

And he suggested that Senate rules should be changed if necessary so that Republicans could pass the bill without any Democratic support.

... Trump’s warning came ahead of a midnight deadline for the president and Congress to come to terms on a spending bill to avert a partial government shutdown that would affect funding for roughly 25 percent of the federal agencies whose budgets rely on Congress.
posted by Barack Spinoza at 5:33 AM on December 21 [4 favorites]


Pew Research has some year end perspective in the form of data. There is some good news for the future demographically, amidst all the horrible peaks of nazi/inequality/injustice.
posted by Harry Caul at 5:34 AM on December 21 [3 favorites]


I’m OK with a shutdown’: Inside the chaos of the House GOP’s last days (Rachel Bade)

Trump gave a green light to his party’s hard-liners, and the House Republican majority ends with Washington barreling into another crisis of its own making.
posted by Barack Spinoza at 5:36 AM on December 21 [2 favorites]


And he suggested that Senate rules should be changed if necessary so that Republicans could pass the bill without any Democratic support.

Fine. Please do this now so when/if Democrats ever retake the Senate we won't have to go through the ridiculous hand wringing in the media over preserving the filibuster, and won't have to convince our sniveling worm of a Leader Chuck Schumer to actually do it.

I'll trade 5 billion for the wall for DC and PR statehood right now. And single payer. And 2 new SCOTUS seats. Please Ba'er Trump!
posted by T.D. Strange at 5:38 AM on December 21 [22 favorites]


Mattis Leaving Might Be The Most Important Trump Administration Exit Yet (538.com)
Every time some high-level member of the Trump administration leaves, the staff at FiveThirtyEight debate whether it’s a big deal — and therefore whether we should cover it. Sometimes the consequences of these departures are over-hyped. Sometimes the consequences aren’t clear, so there’s not much to do but speculate. But Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis’s resignation on Thursday is a big deal. A really big deal.
Summary:

1. Mattis quit in protest, naming Trump’s Russia policies along the way.

2. Secretary of Defense is a hugely powerful job, and Mattis lent the Trump administration gravitas in foreign policy.

3. Mattis’s resignation is the latest sign of a fissure between Trump and the Republican establishment.

4. Mattis’s exit fits a pattern of Trump getting rid of internal rivals and promoting loyalists.
posted by Barack Spinoza at 5:46 AM on December 21 [9 favorites]


Obamacare sign-ups surge in final tally (Vox)

2019 enrollment fell just slightly behind 2018 after a strong final week.
posted by Barack Spinoza at 5:52 AM on December 21 [22 favorites]


3. Mattis’s resignation is the latest sign of a fissure between Trump and the Republican establishment.

See also: "Surely This."
posted by ZenMasterThis at 5:56 AM on December 21 [37 favorites]


Is anyone tracking guest appearances on Fox News to see who is auditioning for secretary of defense?
posted by peeedro at 6:04 AM on December 21 [1 favorite]


‘I had no idea how beautiful the border is’: Beto O’Rourke solicits photos of habitats at risk from Trump’s wall; WaPo, Megan Flynn
posted by mcdoublewide at 6:05 AM on December 21 [19 favorites]


'We don’t have to yell’: Wolf Blitzer tells Stephen Miller to ‘calm down’ during border wall interview (Allyson Chiu, WaPo)
When White House senior policy adviser Stephen Miller went on CNN for a live interview Thursday night, Wolf Blitzer instantly took notice of his guest’s appearance.

But it wasn’t Miller’s widely-discussed hairline that caught the anchor’s attention. Filling the screen above a news chyron that read in all capital letters, “DEFENSE SECRETARY QUITS IN PROTEST OVER TRUMP MIDDLE EAST POLICY AS GOVERNMENT SHUTDOWN LOOMS AND FINANCIAL MARKETS TANK,” Miller had a broad smile across his face.

“I see you smiling, but right now it doesn’t look like there’s a lot to smile about," Blitzer said. "Very serious issues.” […]

"This president’s been very clear about the fact he will defend America like no one else,” Miller said, talking faster and louder as he went on. "He will have a military power second to none. He will kill terrorists wherever and whenever he has to."
Miller signed off the interview with "I'll be in my bunk." [fake]
posted by Johnny Wallflower at 6:06 AM on December 21 [9 favorites]


'We don’t have to yell’: Wolf Blitzer tells Stephen Miller to ‘calm down’ during border wall interview (Allyson Chiu, WaPo)

I watched this, and I'm always amazed that the Tech Director doesn't have the audio guy put a limiter on Miller's mic and ride it down whenever he tries to talk over the host.
posted by mikelieman at 6:24 AM on December 21 [11 favorites]


This is just so nuts. It's like someone asked Putin what he wants for Christmas and he just rattled off a crazy wishlist like Americans out of Syria, hell Afghanistan too. Cripple the American Department of Defense. And fuck it, just shut down the American government.

And then Santa was all YOU GOT IT BRO.
posted by lazaruslong at 6:28 AM on December 21 [93 favorites]


Trump threatens government shutdown ‘will last for a very long time’ if Democrats oppose House bill that includes border wall money

So. General strike, then?
posted by contraption at 6:41 AM on December 21 [11 favorites]


If they actually try to commit war crimes then Turkey will be booted out of NATO, goodbye any potential EU ambitions, hello sanctions.

They already have been committing war crimes and getting away with it, see for e.g. the attack on Afrin in January this year. As well as creating ~167,000 refugees:
Between 385 and 510 civilians have been reported killed since the operation started.[51][57][61] Other war crime allegations include the mutilation of a female corpse by Turkish-backed Free Syrian Army (TFSA) fighters,[80] the killing of civilians due to indiscriminate shelling by Turkish forces,[81] the use of chemical gas by the Turkish Army,[82] and the indiscriminate shooting of refugees fleeing from the conflict area into Turkey by Turkish border guards.
[wikipedia]

The main issue with the U.S. withdrawal will be the the same as in Gulf War 1, the lack of air-defences will allow the use of attack helicopters [twitter thread about their use in Afrin] against the Kurds. And, as noted in this video by one of the foreign volunteer fighters, they can use their rental-terrorists to commit the worst atrocities to provide the minimum required sliver of deniability. (The video is is time-linked, but worth watching in its entirety as it also describes the remarkable modern and egalitarian society that the Kurds have been creating and evolving.)

It's hard to see that it's anything other than Trump paying off Turkey to keep them silent about Khashoggi murder with potentially hundreds (if not thousands) more deaths. Whatever the Saudis have on (or are paying) him must be big.
posted by Buntix at 6:44 AM on December 21 [15 favorites]


Doktor Zed: From yesterday, which would have been big news on its own…

ABC: US Indicts Alleged Chinese Hackers For 'Unrelenting Effort' to Steal Tech
In a warning to Beijing, Deputy Attorney General Rosenstein said the U.S. and its allies “know what China is doing, why they’re doing it” and sometimes even “who is at the keyboard” while the alleged thefts are going on.[…]

The indictment, unsealed Thursday, accuses Zhu Hua and Zhang Shilong of being members of a hacking group known as APT10, also known as Stone Panda and MenuPass.

US and allies: New hacks mean China broke 2015 economic espionage pact -- China hacked more than 245 companies and agencies, including US Navy and NASA. (Sean Gallagher, Dec. 20, 2018)
In a press conference this morning, Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein and FBI Director Christopher Wray announced indictments of two Chinese men connected with China's Ministry of State Security and the hacking group known as APT 10. The two are accused of being responsible for a recent wave of attacks on managed service providers (MSPs) that ultimately targeted both companies and government agencies in 12 countries, including the US. The two are also accused of stealing the Social Security numbers and other personal data of more than 100,000 Navy service members.
...
The actions, Rosenstein said, are in direct violation of China's 2015 agreement with the US to end economic cyber-espionage and other commitments China made to members of the G-20 economic group and the world community. "In 2015, China promised to stop stealing trade secrets and other confidential business information through computer hacking with the intent of providing competitive advantages to companies or sectors," Rosenstein said. "The activity alleged in this indictment violates the commitment that China made to members of the international community."
posted by filthy light thief at 6:47 AM on December 21 [7 favorites]


Bipartisan carbon-tax bill introduced in the Senate offers glimpse at future -- Senate bill is different from House bill introduced last month. (Megan Geuss for Ars Technica, Dec. 20, 2018)
On Wednesday, Senators Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.) and Chris Coons (D-Del.) introduced a Senate bill to impose a carbon tax on major industrial carbon emitters throughout the US. The Senate bill is a version of a bipartisan House bill that was introduced in late November. Although most analysis agrees that the bills don't stand a chance of becoming law, they are important as concrete examples of avenues that US lawmakers are taking to explore bipartisan climate-change policy.
Bold moves from Flake, with one foot out the door and the clock ticking down on his term. Still, better than sitting on his hands.
posted by filthy light thief at 6:49 AM on December 21 [5 favorites]


Longform: A New South Rising: This Time for Real (Bob Moser, American Prospect)
But the demise of the Blue Dogs did not spell doom for progressive prospects down South. Quite the contrary: What had actually, and helpfully, died was only the Democrats’ antiquated formula for winning elections in Dixie—the stubborn notion that only white, Clinton-style compromisers could ever hope to carry elections in the region. In the post–civil rights era, the formerly insular Sun Belt South had gradually—and then rapidly—transformed into the most racially and culturally diverse region in the country. But its politics had lagged behind, partly because the Democratic Party still clung to its old Southern stereotypes, convinced despite mounting setbacks that recapturing white Reagan Democrats was still the magic formula for success in a state like Georgia or Texas.

Southern progressives saw it differently: Instead of helping Democrats win, the endless chase for crossover conservative white voters had convinced millions of African Americans, Latinos, Asians, and young, liberal white folk to sit out elections. “The Democrats couldn’t see our power, even if we did,” says LaTosha Brown, the Atlanta-based co-founder of Black Voters Matter. And so BVM, along with an array of groups dedicated to turning the South’s rising majority into a political movement—Voto Latino, Texas’s Jolt Initiative, Woke Vote, and BlackPAC, to name a few—set out to prove those Democrats wrong.
posted by ZeusHumms at 7:11 AM on December 21 [52 favorites]


Trump made a very strong point of "owning" a government shutdown just a few days ago. Now he tweets: "Senator Mitch McConnell should fight for the Wall and Border Security as hard as he fought for anything. He will need Democrat votes, but as shown in the House, good things happen. If enough Dems don’t vote, it will be a Democrat Shutdown! House Republicans were great yesterday!

Trump is very good at blaming minorities.
posted by jeremias at 7:12 AM on December 21 [35 favorites]


I'm always amazed that the Tech Director doesn't have the audio guy put a limiter on Miller's mic and ride it down whenever he tries to talk over the host.

More people are watching that clip than would be watching a clip titled "STEPHEN MILLER GETS SILENCED BY DIRECTOR".
posted by Etrigan at 7:15 AM on December 21 [3 favorites]


The First Family of Fraud (Paul Waldman, American Prospect)
… But when we look back now and recall that there was actually a vigorous debate in the media in 2016 about whether not Donald Trump but Hillary Clinton was too corrupt to be president, the mind boggles.

That's because, as I've argued repeatedly for some time now, even as he ran for president it was obvious that Trump was not simply someone who ignored some inconvenient rules or regularly stretched the truth in his life's work of self-promotion. No, he may well be the single-most corrupt major business figure in America. Not so much because of the scale of his corruption—there are Wall Street bankers who pulled scams with bigger dollar amounts—but because of its variety, its sheer depravity, and the way it was woven into everything Trump did.
posted by ZeusHumms at 7:18 AM on December 21 [38 favorites]


I'm always amazed that the Tech Director doesn't have the audio guy put a limiter on Miller's mic and ride it down whenever he tries to talk over the host.

More people are watching that clip than would be watching a clip titled "STEPHEN MILLER GETS SILENCED BY DIRECTOR".


The only way to win their game is not to play at all.
posted by C'est la D.C. at 7:21 AM on December 21 [6 favorites]


So utterly predictable. Trump tweets: "The Democrats now own the shutdown!"
posted by Xyanthilous P. Harrierstick at 7:25 AM on December 21 [5 favorites]


WaPo: Ethics officials said Whitaker should recuse from the Mueller probe, but his advisers told him not to, officials say. Whitaker will now be briefed on Mueller's investigation going forward, despite the advice of DOJ ethics officials.

Former Obama senior DAG counsel Eric Columbus:
Whitaker’s team wrongly claims no AG has ever recused to avoid an appearance of conflict. It’s actually happened at least 3 times:

1. Ashcroft in Valerie Plame leak investigation (h/t @nycsouthpaw)

2. Holder in John Edwards investigation.

3. Holder in AP leak investigation.
posted by Doktor Zed at 7:27 AM on December 21 [31 favorites]


So dumb. So much chaos by the toddler that his meeting with GOP today at the WH hasn't even passed protocol. Senators can't get in.
posted by Harry Caul at 7:47 AM on December 21 [5 favorites]


I don’t see a resolution here that does not include Senate Dems caving on Wall funds. I hope smarter people than me do though!
posted by notyou at 7:52 AM on December 21 [2 favorites]


More people are watching that clip than would be watching a clip titled "STEPHEN MILLER GETS SILENCED BY DIRECTOR".

I'm not suggesting that he duck Miller's audio, but rather that he takes the strident edge off of it. This is a minor issue overall considering CNN giving this nitwit a soapbox to stand on in the first place, and Blitzer's abdication of his responsibility to direct the discussion and not let Miller pontificate at length in the first place.

< /MediaAnalysys >
posted by mikelieman at 7:52 AM on December 21 [4 favorites]


I don’t see a resolution here that does not include Senate Dems caving on Wall funds.

10 day shutdown followed by the Democratic House taking over in January. Pelosi passes a clean bill to reopen the government and the Senate passes it daring Trump to veto it. He either signs it, or vetos, and the Senate has the votes to override.
posted by T.D. Strange at 7:58 AM on December 21 [76 favorites]


I don’t see a resolution here that does not include Senate Dems caving on Wall funds. I hope smarter people than me do though!

Democrats have zero reason to give in here, and the ones most likely to flip already lost their reelections (except Manchin).

Trump and the Republicans own this shutdown; and Trump always caves eventually.
posted by leotrotsky at 7:58 AM on December 21 [10 favorites]


Whitaker’s team wrongly claims no AG has ever recused to avoid an appearance of conflict. It’s actually happened at least 3 times:

And Lynch kinda sorta partially recused herself (she said she would abide by whatever recommendation the FBI made) from the Hillary EMAILS investigation, which is why Comey was making announcements.

That was just about the appearance of a conflict too, because she had a conversation with Bill Clinton during the investigation, but Republicans flipped out about that conversation. I know "imagine if a Democrat did the things Trump does" is a tired trope, but it's just impossible not to keep noticing the double standard when they keep slapping us in the face with it.

(Lynch should have just actually recused herself. And Whitaker should recuse himself from planet earth.)
posted by OnceUponATime at 7:59 AM on December 21 [17 favorites]


10 day shutdown followed by the Democrat House taking over in January. Pelosi passed a clean bill to reopen the government and the Senate passes it daring Trump to veto it. He either signs it, or vetos, and the Senate has the votes to override.

And I can legit see McConnell* doing that, because he's undoubtedly pissed that Trump and Ryan (R-Invertebrate) fucked him on the way out the door for the holidays. Any idiot can see it's terrible optics for Republicans.


*Fuck Mitch McConnell
posted by leotrotsky at 8:00 AM on December 21 [8 favorites]




Pelosi would also have to get about 85 Republicans to vote to override in the House, which may be the harder thing than the Senate, because the only reason the wall funding passed now is House Republicans wanted to say "fuck you" to Pelosi.
posted by T.D. Strange at 8:02 AM on December 21 [3 favorites]


The Atlantic: Four People Who Could Be the Next Defense Secretary
  1. Gen. JACK KEANE (R)
  2. Sen. TOM COTTON
  3. Sen. LINDSEY GRAHAM
  4. Gen. DAVID PETRAEUS (R)
posted by ChurchHatesTucker at 8:07 AM on December 21 [1 favorite]


10 day shutdown followed by the Democrat House taking over in January. Pelosi passed a clean bill to reopen the government and the Senate passes it daring Trump to veto it. He either signs it, or vetos, and the Senate has the votes to override.

Exactly. Frame it as, "The Republicans want to waste billions of dollars of your money, and are offering the choice of wasting it on a wall, or on a government shutdown. We're here to stop their out-of-control spending on junk projects and political stunts."
posted by Autumnheart at 8:08 AM on December 21 [22 favorites]


I was in the Trump-always-eventually-caves camp... until now. It had seemed, even after the Nancy-Chuck meeting, that the outcome of this standoff was going to be: Trump continues fooling himself that his wall will happen, is happening, and already did happen (time is an illusion now), because of some Super Secret presidential ability to shift the funds around. After all, that's exactly how the previous shutdown got resolved, and he's not the sort of person who learns things.

But now I don't know, because certain elements of the base seem to be actually holding him accountable for this. (Important note: That would be the loudest of the deplorables, but not any kind of majority even of them. Poll after poll tells us that Trump voters consider the wall a mere symbol or bargaining chip, and Trump himself usually has the same perception. That's why the entire Senate was willing to pass a wall-free spending bill; not even the rightmost of those Republicans feel personally invested in it.)

All of a sudden, Fox and Friends has made this a thing, and the future of the federal budget really is in their hands. They, more than Individual-1, are the ones whose personalities require analysis now. Do they have the gumption to hold out literally forever? Will Jeanine Pirro come up with a teevee-shoutable solution? Stay tuned, denizens of hell
posted by InTheYear2017 at 8:15 AM on December 21 [28 favorites]


4. Gen. DAVID PETRAEUS (R)

But his emails?
posted by Slothrup at 8:17 AM on December 21 [24 favorites]


4. Gen. DAVID PETRAEUS (R)

Petraeus retired from the Army in 2011 so he would require approval from both houses of congress to become Secretary of Defense. The National Security Act of 1947 requires ten years between service in the military and appointment as the secretary of defense. The only two waivers that have ever been granted were George Marshall in 1950 and James Mattis.
posted by peeedro at 8:18 AM on December 21 [13 favorites]


The Republicans want to waste billions of dollars of your money, and are offering the choice of wasting it on a wall, or on a government shutdown.

I'm not sure how the numbers actually compare but this seems like not-great framing. Given that choice (fund a wall or just light equivalent funds on fire for nothing) I think lots of people would pick wall, even if they don't really want wall or feel strongly about wall one way or the other.
posted by contraption at 8:19 AM on December 21


Well, there's a third choice, to not do either of those things, and not hold the American economy hostage to nonsense. Crazy idea, huh?
posted by Autumnheart at 8:20 AM on December 21 [6 favorites]


Sen. TOM COTTON
Sen. LINDSEY GRAHAM


They'd be fools to give up safe Senate seats for a job that'll:

1. likely last about 6 months and
2. could possibly get them indicted
posted by leotrotsky at 8:23 AM on December 21 [22 favorites]


"Last Adult" Watch (in an extension of the Trump-as-toddler journalistic cliché):

—Guardian: With Jim Mattis Gone, Has the Last Proverbial Adult Left the White House?
—Slate's Fred Kaplan: The Last Grown-Up Is Gone
—South China Morning Post: ‘Last adult’ James Mattis Leaves the Room: What Next For Asia?
—Vox: James Mattis, the Last “Adult” In the Trump Administration, Resigns As Defense Secretary
Counterpoint—Vox: There Never Were Any “Adults In the Room”

Meanwhile, with Time reporting the Pentagon "is in shock", Fox national security correspondent Jennifer Griffin says: “I am told to expect more resignations at the Pentagon in wake of Mattis. A senior US defense official tells me: 'Make no mistake - Mattis is resigning in protest over the President's national security policies,' a resignation based on 'principle.'”
posted by Doktor Zed at 8:23 AM on December 21 [12 favorites]


The National Security Act of 1947 requires ten years between service in the military and appointment as the secretary of defense.

2. Sen. TOM COTTON served in the Army until 2009 and the Army Reserve until 2013.
posted by box at 8:25 AM on December 21 [5 favorites]


Mattis is resigning in protest over the President's national security policies,' a resignation based on 'principle.'”

Wonder where he found those priciples? He certainly hasn't had them 2 years into the Trump presidency.
posted by Twain Device at 8:25 AM on December 21 [4 favorites]


All of a sudden, Fox and Friends has made this a thing, and the future of the federal budget really is in their hands. They, more than Individual-1, are the ones whose personalities require analysis now. Do they have the gumption to hold out literally forever? Will Jeanine Pirro come up with a teevee-shoutable solution? Stay tuned, denizens of hell

I think the Murdochs are still rational actors and don't want to see the market crater.
posted by leotrotsky at 8:25 AM on December 21


The National Security Act of 1947 requires ten years between service in the military and appointment as the secretary of defense.

I'm sorry, I'm wrong here. The law was changed in 2008, reducing from ten to seven the number of years that a nominee must be retired from the military.
posted by peeedro at 8:28 AM on December 21 [13 favorites]


leotrotsky:
They'd be fools to give up safe Senate seats
Conveniently for all of us, there's a really good chance that both of them fall into this category.
posted by mfu at 8:33 AM on December 21 [10 favorites]


The only people Trump ever seems to nominate for anything are guests and subjects of reporting on Fox News.
posted by ZeusHumms at 8:36 AM on December 21 [2 favorites]


Twain Device much as I hate to give Mattis any credit for having principles, I'd say it was Trump's pretty obvious capitulation to a Russian desire for a free hand in Syria that did it.

Mattis is a warmongering evil child caging asshole, but he's also a military person who has a twisted sort of loyalty to what he imagines America to be. He imagines a white ethostate based on a sort of Leave it to Beaver fantasy of what the 1950's were like I'm sure, but a strong and independent white ethnostate not one subservient to any foreign power and especially not one subservient to Russia.

That principle, the idea that America should be the biggest ass kicker around and should give orders to other countries, not take orders from them, is the principle that Mattis saw violated by Trump with his sudden, Putin inspired, withdrawal from Syria.

Mattis is fine with running kiddie koncentration kamps, that's in line with his principles. He can see that as a perhaps distasteful necessity in the worthy cause of defending America from the wicked invading hordes of non-white people.

But he's not the sort of person who is going to be fine with Trump undermining the idea of American dominance and strength for a foreign master.
posted by sotonohito at 8:36 AM on December 21 [21 favorites]


Counterpoint—Vox: There Never Were Any “Adults In the Room”

i do not always see eye to eye with matt yglesias but he really nails it here:
It’s not the grownups’ fault, exactly, that they can’t control Trump. But that just shows the basic faultiness of the metaphor. When toddlers play, it’s good to have a grownup in the room to supervise. But if a toddler is driving a car, it does no good to have a grownup in the passenger seat. Pretending that it’s somehow okay is the least grownup reaction possible.
posted by murphy slaw at 8:39 AM on December 21 [130 favorites]


much as I hate to give Mattis any credit for having principles, I'd say it was Trump's pretty obvious capitulation to a Russian desire for a free hand in Syria that did it.

"No puppet. No puppet. You're the puppet."
posted by Gelatin at 8:39 AM on December 21 [4 favorites]


Forget Slats, why don't we just put up a laser wall? far less work, and far more future!

I'm not sure how effective they are, but they are 'wall'

‘Invisible’ laser walls to bolster security along border with Pakistan in J-K

"“It takes less than a couple of hours for a 1 km stretch to install the technology. All we need is electricity to run the technology. And in case power is snapped, it can be run on UPS for 8–12 hours,” he said."

We could double dip and build up some Laser Tag centers along the border, as well.
posted by dreamling at 8:40 AM on December 21 [5 favorites]


Thanks to the smart cookie who recommended https://whatthefuckjusthappenedtoday.com/ to me as a way to limit intake but still stay informed. It works like a charm. I recommend signing up for it, once a day email dump that is a bit humorous.
posted by OnTheLastCastle at 8:43 AM on December 21 [13 favorites]


“I am told to expect more resignations at the Pentagon in wake of Mattis.
I know that opinions about Mattis differ somewhat here on Metafilter, but in the military/veteran community, he is, with remarkably few exceptions, the single most respected man who has served in the last 50 years, jokingly referred to as “Saint Mattis”. Yesterday my phone was ringing and beeping off the hook, as folks I’ve served with and folks in the veteran community were all frantic to make sure I heard the news and to talk it through. It’s enough to make me wish Mattis was a different man, one who would call that anger and point it at the White House. But he is a scholar, he knows that once you go down that path it can never be undone.

I think there will definitely be a reaction. I don’t know what it will be. But at the very least, Trump support sounds lower than it has ever been.
posted by corb at 8:55 AM on December 21 [73 favorites]


What on earth would be wrong with focusing anger at this current White House? History would love you. I wish they were all different men and women, who would do so.
posted by agregoli at 8:58 AM on December 21 [10 favorites]


Yep, military up and down the chain of command will be pissed. It might even dent the red hatter contingent in there. They may love Trump, but they worship Mattis.
posted by leotrotsky at 8:59 AM on December 21 [3 favorites]


What on earth would be wrong with focusing anger at this current White House? History would love you. I wish they were all different men and women, who would do so.

in mattis' case, i suspect that part of it is that as a long-serving military officer, hitting back hard at your commander in chief feels uncomfortably like a coup.

the US military has problems out the wazoo but one thing they do right is strongly indoctrinate the officer class into believing in the importance of civilian control at the top.
posted by murphy slaw at 9:01 AM on December 21 [17 favorites]


What on earth would be wrong with focusing anger at this current White House?

The anger Mattis is capable of focusing would come from current and former military. That is a road anybody should be, at minimum, extremely cautious about walking down. Even as somebody who sees Trump as an existential threat to the country and human civilization generally, a para/military opposition to the current White House would also pose such a threat so I'm okay with seeing what a Congressional opposition can do before we break that seal.
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 9:02 AM on December 21 [35 favorites]




The Atlantic's Natasha Bertrand: The Special Counsel Is Bearing Down on Roger Stone—The longtime Trump adviser appears to have asked an associate to obtain anti-Clinton emails from WikiLeaks during the 2016 campaign.
The House Intelligence Committee voted unanimously on Thursday to release the official transcript of [Stone's] testimony to Mueller, days after Mueller formally requested it—the last step necessary for prosecutors to bring a charge of lying to Congress, according to The Washington Post.[…]

The House panel, for its part, has homed in on at least one area of “deep concern” about Stone’s truthfulness: a supplemental statement Stone submitted weeks after his September 2017 testimony in which he identified a New York radio host named Randy Credico as his back channel to Assange. The supplemental statement, obtained by The Atlantic, is “one of the many areas where we have a deep concern that Mr. Stone was untruthful to our committee, especially in light of the new reports,” a committee aide told me earlier this month.

In the supplemental statement, Stone insisted that he had merely asked Credico, an acquaintance of many years, to “confirm” Assange’s claim in June 2016 that WikiLeaks had Clinton emails that were “pending publication.” Credico had discussed Assange and WikiLeaks with Stone that summer, telling Stone in late August that Assange had “kryptonite on Hillary.” And in October, Credico predicted damaging email dumps while in London trying unsuccessfully to meet with Assange as a potential guest on his show. But there is no evidence that Credico was Stone’s original source of information about WikiLeaks’ plans.
In an odder turn of events, Mother Jones reports: Lyndon LaRouche Is Still Alive and He’s Been Hobnobbing With Roger Stone—The international cult leader has long-standing ties to Russia—and Robert Mueller.

A LaRouche-Stone-Trump connection would be just crazy enough to cap off this week.
posted by Doktor Zed at 9:06 AM on December 21 [27 favorites]


I think none of these traditions and precedents mean a damn thing right now. We need more opposition, more people saying This Is Wrong, in every arena, and I'm ashamed of those who won't speak up.
posted by agregoli at 9:15 AM on December 21 [5 favorites]


just to reassure everyone who, like me, had a palpatation reading that mother jones headline:
(Mueller himself is no stranger to LaRouche; he was a key player in the 1980s investigation that sent LaRouche to jail.)
everything is fine.
posted by murphy slaw at 9:15 AM on December 21 [28 favorites]




Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg underwent a pulmonary lobectomy in NYC today to remove two nodules from her lung, which were determined to be malignant. "Post-surgery, there was no evidence of any remaining disease," the court's public information office reports.

Maybe not so bad?
posted by TWinbrook8 at 9:29 AM on December 21 [10 favorites]


Reminder: There is a venting thread for those of us freaking out about anything, RBG’s health included. On my phone or would post link. Let us all breathe and not comment in haste. Also: Hugs all around.
posted by Bella Donna at 9:33 AM on December 21 [26 favorites]


Regarding the Chinese hacking NASA. Why? I mean, there are a few things that are considered trade secrets from industrial partners we work with, but most of our data is just put up on public facing pages. Seems like a waste of time. Just hack Raytheon and Lockheed-Martin.
posted by runcibleshaw at 9:34 AM on December 21 [1 favorite]


AP: Trump Call With Turkish Leader Led to US Pullout from Syria
President Donald Trump’s decision to withdraw American troops from Syria was made hastily, without consulting his national security team or allies, and over strong objections from virtually everyone involved in the fight against the Islamic State group, according to U.S. and Turkish officials.

Trump stunned his Cabinet, lawmakers and much of the world with the move by rejecting the advice of his top aides and agreeing to a withdrawal in a phone call with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan last week, two U.S. officials and a Turkish official briefed on the matter told The Associated Press.

The Dec. 14 call, described by officials who were not authorized to discuss the decision-making process publicly and spoke on condition of anonymity, provides insight into a consequential Trump decision that prompted the resignation of widely respected Defense Secretary Jim Mattis. It also set off a frantic, four-day scramble to convince the president either to reverse or delay the decision.
Once again, we have a case of Trump ignoring his advisors, going off script, and aligning himself with a foreign leader over his own cabinet:
The Dec. 14 call came a day after Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and his Turkish counterpart Mevlut Cavusoglu agreed to have the two presidents discuss Erdogan’s threats to launch a military operation against U.S.-backed Kurdish rebels in northeast Syria, where American forces are based. The NSC then set up the call.

Pompeo, Mattis and other members of the national security team prepared a list of talking points for Trump to tell Erdogan to back off, the officials said.

But the officials said Trump, who had previously accepted such advice and convinced the Turkish leader not to attack the Kurds and put U.S. troops at risk, ignored the script. Instead, the president sided with Erdogan.[…]

Trump was not dissuaded, according to the officials, who said the president quickly capitulated by pledging to withdraw, shocking both Bolton and Erdogan.

Caught off guard, Erdogan cautioned Trump against a hasty withdrawal, according to one official.[…]

The call ended with Trump repeating to Erdogan that the U.S. would pull out, but offering no specifics on how it would be done, the officials said.
The leak goes into rich detail about not only the phone call, in which John Bolton was dragged in as the voice of reason(!), but also the aftermath, during which Bolton, Mattis and Pompeo were blocked first by John Kelly and then by Mick Mulvaney from appealing to Trump not to go through with the pullout. Trump's own nat sec team sounds like it's freaking out if it's willing to go to the press with this much dirty laundry.

Maybe Erdogan is carrying water for Putin, or maybe he's accumulated kompromat of his own on Trump.
posted by Doktor Zed at 9:38 AM on December 21 [55 favorites]


In the same way that China has a hard time believing that Canada arrested the Huawei CFO as a law enforcement matter and not a hardball trade negotiation tactic coordinated by the U.S., they probably have a hard time believing that NASA doesn't have more secrets to hide. It's what they would do.
posted by AndrewInDC at 9:38 AM on December 21 [6 favorites]


What’s Noticeably Missing From the Matthew Whitaker Nonrecusal Explanation (Marty Lederman, Just Security online forum via Slate)
The Department of Justice issued a letter (.pdf) Thursday explaining why Acting Attorney General Matthew Whitaker has decided he won’t recuse from superintending the Russia investigation overseen by special counsel Robert Mueller, notwithstanding the many inaccurate and inflammatory public statements he made about the investigation before Donald Trump appointed him.
...
Notice what’s conspicuously missing: There is no mention of what the government’s “interest” might be “in [Whitaker’s] participation” in the Russia investigation, let alone any discussion of why that interest might possibly “[outweigh] the concern that a reasonable person may question the integrity of the agency’s programs and operations.” And in particular, the letter does not suggest that Whitaker so much as considered “the … importance of [his own] role in the matter” or “[t]he difficulty of reassigning the matter to another employee.”

That is to say: The letter offers absolutely no reason why it would be of any value to the department or the administration of justice—indeed, why it would be of any value to anyone or anything at all, save the personal interests of Donald Trump—for Whitaker to replace Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein as superintendent of the Russia investigation.*

* The letter does mention Whitaker’s desire not to create a precedent that recusal is required in a “close call situation.” That doesn’t make much sense when you think about: Of course recusal isn’t required in every close case—indeed, the whole point of something being a “close call situation” is that sometimes the answer will fall on one side of the line, sometimes on the other. In any event, if Whitaker were truly concerned about creating a “precedent” about whether recusal is required in all close cases, he could simply announce that although recusal isn’t required in every close case, he’s recusing here because there’s no value in having Whitaker supersede Rosenstein in the Russia investigation.
posted by ZeusHumms at 9:41 AM on December 21 [10 favorites]


Maybe Erdogan is carrying water for Putin, or maybe he's accumulated kompromat of his own on Trump.

The most convincing theory I've heard is that this is his price to stop leaking details of Jamal Khashoggi's murder.
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 9:42 AM on December 21 [35 favorites]


Fucking Fuck venting thread.
posted by yoga at 9:43 AM on December 21 [4 favorites]


And Lynch kinda sorta partially recused herself (she said she would abide by whatever recommendation the FBI made) from the Hillary EMAILS investigation, which is why Comey was making announcements.

No, Lynch did not recuse herself in any way. She did not agree with Comey making announcements and she and the ethics office strongly advised him not to.

Nor should Lynch have recused herself. If every person who has ever met some other person must recuse themselves, there would be nobody left to do an investigation. Merely meeting someone is not reason for recusal. Expressing an opinion of the outcome before the investigation is grounds for recusal.

Whittaker and Barr should recuse because they have previously expressed their views on the case -- in writing. Sessions recused himself because he was literally a potential subject of the investigation. Lynch was not even close, and to succumb to Republican whining is stupid.
posted by JackFlash at 9:44 AM on December 21 [27 favorites]


Maybe Erdogan is carrying water for Putin, or maybe he's accumulated kompromat of his own on Trump.

Or maybe Trump is just a fucking idiot who doesn't know how anything works? The reporting about the call even said Erdogan was taken by surprise and tried to point out that an immediate withdrawal might not be a brilliant idea, but Trump pressed on because deciding things and giving orders makes him feel powerful and manly.
posted by odinsdream at 9:47 AM on December 21 [56 favorites]


Erdogan: Hey, your buddy MBS tortured and murdered a journalist.

Trump: Ssshh MBS is my guy. How do we get you to shut up about that?

Erdogan: Get your troops out of the way so we can torture and murder tons of your Kurdish allies.

Trump: Okay, sounds good.
posted by scaryblackdeath at 9:56 AM on December 21 [15 favorites]


Who would have been on this call besides Trump, Erdogan, and Bolton? Translators?

Who has first hand knowledge to report this? I too find it interesting Erdogan was expressing concern over hasty withdrawal.

I don’t know how calls between heads of state work (and I guess neither does trump ha) but I’d like to know who was hearing Erdogan. I’ve heard before that translators are often not the leaks so I’m wondering who else would know this enough to leak it.
posted by sio42 at 10:01 AM on December 21 [2 favorites]


Erdogan: Hey, your buddy MBS tortured and murdered a journalist.

Trump: Ssshh MBS is my guy. How do we get you to shut up about that?

Erdogan: Get your troops out of the way so we can torture and murder tons of your Kurdish allies.

Trump: Okay, sounds good.


Yeah, given what we know right now I would guess that Trump is giving up the Kurds to Turkey in return for Turkey silencing their outcry over Khashoggi's murder. The reason Trump wants to stop Turkey's outcry over Khashoggi's murder is because he's allied with the Saudis, and he's allied with the Saudis at least partly because of whatever deal Putin and bin Salman struck that led to their ridiculous "handshake" at the G20 summit.
posted by rue72 at 10:09 AM on December 21 [16 favorites]


The reason he wants to stop Turkey's outcry over Khashoggi's murder is because he's allied with the Saudis

I think everyone is underestimating the probability that either Trump, or Kushner, or both, knew about the plan to murder Khashoggi in advance and either gave MBS the go ahead or signaled the US wouldn't stop it. There's pretty decent chance he's covering up his or Jared's own direct involvement, on top of whatever other payoffs they're getting from the Saudis.

When Democrats retake power, a fundamental rethink of our relationship with the Saudis MUST happen. Their interests are not ours, and they're just as dangerous as Iran. It's time to stop treating them like they're our friends. They're not.
posted by T.D. Strange at 10:13 AM on December 21 [70 favorites]


Some people were wondering if Mattis's "Mad Dog" nickname was just a harmless sobriquet...It's not:
Retired Gen. James Mattis earned the nickname “Mad Dog” for leading U.S. Marines into battle in Fallujah, Iraq, in April 2004. In that assault, members of the Marine Corps, under Mattis’ command, shot at ambulances and aid workers. They cordoned off the city, preventing civilians from escaping. They posed for trophy photos with the people they killed.

...

But before Mattis’ command in Iraq ended, he was involved in another controversial incident. On May 19, less than three weeks after his forces pulled back from Fallujah, Mattis personally authorized an attack on a wedding party near the Syrian border. The Iraqi government said the strike left 42 civilians dead, including at least 13 children.

The killings roiled Iraq, coming so soon after the carnage of Fallujah – but Mattis stood by his action, arguing the dead were insurgents.

“How many people go to the middle of the desert … to hold a wedding 80 miles from the nearest civilization?” he told The Guardian. “These were more than two dozen military-age males. Let’s not be naive.”

...

In the years since, Mattis – called a “warrior monk” by his supporters – repeatedly has protected American service members who killed civilians, using his status as a division commander to wipe away criminal charges against Marines accused of massacring 24 Iraqi civilians in Haditha in 2005 and granting clemency to some of those convicted in connection with the 2006 murder of a 52-year-old disabled Iraqi, who was taken outside his home and shot in the face four times.
As long as he says something mildly critical about Trump, I'm sure his place in #TheResistance is assured though.
posted by Ouverture at 10:18 AM on December 21 [99 favorites]


Last week (Dec. 15, 2018) --

Doktor Zed (in the prior thread): The WH pool reports from the congressional ball passes along this snow-job: Trump said the White House is special and they loved living in it. “To me it’s a happy place.” (Which would be more believable if he didn't spend every single weekend he could away from it.)

He then made bipartisanship noises:
This is going to be an exciting year and two years, he said. “I believe we’re going to get really good health care.”

Trump said he was happy there were so many Democrats at the party. “I have a lot of friends who are Democrats,” he said.

If Republicans and Democrats get together, we could end up with incredible health care, which is how it should have been from the start, he said.

“And the other thing they’re going to start working on very shortly is an infrastructure bill, because that’s something I think everybody wants to see,” Trump said.
So as soon as he's returned from his 16-day Christmas-New Year vacation at Mar-a-Lago, it's Infrastructure Week!


Yesterday --

Trump Threatens Infrastructure Legislation Over Border Wall Demand -- Issue has Republican and Democratic buy-in, but president claims he might kill it (John T. Bennett for Roll Call, Dec 20, 2018)
President Donald Trump on Thursday threatened to kill any infrastructure legislation lawmakers might pass next year unless Democrats give him billions for his proposed southern border wall.

Notably, Trump did not threaten to veto a stopgap spending measure headed to his desk later Thursday that was made necessary by his demand for $5 billion for the barrier project this fiscal year. Lawmakers could not find a way to meet that demand — or part of it — ahead of a Friday night deadline, so they decided to put off the border wall fight until February.

But he did make clear he will continue to push for the wall funding when the next Congress convenes after a holiday break that will start for lawmakers Thursday and him on Friday.

“The Democrats, who know Steel Slats (Wall) are necessary for Border Security, are putting politics over Country. What they are just beginning to realize is that I will not sign any of their legislation, including infrastructure, unless it has perfect Border Security. U.S.A. WINS!” he wrote in a tweet.
It is never Infrastructure week.

We have always been at war for the border wall.

It is always almost infrastructure week, if only someone would give the president the shiny thing he wants.
posted by filthy light thief at 10:21 AM on December 21 [11 favorites]


Or maybe Trump is just a fucking idiot who doesn't know how anything works? The reporting about the call even said Erdogan was taken by surprise

In Trump's crudely binary worldview, you're either dominating or being dominated. When he's the one being dominated, he's astonishingly servile. Remember how over-the-top his support of Putin was at Helsinki? At the podium with Trump for the shameful public press conference, Putin looked as though he couldn't believe how obsequious Trump was being as he repeatedly took Russia's side against US allies and his own intelligence community.

The most convincing theory I've heard is that this is his price to stop leaking details of Jamal Khashoggi's murder.

Erdogan may also have dirt on Trump that connects him to Flynn's illicit activities representing Turkish interests during the transition, including his blocking a US plan to arm Syrian Kurds against ISIS, or maybe to Giuliani's legal aid in the Turkey-Iran cash-for-gold sanctions-busting scandal. There's a myriad of possibilities with Trump's level of corruption, and his presidency is so shaky at the moment, any one of these could topple him.

And Judge Sullivan bringing up the t-word on Tuesday seems to have spooked Trumpland.
posted by Doktor Zed at 10:23 AM on December 21 [8 favorites]


“These were more than two dozen military-age males. Let’s not be naive.”

Oh my God, I remember this quote, just not who said it. I feel like that should have spread more when he assumed command.
posted by InTheYear2017 at 10:25 AM on December 21 [11 favorites]






>> The most convincing theory I've heard is that this is his price to stop leaking details of Jamal Khashoggi's murder.

> Erdogan may also have dirt on Trump that connects him to Flynn's illicit activities representing Turkish interests during the transition, including his blocking a US plan to arm Syrian Kurds against ISIS, or maybe to Giuliani's legal aid in the Turkey-Iran cash-for-gold sanctions-busting scandal. There's a myriad of possibilities with Trump's level of corruption...


When the Founding Fathers wrote impeachment into the constitution, I wonder if it could even possibly have crossed their mind that someday, we might have difficulty with the remedy because we couldn't decide which of several equally plausible alternatives was the true explanation for bald-faced treasonous behavior by the President.

I wonder if this shakes some Republican senators out of their complacency. (OK, that's enough, stop laughing.)
posted by RedOrGreen at 10:31 AM on December 21 [5 favorites]


but Trump pressed on because deciding things and giving orders makes him feel powerful and manly.

(Emphasis added) I think this interpretation is most likely to be true. Donald Trump is a man suffering from a giant, untreated personality disorder(s), so there are no reasons for anything he does, in the sense of logical or rational, considered thought processes. He is pure feeling, all irrationality and emotional need, and every single day for him is about filling the gaping, sucking black hole at the center of his being where most of the rest of us have a sense of self. He doesn't just need to feel powerful and manly, he needs to feel dominant to reassure himself that he has any value, that he's anything at all.

He doesn't care about our Kurdish allies, or anyone else, not because he thought about it and is indifferent or hostile, but because it wouldn't even occur to his profoundly dysfunctional mind to think those thoughts about not-himself. If he's yanking us out of Syria, it's because it's an irritating problem that pisses him off, because he has to hear all this stupid, complicated information with funny-sounding words and names that he can't keep track of, and he always has to make all these decisions about it, and he really wants to get back to watching the teevee and rage-tweeting. He's using the shutdown to get back at Congress, and all the rest of us, because we won't call off the Mueller investigation or give him his giant phallus-proxy border wall, so that's where his current fuck-you is aimed. The Syria thing looks to me more like him swatting away an annoying nuisance, casually disregarding the horror and suffering and death it will cause and unleash because it doesn't have anything to do with him.

That's more terrifying than a calculating evil, because if there were any strategy or reasons involved here that were made of or informed by any kind of rational, logical thought processes, it could be understood and countered, obstructed or fought. But this? This is a nearly alien mind operating in ways we are all seeing but cannot bring ourselves to accept, one that acts unpredictably and with reliable disregard for any consequences. This kind of malevolence can only be contained, neutralized, removed from power; direct engagement is loss before the first move is made. This week feels like the week we (collectively speaking, not locally-on-Metafilter 'we') are finally starting to realize that a truly irrational person holds the most powerful political office in the world. One can only hope that invocation of the 25th amendment will soon happen, the world may not have time for a process like impeachment, trial and conviction.
posted by LooseFilter at 10:35 AM on December 21 [69 favorites]


He doesn't care about our Kurdish allies, or anyone else, not because he thought about it and is indifferent or hostile, but because it wouldn't even occur to his profoundly dysfunctional mind to think those thoughts about not-himself.

also, because in trumpworld, there are no allies: there are only enemies and patsies
posted by murphy slaw at 10:41 AM on December 21 [9 favorites]


Has Trump refused to sign anything yet? I know he's said he won't sign; has any legislation actually been handed to him that he refused to sign? Are we in pocket veto country, or is it still all just hot air?

Because he LOVES putting his signature on Real Live American Laws, and he loves tweeting about how awful those laws are and how he was tricked into signing them. (AKA: Push Democrats to fight hard for the laws we want. Do not take blame for laws passed or failed when both parts of Congress are controlled by R majorities. Do not waste taxpayer money on Steel Slats.)
posted by ErisLordFreedom at 10:44 AM on December 21 [3 favorites]


has any legislation actually been handed to him that he refused to sign?

No; the Senate passed the short-term continuing resolution on Wednesday, but Trump declared his opposition before the House's scheduled vote, and they passed a wall-funding version of the bill instead. So now the Senate is voting on the House's CR. That process is going to go on for a while because Senators who went home for the holiday have to fly back to DC.
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 10:46 AM on December 21 [3 favorites]


This is a nearly alien mind operating in ways we are all seeing but cannot bring ourselves to accept, one that acts unpredictably and with reliable disregard for any consequences

Trump is a Machine Learning algorithm and probably the most famous human to continually fail the Turing Test.

I've found this framing to be singularly helpful when it comes to Trump. Most people are unpredictable baths of nutrient goop, but we've also mostly manage to cobble together a sense of self, an ersatz homunculus that is a decent stand-in for a "real" identity (even if it's ultimately fictional). Trump doesn't have one. He's a human giant sucking sound. Why did he do anything? The same reason why a machine learning algorithm did it: some combination of learned weights and chaos. Normal people are probably more random and weird than we think, but we've all got little narratives in our head that help us make sense of what we do and moderate ourselves. As far as I can tell Trump's internal narrative is just an endless shriek.

all just hot air

All just hot air, because Paul Ryan refused to bring the no-wall funding package to a vote in the House.
posted by BungaDunga at 10:50 AM on December 21 [26 favorites]


The continued use of the word "allies" is demoralizing and increasingly, inaccurate in what it represents. The China hackers news is from the 5 eyes, not "allies", and after this tumultuous week, a listing of allies might actually be a useful exercise for the land of the brave and the free.
posted by infini at 10:52 AM on December 21 [2 favorites]


[Folks, please refresh and stop responding to deleted comments. Thanks. ]
posted by restless_nomad (staff) at 10:53 AM on December 21 [6 favorites]




Shutdown update: The Senate is considering a motion to proceed on the House-passed bill, which includes the wall funding. That requires 50 votes, and then the final bill would require 60, assuming they don't go nuclear as Trump is urging (and it seems the Senate has no appetite for that). Flake voted no, so if everyone else shows up and votes according to party, they would have the votes to proceed with Pence's tiebreaker.

Corker went off (he did show up though): "We have two talk-radio show hosts who basically influenced the president, and we’re in a shutdown mode. It’s just—that’s tyranny, isn’t it?"

12 Senators have yet to vote, and it's unclear whether everyone is even going to come back. Corker is withholding his vote until he knows what's going to happen, and they'll just keep the vote open indefinitely at this point.

If the motion to proceed fails, the ball still stays in the Senate's court. Either way, we seem to be cruising toward a shutdown.

Meanwhile, they're wheeling the Christmas trees out of the Capitol already, so look out for the mediocre "The Shutdown that Stole Christmas" movie on Netflix next year.
posted by zachlipton at 10:54 AM on December 21 [12 favorites]


No; the Senate passed the short-term continuing resolution on Wednesday, but Trump declared his opposition before the House's scheduled vote, and they passed a wall-funding version of the bill instead. So now the Senate is voting on the House's CR. That process is going to go on for a while because Senators who went home for the holiday have to fly back to DC.

Also, the Senate can't even vote on the final cloture on the House CR+the Wall bill (which will fail) until Sunday. So we are locked in to at least a weekend shutdown. Then the House will have to pass something else before the Senate can vote on THAT to reopen the government.
posted by T.D. Strange at 10:55 AM on December 21 [2 favorites]


> So we are locked in to at least a weekend shutdown.

What I want to know is, does the shutdown prevent a departure for Mar-a-Lago?

Because if Trump gets to skip out to Mar-a-Lago to golf while the Federal employees don't get their Christmas paychecks ...
posted by RedOrGreen at 11:08 AM on December 21 [13 favorites]


The AP is reporting that McConnell, Alexander, and Hatch have all stated their opposition to the idea of removing the filibuster in order to pass the House CR in the Senate.

It would of course be utterly insane for them to take any other position given that the GOP House majority is going away next week, meaning Democrats will keep a veto point over legislation no matter what happens to the Senate rules. In divided government the filibuster becomes an ally to both sides in the Senate, as it lets the minority exercise a measure of control over legislation while the majority can avoid any votes that present hard PR choices and just blame the minority for blocking them from the floor.
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 11:09 AM on December 21 [1 favorite]


Also, the motion to proceed is currently at 43-45. Getting to 50 is still a possibility, but if you don't have 51 votes to proceed you sure as shit don't have 60 to invoke cloture.
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 11:14 AM on December 21 [6 favorites]


Here is a bookmarklet just in case you wanted every reference to walls ever to sound like the Incredible Hulk Kirstjen Nielsen.
posted by ragtag at 11:16 AM on December 21 [4 favorites]


Military.com breaks down Trump's dwindling list of possible replacements for SecDef Mattis. Their shortlist includes Obama-critic retired Army Gen. Jack Keane, suck-up Lindsey Graham, and the machiavellian Tom Cotton, as well as former Sen. Jim Talen, Dubya national security adviser Stephen Hadley, and retired Army Lt. Gen. Keith Kellogg, a national security adviser to Vice President Mike Pence.

Task & Purpose fulsomely reports: The Pentagon Feels Hollow The Day After Mattis’ Resignation

And CNN has more leaks for the inside story about how the Trump-Mattis alliance crumbled. The ones coming from the military and defense community are, of course, totally pro-Mattis, but interestingly, even the few from the administration don't really criticize him or take Trump's side. Mulvaney is going to have a much harder time stamping out leaks that Kelly ever did, now that Trump has kicked over this hornet's nest.

Because if Trump gets to skip out to Mar-a-Lago to golf while the Federal employees don't get their Christmas paychecks ...

Vox's Aaron Rupar, checking in on Fox & Friends this morning: "SARAH SANDERS: Trump will not travel to Mar-a-Lago if the government shuts down. And he will shut down the government unless he gets wall funding."

And Yahoo's Ethan Klapper: "🚨 The FAA has canceled the temporary flight restrictions around Mar-A-Lago. Strong sign that Trump is sticking around in D.C., at least for now."
posted by Doktor Zed at 11:18 AM on December 21 [12 favorites]


With Mattis out, Blackwater (formerly Academi, formerly Xe, formerly Blackwater) is safe to burst from the grave with all brand masks off.

Military Times: This month, in the January/February print issue of the gun and hunting magazine “Recoil," the former contractor security firm Blackwater USA published a full-page ad, in all black with a simple message: “We are coming.”
posted by Rust Moranis at 11:19 AM on December 21 [26 favorites]


Their shortlist includes Obama-critic retired Army Gen. Jack Keane, suck-up Lindsey Graham, and the machiavellian Tom Cotton, as well as former Sen. Jim Talen, Dubya national security adviser Stephen Hadley, and retired Army Lt. Gen. Keith Kellogg, a national security adviser to Vice President Mike Pence.

i can't believe that any sitting senator would want the job. working inside the administration at this point has zero upside, and mitch mcconnell does not want to deal with any special elections in the current climate on the tiniest off-chance that a roy moore situation develops.
posted by murphy slaw at 11:21 AM on December 21 [5 favorites]


Also from MilitaryTimes.com: Coast Guard would bear the brunt of latest government shutdown [at least as military services go]

tl;dr: Both the DoD and the VA were funded through other legislation already passed, but the Coast Guard is funded through DHS so that's only like 43,000 people working without pay 'til it's over.
Also endless jokes about whether the Coast Guard is "real" military by people who have literally never satisfied a lover.
posted by scaryblackdeath at 11:26 AM on December 21 [29 favorites]


so that's only like 43,000 people working without pay 'til it's over.

Plus the 8000 or so civilian employees who will mostly be furloughed.
posted by suelac at 11:40 AM on December 21 [4 favorites]


WaPo, ‘A tailspin’: Under siege, Trump propels the government and markets into crisis.

Phillip Rucker scores a juicy leak: "Inside the Oval Office on Thursday, Trump was in what one Republican close to the White House described as “a tailspin,” acting “totally irrationally” and “flipping out” over criticisms in the media."

And Vanity Fair's Gabriel Sherman has more from Trumpland: “Some Reverse Wag-The-Dog Bulls--T”: Boxed In and Fighting For Survival, Trump Is Flailing, Fuming,and Wondering Why Jared Is Getting All the Good Press
“He’s over. He’s finished,” one Breitbart staffer told me. Inside the White House, some advisers fear he’s boxed himself in, with disastrous results in every direction. “He’s losing it,” one former West Wing official said. “He doesn’t know which way to turn.” […]

“The ‘win the day’ on Fox strategy didn’t work,” a Republican close to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said.[…]

“His erstwhile critics wouldn’t be happy with anything short of a Great Wall of China on the southern border,” one senior West Wing official told me.

As his supporters turned on him, Trump took a self-pitying attitude. He complained to one friend that European leaders were doing much worse. “The world is melting down! Look at France. Those riots are costing them a billion dollars a day!” he said, according to a person briefed on the conversation. Trump told another friend that the only person in the White House who gets good press is Jared Kushner. In an apparent bid to change the narrative, Trump announced he was withdrawing the 2,000 United States troops in Syria, but that only compounded the crisis by spurring Defense Secretary Jim Mattis to resign. “It was some reverse wag-the-dog bullshit,” a Republican close to the White House told me.

Now, Trump has hours to negotiate his way out of one of the worst crises of his presidency. No matter what happens, allies fear the episode has revealed Trump’s inability to govern at a moment when Democrats are about to open political warfare on the White House. “They’re absolutely going to crush him. He has no idea what’s coming his way,” the Republican said.
Whether or not any of these leaks are reliable or these predictions will come to pass, what's notable is how many Trumplanders are telling them to the press.
posted by Doktor Zed at 11:42 AM on December 21 [43 favorites]


May I just say, as a Navy brat, I have personally been rescued by the Coast Guard, and I love them the best.
posted by SecretAgentSockpuppet at 11:43 AM on December 21 [66 favorites]


The most convincing theory I've heard is that this is his price to stop leaking details of Jamal Khashoggi's murder.

Erdogan was caught by surprise. This didn't come from him. And given that we're also pulling out of Afghanistan, Occam's Razor says there's likely one common cause between them both. And Trump's Razor tells us that reason will be a stupid one. It's an unforced error entirely of Trump's own creation - Trump's putting an end to both these wars (or our involvement in them at least) because they're not HIS so he doesn't LIKE them. It's why he never visited the troops in the field, he said so. If they were fighting a war that belonged to him, that he started, of course he'd go & encourage them. It's reasoning that only makes sense to a toxic narcissist. So here we are.
posted by scalefree at 11:44 AM on December 21 [11 favorites]


one of the worst crises of his presidency

Hold everyone's beers.
posted by emelenjr at 11:45 AM on December 21 [76 favorites]




The potential privatization of the Afghan War was previously dismissed by the White House, and roundly criticized by Mattis, who saw it as a risk to emplace the nation’s national security goals in the hands of contractors.

“When Americans put their nation’s credibility on the line, privatizing it is probably not a wise idea,” Mattis told reporters in August.

But Mattis is out now, one in a series of moves that has surprised most of the Pentagon.

Drastic change would “be more likely” now, one DOD official said.




Occam's Razer, if Rust Moranis' link on Blackwater is true, says there's a huge profit motive in pulling troops out to be replaced by mercenaries and contractors. This has nothing to do with Trump's wars or not his wars and everything to do with money to be made.
posted by infini at 11:48 AM on December 21 [37 favorites]


If they were fighting a war that belonged to him, that he started, of course he'd go & encourage them.

No he wouldn't, he has short changed every contractor and business partner who ever took the regretful decision to do deals with him, why would he treat nameless soldiers coming back from Iran in body bags any better?
posted by PenDevil at 11:51 AM on December 21 [7 favorites]


there's a huge profit motive in pulling troops out to be replaced by mercenaries and contractors.

...Which makes me wonder why Blackwater would announce its intentions in a magazine ad? I don't know that there's a lot of single-issue "privatize the military" voters, and as a for-profit contractor Blackwater doesn't have to rely on donations or membership like, say, the NRA. It just seems like they make money more easily when people don't know what they're up to.
posted by Rykey at 11:55 AM on December 21 [8 favorites]


Occam's Razer, if Rust Moranis' link on Blackwater is true, says there's a huge profit motive in pulling troops out to be replaced by mercenaries and contractors. This has nothing to do with Trump's wars or not his wars and everything to do with money to be made.

That's an opportunistic event, taking advantage of the opportunity to enact plans made by Erik Prince years ago. I will be very surprised if Prince's fingerprints can be found anywhere near the decision-making process (such as it was).
posted by scalefree at 11:56 AM on December 21 [1 favorite]


No he wouldn't, he has short changed every contractor and business partner who ever took the regretful decision to do deals with him, why would he treat nameless soldiers coming back from Iran in body bags any better?

Well of course he wouldn't actually go, he's a great big coward. But he'd say that he'll go up to the point where he makes an excuse for why he can't. For these wars started by other presidents (especially the hated Obama) he won't even say he'd like to go. He actually came right out & admitted it when asked why he's never visited soldiers in the field.
posted by scalefree at 12:01 PM on December 21 [1 favorite]


the White House described as “a tailspin,” acting “totally irrationally” and “flipping out” over criticisms in the media.

Okay but since he's been in this damn "tailspin" for two years now call me back when he actually crash lands goes up in a puff of orange smoke.

Don't get me wrong, he certainly SOUNDS like he's in a tailspin and his digging in his stupid heels about the shutdown is only making it worse but by fucking god he is not spinning fast enough to avoid disaster. Keep him from Mar-A-Lago for the holidays and don't quarantine his phone and he'll fire the rest of the damn cabinet by New Years.
posted by lydhre at 12:03 PM on December 21 [8 favorites]


CNN, K-FILE, Mick Mulvaney in 2015: Trump's views on border wall 'simplistic,' 'absurd and almost childish'
Incoming White House acting-chief of staff Mick Mulvaney once called President Donald Trump's views on a border wall and immigration "simplistic" and "absurd and almost childish."
A physical barrier would not stop undocumented immigrants from crossing the Mexican border and ranchers at the border say they don't need a fence, Mulvaney said in a 2015 interview uncovered by KFile.
Match this up with Daily Beast's reporting last week: Trump’s Next Chief of Staff Called Him ‘A Terrible Human Being’ Just Before He Was Elected President

And Axios's reporting today:
As a sign of the mood inside, officials at both ends of Pennsylvania Avenue tell us that Trump is complaining about his incoming chief of staff, Mick Mulvaney, in conversations inside the West Wing and with Capitol Hill.

Trump asked one trusted adviser: "Did you know [Mulvaney] called me 'a terrible human being'" back during the campaign?

We're told that Trump was furious when the slight surfaced in a two-year-old video right after he promoted Mulvaney. (A spokeswoman says that was before Mulvaney met Trump.
So this is shaping up to be a real professional relationship built on trust and mutual respect.
posted by zachlipton at 12:03 PM on December 21 [54 favorites]


Erdogan was caught by surprise.

Yeah, but he still suggested it. He was expecting Trump to try and bargain him down to something less extreme but still advantageous for Turkey. So the question is still, what was his bargaining chip?
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 12:04 PM on December 21 [5 favorites]


@chrisgeidner: BREAKING: The Supreme Court denies the Trump administration’s request to let it enforce its new asylum ban while the case proceeds in court. The decision was 5-4, with Chief Justice Roberts joining his more liberal colleagues in denying DOJ’s stay request.

But: @DLind: The thing about the asylum ban remaining enjoined per SCOTUS, btw, is that it's basically superseded by the new return-to-MX policy that we are being told will be rolled out in the coming days. So from a policy standpoint it is not as huge a defeat for WH as it would've been.
posted by zachlipton at 12:04 PM on December 21 [16 favorites]


from the CNN story linked upthread:
As Trump mulled the merits of launching a limited military strike against North Korea, he took the provocative step of ordering the evacuation of military families in South Korea -- a move Mattis and other top national security officials feared could send a signal that the US was on a war footing.

As McMaster directed his NSC staff to begin drafting the order, Mattis worked with White House chief of staff John Kelly to dissuade the President, ultimately convincing him to issue a scaled-down directive barring military personnel in South Korea from bringing their families during future tours.

That memo was also never implemented -- one of many presidential directives Mattis slow-walked with the hope that Trump would forget about them and move on.
It's stuff like this that makes me understand why Mattis thought he needed to stick around. I mean, he might have prevented WWIII there.
posted by BungaDunga at 12:05 PM on December 21 [34 favorites]


Boxed In and Fighting For Survival, Trump Is Flailing, Fuming,and Wondering Why Jared Is Getting All the Good Press

And on Monday VF's Gabriel Sherman filed a similarly leak-filled story: “The Staff Is Fed Up He’s Acting Like a Nut”: Trump’s West Wing Braces for Christmas Madness, More Departures—And Mueller
As the Robert Mueller loop tightens around the president, his erratic behavior is causing alarm among his most senior staff. “The staff is fed up he’s acting like a nut. They can’t get him to stop tweeting,” a former official said.[…]

Trump’s advisers, however, recognize the precariousness of the current political moment. In one sign of the discontent in the West Wing, Communications Director Bill Shine has told friends that he’s thinking about signing a month-to-month lease for his Washington apartment, according to a source. “Bill is very frustrated,” a person familiar with his thinking said.[…]

West Wing officials anticipate more departures—and worry that filling the jobs may be difficult. “I want them all out,” Trump fumed to officials, referring to Kelly’s loyalists, a person briefed on the conversation said. Sources said Deputy Chief of Staff Zach Fuentes and counselor to the president John DeStefano are likely to leave. “You got tumbleweeds blowing through the West Wing. It’s already understaffed,” a former official told me.
At the time, the Trump White House's biggest concern was convincing Kelly to sign an additional NDA to prevent him from leaking once he left. Even if they're successful, more are springing up.

CNN: Trump Offered "No Plan" To Avoid Shutdown In Meeting With Senators, Source Says
A source briefed on the White House meeting between President Trump and Senate Republicans told CNN that the meeting did not go well because there was no end game.

"He dug in," the source said. "But doesn’t have a plan, offered no numbers. I heard it did not go well."

The source added that Trump again made the case to use the so-called "nuclear option" to change filibuster rules so a simple majority of senators could advance legislation, but Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell insisted that would not happen.[…]

Sen. Richard Shelby, chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee who was also at the meeting, said[…] "Short of any big intervention or breakthrough, we are headed to a shutdown."
But good luck dragging the Dem senators to the bargaining table. Earlier today, Schumer displayed uncharacteristic backbone on the Senate floor, declaring: "So, President Trump, you will not get your wall. Abandon your shutdown strategy. You're not getting the wall today, next week, or on January 3 when Democrats take control of the House."
posted by Doktor Zed at 12:08 PM on December 21 [23 favorites]


@ZoeTillman: It wouldn't be the Friday before a holiday without an announcement from DOJ about the recission of more guidance documents — Acting AG Whitaker is withdrawing 69 documents "that are unnecessary, outdated, inconsistent with existing law, or otherwise improper."

It looks like the list of withdrawn documents includes the Obama-era school discipline guidance mentioned the other day.
posted by zachlipton at 12:19 PM on December 21 [6 favorites]


The source added that Trump again made the case to use the so-called "nuclear option" to change filibuster rules so a simple majority of senators could advance legislation, but Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell insisted that would not happen.[…]

Worth noting too that the Senate can't just vote to end the filibuster willy-nilly. There's a TON of parliamentary steps that have to precede the point of order that would result in ending the filibuster. It took McConnell weeks to set up that vote for the Gorsuch* fight, and he's done no preparation for it now.
posted by T.D. Strange at 12:20 PM on December 21 [6 favorites]


(WaPo headline) McConnell says he supports bill with border money after meeting with Trump

Was anyone else there at that meeting? What did Trump say, exactly? I'm dying to know how he actually convinces people to do anything. What does he do, wave a magic wand over people to hypnotize them? How does he get so, so many people to say "yup, I'll do exactly what he says right now"?? There's some kind of magic potion going on. There is no other possible explanation.
posted by Melismata at 12:20 PM on December 21 [3 favorites]


[A debate about the precise definition of "mercenary" is not adding value to this thread. ]
posted by restless_nomad (staff) at 12:23 PM on December 21 [17 favorites]


What does he do, wave a magic wand over people to hypnotize them?

have you seen blazing saddles? trump holds a loaded gun to his head (which is also the the head of the GOP) and says "do what he say! do what he say!"

and mitch mcconnell shakes his head and says "i think he's just crazy enough to do it!"
posted by murphy slaw at 12:25 PM on December 21 [17 favorites]


CNN says it appears Schumer and McConnell are negotiating next steps with Corker as a go-between. Corker told reporters he wants "an exit strategy" and that the House's CR is unpassable in the Senate.
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 12:25 PM on December 21 [2 favorites]


Also Republicans have an attendance problem in the Senate right now. They're having trouble even getting 50 votes to proceed, much less cloture, and at least a few Republican Senators still aren't even in town. They may not even get able to take up the House Wall bill, it's currently stalled 44-46 against opening debate.
posted by T.D. Strange at 12:28 PM on December 21 [2 favorites]


>What on earth would be wrong with focusing anger at this current White House? History would love you. I wish they were all different men and women, who would do so.

>in mattis' case, i suspect that part of it is that as a long-serving military officer, hitting back hard at your commander in chief feels uncomfortably like a coup. the US military has problems out the wazoo but one thing they do right is strongly indoctrinate the officer class into believing in the importance of civilian control at the top.


And that, folks, is precisely why Congress mandated by law that the Defense Secretary must be a civilian. And that is precisely why it was a terrible mistake to override that law with a special waiver for Mattis.

So now you have people arguing that Mattis, in a civilian cabinet office, must hold his tongue about Trump because he represents the military rather than the civilian public. That was an entirely preventable fuck up.
posted by JackFlash at 12:32 PM on December 21 [108 favorites]


But to the Republicans, that's a feature rather than a bug.
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 12:34 PM on December 21 [5 favorites]


CNN's Manu Raju: GOP Senators Are Frustrated Trump Won’t Say What He Will Sign
At a closed-door lunch meeting, GOP senators were frustrated that there was no endgame because President Trump has not told senators what exactly he would sign, according to two sources at the meeting.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell made clear to senators that Trump didn’t provide any sense on what he may sign.

“He didn’t say because he didn’t know,” one GOP senator told CNN.

They did discuss various options: If they do get the votes to proceed to the House bill, there’s discussion about amending it to get the votes in the Senate. If they don’t get the votes, it kicks the discussion back to the House.

Republican Sen. Roy Blunt put it like this:

“We are pretty much flying here without an instruction book.”
And it seems a lot of senators feel this way, they told Raju: "What’s really angering GOP senators is that Trump wouldn’t even say he would get behind the $1.6 billion in border security, which was the president’s initial request and agreed to by Senate appropriators of both parties, per three senators"
posted by Doktor Zed at 12:36 PM on December 21 [8 favorites]


The beginning of the end of the Trump presidency came and went a long time ago. I have never wavered from my oft-stated convictions that (a) Trump will not finish out his term, and (b), the end will be triggered by a presidential meltdown that forces the Vichy Republicans in Washington to mount an insurrection — if only to save their own asses, not the country. This week was a big step toward that endgame, and surely one of the most remarkable weeks in American history.

We have a president of the United States who is moving to shut down the government at the same moment that he is inviting America’s adversaries to breach its defenses. The withdrawals in Syria and Afghanistan, combined with the exit of the last top administration official who aspired to serve the national interest rather than Trump’s, invites hostile moves against the United States from ISIS, Russia, China, North Korea, and the Taliban. This has even grabbed the cynical Mitch McConnell’s attention: He has declared himself “distressed” by Mattis’s resignation, a major step in rhetorical escalation in a party where Susan Collins’s pathetic periodic expressions of “concern” are what pass for criticism of an outlaw president. ... The sheer uncertainty of a chaos presidency is pushing the Dow to its worst December since the Great Depression. McConnell and his humiliated departing peer Paul Ryan have tolerated Trump’s racism, misogyny, and nativism, his wreckage of American alliances, his kleptocracy, and his allegiance to Vladimir Putin. They have tolerated as well his con job on the coal miners, steelworkers, and automobile-industry workers of his base. But they’ll be damned if they will stand for a president who threatens the bottom line of the GOP donor class.

The Mattis resignation is huge. It’s not that he was the last “adult in the room” but that as a retired military man and a secretary of Defense with access to both foreign intelligence and the inner workings of the White House, he knows treason when he sees it. His resignation letter stops just short of saying that Trump is actively serving the “interests” of China and Russia as they try “to shape a world consistent with their authoritarian model.” Certainly it is extraordinary that Trump consulted with the Turkish dictator Recep Tayyip Erdogan when making his abrupt move in Syria but did not bother to consult the American general, Joseph Dunford, who serves as chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. For all we know, Trump also was directly or indirectly in touch with Putin, the most vocal defender of his actions. ...

What we are likely to see in the meantime: further indictments of Trump family members and other close associates; a complete halt to governance in Washington whether there’s actually a government shutdown or not; new overt and covert threats to national security; a further effort by Trump to destabilize the Federal Reserve and assault its chairman; and perhaps, at last, an intervention by those Vichy Republicans, in the financial sector as well as in the capital, who see their own necks on the line.

But meanwhile, we have more than two weeks in store of watching an isolated madman rampaging through the gilded rooms of Mar-a-Lago, wreaking whatever damage he can on the country as the walls of justice continue to close in on him. Happy New Year!
Frank Rich (NY Mag)
posted by Barack Spinoza at 12:39 PM on December 21 [53 favorites]


It's a standard game in business, that contractors have to put up with all the time: "Here's a list of what I don't want; now go make something awesome, and I'll tell you whether or not I'll pay for it."

It's not like he has any idea what he wants, and he really doesn't want to be on the hook for "you asked for it!" when his horrible plans fall apart later. He wants to say, "I never liked that part; of course it wasn't going to work; I signed it for other reasons."
posted by ErisLordFreedom at 12:39 PM on December 21 [14 favorites]


I think I missed a crucial piece of information here: why won’t the Senate vote for the House’s bill that includes the wall?
posted by gucci mane at 12:45 PM on December 21


#TrumpResign is trending number 1 in the US.
posted by bluesky43 at 12:45 PM on December 21 [48 favorites]


why won’t the Senate vote for the House’s bill that includes the wall?
It would require more than a few Democratic Senators to get to 60. If the vote even gets that far.
posted by Harry Caul at 12:47 PM on December 21 [7 favorites]


I think I missed a crucial piece of information here: why won’t the Senate vote for the House’s bill that includes the wall?

Because appropriations bills require 60 votes to overcome a filibuster and there are only 51 Republicans in the Senate, at least one of whom (Flake) has no interest in funding the wall, with another (Corker) being coy about whether he'd vote for it either.
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 12:47 PM on December 21 [5 favorites]


Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell made clear to senators that Trump didn’t provide any sense on what he may sign.

“He didn’t say because he didn’t know,” one GOP senator told CNN.


Well somebody get off their ass and go ask Ann Coulter.
posted by notyou at 12:52 PM on December 21 [30 favorites]


@GaryGrumbach
NBC News has learned Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg voted FROM HER HOSPITAL BED to refuse to let the government enforce Pres. Trump's proposed restriction on asylum. The court voted 5-4 to leave a lower court ruling in place that blocks enforcement of the crackdown
posted by bluesky43 at 12:53 PM on December 21 [145 favorites]


NBC News has learned Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg voted FROM HER HOSPITAL BED to refuse to let the government enforce Pres. Trump's proposed restriction on asylum

Elections fucking matter.
posted by Barack Spinoza at 12:56 PM on December 21 [95 favorites]


CREW FILES IG COMPLAINT AGAINST MATTHEW WHITAKER. Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington.

Acting Attorney General Matthew Whitaker should be investigated for violating the Standards of Ethical Conduct for Employees of the Executive Branch by ignoring a determination by career ethics officials that he should recuse himself from overseeing Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation, according to a complaint filed today by Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) with the Department of Justice (DOJ) Office of Inspector General. Under the Standards of Conduct, if an agency ethics official independently determines that an employee’s participation in a matter like the Mueller investigation would raise questions about his impartiality and should not participate in it, the employee is compelled to recuse.
posted by bluesky43 at 12:59 PM on December 21 [19 favorites]


Justices can vote in absentia? Google is not cooperating with my attempts to confirm this, all the results are about senate votes for justices.
posted by InTheYear2017 at 1:00 PM on December 21 [1 favorite]


CREW FILES IG COMPLAINT AGAINST MATTHEW WHITAKER. Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington.

That's just more legal fanfic, though, right? Like when all those orgs "filed ethics charges" against Kavanaugh with the DOJ? Is there any reason to think this will have some effect?
posted by Justinian at 1:01 PM on December 21 [1 favorite]




Justices can vote in absentia?

The USSC is very collegiate. They don't actually vote in the court where cases are argued.
posted by ChurchHatesTucker at 1:04 PM on December 21 [3 favorites]


Justices can vote in absentia?

I suspect that the rules for justices are much less codified than the rules for Senate and House decisions. They're not dealing with a rotating crowd of 100-500+ people to keep organized.
posted by ErisLordFreedom at 1:06 PM on December 21 [7 favorites]


That's just more legal fanfic, though, right? Like when all those orgs "filed ethics charges" against Kavanaugh with the DOJ? Is there any reason to think this will have some effect?

I dunno the details here, but iirc it was CREW's suit against the EPA that busted the Pruitt corruption out into the open.
posted by notyou at 1:07 PM on December 21 [13 favorites]


There is absolutely no requirement for justices to be in the courthouse, or even in the same city, when they vote. They routinely decide things like emergency requests for a stay of execution during the summer recess, when one or all of them is doing a speaking tour or whatnot.
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 1:08 PM on December 21 [5 favorites]


Drama City: Pence, Mulvaney and Kushner meeting with Schumer.

Assuming there's a deal of some sort -- how do you get the House to pass the new legislation in time to meet tonight's deadline?
posted by notyou at 1:09 PM on December 21 [1 favorite]


I really hope Schumer understands he doesn't need to give an inch here. I'm sooooo not confident in him, but srsly Chuck tell these drowning fascists to go pound sand.
posted by mcstayinskool at 1:12 PM on December 21 [31 favorites]


Pence, Mulvaney, and Kushner: none of them are Congresspeople. What could they be saying in this meeting with Schumer besides "Pass this budget We mean it!"? I don't get it. Although I kind of get why Schumer, being the ever-politician, would want to meet with them (to give some veneer of bipartisanship, or to let the clock run down, or to keep other people from talking to him—but still, why those three jackoffs and not an R-Senator jackoff?)
posted by Rykey at 1:14 PM on December 21 [4 favorites]


Looks like the $1.6 billion for fencing is back on the table.
posted by waitingtoderail at 1:15 PM on December 21


My assumption is the "deal" will be the same agreement they had before; 1.3 or 1.6billion for border security. The question is whether Trump will declare victory and sign it as a face saving measure.
posted by Justinian at 1:15 PM on December 21 [2 favorites]


I really hope Schumer understands he doesn't need to give an inch here. I'm sooooo not confident in him, but srsly Chuck tell these drowning fascists to go pound sand.
posted by mcstayinskool at 1:12 PM on December 21


Where's Pelosi? If Schumer caves, well, it's been a rough year and this would do me in.
posted by bluesky43 at 1:15 PM on December 21 [3 favorites]


At first, I was like: “WTF is Jar Jar Kushner doing in the meeting with Schumer?” Then I realized that these three goofs are the delegates Trump assigned to deal with this mess, since he’s incapable of handling it himself. So of course he sent his son-in-law, since he only trusts family.

But none of the three delegates — Pence, Mulvaney, Kushner — are seasoned veterans of congressional infighting. They’re out of their depth, and furthermore have no congressional clout as currently-serving congresscritters, either.

Given that they also probably don’t even know the parameters of what Trump’s minimum acceptable negotiables are, this whole intervention is doomed to fail.


On preview: echoing what Rykey said.
posted by darkstar at 1:17 PM on December 21 [7 favorites]


Pelosi does't have any power until 10 days from now, Republicans have the votes without any Democratic support in the House.
posted by T.D. Strange at 1:18 PM on December 21


What could they be saying in this meeting with Schumer besides "Pass this budget We mean it!"?

They could very well offer him ironclad promises on whatever, including "C'mon, you know nothing will ever get built" sort of rhetoric. And sadly we've seen Schumer cave to stuff like that before--repeatedly, even when the promises have been blatantly broken. Here's hoping he has finally learned from all that.
posted by scaryblackdeath at 1:18 PM on December 21 [1 favorite]


As I understand it, the $1.6 billion would not require a new Senate vote. The Senate has already passed a DHS funding bill with that money -- what happened is that the House refused it, passed their own bill, and the two chambers were unable to come to a consensus in conference negotiations. At any time, the House can reverse course, vote on the $1.6B bill and send it to the president with no action by McConnell, Schumer, et al.
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 1:19 PM on December 21 [3 favorites]


What could they be saying in this meeting with Schumer besides "Pass this budget We mean it!"?
The 3 Stooges making this argument won't produce enough Republicans in the room. They're not members of Congress, and they don't know what they're doing. I think Schumer will enjoy the attention and the farce of it.
posted by Harry Caul at 1:21 PM on December 21 [2 favorites]



Okay but since he's been in this damn "tailspin" for two years now call me back when he actually crash lands goes up in a puff of orange smoke.

I so agree.

All the "surely this" cheering is is exhausting. And frankly at this point the proclamations and predictions that "Trump is finished" or "He' won't finish his term" or any sort of wishful speculation that Trump is going to be chased from office is simply belied by existing facts. Frankly, it's delusional.

After all the graft, scandals, firings, guilty pleas and fuck ups Trump's approval ratings have not even budged!

52.7 Disapprove
42.2 Approve


I mean it hardly seems possible. But there it is. We live in an upside down insane reality.

And until you see that disapprove number hit 70-80% Trump is going no where and there will be no political force to make him leave.
posted by You Stay 'Ere An Make Sure 'E Doesn't Leave at 1:24 PM on December 21 [37 favorites]


And it seems a lot of senators feel this way, they told Raju: "What’s really angering GOP senators is that Trump wouldn’t even say he would get behind the $1.6 billion in border security, which was the president’s initial request and agreed to by Senate appropriators of both parties, per three senators"

Senate Democrats! Why. The. Hell. are you giving him this?

As I understand it, the $1.6 billion would not require a new Senate vote. The Senate has already passed a DHS funding bill with that money -- what happened is that the House refused it, passed their own bill, and the two chambers were unable to come to a consensus in conference negotiations. At any time, the House can reverse course, vote on the $1.6B bill and send it to the president with no action by McConnell, Schumer, et al.

That makes sense, I guess.
posted by leotrotsky at 1:24 PM on December 21


Schumer must not budge an inch! If he does he goes down as the most spineless politician of the decade ( except for all the republicans of course ).
posted by Liquidwolf at 1:26 PM on December 21 [1 favorite]




CNN's Manu Raju: Pence leaves the Senate, walking towards the House.

I picture him endlessly shuttling back and forth between the two chambers, a gray-topped Mary Celeste, a constipated Tantalus, eyes haunted, never speaking, in the constant fruitless search to satisfy an impossible master.
posted by leotrotsky at 1:31 PM on December 21 [72 favorites]


NYT's Seung Min Kim: Pence, Kushner, Mulvaney walk to House side, they enter Ryan’s ceremonial office off House floor. Meadows and Jordan went in as well

NBC's Jonathan Allen: Just talked to a senior Dem aide on the Hill who marveled at the WH sending Pence to negotiate with Schumer: This is the same vice president who persuaded Senate Republicans that Trump was likely to sign their bill, prompting them to pass it a couple days ago, the aide said.

Slate's Jim Newell tweeted a readout from Schumer's office about the meeting with Trump's trio: "Leader Schumer reminded them that any proposal with funding for the wall will not pass the Senate and that two proposals that leader Pelosi and he offered the President in the Oval Office last week are both still on the table, as is Leader McConnell's proposal that the Senate unanimously passed two nights and could pass the House and avoid a shutdown if the President signaled he would sign it." (pic)
posted by Doktor Zed at 1:38 PM on December 21 [8 favorites]


Why are they waiting for him to signal anything instead of just passing the fucking thing and forcing him to sign or not? What's the strategy with that at this late point in the process?
posted by odinsdream at 1:45 PM on December 21 [1 favorite]


What's the strategy

Let me stop you right there.

No, really, there is no strategy. Trump just does things with no particular rhyme or reason based on what Fox is yelling at him at any given time. That makes formulating a strategy to deal with him difficult.
posted by Justinian at 1:47 PM on December 21 [29 favorites]


But none of the three delegates — Pence, Mulvaney, Kushner — are seasoned veterans of congressional infighting.

Mick Mulvaney was in the House of Representatives for 6 years, and was a state legislator another 4 years before that. Mike Pence was in the House for 12 years. Neither one is exactly Tip O'Neill, but they're the best Trump has got.

Senate Democrats! Why. The. Hell. are you giving him this? [re: $1.6 billion in funding]

That money is the continuation of existing funding for border security writ large. It does not represent any new wall. But hopefully Trump can back down and yell "SEE! I got $1.6 billion of WALL. I WIN!" Also, they cut it to $1.3 billion in the bill that's on the table, just to rub some salt in.
posted by msalt at 1:48 PM on December 21 [6 favorites]


I understand that but the house and Senate could just do their part and throw it to Trump and go home, couldn't they?
posted by odinsdream at 1:49 PM on December 21


Schumer essentially dared them to do that. But unfortunately it relies on Paul Ryan having spine.
posted by msalt at 1:50 PM on December 21 [4 favorites]


> The house and Senate could just do their part and throw it to Trump and go home, couldn't they?

The Senate did - they passed the CR unanimously (I think?).

The House was on track to, until Trump got stung enough by Ann Coulter's denunciations to call up the House Freedom Caucus and the brave Paul Ryan and tell them not to do that. So the House voted on the CR + 5 billion for Wall instead.

And now, here we are...

(WaPo is running a shutdown ticker - 7 hours 7 minutes to go.)
posted by RedOrGreen at 1:51 PM on December 21 [1 favorite]


They could, but the House refused to do that, that's what lead us here. The House could've just passed the CR without the wall, but Ryan refused. And now McConnell changed positions to accommodate Ryan and Trump. The sticking point here isn't really McConnell, he's just being the yes man. It's Ryan and the House Republicans after Pelosi told Trump they didn't even have votes in the House for the Wall. They did this as much to spite her for that statement as to accommodate Trump.
posted by T.D. Strange at 1:53 PM on December 21 [1 favorite]


Mike Pence was in the House for 12 years

Where his nickname was "Mike Dense". This ain't the Capitol Hill equivalent of the A-Team.
posted by Doktor Zed at 1:53 PM on December 21 [65 favorites]


I understand that but the house and Senate could just do their part and throw it to Trump and go home, couldn't they?

Except Paul Ryan never presented that option to the House for a vote. He could have just taken the Senate bill without the wall, put it up for a vote and everyone could go home. He would have gotten all of the Democratic votes and required only a couple of dozen Republicans to sign on. In fact, Republicans in the House were already prepared to do that until Trump suddenly changed his mind on the agreed deal and the House Republicans cowardly bowed and fell in line with Trump.

This is Paul Ryan's legacy. A flimflam man right to the very end.
posted by JackFlash at 1:55 PM on December 21 [31 favorites]


I stand corrected, msalt! How did I not recall that they had been congresscritters? Anyway, thank you for the correction.

It occurs to me that one GOP upside to even a doomed intervention is that, by attempting it, the Republicans can make it look like it’s those mean ol’ Democrats that are causing the shutdown, along the lines of: “Well, we tried working with them — even sent Pence, Mulvaney and Jared — but the Democrats weren’t interested in negotiating, President Trump did all he could, but the blame rests with Schumer and Pelosi.”
posted by darkstar at 1:55 PM on December 21 [1 favorite]


zachlipton: So this is shaping up to be a real professional relationship built on trust and mutual respect.

Quoting like this, without specific reference to Mulvaney, to point out this could be said about SO MANY of Trump's "close associates."

Many will call him terrible names and undermine him in subtle ways, but all support him because they're in on the grift.

Calling Trump names while promoting his ghoulish policies and getting paid is like having your cake and eating it, too. You get to look like you're resisting and being "A Critical Adult," you know, without actually being one.

And you get paid.
posted by filthy light thief at 1:58 PM on December 21 [9 favorites]


That all of this is unfolding on the shortest, darkest day of the year is just a bit on the nose.
posted by Barack Spinoza at 2:05 PM on December 21 [90 favorites]


Garrett Haake MSNBC

A very optimistic @JohnCornyn just told reporters it feels like... something... is happening to avert shutdown. He feels more optimistic w/ Kushner & @VP here negotiating with Dems

yeah, FWIW.
posted by bluesky43 at 2:07 PM on December 21 [1 favorite]


Usually it's not clear how strategy and the bully pulpit can affect these showdowns, but Trump's epic screw-ups show just how badly he blew it. A properly executed shutdown showdown would have us right now in a similar situation: Trump, House Republicans, and Senate Republicans all declaring they are ready to go with a bill that is exactly as it is but with the $5 billion, and then pinning the entire thing on 9 Democrats in the Senate. Then we'd have a traditional confrontation where, like the DACA fight in January, lots of centrists would be agreeing that with House and Senate majorities plus the president on board, it really was the fault of recalcitrant Senate Dems, especially given the 60-vote threshold that many in their heart of hearts feel is somewhat anti-democratic. But Trump screwed things up with his "mantle" comments, allowing the Senate to pass a no-wall bill, and making it clear the House was ready to pass the same. Basically he took a traditional shutdown scenario with each side plausibly blaming the other and completely ruined it, leading to a showdown of the sort we've almost never seen before where one side has preemptively vitiated all their own arguments. If nothing else, it's an interesting (negative) example of how strategy and public positioning do matter above and beyond who has the votes.
posted by chortly at 2:10 PM on December 21 [24 favorites]


'Yellow vest' protest movement spreads to Taiwan

So I'll ask the obvious question: Who's going to bring the Yellow Vest movement to the U.S.?

And the obvious follow-up: Is there ANY CHANCE it could be a left-energizing movement this time around, instead of a Tea Party Redux, propped up at every stage by right-wing oligarchs and their money?
posted by flug at 2:16 PM on December 21 [2 favorites]


I don't understand what the "Yellow Vests" are protesting for in France. Okay, they didn't like the gas tax because it's regressive. Then it got canceled. Now they are just protesting against Macron, because he's an unpopular guy and they want him to resign? Would they rather have Le Pen? Because if so, yeah, they're a right wing anti immigrant anti-internationalism movement. Or are they pining for the more traditional (in France) socialist party leadership, only without the scandals?
posted by OnceUponATime at 2:19 PM on December 21 [12 favorites]


Many will call him terrible names and undermine him in subtle ways, but all support him because they're in on the grift.

Speaking of which, Maggie Haberman Tells CNN ‘Disgusted’ Republicans Now Privately Admitting They Regret Supporting Trump (Mediaite)
Calling it a “critical moment,” Haberman reported that there was waning support for Trump from the right, saying “A number of conservatives who worked on the campaign and supported the president and now say, you know, I regret doing that, and this was a mistake, this administration is, you know, off the rails, and all of these investigations that are coming to a head will be a huge problem.”

She adding that these conservatives “disgusted” with details that have emerged from the Michael Cohen plea deal. In her eyes, investigations into Trump’s campaign are ” going to intensify as we get into the year” before bringing up impeachment. “It takes 20 Republican senators to vote in favor of impeachment. This could be a critical moment.”
As for subtly undermining Trump, please note when Haberman is willing to retweet criticism and negative coverage of Trump and when she'll actually do herself instead of passive-aggressively propping him up.
posted by Doktor Zed at 2:20 PM on December 21 [5 favorites]


Who's going to bring the Yellow Vest movement to the U.S.?

Russians, Twitter, and Facebook; in no particular order.
posted by A Terrible Llama at 2:20 PM on December 21 [61 favorites]


Trump's epic screw-ups show just how badly he blew it

I think Republicans in Congress are probably pissed off about how this is all going down, but if the nightly news and the Sunday morning talk shows are talking about the shutdown instead of anything else that happened this week, its probably good news for Trump.
posted by parallellines at 2:30 PM on December 21 [4 favorites]


I don't understand what the "Yellow Vests" are protesting for in France.

It is, basically, a semi-apolitical (in that it is decentralized and does not endorse specific ideological solutions) protest about income and class inequality. It's more complex than that, of course, but if you want the single-sentence answer that's about right.
posted by mightygodking at 2:30 PM on December 21 [19 favorites]


A number of conservatives who worked on the campaign and supported the president and now say, you know, I regret doing that, and this was a mistake, this administration is, you know, off the rails, and all of these investigations that are coming to a head will be a huge problem.

I'll take regret as a confession that you knew what you were doing. Now, you broke it you bought it. What are you gonna do?
posted by M-x shell at 2:30 PM on December 21 [16 favorites]


I don't understand what the "Yellow Vests" are protesting for in France.

Yellow Vest thread here.
posted by progosk at 2:37 PM on December 21 [8 favorites]


To come back to this:

It’s not the grownups’ fault, exactly, that they can’t control Trump. But that just shows the basic faultiness of the metaphor. When toddlers play, it’s good to have a grownup in the room to supervise. But if a toddler is driving a car, it does no good to have a grownup in the passenger seat. Pretending that it’s somehow okay is the least grownup reaction possible.

I like this analogy, but think Yglesias goes in a weird direction with it. Of course it's good to have a grownup n the passenger seat, because any sane grownup would immediately go into an adrenaline-fueled panic and and lunge over to bodily remove that little fucker from the driver's seat before somebody gets hurt. That this hasn't happened doesn't disprove Trump-as-toddler, it disproves the presence of any actual grownups. If they were there, they would have acted. The cabinet and congressional leadership aren't helpless observers, they are choosing every day to let this continue to play out.
posted by contraption at 2:52 PM on December 21 [12 favorites]


He tweeted out a rendering of his "beautiful" Steel Slat Barrier.

It is a fence. A stupid, hideous fence with a nice closeup shot of the razor-sharp tips that the individual slats would have.

I don't know why the "beautiful" is bothering me so much, but it is. There's just no way anyone looked at this image and had that reaction.
posted by bluemilker at 2:53 PM on December 21 [16 favorites]


I just noticed that the "closeup" in the rendering isn't even vaguely the same shape as the slats in the full-sized image.

Literally everything in this story is stupid.
posted by bluemilker at 2:54 PM on December 21 [15 favorites]


The round cloud bubble magnifying into a rectangle made me laugh out loud I must say. It's a very disturbing picture tho.
posted by parki at 2:56 PM on December 21 [7 favorites]


There's just no way anyone looked at this image and had that reaction.

Caddy boy Dan Scavino got a new version of Photoshop.
posted by holgate at 3:00 PM on December 21 [1 favorite]


The round cloud bubble magnifying into a rectangle made me laugh out loud I must say. It's a very disturbing picture tho.

Real banality-of-evil stuff. Right now millions of people are fantasizing about what those spikes could do.
posted by Rust Moranis at 3:04 PM on December 21 [7 favorites]


I can't be the only country boy/mechanical engineer/person raised on a farm to look at that style of fence and suspect it would be highly vulnerable to a strategically placed (oh and commonly available, globally ubiquitous, 20 dollar or so price tag, 4 pound, highly portable, and nigh on indestructible) bottle-jack or two.

Seriously, other folks from rural areas that use tools are going to have a "whelp that's not secure at all" reaction to that. I'm not saying it will make a difference but it will exist at least and that's something, maybe.
posted by RolandOfEld at 3:07 PM on December 21 [41 favorites]


Whatever Trump wants built, it'll only be available from some company he (or a close Russian or Saudi friend) owns a big piece of.
posted by oneswellfoop at 3:10 PM on December 21 [7 favorites]


I would like to see the Mexicans play it like a xylophone. Would drive CBP crazy.
posted by JackFlash at 3:12 PM on December 21 [18 favorites]


Yeah, I think it is a real mistake to debate the effectiveness of any proposed wall.
posted by Quonab at 3:13 PM on December 21 [8 favorites]


S&P dropped to July 2017's level. It could take it under two trading days to return to the inauguration's level.
posted by ocschwar at 3:14 PM on December 21 [4 favorites]


Some stuff has happened in the Senate, where members including McConnell are wearing "cranky coalition" buttons because they're annoyed at having to work (again, do not underestimate how personally they will take this). The motion to proceed on the House-passed spending bill was gaveled closed at 5:49pm, beating by one minute the record for the longest vote in modern Senate history (the stimulus from 2009, which was held open for Sen. Brown to get back from his mother's wake). Corker and Flake both switched their vote to yes, and Jones voted yes, plus Pence breaking the tie (it was 47-47 before Pence).

But, before we all scream "sellout," what they're saying is that they agreed to vote yes with the understanding that the next vote will be on a bill that can actually pass (if this only got 47 votes to proceed, it cannot get 60. There are not even 50 Republican votes for a wall). Corker says no more votes “until a global agreement is reached.” So they agreed on a process, but not on any actual deal that can become law. In other words, a bunch of activity that amounts to nothing, because they still don't have an agreement that can pass the House, Senate, and be signed by the President.

But don't look for anything to actually materialize anytime soon. @taragolshan: “If I were you all, I’d go home and have a scotch.” -@BobCorker to congressional press corps.
posted by zachlipton at 3:14 PM on December 21 [8 favorites]


@nprpolitics

Shutdown negotiations continue: McConnell says the Senate will not take any more votes until an agreement is reached on a spending deal that would keep the government open

7:07 PM - 21 Dec 2018
posted by bluesky43 at 3:17 PM on December 21


Not painting the imaginary fence white feels like a real missed opportunity.
posted by box at 3:17 PM on December 21 [6 favorites]


I just noticed that the "closeup" in the rendering isn't even vaguely the same shape as the slats in the full-sized image.

One of the commenters points out that with the jeep for scale "there’s at least 18-24 inches between each slat."
posted by kirkaracha at 3:17 PM on December 21 [14 favorites]


@SeemaCMS (Seema Verma, Administrator of Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services):The CMS sleigh has made deliveries to Kansas, Rhode Island, Michigan, & Maine this week to drop off signed #Medicaid waivers. Christmas came early for these Governors & we are proud to support local innovation all across this great country!

The sheer glee these people take in taking away health care from poor people is disgusting. "Merry Christmas; please die" is what her tweet amounts to.
posted by zachlipton at 3:17 PM on December 21 [49 favorites]


Follow-up on CREW FILES IG COMPLAINT AGAINST MATTHEW WHITAKER. Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington and whether the complaint will have any effect:

My impression is that the folks at CREW generally know what they're doing.

The CREW website has a page describing the Inspector General complaint and a link to the IG complaint itself. They seem to think this is a pretty clear-cut thing:
Under the Standards of Conduct, if an agency ethics official independently determines that an employee’s participation in a matter like the Mueller investigation would raise questions about his impartiality and should not participate in it, the employee is compelled to recuse. ...

... Whitaker also appears to rely on an invented distinction between a determination by ethics officials and a nonexistent “formal” type of determination. The Standards of Conduct make no such distinction and do not provide for a “formal” determination. Therefore, the agency ethics officials’ conclusion was itself the determination.
They also sent two letters to the Department of Justice - a letter on November 8 and another letter on November 14 - providing reasons that Whitaker must recuse himself, "including his personal relationship with a key witness in the investigations." A search of that Nov. 8 letter reveals:
Mr. Whitaker reportedly has a personal and political relationship with Sam Clovis, the former chief policy adviser and national co-chairman of the 2016 Trump campaign as well as a key witness in the Russia investigation.32 That relationship arises from Mr. Whitaker having previously served as the chairman of Mr. Clovis’ unsuccessful 2014 campaign for Iowa State Treasurer.33 Mr. Clovis also reportedly has “kept up” with Mr. Whitaker and said that they still “regularly text” one another, as recently as within the last few weeks.34 In an interview with the Washington Post yesterday, Colvis said that he and Whitaker were “currently friends” and that he had texted Whitaker congratulations when he became acting Attorney General.35


Mr. Clovis played a significant role as a witness to key events under investigation by the Special Counsel.
CREW does a lot of good work on a lot of important issues. Their press release page shows their involvement in suing DHS over family separation (at least 2 suits, if I'm reading correctly), an IRS complaint over dark money, and an important ruling in another dark money case - CREW sued the FEC and Crossroads GPS over lack of disclosures, and the decision "declares that the law unambiguously commands more disclosure than the FEC has required in 30 years."

I doubt they win every suit they file, but they've had some significant victories, and I'd rather have them try and lose than just assume they'll never prevail.

I am a fan of CREW.
posted by kristi at 3:20 PM on December 21 [40 favorites]


Seriously, other folks from rural areas that use tools are going to have a "whelp that's not secure at all" reaction to that. I'm not saying it will make a difference but it will exist at least and that's something, maybe.

None of these designs are secure against ACTUAL HUMAN BEINGS if they don't come with adequate staffing of the border patrol with actual human beings.

And this is where it gets really bad. The BCP is one of the least pleasant ways to make a living with the use of a badge and a gun. And it doesn't pay that great either.

So to expand the BCP to enough size to make this wall hermetic like Trump's addled mind wants, requires giving a badge and a gun to anyone who steps forward to join the BCP and has a pulse.

So thousands more idiots with badges and guns. Feeling safe now?
posted by ocschwar at 3:23 PM on December 21 [10 favorites]


It's at times like these that I'm thankful for farsighted lawmakers who made raising the debt ceiling automatic in order to avoid playing a dangerous game of chicken like this with the global economy.



They did do that, right?
posted by Rhaomi at 3:24 PM on December 21 [11 favorites]


@SeemaCMS (Seema Verma, Administrator of Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services):The CMS sleigh has made deliveries to Kansas, Rhode Island, Michigan, & Maine this week to drop off signed #Medicaid waivers. Christmas came early for these Governors & we are proud to support local innovation all across this great country!

The sheer glee these people take in taking away health care from poor people is disgusting. "Merry Christmas; please die" is what her tweet amounts to.


It takes a lot of gall to refer to work requirement additions as "community engagement demonstrations". Ugh.
posted by bassooner at 3:27 PM on December 21 [9 favorites]


@chrisgeidner: BREAKING: The Supreme Court denies the Trump administration’s request to let it enforce its new asylum ban while the case proceeds in court. The decision was 5-4, with Chief Justice Roberts joining his more liberal colleagues in denying DOJ’s stay request.

I want to jump back to this for a second, because it's pretty disturbing. First, more "Roberts is the new swing vote." The ruling they just voted 5-4 to uphold was written by Judge Bybee, of the torture memos fame. His opinion was straightforward: the plain language of the Immigration and Naturalization Act says you can't do that, and DHS is trying to twist its words beyond any reasonable meaning. This is the ruling that four Justices were happy to sign on to temporarily stopping, pending further proceedings in the case.

The background here is that the original district court ruling from Judge Tigar was heavily criticized by Trump, who declared the judge to be an "Obama judge." That prompted a straight-up rebuke from Chief Justice Roberts, who now voted with the liberal judges to keep the administration from enforcing the asylum ban.

It's terrifying that four Justices voted to stay a ruling that really involves reading an unambiguous law and saying "you can't do that." Since it's just a stay application, there's no opinion or explanation from the Supreme Court that would indicate why they came to this conclusion, but decisions like this say a lot about what the Court has become.
posted by zachlipton at 3:36 PM on December 21 [45 favorites]


they still don't have an agreement that can pass the House, Senate, and be signed by the President.

Sorry, this timeline just won't allow me to be optimistic any more. I'm just going to assume such an agreement will be reached, the shutdown will be averted, and Trump will sign some mangled version of a budget that has something favorable to his fucking wall plan in it. We've been through this too many times to expect otherwise.
posted by Rykey at 3:40 PM on December 21 [3 favorites]


It's at times like these that I'm thankful for farsighted lawmakers who made raising the debt ceiling automatic in order to avoid playing a dangerous game of chicken like this with the global economy.

Not yet, but Democrats will in January when they retake the House, and the debt ceiling is not an issue before then. Don't worry about that one specific thing, there's enough else to worry about.
posted by T.D. Strange at 3:43 PM on December 21 [2 favorites]


More from CNN's Manu Raju:
Expect a long night of talks. Cornyn said he thinks a deal could come together “within hours,” suggested $1.6B for border security as agreed to by Senate appropriators

Cornyn told @BresPolitico and me that the negotiation will continue though the night. “There’s not going to be a vote tonight.” I asked him if we could take that to the bank, he said: “You could take it to the bank.”

What this means then is that unless there’s an agreement by unanimous consent, there would be a partial government shutdown at midnight, heading into the weekend.

Walking from the Senate side to the House side, Rep. Mark Meadows said bringing up $1.6B agreed to by Senate appropriators wouldn’t fly with him. “1.6B in terms of where we were two weeks ago is not acceptable”
It's going to be a long, long night (literally and figuratively).
posted by Doktor Zed at 3:48 PM on December 21 [1 favorite]


I’m kind of wondering if lawmakers can’t use Individual-1’s desire to get his butt to Florida and dangle it in front of him, like a carrot, to get him to sign something, anything? He’s pretty pliable, and tends to go with whatever is in his face at any given moment.
posted by Thorzdad at 3:55 PM on December 21 [1 favorite]


Trump Used to Write Out His Tweets in Sharpie
Trump used to have McConney print out his Twitter mentions, then he’d write his responses on paper with a Sharpie pen for McConney to send out from his account. (He’d apparently dictate his non-reply posts over the phone.) Sometimes, Trump would even consult with McConney and Melania to help him, three minds working on a single terrible post.
posted by kirkaracha at 3:57 PM on December 21 [11 favorites]


So, as I understand it, all the House needs to do is AGAIN scrap the content of the bill, and put the original content, passed by the senate, vote for it, and send it to Trump to be signed and Schumer's original "we have 2 plans to keep government running" wins?

What worries me is that all this is reinforcing Trump's narcissism. He's pushed Jesus Christ's birthday party off the front page, so for him this is a win.
posted by mikelieman at 3:58 PM on December 21 [3 favorites]


@GarrettHaake: Senators being told to head home for the night, and that they won't be called back unless there's an honest-to-goodness deal... and with 24 hour notice. That means a partial government shutdown tonight.

The House already left. Shut it down (partially, what's open and what's closed)
posted by zachlipton at 3:58 PM on December 21 [3 favorites]


Vox has a thing on how Democrats are trying to craft the policy of a Green New Deal. There's a lot to digest, but I had a thought that I don't know where to put. It isn't about the Green New Deal, so it doesn't belong in that thread, it belongs in the general politics thing, because it's "theory", but here goes.

I just translated a strategy white paper about where China wants to be in 2050. There's some stuff in there about innovation, in fact it was the central theme of the paper, but they were talking about nothing but "innovation as a supporting factor in our strategy to lead the world in science and technology". Well, um, how's that doing? "Faith that the public sector can be effective" from Democrats is kind of a dumb talking point in an era where China has a stupefyingly effective public sector, especially in green policy. Except that so far, they've been playing catch-up. China happily admits as much, and speaking with a broad brush, if you look at their foreign policy, it mostly involves dumping money on investments that are good ideas anyway. If the paper I translated is any guide, the US still leads by a long mile in figuring out the how of development. China throws money behind the West's second-order policy recommendations and builds alliances where the West won't for Probably Good Reasons (Except Did You See China in the Corner Oh You Didn't It Might Have Been Important).

That Green New Deal article pays an uncomfortable amount of lip service to the idea that government really honestly can be effective just give it a chance! The thought I had was, um, China...is kind of proof that it can be incredibly effective, and the Republicans are leaving us with literally no public sector to counter theirs, and why aren't the Democrats talking more about that? It seems like a crucially important junction between the "effectiveness-of-government" and "clear-eyed about our rivals" talking points.

China is balls-out about fostering innovation within an authoritarian system. They've figured out that you don't need democracy for a market economy to function (their One Big Innovation, and how much of it is based on catch-up? good luck figuring that out for another 20 years, the data ain't ready), but the US/West has yet to prove that you can have an effective public sector WITH democracy in the modern era. It seems like these are the outlines of the cold war to come, and it would be nice if Democrats would talk about it instead of still concede Republican talking points.
posted by saysthis at 4:04 PM on December 21 [27 favorites]


This time around my agency is one of the ones already fully funded, we're not affected, and service to the public will continue (well, sort of, basically everyone is on leave all next week anyway). Which is good for me, it'd be a real problem if I had to sign in for 15 mins only to get furlough papers on Monday Christmas Eve when I'm supposed to be driving 600 miles on Sunday.
posted by T.D. Strange at 4:07 PM on December 21 [9 favorites]


I’m kind of wondering if lawmakers can’t use Individual-1’s desire to get his butt to Florida and dangle it in front of him, like a carrot, to get him to sign something, anything?

So far, he signs everything put in front of him. I've come to believe all this posturing about "he won't sign" is intra-congressional drama. He doesn't want to not-sign, and he really doesn't want to veto - then the media blasts him for being the bad guy who's causing the problems.

He doesn't want news headlines about "Congress reached bipartisan agreement; President shut it down." He wants to sign things and declare, "I, personally, stopped the shutdown and kept the government functioning. It's running today on my signature!"
posted by ErisLordFreedom at 4:08 PM on December 21 [7 favorites]


I have a feeling that someone created that Steel Slat Barrier illustration based on a Sharpie drawing by Trump. There's no way that came from a fully functioning brain.
posted by diogenes at 4:25 PM on December 21 [5 favorites]


it just wouldn't be 2018 if it didn't end on a ham-handed metaphor:

NY Daily News: Man climbs National Christmas Tree in Washington, D.C., and negotiators are trying to talk him down

posted by murphy slaw at 4:25 PM on December 21 [20 favorites]


it just wouldn't be 2018 if it didn't end on a ham-handed metaphor:

Oh don't sell 2018 short. There's 10 days of crazy left.

And who knows what wonders 2019 will bring?
posted by kirkaracha at 4:28 PM on December 21 [9 favorites]




Nostalgia for the well-run machine of the Trump administration (Alexandra Petri, WaPo)
Things previously were on the rails, we are now learning. When we remember the years 2017 and 2018, we will do so wistfully. “Things were on the rails then,” we will say. “Remember Scaramucci? Remember how organized and unchaotic the Trump White House was?” (I am picturing us huddled over a fire as we say this, watching the White House in the distance to see whether it has released the series of smoke signals that indicates war.)

“Why, Gen. Kelly once kept the door to the president’s office shut for two hours at a time.”

“One hour,” someone else around the fire will correct. “But it was still impressive.”

For now, we are living in the good times! Look around you. Take in deep lungfuls of the still-breathable air. A live bear is not in charge of the joint chiefs. Mueller is still investigating.
posted by Johnny Wallflower at 4:31 PM on December 21 [23 favorites]


I hope Aunt Polly makes Trump whitewash this dang fence, one way or another.
posted by Elmore at 4:33 PM on December 21 [4 favorites]


Trump "just refounded Isis" says Fox's Brian Kilmeade to Sarah Sanders
One of the Fox Friends just gave a dissenting opinion? This may be a turning point... or Kilmeade is lobbying for a buyout...
posted by oneswellfoop at 4:37 PM on December 21 [1 favorite]




saysthis, there are European countries (like the Netherlands where I am now) that have democracy and a functioning public sector. It's totally possible, the US just needs to be willing to look beyond it's own borders for better ways to do democracy. Which, as an American, I know they won't, unfortunately.
posted by antinomia at 4:45 PM on December 21 [20 favorites]


CNN, Trump lashed out at Whitaker after explosive Cohen revelations
President Donald Trump has at least twice in the past few weeks vented to his acting attorney general, angered by federal prosecutors who referenced the President's actions in crimes his former lawyer Michael Cohen pleaded guilty to, according to multiple sources familiar with the matter.

Trump was frustrated, the sources said, that prosecutors Matt Whitaker oversees filed charges that made Trump look bad. None of the sources suggested that the President directed Whitaker to stop the investigation, but rather lashed out at what he felt was an unfair situation.
The first known instance took place when Trump made his displeasure clear to acting attorney general Matt Whitaker after Cohen pleaded guilty November 29 to lying to Congress about a proposed Trump Tower project in Moscow. Whitaker had only been on the job a few weeks following Trump's firing of Jeff Sessions.

Over a week later, Trump again voiced his anger at Whitaker after prosecutors in Manhattan officially implicated the President in a hush-money scheme to buy the silence of women around the 2016 campaign -- something Trump fiercely maintains isn't an illegal campaign contribution. Pointing to articles he said supported his position, Trump pressed Whitaker on why more wasn't being done to control prosecutors in New York who brought the charges in the first place, suggesting they were going rouge.
posted by zachlipton at 4:48 PM on December 21 [11 favorites]


Pointing to articles he said supported his position

By this, I assume they mean “Pointing to video clips from selective broadcasting.”
posted by Brak at 4:52 PM on December 21 [1 favorite]


Trump pressed Whitaker on why more wasn't being done to control prosecutors in New York who brought the charges in the first place, suggesting they were going rouge.

This is obstruction of justice. Also it's a day that ends in Y.
posted by T.D. Strange at 4:58 PM on December 21 [54 favorites]


the US/West has yet to prove that you can have an effective public sector WITH democracy in the modern era

ah, BS, 1940-1980 disproves this definitively unless your definition of modern differs sufficiently from mine that we will have fight. The reason US public sector shies is fucked up is that IT WAS DISMANTLED BY THE FUCKING REPUBLICANS AND FUCK THEM FOREVER
posted by mwhybark at 4:59 PM on December 21 [42 favorites]


Trump was frustrated, the sources said, that prosecutors Matt Whitaker oversees filed charges that made Trump look bad.

... said every dictator ever, essentially.
posted by Barack Spinoza at 5:05 PM on December 21 [7 favorites]




paul ryan, leaving the speakership with the gravitas and respect for the institution that we've come to expect:

(tweets from Billy House, the eponysterical bloomberg congressional correspondent)
1) Here's the latest news from an emergency House Rules Committee meeting: The House WILL proceed with a vote tomorrow on a bill sought by Paul Ryan's home-state cheese producers, and others! For real.

2) As a potential shutdown looms in just hours, Republicans on the Rules Committee took time to advance the measure to amend the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act to set a new definition of “natural cheese."

3) The Rules Committee action will now give the bill on Saturday its 2nd shot at passage in 3 days, under regular order, after having failed to get two-thirds majority support on Thursday in a speedier, streamlined suspension process.

4) Consumer Reports warns this "seemingly mundane bill" would allow cheese to be labeled 'natural' even if including artificial ingredients or synthetic substances, like yellow food dye, or was produced using methods or pesticides consumers do not consider “natural.”

5) Otherwise known as 'The Codifying Useful Regulatory Definitions (CURD) Act,' the measure passed Senate by voice vote on Dec. 13, under sponsorship of Wisc. Senators Johnson and Baldwin, & Idaho GOP Sens. Risch and Crapo. Rep. Long of Missouri was sponsor of a House version.

6) Rules top Democrat McGovern during meeting said he was mystified this cheese bill was brought up under emergency rules, as hundreds of thousands of federal workers face furloughs, and pay stoppage, possibly in hours. E & C top Dem Pallone said he told Ryan he opposed this move.

"I just find it a little bit ridiculous that we are talking about cheese and not keeping government open...I do think it's a little strange," said McGovern, during the meeting.
posted by murphy slaw at 5:23 PM on December 21 [31 favorites]


5) Otherwise known as 'The Codifying Useful Regulatory Definitions (CURD) Act,' the measure passed Senate by voice vote on Dec. 13, under sponsorship of Wisc. Senators Johnson and Baldwin, & Idaho GOP Sens. Risch and Crapo. Rep. Long of Missouri was sponsor of a House version.

Cheese Rules Everything Around Me
posted by Barack Spinoza at 5:27 PM on December 21 [26 favorites]


The Capitol Lounge in DC is once again offering Shutdown Cocktails (Facebook link)...$5 with a Federal employee ID during the shutdown. Offerings include:

Nothing Really Mattis: Mad Dog 20/20 and Vodka - Order It, Drink It, and Leave
The AOC Bourgeoisie: Champagne Brut, Peach, Puerto Rican Heat
Butina's on the Rocks with...what else...Stoli.

Ordinarily I'd always go for the gin-based cocktail, but the name - "Stephen Miller's Hair Affair" - means it's a hard pass from me.
posted by Preserver at 5:27 PM on December 21 [14 favorites]


Oh, look. More theater from the president. He tweets a picture of "Some of the many Bills that I am signing in the Oval Office right now."

Only, he's signing a BLANK PIECE OF PAPER.
posted by zakur at 5:28 PM on December 21 [48 favorites]


It's incredible that they keep taking official pictures that make him look like a tiny baby sitting awkwardly behind the desk.
posted by odinsdream at 5:32 PM on December 21 [14 favorites]


would allow cheese to be labeled 'natural' even if including artificial ingredients or synthetic substances, like yellow food dye, or was produced using methods or pesticides consumers do not consider “natural.”

Oh god, this reminds me of the Wisconsin butter grading cartel.
posted by holgate at 5:33 PM on December 21 [6 favorites]


Somewhere out there it's somebody's job for the night to discretely dispose of all those "bills" Trump was given to "sign" in order to keep him occupied for a bit while the adults talked.
posted by The Card Cheat at 5:39 PM on December 21 [3 favorites]


Only, he's signing a BLANK PIECE OF PAPER.

I'm more concerned about the lost spaceman in the window behind him.
posted by ChurchHatesTucker at 5:40 PM on December 21 [19 favorites]


It's incredible that they keep taking official pictures that make him look like a tiny baby sitting awkwardly behind the desk.

Would you prefer a picture of him sitting at a kids desk?
posted by kirkaracha at 5:43 PM on December 21 [3 favorites]


Somewhere out there it's somebody's job for the night to discretely dispose of all those "bills" Trump was given to "sign" in order to keep him occupied for a bit while the adults talked.
posted by The Card Cheat at 20:39 on 12/21


It's actually their job to take the papers he tears apart and tape them back together, in accordance with the presidential records act.
posted by I paid money to offer this... insight? at 5:59 PM on December 21 [21 favorites]


Valid question from somebody in the replies to Trump's tweet (paraphrased): If you're so busy right now, why were you planning to leave all that work to go to Mar-a-Lago?
posted by Rykey at 6:07 PM on December 21 [9 favorites]


I'm beginning to that that Paul Ryan's genius strategy is to just stretch things out to December 31 and then say "See ya, suckers!"
posted by JackFlash at 6:18 PM on December 21 [2 favorites]


He does, in fact, have a number of bills to sign. Most of them rename post offices, but I didn't say they were important bills. And really, what could be more important than renaming the post office in Renton, Washington the "James Marshall 'Jimi' Hendrix Post Office Building?"
posted by zachlipton at 6:20 PM on December 21 [24 favorites]


Fox News demanded a government shutdown — and got one (Jane Coaston, Vox)
A lot of conservatives with big platforms were very, very angry at Trump this week.
posted by ZeusHumms at 6:29 PM on December 21 [12 favorites]


China is balls-out about fostering innovation within an authoritarian system. They've figured out that you don't need democracy for a market economy to function (their One Big Innovation, and how much of it is based on catch-up? good luck figuring that out for another 20 years, the data ain't ready), but the US/West has yet to prove that you can have an effective public sector WITH democracy in the modern era. It seems like these are the outlines of the cold war to come, and it would be nice if Democrats would talk about it instead of still concede Republican talking points.

China is certainly fostering massive implementation. Balls out innovation is yet to really be seen.
posted by srboisvert at 6:30 PM on December 21


Oh god, this reminds me of the Wisconsin butter grading cartel.

If the last 48 hours have taught us anything, it’s that some care more about the curds than they do the Kurds.
posted by Barack Spinoza at 6:38 PM on December 21 [56 favorites]


That Vox piece ZeusHumms linked has an interesting paragraph that may show how Coulter got under Trump's skin.
That piece may have gotten her unfollowed on Twitter by the president. Then she went on the Daily Caller’s podcast to say that the entire purpose of Trump’s presidency appears to be “making sure Ivanka and Jared can make money.” But by Wednesday evening, Trump was arguing that the wall would in fact be built, “one way or the other,” saying that perhaps the military could construct it
posted by ChurchHatesTucker at 6:38 PM on December 21 [2 favorites]


My senator Brian Schatz's tweet game is on point.
posted by Joey Michaels at 6:56 PM on December 21 [12 favorites]


What if we declared that selling out our allies and advancing our adversaries' interests over our own was an impeachable offense in and of itself?

Hell yeah. We could call it a "high crime."
posted by Mental Wimp at 6:57 PM on December 21 [26 favorites]


Daily Beast: Bolton’s Hawkish Syria Plan Backfired, Pushing Trump to Get Out—The national security adviser expanded U.S. goals in Syria to challenge Iran. But Trump wasn’t on board, senior officials say, and Turkey took an opportunity to push the U.S. out.
A fateful decision by national security adviser John Bolton to expand the United States’ goals in Syria backfired, and is a key reason why President Donald Trump ordered a total withdrawal of U.S. troops, two senior administration officials told The Daily Beast.

Bolton in September added a second mission to the the already open-ended operation in Syria. In addition to destroying the so-called Islamic State, U.S. troops would stay in Syria indefinitely, forcing Iranian forces there to eventually withdraw.[…]

It wasn’t just Trump who was uncomfortable. Officials said the expanded, open-ended mission was provocative to Turkey, who saw confirmation of their suspicions that the U.S. was presiding over the de facto creation of a northeastern Syrian Kurdish mini-state on its border, a prospect it considered intolerable.

The U.S. officials said that Turkey used Bolton and [State Department’s envoy on Syria, Ambassador Jim] Jeffrey’s expanded mission as an opportunity to manufacture a crisis that proved to be decisive.[…]

During a Dec. 14 phone call first reported by the AP, Erdogan told Trump that his anti-ISIS mission was accomplished, and questioned the rationale of a prolonged U.S. deployment, with the prospect of a Turkish invasion hanging overhead. Erdogan, who requested the call, told Trump that Turkey could handle the ISIS threat in the future and then asked him: if ISIS is 99 percent defeated, “Why are you still there?”

One of the senior administration officials confirmed those details to The Daily Beast.

“Erdogan was like, look, I’m going in and the president was like okay, I’ll come out,” the senior official said — a response that shocked both U.S. officials and even Erdogan, who warned Trump against a precipitous pull-out.
CNN, Trump lashed out at Whitaker after explosive Cohen revelations

Now isn't that an interesting batch of revelations for "multiple sources" to leak a day after we learned Whitaker ignored DoJ ethics recommendations that he should recuse himself from the Mueller investigation. Likewise, why did this get dumped on the Friday before Xmas weekend, during a government shutdown, no less?

Perhaps I've grown cynical in the Age of Trump, but Trump complaining to his AAG about a criminal case in which he was implicated is the least surprising news we've received all day. What's one more obstruction of justice charge for Trump? And are we expected to believe Trump never brought up Mueller with Whitaker during his tenure at the DoJ? It would be comforting to think that these leaks are from right-thinking DoJ members who want to shiv the Big Dick Toilet salesman turned AAG, but Team Trump has been deploying modified limited hangouts since practically the beginning of the administration. It makes me wonder if this is something Whitaker is willing to cop to now because there's worse we don't know or yet to come.
posted by Doktor Zed at 7:00 PM on December 21 [7 favorites]


Is the concept of a Friday news dump even relevant any more? One: the idea that Friday is a time when people ignore the news just doesn't seem to be realistic any more, with 24 hour news cycles and lots of people actually having free time a going into the weekend to just catch up on stuff, and two: the pace of news in 2018 has been absolutely staggering, things are reported nearly as soon as they're learned about.
posted by odinsdream at 7:07 PM on December 21 [11 favorites]


@SeemaCMS (Seema Verma, Administrator of Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services):The CMS sleigh has made deliveries to Kansas, Rhode Island, Michigan, & Maine this week to drop off signed #Medicaid waivers. Christmas came early for these Governors & we are proud to support local innovation all across this great country!

I replied to this tweet and said that Seema is a ghoul for celebrating kicking people off Medicare and Twitter suspensed me. Great job, @jack! You’ve protected a cruel Republican woman from experiencing criticism of her policy choices.
posted by SakuraK at 7:51 PM on December 21 [79 favorites]


Was told today that as a contractor our work is paid for and we're still doing work. Now Feds who oversee us can NOT make decisions so, if this thing lasts awhile we'll be doing a lot of busy work because the odds the overseers won't have changes updates etc is pretty slim.
posted by 922257033c4a0f3cecdbd819a46d626999d1af4a at 8:07 PM on December 21 [3 favorites]


Great job, @jack! You’ve protected a cruel Republican woman from experiencing criticism of her policy choices.

If it's any comfort, she seems to be getting plenty of criticism otherwise.
posted by ChurchHatesTucker at 8:14 PM on December 21 [8 favorites]


Again: government shutdowns only happen because of the unique way the United States federal government is funded. When that happens in other industrialised democracies, a government that can't pass a supply bill is replaced by one that can.
posted by holgate at 8:56 PM on December 21 [23 favorites]


@JenniferJJacobs:
BREAKING: Trump has discussed firing Federal Reserve chief Jerome Powell as his frustration has intensified after this week’s interest-rate increase and months of stock-market losses.

Advisers close to Trump aren’t convinced he will try to do it, but say he wants to. Trump has talked privately about wanting to fire the Fed chair many times in past few days.

Any such attempt would have potentially devastating ripple effects on markets, undermining investors’ confidence in Fed’s ability to shepherd the economy without political interference.

It’s unclear how much legal authority the president has to fire Jay Powell. And at least one of Trump’s economic advisers, Kudlow, has said a president can’t fire Federal Reserve chair without cause. That hasn’t stopped Trump from expressing his desire to get rid of Powell.
This seems like a good time for a reminder that Trump's business was a teetering pile of debt, and there's every reason to think his economic policy judgements would be based on the needs of his business.
posted by zachlipton at 8:59 PM on December 21 [50 favorites]


Jebus Crackers, threatening to fire the Fed chair. On top of everything else, the trade wars, the erratic foreign policy, the understaffing and churn of Admin officials, the government shutdown...

It’s almost as if he’s trying to destabilize the economy.
posted by darkstar at 9:12 PM on December 21 [34 favorites]


What was it that Hillary said? Here’s a man that couldn’t make money with a casino? And yet, Republicans voted for him anyway. Enjoy your bankruptcy.
posted by valkane at 9:15 PM on December 21 [74 favorites]


Like I said in the last megathread, this week has been about testing the limits of presidential power. There's a long-standing argument that the Fed's paranoia about inflation means it will gladly fuck over growth (especially wage growth) but the manchild gave up his right to participate in that argument when he started his bullshit mercantilist trade war.
posted by holgate at 9:26 PM on December 21 [1 favorite]


And now The Trump Shutdown has begun.

Merry Christmas!
posted by mmoncur at 9:32 PM on December 21 [1 favorite]


I hope he doesn’t get a cent for the wall. Anytime I go south to Tubac, Sierra Vista, Bieber, etc, I have to go through a Border Patrol checkpoint. These things are getting more and more intimidating. It’s all theater, and as a white person I just get waved through, but not everyone down here has that privilege. Every car gets a sniff from the drug dog on duty. At night, harsh lights everywhere. I remember when I used to be able to drive south and not have to deal with these things.

On another note... It’s been almost two years and the firehose of “what the hell just happened” hasn’t slowed down; it’s going stronger than ever. I saw a bumper sticker today that said “I can’t even remember what I was angry about before Trump.” Sums it up perfectly.
posted by azpenguin at 9:37 PM on December 21 [56 favorites]


Trump has discussed firing Federal Reserve chief Jerome Powell as his frustration has intensified after this week’s interest-rate increase and months of stock-market losses

I'm thinking Trump is due to receive a you-have-messed-with-the-primal-forces-of-nature speech, now that his impulsive batshittery is spooking the markets. I'm just not sure if I believe there's a Ned Beatty.
posted by condour75 at 10:00 PM on December 21 [1 favorite]


After their repeated refusal to pay for his Border Wall, President Trump has shut down the Mexican Government.

Wait. [*SQUINTS*]

Correction, President Trump has shut down the United States Government. That is all.
posted by East Manitoba Regional Junior Kabaddi Champion '94 at 10:10 PM on December 21 [17 favorites]


I just presume that, like Arnold Schwarzenegger in Jingle All The Way, Trump is rushing to get everything on Putin's gift list
posted by Ray Walston, Luck Dragon at 10:22 PM on December 21 [7 favorites]


Well one silver lining is a bunch of ICE agents won’t get paychecks for a while
posted by The Whelk at 10:30 PM on December 21 [22 favorites]


his impulsive batshittery is spooking the markets.
It should have spooked the markets from day one. But we can now be hopeful that some-or-all of the "he's doing dumbass things... but I look at my portfolio and what's not to love?" contingent will be abandoning him, shrinking his base until you can drown it in a bathtub (to re-phrase Grover Norquist's awful quote).

Here, have a chuckle via the good old MAD Magazine... "SUGGESTED MESSAGES FOR TRUMP'S THANK YOU HOTLINE"
posted by oneswellfoop at 10:58 PM on December 21 [6 favorites]


If it's any comfort, she seems to be getting plenty of criticism otherwise.

Thanks, that is good to know. This Twitter account was new. The interesting thing was that I created it separately from my existing device/identity because my established account was suspended for saying that Laura Ingraham has too much influence on foreign policy because she is Trump’s favorite Fox News blonde bimbo. Insulting Ingraham was not my finest moment, granted, but it was hardly profane or threatening and this was the first time in 11 years I was suspended followed by my second suspension a day later. Two hypothesis that could both be true: 1) Twitter is cracking down on mild criticism of right-wing personalities to the point that non-profane, non-threatening tweets are now grounds for suspension when they reference certain users, and 2) Twitter has enough information to correlate non-linked identities across devices and email addresses.

If your livelihood depends on access to Twitter, take care because it feels like something has changed in how they police criticism of right wingers. Judging by the quantity of rape threats I found with a trivial search, no such change in enforcement has happened across the political spectrum. They’ve simply stepped up censorship of statements that might make Republicans feel bad about themselves. If you need to use Twitter with multiple accounts which you don’t want associated with one another, use a VPN in addition to separate device/separate identities.

I will miss the good writers I followed on Twitter and will find them in other venues where possible, but at this point Twitter joins Facebook in the deleted category.
posted by SakuraK at 12:48 AM on December 22 [28 favorites]


So I'm reading a New York Times article about the shutdown and it says here that "more than 420000 people" (!!!) will "work without pay", including a lot of law enforcement and border security type people. Now, a question: does "work without pay" here actually mean that they will never, at any point, get paid for the hours worked even when a spending bill eventually passes or are the hours they work just logged but the paychecks for those hours won't be issued until there is money to go around again?

Both are, of course, completely unacceptable and indicative of a dysfunctional system that has completely managed to distance itself from what a functioning government is. I'm just interested in the degree of fucked-up-ness.
posted by Soi-hah at 1:04 AM on December 22


Historically federal employees who worked through shutdowns (and many salaried folks who were furloughed) got retroactively made whole. That still doesn’t make it okay and is also not the case for contractors or hourly workers.
posted by Exceptional_Hubris at 2:12 AM on December 22 [7 favorites]


more than 420000 people" (!!!) will "work without pay", including a lot of law enforcement and border security type people. Now, a question: does "work without pay" here actually mean that they will never, at any point, get paid for the hours worked even when a spending bill eventually passes or are the hours they work just logged but the paychecks for those hours won't be issued until there is money to go around again?

Of all the U.S. Gov shutdowns I recall, rank-and-file employees do get paid when the shutdown is over. It has to be explicitly ordered, but I can't recall a time that it has not happened.

Telling those same employees they may not have a paycheck right before Christmas? That's... not the tack I would take.

I would say "Merry Christmas, you are not getting paid" along with all of the other bizzarro things going on in the last few days (a trump thank you hotline? WTAF!) (h/t to oneswellfoop for pointing that out. link.)would be the "surely this" moment we have been talking about for a billion Scaramuccis, and I am beginning to think so, but it's 4:30 in the morning and I haven't had a solid night of sleep since last Friday, so I am not betting on that horse just yet.

Maybe after some more sleep, I can semi-adequately put all these pieces over the last 48 hours together in a way that shows we may have actually made it to surely this. If I could do that it, it would be the least I could offer for the Quonsar season.

On Preview: Exceptional_Hubris, yeah I was wondering about the contractors. I figured they either got hosed or they got paid to sit around and do nothing since there was nothing they were allowed to do. The hourlies getting short shrift.... well, i don't have words for how terrible that is.
posted by a non mouse, a cow herd at 2:52 AM on December 22 [4 favorites]


I'm a federal contractor and I'm still waiting to hear whether I can "work" through the shutdown and get paid. If not, I lose that money and don't get it back later.
posted by runcibleshaw at 4:16 AM on December 22 [20 favorites]


BREAKING: Trump has discussed firing Federal Reserve chief Jerome Powell as his frustration has intensified after this week’s interest-rate increase and months of stock-market losses.

It's no surprise now Trump's screw-ups with the economy are undeniable that he's looking for someone to blame.

WaPo: As Stocks Drop, Trump Fears He’s Losing His Best Argument For Reelection
President Trump has kept an almost obsessive watch on the stock market as it has lurched lower in recent weeks, tuning in to Fox Business and checking in with Lou Dobbs, a host on the network.

The president has complained to aides about how unfair it is that he is blamed for the market’s slide and for growing unease about an economic slowdown in the months to come, say current and former officials who spoke on the condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak publicly.

And he has needled Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome H. Powell about the pace at which the central bank has raised short-term interest rates.

The lower the market drops, the more the president worries that he is losing his most potent argument for reelection, several of the officials said.
He also refuses to acknowledge that his trade war with China has backfired and that his tariffs are hurting the U.S. economy:
The president often says China has more to lose than he does, and the Chinese are feeling the pressure. He is not going to back off the tariffs, several people said, and actually takes joy in how much Republicans dislike them.[…]

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and top economic adviser Larry Kudlow have expressed concerns about the tariffs privately. But although Kudlow doesn’t like them, he has adopted the viewpoint that they are part of a broader strategy to target China.

Trump’s top economic and trade advisers blanketed the airwaves in recent days in an attempt to increase confidence in the U.S.-China trade talks and to play down any concerns about the market decline, but a lot remains to be bridged between the two sides in the next 90 days.[…]

The president has blamed a number of his officials for the sentiment shift on Wall Street, but he rants continually about Powell. At Trump’s Mar-a-Lago estate in Florida over Thanksgiving, the president complained about Powell extensively, guests said.
While Trump looks for a scapegoat, not only is this shaping up to be the worst year for U.S. stocks since 2008, but also most CFOs see a U.S. recession coming by 2020 (CBS).
posted by Doktor Zed at 4:26 AM on December 22 [15 favorites]


Senior Justice Dept. officials told Whitaker signing gun regulation might prompt successful challenge to his appointment (WaPo)
Senior Justice Department lawyers advised acting attorney general Matthew G. Whitaker not to sign a gun regulation change earlier this week, warning him that doing so could lead to a successful legal challenge to his appointment as the nation’s top law enforcement official, according to officials familiar with the discussions.
[...]
The internal debate over Whitaker’s signature, which began weeks ago, shows how concerned even top Justice Department executives are that his appointment to acting attorney general is vulnerable to a legal challenge, particularly when lawyers suing the department over various policy issues need to find only one federal judge who agrees with that position, according to officials familiar with the discussions. They spoke on the condition of anonymity to detail internal discussions.
posted by peeedro at 4:41 AM on December 22 [16 favorites]


North Carolina asked feds to open vote fraud case last year (AP)
North Carolina’s top elections official issued an urgent plea nearly two years ago for the Trump administration to file criminal charges against the man now at the center of ballot fraud allegations that have thrown a 2018 congressional race into turmoil.

N.C. Board of Elections Executive Director Kim Strach warned in a January 2017 letter first obtained by The Associated Press that those involved in illegally harvesting absentee ballots in rural Bladen County would likely do it again if they weren’t prosecuted.

Josh Lawson, the top lawyer for the elections board, said Friday that Strach’s memo was followed less than a month later with the first of several in-person meetings during which state investigators provided FBI agents and federal prosecutors with evidence accusing Leslie McCrae Dowless Jr. and others of criminal activity
[...]
At the time, there was only an acting U.S. attorney in office. Later in 2017, Trump’s appointee arrived, but took no action to prosecute the matter. Instead, he assigned his staff to focus on a different priority — prosecuting a handful of non-citizens who had allegedly voted.
posted by peeedro at 4:51 AM on December 22 [50 favorites]


The president has complained to aides about how unfair it is that he is blamed for the market’s slide and for growing unease about an economic slowdown in the months to come

Nope. Once you take credit for causing the upswing, you own everything that happens on the downside too. This is the Trump market now and for the rest of his time in office. He asked to be tied to the market's every movement, and now he is, and so is every Republican that voted for the taxscam. They explicitly promised us that more tax cuts for the rich would lead to permanent 6% growth for forever with no losses or budget deficits ever again. They should be held responsible that that hasn't happened.

Every Democrat should blame Trump and Republicans LOUDLY and at EVERY opportunity when the recession comes.
posted by T.D. Strange at 5:05 AM on December 22 [74 favorites]


As predicted by zachlipton upthread, the shutdown has caused the Violence Agsinst Women Act to expire ...
... cutting off funding for programs that help victims of sexual assault, domestic abuse and stalking.

The blow to the landmark 1994 law came after multiple short-term extensions. The act was due to expire on Sept. 30 and on Dec. 7 but received a last-minute reprieve each time. Its programs are funded under the Justice Department, which is affected by the shutdown.

The lapse was a gut-punch to activists after a year in which the #MeToo movement called attention to harassment and assault of women. VAWA was passed in the wake of Anita Hill’s testimony against then-Supreme Court nominee Clarence Thomas over alleged sexual harassment; it expired less than three months after Christine Blasey Ford testified against then-Supreme Court nominee Brett M. Kavanaugh, saying he sexually assaulted her when the two were in high school. Thomas and Kavanaugh denied the allegations and now serve on the high court.
(Elise Viebeck | WaPo)
posted by Barack Spinoza at 5:20 AM on December 22 [30 favorites]


NBC continues to mine the Senate intelligence committee's leaked reports on Russian election interference: Russians Launched Pro-Jill Stein Social Media Blitz To Help Trump Win Election, Reports Say—Building support for Stein was one of a “roster of themes” the Moscow-sanctioned internet trolls “turned to repeatedly,” report says.
Building support for Stein was one of a “roster of themes” the Moscow-sanctioned internet trolls “turned to repeatedly” in their effort to disrupt the election, according to a research team led by the New Knowledge cybersecurity firm. The researchers also found that the campaign to bolster Stein gained in intensity in the final days of the presidential campaign and largely targeted African-American voters.[…]

An NBC News analysis found that Russians working under the direction of the Internet Research Agency, the St. Petersburg-based firm run by a close ally of Russian President Vladimir Putin, tweeted the phrase “Jill Stein” over 1,000 times around the time of the election.[…]

The Green Party did not respond to multiple requests for comment. NBC News also left messages with two Stein spokespersons, but they went unreturned.[…]

As a frequent guest on the Russian state-owned English language broadcast and online outlets RT and Sputnik, Stein has also benefited from Moscow’s help during her presidential runs in 2012 and 2016.

An NBC News review of the archives of RT and Sputnik, which the CIA has described as part of “Russia’s state-run propaganda machine,” from early 2015 to the 2016 election shows more than 100 stories, on-air and online, friendly to Stein and the Green Party.
“Is Stein a fellow traveler or a useful idiot?” former FBI agent and Hamilton 68 co-founder Clint Watts asked rhetorically. “I don’t know, but even after the election she played into Russia disinformation by pursuing a recount so heavily and claiming election fraud. This was a post-election coup for Kremlin propagandists.”
posted by Doktor Zed at 5:28 AM on December 22 [53 favorites]


She also appeared at that same dinner with Putin as Flynn did. I legitimately do not understand why Stein is not also a target of the Special Counsel. She should be. You can't tell me she didn't know about the Russian's activities too.
posted by T.D. Strange at 5:34 AM on December 22 [33 favorites]


Do we all remember Jill Stein sitting next to Flynn at the RT banquet? Fellow Traveler seems pretty clear. Prosecute her with the rest.
posted by rikschell at 5:35 AM on December 22 [11 favorites]


WSJ: Trump Doubles Down on Campaign Promises in Turbulent Week
On Wednesday evening, President Trump watched as two of his biggest congressional allies took to Fox News and the House floor to criticize him for not insisting that funds for a southern border wall be delivered in a new spending bill, according to people close to Mr. Trump.

That night, according to one of the people close to the president, Mr. Trump decided: “Let’s have this fight.”[…]

By Thursday evening, the House had voted on a new bill with funding for the wall, sending it to the Senate. Later that night, White House officials were predicting, with 90% odds, that the government would shut down at the weekend. Mr. Trump, an administration official said, was “in a good mood.”
As always, the rebarbative Trump loves to fight.

Every Democrat should blame Trump and Republicans LOUDLY and at EVERY opportunity when the recession comes.

Everyone needs to start now, even if it makes us look like Chicken Little. The Trump Shutdown has roiled markets, but that's just one early step among many that Trump has taken toward an economic downturn. The message about a recession must go out now, before the GOP has a chance to frame it.
posted by Doktor Zed at 5:52 AM on December 22 [13 favorites]


“Is Stein a fellow traveler or a useful idiot?”

I once spent some time with Jill Stein in her living room. (We were filling out mailers for her 2002 run for Massachusetts governor. I was young and naive.)

I might get more mileage out of this anecdote than I ever expected if she ends up in the history books as a traitor.
posted by diogenes at 6:02 AM on December 22 [9 favorites]


Trump Slump needs to everywhere. Brand the downturn/recession like his properties.
posted by chris24 at 6:03 AM on December 22 [22 favorites]


The co-chairs of the Syrian Democratic Council, Ilham Ahmed and Riad Darar, went to France Friday to request the French government step up its military presence in Northeast Syria where the US is withdrawing.

As far I can tell from the news this morning, there hasn't been a public response from the French government yet, but immediately following Trump's announcement, the French government issued statements saying that French troops in Syria weren't going anywhere and that France was taking the continuing threat from ISIS in the region very seriously.
posted by nangar at 6:05 AM on December 22 [5 favorites]


You know, this was supposed to be infrastructure week.
posted by dances_with_sneetches at 6:07 AM on December 22 [6 favorites]


I'm seriously amazed the intarwebs haven't been drowned by now in umpteen Downfall clips with Trump subtitles. Or, maybe reality is just too scary to make light of right now?
posted by Thorzdad at 6:07 AM on December 22 [8 favorites]


Downfall 2: Increasing Isolation
posted by Barack Spinoza at 6:09 AM on December 22 [23 favorites]


Ouverture: "
“How many people go to the middle of the desert … to hold a wedding 80 miles from the nearest civilization?” he told The Guardian. “These were more than two dozen military-age males. Let’s not be naive.”
"

Wait is Mattis secretly British? It's the only thing that makes sense of an implication that 80 miles is far. I mean, I've driven farther for Bannock.

a non mouse, a cow herd: "Of all the U.S. Gov shutdowns I recall, rank-and-file employees do get paid when the shutdown is over. It has to be explicitly ordered, but I can't recall a time that it has not happened. "

While true, lots of things that should/usually happen that aren't required by law (and even some things that are!) just haven't been. There is at least a chance that back pay to employees won't happen this time.
posted by Mitheral at 7:11 AM on December 22 [9 favorites]


I legitimately do not understand why Stein is not also a target of the Special Counsel.

Buzzfeed, a year ago: The Senate’s Russia Investigation Is Now Looking Into Jill Stein. She later refused to comply with their document requests, however (Intercept). (This isn't to say she hasn't been interviewed by the Special Counsel, only that we haven't heard if she has. It's possible she has but hasn't leaked it to the media.) In any case, useful idiot or fellow traveller, she acts like someone with something to hide.
posted by Doktor Zed at 7:29 AM on December 22 [18 favorites]


AP: Trump Call With Turkish Leader Led to US Pullout from Syria

The WaPo has a tick-tock with much the same info but with more from people likely linked to Mattis, A tumultuous week began with a phone call between Trump and the Turkish president. This tidbit jumped out at me:
It began [in April] at a “Make America Great” rally in Ohio. “We’re knocking the hell out of ISIS,” Trump told a cheering crowd, veering unexpectedly into foreign policy in a speech that was supposed to be about infrastructure. “We’ll be coming out of Syria, like, very soon. Let the other people take care of it now.”

The president was still riffing onstage when the frantic calls from the White House Situation Room began pouring in to aides traveling with the president. Mattis and Chief of Staff John F. Kelly scrambled to understand what the president was talking about.
[...]
After his bombshell, Trump walked off the stage in Ohio and took a swig of Diet Coke. Smiling broadly, he “knew that people were freaking out,” said one person familiar with the incident.
One one hand, sure, the NSC is going to monitor everything, but on the other hand, it demonstrates how dysfunctional this White House is that the president's infrastructure speech is being monitored from the White House Situation Room like the raid on bin Laden.

Also, intelligence/national security leaks want us to know that ISIS isn't dead, they're just resting: Retreating ISIS army smuggled a fortune in cash and gold out of Iraq and Syria. $400 million is hidden away "partly intended, analysts say, to fund a future resurgence of the Islamic State."
posted by peeedro at 7:50 AM on December 22 [18 favorites]


Historically federal employees who worked through shutdowns (and many salaried folks who were furloughed) got retroactively made whole. That still doesn’t make it okay and is also not the case for contractors or hourly workers.

@SwiftOnSecurity had a good thread last night about federal tech / infosec workers who quit over the combination of shutdowns and their funding being used as a partisan cudgel: "These stunts are capability suicide." The lower salary that comes from public-sector work in these fields is typically offset by greater job stability and the civic mission, but when the stability goes away, you start returning the calls from recruiters.

Anyway, it's pretty clear that the Senate strategy is to make the manchild stir-crazy about not hanging out with his paying toadies in Florida. Schumer and McConnell think he'll break before they do, and then everybody will be able to fuck off for the holidays.
posted by holgate at 8:04 AM on December 22 [26 favorites]


AP: Official says US envoy for anti-Islamic State #ISIS coalition, Brett McGurk, has quit; more fallout from President Trump's Syria pullout

@nycsouthpaw: “McGurk has been a high ranking US representative in the region since the Bush admin”
posted by Barack Spinoza at 8:36 AM on December 22 [18 favorites]


@realDonaldTrump, 2:05 PM - 7 Oct 2013
My sense is that people are far angrier at the President than they are at Congress re the shutdown—an interesting turn!
posted by kirkaracha at 8:46 AM on December 22 [22 favorites]


You know, every competent person who resigns not only takes their individual competence, but also takes all of the network connections and relationships they have developed over the years that allows their individual competence to be effective at accomplishing the mission with the larger effort.

I imagine McGurk not only knew everything there was to know about the anti-ISIS coalition, but also knew every player in the region: who could be trusted, who was positioned to be useful, the best way to connect to each stakeholder’s interests, etc.

I know we’ve handled them badly in the past, but has our country ever dealt with a foreign war/conflict in quite so erratic and unstable a fashion as to unilaterally withdraw without even telling our allies?
posted by darkstar at 8:50 AM on December 22 [14 favorites]


> @SwiftOnSecurity had a good thread last night about federal tech / infosec workers who quit over the combination of shutdowns and their funding being used as a partisan cudgel: "These stunts are capability suicide." The lower salary that comes from public-sector work in these fields is typically offset by greater job stability and the civic mission, but when the stability goes away, you start returning the calls from recruiters.

On Thursday afternoon, I sent out an email to our federal research sponsors informing them of our final software release of the year, knowing full well that they were likely going to be furloughed. We had already discussed the possibility of a shutdown in a recent meeting, and let me tell you that it's awkward as hell trying to find the right words to say in that situation. Our work is funded on an annual basis, so we'll keep doing what we've been doing unless the shutdown continues for many months, but during the shutdown we won't have any government sponsors to make sure that it gets delivered to the end users, who happen to be "essential" staff that are exempt from the shutdown. (There are contractors we would normally be working with, except legally we can't task them directly, and the federal staff who would task them are gone.)

The govvies we work with are making a huge sacrifice relative to what they could get paid elsewhere. The highest paid among them top out at around 115k. That'd be a livable (albeit below-market) salary for a senior technical position here in Pittsburgh, but in DC it's simply not competitive. As Swift says, part of that differential can be accounted for by the relative stability of the work, and I am very grateful to those who stick around long enough to learn our tools and develop a good working relationship with us. But at this point, why would anyone stay?

The GOP loves contractors, because it's federal dollars that go to private companies. They're not as concerned with the size of the budgets as they are with the size of the payrolls. There is definitely work that the federal staff isn't skilled enough to do, but there is no doubt in my mind that if we were paying the federal workers close to what they're worth and not constantly threatening their livelihood with shutdowns, they'd be able to do more of that work themselves, freeing people like me up to work on more difficult problems.

And all of this for "artistically designed steel slats".
posted by tonycpsu at 8:55 AM on December 22 [48 favorites]




I legitimately do not understand why Stein is not also a target of the Special Counsel.

How do you know that she isn't? The only things we really know about Mueller's investigation come in the form leaks by his targets and court filings. The leaks all come from the various targets of the investigation and their defense teams to get ahead of things when something damaging is going to become public (a guilty plea, some filing made public, etc.) and that's just because these are still public figures who think they can win in the court of public opinion.

But Stein doesn't have an administration to protect, she doesn't have power she's trying to hold onto. If she is a target of the investigation, she's just trying to stay out of jail. If we assume that she has competent lawyers I would guess (and hopefully those more familiar with criminal law can correct or confirm this) that they'd advise her to stay quiet and keep her head down. A lack of evidence that she is a target of the investigation doesn't necessarily mean that she's in the clear.

Mueller knows at least as much as we know AND he's been following the money. If some of that money goes through Jill Stein I would bet that she's a target. Time will tell.
posted by VTX at 9:06 AM on December 22 [22 favorites]


NPR interviewed some Republican congressman yesterday who was angry that funding for either a wall or fence, he didn't care about semantics, had been made into a politically divisive issue, when just a few years ago money for fencing was supported by both parties non-controversially. NPR, as usual, had nothing to say in response. It made me livid, because what's the difference between a wall and a fence? Probably tens of billions of dollars at a time when Flint still has lead tainted water.

The congressman went on to say that old fencing lets in maybe 10 illegals a month while new fencing lets in zero, again something I really don't care about spending billions on. He had the nerve to say this was obviously a huge problem. Of course, the correct response to this would have been to ask why ten people sneaking into the country who will in all likelihood contribute to the economy, obey the law, and pay taxes is more important than, say, food programs for the poor, but that would be calling b.s. on the whole thing wouldn't it?
posted by xammerboy at 9:19 AM on December 22 [50 favorites]


NPR interviewed some Republican congressman yesterday who was angry that funding for either a wall or fence, he didn't care about semantics, had been made into a politically divisive issue

You know what else has been recently made politically divisive: journalism, federal law enforcement, condemning Nazis and white supremacy, the independent judiciary, football, the Federal Reserve, a speech to the Boy Scouts, John McCain's funeral, the Kennedy Center Honors, sexual abusers on the supreme court, pedophiles in the senate, Harley Davidson, free trade, and US immigration policies.

What do all these things have in common...?
posted by peeedro at 9:37 AM on December 22 [50 favorites]


My sense is that people are far angrier at the President than they are at Congress re the shutdown—an interesting turn!

We could go through Trump's Twitter timeline all day to find past examples of him criticizing the very problems he's now causing in the White House. In 2013, for example, he harped on Obama and the shutdown—"FACT – the reason why Americans have to worry about a government shutdown is because Obama refuses to pass a budget."

He was also interviewed by Fox's Greta van Susteren: “Well, very simply, you have to get everybody in a room. You have to be a leader. The president has to lead. He’s got to get [the Speaker of the House] and everybody else in a room, and they have to make a deal. You have to be nice, and be angry, and be wild, and cajole, and do all sorts of things. But you have to get a deal.”

Trump ghostwriter-biography Tony Schwartz keeps repeating the obvious explanation: "It's critical to understand the role of projection for Trump when he feels under siege. What he says critically about others is a direct projection of what he's unconsciously feeling about himself. Read every statement he makes and tweet he writes with this in mind."

You'd think that this lengthy record of nonsense would be transparent, yet his supporters and promoters will apparently allow him to say anything as long as he signs off on their agendas or cuts them in on the grift.
posted by Doktor Zed at 9:38 AM on December 22 [14 favorites]


Trump, Unchecked: With Mattis gone, the president is now free to indulge his most visceral instincts. (Thomas Wright, The Atlantic)
The turning point of the Trump administration came on July 17, 2017. For the first six months of his presidency, Trump largely deferred to the so-called axis of adults of Tillerson, McMaster, and Mattis. When he diverged from their advice—when, for example, he refused to endorse Article 5 of the North Atlantic Treaty while speaking at nato headquarters—he soon backtracked under pressure. But on July 17 he had had enough. He was sitting through yet another interagency meeting, this time on the Iran nuclear deal, known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan Of Action. Not only did all of his advisers recommend staying in the deal—the three options in front of him required it. He agreed to effectively extend the deal one more time but demanded that the next time, he be given an option to withdraw.

After that meeting, Trump began to push back. He started giving orders unilaterally—to move the embassy to Jerusalem, to meet with Vladimir Putin, to meet with Kim Jong Un, and even to hold a military parade. But as long as the axis of adults remained in place, he was constrained. So he began to force them out. If there is a common theme behind the reshuffle, it is that Trump replaces independent thinkers with sycophantic loyalists or those too weak to stand up to him. If past practice is any guide, Trump will double down on loyalists when he replaces Mattis. Men such as John Bolton and Mike Pompeo do not agree with Trump on many issues, but they value their loyalty to him personally above their own views and they will never try to thwart his will. […]

America’s allies had hoped to ride out the next two years. Senior officials from multiple European and Asian allies told me that they had concluded by mid-2018 that they could engage with the administration but that things went off the rails whenever the president was directly engaged, which was usually on a foreign trip. They decided to deliberately reduce the opportunities for him to be involved. Thus, the 70th anniversary of the nato summit would not be marked by a leaders’ summit, but would instead occur at the foreign-ministers level (it will be hosted by Pompeo in Washington, D.C.). The agendas for G20 and G7 summits are being pared back, frequently with the support of officials in Washington. But those plans count on an administration that checks Trump, not one that empowers him. It is very possible that America’s adversaries will try to take advantage of the disarray. If Putin or Xi makes a major move, such as trying to test America’s alliances, it will be soon.
T̸̲͈͚̠͔͎͜h̷̢̢̙͖̱͔̬̕i͏͍̻͈̺̪̹̩͕͎̥̖̥͙̮͇͔͇̕ş̲͈̝̬͈͢ ̶̵̖͙̹͍̬̜̰̼͓͕͔͉̻͉í̵̡̖̟̻͈͚̭͕̣̳̞͓̝̮s̨̼̗͚̗̙͉̰̠̯͎̜͉̹͕̫̭̬͜ ̡̛̞̻͙̹̻̥̰ͅf̨̭̣̱͖̦̩̠̣̘͖̘͕͓̟̥̺ͅi̴̶͓̠͔̯̼̙̘n͍̘͍̥̘̳̱͍͕̼͜͞e҉̶̻̞̗̤̖̞̥̭͉̪̼͍͕̭̮̫.̛̝̮͚͕̪̤͎̥̹͔͍̼́̀


.
posted by Johnny Wallflower at 9:50 AM on December 22 [50 favorites]


I actually heard a "But he's only keeping his election promise" Trumpist, when called on the "And he said he'd make Mexico pay for it" part, say "Nobody believed that bit". So, nah, it doesn't matter what he says.
posted by Devonian at 9:52 AM on December 22 [39 favorites]


He promised everything to everyone because he's a con man.

That's why things that can't easily be explained as a con pitch to the nation (Russia) are assumed to be tied into what's necessary to sustain the con. But it also draws attention to the people who remain invested in him. Even in a scenario where elected Republicans decide to cut their losses, @JoeMaga4325-flag-emoji-eagle-avi is not going away.
posted by holgate at 10:18 AM on December 22 [22 favorites]


The GOP loves contractors, because it's federal dollars that go to private companies. They're not as concerned with the size of the budgets as they are with the size of the payrolls. There is definitely work that the federal staff isn't skilled enough to do, but there is no doubt in my mind that if we were paying the federal workers close to what they're worth and not constantly threatening their livelihood with shutdowns, they'd be able to do more of that work themselves, freeing people like me up to work on more difficult problems.
This is painfully true: the biggest barrier to getting skilled federal staff is being allowed to hire at all, followed closely by a pay scale which is a couple decades behind. The federal workforce has been getting older because agencies haven’t been allowed to hire sufficient new staff, which means that a lot of knowledge is lost as boomers retire without overlapping with their replacements (assuming that’s allowed).

Contracting is usually slower, more expensive, and higher risk than doing long-term work in-house but it really does seem like many members of Congress see that as being balanced out by the ability for contracting companies to donate to the people giving them more business.
posted by adamsc at 11:21 AM on December 22 [28 favorites]


Mother Jones: Wall Street Suffered Its Worst December Since the Great Depression

The Nasdaq is already in a bear market (NYT)
The Nasdaq is not the only group of stocks in such distress. The Russell 2000 index, which tracks shares of smaller companies, entered a bear market earlier this week. Seven of the S&P 500’s 11 industrial sectors are also at the level, led by energy stocks, which are down 28 percent from their highs earlier this year. That’s in large part because oil has been in a bear market since November
posted by ChurchHatesTucker at 11:34 AM on December 22 [6 favorites]


Oh, look. More theater from the president. He tweets a picture of "Some of the many Bills that I am signing in the Oval Office right now."

This morning, he tweeted, "I am in the White House, working hard", and digging deeper into denial, he declared, "News reports concerning the Shutdown and Syria are mostly FAKE."

CBS's Kathryn Watson observes: "Of course the president can work from anywhere, but there is no Marine outside the Oval as of this tweet so Trump isn’t there."

Trump also announced he'd conduct a working lunch about border security with Pence, Mulvaney, Jared*, Senators Mike Lee, Lindsey Graham, and Richard Shelby, and Representatives Mark Meadows, Jim Jordan, Matt Gaetz, Andy Biggs.

CNN Jim Acosta points out: "Mulvaney not Kelly listed as COS (though Acting) in this list of participants provided by WH for Trump’s shutdown meeting. (Via WH pool) Kelly was scheduled to depart by end of year."

And the NYT's Katie Rogers checks in on the shutdown negotiations:
Saturday:

McConnell, didn't go to WH: "Glad productive discussions are continuing between our Democratic colleagues and the White House."

Schumer, didn't go to WH: Trump "must abandon the wall, plain and simple.”

WH, from WH: "$5 billion in border security."

Hoo boy.
* Now Jared's portfolio includes border security? Did room open up after he achieved peace in the Middle East or something?
posted by Doktor Zed at 11:53 AM on December 22 [16 favorites]


The NYT splits the difference on "increasingly isolated" for the headline to Maggie Haberman's insider article: For Trump, ‘a War Every Day,’ Waged Increasingly Alone—At the midpoint of his term, the president has grown more sure of his own judgment and more isolated from anyone else’s than at any point since he took office.
For two years, Mr. Trump has waged war against his own government, convinced that people around him are fools. Angry that they resist his wishes, uninterested in the details of their briefings, he becomes especially agitated when they tell him he does not have the power to do what he wants, which makes him suspicious that they are secretly undermining him.[…]

At the midpoint of his term, Mr. Trump has grown more sure of his own judgment and more cut off from anyone else’s than at any point since taking office. He spends ever more time in front of a television, often retreating to his residence out of concern that he is being watched too closely. As he sheds advisers at a head-spinning rate, he reaches out to old associates, complaining that few of the people around him were there at the beginning.

Mr. Trump is said by advisers to be consumed by the multiplying investigations that have taken down his personal lawyer, campaign chairman, national security adviser and family foundation. He rails against enemies, who often were once friends, nursing a deep sense of betrayal and grievance as they turn on him.

“Can you believe this?” he has said as he scanned the torrent of headlines. “I’m doing great, but it’s a war every day.”

“Why is it like this?” he has asked aides, with no acknowledgment that he might have played a role. The aides, many of whom believe he has been treated unfairly by the news media, have replied that journalists are angry that he won and proved them wrong. He nods in agreement at such explanations.
It's all as juicy as one would expect from the former tabloid reporter, backed up by "interviews with about 30 current and former administration officials, personal friends, political allies, lawmakers"—almost of whom stayed on background (for obvious reasons).
And he can be hard on his staff. He regularly curses at them, some say. Even his humor can be abrasive. When Larry Kudlow, his economics adviser, returned after a heart attack this year, the president ribbed him in front of aides. “Larry, you’re here six weeks and you had a heart attack?” Others laughed uncomfortably.

More recently, the president has told associates he feels “totally and completely abandoned,” as one put it, complaining that no one is on his side and that many around him have ulterior motives. That extends even to his son-in-law, Jared Kushner, who was credited for helping push through the criminal justice bill, praise that Mr. Trump took note of.

Longtime associates said Mr. Trump’s relationship with his children has grown more removed and that he feels he does not have a friend in the White House. He disagrees with Mr. Kushner and Ivanka Trump much of the time, but cannot bring himself to tell them no, leaving that instead to Mr. Kelly, according to former aides. That made Mr. Kelly the heavy, they said, and therefore the target of their ire until he was finally forced out.

Mr. Trump has spent far less time lately with older friends. The sense of isolation was on display at this month’s holiday parties when he appeared for a few minutes, took a few perfunctory photographs with preselected guests and then disappeared back upstairs rather than mingle. He is spending this preholiday shutdown weekend alone since Melania and Barron Trump went ahead to Florida without him.[…]

Still, for all the reports of a fuming president alarmed at possible impeachment, Mr. Trump rarely expresses such specific anxiety out loud, associates said. Instead he expresses frustration, anger, mania — all of which aides read like tea leaves to discern what lies beneath.[…]

More recently, Mr. Trump has taken to spending time reminiscing about the happier days of his candidacy and his 2016 victory. He spent the fall showing different groups of visitors what he calls his love letters from North Korea’s iron-fisted dictator, Kim Jong-un, expressing admiration for Mr. Trump. And he still takes joy in aspects of the job, primarily those that demonstrate power. “The roads closed for me!” he declared to friends earlier this year after a motorcade ride.

But those highs have been hard to recapture. The days are filled with conflict, much of it of his own making. More advisers are heading for the door. The divisions are widening, not closing. If it is a “war every day,” there are no signs of peace.
Haberman shares one more colorful detail on Twitter: "Trump is watching more TV, but the TV is also almost always on even during meetings in Oval Office dining room, where he keeps one ear attuned to what’s happening and stops discussion if he hears his name mentioned." And you can be sure Trump will tweet something about this article before the weekend's over.
posted by Doktor Zed at 12:15 PM on December 22 [30 favorites]


@kathrynw5: It's official: This shutdown won't be resolved until after Christmas. The Senate is set to adjourn today with no deal. Next formal meeting at 4 p.m. Thursday, McConnell announces, per @edokeefe

And Thursday might just be a pro-forma session where nothing happens.

Really nice to see how much our elected officials care about their jobs.
posted by zachlipton at 12:21 PM on December 22 [29 favorites]


What the news search sections of search engines (Bing and Google) have begun doing is peppering any keyword search you might care to make, completely unrelated to North America, Trump and related stuff, with Trump's name. Mobile phone sales figures in Africa? Trump. Impact of demonetization in India? Trump. Solar power in rural Indonesia? Trump. Now that algorithms must bow to the name gods, the remaining shreds of integrity of a search result are one with the wind. Trump.

May his name live forever. Trump.
posted by infini at 12:53 PM on December 22 [4 favorites]


WaPo Editorial advocating impeachment:
Congress is the Article 1 power for a reason. The Constitution grants it awesome powers over war and peace, appointments, budgeting, trade and, in extreme circumstances, impeachment. By practice it has ceded much of its authority in recent years, and its muscles have gone flabby. Given the dangers ahead, the country’s only hope may be for Congress, in a responsible but determined way, to begin exercising those
posted by stonepharisee at 1:14 PM on December 22 [42 favorites]


This is painfully true: the biggest barrier to getting skilled federal staff is being allowed to hire at all, followed closely by a pay scale which is a couple decades behind. The federal workforce has been getting older because agencies haven’t been allowed to hire sufficient new staff, which means that a lot of knowledge is lost as boomers retire without overlapping with their replacements (assuming that’s allowed).

This is true in my own department, our director who more or less created the program and supporting components from the ground up over the last decade and has been with the agency for 40 some years is retiring, and we weren't allowed to hire a replacement until he's officially out of his current position. So he's spent the last two months writing down everything that wasn't already written down for whoever is eventually promoted, but we don't know who that is, and he won't have any opportunity to help that person get into the role.

Also, we're losing a lot of people to the private sector now, although that's cyclical especially with the glut of attorneys still on the market. We can always fill openings, and can still regularly hire from top 10 law schools, because many people's alternative just out of law school is a 40k nonprofit position or similar, but we have a hard time keeping the best people beyond a couple years. We have zero ability to match a better offer, and even some other agencies within the government have higher attorney pay scales.
posted by T.D. Strange at 1:33 PM on December 22 [12 favorites]


[A few comments deleted -- sorry, let's do this without the not-a-good-time-given-the-context riffing.]
posted by LobsterMitten (staff) at 3:01 PM on December 22 [6 favorites]


Yamiche Alcindor (PBS): Senior administration just wrapped a call about the shutdown where he said these exact words while demanding Dems give President Trump $5 billion: “Mexico will pay for the wall.”
posted by neroli at 3:06 PM on December 22 [12 favorites]


@christinawilkie: NEW: Treasury Sec @stevenmnuchin1 claims Trump said that he “totally disagrees” w Fed policy but “I never suggested firing Chairman Jay Powell, nor do I believe I have the right to do so.” Very odd to have Mnuchin broadcast Trump’s (false) denial. Clearly meant to calm markets.

I'll take "things Trump never said for $100, Alex." There's zero chance he ever acknowledged there was something he didn't have the right to do.
posted by zachlipton at 3:40 PM on December 22 [42 favorites]


Although I have been off Facebook for almost two weeks since my sudden trip to FL to help my 86-yr old dad into assisted living, I have kept up with the headlines and more recently, this thread. And I have the following question(s),
1. Wow. So. Yeah. Supposedly the last "reasonable" voice has left the room (Mattis), but does anyone really believes he listens to or understands whatever non-drooling idiots are left there or do most of us understand the more reasonable explanation, that Trump never actually makes any decision about anything (lacking a basic grade-school education, seemingly) but is instead told what to do by the last of the chaotic evil wraiths still standing (Stephen Miller types) or his papa bear, Vlad?
1a. On a related note - and sorry if this is obvious but wtf is obvious now?! - was no one else mildly chilled in surreal fashion by Putin's, Good job, Donald, when the toddler president announced our withdrawal from Syria? (I try to read this whole thread but it is too big some days.)
posted by Glinn at 3:45 PM on December 22 [4 favorites]


A lot of people here feared Schumer caving; let's recognize that he did not.

Trump officials are demanding Democrats "come to the table" but then organized a lunch today and literally did not invite any Democrats or even non-insane Republicans to their literal table. It was Trump, Kushner, Mulvaney; senators Mike Lee, Lindsay Graham & Richard Shelby; and Reps. Mark Meadows, Andy Biggs, Jim Jordan (all "Freedom Caucus" members) plus conspiracy-psycho Matt Gaetz.

Schumer meanwhile said “If you want to open the government, you must abandon the wall.” I like it.
posted by msalt at 3:54 PM on December 22 [58 favorites]


Schumer meanwhile said “If you want to open the government, you must abandon the wall.” I like it.

Right on Chuck with having a spine, but I'll quibble on his message because this phrasing sounds like Democrats will keep the government closed until Trump abandons the wall.

Maybe something like this instead?
"We're not giving you the wall. You shutdown the gov and it's in your power to reopen it at any time."
posted by duoshao at 4:17 PM on December 22 [24 favorites]


A part of me really, really wishes Pelosi and Schumer would post the "You get NOTHING! You LOSE! GOOD DAY, SIR!" gif of Gene Wilder in C&tCF. Another part of me... heck, that part of me wishes they would do it too.

I suppose it's good they don't. But you know.
posted by Justinian at 4:32 PM on December 22 [45 favorites]


Jake Sherman, Politico: PELOSI writes her colleagues about the shutdown.
Until President Trump can publicly commit to a bipartisan resolution, there will be no agreement before January when the new House Democratic Majority will swiftly pass legislation to re-open government. Please be assured you will be made aware of any developments to re-open government in the days ahead.

Best wishes to you and your loved ones for a Happy Holiday.

Nancy
posted by murphy slaw at 4:34 PM on December 22 [38 favorites]


That's pretty close to the Gene Wilder .gif.

I don't see how McConnell sustains this with a Democratic House in 10 days. If they come in and immediately pass a clean CR, he's going to have to let it have a vote and finally dare Trump to veto it.
posted by T.D. Strange at 4:38 PM on December 22 [2 favorites]


So, since GOFundME is the newfound vehicle for political gestures, how hard would it be to crowdfund a furlough fund for federal workers?
posted by ocschwar at 4:41 PM on December 22 [2 favorites]


so the senate passed a bill to guarantee pay for federal employees affected by the shutdown, but as far as i've heard the house was too busy talking about natural cheese to hold a vote on it, and the entire congress has fucked off until thursday so…

thanks for your consideration, senators, i guess?
posted by murphy slaw at 4:55 PM on December 22 [9 favorites]


If a bill is not passed by both houses by the end of this year, they have to start all over again in January passing in both houses. This means the Senate bill without the wall that passed will have to pass the Senate again in January.

Bills can carry over to the next even year but not the next odd year. For example the ACA passed in the Senate in 2009 and then in the House in 2010. The bill carried over.

You can think of the new Congress after an election as a clean slate. Bills do not carry over. In the intervening year without an election, bills do carry over, for example from 2017 to 2018, but not from 2018 to 2019.
posted by JackFlash at 4:59 PM on December 22 [14 favorites]


how hard would it be to crowdfund a furlough fund for federal workers?

You'd need several million per day.
posted by T.D. Strange at 5:03 PM on December 22 [7 favorites]


Also remember that the continuing resolution now under debate was only for funding through February 8 to get them through the holidays and into the new congress. With that out of the way, I'm guessing that if nothing happens until January they will be shooting for something much more long term.
posted by JackFlash at 5:09 PM on December 22 [1 favorite]


All I want for Christmas is a restored belief that the President of the United States would not launch nuclear weapons just because Sean Hannity and Rush Limbaugh screamed he'd be a pussy not to.
posted by sacre_bleu at 5:16 PM on December 22 [66 favorites]


Trump was right to pull out of Syria and Afghanistan. This is what he should do next. (Ro Khanna, WaPo)
President Trump is receiving an onslaught of criticism for his decision to withdraw troops from Syria and Afghanistan. Congressional Democrats should not pile on without offering an alternative vision. We should applaud the president’s desire to put an end to these interventions, but should challenge him to assemble a team that does so with better planning and diplomacy. We should articulate a foreign policy doctrine of responsible withdrawal that prioritizes restraint and human rights.

Let’s start with a fact that the mainstream media has glossed over when criticizing Trump’s Syria decision: His decision is in compliance with U.S. and international law. The presence of U.S. troops in the Syrian civil war was never authorized by Congress. We are also violating international law by invading Syria without the approval of the United Nations. Before any administration official can advocate keeping troops in Syria to fight the Islamic State, Congress needs to offer authorization.

Trump also deserves credit for standing up to the war hawks within his own administration who started inventing rationales for remaining in the country: countering Iran and seeing an end to the Assad regime. That is the definition of mission creep. While Syrian President Bashar al-Assad is a brutal dictator and should be tried at the Hague for international war crimes, the United States should not militarily overthrow him.

There is no doubt Trump should have articulated a more prudent withdrawal strategy. He could have consulted beforehand with our allies and regional partners. One alternative to an immediate withdrawal in Syria is announcing a full withdrawal over the next few months. That would give us time to prepare local forces and to deploy intelligence platforms and networks that address potential terrorist threats.
posted by Johnny Wallflower at 5:34 PM on December 22 [2 favorites]


Trump never actually makes any decision about anything (lacking a basic grade-school education, seemingly) but is instead told what to do by the last of the chaotic evil wraiths still standing (Stephen Miller types) or his papa bear, Vlad?

He's made a habit of using non-government and non-appointed people. Who's at the other end of the phone? Kellyanne, Bannon, Ike Perlmutter? Hannity supplementing the direct video feed with with individual coaching?
posted by Gotanda at 5:40 PM on December 22 [2 favorites]


The presence of U.S. troops in the Syrian civil war was never authorized by Congress.

Then Congress needs to rescind the extremely broad AUMF passed after 9/11. And in the future any AUMF, even narrower ones, should have sunset clauses which require Congress to affirmatively reauthorize the Act rather than passively accept it.

Congress has willfully abdicated its responsibility because they don't want to have to take tough votes. It's cowardly.
posted by Justinian at 5:42 PM on December 22 [63 favorites]


Trump was right to pull out of Syria and Afghanistan. This is what he should do next. (Ro Khanna, WaPo)

Generally agree with the points made, but the framing should be "Trump did a thing that should have been done, of course it was by impulsive and dangerously naive accident, but Democrats have the responsibility (and the opening) to actually have a grownup conversation about the US and our role in the world."
posted by tivalasvegas at 5:43 PM on December 22 [4 favorites]


Trump never actually makes any decision about anything (lacking a basic grade-school education, seemingly) but is instead told what to do by the last of the chaotic evil wraiths still standing (Stephen Miller types) or his papa bear, Vlad?

It's worse than you think. He's taking directions from Ann Coulter over twitter.
posted by JackFlash at 5:47 PM on December 22 [9 favorites]


Trump was right to pull out of Syria and Afghanistan.

This pisses me off. The point isn't whether or not you agree with pulling out of Syria. The point is that the president should have an argument for doing so, a plan for doing so, involving a team of experts, and not just make this decision via his gut and twitter. One of the horrifying results of this lack of planning is that the Kurds, since we are leaving them high and dry with no warning, are threatening to release their thousands of ISIS prisoners. This was completely avoidable. Even if you agree with Trump's goals , his methods are terrifyingly dangerous.
posted by xammerboy at 5:52 PM on December 22 [103 favorites]


He's made a habit of using non-government and non-appointed people. Who's at the other end of the phone? Kellyanne, Bannon, Ike Perlmutter? Hannity supplementing the direct video feed with with individual coaching?

Well, he did listen to the Freedom Caucus when they met with him at the last minute and now we have him demanding his wall and we’re in shutdow. So, sometimes he listens to governmental sorts.
posted by Thorzdad at 5:56 PM on December 22 [1 favorite]


The point isn't whether or not you agree with pulling out of Syria. The point is that the president should have an argument for doing so, a plan for doing so, involving a team of experts, and not just make this decision via his gut and twitter.

Yeah, I agree. I've said we should get the fork out of Afghanistan a lot here on Metafilter. Been saying it for years. Because we should.

I don't currently have a particularly good plan of action or military and diplomatic policy for achieving that. Which is ok because I'm not the forking President. If I were the President, I would develop such a plan and carefully implement it in conjunction with our allies. Trump skips over all of that which is non-optimal from a not screwing up the world standpoint.
posted by Justinian at 5:59 PM on December 22 [21 favorites]


Yesterday, Trump signed a bill renaming the post office I usually buy stamps at the "Captain Humayun Khan Post Office". Humayun Khan was a US soldier from Charlottesville, VA who died in Iraq. His father, Khizr Khan, was the guy who delivered the "Have you ever read the constitution of the United States? I'll gladly lend you my copy" speech at the 2016 Democratic Convention.

I'm very sure Trump had no idea who Humayun Khan was, and didn't read or even glance at any of the bills he was signing.
posted by nangar at 6:05 PM on December 22 [140 favorites]


...in the future any AUMF, even narrower ones, should have sunset clauses which require Congress to affirmatively reauthorize the Act rather than passively accept it.

How about no bullshit AUMF's and we only do declarations of war against countries? And if a non-state actor does something like the 9/11 attacks we treat it like a crime like we should've done in first place.

It should be hard for us to commit to using military force and we should only do it if we absolutely need to, which would be almost never. As signatories to the UN Treaty we can only legally use military force in direct self defense or with the approval of the Security Council.

“It's Christmas, Theo. It's the time of miracles.”
posted by kirkaracha at 6:16 PM on December 22 [24 favorites]


At the midpoint of his term, Mr. Trump has grown more sure of his own judgment and more cut off from anyone else’s than at any point since taking office.

The living personification of Dunning-Kruger.

He spends ever more time in front of a television, often retreating to his residence out of concern that he is being watched too closely. As he sheds advisers at a head-spinning rate, he reaches out to old associates, complaining that few of the people around him were there at the beginning.

Mr. Trump is said by advisers to be consumed by the multiplying investigations that have taken down his personal lawyer, campaign chairman, national security adviser and family foundation. He rails against enemies, who often were once friends, nursing a deep sense of betrayal and grievance as they turn on him.

“Can you believe this?” he has said as he scanned the torrent of headlines. “I’m doing great, but it’s a war every day.”

“Why is it like this?” he has asked aides, with no acknowledgment that he might have played a role.


A paranoid narcissistic sociopath with nukes. This is going to end well, for sure. The 25th Amendment needs to be reworked to account for the fact that the VP and Cabinet can be too cowed from implementing it when it's so obviously necessary.
posted by longdaysjourney at 6:48 PM on December 22 [20 favorites]


One of the horrifying results of this lack of planning is that the Kurds, since we are leaving them high and dry with no warning

As a point of reference, 4 US soldiers have lost their lives in Syria during the 3 years of conflict, while an estimated 10,000 Kurdish fighters have died in battles. That's because the Obama administration's policy was a low footprint, low cost approach to prop up our partners as they fight ISIS. Apparently twelve days ago we assured the Kurds we were in for the long haul. Now what happens to them? We're throwing them to the wolves, either ISIS or Turkey.
posted by bluecore at 6:50 PM on December 22 [26 favorites]


This wall debate is what happens when the only voices you hear agree with you (Phillip Bump, WaPo)
Trump often seems to believe that his efforts have more support than they do — even beyond his frequent claims that polling understates his support. His base is his primary focus, and at times he seems baffled that it shouldn’t be.
...
One of the underrecognized aspects of Trump’s presidency is how extensive his isolation is. He has held a slew of campaign rallies because he gets to interact with people who love him. His time off is at Trump Organization properties where people literally pay for the privilege of getting access. His administration, as The Washington Post’s Aaron Blake notes, is increasingly made up of people who will tell him what he wants to hear, particularly once Defense Secretary Jim Mattis heads for the exit.
Surrounding oneself with people who tell him what he wants to hear is pretty much the starting point for groupthink.
The net effect of this is that Trump’s world is whipped into a frenzy over the necessity of the wall, and he hears little argument to the contrary. That frenzy, to some extent, derives from his supporters in the media and the White House believing that his success is entirely dependent on keeping his base close and believing that the wall is essential to accomplish that goal.
posted by ZeusHumms at 6:55 PM on December 22 [6 favorites]


The 25th Amendment needs to be reworked to account for the fact that the VP and Cabinet can be too cowed from implementing it when it's so obviously necessary.

I mean, I don't understand how that would work. Right now we have mechanisms by which the Legislative branch can remove the President. We have methods by which the Executive branch (VP+Cabinet) can at least temporarily remove the President. How could you rework the 25th given half the Legislature and the entire Executive is either cowed or complicit? Any such attempt would either be useless in the current situation or far too easy to abuse in the future, since it would have to involve a President being removed by roughly half the Congress.
posted by Justinian at 6:55 PM on December 22 [3 favorites]




From March 7th
scalefree: ProPublica announces their new project, Trump Town: Tracking White House Staffers, Cabinet Members and Political Appointees Across the Government.
As of Dec 21, now containing records for 2,816 appointees, compiled from what appears to be continuing FOIA requests.
posted by ZeusHumms at 7:05 PM on December 22 [15 favorites]


[Satire] Canadian GoFundMe Raises $6B In Two Hours To Pay For Privacy Hedge Along Entire US Border (Paul Duncan, Out And Abouter)
In an interesting side-bar, one that some have taken to indicate that the stresses of modern populism have already migrated north, a number of spin-off campaigns have begun, calling for privacy hedges between many of Canada’s own provinces.
posted by ZeusHumms at 7:07 PM on December 22 [5 favorites]


The Guy Who Taught Trump to Tweet Owes Us All a Goddamn Apology (Jay Willis, GQ)

Mostly the same as other reaction pieces to the Politico article, but I thought the title was noteworthy.
posted by ZeusHumms at 7:13 PM on December 22 [7 favorites]


[Joke]
Trump wanted to repaint the White House, and received three quotes:

Chinese contractor: 3 million
German Contractor: 7 million
Russian Contractor: 10 million

So Trump asked the Chinese contractor: "Why did you bid 3 million"? The Chinese contractor said: "One million for paint, one million for labor, and one million is profit."

He then asked the German contractor why he was asking 7 million. The German replied: "3 million for high quality paint, 2 million for the specialized workforce, and 2 million is profit."

He then asked the Russian why he was asking 10 million. The Russian responded: "Donald Donald my friend, it's 4 million for you, 3 million for me, and with the 3 million left we hire the Chinese contractor!"

Trump is now taking bids for painting his wall.
posted by growabrain at 7:13 PM on December 22 [75 favorites]


The Guy Who Taught Trump to Tweet Owes Us All a Goddamn Apology

The thing that struck me from the original article was how much it looked like a success from the perspective of teaching someone ADL (Activities of Daily Living). Usually it's reteaching someone who has suffered a physical or cognitive disability skills they needed to reaquire, but sometimes it's something new. It's a little disconcerting that they did an admirable job teaching this monster how to tweet.
posted by ChurchHatesTucker at 7:35 PM on December 22 [9 favorites]


the framing should be "Trump did a thing that should have been done, of course it was by impulsive and dangerously naive accident, but Democrats have the responsibility (and the opening) to actually have a grownup conversation about the US and our role in the world."

If your car is in the wrong lane on a two lane highway, something needs to be done to correct the situation, but it doesn't make running someone beside you in the correct lane off the road something that should be done.
posted by Candleman at 7:37 PM on December 22 [2 favorites]


Trump didn’t really make any sort of decision. Erdogan told him over the phone that our mission was over. Trump took that as a command and decided to pull our troops out.
posted by gucci mane at 7:50 PM on December 22 [10 favorites]




Roll Call: House Ethics Expands Scope of Probe Into David Schweikert [R - AZ-06]
posted by Chrysostom at 8:07 PM on December 22 [5 favorites]


From Dailykos:
Mattis didn't simply resign, he pulled every fire alarm at the Pentagon on the way out


tl;dr: "pulled every fire alarm" = "sent the letter we all read on twitter to military officials"
posted by runcibleshaw at 8:15 PM on December 22 [39 favorites]


Coming in to post this 2-hour-old tweet from Rep. Adam Schiff: In our long history, an administration has always managed to keep the government open when it controlled both houses of Congress, until now. The corruption problems within this administration are bad enough; but its incompetence is now just as debilitating.

Then got distracted by a re-post on his account.

During the oversight hearing on Friday, Secretary Nielsen testified that the DHS doesn't know how many people have died while in its custody.

C-Span, 2:11:08 mark, as Rep. David Cicilline, D-Rhode Island, seeking to clarify earlier testimony, grows indignant.

Cicilline: Madame Secretary, did I understand you correctly to say, that as you sit here today, you do not know how many human beings have died while in the custody of the department that you lead, and you -- in preparation for today's hearing, you did not ascertain that number? But you don't know it, today?

Nielsen: I don't have an exact figure for you.

Cicilline: Do you have a rough idea?

Nielsen:
Nielsen:
Nielsen: Sir, I can tell you that --

Cicilline: We're talking about people who have died in your custody! And you don't have the number?

Nielsen: I will get back to you with the number.
posted by Iris Gambol at 8:15 PM on December 22 [99 favorites]


If your car is in the wrong lane on a two lane highway, something needs to be done to correct the situation, but it doesn't make running someone beside you in the correct lane off the road something that should be done.

I saw someone, and I can't find it again to attribute this, make the analogy to a truck that's rammed itself into the side of a house. The truck's not supposed to be there, but the house is going to collapse if you just slam it into reverse and leave. Even if you're upset about the continued presence of the truck, you actually have to talk to some experts who know things about how to keep houses from falling down to figure out what to do about it.

And we know that didn't happen, because he petulantly tweeted this evening: "Brett McGurk, who I do not know." If you withdraw from Syria without ever once in two years speaking to the Special Presidential Envoy for the Global Coalition to Counter ISIL, you're not doing your job. Talk to the guy and decide he's wrong, fine that's a valid course of action, but admitting you've never met him is just telling on yourself.
posted by zachlipton at 8:22 PM on December 22 [71 favorites]


Mattis didn't simply resign, he pulled every fire alarm at the Pentagon on the way out

tl;dr: "pulled every fire alarm" = "sent the letter we all read on twitter to military officials"


And waltzed merrily into a multimillion dollar consulting gig.

Mattis could speak out. Dina Powell could speak out. Gary Cohn. McMaster. Tillerson. McGahn. Any of the "adults" could just fucking tell us what they saw. That's all. That's all they would have to do to be American Heroes.

None have. None will. Because they all agree with Trump and hate Democrats more than they care about democracy, and want to get paid for doing it.

Even Mattis. He's never been any sort of hero, no matter how much the military deified him as the rest of their leaders laid down for Trump too, he's just the last guy left holding the bag of dogshit before lighting the match.
posted by T.D. Strange at 8:25 PM on December 22 [67 favorites]


By the way, I like the tags of this thread:
uspolitics
potus45
everythingishappeningatonce
endlessscreaming
batshitsane
notimetowritetagsortherellbemorenews
makeitstopplease
posted by growabrain at 8:26 PM on December 22 [29 favorites]


That's all they would have to do to be American Heroes.

This is what blows my mind. The first high-profile Republican who's willing to openly defy him will literally make history. As in, they will be named in their grandchildren's textbooks for playing a pivotal role in the great unwinding of this shitshow.

The hundredth Republican to do so will not be remembered as well. And yet nobody is willing to step up. (Kompromat?)
posted by Piso Mojado at 8:35 PM on December 22 [32 favorites]


How Russian Money Helped Save Trump’s Business (Michael Hirsch, Foreign Policy)
In the fall of 1992, after he cut a deal with U.S. banks to work off nearly a billion dollars in personal debt, Donald Trump put on a big gala for himself in Atlantic City to announce his comeback. Party guests were given sticks with a picture of Trump’s face glued to them so they could be photographed posing as the famous real-estate mogul. As the theme music from the movie Rocky filled the room, an emcee shouted, “Let’s hear it for the king!” and Trump, wearing red boxing gloves and a robe, burst through a paper screen. One of his casino executives announced that his boss had returned as a “winner,” according to Trump biographer Michael D’Antonio.

But it was mainly an act, D’Antonio told Foreign Policy. In truth Trump was all but finished as a major real-estate developer, in the eyes of many in the business, and that’s because the U.S. banking industry was pretty much finished with him. By the early 1990s he had burned through his portion of his father Fred’s fortune with a series of reckless business decisions. Two of his businesses declared bankruptcy, the Trump Taj Mahal Casino in Atlantic City and the Plaza Hotel in New York, and the money pit that was the Trump Shuttle went out of business in 1992. Trump companies would ultimately declare Chapter 11 bankruptcy two more times. When would-be borrowers repeatedly file for protection from their creditors, they become poison to most major lenders and, according to financial experts interviewed for this story, such was Trump’s reputation in the U.S. financial industry at that juncture.

For the rest of the ’90s a chastened Trump launched little in the way of major new business ventures (with a few exceptions, such as the Trump World Tower across from the United Nations, which began construction in 1999 and was financed by two German lenders, Deutsche Bank and Bayerische Hypo- und Vereinsbank). “He took about 10 years off, and really sort of licked his wounds and tried to recover,” D’Antonio said. As late as 2003, Trump was in such desperate financial trouble that at a meeting with his siblings following his father’s death he pressed them to hurriedly sell his father’s estate off, against the late Fred Trump’s wishes, the New York Times reported in an investigation of Trump family finances in October. And his businesses kept failing: In 2004, Trump Hotels and Casino Resorts filed for bankruptcy with $1.8 billion dollars of debt.

But Trump eventually made a comeback, and according to several sources with knowledge of Trump’s business, foreign money played a large role in reviving his fortunes, in particular investment by wealthy people from Russia and the former Soviet republics. This conclusion is buttressed by a growing body of evidence amassed by news organizations, as well as what is reportedly being investigated by Special Counsel Robert Mueller and the Southern District of New York. It is a conclusion that even Trump’s eldest son, Donald Trump Jr., has appeared to confirm, saying in 2008—after the Trump Organization was prospering again—that “Russians make up a pretty disproportionate cross-section of a lot of our assets.”
posted by Johnny Wallflower at 8:40 PM on December 22 [38 favorites]


I saw someone, and I can't find it again to attribute this, make the analogy to a truck that's rammed itself into the side of a house.

Iyad el-Baghdadi: Imagine someone smashes his truck into a house. Imagine that now, the truck is embedded into the house such that if it backs out, the house will collapse. Got that visual?
(thread)
posted by Etrigan at 8:47 PM on December 22 [31 favorites]


The first high-profile Republican who's willing to openly defy him will literally make history.

I’m amazed that so few of them are willing to at least act like they’re defying him. Look at how much press Flake etc. get just for saying “I’m a little unsure...” before going along with it anyway.
posted by Etrigan at 8:49 PM on December 22 [10 favorites]


The hundredth Republican to do so will not be remembered as well. And yet nobody is willing to step up. (Kompromat?)

You have to remember that these people are not leaders; they’re cowards. Standing up to the president in any circumstances would be to take a leading stand against something. That’s not how congressional Republicans operate. You know, leading, and all that.
posted by Brak at 8:57 PM on December 22 [6 favorites]


I mean, I don't understand how that would work. Right now we have mechanisms by which the Legislative branch can remove the President. We have methods by which the Executive branch (VP+Cabinet) can at least temporarily remove the President.

Except that no president has been removed. Which suggests that the impeachment mechanism is unfit for purpose. (It's too soon to say w/r/t to the 25th amendment, which was a bodge job that still doesn't fix issues of succession.)

If you look at the Federalist papers, there's a somewhat naive belief that partisanship wouldn't prevent those in high office from wanting rid of those unfit for high office. It's a bit like secular version of an ecclesiastical court: there are offences against the public trust that may not constitute crimes but warrant removal from office in the same way a denomination wouldn't want open heretics to remain in good standing.

The French mechanism -- which has never been used, but feels to me better thought out -- involves a Constitutional Council composed of nine appointees, three by the president and three by each of the two legislative chambers, along with all living former presidents. None of them can hold elected office. On referral from the government, the Council can declare the president incapacitated, and if the incapacitation is deemed permanent, there are new elections.
posted by holgate at 9:01 PM on December 22 [12 favorites]


So our version of that council would include:
- Three people appointed by Trump
- Three people appointed by the Republican House
- Three people appointed by the Republican Senate
- Jimmy Carter, George W. Bush, and Barack Obama

I can't say I'm sold on this, even before we start taking about what "a referral from the government" would mean in a US context.
posted by contraption at 9:26 PM on December 22 [5 favorites]


On referral from the government

If we had a government willing to consider whether the president is unfit, our current mechanisms would be sufficient. And if it were any easier to do, Republicans would've forced Obama out of office.

What we need is our current laws enforced - starting with campaign finance laws and moving into emoluments - and a whole lot more transparency around congressional activity.

Then add new laws to prevent things like this from happening again. Start with, "if you violated campaign law while running for office, any votes you received are void, even if it wasn't established until two years later." (And yeah, if that were the case, we might've gotten President Ryan for a few years; I submit to the crowd that we would not be facing anything like the current shenanigans.)

Push for better impeachment processes, and encourage impeachments of incompetent and corrupt judges. Tell Congress that part of their job is removing people who are screwing up the country because enacting laws is meaningless if other people are preventing those laws from working.
posted by ErisLordFreedom at 9:27 PM on December 22 [9 favorites]


If we had a government willing to consider whether the president is unfit, our current mechanisms would be sufficient. And if it were any easier to do, Republicans would've forced Obama out of office.

Yeah, exactly.

We have to come to grips with the fact that it's probably impossible to design a healthy system of government if at least half the people in the government are corrupt, cowardly, immoral, or all three. The problem isn't the design of the system to remove Trump, it's that the GOP is basically now a Trumpy cult of personality melding racism with corrupt oligarchy and that 40% or more of the country thinks that's a good thing.

Fiddling around the margins of the system design can't solve that.
posted by Justinian at 9:32 PM on December 22 [54 favorites]


For Trump, ‘a War Every Day,’ Waged Increasingly Alone—At the midpoint of his term, the president has grown more sure of his own judgment and more isolated from anyone else’s than at any point since he took office.

I just want to quote one other bit of this:
As a result, a partisan war may be just what he wants. He has privately told associates that he is glad Democrats won the House in last month’s midterm elections, saying he thinks that guarantees his re-election because they will serve as a useful antagonist.
Setting aside the fact that he makes up self-serving lies like this to deflect responsibility, I don't think he's entirely wrong, given that his entire campaign rests on having a steady diet of enemies to blame for everything, but it's alarming how easy these two sentences roll off the tongue. The President is glad another party won, because he thinks it will help him keep power, even though that comes at the expense of his ability to achieve any of the actual policies he wants. Because he doesn't actually want any policies, and just comes up with them on the spot based on whatever he thinks his base will cheer for at rallies and/or whatever the TV or one of the world's dictators tells him to do. At no point does he stop to conclude that it would be better if Republicans controlled the House because it would enable him to do the things he believes would be best for the country, because he's never once thought about the situation in such terms.

Anyway, what a fitting last act for Paul Ryan, sliding out the side door during a government shutdown as the President he propped up says he's glad his party lost the election.
posted by zachlipton at 9:43 PM on December 22 [73 favorites]


Oh my god. Trump's dad was running constant small time landlord bullshit skimming operations (which obviously made for a decent income, don't get me wrong, but it was no empire) which were layered on top of a basically legit business. Trump grows up with this idea that his dad is actually like, a Huge Deal and conflates that with innate ability, which feeds into his delusion that he's part of some kind of dynasty. He corrupts his dad's already not so ethical business further, while constantly trying to prove himself to Dad as a savvy business man but actually just fucks things up constantly. He's able to run from these problems for a kind of long time as these things go, because of his particular amorality and other personality quirks. When he's finally run out of options that's when Russian money bails him out.

With different players it's basically a story as old as humanity. Like an actual morality play. But events just lined up exactly right to make this fucker into the hell on Earth he's become.
posted by odinsdream at 9:47 PM on December 22 [37 favorites]


Oh, speaking of Paul Ryan, Homer Riane Konc over at McSweeney's has the only farewell you need, The Myth of Paul Ryan
Sing to me, O Fox Muse, of that noodle-spined hero who traveled far and wide, born in Janesville, Wisconsin, the last born son of Dracula and a polo shirt. Many cities of men he saw on Listening Tours: men who were steelworkers, and coal miners, and men who toiled and farmed and hammered and sweat; he met with men with collars of blue and skin of white, and he made a very serious Listening Face at them, which was where he pursed his lips and nodded at three-second intervals, in this way fighting the urge to yell, “Your money should be my money!”

Yes, many cities of men he saw, and learned their minds, but he could not save them from — I’m sorry, is this right, Muse? It says he was trying to save them from being able to afford healthcare? He dedicated basically his entire life to that? That’s correct as written? Okay.
...
Remind me, O Muse, of his legislative victories, of his many bills sponsored, signed into law. This man of myth, this champion of the Pulled Bootstraps, this Hero Paul Ryan, whose nineteen years in the House of Representatives resulted in — okay, surely, Muse, this part has to be a typo. He was the primary sponsor of over 70 bills and only three of them were signed into law? One that renamed a post office and one that lowered the tax on … arrow shafts?

Okay, then, if this is what we’re working with, I guess that, uh, we sing and we celebrate our hero, Paul Davis Ryan, the man with just as many first names as sponsored bills signed into law.
posted by zachlipton at 10:00 PM on December 22 [107 favorites]


I’m amazed that so few of them are willing to at least act like they’re defying him.

I don't think they can. I don't think a Republican can come out and say "We don't need a wall", because it's not about a wall. The wall is a racist dog whistle used to signify commitment to white supremacy. This is how you get supporters claiming they never expected a literal wall, that at the same time demand a wall, and go to rallies pumping their fists while chanting "Build the wall".

If you're a problem oriented liberal, you think you can reach Trump supporters by pointing out more effective border security solutions. If you're an ideologically oriented Republican, you understand that the wall is code for white supremacy. A more practical solution to border security is beside the point. It only serves to show you're an enemy of the ideology.

It's been this way for as long as I can remember, but the dog whistles of the past, for instance being tough on crime, were much more plausible as real problems Americans cared about. The new dog whistles are absurdly impractical solutions to non-existent problems. The good news is they're so absurd they barely function as code.

Does any reasonable person believe a wall is a good way to address border security? No. Does any reasonable person believe global warming is a hoax? No. The center of gravity around which Trump's proposals revolve is that they hurt brown people more than white people. You can take the shirt off a Trump supporter's back if you tell them it means you will take two shirts from a brown person. You can literally lead the world to its end, so long as brown people will go first.

Anyway, this is an extreme point of view. I'm not sure how completely I buy it. I certainly don't want to believe that racism is the primary force driving half the country, but it's increasingly the only explanation of Trump's supporters that makes sense to me.
posted by xammerboy at 10:26 PM on December 22 [120 favorites]


I certainly don't want to believe that racism is the primary force driving half the country, but it's increasingly the only explanation of Trump's supporters that makes sense to me.

I'd believe it's the primary force for about 1/5 of the country, and the vast majority of that fifth are Republicans. For the rest, about half of his supporters have misogyny as their primary motivator; they're happy to vote for whoever promises that women don't get to control their bodies. The rest are duped into believing that one or more of his grandiose lies are actually real plans; they latched onto whatever one or two bits of campaign babble sounded like "your life will be better in the future" and ignored everything else he said.

I'm putting most of the "rational moderates" in that last category - they told themselves "it can't be that bad" and "as long as he does that thing with the taxes, I'll be fine" or "my health care costs need to go down" and who cares how many people he kills, or whether the country will be inhabitable in fifty years, as long as they get the prize they think they deserve. That crowd is only just starting to get annoyed, as they realize that not only are they stuck in a nightmare, they're not getting their prize package.
posted by ErisLordFreedom at 10:36 PM on December 22 [40 favorites]


Mystery company involved in Mueller investigation appeals to Supreme Court

Um. Ok so like, an unknown company owned by an unrevealed foreign state is appealing to the US Supreme Court, hoping to pause a grand jury subpoena it received in the Mueller investigations that would force them to reveal information about actions that took place outside of the US but directly affected the US.
"So far as we know, the Court has never had a sealed argument before all nine Justices. They can keep parts of the record and briefing sealed, and often do, such as in cases implicating trade secrets. But there's no procedure in the court's rules for having the whole case briefed, argued and decided under seal. The only times I'm aware of in which parties tried it, the court denied certiorari," said Steve Vladeck, a CNN Supreme Court analyst and professor at the University of Texas School of Law.
There are a number of emoji to express my reaction to this, including but not limited to 🤔, 🤨, 😵and 😱.
posted by glonous keming at 10:42 PM on December 22 [49 favorites]


SakuraK: [Twitter has] simply stepped up censorship of statements that might make Republicans feel bad about themselves.

My hairstylist (who, for catharsis, regularly tweets insults at politics-related right-wing people who piss her off) told me last week, "Twitter's enforcement of the rules is really tight! I keep getting banned!"

Me: "Uh...Twitter lets white supremacists and misogynists tweet horrible racist, anti-Semitic, hateful, graphic shit, for months or years, and IF Twitter punishes one of them for it, it's a slap on the wrist. You think Twitter enforces the rules evenly. But Twitter is fine with people who are hateful right-wingers. I can give you some names to look up if you want to see."

Her: "Oh. I didn't realize they weren't doing it to everybody."

She's relatively well-informed, compared to a lot of others in my nominally liberal circles. I've been making a polite pain in the ass of myself, shoehorning politics into my conversations with everyone I encounter, just to take their temperatures regarding attention level. Often the results are depressingly low-information, like "They'll be out in 2020! It's like a pendulum!", but I push them on their sources and say why I disagree. Then I drop it before they start hating me too deeply. I think it's useful to sprinkle seeds around like that. You never know what's going to make them germinate.
posted by cybercoitus interruptus at 11:00 PM on December 22 [43 favorites]


With Mattis and Kelly heading for the door and the myth of “adults in the room” evaporating, now feels like a good time to remind everyone that, yes, We The People really did hand a flailing, impulsive ignoramus the unadulterated power to end life on Earth as we know it.
On a daily basis folks insist to me this isn’t how it works. They need to believe that someone — Sec Def, the Joint Chiefs, or a general, somewhere, surely — has to agree. Because the alternative sounds too insane to be real life.
Allow me to burst your precious bubble.
posted by adamvasco at 5:00 AM on December 23 [41 favorites]


None have. None will. Because they all agree with Trump and hate Democrats more than they care about democracy, and want to get paid for doing it.

That's the key reality-check here. They don't disagree with the horrible things he's doing. They hate that he's doing a bad job of it.
posted by Celsius1414 at 5:35 AM on December 23 [19 favorites]






An expression of concern heard from the Commonwealth!

From Yamiche Alcindor: @SenToomey tells @chucktodd that senators should speak up when they disagree with President Trump. “We don’t report to the president.”
posted by MonkeyToes at 6:44 AM on December 23 [7 favorites]


"White House Budget Director" who's not actually directing the budget office anymore because there was nobody else who's been dignity wraith'd hard enough to become the new chief of staff.
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 6:47 AM on December 23 [2 favorites]


WaPo: ‘Very possible’ that government shutdown could last into the new year, says White House budget director Mick Mulvaney

I’m really not sure they even realize they lose leverage when Democrats take over on Jan 3.
posted by T.D. Strange at 6:48 AM on December 23 [19 favorites]


From Yamiche Alcindor: @SenToomey tells @chucktodd that senators should speak up when they disagree with President Trump. “We don’t report to the president.”

Pat Toomey is as servile a Trump-supporting Republican as the GOP could want. 538 tracks him voting almost 90% of the time with Trump's agenda, which is out of sync with a purplish-blue state like Pennsylvania. Most notably, he helped take point on legislative negotiations with the Trump White House over the disastrous health care and tax cut bills. (Here's a tweet of him with Ivanka, thanking her for meeting to discuss how "#TaxReform improves the standard of living for hardworking American families".) He disagrees with Trump on trade, particularly anything that affects Pennsylvania's steel industry, but that's about all.

He's certainly faithless enough to turn on Trump once the political winds have shifted, but we're nowhere near that point.
posted by Doktor Zed at 7:01 AM on December 23 [13 favorites]


A recession is coming. Trump will make it so much worse. (Catherine Rampell, WaPo)
Statistically speaking, given how long the economy has been growing, a recession is overdue — and the eventual collapse may bear Trump’s fingerprints. After all, his new trade barriers have lifted manufacturing costs, closed off markets and clouded the future for American firms with global supply chains. Economists say Trump’s trade war is the biggest threat to the U.S. economy in 2019. In loonier moments, the president has also threatened to default on our debt, ramp up the money-printing press, reinstate the gold standard or deport all 11 million undocumented immigrants. Some of those policies would ignite not just a recession but an immediate, global financial crisis.

Or perhaps the contraction will follow some non-Trump-related catastrophe, like an oil shock or a wave of defaults in the growing leveraged loan market. It’s often impossible to ascribe blame accurately.

Yet there’s one thing we can expect with reasonable conviction: Even if Trump isn’t the direct cause of the next recession, he’s likely to make it so, so much worse.
TL;DR: we're fucked, even if Trump follows good advice.
posted by Johnny Wallflower at 7:56 AM on December 23 [24 favorites]


With Mattis and Kelly heading for the door and the myth of “adults in the room” evaporating, now feels like a good time to remind everyone that, yes, We The People really did hand a flailing, impulsive ignoramus the unadulterated power to end life on Earth as we know it.

WaPo: Trump Can Launch Nuclear Weapons Whenever He Wants, With Or Without Mattis—No defense secretary can stop an impulsive president.
For over a year, Mattis has been trying to reassure congressional leaders that he could help check some of Trump’s impulses, in part by intervening in the nuclear chain of command. In a break with normal procedures, Mattis reportedly told the commander of the Strategic Command to keep him directly informed of any event that might lead to a nuclear alert being sent to the president. He even told the Strategic Command “not to put on a pot of coffee without letting him know.”

Congressional leaders interpreted this to mean that Mattis would either deal with a possible threat before it reached Trump or ensure he was present to advise Trump when such an alert arrived.

This assurance may have helped ease concerns about our nuclear weapons for some members of Congress, but only if they were unfamiliar with how the command and control structure truly works. Personal relationships and back channels are no way to manage a nuclear arsenal.
Arms Control Wonk Jeffrey Lewis: "An important observation—note that Martis reportedly inserted himself at the point *before* an alert went to POTUS. That’s because THERE IS NO TIME AFTER."

WaPo's Michael Gerson: "Talked to R Senator yesterday who is not prone to hyperbole. In the course of our conversation on the departure of Mattis he said twice: “We are in peril”. Many in DC, including Rs, now unsure if administration can be relied upon to carry out its most basic nat sec duties."
posted by Doktor Zed at 7:58 AM on December 23 [39 favorites]


> Many in DC, including Rs, now unsure if administration can be relied upon to carry out its most basic nat sec duties."

This is what you assholes voted for. You supported and voted for and propped up Trump because you thought it would net you a few bucks and because he was wearing your team’s sweater, thinking that you could mitigate or ride out or endlessly defer any negative consequences for yourselves. And now you’re scared. And yet still - STILL - you are not willing to go on the record when you express your McCainian “concerns” about the madman you serve and who could end civilization as we know it. Well, I hope you’re enjoying your tax cut.
posted by The Card Cheat at 8:14 AM on December 23 [74 favorites]


I’m really not sure they even realize they lose leverage when Democrats take over on Jan 3.

Sure they do. And then they can bash the Democrats for not ending the shutdown. That's exactly what they (and Fox "news") will do. Just like they'll start hammering the Democrats about the terrible growing deficit. They are utterly without shame, after all.
posted by Thorzdad at 8:14 AM on December 23 [5 favorites]


Part of me thinks we would see movement on impeachment if RBG's health wasn't a topic of discussion for two weeks.
posted by Slackermagee at 8:19 AM on December 23 [3 favorites]


WaPo's Philip Rucker provides an solid overview of this critical juncture: ‘A Rogue Presidency’: The Era of Containing Trump Is Over.

Interestingly, he draws on what people have said publicly and quotes only one anonymous source: "One former senior administration official said “an intervention” might be necessary. And a Republican strategist who works closely with the White House called the situation “serious, serious, serious.” […] “There are no adults like there were in Nixon days,” this strategist said. “And the V.P. is perceived as nowhere. He’s just a bobblehead."
posted by Doktor Zed at 8:22 AM on December 23 [11 favorites]


Speaking of money:

Fed Rate Hikes May Have Already Cost Trump $5 Million a Year
Took out $340 million in variable-rate loans from 2012 to 2015
Trump’s net worth dropped about 7 percent over two years
President Donald Trump has repeatedly attacked Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell’s interest-rate increases as a drag on U.S. economic growth. They’re also cutting into his own fortune.

Every time the Fed raises rates, Trump’s payments on some $340 million in variable-rate loans go up. Since his January 2017 inauguration, the Fed’s steady rate hikes may have added a cumulative $5.1 million a year to his debt service costs, according to a Bloomberg News analysis of the president’s financial disclosures and property records.

If Federal Reserve officials raise interest rates by another quarter percentage point when they meet Dec. 18-19, as investors expect, make that $6 million per year.
posted by scalefree at 8:35 AM on December 23 [11 favorites]


Congressional leaders interpreted this to mean that Mattis would either deal with a possible threat before it reached Trump or ensure he was present to advise Trump when such an alert arrived.

I can't remember where I heard it, but someone with Pentagon connections said that the public still doesn't know about a number of times where the manchild's impetuosity would have provoked a full-on crisis and Mattis had intervened. I suspect we'll know soon enough, especially as Mattis is being shown the door immediately.

The idea of a narcissistic psychopath stewing in the White House over Christmas while the national Christmas tree is switched off and fenced off is not that funny any more. There's a lot of narcissistic injury happening and the worst enablers gathered around him. He will want to make himself the centre of attention at the point where the nation is taking a break from him.
posted by holgate at 8:41 AM on December 23 [7 favorites]


You know how Mattis said he would stay on until the end of February to ensure a smooth transition? Yeah, not so much with Trump apparently. He just tweeted the new acting SoD will take control on January 1st! Adios, Mad Dog.

The acting Secretary will be Patrick Shanahan, formerly of Boeing.
posted by Justinian at 8:53 AM on December 23 [11 favorites]


I see Shanahan's Wikipedia entry has been brushed up by Trump supporters. They leave spoor.

Building upon Trump's proposed Pentagon budget, which includes the biggest military spending increase in years, Shanahan was nominated to spearhead the plans to increase the size of the military.
posted by stonepharisee at 8:58 AM on December 23 [10 favorites]


There's a lot of narcissistic injury happening and the worst enablers gathered around him. He will want to make himself the centre of attention at the point where the nation is taking a break from him

A real impeachment fight is starting to look like the most patriotic thing the Dems could do, and not just for the most obvious reasons. Even if we can't get the Senate to remove him, the fight will distract him and give him something long and protracted to rail against that does not, crucially, involve the potential use of nuclear weapons.

Get it all out there. All of it. Call these people to testify in front of the House, not just give quotes to newspapers. Force the Republican party to defend the indefensible right into the 2020 season, and distract him at the same time.

It really is an emergency. And who knows. Maybe enough Senators are now genuinely scared, too. Especially if Bobblehead Pence is waiting in the wings.
posted by schadenfrau at 8:59 AM on December 23 [20 favorites]


So on Jan 2nd, there'll be acting Defense, AG, Interior, EPA, and an acting WH chief of staff who hands off responsibility at OMB to a deputy. That's the kind of instability in which power becomes concentrated towards the centre, with a penumbra of family/toadie hangers-on.
posted by holgate at 9:03 AM on December 23 [25 favorites]


Leading By the Seat of His Diapers (Terry H. Schwadron, DCReport)
Through a variety of new sweeping but baseless actions, insulting statements and tweets, through increasing isolation from advice that he finds unnecessary to filter his gut opinion, Trump is showing his full hand now, that of a small-time thinker with an oversized ego who is leading through self-importance.
...
This is a simple request: Should we expect that our president lead? I don’t see it. In its place, we have a petulant president who insists, the facts notwithstanding, on having his own way or not at all. We can do better.
posted by ZeusHumms at 9:03 AM on December 23 [3 favorites]


We now have three “acting” members of the cabinet. At this rate, the entire cabinet will be filled with actors—

Oh.
posted by snortasprocket at 9:03 AM on December 23 [30 favorites]


Here's Shanahan's DoD bio from when he was Deputy Secretary of Defense.

Here's what went down during his confirmation hearings for that position from June 2017: Trump’s Pick For the No. 2 Pentagon Job Faces Tough Questions During Confirmation Hearing (WaPo)
President Trump’s choice to take the No. 2 job at the Pentagon had a rocky confirmation hearing Tuesday, with Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman John McCain (R-Ariz.) at one point threatening to withhold his nomination from a vote and other lawmakers questioning how he will overcome his lack of experience in the Defense Department.

Patrick M. Shanahan, a vice president at the aerospace company and defense contractor Boeing, who was nominated in March to be deputy defense secretary, also faced questions about how he would manage day-to-day operations in the Pentagon while recusing himself from all decisions with a tie to Boeing. Shanahan has worked for the defense behemoth since 1986, with stints overseeing civilian airliner programs and military equipment.

McCain needled Shanahan early in the hearing about his prepared answer to a question about the U.S. potentially supplying weapons to Ukraine to face Russian-backed separatists. Shanahan wrote that he would have to look at the issue.[…]

On his lack of experience in the Defense Department, Shanahan said he has worked in a variety of organizations and thinks his technical and management experience “will prepare me to be able to quickly assimilate the knowledge and expertise to properly interface.”[…]

Shanahan said his experience in industry and innovation has prepared him to contribute as deputy defense secretary and will help him complement Defense Secretary Jim Mattis, whom he called a “master strategist with deep military and foreign policy experience.”
While a return to civilian leadership at the DoD would normally be welcome, there's no way this clown is ready for primetime—Trump boasts of Shanahan's "long list of accomplishments while serving as Deputy, & previously Boeing" but obviously doesn't mention any specifics.

Meanwhile @realDonaldTrump says today he had "a long and productive call" with Erdogan of Turkey, in which he says they talked about ISIS, Syria, and "the slow & highly coordinated pullout of U.S. troops"—plus "heavily expanded Trade". As always, there are no details, and the Trump White House has long since dispensed with providing substantive readouts, if any, of his calls with foreign leaders.
posted by Doktor Zed at 9:11 AM on December 23 [10 favorites]


The acting Secretary will be Patrick Shanahan, formerly of Boeing.

... I wonder if, unlike Brett McGurk, Trump has actually met Shanahan? And what are the chances, that just like with Mulvaney, video of Shanahan calling Trump an idiot are uncovered within the hour?

JFC, What a shitshow.
posted by pjsky at 9:14 AM on December 23 [10 favorites]




Is there anything stopping the Dems from holding lengthy public hearings into Trump’s mental fitness for office?
posted by schadenfrau at 9:30 AM on December 23 [35 favorites]


Trump Can Launch Nuclear Weapons Whenever He Wants, With Or Without Mattis

The biggest protection we have against a nuclear launch, is if nobody helps him. Just hand him the damn football on request - and don't tell him how to navigate the contents; don't read the text out loud to him; don't explain the flowcharts or help him figure out which codeword to give to whoever answers each phone number.

I'm not sure he even carries reading glasses with him when he's out playing golf. He certainly doesn't have any recent practice with data tables, not even with headers as simple as "Name - Agency - Title - Phone Number - Secret Code."

I'm aware this is not particularly comforting, but I will take my shreds of hope where I can find them. The Secret Service may be required to carry around the football in his presence and hand it over whenever he wants, but their job description doesn't include reading top-secret instructions out loud, where anyone with a boom mic could record them.

Is there anything stopping the Dems from holding lengthy public hearings into Trump’s mental fitness for office?

Other than their need to actually work on legislature like a new tax law and fixing health care, no. Oh, and investigating his finances, which is a realm with more solid data than his "mental health," which isn't quantifiable. I'd rather they keep looking for fraud, emoluments, tax evasion, and obstruction evidence, because we all know that "dude be whack he gonna kill someone" is not considered a sign of mental illness in white men.
posted by ErisLordFreedom at 10:05 AM on December 23 [21 favorites]


We now have three “acting” members of the cabinet.

And they're three of the top five departments by seniority, which means there's a massive hole in the presidential succession, because no one's ever really hashed out whether an Acting Secretary belongs on the list.

So... merry Christmas to all. Everything is fine. Well-oiled machine.
posted by Etrigan at 10:16 AM on December 23 [21 favorites]


Oh, and investigating his finances, which is a realm with more solid data than his "mental health," which isn't quantifiable.

No, it’s the kind of thing you can build an emotionally compelling narrative around with which to sway public opinion. It’s the only thing that’s ever worked. Numbers and crimes most people don’t understand won’t do it. “If it bleeds, it leads” isn’t going to stop being true anytime soon.
posted by schadenfrau at 10:20 AM on December 23 [3 favorites]


Mattis resigned, specifying a late-February end date; DJT trashed him on Twitter, and is forcing him out early by naming Shanahan.

This is the worst "The Gift of the Magi" riff ever.
posted by Iris Gambol at 10:34 AM on December 23 [10 favorites]


You know how Mattis said he would stay on until the end of February to ensure a smooth transition? Yeah, not so much with Trump apparently. He just tweeted the new acting

Sincere question. How can the 25th amendment even work if the guy in the Oval Office can just fire people immediately upon them showing a sign of disloyalty? If someone triggered it, this makes it look like he could just fire everyone else so no one is left to vote.
posted by corb at 10:42 AM on December 23 [26 favorites]


This is the worst "The Gift of the Magi" riff ever.

The Grift of the MAGA
posted by Faint of Butt at 10:43 AM on December 23 [132 favorites]


Eh, I have to believe the poor attache hauling around the briefcase for Trump has ears and would be willing to tell the man baby no if there were no current threat of WMDs being used against the US or it's allies.

I certainly wouldn't dare even hope that process would slow Trump down if there were some happening that could be construed as an existential threat, but an unprovoked attack? A surprising number of people in the missile bunkers refuse to turn the key and always have, so it's hard for me to think that someone not beholden to Trump would go along without a damn good reason.
posted by wierdo at 10:47 AM on December 23 [2 favorites]




Eh, I have to believe the poor attache hauling around the briefcase for Trump has ears and would be willing to tell the man baby no if there were no current threat of WMDs being used against the US or it's allies.

Isn’t it pretty to think so?
posted by Horace Rumpole at 10:49 AM on December 23 [14 favorites]


Eh, I have to believe the poor attache hauling around the briefcase for Trump has ears and would be willing to tell the man baby no if there were no current threat of WMDs being used against the US or it's allies.

The continued existence of humanity thanks to the decisions in the moment of people like Stanislav Petrov and William Bassett tells us that it's certainly possible that people won't just follow orders in these situations. But the hope that everyone will successfully not follow orders isn't a plan.
posted by Etrigan at 10:52 AM on December 23 [65 favorites]


Aides report that Trump had not realized how scathing Mattis’s resignation was until TV news explained its contents.
Wow.
posted by Barack Spinoza at 10:56 AM on December 23 [90 favorites]


Sincere question. How can the 25th amendment even work if...

The framers and the amenders and everyone up to a few years back all agreed that there are only so many systemic obstacles you can put in the way of someone who's truly stupidly insanely evil. Logically, if the Cabinet told Congress "We convened to discuss invoking the 25th Amendment, and the President fired us all," the resulting articles of impeachment could be written on a fucking cocktail napkin and still pass by at least 400 votes, and the Chief Justice would FaceTime in as the Senate voted 96-0 (because Alaska and Hawaii were out of town) to convict and it would be done by goddamn lunchtime.

But here we are in the Year of Our Lord 2018, when the motto of the United States of America is the Latin version of the shrug emoji.
posted by Etrigan at 10:56 AM on December 23 [69 favorites]


Oh, it's no plan and I'd feel a lot better if Congress passed a law making the approval of Congress or even just a couple of its committees necessary to use strategic nuclear weapons outside of a confirmed incoming attack of a size large enough to prevent a retaliatory strike.

I'd be even happier getting rid of the damn things entirely, but that ain't happening for a host of reasons, a couple of which I don't entirely disagree with.
posted by wierdo at 10:58 AM on December 23 [1 favorite]


Sincere question. How can the 25th amendment even work if the guy in the Oval Office can just fire people immediately upon them showing a sign of disloyalty?

Because the 25th isn't really supposed to be the fallback in case of "the President is a dangerous narcissistic manbaby". That's what impeachment is for. The 25th Amendment is for "the President had a stroke and is unable to speak or otherwise communicate" or "The President fell down the stairs and is in a coma."

Which is why everyone talking about the 25th Amendment is weird. If you have the votes in Congress to sustain the 25th Amendment once Trump challenges it, you have more than enough votes to just impeach the guy.

The 25th Amendment will not save you.
posted by Justinian at 11:04 AM on December 23 [53 favorites]


Also, one of the reasons I believe that the military rank and file would resist is that, for all our faults, standing orders give members of the military the power to refuse orders that violate US law or the laws of war, which an unprovoked nuclear strike certainly would. They would also be (theoretically) subject to punishment for following such an unlawful order, though there may not be anybody left to prosecute them..
posted by wierdo at 11:04 AM on December 23 [2 favorites]


Eh, I have to believe the poor attache hauling around the briefcase for Trump has ears and would be willing to tell the man baby no if there were no current threat of WMDs being used against the US or it's allies.

Try to imagine a selection process that looks for this in a candidate.

"We want you to serve as the attache for the president responsible for the nuclear football. If he says he wants to use it, for any reason, are you ready to tell him no?"

Try to imagine how that conversation works. Sit with that conundrum for a while. I 100% want to believe the people in the nuclear chain are capable and ready to say no, and I have good reasons to have some faith in that, but it's all still hope and faith. We probably need a better system than hoping and imagining something like that happens.
posted by scaryblackdeath at 11:04 AM on December 23 [4 favorites]


But here we are in the Year of Our Lord 2018, when the motto of the United States of America is the Latin version of the shrug emoji.

Meh pluribus unum.
posted by Barack Spinoza at 11:11 AM on December 23 [53 favorites]


Think about how we're discussing hypotheticals about whether the football guy would refuse an order to end human civilization, then think about how a tiny handful of Republicans in the House and Senate could allow us to not be forced to ponder those hypotheticals, then ask yourself if there's any point to any Democrat trying to find common ground with any Republican ever again.
posted by Rust Moranis at 11:12 AM on December 23 [61 favorites]


You can take the shirt off a Trump supporter's back if you tell them it means you will take two shirts from a brown person.

LBJ:
If you can convince the lowest white man he's better than the best colored man, he won't notice you're picking his pocket. Hell, give him somebody to look down on, and he'll empty his pockets for you.
posted by kirkaracha at 11:17 AM on December 23 [30 favorites]


If the question is, “Would these people be instrumental in preventing a nuclear holocaust?” and the answer is, “Maybe, but probably not” then we can safely make plans to also remove those people from positions where they might be in charge of those decisions.
posted by Autumnheart at 11:27 AM on December 23 [2 favorites]


Aides report that Trump had not realized how scathing Mattis’s resignation was until TV news explained its contents.

To be fair, if the letter had gone under the radar and not been picked up on by TV it's likely that Trump wouldn't have cared, no matter if someone had sat him down and explained what the letter meant. All he cares about is how things play, if the coverage is good or bad for him. The idea that folks on TV connected the dots for him and he had some kind of intellectual realization about what was Really Going On with Mattis belies everything we know about Trump.
posted by wemayfreeze at 11:34 AM on December 23 [13 favorites]


Eh, I have to believe the poor attache hauling around the briefcase for Trump has ears and would be willing to tell the man baby no if there were no current threat of WMDs being used against the US or it's allies.

I've mentioned it before but it seems appropriate to repeat it.

Before the election TPTB knew that Trump was compromised by Russia. So I keep hope alive by imagining there's some RAND study from the 60's they dusted off outlining what to do if The President is compromised.

"Fake codes" just in case he tries to transfer them to Russia, and the of course the guy carrying the football is actually keeping him under surveillance.
posted by mikelieman at 11:40 AM on December 23 [9 favorites]


The framers and the amenders and everyone up to a few years back all agreed that there are only so many systemic obstacles you can put in the way of someone who's truly stupidly insanely evil.

And the Electoral College was supposed to prevent demagogues from being elected. And the Emoluments Clause is supposed to punish people from profiting on elected office.
posted by kirkaracha at 11:47 AM on December 23 [64 favorites]


So I keep hope alive by imagining there's some RAND study from the 60's they dusted off outlining what to do if The President is compromised.

This is likely in the appendix of the same RAND study that says that nuclear deterrence is safe and effective because leaders of superpowers are certainly rational actors. It's just a list of favorite cocktail recipes, a la Danger 5.
posted by RobotVoodooPower at 11:48 AM on December 23 [4 favorites]


Before the election TPTB knew that Trump was compromised by Russia. So I keep hope alive by imagining there's some RAND study from the 60's they dusted off outlining what to do if The President is compromised.

"Fake codes" just in case he tries to transfer them to Russia, and the of course the guy carrying the football is actually keeping him under surveillance.


if The Powers That Be were sure enough that trump was pwned to take these precautions, he would not be president right now.

institutions will not save us.
posted by murphy slaw at 11:48 AM on December 23 [20 favorites]


"Well-oiled machine" anagrammed: "Headline Will Come"
posted by Stoneshop at 11:53 AM on December 23 [31 favorites]


@jeneps: Sec. Pompeo was the one who conveyed to Sec. Mattis today that he was being asked to leave the Pentagon by Jan. 1 and not staying on through Feb. 28, per a senior administration official

The guy who tried to trademark "you're fired" is utterly incapable of actually firing anyone himself.
posted by zachlipton at 12:05 PM on December 23 [39 favorites]


Foreign Policy, U.S. Mulls End To Remaining Aid Programs For Palestinians
The U.S. Agency for International Development could shutter all of its operations in the West Bank and Gaza by early 2019, a move that aid workers and former officials warn could have devastating humanitarian consequences and risk derailing the Trump administration’s long-awaited peace plan.

The drawdown, described to Foreign Policy by four U.S. officials and congressional sources, follows the Trump administration’s broad crackdown on support and assistance to Palestinians as top officials led by White House senior advisor Jared Kushner try to pressure the Palestinian Authority to strike a peace accord with Israel.

It follows a law that President Donald Trump signed in October—the Anti-Terrorism Clarification Act of 2018—which allows U.S. courts to use Palestinians’ frozen assets to pay financial reparations to families of U.S. citizens killed in Palestinian terrorist attacks. The law would require the Palestinians submit to the jurisdiction of U.S. courts in exchange for receiving U.S. financial assistance—which it is unlikely to do. This calls into the question the fate of USAID’s presence in the region and vital aid programs that have become a lifeline for many in Gaza.

On Friday, the Associated Press reported the administration was dispatching Army Lt. Gen. Eric Wendt, the U.S. security coordinator for Israel and the Palestinian Authority, to Congress to convince members to amend the law and keep some U.S. assistance flowing, lest it derail prospects for the peace plan.
There's also concern that the situation could end $60m/year in security assistance funding that we give to the Palestinians. This would all be on top of the existing cuts, measured in the hundreds of millions, to aid to Palestinians, including UNRWA, as part of an entirely unsuccessful plan to drive negotiations forward. There have been no talks since the Jerusalem embassy announcement (which, fun fact, is still not entirely official, as the Ambassador's residence hasn't been moved).

NPR reported that USAID grant recipients were notified yesterday that they should plan to have their funding end by January 31. There's talk of getting Congress to pass an amendment to the amendment to the Anti-Terrorism Clarification Act that would undo this.
posted by zachlipton at 12:17 PM on December 23 [11 favorites]


Sec. Pompeo was the one who conveyed to Sec. Mattis today that he was being asked to leave the Pentagon by Jan. 1 and not staying on through Feb. 28, per a senior administration official

The guy who tried to trademark "you're fired" is utterly incapable of actually firing anyone himself.


There is no boss more contemptible than one who passes messages of import via people at the same pay grade. You're not even managing at that point, much less commanding or leading. Pick up the fucking phone, you homunculus.
posted by Etrigan at 12:23 PM on December 23 [23 favorites]


For Trump, ‘a War Every Day,’ Waged Increasingly Alone

To follow up her article, today Maggie Haberman has been sprinkling her Twitter feed with tidbits that were cut from her article and observations about Trump from her longstanding relationship with him:
—Not in our piece, but several people we spoke with said Trump's tone has gotten "meaner" - their word - since Hope Hicks left
—Like Shaq’s shoe in his 26th floor corner office at Trump Tower, the president has taken to showing several groups of visitors letters from KJU as if they’re memorabilia
—Among the things that brought Trump joy in recent months - parting ways with Kelly, which he told several people was thrilled to have done.
—There are few things that aggravate the president as much as descriptions of his bad moods (when he has been in bad moods) or him yelling at people (when he has been yelling at people). [n.b. Haberman describes Trump as calling his aides “fucking idiots!” when he's angry, except since she's not allowed to swear in the Grey Lady's pages, she resorts to euphemisms, like a TV dub of an R-rated movie]
—I'm not a fan of presidential mood rings broadly, but a facet of working for Trump - according to anyone who ever has - is that he is a screamer when upset. The thing is, he vents and then five seconds later he seems calm, as if the yelling didn't happen
Incidentally, reading Haberman's article alongside standard rightwing coverage of Trump is an instructive exercise. Thanks to her access—her journalistic relationship with Trump goes back to her days at Murdoch's New York Post—she can offer inside information that her colleagues at other papers can't, but to maintain that access for the NYT, she has to curb negative coverage so that it won't anger her sources too much. (Her latest piece quotes only a single Democrat, the Blue Dog newcomer/nonentity Josh Gottheimer (D-NJ), for instance.) In that respect, the spin on her pieces is similar to those in, say, the Washington Examiner or the Washington Times, except it carries with the Grey Lady's imprimatur for the mainstream audience.

In any case, the big question behind this steady drip-drip of juicy access-info is if Haberman's merely trying to promote her piece—most of these tweets link back to it—or if she's attempting to rile Trump up into angry-tweeting about it, the way he's done in the past.

@realDonaldTrump, however, is too busy this afternoon with tweeting about Bob Corker (he "wanted to run but poll numbers TANKED when I wouldn’t endorse him"), his Criminal Justice Reform and the Farm Bill legislation ("two Big Deals"), and the Indonesian tsunami (only 51% chance Trump wrote that one, compared to 98% on the other two).
posted by Doktor Zed at 12:26 PM on December 23 [4 favorites]


Before the election TPTB knew that Trump was compromised by Russia. So I keep hope alive by imagining there's some RAND study from the 60's they dusted off outlining what to do if The President is compromised.

"Fake codes" just in case he tries to transfer them to Russia, and the of course the guy carrying the football is actually keeping him under surveillance.


Wow, that's some real "Deep State" stuff right there. (Not that that's a bad thing, in this case.)
posted by ZenMasterThis at 12:31 PM on December 23


The fundamental issue with Haberman is that her schtick is a) a two-year buried lede; b) getting pissy on Twitter when anyone points it out.
posted by holgate at 12:34 PM on December 23 [12 favorites]


[Twitter wars]
Trump: Brett McGurk, who I do not know, was appointed by President Obama in 2015. Was supposed to leave in February but he just resigned prior to leaving. Grandstander? The Fake News is making such a big deal about this nothing event!
ChrisMurphyCT: Uhhhh...you don’t know your own coordinator of the anti-ISIS campaign? Over the past 5 years, no one has done more to put ISIS on its heels than Brett. We all know and rely on him. The fact that our President has no clue who Brett is should scare the hell out of every American.
posted by growabrain at 12:35 PM on December 23 [88 favorites]


This is the worst cheap paperback spy thriller plot and quality of writing, especially dialogue, I've ever come across. Do not buy.
posted by infini at 12:37 PM on December 23 [26 favorites]


[Twitter wars]
Trump: 'Senator Bob Corker just stated that, “I’m so priveledged to serve in the Senate for twelve years, and that’s what I told the people of our state that’s what I’d do, serve for two terms.” But that is Not True - wanted to run but poll numbers TANKED when I wouldn’t endorse him.....'

Corker: 'Yes, just like Mexico is paying for the wall... #AlertTheDaycareStaff'
posted by PenDevil at 12:39 PM on December 23 [20 favorites]


@realDonaldTrump, however, is too busy this afternoon with tweeting about Bob Corker

Why Corker? Corker on CNN today
posted by ChurchHatesTucker at 12:39 PM on December 23 [7 favorites]


"Why is anyone surprised that Trump's willing to shut down our government when it's clearly not the one he works for?"
posted by growabrain at 12:44 PM on December 23 [32 favorites]


The thing is, he vents and then five seconds later he seems calm, as if the yelling didn't happen

so, classic abusive boss/parent/spouse behavior
posted by murphy slaw at 12:47 PM on December 23 [56 favorites]


so, classic abusive boss/parent/spouse behavior

I was thinking more like my 4 year old niece.
posted by PenDevil at 12:50 PM on December 23 [2 favorites]


The fundamental issue with Haberman is that her schtick is a) a two-year buried lede; b) getting pissy on Twitter when anyone points it out.

That and her six-figure book deal about the Trump administration that's riding on her continued access to Trumpland (especially since she's now the sole author on the package deal).
posted by Doktor Zed at 12:51 PM on December 23 [6 favorites]


If our institutions no longer work, if we no longer have faith in them, if there’s no way to count on government even functioning (three shutdowns this year alone), then perhaps ultimately we become open to something else. Whatever we choose to call it, whether we openly acknowledge it at all, my fear is that we will choose certainty, strength and predictability over this constant dysfunction, even if it comes at the price of our democracy (the press; the ballot box; the courts; congress and representative government).

If there were ever a man to exploit this precarious moment for our country and our form of government, it’s Trump


Beto on the shutdown
posted by ChurchHatesTucker at 1:15 PM on December 23 [40 favorites]


CNN: Mnuchin speaks with US bank executives to reassure investors after Wall Street whiplash
In a precautionary move, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin spent Sunday on the phone speaking with the chief executives of some of the country's largest banks to avoid yet another market whiplash when Wall Street opens Monday, according to a person familiar with the matter.[…]

"It's being pre-emptive," a person familiar with the matter told CNN. "It's sending the proper message to the market so they can calculate the real picture into their Monday opening. They don't have to wait until something happens to be reassured. […]

"The market volatility is not changing the strong fundamentals of the economy," said the person. "Systems remain normal."
Spoiler: systems are not normal, and this is not reassuring.
posted by Doktor Zed at 1:41 PM on December 23 [26 favorites]


In a precautionary move, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin spent Sunday on the phone speaking with the chief executives of some of the country's largest banks to avoid yet another market whiplash when Wall Street opens Monday

Worth noting that Mnuchin made that call from Cabo San Lucas, Mexico where he is on vacation playing golf, accompanied by his staff of working-without-pay secret service agents.
posted by JackFlash at 1:48 PM on December 23 [62 favorites]


—Like Shaq’s shoe in his 26th floor corner office at Trump Tower, the president has taken to showing several groups of visitors letters from KJU as if they’re memorabilia

Took me a while to figure out KJU was not a university or prison but Dear Leader.

Kim Jong-Un

My first thought was Kim Jong-il university but then I figured they would not use “u”.

Does Trump think Jong-Un is like the Van Der Ludyens of Age of Innocence, that he somehow carries more weight and importance’s due to his lack of engagement with the rest of the world? Not that T has ever read or watched that but it’s all I can think of. He think he’s somehow friends with the two coolest guys...and he’s not.

He only sees the KJU stuff as some kind of ... badge of honor? He doesn’t understand the wider context. How is this man in charge of anything at all?
posted by sio42 at 1:50 PM on December 23 [3 favorites]


In a precautionary move, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin spent Sunday on the phone speaking with the chief executives of some of the country's largest banks to avoid yet another market whiplash when Wall Street opens Monday

There's a great moment in the Frontline special about the 2008 crash Inside the Meltdown where they talk about the CEO of Bear Stearns going on TV to tamp down rumors of Bear's troubles and how the denials ultimately legitimized every suspicion about Bear's problems and helped set off the coming avalanche.

Whether or not Mnuchin gets the banks to play along and pretend there isn't a problem in the short term, a move like this sure does confirm there's fire feeding all this smoke.
posted by scaryblackdeath at 1:57 PM on December 23 [23 favorites]


Rand Paul's crappy Christmas roast. Is this real life?
posted by MonkeyToes at 2:04 PM on December 23 [5 favorites]


Whatever we choose to call it, whether we openly acknowledge it at all, my fear is that we will choose certainty, strength and predictability over this constant dysfunction, even if it comes at the price of our democracy (the press; the ballot box; the courts; congress and representative government).


And about 40% of the country already will choose an authoritarian regime, as long as it protects them from brown or trans people.

We know that no matter what the president does the GoP will support him, and Fox News will spin it in his favor. Just as long as they get another Supreme Court justice who will render null Brown vs Board of Education.

We kept worrying about the accellerationists on the Left, but we really should have been worrying on the ones on the right. No amount of chaos or damage will be too much if it gets them the return to the early 19th century they want.
posted by happyroach at 2:25 PM on December 23 [8 favorites]


Can't believe Rand's still piling up branches and shit -- how did that neighbor's ass-kicking not break him of the habit?
posted by Iris Gambol at 2:25 PM on December 23 [9 favorites]


So on Jan 2nd, there'll be acting Defense, AG, Interior, EPA, and an acting WH chief of staff who hands off responsibility at OMB to a deputy.

Does anyone know whether acting Cabinet secretaries have Article 25 votes? I wonder if Trump might be actively trying to pre-empt removal by removing potential votes and preventing a quorum. Republicans have done this for years with NLRB and UN bodies.
posted by msalt at 2:43 PM on December 23 [5 favorites]


Sec. Mnuchin put out a statement about his call with the banks. It contains not-actually-reassuring phrases like "they have ample liquidity" and "the markets continue to function properly."

@BCAppelbaum: Let's say you were trying to start a financial crisis. A good strategy would be to threaten to fire the Fed chair and then announce that banks aren't worried about liquidity. NO PROBLEMS HERE. PLENTY OF MONEY IN THE VAULTS.

@NateSilver538: Could saying there's no need to panic when no one is panicking induce a panic?
posted by zachlipton at 2:47 PM on December 23 [45 favorites]


@KaiRyssdal (Marketplace):
Also, who said anything about liquidity issues (spoiler alert - nobody)
Also also, the banks aren’t the issue here.
Also also also, I can’t even with this.
I feel like I need to say this out loud, because - amazeballs as this is - the Treasury Secretary is, it seems, consciously saying things that will destabilize the markets.
There is no liquidity crisis.
There is no market crisis.
There is no crisis except for the fact that his boss, the President of the United States, is talking actively about firing the chairman of the Federal Reserve.
*That would be a crisis.
posted by scaryblackdeath at 2:51 PM on December 23 [53 favorites]


@NateSilver538: Could saying there's no need to panic when no one is panicking induce a panic?

“We just wanted everyone to know that we have not misplaced any nuclear weapons in the last two weeks. Happy holidays.”
posted by Justinian at 2:55 PM on December 23 [41 favorites]


Mystery company involved in Mueller investigation appeals to Supreme Court

Update: Chief Justice Roberts has granted a stay on the contempt order, pending a response due December 31st and further proceedings. They could decide to lift the stay following a response from DOJ.
posted by zachlipton at 3:38 PM on December 23 [7 favorites]



This edifice of extraordinary powers has historically rested on the assumption that the president will act in the country’s best interest when using them


This presupposes he isn't so stupid he understands literally nothing about any of this.
posted by A Terrible Llama at 3:54 PM on December 23 [3 favorites]


"The market volatility is not changing the strong fundamentals of the economy," said the person. "Systems remain normal."

Which is why when I look at my retirement portfolio I see a negative sign and a big number in red for my 2018 year-to-date. I'm glad I am not planning on retiring anytime soon.
posted by srboisvert at 3:54 PM on December 23 [11 favorites]


From what I gather the stay Roberts granted is an administrative stay, which just means they need time to look at the case before deciding whether to grant an actual stay on the merits. Given the apparent important and sensitive nature (foreign implications etc) of the case I don't think it's too weird that Roberts granted it. But I'm sure Legal Twitter will weigh in soon enough.
posted by Justinian at 3:59 PM on December 23 [3 favorites]


Does anyone know whether acting Cabinet secretaries have Article 25 votes? I wonder if Trump might be actively trying to pre-empt removal by removing potential votes and preventing a quorum. Republicans have done this for years with NLRB and UN bodies.

1) trump does not understand the mechanics of the 25th amendment well enough to plan this
2) trump does not make long-term plans
3) he fired those people because they were not deferential to him, no more, no less
4) they're still held by acting secretaries because trump has run out of suckers to fill posts

tl;dr - with trump, it's always the most obvious and dumbest reason you can think of
posted by murphy slaw at 4:02 PM on December 23 [22 favorites]


[Haberman] can offer inside information that her colleagues at other papers can't, but to maintain that access for the NYT, she has to curb negative coverage so that it won't anger her sources too much.

She only has one inside source that others don't -- Trump himself, and he is completely full of shit even when discussing his own motivations.

She might tell herself that she's doing good by getting the inside scoop but she's just spreading Trump's propaganda so she can make bank on it later.
posted by benzenedream at 4:23 PM on December 23 [26 favorites]


So in attempting to prevent s bank run ...on Christmas, we are now living though a particularly grim and stupid version of It’s A Wonderful Life?
posted by The Whelk at 7:11 PM on December 23 [37 favorites]


For folks thinking the person carrying the football is Deep State, let's look all the way back to early 2017 when Trump Mar-a-Lago guests snaps photo with 'nuclear football,' posts image on Facebook
posted by armacy at 7:24 PM on December 23 [6 favorites]


Rand Paul's crappy Christmas roast. Is this real life?

He does this every year. Then goes back to voting Trump 99% of the time.

You can see why anyone that knows him in real life wants to beat the shit out of him.
posted by T.D. Strange at 7:53 PM on December 23 [28 favorites]


WSJ, Trump Administration Warns Shutdown Could Last Into January
“It’s just so depressing,” said Audrey Murray, 59 years old, who works as a cleaner at the Smithsonian Institution in the morning and at the State Department in the evening. Both are contract jobs, which put her at a greater risk of not getting back pay. “My mortgage is due on the first.…Nobody should be going through this.”
It's the time of year when workers are most likely to be stretched financially, many laid-off contractors will never see a dime in back pay, and they're the ones directly paying for this fight over the border wall.
posted by zachlipton at 7:59 PM on December 23 [45 favorites]


"The market volatility is not changing the strong fundamentals of the economy”

John McCain, September 15, 2008, as the markets were flailing: “The fundamentals of our economy are strong.” Within hours of that statement, Lehman went kaboom and the avalanche started.
posted by azpenguin at 8:25 PM on December 23 [18 favorites]


To follow up on the bombshell article about how Russian agents sought secret US Treasury records in Clinton allies during the 2016 campaign, Buzzfeed's Jason Leopold has posted a thread detailing their research through FOIA requests, including screenshots of the heavily redacted docs about complaints of Russian attempts to penetrate FinCEN and Treasury retaliation against multiple whistleblowers:
What we discovered was unreal. At least 10 whistleblowers from FinCEN filed complaints or declared whistleblower status after sounding the alarm about allegations of domestic spying, insider threats, retaliation and the fact that Russia wanted financial docs on Kremlin enemies
The docs present a dire bureaucratic situation that affects US security—and Steven Mnuchin and his cronies are running this show.
posted by Doktor Zed at 8:54 PM on December 23 [50 favorites]


Previously: Where Trump Learned to Love Ritualized Flattery (David Margolick, New Yorker)

Now: New Trump Ad Begs You to Call Him and Say 'Thank You, President Trump!' (River Donaghey, Vice)
Or you could, you know, leave him a different kind of message.
posted by ZeusHumms at 9:21 PM on December 23 [7 favorites]


Well, that's good. NORADs Santa Tracker is still in operation despite the shutdown.

Because who knows what that border-crossing commie bastard will get up to this year?
posted by loquacious at 9:36 PM on December 23 [9 favorites]


Do your research on that number before calling the number Vice reported on. It’s been up for a while and it may be just collecting phone numbers for purposes to be named later.
posted by _Mona_ at 9:44 PM on December 23 [18 favorites]


Johnny Wallflower: A recession is coming. Trump will make it so much worse. (Catherine Rampell, WaPo)

Robert Reich (Wiki) Facebook video post from yesterday is relevant -- text copied below:
A year ago Trump signed into law a massive $1.5 trillion tax cut for the wealthy and corporations. So after a full year, what are the results?

1) Trump and Republicans promised the tax cuts would pay for themselves. Wrong. According to the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office, the tax cuts have added to deficit, which is now on track to surpass $1 trillion by 2020.

2) They claimed the tax cuts would create jobs. Wrong. The 1,000 biggest companies have actually cut more jobs than they've created, according to a new survey. Since the tax cuts were passed, they've cut nearly 140,000 jobs.

3) They claimed the tax cuts would boost the stock market. Wrong. Although the stock market surged in the early part of the 2018 with corporations plowing most of their tax savings into buying back their own shares of stock, since then the gains have been completely wiped out.

4) They claimed the tax cuts would boost wages for American workers. Wrong again. Since the tax law was signed, wages haven't kept up with inflation, meaning that most workers are actually making less than before. Meanwhile, executives are taking home record bonuses.

5) Trump promised most of the gains would go to middle class families. Wrong. By 2027, according to the nonpartisan Tax Policy Center, the richest 1 percent will have received 83 percent of the tax cut and the richest 0.1 percent, 60 percent of it. But more than half of all Americans — 53 percent — will pay more in taxes.

So there you have it, folks. Once again, trickle-down economics has proven to be nothing more than cruel hoax designed to enrich the wealthy and shaft everyone else.
We don't have to wait for a full-blown recession for Trump to make things worse than when he got into office, we're already there ... unless you were already wealthy, and then you're probably still doing just fine.
posted by filthy light thief at 9:45 PM on December 23 [84 favorites]


NYMAG: GOP Leaders Won’t Tolerate Trump’s Chaos for Much Longer

If that headline is correct I will bake a rich chocolate cake layered with cherry preserves, pipe those words onto its bitter chocolate glaze, and eat them with kirschwasser-infused cream.
posted by Joe in Australia at 10:20 PM on December 23 [61 favorites]


wow, betteridge's law still works even without the question mark
posted by ryanrs at 10:28 PM on December 23 [16 favorites]


Eh, I have to believe the poor attache hauling around the briefcase for Trump has ears and would be willing to tell the man baby no if there were no current threat of WMDs being used against the US or it's allies.

I'm quite sure every person who's authorized to be armed in the vicinity of the president has thought hard about what they would do in this scenario.
posted by ctmf at 10:28 PM on December 23 [3 favorites]


Craig Unger interview : There is a Russian asset in the White House
posted by growabrain at 10:33 PM on December 23 [9 favorites]



I still don't understand.

All of our intelligence agencies, and the intelligence agencies of our allies, unanimously knew that Donald Trump was a likely asset of the Russian government. A cursory glance at the obvious records available to the U.S. government easily shows that his entire financial and political empire was the product of Russian oligarchy.

Yet they let him waltz into the Presidency.

And they continue to perpetuate this air of legitimacy to the whole charade.

What does it take for these people to do their duty to this country?

I'm just a nobody who fucks up everything I attempt to do, but I cannot for the life of me understand what the fuck happened here.
posted by yesster at 10:52 PM on December 23 [85 favorites]


I cannot for the life of me understand what the fuck happened here.

They wanted a tax cut. They wanted women to become chattel. They wanted the brown people kept out, or killed, or just to have so many people focused on hating the brown people that they could steal half the country's wealth. They wanted the right to be whiny, petulant jerks, and punish anyone who annoyed them.

They could see the future, and it has many colors and genders and people are judged not by what they own or how many awards they've won, but by the content of their character. They knew exactly how well they'd do in that kind of culture, so they made a deal with each other: I won't tell if you don't; let's promote the guy who will fight to his last breath to prevent that future, and he'll be so clueless about it that nobody will accuse him of deliberate sabotage. Tell him it'll make him rich and powerful and secure his fame forever and he'll drag a hundred grifters on his coattails.

And anyone who didn't buy into that plan, got told: there are systems here. There are protocols. You can't just ignore the norms we've so carefully built. If this is what the people want, this is what they get. Plz ignore all the ways we're hiding what we actually know, that might actually change what the people want. Besides, it won't be that bad; how much harm can one guy do? We have checks and balances, you know.
posted by ErisLordFreedom at 11:04 PM on December 23 [101 favorites]


But as long as the axis of adults remained in place, he was constrained. So he began to force them out. If there is a common theme behind the reshuffle, it is that Trump replaces independent thinkers with sycophantic loyalists or those too weak to stand up to him.

Ironically, that's the one thing I don't think is crazy, although that's not the way I'd put it. If my staff was actively working against me, I'd replace them too.

Granted, I'm not an impulsive, no-information, no-competence buffoon (at least I don't think so) and I listen to what my people tell me, following recommendations most of the time if they're aligned with the clear goals and objectives I've previously communicated. So it's not quite the same thing.
posted by ctmf at 11:21 PM on December 23 [5 favorites]


>>Does anyone know whether acting Cabinet secretaries have Article 25 votes? I wonder if Trump might be actively trying to pre-empt removal by removing potential votes and preventing a quorum.
>trump does not understand the mechanics of the 25th amendment well enough to plan this


Be that as it may, it doesn't answer the question which is very important right now with several acting cabinet secretaries. This could literally mean the difference between Trump being removed or not.

Since succession has never gone beyond the Vice President, the question has obviously not been tested. The text of the 25th amendment, section 4 specifies that "a majority of either the principal officers of the executive departments or of such other body as Congress may by law provide" for the president's removal.

Any legal types know what "principal officer" means in this context? It's also interesting that Congress could vote for any group to make the decision, whether it's the Akron Ladies Garden Club or Mefites, though they haven't yet. But presumably only a majority vote would be required.
posted by msalt at 1:12 AM on December 24 [2 favorites]


Now: New Trump Ad Begs You to Call Him and Say 'Thank You, President Trump!' (River Donaghey, Vice)

Counterpoint: To Obama With Love, Joy, Hate and Despair by Jeanne Marie Laskas

Obama set up a system to read and digitize his mail from the public. It was a big job. “Team Little People” would go through them all and give Obama the top ten every day, which he would reply to.

This author has written a book about these letters and is promoting it on the radio here. She said in an interview that during the transition, the team handed over all the details of the system so it could be continued and the new admin took no interest. It seems to be shitcanned now.

I know Trump doesn't read, I don't really care about that. That is what it is. But Obama has done a service to history by collecting all these letters and digitizing them. What a trove! And that's not happening anymore.

As for Trump's phone line, it's a scam to collect electioneering data. Best just send your deets to the GRU directly.
posted by adept256 at 1:32 AM on December 24 [28 favorites]


> A cursory glance at the obvious records available to the U.S. government easily shows that his entire financial and political empire was the product of Russian oligarchy. ... Yet they let him waltz into the Presidency.

You're not wrong. To my feeble mind, it seems that a discourse in which "America" and "Russia" are the main players is not the right discourse. We haven't been good at constructing alternative ones though. Making either "the Deep State" or "the Oligarchs" the principal actors is, in each case, woefully underspecified.

In the absence of transparency, hearings, investigations, and repeated public recitation of important, undeniable, facts, it rather feels like we are constructing fairy stories in the vain attempt to make the very real adverse effects of pathological actors intelligible, but fairy stories don't work against viruses or radioactivity, or whatever the best characterisation of the bad actors is.
posted by stonepharisee at 1:45 AM on December 24 [2 favorites]


It's day two of the shutdown and the White House is already backing down.

The partial government shutdown could go on for potentially many more days – and perhaps weeks – but the White House indicated Sunday that it was backing down on its main sticking point: It was requesting less than $5 billion for border wall funding

That's an on the record take from Mick Mulvaney. Could someone please explain this sophisticated negotiating tactic to me? I understand that just because Trump or his minions say something it doesn't mean they'll follow through with it but I still don't understand the strategy.
posted by rdr at 3:55 AM on December 24 [2 favorites]


What makes you think there's a strategy?
posted by escape from the potato planet at 4:26 AM on December 24 [11 favorites]


Perhaps the "strategy" is a nearby adult is terrified that the shutdown could be the final straw that breaks the back of the financial markets. See also Stephen Mnuchin.
posted by ZenMasterThis at 4:32 AM on December 24 [1 favorite]


> GOP Leaders Won’t Tolerate Trump’s Chaos for Much Longer

I prediect that GOP leaders will stop tolerating Trump's chaos (to steal a phrase my sister used with her young kids) after later.
posted by The Card Cheat at 4:36 AM on December 24 [27 favorites]


Perhaps the "strategy" is a nearby adult is terrified that the shutdown could be the final straw that breaks the back of the financial markets. See also Stephen Mnuchin.

If there are "nearby adults", they're all terrified of not hanging onto the tiger and getting eaten.

Narrator: The fall off the tiger and get eaten.
posted by mikelieman at 4:37 AM on December 24 [2 favorites]


Not to abuse the edit window. Trump's M.O. is "fuck them and declare bankruptcy". Everyone knew this going in.

And here we are, where "Fuck Them" is every employee and contractor to the federal government, and "bankruptcy" is the wholesale destruction of the financial markets.
posted by mikelieman at 4:40 AM on December 24 [17 favorites]


Just so I've got this right - the new Congress will be able to end the shutdown because it can pass the bill and override the Cheeto veto?
posted by Devonian at 5:49 AM on December 24


Could someone please explain this sophisticated negotiating tactic to me?

The shutdown is unpopular, he's getting blamed for this, people are yelling at him. His ego and insecurity can't handle this, he wants it to go away, he's caving in the same way we've seen before, whatever the result he'll salvage his ego by spewing some bullshit about how it's all great because he's a master negotiator. He's bored and frustrated and wants to be down in Florida playing golf and getting his ego stroked by sycophants.

Hell, the only reason we're in a shutdown in the first place is because a certain segment of the right-wing media sphere yelled at him about "caving" to the Democrats and failing to back up his campaign promises about the wall because he was willing to sign the bill with much lower funding. So to make the yelling go away he last second decided to "get tough." Now even more people are yelling at him even louder.

I mean, armchair psychologist and all that, but it's an established pattern where loud and strenuous objections to his plans and policies often results in him changing tack while still claiming optimal results.
posted by soundguy99 at 6:00 AM on December 24 [17 favorites]


If there are "nearby adults", they're all terrified of not hanging onto the tiger and getting eaten.

That was Thomas Jefferson's explanation for why he didn't act on his convictions and use his positions to hasten the end of slavery. So if we really are waiting for the cowards to let go of the tiger, then we better prepare for a civil war.
posted by ocschwar at 6:03 AM on December 24 [5 favorites]


Bloomberg' Jennifer Jacobs n the perspective of Trumpland: Trump Sees Winning Hand as Critics See Presidency Spiraling Down
[A]dvisers said Trump feels emboldened, not chastened, by the midterm elections -- despite the net loss of 40 House seats, his party’s worst in the chamber since Watergate in the 1970s. His aides have spun that as a win since it fell short of the 63 seats Democrats lost in 2010, and they have emphasized Republican pick-ups in the Senate in Florida, Indiana, Missouri and North Dakota.

As a result, Trump feels vindicated in his political instincts and is increasingly unmoved by advisers, they said.

In contrast, he’s now ready for a reset and a shake-up of his Cabinet to surround himself with advisers more aligned to his political outlook, and he’s coming to the view he should have done so from the start of his administration.
Whether they believe this happy-talk or not, the Trump White House is going to double down on Trumpiness next year.
posted by Doktor Zed at 6:24 AM on December 24 [1 favorite]


[A]dvisers said Trump feels emboldened, not chastened, by the midterm elections --

When you wonder "just how does someone go bankrupt running casinos?"

This is how.
posted by butterstick at 6:39 AM on December 24 [90 favorites]


Doubling down on Trumpism could be a long-game defensive strategy, Jacobs points out: "In one way, Trump is right. Activist Republican voters, who can punish GOP lawmakers not viewed as sufficiently loyal to Trump, are also his surest line of defense as Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation moves closer. Should the incoming Democratic-controlled House impeach Trump -- a threat many around Trump consider very real -- he could survive and remain in office as long as at least 34 Republican senators stick with him. Democrat Bill Clinton survived the last impeachment in just this way."
posted by Doktor Zed at 6:49 AM on December 24 [3 favorites]


SP 500 is down 1.45% in the first 20 minutes of trading.

So much winning.
posted by ocschwar at 6:51 AM on December 24 [1 favorite]


Because who knows what that border-crossing commie bastard will get up to this year?
posted by loquacious at 9:36 PM on December 23 [7 favorites +] [!]


Remember when keeping an eye on Putin's nefarious deeds was a thing with the GOP?
posted by Mental Wimp at 6:58 AM on December 24 [3 favorites]


It's also interesting that Congress could vote for any group to make the decision, whether it's the Akron Ladies Garden Club or Mefites, though they haven't yet.

UNLEASH THE MEFI CABAL. there is no cabal

Just so I've got this right - the new Congress will be able to end the shutdown because it can pass the bill and override the Cheeto veto?

Remains to be seen. The Commons House of Representatives would be able to pass a supply bill to keep the government funded since it will no longer be controlled by incompetent fascists, and the bill could probably pass the House of Lords Senate as well but whether it gets signed will just depend on what our dictator last heard on the teevee. Otherwise it goes back to both houses of Congress for a supermajority override, which... the moderate Tories Republicans will save us from the stupidest own-goal in many decades, maybe.

[narrator: "surely this, merry/happy Christmas everyone!"]

The parallels between the political situation in the US and the UK are increasingly evident and horrible.
posted by tivalasvegas at 7:30 AM on December 24 [16 favorites]


They're not parallels, they're angles of the same story. With one common factor outstanding. I'd recommend invading Russia, except it's winter and we'd have trouble persuading the French and the Germans to come along for the ride.
posted by Devonian at 7:57 AM on December 24 [14 favorites]


Just so I've got this right - the new Congress will be able to end the shutdown because it can pass the bill and override the Cheeto veto?

Unfortunately, I’m pretty sure it’s not that simple. A “Congress” as defined in the Constitution lasts two years, so this Congress ends on Jan 3rd and a new one is seated. Technically, all unsigned/unresolved/pending legislation of a Congress expires when its term ends. There might be some kind of loophole that allows a rare bill to carry over that I am unaware of (and I can’t find anything suggesting that such a loophole exists), but the usual workaround for unfinished business is that the new Congress introduces what are technically new bills covering the old unresolved business. So the whole process will have to “start over” under a new Congress - and the new Congress will have a Democratic-majority House of Representatives, and the House is the chamber that has the exclusive right to originate revenue bills.

Overriding a veto requires a 2/3 supermajority vote in both chambers of Congress (which would be 67 of the 100 Senators, and 290 of the 435-member House of Representatives.) Makeup of the new (116th) Congress will be: Senate - 53 R, 45 D, 2 Independents (who caucus (vote with) the Democrats); House - 235 D, 199 R, 1 currently disputed/unresolved. So neither chamber of Congress will have a clear single-party number of votes to override a veto. A veto-proof bill would require some Democratic Senators and some Republican House Representatives to agree to the terms of the bill.

So there’s no simple way to end the shutdown under the old or the new Congress without some agreement to compromise and/or change tactic (even some hard-liner conservatives in Congress would rather fight over the wall as part of a package of immigration reform, rather than as part of a budget fight.) What there is is political pressure from donors, constituents, and the media. The longer this goes on, the worse they look and the madder everybody gets - and this shutdown is very clearly Trump’s fault, no matter how Fox News or Breitbart try to spin it. Congressional Republicans were clearly hoping to stall the big fight over the wall until the new Congress (by passing the budget bill with 1.6 or 1.3 (I’ve lost track of which) billion), when they could go whole hog in blaming the Democratic House. Trump fucked that up by insisting he’d veto the bill without $5 billion for the wall, so here we are.

The TL;DR is that it's highly unlikely the new Congress will be able to easily create a new veto-proof bill and end the shutdown. The current Congress has (technically) until Jan 3rd to pass something. Probably the best hope right now is to pressure Trump to sign whatever they put in front of him. How he is convinced to do that remains to be seen.
posted by soundguy99 at 8:02 AM on December 24 [5 favorites]


Perhaps Schumer and Pelosi would be better off negotiating with the actual decision makers instead of their flunky Trump, by whom I mean Doocey and Coulter.
posted by M-x shell at 8:05 AM on December 24 [6 favorites]


Nancy Pelosi doesn't have to care about creating a veto proof bill. If her bill comes out of the house, passes the senate, and Trump vetoes it it will be a pretty big political win for her. There's no way the democrats get blamed because the senate is controlled by republicans. In order to avoid the senate passing the bill Trump will have to apply pressure on republican senators. I'm not sure that Trump has the muscle to convince senators to vote against reopening the government because; the wall is unpopular and Trump has been a complete flake and can't negotiate with anyone in good faith. Why would a republican senator back him on an unpopular bill when he's likely to reverse his policy the next day via tweet?
posted by rdr at 8:10 AM on December 24 [9 favorites]


The wall is popular with Republican voters, and Trump is historically popular with Republican voters. Senate Republicans are not going to defy him on this.
posted by dirigibleman at 8:17 AM on December 24 [1 favorite]


Just so I've got this right - the new Congress will be able to end the shutdown because it can pass the bill and override the Cheeto veto?

It is unlikely that the votes are there for a veto proof CR (or budget extension, if you will). However, the narrative will be that Rs generally and Trump specifically have shut down the gov. I think Fox would even have a hard time spinning it.

1. R controlled senate unanimously passed CR and sent to R controlled House of Reps.
2. R controlled House of Reps sent back bill saying "add 3+ billion for wall".
3. D controlled House of Reps will be seated on 01/03. First order of business is sending back, word for word, typos included and all funky formatting you can think of THE EXACT SAME BILL R controlled Senate sent to them in step 1.
4. Government shutdown then becomes completely owned by R Senate if they don't vote for the same bill they already sent or Senate votes yea and Trump has to veto. Either way the shutdown is on the Republicans. It also doesn't help that Trump said he would own the shutdown just a couple of weeks ago.

Those who are more tuned in, please correct me if I am wrong.
posted by a non mouse, a cow herd at 8:21 AM on December 24 [15 favorites]


Pelosi can copy-paste the wording of the Senate bill into a House bill, get it passed, and then say "hey, Mitch, you passed this on a voice vote."

How he is convinced to do that remains to be seen.

Set up another TV with a real-time slideshow of Instagram photos tagged at Mar-a-Lago.
posted by holgate at 8:24 AM on December 24 [8 favorites]


Somewhere in Douglas Coupland's Generation X, a terrible shithead explains to his sometimes-girlfriend that he does the awful things he does because he craves the rush--he wants to feel dangerously callous and angry, needs the stimulation of feeling like he's being ice-picked on the head by a herd of angry cheerleaders, angry cheerleaders on drugs, so he can act out. That said, I give you The Year of the Old Boys, from Lili Loofbourow and Slate:

"If you notice Old Boys getting more abusive, or flailing more desperately, this is why: The philosophical endpoint of a junkie’s increasing resistance is panic that satisfaction will never come. All the money and power in the world won’t get the Old Boy what he wants because what he wants isn’t a thing but the dopamine rush of victory (and nothing wears off more quickly). What he wants isn’t anything in particular; it’s just more."

Childish masculinity is the nature of institutions at the moment, and they will not save us.
posted by MonkeyToes at 8:24 AM on December 24 [42 favorites]


Democrats vow new scrub of post-9/11 war powers -- The House changeover is giving new life to calls by some lawmakers to reexamine the sweeping authority that Congress granted the president 17 years ago.
posted by Chrysostom at 8:30 AM on December 24 [61 favorites]




Pelosi can copy-paste the wording of the Senate bill into a House bill, get it passed, and then say "hey, Mitch, you passed this on a voice vote."

Perhaps, but that bill only funds government until February 8, when they would have to start the same fight all over again. I doubt they will waste their first week on a funding bill for just four weeks.
posted by JackFlash at 8:34 AM on December 24


dirigibleman: "The wall is popular with Republican voters, and Trump is historically popular with Republican voters. Senate Republicans are not going to defy him on this."

They already did once.
posted by Mitheral at 8:35 AM on December 24 [1 favorite]


But that was when they thought he was going to sign it. Punting the fight to February with the consent of everybody involved is very different from openly opposing a president of your own party, and there's no more open opposition to a president than overriding his veto. Except impeaching him.
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 8:37 AM on December 24 [2 favorites]


Fox News uses award shows to reinforce the idea that pop culture exists to marginalize conservatives (Parker Malloy, Media Matters)
The day after award shows is the most predictable day on the network.
...
Whether it’s Time or any other magazine’s Person of the Year choices, the Oscars, the Grammys, the Emmys, or Golden Globes, Fox News follows a brilliant formula designed to reinforce the idea that pop culture exists largely for the purpose of marginalizing conservatives.
...
Fox News uses manufactured outrage as a tool, and it's become so useful that some of its viewers have tuned out pop culture as a whole.

Can a piece of art change the world? Maybe. Can a speech delivered from the Oscars stage heal a country? I suppose it’s possible, even if extremely unlikely. Yet, if you’re someone with a vested interest in preventing forward social change or you rely on resentment of “elites” to fuel your own political agenda, it would be beneficial to sow distrust of the people making that art or giving that speech. If you can convince your target audience that the artists can’t ever truly understand America, that they’re all rich elitists -- though many are less “rich” and arguably less “elite” than the people delivering messages on your side of this culture war -- you can use even the most anodyne cultural events to your advantage.
posted by ZeusHumms at 8:41 AM on December 24 [9 favorites]


The Atlantic: What Was Steve Mnuchin Thinking? Three Possibilities

Option one: The Treasury secretary was speaking to an audience of one.
Option two: The Treasury secretary believes that the market correction is due in part to animal spirits—animal spirits he could quiet by reminding everyone that the financial system is in fine shape.
Option three: Mnuchin has some troubling insider knowledge, and wanted to broadcast to the markets that he is aware and in charge.
posted by ChurchHatesTucker at 8:55 AM on December 24 [6 favorites]


Option four: He, like his boss, really likes the idea of a market crash to keep the population scared and/or because he thinks that he personally will make a lot of money in a crash.
posted by Etrigan at 9:07 AM on December 24 [9 favorites]


@PreetBharara
If the wall can be built while Mnuchin is still in Mexico, I could be persuaded
8:07 PM - 23 Dec 2018
3,650 Retweets 28,304 Likes
posted by pjsky at 9:08 AM on December 24 [39 favorites]


Option five: he's just an idiot.
posted by ragtag at 9:18 AM on December 24 [16 favorites]


The main thing limiting my concern about nuclear snow this Christmas is that the codes are generated daily, mixed with fake ones, and "the president must memorize where on the list the correct code is located."
posted by lucidium at 9:18 AM on December 24 [48 favorites]


Mental Wimp: Remember when keeping an eye on Putin's nefarious deeds was a thing with the GOP?

I was recently reminiscing about Saint Ronnie, he who told the Soviets "Tear down this wall!", compared to Donnie dummkopf who has Republicans proudly wearing shirts touting "I’d Rather Be a Russian Than a Democrat".

Of course, that wall was separating East and West Berlin, not Mexico and the United States, but hearing people get concerned that the wall/ pretty metal slats will destroy a butterfly sanctuary they cherish (WaPo, Dec. 17, 2018) and having the cojones to say "The Republican party is abandoning the conservative principles I treasured," I laughed bitterly.

But when news comes that Trump's plan for a barrier will physically divide a town in Texas (L.A. Times, Dec. 18, 2018), I thought that this is just too on the nose for 2018.
posted by filthy light thief at 9:35 AM on December 24 [7 favorites]


Steve Mnuchin was on the board of Relativity Media which had a very colorful ownership and .... More than one rumor attached it it viz a ve finances.

This isn't subtle stock trickery this is burn the bar for the insurence money.
posted by The Whelk at 9:38 AM on December 24 [9 favorites]


i... .. i...

Trump Tweet.
I am all alone (poor me) in the White House waiting for the Democrats to come back and make a deal on desperately needed Border Security. At some point the Democrats not wanting to make a deal will cost our Country more money than the Border Wall we are all talking about. Crazy!
He is not a well man.
posted by Xyanthilous P. Harrierstick at 9:41 AM on December 24 [44 favorites]




"I am all alone (poor me) in the White House..." Way to make Christmas Eve about you, Donnie.

And another soft touch on the stock market:

Dow plunges after Steven Mnuchin fails to calm markets (Rich Barbieri and Nathaniel Meyersohn, CNN Business, December 24, 2018)
Stocks had recovered late morning, but then fell to their lowest level for the day after President Donald Trump tweeted mid-morning, "The only problem our economy has is the Fed." Investors are concerned that Trump may fire Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell.
The only problem our economy has is the Fed. They don't have a feel for the Market, they don't understand necessary Trade Wars or Strong Dollars or even Democrat Shutdowns over Borders. The Fed is like a powerful golfer who can't score because he has no touch - he can't putt!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) December 24, 2018
The Dow, which crossed 22,000 on the way up for the first time in September 2017, dropped more than 500 points in late morning trading. The S&P 500 fell 2.2% and the Nasdaq was off 1.7%.

Mnuchin on Sunday released an unusual statement to say he had called the CEOs of the country's biggest banks. He said the executives assured him their banks are healthy and have "ample liquidity" to lend to consumers and businesses. "Markets continue to function properly," he said.

The major bank CEOs who spoke by phone with Mnuchin were "totally baffled" by the session, according to a person familiar with the call, who said the executives found the encounter puzzling and largely unnecessary.
Nothing says "approachable everyman" like a golf metaphor. Enjoy practicing your putts in the empty White House hallways.
posted by filthy light thief at 9:49 AM on December 24 [17 favorites]


"I’d Rather Be a Russian Than a Democrat"

I'd rather be an American than a Republican.

Jesus, it's like shooting fish in a barrel. I almost feel sorry for them. Almost.
posted by ZenMasterThis at 9:52 AM on December 24 [38 favorites]


the codes are generated daily, mixed with fake ones, and "the president must memorize where on the list the correct code is located."

I'm being completely serious: nothing has made me feel safer than this in the last two years.

Thank you.
posted by schadenfrau at 9:54 AM on December 24 [133 favorites]


> I am all alone (poor me) in the White House

His kids? His grandkids? His wife? All gone? Not that I'd blame them.
posted by The corpse in the library at 9:58 AM on December 24 [5 favorites]


So, let's get this straight. The Republicans passed a 1.5 trillion dollar tax cut which businesses used to buy back their stock the value of which is now less than before the tax cut. Other than those who cashed out (not the businesses) did anyone profit form this?
posted by dances_with_sneetches at 9:59 AM on December 24 [13 favorites]


Ben White, @morningmoneyben: Markets tank as Mnuchin appears to panic. Then they begin to recover ... until Trump Fed bashing tweet hits the tape. Then down we go again. [Ticker graphic included]
posted by scaryblackdeath at 10:00 AM on December 24 [5 favorites]


"the president must memorize where on the list the correct code is located."

I had not realized this; I am now substantially less concerned.

"I am all alone (poor me) in the White House..."

Dude, you have a wife, five children (one under the age of 13), some grandkids, heaps of money and status of the type that draw entertaining people who hope to get in on the wealth, and an entire career of claiming "everyone likes me." If you're more alone on Christmas than my heavy-introvert multiple-disabled-people family, you're doing something very wrong.

they don't understand necessary Trade Wars

But Donny, I thought we weren't in a trade war.
posted by ErisLordFreedom at 10:02 AM on December 24 [18 favorites]




Option four: He, like his boss, really likes the idea of a market crash to keep the population scared and/or because he thinks that he personally will make a lot of money in a crash.

So either Mnuchin is short selling America, or maybe he's the subject of a Trading Places style revenge scam/bet?
posted by ZeusHumms at 10:12 AM on December 24


I am all alone (poor me) in the White House

He actually put in "poor me". Anyway, this is the perfect setup for a Scrooge style homage.
posted by ZeusHumms at 10:13 AM on December 24 [10 favorites]


"the president must memorize where on the list the correct code is located."

I had not realized this; I am now substantially less concerned.


Someday in the future we will learn that "covfefe" was a nuclear launch code.
posted by srboisvert at 10:14 AM on December 24 [79 favorites]


> I am all alone (poor me) in the White House

His kids? His grandkids? His wife? All gone? Not that I'd blame them.


His family is already at Mar-a-Lago. Until late Friday it was expected that he'd be there too.
posted by Daily Alice at 10:24 AM on December 24 [2 favorites]


Desperately trying to blame the Fed for the market downturn in the same breath that he admits he started trade wars?

Desperately trying to blame for the government shutdown on the Dems, after he already accepted responsibility for it on national news?

The flop sweat is audible in his tweets.
posted by darkstar at 10:24 AM on December 24 [26 favorites]


As I festively noted at family dinner last night, the only consolation I have in these dark times is that Trump is absolutely fucking miserable. I mean, I know he doesn't have normal human emotions, so his misery is different from normal misery, but it's enough for me to make it to the next day.
posted by soren_lorensen at 10:32 AM on December 24 [51 favorites]


So he... chose to shut down the government, in a temper tantrum. He chose to stay at the White House, -knowing- Congress was not going to be there to get his shutdown handled over the holiday. He chose everything about this...

... and how he wants us to feel sorry for him? Trump man, you aren't a martyr here. You're an asshole. There's a big difference, usually.
posted by Archelaus at 10:38 AM on December 24 [38 favorites]


I also find mild gratification in the fact that at least the zombie-eyed granny-starver, policy wank, and Ayn Rand acolyte Paul Ryan will retire from public office while the government is literally shut down.

Forever recorded for all of history as the capstone to Paul Ryan’s legislative career is that his incompetent leadership and moral cowardice as Speaker of the House left it in such a state that it literally could not function until he left and was replaced by Nancy Pelosi.
posted by darkstar at 10:44 AM on December 24 [45 favorites]


Yeah, but Ryan and his ilk would consider that an accomplishment, not a failure.
posted by The Card Cheat at 10:47 AM on December 24 [2 favorites]


I’m pretty sure they’re just idiots and that’s what’s going to (finally) price in the fact that Trump is president.

OTOH, they fuck up the economy too bad and maybe we’ll get impeachment. Because if anything can do it, it will be that.
posted by schadenfrau at 10:48 AM on December 24 [3 favorites]


From ATC twitter, an hour ago:

EXEC1F - Climbing out from Palm Beach, Florida

Melania Trump heading back to DC for Christmas...

🇺🇸 US Air Force
C-37B 09-0525


Whether this will ease poor 45's loneliness, I cannot say...
posted by Devonian at 11:16 AM on December 24 [6 favorites]


> "a majority of either the principal officers of the executive departments or of such other body as Congress may by law provide" for the president's removal.

Any legal types know what "principal officer" means in this context?


Gee, you'd think such an important term would be defined in the constitution, but arg! nope! For example: [emphasis added]
The Constitution and legal precedent define a “principal officer” as anyone who reports directly to the president. All other appointed personnel are considered “inferior officers.” In an opinion issued by Justice’s Office of Legal Counsel under President George W. Bush, anyone serving in an acting capacity—even if it is in a role typically considered a “principal” position—is automatically an inferior officer.
Justice's memo on officers in general [PDF] that touches a bit on principal officers runs to 122 pages. Wikipedia's claim that it's the 15 cabinet members has 3 citations, but one just defines the cabinet & one refers to another, so the only opinion is from Reagan's A.G.'s 1985 memo [PDF].

It seems pretty safe to assume that a majority of the 15 that had been confirmed by the Senate would be accepted by most. The constitutional crisis comes if interim appointees vote not to remove.
posted by ASCII Costanza head at 11:35 AM on December 24 [5 favorites]


"I am all alone (poor me) in the White House..."

Worst. Home. Alone. sequel. ever.
posted by nubs at 11:36 AM on December 24 [52 favorites]


By 2027, according to the nonpartisan Tax Policy Center, the richest 1 percent will have received 83 percent of the tax cut and the richest 0.1 percent, 60 percent of it. But more than half of all Americans — 53 percent — will pay more in taxes.

This, right here, is why the economy needs to tank before 2020 and why I want it to tank before 2020. Because if it happens when some future administration is in power -- and it will happen, the robber barons have already seen to that quite thoroughly -- American voters will have forgotten entirely about the 2018 billionaire tax cut bill, and we will most certainly have forgotten that its orchestrators deliberately structured that bill to be a time bomb that would blow up years after they raked in their money.

I remain convinced that the only guaranteed way to take Trump down is for the time bomb to go off a few years early, while he is still in his first term. When middle aged suburban conservatives wake up one morning to find their retirement funds are suddenly empty, I want them to have to face the fact that Trump and Mitch McConnell's Senate are the incontrovertible culprits.
posted by Vic Morrow's Personal Vietnam at 11:52 AM on December 24 [20 favorites]


Missed this last week, but apparently, some people attempted to use Russian-style social media influence tactics against Roy Moore in the Alabama election. Has this been discussed previously?

It worries me that Democrats tried this and may try this again. I came across the story after seeing it used by an alt-right Twitter account pointing to it as a kind of "look what the Democrats are doing" example and also using the same story to attack the idea that a Russian disinformation campaign could have influenced the 2016 election on half the budget of this Alabama effort. Seems to me using these tactics will tarnish Democratic efforts in the long run.
posted by StrawberryPie at 12:00 PM on December 24 [1 favorite]


The S&P closed down 2.73%. This was a short and under-attended trading session, so naturally prices would be more volatile. But that is one hell of a way to get ready for trading on Boxing Day.
posted by ocschwar at 12:02 PM on December 24 [5 favorites]


Americans are allowed to use meme tactics to influence our own elections. We're allowed to try to convince each other to vote the way we think is right. We're allowed to try to split the votes of the opposing party. We're currently even allowed to use propaganda and some outright lies to that effect.

Other countries are not. The problem with "Russian-style social media influence tactics" is not the tactics; it's that they came from Russia.
posted by ErisLordFreedom at 12:05 PM on December 24 [42 favorites]


I am all alone (poor me) in the White House

He actually put in "poor me". Anyway, this is the perfect setup for a Scrooge style homage.


"They were a gloomy suite of rooms, in a lowering pile of building up a yard, where it had so little business to be, that one could scarcely help fancying that it must have run there when it was a young house, playing at hide-and-seek with other houses, and have forgotten the way out again. It was old enough now, and dreary enough, for nobody lived in it but [Trump], the other rooms being all let out as offices."
posted by dannyboybell at 12:09 PM on December 24 [15 favorites]


@dansinker: Amazing opportunity for three White House interns to dress up like ghosts and change history.
posted by Faint of Butt at 12:16 PM on December 24 [142 favorites]


This, right here, is why the economy needs to tank before 2020 and why I want it to tank before 2020.

You realize that, historically, economic distress often leads to vicious and violent scapegoating of the powerless, right? Think this one through a bit more maybe.
posted by Rock 'em Sock 'em at 12:29 PM on December 24 [44 favorites]


Also, the market is down, but it was weird as hell that it was this high. It's now around end-of-2016 levels, which makes sense and shouldn't be too alarming.
posted by Rock 'em Sock 'em at 12:31 PM on December 24 [7 favorites]


The problem with "Russian-style social media influence tactics" is not the tactics; it's that they came from Russia

I'm actually not going to be ok with multi-platform astro-turfed campaigns of propaganda and disinformation that plant and foster bigoted conspiracy theories that are, like, protocols of zion, Nazi grail in a warehouse level of shithouse crazy even if it comes from an American.

Like when the Koch brothers flood our media with literal Nazis I'm not going to think it's fair play.

It's still fucking Nazis. It's the Nazis that are a problem, no matter where they come from.
posted by schadenfrau at 12:34 PM on December 24 [25 favorites]


@realDonaldTrump: "I never “lashed out” at the Acting Attorney General of the U.S., a man for whom I have great respect. This is a made up story, one of many, by the Fake News Media!"

Lawyers will note that this is not an explicit denial he engaged in obstruction of justice by discussing the SDNY case against Cohen with his Acting Attorney General.

CNN's Michael Cohen reminds Trump about their reporting: “"Multiple sources familiar with the matter" told CNN that Trump lashed out at least twice to Whitaker about the Michael Cohen case. 1st was after Cohen pleaded guilty to lying to Congress. 2nd was after prosecutors implicated Trump in hush money scheme.”

(Everyone else took Trump's bait and is running headlines "Trump denies lashing out at AAG" as though losing his temper is the problem.)
posted by Doktor Zed at 12:41 PM on December 24 [4 favorites]


I'm actually not going to be ok with multi-platform astro-turfed campaigns of propaganda and disinformation

I'm not okay with those, but they're currently legal. Sorting out the ethics of internal campaign tactics is an entirely separate issue from foreign countries buying election ads and donating to campaign activities. Our Nazis, as vile and numerous as they are, are not influential enough to put a president in office - but combine their efforts with foreign financing, and they did.

I want us to stomp out the Nazis, but that's at least somewhat a social issue, not a legal one. I want us to enforce our campaign laws, including prison terms for anyone who knowingly allowed foreign money to be used on US elections. (Dammit, we had plenty of people here on Metafilter who wanted to donate to Clinton's campaign, but couldn't.)
posted by ErisLordFreedom at 12:42 PM on December 24 [3 favorites]


I am all alone (poor me) in the White House...

I don't use Twitter very often, so I'm not sure I did this right, but I replied with Livia Soprano saying "Poor You."
posted by kirkaracha at 12:45 PM on December 24 [6 favorites]


Missed this last week, but apparently, some people attempted to use Russian-style social media influence tactics against Roy Moore in the Alabama election.

The NY Times' reporting, which relies heavily on republican sources, has a much scarier slant on it than the WaPo's: Researcher whose firm wrote report on Russian interference used questionable online tactics during Ala. Senate race:
Jonathon Morgan, chief executive of the research firm New Knowledge, said he created a Facebook page under false pretenses to test his ability to appeal to conservative voters and bought a small amount of retweets — spending less than $10 — to measure the potential “lift” he could achieve in social media messaging.
It's also notable that the group who did this have been blocked from Facebook, presumably to prevent any criticism of partisan favoritism: Facebook suspends five accounts, including that of a social media researcher, for misleading tactics in Alabama election.

The lead researcher, Jonathon Morgan, is no stranger to metafilter, he's tracked ISIS on twitter, was part of the Hamilton 68 team, and has charted the how the alt-right took over the Trump campaign. This doesn't seem to be a case of a partisan hack doing partisan hacking.
posted by peeedro at 12:47 PM on December 24 [11 favorites]


Yeah, this is not good, and I cannot believe it it's legal:
The project’s operators created a Facebook page on which they posed as conservative Alabamians, using it to try to divide Republicans and even to endorse a write-in candidate to draw votes from Mr. Moore. It involved a scheme to link the Moore campaign to thousands of Russian accounts that suddenly began following the Republican candidate on Twitter, a development that drew national media attention.

“We orchestrated an elaborate ‘false flag’ operation that planted the idea that the Moore campaign was amplified on social media by a Russian botnet,” the report says.
And... Moore's a pedophile. An honest to God pedophile. Was it really necessary to make stuff up to smear him?
posted by xammerboy at 12:47 PM on December 24 [8 favorites]


Was it really necessary to make stuff up to smear him?

It certainly appeared so for a while. People were voting for the pedophile. Still voted for the pedophile. The scariest thing about post-2016 politics is how clear it is how many people don't give a shit about anything except which team wins.
posted by ctmf at 12:54 PM on December 24 [29 favorites]


On the Media had a great interview with the folks at the Trump Inc. podcast about Cohen and Manafort. Key takeaways included:

(A) The Mueller investigation might be taking longer than expected not because Mueller is dotting all the i's, but instead because the number of people and crimes involved keeps getting bigger. The Manafort investigation alone could take up 100% of a Mueller sized team's time. The Trump investigation is ten times bigger than that, and keeps getting bigger and more convoluted.

(B) It looks more and more like Trump was directing Cohen to meet with Russian operatives to explore opportunities for "political synergies" as early as 2015. This means Trump's collusion with Russia may have began before he planned to run for president. I find this jaw dropping. It suggests Trump did not merely get a coordinated assist from Russia during his campaign, but that his campaign was co-planned and coordinated with Russia from its inception.
posted by xammerboy at 1:01 PM on December 24 [55 favorites]


Poor Mueller.

INTERN: "Okay, boss, I got those financial records you asked for."
MUELLER: *absently takes papers, glances at them* "Good; this should confirm that he knew in January--"
*stares at numbers* "Godddamit."
INTERN: "Sir?"
MUELLER: "Get out the subpoena template; we're going to need six of them. Oh, and set up another indictment form."
posted by ErisLordFreedom at 1:10 PM on December 24 [39 favorites]


but that his campaign was co-planned and coordinated with Russia from its inception.

Fuck, it wasn't even his idea. He got in deep with the Russian mob over his debt, then they told him he was going to run for president. He's the highest-placed mole in history, and I guarantee you someone's been what-if-ing it only half in jest since the 90s or before. Then Donald fell in their laps and they said "fuck it, why not? what's the down-side if we fail?"
posted by ctmf at 1:12 PM on December 24 [24 favorites]


One thing that should be absolutely clear at this point is that "NO COLLUSION" is the "I am not a crook" of our time.
posted by Jonathan Livengood at 1:16 PM on December 24 [50 favorites]


Fuck, it wasn't even his idea. He got in deep with the Russian mob over his debt, then they told him he was going to run for president.

Trump has been flirting with running for POTUS for almost 20 years.
posted by PenDevil at 1:19 PM on December 24 [9 favorites]


xammerboy: "Moore's a pedophile. An honest to God pedophile. Was it really necessary to make stuff up to smear him?"

Jones only won by two points. I don't know if necessary but being a pedophile was barely disqualifying.
posted by Mitheral at 1:24 PM on December 24 [15 favorites]


National Christmas Tree will be lit again after donations save it from darkness during shutdown (Eli Rosenberg, WaPo)
The tree and its lighting had been damaged by a rogue climber on Friday, and it was unclear whether it would be fixed in time for the holiday.

But the private sector stepped in when the federal government could not.

The National Park Foundation, a nonprofit that is the official charity to help private money improve the national park system, gave the National Park Service enough money both to investigate the damage caused by the climber and to keep the park open and lighted through Jan. 1, it announced Monday.
Honestly, I wish they had just left it off. It was the perfect symbol of this dysfunctional, disheartening year.
posted by Johnny Wallflower at 1:42 PM on December 24 [50 favorites]


National Christmas Tree will be lit again after donations save it from darkness during shutdown

A nation that has no difficulty privately funding the national christmas tree and raising tens of millions for a spiked border wall while letting people die from lack of insulin definitely deserves to exist.
posted by Rust Moranis at 2:08 PM on December 24 [83 favorites]


(Re the codes, I should note I was just quoting this wikipedia article and have no particular insider knowledge.)
posted by lucidium at 2:15 PM on December 24 [4 favorites]


McCaskill warns Dems about 'cheap' rhetoric; says GOP senators privately believe Trump is 'nuts'
"Now they'll tell you, if it's just the two of you, 'The guy is nuts, he doesn't have a grasp of the issues, he's making rash decisions, he's not listening to people who know the subject matter,' " she said. "But in public if they go after him ... they know they get a primary, and they know that's tough."
They also swore an oath to "support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic." Not the Republican Party. Not their careers.
posted by kirkaracha at 2:40 PM on December 24 [56 favorites]


Trump has been flirting with running for POTUS for almost 20 years.

He thinks it was flirting. It was harassment.
posted by srboisvert at 2:41 PM on December 24 [99 favorites]


Weak shit, Claire. Name names. Stop protecting your lobbying career.
posted by T.D. Strange at 3:01 PM on December 24 [44 favorites]


And the way you get things done here is by reasonable negotiation and compromise," McCaskill said of the 2020 race.

And she says Warren is a "crazy Democrat."
posted by This time is different. at 3:11 PM on December 24 [12 favorites]


“We were curious whether the phrase "political revolution" would excite people or turn them off, so we asked half our sample whether they agreed or disagreed with this statement: "In the next decade, a political revolution might be necessary to redistribute money from the wealthiest Americans to the middle class." Redistribution turned out to be popular.
posted by The Whelk at 3:39 PM on December 24 [15 favorites]


So ICE has dumped hundreds of migrants at the greyhound station in El Paso yesterday and today, with no warning and no real explanation. Beto is there with a bunch of volunteers getting people supplies and places to stay. I know people all over Texas collecting funds to get hotel rooms, etc. I can't tell that anyone really knows why this has happened, but suspicions seem to be it is shutdown related.
“Feliz Navidad,” volunteers said as they handed out sack lunches to the men, women and children arriving Monday afternoon at the Greyhound bus station. Children smiled as they were handed stuffed animals and other toys...

...Calls to ICE were not returned. Because the federal government is shut down, employees in nonessential positions, such as some public affairs positions, are not working. An email to ICE bounced back with an automatic reply stating the agency's public affairs officers by law cannot work or respond to media inquiries during the shutdown."
posted by threeturtles at 3:51 PM on December 24 [59 favorites]


McCaskill: "the parts of the country that are rejecting the Democratic Party, like a whole lot of white working class voters, need to hear about how their work is going to be respected"

Why? White working class people are about 20% of the country. (I don't know if they're 20% of voters.) Why should the Democratic Party cater to the interests of this minority, over those who need policies that protect their very right to live, and those whose ability to get jobs, education, housing are under direct threat?

Nobody's trying to drive white working class voters out of the country, or into poverty or prison. There is no need for politicians to give them special consideration.
posted by ErisLordFreedom at 3:56 PM on December 24 [41 favorites]


The White working class should absolutely not be respected. The Working Class, sure, but no. We're not gonna keep just letting white people stand above everyone. We know how that shit goes. Every fucking time.
posted by odinsdream at 4:11 PM on December 24 [53 favorites]


McCaskill: "the parts of the country that are rejecting the Democratic Party, like a whole lot of white working class voters, need to hear about how their work is going to be respected"

Who is disrespecting their work, anyway? How? What does that even mean?
posted by thelonius at 4:14 PM on December 24 [12 favorites]


[Hey the white working class voters, I feel like I've read about them.. somewhere ...before.... (Maybe let's not do another loop around the timeworn points there.)]
posted by LobsterMitten (staff) at 4:16 PM on December 24 [15 favorites]


Let’s check in on Trump taking Santa tracker calls. How could that go wrong?
Trump (in booming voice) to a kid named Coleman: "Hello, is this Coleman? Merry Christmas. How are you? How old are you?.... Are you doing well in school? Are you still a believer in Santa?"
So, uh, merry Christmas, Coleman.
posted by zachlipton at 4:58 PM on December 24 [59 favorites]


@waltshaub
Lest anyone misunderstand this tweet, the President just announced on Christmas Eve that he has negotiated for the murderer of a Washington Post journalist from Virginia to send planeloads of money to Putin-backed Assad.
posted by adamvasco at 5:02 PM on December 24 [41 favorites]




This was probably discussed at some point and I missed it but evidently even were Trump to get his $5 billion, that would only cover 150 new miles of
...a bollard barrier made of steel poles, erected close enough together to prevent entry but far enough apart that Border Patrol agents can see what’s happening on the other side. (This is the “see-through wall” that Trump got excited about back in 2017.) Previous administrations referred to bollards as fencing; the Trump administration calls it a wall; and Trump himself has started calling them “steel slats” because he thinks it sounds tougher.
That figure Vox offers may be based somehow on a DHS fact sheet from a month ago mentioned here, which listed a total of 330 miles, presumably a combination of new, refurbishment of existing, and construction funded from previous appropriations.
posted by XMLicious at 6:01 PM on December 24 [2 favorites]


Are you still a believer in Santa?

This misses the best part. "BECAUSE AT SEVEN, IT'S MARGINAL, RIGHT?"
posted by waitingtoderail at 6:19 PM on December 24 [47 favorites]




This misses the best part. "BECAUSE AT SEVEN, IT'S MARGINAL, RIGHT?"

[real]
posted by ChurchHatesTucker at 7:01 PM on December 24 [27 favorites]


The best response on Twitter:

Child : "Are you still a believer in trickle-down economics? Because at 72, its marginal, right?"
posted by misterpatrick at 7:06 PM on December 24 [72 favorites]


This misses the best part. "BECAUSE AT SEVEN, IT'S MARGINAL, RIGHT?"

As someone commented, that video must be from last year. Melania hasn’t been with him all week, right?

I mean, that’s not better, really.
posted by greermahoney at 7:08 PM on December 24 [1 favorite]


Melania came back to DC around the same time that POTUS tweeted that he was sad and alone.
posted by Xyanthilous P. Harrierstick at 7:10 PM on December 24 [2 favorites]


Gold star to the kid for positioning an intelligence asset in the White House even more cheaply than Putin did.
posted by XMLicious at 7:15 PM on December 24 [7 favorites]


It’s all fun and games until that seven year old is holding a cabinet position
posted by The Whelk at 7:28 PM on December 24 [18 favorites]


Yeah, sorry. I didn’t realize she came back mid-day. I thought she came back in the evening. Just one more example of 45 just killin’ it in 2018, I guess.
posted by greermahoney at 7:47 PM on December 24


I wonder if the kid calling NORAD on Christmas eve to find out where Santa is has gone wobbly on the whole spirit of the season
posted by Ray Walston, Luck Dragon at 8:07 PM on December 24 [5 favorites]


And she says Warren is a "crazy Democrat."

I have had a lot of time for McCaskill: she's a very able politician. (She's also the one senator I have given directions to in a city that was unfamiliar to her.) But the state she represents changed beneath her feet over the last six years, and ultimately she knew it, even if she can't square the fact that a fair few people who voted for her in 2006 and 2012 decided, when given the shittiest of options, to go all-in on it. It's not fun when a decisive proportion of your voters turn out to be arseholes, but it's also not fun to be part of the non-decisive majority of those voters in Kansas City and St Louis and other blue areas and be shat upon. Sorry your state got worse. Sorrier you can't say so.
posted by holgate at 9:51 PM on December 24 [17 favorites]


Tokyo stocks plunge in Christmas rout amid fears over US economy
Nikkei falls 5% as government shutdown in Washington spooks markets
Tokyo markets, which were closed on Monday for a national holiday, plummeted at the open on Tuesday, with the Nikkei down more than 5% – over 1,000 points – shortly before the morning break.

[...]

In Asia, many markets were closed for Christmas, including in Australia, Hong Kong and South Korea. US and European markets will also be closed for the holiday.

But the downturn affected those bourses that remained open, with China’s benchmark Shanghai Composite index opening lower and tumbling more than 2% during the morning session.
Break out your butt superglue for cheating at rodeos... it's gonna be a wild ride
posted by XMLicious at 11:39 PM on December 24 [3 favorites]


You know Christmas day, when it's all nice and quiet...everybody home with their families, nobody out on the streets?
That would actually be really good time to arrest a president. Just nice and quiet and peaceful... Well, those are the sugarplums dancing in my head. Happy holidays to all and to all a good night.
posted by sexyrobot at 12:44 AM on December 25 [17 favorites]


Honestly... I don't care what McCaskill says. I voted for her (I even volunteered for her a little!) and she was undoubtedly much better than Hawley will be. We needed her seat. But she is not, by any means, a model for what the Democratic party should be or become. I had to repeatedly call her and ask her to take a stand against CHILD CONCENTRATION CAMPS, for fuck sake.

And for all her attempts to be a moderate (whatever that means in an era of CHILD CONCENTRATION CAMPS), she still lost decisively. It didn't work. Her style of Democratic politics is over. The future of the Democratic party is with Democrats who stand up for Democratic values, not people who try to work across the aisle. Her advice is wrong. Let's move on.
posted by the turtle's teeth at 5:36 AM on December 25 [82 favorites]


WaPo's Philip Rucker reports from the Trump White House:
—At Christmas morning photo opp to call troops, Trump gives long defense of the wall and then veers, unprompted, into a discussion of firing Jim Comey.
—Trump claims that “many” federal workers want the government to stay closed: "Many of those workers have said to me, communicated, stay out until you get the funding for the wall. These federal workers want the wall."
—Trump on the wall: “There may be a case of an Olympic champion who may get over the wall, but for the most part, you’re not going to be able to do it.”
—Trump this morning on the wall: “While we’re fighting over funding, we’re also building, and it’s my hope to have this done, completed, all 500 to 550 miles, to have it either renovated or brand new by election day.”
* WaPo reports how Federal workers are scrambleing to make ends meet during shutdown.
posted by Doktor Zed at 8:07 AM on December 25 [23 favorites]


Merry Christmas, megathread. Especially the mods.
posted by lazaruslong at 8:41 AM on December 25 [124 favorites]


Trumpspeak:

DID YOU KNOW? = "I just found this out"
PEOPLE ARE SAYING = "I'm making this up"
WE'LL SEE WHAT HAPPENS = "I have no idea what is happening"
FAKE NEWS = "This information makes me look bad"
BELIEVE ME = "I'm lying"
WITCH HUNT = "What do I do now?"
posted by growabrain at 8:47 AM on December 25 [108 favorites]


You guys, it's been a long two years. And even longer megathreads. I feel like something shifted on the solstice, and it really is a new dawn. May the spirit of Christmas infuse us all, let peace come to us and those we fear, and in the words of a child not in a concentration camp, may God bless us, every one. I love y'all.
posted by SecretAgentSockpuppet at 8:47 AM on December 25 [77 favorites]


At Christmas morning photo opp to call troops, Trump gives long defense of the wall and then veers, unprompted, into a discussion of firing Jim Comey

Video: “It’s a disgrace what’s happening in our country” — a Christmas message from the president

Also, no better way to demonstrate a steady hand on the tiller than to talk about firing/sidelining the Treasury Secretary:
Before Tuesday’s comments, one person familiar with the president’s thinking said that Trump had weighed dismissing Mnuchin, while another said that Mnuchin’s tenure may depend in part on how much markets continue to drop.
[...]
In a sign Trump may have lost some faith in Mnuchin, the president has asked whether one or more of his advisers could meet with [Federal Reserve chairman Jerome] Powell, according to a person familiar with the matter. That would be seen as undermining the authority of the Treasury chief, who sees Powell for lunch once a week and is normally the official designated to deliver the administration’s views.
posted by peeedro at 9:37 AM on December 25 [4 favorites]


Outtakes from the Obama’s first Christmas address

I just miss them so much! Merry Christmas, y’all!
posted by Weeping_angel at 9:44 AM on December 25 [10 favorites]


Data for Progress, The Chart that Broke our Brains:
The New York Times recently published a piece that explored why many of the people who depend on government assistance end up voting for Republicans, the one political party which is not only determined to cut all forms of government assistance but is openly hostile to the concept of government itself (at least the parts of government that don’t kill, imprison, or spy on people). [...]

There is a striking increase in polarization by income in high transfer vs low transfer counties. Upper middle income voters who are unlikely to receive much in transfers themselves, but live in counties who are highly dependent on transfers are very Republican, while their lower income neighbors are much less so. In other words, the trend of increased Republican preference in counties that are highly dependent on transfers is not primarily driven by increased Republican preference among those who are receiving those transfers. Instead, the trend is much better explained by more well off (and likely resentful) residents of those counties. [emph. ragtag's]
GMO, The Late Cycle Lament: The Dual Economy, Minsky Moments, and Other Concerns:
Far from the sanguine consensus of the current state of health of the U.S. economy, in this paper I demonstrate that this is the slowest and weakest recovery in post war history. Whilst GDP growth has been poor, labour productivity growth has been worse, and real wage growth worst of all. The headline data obscure even more worrying trends. Effectively, the U.S. is witnessing the rise of the “dual economy”—where productivity growth is reasonable in some sectors, and totally absent in others. Even in the sectors with good productivity growth, real wages are lagging (wage suppression is occurring). All the employment growth we are seeing is coming from the low productivity sectors. On top of this, the paltry gains in income that are being made are all going to the top 10%. This is not what a booming economy should feel like.
posted by ragtag at 9:46 AM on December 25 [28 favorites]


Meowy Kitmas, say my fur family! I do my big celebration on Christmas Eve, so today it's mashed potatoes, gravy, and pie for breakfast, and no shame! May this year's Blue Wave continue to build into the new one and every year hereafter.
posted by Rosie M. Banks at 10:00 AM on December 25 [15 favorites]


Trumpspeak:

COUNTING WORD ("many", "mostly") = the opposite ("not many", "mostly not")
ANY NUMBER = pick a random number; you're probably closer than he is
posted by Etrigan at 10:16 AM on December 25 [11 favorites]


Best response I've seen to the wall contract, via Walter Shaub's Twitter: "Perhaps @PressSec provide us with the contract number, firm to which it was awarded, as well as identify the source selection authority...so that these claims may be verified? I doubt it, but had to ask."
posted by MonkeyToes at 10:28 AM on December 25 [17 favorites]


The New York Times recently published a piece that explored why many of the people who depend on government assistance end up voting for Republicans

And if you dig in, what you find out is that isn't really true. It isn't poor people voting Republican. What happens is that poor people who depend on government assistance just don't vote. That leaves everyone else to vote Republican. That's how you get a county in Kentucky in which 60% are on Medicaid voting 80% for destroying Medicaid. Voter turnout is tiny and Republicans turn out.

What Democrats need to figure out is why those people aren't voting. Is it voter suppression? Is it lack of motivation? Is is alienation? Lack of information? Probably all of these.
posted by JackFlash at 10:35 AM on December 25 [58 favorites]


Breaking: A migrant child in U.S. custody has died in New Mexico, Customs and Border Protection officials said (WaPo)
Officials said the cause of the Guatemalan child’s death was not known, but said the 8-year-old had been treated for a cold and fever at a hospital on Christmas Eve. The child died early today.

This is the second death of an immigrant child in U.S. custody this month.
... that we know of.
posted by Barack Spinoza at 10:37 AM on December 25 [39 favorites]


More Trumpspeak:

WE'RE LOOKING INTO THAT - what the hell did you just ask me? is that a thing? should we know this?
WE'LL HAVE AN ANSWER FOR YOU IN TWO WEEKS - we'll stall and hope you forget
posted by hangashore at 10:41 AM on December 25 [15 favorites]


This is the second death of an immigrant child in U.S. custody this month.
... that we know of.


5 days ago Nielsen refused to say how many have died in her custody. They only tell us about the deaths that they think we're going to find out about anyway.
posted by Rust Moranis at 10:49 AM on December 25 [44 favorites]


What Democrats need to figure out is why those people aren't voting. Is it voter suppression? Is it lack of motivation? Is is alienation? Lack of information? Probably all of these.

Other reasons:
  • Lack of time away from work (while the law may require that employers give some time, it may not allow for transit, and certainly doesn't allow for being exhausted)
  • Belief that refraining from voting sends a message of anger (may fall under "lack of info," but is separate from "I don't know who any of these people are" or "I don't know where my polling place is")
  • Belief that only well-educated people are supposed to vote
  • Lack of access due to hardship (no car/car broke down; illness in family; double shift at work; disability that makes filling out ballots difficult)
  • Lack of education (can't read/can't read English; citizen child of resident-immigrant parents who doesn't realize they can vote)
Republicans count on every one of these winning them a few percentage points in every election in low-income areas. When they push to suppress votes, only some of it is aimed at shutting down polling stations or limiting mail-in votes; they push to keep people unaware of their voting rights and uncertain of how to exercise them.
posted by ErisLordFreedom at 11:41 AM on December 25 [49 favorites]


There is also a lack of leadership and clear messaging from politicians to attract them. I don’t know why “I want to make your life better” is such an alien idea to some politicians*. Vote for me so things don’t get worse is a losing message.

Anyway, some good news.

“Twenty five chefs came together to prepare Christmas paella 🥘 for the migrant exodus in Tijuana. 1600 pounds of meat, 800 pounds of rice, 400 pounds of olive oil, and a whole lot of love and solidarity.

*okay, I know why.
posted by The Whelk at 12:02 PM on December 25 [25 favorites]


• Lack of access due to hardship (no car/car broke down; illness in family; double shift at work; disability that makes filling out ballots difficult)

CHILD CARE AT THE POLLS NOW.
posted by Etrigan at 12:24 PM on December 25 [12 favorites]


Etrigan: "CHILD CARE AT THE POLLS NOW."

Get wait times down to 10ish minutes and this plus a lot of other problems goes away. I don't think I've ever waited more than 15 minutes to vote in Canada. Most times I'm in and out in less than 5 minutes. Obviously if you have 60 choices to make it'll take longer but voting a straight ticket shouldn't take longer than getting a coffee at Starbucks.
posted by Mitheral at 1:44 PM on December 25 [18 favorites]


"CHILD CARE AT THE POLLS NOW."

Get wait times down to 10ish minutes and this plus a lot of other problems goes away.


Not counting the entire election cycle's worth of time in even the most well-behaved child's life when they can't be unsupervised for even 10ish minutes.

I absolutely support having enough polling booths in enough polling places (and, as you note, straight-ticket balloting) that it only takes 10 minutes to vote from arrival at your local school or community center (not church). But even then, just having a supervised playpen (yes, a literal cage) would make it easier for a lot of single parents of young children.
posted by Etrigan at 1:53 PM on December 25 [5 favorites]


CHILD CARE IN THE OVAL OFFICE NOW.
posted by uosuaq at 2:48 PM on December 25 [45 favorites]








Russia’s Secret Weapon? America’s Idiocracy. What the Russian security services have done very deftly is tap into pre-existing pathologies in our society and encourage them, as an enabler might do a drug addict or alcoholic.

I actually RTFA, and something feels off about this blinkered "the West" perspective, one that aligns "Third World anti-colonialists" with others (all Russia supported) meant to divide "the West"... really? I mean, really? You can write that with a straight face.
posted by infini at 2:23 AM on December 26 [4 favorites]




Included as a reference for the sake of completeness only* Did a Queens Podiatrist Help Donald Trump Avoid Vietnam? [NY Times]
In the fall of 1968, Donald J. Trump received a timely diagnosis of bone spurs in his heels that led to his medical exemption from the military during Vietnam.

For 50 years, the details of how the exemption came about, and who made the diagnosis, have remained a mystery, with Mr. Trump himself saying during the presidential campaign that he could not recall who had signed off on the medical documentation.

Now a possible explanation has emerged about the documentation. It involves a foot doctor in Queens who rented his office from Mr. Trump’s father, Fred C. Trump, and a suggestion that the diagnosis was granted as a courtesy to the elder Mr. Trump.
No conclusive evidence provided, but a fairly believable narrative.

* Since it's always been fairly clear that the 'bone spurs' deferment was almost certainly a financially assisted diagnosis...
posted by Buntix at 4:48 AM on December 26 [28 favorites]


The US’s point of failure and orginal sIn is white supremacy, the fact that anyone can easily levenge it as an exploit to push a country if 300 million around is why we need to eradicate white supremacy and inequality from all levels of society.
posted by The Whelk at 6:28 AM on December 26 [72 favorites]


What do the suburbs want? (Dylan Scott, Vox)
The suburbs abandoned Republicans in 2018, and they might not be coming back.

Suburban voters have a discrete set of economic concerns — which congressional Republicans by and large ignored. They fret about rising health care costs, either for themselves or for their aging parents, or both. They want good schools and for their children to be able to afford to go to college. They worry about the job prospects for their kids when they graduate. They are wary of extremism of any kind.

In an unfortunate paradox for Republicans, the economy mostly chugging along fine freed up these voters to devote more of their time to concerns about the president, who has an unparalleled ability to focus all attention on himself at all times.

Those voters are more comfortable and secure than people in poorer, more rural parts of the country — white working-class places where Trump might have won districts that went for Barack Obama before him. The suburbs don’t respond to Trump’s hardline rhetoric on immigrants and a border wall in the same way rural voters do.

“Threats of jobs going overseas, that sweet spot of Republican talking points with more downscale voters, doesn’t check the box for these suburban voters,” Molly Murphy, another Democratic pollster, said. “It just doesn’t resonate with what their needs and wants are.”
And where their needs and wants are - health care costs, income taxes - Republicans have often made things worse instead of better.
posted by ZeusHumms at 7:45 AM on December 26 [7 favorites]


And where their needs and wants are - health care costs, income taxes - Republicans have often made things worse instead of better.

Cutting the SALT deduction pissed off a lot of suburban districts where the people relied on that.
posted by NoxAeternum at 8:23 AM on December 26 [14 favorites]


Politico: The campaign to confirm a diplomatic novice to America’s top U.N. post—Less than two years ago, Heather Nauert was conducting interviews on ‘Fox & Friends.’ Now, she’s preparing to navigate the world’s raging geopolitical issues.
“If you consider what she’s seen in the last year-and-a-half, she’s probably got the equivalent of four or five MBAs in international relations,” [NY Jets owner, Trump donor, and diplomatic neophyte] Woody Johnson, the U.S. ambassador to the United Kingdom, said in an interview.[…]

To prepare, Nauert is expected to sit through a series of briefings on trade and global hot spots and could begin murder-board sessions shortly after the new year, which will be handled by the State Department and the White House Office of Legislative Affairs, according to two sources familiar with the process.
The same way Trump has replaced Sessions and Mattis with under-qualified internal candidates, so goes the US ambassador to the UN. And they’re all hoping to cram/bluff their way through the job.
posted by Doktor Zed at 8:42 AM on December 26 [26 favorites]


As a Californian - I can tell you that the nice, center-left suburbanites here in the Bay Area are PISSED at the loss of the SALT deduction. It made so much sense to itemize taxes before, not so much now. And most middle-class and up suburbanites have a 401K and/or IRA, and seeing those lose value also makes them angry.

Trump is finishing what Pete Wilson started here in California - the Republican party is on life support everywhere but the far inland regions. Here in the Bay Area, it's ready for the morgue even in the more conservative East Bay 'burbs. Just ask Catharine Baker, the Bay Area's lone remaining Republican assemblyperson, defeated by Democrat Rebecca Bauer-Kahan and the Blue Wave.

People here want to know that there will be good jobs for their kids, and a habitable planet for those kids and grandkids. They want a secure retirement. What they don't want is a wall, kiddie concentration camps, and All This Winning.
posted by Rosie M. Banks at 8:43 AM on December 26 [39 favorites]






Nikita Gill: If We Remain Civil and Obedient Now

Here's the Adam Serwer piece referenced in the poem: The Cruelty Is the Point
posted by homunculus at 9:22 AM on December 26 [19 favorites]


Again, I'm reminded of the tweet noting that the decisive R voter in 2016 may have been someone whose factory was closed and whose sister has a pill addiction, but the median R voter was a dentist with a boat.

One of the odder generational things about conservatism in both the US and UK: during the 80s it was pretty good at creating new conservatives out of younger beneficiaries of economic growth, especially through housing wealth, but in the 2010s it really isn't. It pulls in people scared of the Other and neonazis and trolls who like owning the libs, but there aren't many tangible personal benefits unless you're already near the top of the income ladder. A conservatism that doesn't create new conservatives ends up doubling-down on ones who are dying off.
posted by holgate at 10:01 AM on December 26 [22 favorites]


Josh Marshall is acting like this Fred Trump/podiatrist story is a big scoop. I don't get it.
posted by holborne at 10:23 AM on December 26 [7 favorites]


Exactly. 2016 called and wants its scoop back. Why would I care now, when I know beyond certainty that it will make utterly no difference whatsoever?
posted by Dashy at 10:27 AM on December 26 [11 favorites]


Fred Trump always calling in favors for his kids is the larger story. Not sure how big a deal it is now that he's passed on and his children are at retirement age.
posted by ZeusHumms at 10:29 AM on December 26 [2 favorites]


"Hey, everyone! I've found evidence that this obvious lie, told by a guy who lies all the time, is actually a lie!"
posted by Faint of Butt at 10:29 AM on December 26 [24 favorites]


Again, I'm reminded of the tweet noting that the decisive R voter in 2016 may have been someone whose factory was closed and whose sister has a pill addiction, but the median R voter was a dentist with a boat.

Lately a thought has been threatening to form in my head about how rightist resentment directed at the "elites" is directed at those elites they can see -- well off coastal libs drinking flat whites, liberal entertainers, even the median R dentist with the boat (who is now just about ready to vote reliably D, especially if she's a she), but it is not really directed at the elites they can't see, the Kochs, Mercers, and Kroenkes who live in a separate world from the rest of us, one walled off by mountains of money.
posted by notyou at 10:34 AM on December 26 [15 favorites]


The Path to the Presidency Could Be Harder for White Democrats in 2020 (Jamelle Bouie, Slate)
An assessment of what happened in 2016 shows that Trump’s continued race-baiting might make his opponents’ task harder.

In Identity Crisis: The 2016 Presidential Campaign and the Battle for the Meaning of America, political scientists John Sides, Lynn Vavreck, and Michael Tesler provide a short but useful summary of what happened: “In 2016, the presidential campaign focused on issues tied to racial, ethnic, and religious identities and attitudes. The two candidates took very different positions on those issues, and voters perceived those differences. People’s attitudes on these issues were then ‘activated’ as decision-making criteria and became even more strongly associated with white voters’ preference for Clinton or Trump.”
posted by ZeusHumms at 10:35 AM on December 26 [2 favorites]


Yearly reminder that Clinton won the popular vote by nearly 3 million. Trump's presidency is based on a racist mechanism called the electoral college, and it's probable manipulation by foreign adversaries using tools such as algorithms, disinformation and illegally sourced social media metadata.
Trump's campaign didn't masterfully win by getting more votes, it was lifted by interested parties.
posted by Harry Caul at 10:43 AM on December 26 [52 favorites]


From the Slate article: In 2008, Clinton won the large majority of white primary voters who attributed racial inequality to “lack of effort”; in 2016, she narrowly lost them—and that carried over to the general election.

So, ah... she lost some of the racist white voters, and that may have cost her the election. This is not news, no matter how much Slate tries to hedge around calling voters "racist."
posted by ErisLordFreedom at 10:46 AM on December 26 [7 favorites]


The Path to the Presidency Could Be Harder for White Democrats in 2020

This feels like when they started lamenting the dramatic mortality increase for white women, which while very bad, was still lower than the mortality rate for black women.

So the political difficulty setting moves from easy to medium.

It is however still at Hard for minorities who have always had to do this cross group appeal for other minorities and the white majority.
posted by srboisvert at 10:52 AM on December 26 [6 favorites]


oh no he finally broke a cynical cycle of post-9/11 pandering and military fetishism quelle horror

And he's not acting presidential!!!
posted by Melismata at 11:08 AM on December 26 [3 favorites]


I believe Trump just flew to the Middle East on VC-25A (Air Force One) using a disguise callsign of RCH358 and a disguise hex code which couldn't be traced back to any aircraft. Thanks to spotters in Europe, there is visual confirmation this is VC-25A 92-9000!
@aircraftspots on Twitter
posted by brentajones at 11:08 AM on December 26 [19 favorites]


Maybe he needs a bone saw for those bone spurs.
posted by M-x shell at 11:15 AM on December 26 [2 favorites]


Plane spotters: you have my tremendous respect. It's pretty amazing that they've caught the POTUS trying to sneak off.
posted by weed donkey at 11:17 AM on December 26 [14 favorites]


The same way Trump has replaced Sessions and Mattis with under-qualified internal candidates, so goes the US ambassador to the UN. And they’re all hoping to cram/bluff their way through the job.

On the bright side, at least he actually appointed a UN ambassador instead of unilaterally pulling the US out of the UN altogether.

Honestly, I continue to be amazed he hasn't done that yet, especially following his laugh-filled address there.
posted by Thorzdad at 11:23 AM on December 26 [5 favorites]


Via Twitter - Josh Dawsey Confirmed: POTUS in Iraq — his first visit to a war zone.
posted by jazon at 11:23 AM on December 26 [3 favorites]


Is the aircraft spotting thing legit or just conspiracy people on the internet looking for patterns? what level are we looking at on the [real] to [fake] scale, here?
posted by odinsdream at 11:31 AM on December 26


@BrianKarem For all of those who continue to ask about the president’s location. As per pool reports:
But I have gotten numerous requests about the president's whereabouts.

1) I have asked the WH press office. Have gotten no response.
2) No Marine outside the West Wing.
3) No one in upper press (lights off)
4) No one in lower press.
5) credible photo posted over England
6) credible posts from twitter guy who tracks military passenger planes.

So now you know all I do.

Take whatever actions on the reporting/writing front as you deem appropriate.
posted by scalefree at 11:34 AM on December 26 [6 favorites]


Since Trump is Iraq right now, gonna lean towards [real].
posted by sideshow at 11:34 AM on December 26 [5 favorites]


WaPo: Trump makes unannounced visit to Iraq a week after announcing a victory over the Islamic State
posted by box at 11:34 AM on December 26


That's confirmed then.

@PressSec President Trump and the First Lady traveled to Iraq late on Christmas night to visit with our troops and Senior Military leadership to thank them for their service, their success, and their sacrifice and to wish them a Merry Christmas.
posted by scalefree at 11:36 AM on December 26 [2 favorites]


To be fair they don't usually pre-announce visits of the POTUS to warzones for security purposes.
posted by PenDevil at 11:40 AM on December 26 [34 favorites]


So once again, news articles come out criticizing Trump (for not visiting the troops) and he turns around and makes a split second decision to do the thing he got criticized for not doing. That sounds extremely exploitable.
posted by Twain Device at 11:41 AM on December 26 [19 favorites]


Yeah, aren't the fake codes just part of the security measures? And spotters are a regular thing?

Trump (rolling eyes): ok, NOW what do I have to do?

Media: go visit the troops. Bush did it, so you have to too. You have to act presidential, and we have no imagination, and we have newspaper space to fill, regardless of how badly you're going to fuck it up and alienate people. Hop to it.
posted by Melismata at 11:44 AM on December 26 [4 favorites]


the "child died just before midnight, which we know because we were watching them so closely, so it's not actually a CBP Christmas murder" story isn't working so they had to send Trump on a field trip to try and grab the news cycle.

I'm disappointed that Beto isn't seizing this moment, since El Paso is in his district.
posted by rhizome at 11:58 AM on December 26 [4 favorites]


Just wait for this visit to come up again and again in his tweets and speeches:
"On my visit to the troops, which I have made more often than any other president, a marine came up to me, crying, and said 'Sir, thank you for your service' - not many people know that, but being in a war zone counts as service - and I said to him 'Bet you wish you had a wall like the one we have already built on the border to Mexico'!" [Fake, for now]

Whenever he is forced to do anything he cannot let go of it and has to bring it up time and time again; he needs to pay off the minor discomfort he had to endure over and over again. increasing his hardships with each retelling ("...was on the plane more than any Democrat president!" "Secret service tried to hold me back, saying it was too dangerous, no other president would ever do that, but I insisted, told them I'd fire them if they wouldn't get me there immediately!").

Oh, and I bet this whole trip was damage limitation in so many ways:
a) it got him out of the "lonely" White House where he had nothing to do but stew and tweet
b) it gives the Republicans something positive to crow about whenever the shutdown is brought up
c) it distracts from the current problems by giving the opportunity to deflect into you're-not-patriotic-why-are-you-not-supporting-the-troops territory
d) it takes the spotlight off the troops camped out at the Mexican border which won't be home for Christmas.
posted by PontifexPrimus at 11:58 AM on December 26 [28 favorites]


e) And possibly provide cover for a quick trip to Mar-A-Lago for NYE
posted by tvgraphicsguy at 12:04 PM on December 26 [15 favorites]


Donald Trump's Tweets Are Destabilizing the Economy and Hurting Stock Markets, Former Economic Officials Tell White House: Report

The trip, together with the faked leak of "why is the plane going towards the middle east" to capture attention, is a great excuse to clamp down on tweets for "security" reasons.
posted by infini at 12:14 PM on December 26 [5 favorites]


e) And possibly provide cover for a quick trip to Mar-A-Lago for NYE

This is the real reason. They sold NYE tickets for 200k again, he has to be there to put in the face time his foreign donors paid for.
posted by T.D. Strange at 12:20 PM on December 26 [30 favorites]


His advisors have been trying to clamp down on his tweets since about halfway through the campaign season; I can't imagine they'll have any better luck now.

Any report that tells him he's causing problems is dismissed as "fake news."
posted by ErisLordFreedom at 12:21 PM on December 26 [2 favorites]


ABC: ".@MarthaRaddatz on surprise visit to U.S. troops in Iraq by Pres. Trump and first lady Melania Trump: "I cannot remember, really, a first lady going into a conflict zone." http://abcn.ws/2CAZ8MU "

CBS's Ed O'Keefe: "Barbara Bush went to Iraq. Hillary Clinton visited northern Bosnia when U.S. troops were stationed there. Laura Bush visited Afghanistan three times."
posted by Doktor Zed at 12:35 PM on December 26 [51 favorites]


Eleanor Roosevelt visited England in 1942 and Guadalcanal in 1943.
During the course of her [Pacific] trip she had visited 17 islands and it was estimated that she saw over 400,000 soldiers. In the end Admiral Halsey said, “she had accomplished more good than any other person or any group of civilians that had passed through my area.”
posted by adamg at 12:43 PM on December 26 [41 favorites]


I'm not a fan of Melania, but I imagine she is a good bit braver than her husband.
posted by mumimor at 12:46 PM on December 26 [9 favorites]


I'm disappointed that Beto isn't seizing this moment, since El Paso is in his district.

@BetoORourke:Many thanks to volunteers & donors who ensure that we take care of families being released by ICE in El Paso. 200 to be released today. Over 500 tomorrow. Please make a donation that will go to food and beds here: https://annunciationhouse.org/financial-donations/ …

Am at one of the shelters with families helping distribute food now — they are grateful. Kids who arrived sick getting medical care, families able to have a Christmas meal together. Thanks everyone for helping out!
posted by zabuni at 12:59 PM on December 26 [53 favorites]




Dow soars more than 1,050 points, its biggest point gain in history, recovering from days of losses

On the day that Trump left the country. Coincidence?
posted by JackFlash at 1:20 PM on December 26 [10 favorites]


My father in law and his wife worked all their lives for a secure retirement. 2008 hit them hard, turning a comfortable retirement into something at least still stable and secure. They wound up selling their dream home a couple years ago more for lifestyle concerns than money, but I'm sure that played a part. Yesterday he told us the last couple weeks of stock market craziness may well have cut ten years off their retirement plans. He admitted it's scary.

I'm watching this rally with some relief for him and all the other people out there whose retirement plans and not-rich-but-at-least-stable investments hinge on this stuff. But I'm also seeing all the pictures of happy traders and feeling like nobody's gonna learn anything from this.
posted by scaryblackdeath at 1:22 PM on December 26 [25 favorites]


He's going to take credit for "the biggest gain in the stock market in history," rather than the cataclysmic drop that brought it on.
posted by ErisLordFreedom at 1:47 PM on December 26 [16 favorites]


To quote my hedge fund coworkers in the excitement of 2008: "Meow."
posted by ocschwar at 1:49 PM on December 26 [19 favorites]


pointless stunt at the border
he said mccain wasn't a hero for getting captured.
bone spurs
trans ban
wwi memorial rain
erroneously links protest against racial police violence to disrespect for the troops
ego parade
he made a gold star widow cry
he commands military officials without understanding their roles
his foreign policy endangers all Americans, but most of all those sworn to protect it, for self-serving political ends.
his party continues to screw the va

So that's ten from the top of my dome. There are more. So much more. I expect no-one who isn't a true believer in the military or outside it, will forget that he has demonstrated repeatedly that he does not respect them. One trip to Baghdad won't change that. Did he throw paper towels again?
posted by adept256 at 1:55 PM on December 26 [12 favorites]


pointless stunt at the border

There should be sub-bullet for this one. When asked about the troops missing Thanksgiving because of the border thing, he declared “Don’t worry about Thanksgiving, these are tough people. They know what they’re doing and they’re great. And they’ve done a great job. You’re so worried about the Thanksgiving holiday for them. They are so proud to be representing our country on the border.”
posted by Thorzdad at 2:23 PM on December 26




My father in law and his wife worked all their lives for a secure retirement. 2008 hit them hard, turning a comfortable retirement into something at least still stable and secure

And this is why trading garunteed income from pensions for 401ks ties to the stock market was always a terrible deal for working people and only benefited the rich and Wall St money managers.

The scope of liberal policy cannot be limited to what makes the market go up, all people deserve to have a stable retirement plan that can’t be wiped away in one bad trading day.
posted by T.D. Strange at 2:39 PM on December 26 [76 favorites]


Biden stuck with the “entitled millennial” characterization while speaking on Wednesday, calling on young people to get involved in politics rather than complain.

Well, that's the end of that possible presidential run.
posted by ErisLordFreedom at 2:43 PM on December 26 [66 favorites]


“There's an old expression my philosophy professor would always use from Plato,” said Biden. “‘The penalty people face for not being involved in politics is being governed by people worse than themselves.’ It's wide open. Go out and change it.”

It really sounds like he's taunting us to primary old white guys. That's what he means, right?
posted by contraption at 2:46 PM on December 26 [62 favorites]


I understand the sentiment, but I've heard it phrased differently; a ballot is like a menu in a restaurant, if you don't choose something, something will be chosen for you and you have to eat it. I think he's making a point about participation.
posted by adept256 at 2:52 PM on December 26 [6 favorites]


Sounds like Uncle Joe was commiserating with Mike Capuano, who lost his MA-07 seat to Ayanna Pressley. An analysis shows that he actually had a decent turnout in the primary, but that she rode a tidal wave of, ta da, millennial voters, many of whom turned out because of two+ years of organizing, largely by millennials, in communities such as Cambridge and Capuano's own Somerville, where he barely won.
posted by adamg at 2:55 PM on December 26 [12 favorites]


The Dow is still very far down - all the gains since October 2017 have been erased. And as far as I can tell from general economic indicators, this really shouldn't be happening [yet] except for Trump tariffs and uncertainty. My feeling based on no real expertise but very regular reading of general financial press stuff is that the market is...I dunno, overheated in a really serious way? The way it's gone up since the recession looks bananas to me. So inevitably there's going to be another crash, but it probably doesn't need to happen now, and the best thing to do is to sit tight if humanly possible if you've got a 401K.

But take a look online at the Dow's performance over the past thirty years - it ticks along until the Reagan eighties really get going, then it starts to go up, and when the neoliberal nineties hit, it takes off like a rocket. I personally think the Dow's performance since about 1984 is almost entirely grift and politics, and to the extent that the stock market was ever a rational way for businesses to raise money and people to essentially lend money to businesses for a reasonable return, it has totally abandoned anything like that.

As I understand it, prior to the mid-eighties, the point of most stocks was that they paid a dividend. If you had a lot of stocks, you didn't generally flip them around every two minutes, you just lived off the dividends (nice work if you can get it) and while it was exploitative it was straightforward - you invest in, say, a mining company, and they mine, and assuming that they don't crash the business, they pay your dividends quarterly based on their profits. The profits may come from exploiting workers and stealing from indigenous people, but they're fairly clearly connected to the actual stuff that gets mined.

Now, of course, it's all confidence games and tweets, and so it's both a lot more inflated, since not really pinned to clear sources of value, and a lot more precarious.
posted by Frowner at 2:55 PM on December 26 [31 favorites]


Encouraging participating is fine; telling Millennials that they don't have it so hard and times were tough in the 60s as well, is just clueless.

In the 60s, a part-time minimum-wage job could put a person through college.
posted by ErisLordFreedom at 2:55 PM on December 26 [93 favorites]


All the while making his point that millennials don't have it as hard as the boomers. I'm pretty comfortable saying fuck Biden at this point TBH.
posted by Homo neanderthalensis at 2:55 PM on December 26 [24 favorites]


All the while making his point that millennials don't have it as hard as the boomers. I'm pretty comfortable saying fuck Biden at this point TBH.

Well, let's hope he continues to shoot himself in the foot. I'm not wild about any of the names being mooted right now, but I'm a lot closer to wild about someone who is not a retirement-age white centrist man. For any one of those descriptors, there's at least one candidate I like better.

Also, TBH if I were a rich person of retirement age, you know what I'd do? I'd fucking retire.
posted by Frowner at 2:59 PM on December 26 [52 favorites]


Government shutdown, day 4: Pelosi blames Trump for using 'scare tactics' over border wall
Pelosi mocked the shifting message from the White House about whether Trump wanted a "wall," a fence or some other structure.

"First of all, the fact ... that he says, ‘We're going to build a wall with cement, and Mexico's going to pay for it’ while he's already backed off of the cement – now he's down to, I think, a beaded curtain or something, I'm not sure where he is," Pelosi said.
posted by zachlipton at 3:01 PM on December 26 [42 favorites]


Biden owes his entire later career and current position as a presidential contender to the millennial vote which he rode Obama's coattails to victory upon. Because his own record of doing nothing for anyone except credit card companies would never have gotten him here. And he owes the millennial writers of the internet for creating the Biden-as-meme that covered up his actual horrible record and rewrote his image into a friendly one to the Obama coalition.

So say fucking thank you, Joe. We fucking made you. You're nothing without us.
posted by T.D. Strange at 3:04 PM on December 26 [63 favorites]


now he's down to, I think, a beaded curtain or something,...

Times like this, I really love Pelosi.
posted by Mental Wimp at 3:09 PM on December 26 [29 favorites]


One of Biden's signature legislative achievements was majorly fucking over Millennials by ensuring student loans could not be dischargeable in bankruptcy, giving student loan companies zero incentive to ever work with borrowers. It's not particularly surprising that he's unsympathetic to all the financial hardship he personally helped cause.
posted by the turtle's teeth at 3:12 PM on December 26 [88 favorites]


Also, Biden’s behavior re: Anita Hill.
posted by The Whelk at 3:14 PM on December 26 [43 favorites]


I feel a little queasy just going for somebody's sense of manhood, but Pelosi's touch where she turns Trump's metaphorical dick into the frillery frippery of "beaded curtain" is just wonderful.
posted by angrycat at 3:17 PM on December 26 [48 favorites]


It's not like there's anything inherently un-masculine, or even gendered at all, about a beaded curtain. I associate them with hippies and potheads of all genders. But if it hits Trump where it hurts, I'm all for it.
posted by Faint of Butt at 3:25 PM on December 26 [17 favorites]


I can't play Mario Kart without thinking about it, now he's ruined beaded curtains.
posted by adept256 at 3:26 PM on December 26 [2 favorites]


Just when you thought Trump wasn't in Iraq long enough to fuck something up...

Donald Trump Twitter Account Video Reveals Covert U.S. Navy SEAL Deployment During Iraq Visit
posted by Xyanthilous P. Harrierstick at 3:38 PM on December 26 [37 favorites]


[Couple things deleted. I'm gonna agree that going to town on the Millennials V Boomers thing for the nth time is tired and doesn't need to happen. If you're angry at Joe Biden for saying something dumb, that is 100% okay but maybe let's leave it at "Joe Biden said something dumb" instead of going down a fucking vortex about it.]
posted by cortex (staff) at 3:49 PM on December 26 [35 favorites]


It's not like there's anything inherently un-masculine, or even gendered at all, about a beaded curtain.

Trump’s model of masculinity prefers curtains made out of iron.
posted by Behemoth at 4:01 PM on December 26 [7 favorites]


Metafilter: going down a fucking vortex about it.
posted by Don.Kinsayder at 4:22 PM on December 26 [22 favorites]


cortex vortex
posted by Faint of Butt at 4:26 PM on December 26 [71 favorites]


I mean, if you’re going to break protocol and maybe endanger troops, I guess Lee Greenwood is the right soundtrack.
posted by uncleozzy at 4:37 PM on December 26 [9 favorites]


I'm disappointed that Beto isn't seizing this moment, since El Paso is in his district.

As Zabuni noted, Beto is heavily involved in taking care of hundreds of asylum seekers suddenly dumped in El Paso by ICE, perhaps due to the shutdown. The only thing he isn't doing is milking either situation for publicity; he's just getting the job done. I count that as a plus.
posted by msalt at 5:01 PM on December 26 [68 favorites]


Donald Trump Twitter Account Video Reveals Covert U.S. Navy SEAL Deployment During Iraq Visit

Remember the toilet paper on his shoe? Remember everyone saying, "Wow, Trump is such an ass that nobody around him said anything to save him from embarrassment"?
This is the Really Real version of that.

I don't expect the president to know every little operational security protocol. I do expect the people around him to know shit like this and to speak up. Either nobody did, for whatever reason, or someone did and he didn't care. That sort of environment is generated by the person in charge.
posted by scaryblackdeath at 5:29 PM on December 26 [35 favorites]


Seems to be largely unsubstantiated but SHS might be leaving?

My money is on Mulvaney taking that spot
posted by Twain Device at 5:52 PM on December 26 [9 favorites]


FYI (and thanks to lalex in Slack for pointing it out), that Biden thing is almost a year old.
posted by ragtag at 5:54 PM on December 26 [9 favorites]


One worry, according to sources, is that Ms Sanders’ and Mr Shah’s departures could mean even more consolidation and vacancies in an already-bare bones senior staff.

"Nobody wants to come in," a source close to the administration told CBS News. "So they've gone through two rounds and now they're at third tier of people who are just lucking out -- battlefield promotion ends up promoting people who aren't qualified for the position”


I'm unsure whether someone worse than SHS would be a plus or a minus in that position.
posted by ChurchHatesTucker at 6:33 PM on December 26 [13 favorites]




Yeah, it's a lot like that time Nixon hired a bunch of Russians to break into the White House and replace the president with a puppet.
posted by uosuaq at 7:02 PM on December 26 [27 favorites]


My feeling based on no real expertise but very regular reading of general financial press stuff is that the market is...I dunno, overheated in a really serious way?

A year of stock buybacks to take advantage of the new tax law?
posted by holgate at 7:22 PM on December 26 [2 favorites]


I'm unsure whether someone worse than SHS would be a plus or a minus in that position.

Two ways the person could be worse:

1. Be even more wooden in sticking to the script no matter how preposterous.
2. Actually engage the reporters and defend what's in the script.

Either way, worse is better. Invest in Orville Redenbaccher.
posted by ocschwar at 7:22 PM on December 26 [5 favorites]


I thought I caught a hint from an MSNBC report that Trump's sudden visit to Iraq where he may have compromised a Navy SEAL operation team would be beneficial information to Russia. It wouldn't surprise me at all.
posted by perhapses at 7:25 PM on December 26 [6 favorites]


Vox on the current state of play in NC-09. Lotta fraud here.
posted by Chrysostom at 7:49 PM on December 26 [16 favorites]


WSJ: Whitaker falsely claimed to have been named an Academic All-American while in college.
posted by Chrysostom at 8:02 PM on December 26 [24 favorites]


> Doctor Zed: The same way Trump has replaced Sessions and Mattis with under-qualified internal candidates, so goes the US ambassador to the UN. And they’re all hoping to cram/bluff their way through the job.

If a candidate proves more qualified in their position than Trump thinks they are, he eventually feels inferior and dumps them. If they're less qualified than he thinks, he feels superior only as long as they stay "loyal".

If they have little or no relevant experience, no realistic idea of what they're supposed to do, and — like everyone else — absolutely no idea what Trump might say or do about a particular matter, they have to keep coming back to him for questions and answers. They're apprentices for life until they screw up or get fed up.
posted by cenoxo at 8:39 PM on December 26 [8 favorites]


Scenes from Trump in Iraq:

Trump flag (she dropped it after she saw me taking a photo)

#maga hat contingent at Ramstein waiting for President Trump

These soldiers would’ve (and should’ve) been court martialed for displaying this overt level of support for Obama.

The military is being willingly subverted in front of our eyes.
posted by T.D. Strange at 9:05 PM on December 26 [58 favorites]


Also, TBH if I were a rich person of retirement age, you know what I'd do? I'd fucking retire.

Although I don't want Biden to run and I think his recent comments have been stupid, it's worth remembering he isn't rich, not by American standards at any rate. I mean, he'll have his Congressional and Vice-Presidential pensions, so he'll never be poor (unless they're revoked, and don't think the Republicans wouldn't love to do that to him if they could), but he sure isn't rich. When Beau Biden was dying of cancer, he and Jill came very close to selling their house to pay Beau's medical bills (so close that Barack Obama insisted on helping the Bidens with money if it came to that or the house - it didn't, but by all accounts it was close).
posted by mightygodking at 9:15 PM on December 26 [6 favorites]


That’s much more damning of Biden’s character and career doing the bidding of big banks for 50 years.

He didn’t even get much out of it.
posted by T.D. Strange at 9:18 PM on December 26 [6 favorites]


Trump today lied in the faces of the troops in Iraq. He told them they haven't gotten a raise in 10 years but he has given them the biggest raise in history, 10%. That is a flat out lie. The raise is 2.6%. And they have gotten similar raises every year since 2008. And the biggest annual raise in recent history was 3.4% in 2010 under Obama and the Democrats.

Why the military is so beholden to the Republican Party is a mystery. Republicans lie to them and treat them like shit.
posted by JackFlash at 9:24 PM on December 26 [90 favorites]


.
posted by xammerboy at 9:24 PM on December 26


May I suggest, as a counterpoint the What A Hell Of A Way To Die podcast for leftist veterans talking about vet and military issues
posted by The Whelk at 9:31 PM on December 26 [15 favorites]


The military is being willingly subverted in front of our eyes.

They're just auditioning for the Waffen-GOP. ←interesting line from that Wikipedia article:
In U.S. alone, by the end of the 1990s there were 20 Waffen-SS reenactment groups, out of approximately 40 groups dedicated to German World War II units. In contrast, there were 21 groups dedicated to the American units of the same timeframe.[52]
posted by XMLicious at 9:56 PM on December 26 [4 favorites]


Why the military is so beholden to the Republican Party is a mystery.

It just might have something to do with US federal expenditure toward that particular body, compared to correlative expenditure toward, say, literacy.
posted by aspersioncast at 10:01 PM on December 26 [7 favorites]


Although I don't want Biden to run and I think his recent comments have been stupid, it's worth remembering he isn't rich, not by American standards at any rate.

According to this article Biden stands to take in a quarter million a year in passive income until the day he dies, just from his federal pension alone. Maybe that's not guillotine rich, but it's certainly "don't need to work anymore" rich.
posted by contraption at 10:22 PM on December 26 [25 favorites]


"ABC: ".@MarthaRaddatz on surprise visit to U.S. troops in Iraq by Pres. Trump and first lady Melania Trump: "I cannot remember, really, a first lady going into a conflict zone." http://abcn.ws/2CAZ8MU "

CBS's Ed O'Keefe: "Barbara Bush went to Iraq. Hillary Clinton visited northern Bosnia when U.S. troops were stationed there. Laura Bush visited Afghanistan three times.""


My immediate response was, "You ignoramus, Martha Washington left the comfort of Mount Vernon to winter in Valley Forge with the Continental Army. And Cambridge, and Philadelphia, and Morristown and everywhere else Washington wintered with the army, every year, for six fucking months of the year, and she WORKED while she wintered with the army, knitting socks for soldiers and mending shirts.

Dolley Madison waited until the last possible moment to flee the White House when the Canadians invaded, and rescued the art. Mary Todd Lincoln visited encampments and battlefields with Abe all the time, although to be fair the battlefields were nearly on her doorstep. Lucy Hayes worked as a nurse on the battlefields of Virginia where her husband was a general (of course she wasn't First Lady yet then). Pat Nixon went to Vietnam and overflew active battlefields in a helicopter to visit the troops. Plus all the recent First Ladies who of COURSE went to conflict zones.

But sure, Melania's the first First Lady in a conflict zone and for some reason Martha Raddatz gets to be on network TV being ignorant for money. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

"And spotters are a regular thing?"

Yes and it's fun! You can get apps; since radio transmissions with air traffic control and traffic information are public (more or less), you can follow planes and identify them. I did it with my kids during their plane-crazy years -- it was fun to check the app and see what was flying over -- but serious plane-spotters who are super-into aviation are really really good at it.

Spotting Air Force One is a big "get" for people who keep life lists of spotted planes, so there's always interest in its movements. Its call sign is (often? sometimes? always?) faked and its flight plan is not public for security reasons, but you can see where it is by seeing where other planes AREN'T -- Temporary Flight Restrictions are public information and a good hint that a VIP's plane may be flying into your airport. So the exchange on twitter was just normal plane-spotting nerds sussing out a VIP plane by seeing what did and didn't match up.

I don't know a lot about it but that's the bits I picked up when my kids were very into plane-spotting. :)
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 10:59 PM on December 26 [91 favorites]


He didn’t even get much out of it.

That's a slightly shitty midnset. Say what you like about Biden -- and yes, as a Delaware senator he has done a lot for his dirty tax haven state -- he has been on a public salary his entire working life, and has not really grifted the way that some (naming no Santorums or Kyls) have grifted. It doesn't do Democrats any good to say that the benefits from 40+ years of public service are too lavish, so stop that shit.
posted by holgate at 11:05 PM on December 26 [64 favorites]


don't know a lot about it but that's the bits I picked up when my kids were very into plane-spotting. :)

Seeing AF1 being AF1 (i.e. with the president on board, even if he's a dipshit) is a big fucking deal. I mean, I waited outside when I got notice of a Concorde taking a flight path above my childhood home, because sonic boom and holy fuck, and there were more than two Concordes.
posted by holgate at 11:08 PM on December 26 [7 favorites]


It does seem rather material as context to both the pro-Biden and anti-Biden points that in all likelihood he's a multi-millionaire, even if we should simply expect that even our moderately-compensated rulers will become multi-millionaires and that isn't rich by American standards. Here are a couple of his tax filings on what appear to be the official archive of the Obama White House web site (although oops, one of the PDFs is still visible on the current site): 2014 and 2015. It doesn't appear that they even had to sell their rental property much less the house as the rental income (source described as “cottage”) stayed approximately the same across both years.
posted by XMLicious at 12:33 AM on December 27


(AJ) Iraqi leaders denounce Trump visit to US troops

"Trump's visit is a flagrant and clear violation of diplomatic norms and shows his disdain and hostility in his dealings with the Iraqi government," said a statement from Bina.
posted by stonepharisee at 1:47 AM on December 27 [9 favorites]


Vox on the current state of play in NC-09. Lotta fraud here.

This article is shockingly underplaying the seriousness of what we already know to have happened.

It says "There were already legitimate concerns those ballots were mishandled, given the testimony of ballots that were collected unfinished or unsealed." Nowhere does it state that under NC law, taking anyone else's absentee ballot is straight-up illegal unless you're a family member. It doesn't matter whether the ballot is sealed and signed and fully filled out - it's still a crime. You can't list sworn allegations of ballot collection under "what we know" and then question whether ballots were mishandled.
posted by showbiz_liz at 2:08 AM on December 27 [30 favorites]


It's good to see progressive Dems try to keep Pelosi from continuing to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory with awful third way legislative priorities that most harm the poorest among us: The Left Is Taking Aim at Pelosi’s Deficit Obsession
Bivens highlights a remarkable stat: “If this public spending following the Great Recession had followed the average path of the recoveries of the 1980s, 1990s, and early 2000s, a full recovery with unemployment around 4 percent would have been achieved by 2013.”
Of course, this depends on centrist Democrats finally realizing the vast majority of voters who might vote for a Democrat don't care about deficits.
posted by Ouverture at 2:41 AM on December 27 [11 favorites]


These soldiers would’ve (and should’ve) been court martialed for displaying this overt level of support for Obama.

Hi. I was deployed to Iraq in 2009. Let me just say, from personal experience, that your hypothetical is incorrect.

Also, those mostly seemed to be airmen rather than soldiers, which makes sense given that Ramstein is an Air (Force) Base.
posted by Etrigan at 2:45 AM on December 27 [33 favorites]


Etrigan, like, with Obama HOPE signs or what?
posted by porpoise at 4:02 AM on December 27 [1 favorite]


Exactly those, yes. I’m remembering an Obama/Biden sign as well, but I may be misremembering — I’m definitely not misremembering the signed HOPE poster and photo that one soldier displayed behind their desk.
posted by Etrigan at 4:17 AM on December 27 [9 favorites]


AP Exclusive: Migrant teen tent city staying open into 2019

"The Trump administration said Wednesday it will keep open through early 2019 a tent city in Texas that now holds more than 2,000 migrant teenagers, and also will increase the number of beds at another temporary detention center for children in Florida [from 1,350 to 2,350].[…]

"Confidential government data obtained and cross-checked by AP has shown that as the year draws to a close, about 9,800 detained migrant children are in facilities holding 100-plus total kids, including Tornillo [TX] and Homestead [FL]."
posted by Doktor Zed at 4:56 AM on December 27 [14 favorites]


Not to excuse Trump's fuck-up in any way, but...wouldn't/shouldn't there have been someone there from the military (i.e. somebody higher up the ladder than the troops he was photographed with) to say "hey, please don't take any photos of this group for security reasons"?
posted by The Card Cheat at 6:11 AM on December 27 [7 favorites]


For $3 a day, Yesica works the graveyard shift in the kitchens of the for-profit immigration prison where she is locked up.

Each morning, at 1 a.m., the guards of the Joe Corley Detention Facility in southeast Texas rouse Yesica and the 35 other women who share a dormitory-style room. Work begins an hour later and lasts through sunrise, ending at 8 a.m. Yesica does everything from cooking breakfast, to serving her fellow detainees, to cleaning up.

Even at $3, toiling in the kitchen pays better than sweeping prison corridors, which pays the Immigration and Customs Enforcement-stipulated minimum of $1 a day. The work, officially speaking, isn’t mandatory. But “since there’s absolutely nothing to do” inside, Yesica said, detainees work to keep at bay the stress of not knowing when they’ll be released—or if they’ll be deported.

Yesica, 23, fled her native El Salvador after MS-13 persecuted her for being a lesbian. The brutal gang, which the Trump administration uses to demonize immigrants like her, murdered her father, and she came to the United States to seek the safety of rejoining family here. She has instead spent the last two years locked inside ICE’s prisons.

“This is a really terrible place,” Yesica told The Daily Beast through a translator from the Corley center. “It’s inhumane. It’s like a torture chamber.”

These are dangerous times for undocumented immigrants. ICE has been super-charged by the Trump administration. And ICE’s empowerment has been lucrative for the companies that both cage and employ immigrants like Yesica.

A Daily Beast investigation found that in 2018 alone, for-profit immigration detention was a nearly $1 billion industry underwritten by taxpayers and beset by problems that include suicide, minimal oversight, and what immigration advocates say uncomfortably resembles slave labor.

... Expanding the number of immigrants rounded up into jails isn’t just policy; it’s big business. Yesica’s employer and jailer, the private prisons giant GEO Group, expects its earnings to grow to $2.3 billion this year. Like other private prison companies, it made large donations to President Trump’s campaign and inaugural.

posted by Bella Donna at 6:15 AM on December 27 [63 favorites]


Biden didn’t do much for Delaware the state, he did a lot for banks and insurance companies. Delaware has a lot of people in it who were hurt by his actions.
posted by Rock 'em Sock 'em at 6:29 AM on December 27 [2 favorites]


Hi. I was deployed to Iraq in 2009. Let me just say, from personal experience, that your hypothetical is incorrect.

I entirely believe you, but it is also the case that in 2009, Obama and Biden weren't running for anything; they'd already won 2008 and as was the norm, had made no announcement of their candidacy for 2012 until the spring of 2011.

Trump on the other hand not only announced his 2020 candidacy within days of winning* 2016, his administration is also issuing guidance that any talk among government employees of "resistance" or impeachment might be considered a violation of the Hatch Act because of that candidacy. Within that context it would probably be more appropriate to consider as a parallel whether the airmen were waving those signs in mid-2011.

*I don't have anything particular to add here, this is just the asterisk that will always appear in the history books next to Trump's name in any presidential election win records.
posted by solotoro at 6:30 AM on December 27 [13 favorites]


Honestly, it seems like a lot of effort goes into wringing norm-breaking doom and gloom out of everything Trump does. He’s bad enough with a reality-based analysis, every five minutes doesn’t require a novel gasp of horror.
posted by Rock 'em Sock 'em at 6:39 AM on December 27 [38 favorites]


A few things to keep in mind after listening to public radio this morning.

1) This trip couldn't have been planned before Trump shutdown the government and cancelled his planned vacation to his vacation property that we pay to secure during his visits.

2) This trip is 100% in line with Trump's narcissistic need for approval, and consequently how "campaigning" is really the only skill he has.

3) Someone needed to distract the angry toddler with a field trip. This was an ad-hoc "Campaign Rally"

4) They're STILL using euphemisms for "lie". This is the most frustrating thing.
posted by mikelieman at 6:49 AM on December 27 [30 favorites]


The Card Cheat: "Not to excuse Trump's fuck-up in any way, but...wouldn't/shouldn't there have been someone there from the military (i.e. somebody higher up the ladder than the troops he was photographed with) to say "hey, please don't take any photos of this group for security reasons"?"

Maybe there was and the Cheeto ignored him/brushed him off.
posted by Mitheral at 6:50 AM on December 27 [4 favorites]


infini: Donald Trump's Tweets Are Destabilizing the Economy and Hurting Stock Markets, Former Economic Officials Tell White House: Report

Huh, I thought his tweets were a good thing? There was such a focus on his tweeting in his early days as president-elect that This App Wants to Help You Trade Stocks Based on Trump Tweets (Jeremy Quittner for Fortune, January 5, 2017)
Professional traders and hedge fund managers apparently have algorithms and models to account for market turbulence from President-elect Donald Trump’s tweets. Now you can too.

An app called Trigger has just launched something it calls “Trump Trigger,” which sends users an alert every time Trump tweets about a publicly traded company.

If it sounds like a joke, it isn’t. Trump has taken to the social media platform numerous times since the November election to castigate, and occasionally praise, various companies, often to market-moving effect.

In December, for example, Trump took aim at Boeing for what he claimed was a $4 billion price tag on the new Air Force One, the presidential plane. Although Boeing has disputed that number, in a tweet, Trump said he planned to cancel the order. That sent Boeing shares down temporarily about 1% before the company’s stock price regained ground.
Emphasis mine, because despite a lot of focus on Trump's early impacts on the stocks, it seemed like his criticism and praise impacted stocks for a moment, before they returned to their prior status.

Then after a few months of Trump's inane tweets, it seemed that fewer people were trading in reaction to his tweets, so his impact decreased.

Now we're back to Trump's impacts ... but being negative, like the rest of his work as President.
posted by filthy light thief at 6:56 AM on December 27 [2 favorites]


5) Trump's trip was a classic gambit to change the subject.
posted by ZeusHumms at 6:58 AM on December 27 [7 favorites]


Missouri's GOP governor is trying to block voter-approved limits on lobbyists, gerrymandering (Matthew Rozsa, Salon)
Gov. Mike Parson, who took over in June after his predecessor resigned in disgrace, says he is thinking of repealing and replacing Constitutional Amendment 1, which the voters in his state overwhelmingly supported in last month's election. Gov. Parson told the Associated Press that he is also thinking about making it more difficult for initiative petitions to appear on the ballot, presumably due to his dissatisfaction with the success of Constitutional Amendment 1.

"Fundamentally, you think when the people vote you shouldn’t be changing that vote. But the reality of it is that is somewhat what your job is sometimes, if you know something’s unconstitutional, if you know some of it’s not right," Parson told the AP.

Constitutional Amendment 1 is, to say the least, very difficult to accurately describe as "unconstitutional." It requires lawmakers to abide by the state open-records law, restricts how much lobbyists can give to lawmakers as gifts and creates a new position of "nonpartisan state demographer" to redraw state House and Senate maps in a more fair way. This last initiative would quite likely cut into the Republicans' supermajorities in the state House and Senate.
posted by ZeusHumms at 7:03 AM on December 27 [37 favorites]


LinkedIn cofounder apologizes for funding election disinformation campaign in Alabama (Nicole Karlis, Salon)
Following a report in the New York Times, Hoffman broke his silence


National races aren’t the only ones that are vulnerable to disinformation campaigns, but state races are too, bringing in the unlikeliest of enablers. On Wednesday, Internet billionaire Reid Hoffman, who co-founded professional networking site LinkedIn, issued an apology following reports describing his involvement in a disinformation campaign for the 2017 Alabama special election for U.S. Senate between Democrat Doug Jones and Republican Roy Moore.

The New York Times [previously, previously] first covered the pseudo-scandal, which claimed a group of Democratic tech experts allegedly tried to mimic deceptive Russian tactics and apply them to the Alabama special election. According to the New York Times, an internal report the publication obtained explained that the project “experimented with many of the tactics now understood to have influenced the 2016 elections.” Specifically, the operators created a fake Facebook page in which they pretended to be conservative Alabamians to divide Republicans and draw votes from Moore.

The report stated funding for the project came from Hoffman. However, in a statement titled, “Truth and Politics,” published on Medium, Hoffman denies being aware of the project or knowingly endorsing it.
posted by ZeusHumms at 7:22 AM on December 27 [2 favorites]


Get Ready for a Privacy Law Showdown in 2019 (Issie Lapowsky for Wired, Dec. 27, 2018)
Companies like Amazon, Apple, Facebook and Google are pushing hard for federal digital privacy legislation in 2019, and not quite out of the goodness of their hearts. This summer, California's state legislature passed a groundbreaking bill that would give residents unprecedented control over their data. The law, which has been widely criticized by pro-business groups like the Chamber of Commerce and the Internet Association, is set to go into effect on January 1, 2020.

So tech giants are racing the clock to supersede California’s law with a more industry-friendly federal bill. Given the bipartisan backlash to Big Tech in 2018, it seems possible that a deal on regulation could be reached, even in a divided Congress. “You have a bipartisan sense that some type of privacy legislation needs to happen, and at the same time, you have industry pushing for it,” says Neema Singh Guliani, senior legislative counsel at the American Civil Liberties Union. “We’re certainly in a moment that’s been different from moments in the past.”
Refresher on California's privacy law: California passes strictest online privacy law in the country (Heather Kelly for CNN Money, June 29, 2018)
Gov. Jerry Brown signed the California Consumer Privacy Act of 2018 on Thursday, hours after its unanimous approval by the State Assembly and Senate.

The law, which takes effect in 2020, gives consumers sweeping control over their personal data. It grants them the right to know what information companies like Facebook and Google are collecting, why they are collecting it, and who they are sharing it with. Consumers will have the option of barring tech companies from selling their data, and children under 16 must opt into allowing them to even collect their information at all.

Assembly member Ed Chau and state Sen. Robert Hertzberg introduced the legislation on June 21. It drew the support of some privacy advocates including Common Sense Media.

"The state that pioneered the tech revolution is now, rightly, a pioneer in consumer privacy safeguards, and we expect many additional states to follow suit," James P. Steyer, CEO and founder of Common Sense Media, said in a statement. "Today was a huge win and gives consumer privacy advocates a blueprint for success. We look forward to working together with lawmakers across the nation to ensure robust data privacy protections for all Americans."

Although most privacy advocates support the law, some expressed lingering concerns because it includes a few loopholes. Technology companies can, for example, "share" people's data even if a consumer bars them from selling it. And the law allows companies to charge higher prices to consumers who opt out of having their data sold.

"For the first time California is explicitly allowing 'pay for privacy' deals that are in direct contradiction to our privacy rights," Emily Rusch, executive director of the nonprofit California Public Interest Research Group, said in a statement.

While not as strict as the General Data Protection Requirements, the European Union's expansive privacy regulations that took effect last month, California's law provides some of the strongest regulations in the country.
posted by filthy light thief at 7:27 AM on December 27 [24 favorites]


So it turns out Trump didn't quite follow diplomatic niceties with Iraq for his little surprise visit, and this was a surprise to them as much as to the soldiers he visited.

And since they are trying to re-establish their sovereignty, they're miffed.

Well played, Individual 1. Well played indeed. So far he has endangered military personnel in Syria (by tweeting the retreat before carrying it out), Iraq, and Qatar. WHere next?
posted by ocschwar at 7:29 AM on December 27 [13 favorites]


> Maybe there was and the Cheeto ignored him/brushed him off.

This is a very likely scenario! I just naively thought that there might be limits to what the President could ask or tell the troops to do, but the U.S. military oath reads "I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will...obey the orders of the President of the United States and the orders of the officers appointed over me, according to regulations and the Uniform Code of Military Justice." So I guess as long as the order isn't flat-out unlawful, Trump or any other President can show up on a military base and order the troops to sing "Uptown Funk" to him for three hours, or build a giant sandcastle, or, you know, be photographed with him for a Twitter post even if it might endanger them or a compromise a military mission.
posted by The Card Cheat at 7:40 AM on December 27


The Card Cheat: "Not to excuse Trump's fuck-up in any way, but...wouldn't/shouldn't there have been someone there from the military (i.e. somebody higher up the ladder than the troops he was photographed with) to say "hey, please don't take any photos of this group for security reasons"?"

I've not gotten complete confirmation but apparently SEAL Team 5 is different from the others, it's "white" vs their "black". Short story long, it's the one team whose location isn't generally classified. So the scandal wagon may have jumped the gun on this one.
posted by scalefree at 7:42 AM on December 27 [7 favorites]


And now in local (political) news: Michelle Lujan Grisham begins Cabinet appointments (Associated Press via Las Cruces Sun, Dec. 14, 2018)
Democratic New Mexico Gov.-elect Michelle Lujan Grisham has appointed Cabinet secretaries at three major agencies that oversee state finances, Medicaid and subsidized nutrition programs, and the regulation of energy and mining industries.

Lujan Grisham on Friday emphasized commitments to expanding the state’s clean-energy economy and shoring up health care access in announcing the Cabinet appointments.

Sarah Cottrell Propst will lead the state Energy, Minerals and Natural Resources Department that oversees oil and natural gas regulation and incentives for renewable energy.

Olivia Padilla-Jackson moves from Albuquerque city government to lead the New Mexico Department of Finance and Administration.

University of New Mexico medical professor David Scrase will lead the Human Services Department that administers some $7 billion in federal and state funds for Medicaid other services for low-income individuals and families.
Sarah Cottrell Propst most recently worked as executive director of Interwest Energy Alliance, a nonprofit trade association of renewable energy companies in six western states, including New Mexico. During the administration of Gov. Bill Richardson, Propst served as his energy and environment advisor, and then as deputy secretary of the New Mexico Environment Department (NMED). She came to New Mexico after earning a master’s degree from Princeton University’s Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs. (via NM Political Reporter Q&A, December 21, 2018)

Olivia Padilla-Jackson has managed public financial services for the State and a major NM city, Rio Rancho, in the past (via ABQ Journal, 2010), and David R. Scrase, MD, is a Board Certified Internist and David ScraseGeriatrician and is a Professor of Internal Medicine and Geriatrics, and the Chief of Geriatrics at University of New Mexico Medical School (via his UNM bio)

Yesterday, Governor-elect Lujan Grisham appointed four more Cabinet secretaries, and they all look like similarly skilled individuals, who have significant histories in New Mexico in the fields that they'll oversee, compared to the outgoing Republican governor, Susana Martinez, whose cabinet secretary picks were either from out-of-state or later accused of fraud, corruption, if not all of the above. Cabinet secretaries: Where are they now? (Steve Terrell for the Santa Fe New Mexican, Dec. 25, 2018)

To be clear, I don't think Dems are saints and the GOP are all grifter scum, as former New Mexico Democratic Governor Bill Richardson had his own corruption charges, but the current crop of GOP leadership just looks so rotten.
posted by filthy light thief at 7:44 AM on December 27 [16 favorites]


Buzzfeed's Zoe Tillman takes stock of Trump's first batch of judicial appointments: Trump’s New Judges Are Everything Conservatives Hoped For and Liberals Feared—Judges confirmed to federal appeals courts in the past two years are already staking out strong positions on guns, abortion, political speech, and agency power.
President Donald Trump has gotten more judges confirmed to federal appeals courts in his first two years in office than any president in modern history. With 30 new circuit judges on the bench, and a dozen nominees pending in the Senate, Trump has more than made good on a campaign promise to reshape the judiciary.[…]

There are 167 judgeships on the regional appeals courts, not counting senior judges who handle a smaller docket and don’t normally participate when the full court hears cases. Trump has already gotten 30 appeals judges confirmed, making up 18 percent of those seats. That’s how many appeals judges were confirmed during Obama’s entire first term.

Many could be there for decades. Trump’s first White House counsel Don McGahn placed a premium on younger nominees who would make the most of a lifetime appointment, and largely succeeded. Half of the 30 judges confirmed so far are in their 40s, and two just turned 40 this year.[…]

The new crop of appeals judges proved their conservative bona fides long before they were nominated. A review of their Senate questionnaires shows 24 of the 30 new appeals judges have been members of the Federalist Society[…]. Many also reported working for Republican elected officials and being members of the Republican National Lawyers Association.
Meanwhile, she reports, although the DOJ requested selected cases be put on hold during the shutdown, the judge in one of the cases challenging Trump's asylum ban has partly denied the request, noting how many immigration functions are still active.
posted by Doktor Zed at 8:03 AM on December 27 [14 favorites]


In follow up news to the Georgia gubernatorial campaign, Michael Williams, the deportation bus candidate, has been indicted on insurance fraud charges related to the reported theft of $300,000 worth of bitcoin mining computers from his campaign headquarters. Apparently he still has his state senate seat for a couple of more weeks.
posted by TedW at 8:05 AM on December 27 [16 favorites]


McClatchy posts a potential bombshell: Cell signal puts Cohen outside Prague around time of purported Russian meeting
A mobile phone traced to President Donald Trump’s former lawyer and “fixer” Michael Cohen briefly sent signals ricocheting off cell towers in the Prague area in late summer 2016, at the height of the presidential campaign, leaving an electronic record to support claims that Cohen met secretly there with Russian officials, four people with knowledge of the matter say.

During the same period of late August or early September, electronic eavesdropping by an Eastern European intelligence agency picked up a conversation among Russians, one of whom remarked that Cohen was in Prague, two people familiar with the incident said.

The phone and surveillance data, which have not previously been disclosed, lend new credence to a key part of a former British spy’s dossier of Kremlin intelligence describing purported coordination between Trump’s campaign and Russia’s election meddling operation.[…]

The new information regarding the recovery of Cohen’s cell phone location doesn’t explain why he was apparently there or who he was meeting with, if anyone. But it adds to evidence that Cohen was in or near Prague around the time of the supposed meeting.

Both of the newly surfaced foreign electronic intelligence intercepts were shared with Special Counsel Robert Mueller, people familiar with the matter said.
n.b. "McClatchy reported in April 2018 that Mueller had obtained evidence Cohen traveled to Prague from Germany in late August or early September of 2016, but it could not be learned how that information was gleaned."
posted by Doktor Zed at 8:11 AM on December 27 [62 favorites]


Bitcoin mining computers in his campaign HQ?

“See, we take the campaign donations, buy computers and walk out of here with our bank accounts stuffed with bitcoin.”

“It’s genius, sir. Genius.”

“Or we just lie to the insurance company.”

“Either way you’re golden, sir.”
posted by notyou at 8:12 AM on December 27 [14 favorites]


$300,000 worth of bitcoin mining computers

What a normal and prudent thing for a state political campaign to purchase.
posted by contraption at 8:12 AM on December 27 [57 favorites]


Further to the McClatchy scoop about Cohen's long-rumored Prague trip:
Four people spoke with McClatchy on condition of anonymity due to the sensitivity of information shared by their foreign intelligence connections. Each obtained their information independently from foreign intelligence connections.[…]

The cell phone evidence, the sources said, was discovered sometime after Cohen apparently made his way to the Czech Republic.

The records show that the brief activation from Cohen’s phone near Prague sent beacons that left a traceable electronic signature, said the four sources.
The SIGINT can't definitively pin down the timeframe Cohen was in the Prague region, but once again, the Steele Dossier's accuracy can't be dismissed outright.
posted by Doktor Zed at 8:21 AM on December 27 [4 favorites]


"To be clear, I don't think Dems are saints and the GOP are all grifter scum, as former New Mexico Democratic Governor Bill Richardson had his own corruption charges, but the current crop of GOP leadership just looks so rotten."

When Martinez first became governor, she signed a new code of conduct for state employees to stop the "revolving door." Most of her former cabinet secretaries, deputy secretaries, and division directors should technically not be able to work for organizations like say the NM Oil & Gas Association immediately after leaving office as the head of the NM Environment Department. There were a lot of ethics violations with these people. But, I don't think ethics mean much any more to a lot of people.
posted by BooneTheCowboyToy at 8:23 AM on December 27 [4 favorites]


What a normal and prudent thing for a state political campaign to purchase.

From my reading, his personal business, mining bitcoins was located in the same building as his campaign. He pay or may not have owned the building.
posted by mikelieman at 8:27 AM on December 27 [2 favorites]


This seems timely, from Lawfare: The Steele Dossier: A Retrospective
The dossier compiled by former British intelligence officer Christopher Steele remains a subject of fascination—or, depending on your perspective, scorn. Indeed, it was much discussed during former FBI Director Jim Comey’s testimony in front of the House Judiciary Committee on Dec. 7. Published almost two years ago by BuzzFeed News in January 2017, the document received significant public attention, first for its lurid details regarding Donald Trump’s pre-presidential alleged sexual escapades in Russia and later for its role in forming part of the basis for the government’s application for a FISA warrant to surveil Carter Page.

Our interest in revisiting the compilation that has come to be called the “Steele Dossier” concerns neither of those topics, at least not directly. Rather, we returned to the document because we wondered whether information made public as a result of the Mueller investigation—and the passage of two years—has tended to buttress or diminish the crux of Steele’s original reporting.
posted by mumimor at 8:39 AM on December 27 [11 favorites]


It would be mighty interesting to see if his business or campaign paid the electrical bill generated by those miners.
posted by Static Vagabond at 8:42 AM on December 27 [29 favorites]




McClatchy posts a potential bombshell: Cell signal puts Cohen outside Prague around time of purported Russian meeting

My dude has never heard of a burner phone? It's kind of amusing to consider he could've avoided all this if he'd watched The Wire instead of Sopranos (and you *know* he watched Sopranos- they're all wannabe mafioso types.)
posted by bluecore at 9:08 AM on December 27 [23 favorites]


He probably was carrying it around turned off, realized he needed to reference some email or conversation stored on there, and figured it would be fine to turn it on for a sec as long as he was quick.
posted by contraption at 9:14 AM on December 27 [33 favorites]


Michael Cohen may not have been a smart man.
posted by adamg at 9:28 AM on December 27 [6 favorites]


The new crop of appeals judges proved their conservative bona fides long before they were nominated.

In this context "bona fides" is entirely the wrong term to use. Good faith is not what they are about.
posted by srboisvert at 9:32 AM on December 27 [5 favorites]


My dude has never heard of a burner phone?

Bear in mind this is the same idiot who couldn't be bothered to set up separate shell companies for mistress payoffs and his bribe-taking "consulting" business. And he was* (allegedly) a lawyer, for whom that setup should have been a piece of cake.

* The moment Cohen pled guilty to a felony he was automatically disbarred in New York for a minimum of 7 years. He still shows up as a registered attorney if you search for him, but that's just record-keeping lag. The disbarment is automatic and unavoidable.
posted by jedicus at 9:38 AM on December 27 [34 favorites]


support for the Steele Dossier is really starting to pile up

Bad news for pee pee tape skeptics
posted by Ray Walston, Luck Dragon at 9:41 AM on December 27 [6 favorites]


Here are five stories [from this year] to help you understand Mr. Trump, and the New York he came from.
Much of which should've been reported TWENTY YEARS AGO (when I personally knew from two New York acquaintances that Trump was a crook). But maybe if they keep it up, the NYT will be able to finally divorce itself from Wall Street's hive of scum and villainy (which was the main reason for the Xmas Eve stock market super-rebound).
posted by oneswellfoop at 9:45 AM on December 27 [13 favorites]


Secret trips to Iraq were bullshit when Bush did them, they were bullshit when Obama did them, and they're bullshit now.

We invaded Iraq 15 years ago. If it's still not safe enough to announce a visit in advance, we have no business being there.
posted by kirkaracha at 9:53 AM on December 27 [14 favorites]


Workers Describe How They’re Trying to Survive the Trump Shutdown (Nathalie Baptiste, Mother Jones)
… federal workers, contractors, and others who face an indefinite period without a paycheck have taken to Twitter using the hashtag #ShutdownStories to share how it’s affecting their lives.
posted by ZeusHumms at 9:53 AM on December 27 [14 favorites]


Static Vagabond: "It would be mighty interesting to see if his business or campaign paid the electrical bill generated by those miners."

Also whether he paid capital gains/income tax (whatever is appropriate) on his coins when selling.
posted by Mitheral at 9:56 AM on December 27 [6 favorites]


End of Government Shutdown May Depend on the Definition of ‘Wall’
Whether Mr. Trump signs the bill might depend on whether he and Democrats can agree to disagree on what a border barrier is called. Democrats have accepted fencing in the past. Mr. Trump has taken to intermittently calling his barrier a wall or “aesthetically pleasing steel slats.”
...
Some Republicans have dismissed the distinction between fencing and wall and said a wall could be an improvement to barriers along portions of the border.

“The hard line of the Democrats is ridiculous,” said former Representative Jack Kingston, a Georgia Republican whose years on the House Appropriations Committee overlapped with a number of debates on border security. “You have to come to the table with something you want and something you’re willing to give.”
Maybe we're saying wall because Trump's been saying he would "build a great great wall on our southern border and I’ll have Mexico pay for that wall" for over two years.
posted by kirkaracha at 10:04 AM on December 27 [8 favorites]


Donald Trump Is Handing House Democrats a Loaded Gun (Paul Glastris, Washington Monthly)
Four years ago, we published a cover story, titled “The Big Lobotomy” [previously], which showed how today’s congressional gridlock and ineptitude can be traced to Newt Gingrich’s mid-‘90s revolution—in particular, his decision to radically reduce the number of congressional staffers and to centralized power in the leadership. Gingrich’s changes largely destroyed serious deliberation and oversight in Congress and led to an outsourcing of policy development to lobbyists and ideological think tanks. Congress lost its ability to think independently.
The story led to increased interest and advocacy in funding Congress and restoring these services, eventually leading to an additional $129 million to pay Congressional staff in an appropriations bill Trump signed in September.
posted by ZeusHumms at 10:08 AM on December 27 [54 favorites]


… federal workers, contractors, and others who face an indefinite period without a paycheck have taken to Twitter using the hashtag #ShutdownStories to share how it’s affecting their lives.

WaPo reports on Trump's tweet this morning: Trump claims without evidence that ‘most of the people not getting paid’ in partial government shutdown are Democrats

"A [January 2018] survey by Government Executive of 1,791 federal employees from 25 agencies found that 24 percent of federal workers identified as Democrats, with an identical amount identifying as Republicans. Thirty-seven percent of workers in the 2018 survey said they were politically independent. Because the sample of employees was drawn from subscribers to Government Executive magazines, these numbers are not representative of the entire federal workforce."
posted by Doktor Zed at 10:13 AM on December 27 [10 favorites]


:> " “You have to come to the table with something you want and something you’re willing to give.”"

The opposition is fully on board with letting Mexico pay for the southern boondoggle.
posted by Mitheral at 10:14 AM on December 27 [10 favorites]


Maybe Trump meant that 'most of the people not getting paid' are going to start aligning as Democrats in response to the shutdown?
posted by Karmakaze at 10:33 AM on December 27 [6 favorites]


Ray Walston, Luck Dragon: support for the Steele Dossier is really starting to pile up

Bad news for pee pee tape skeptics


Russians (and others) may also salt facts with fakes, to discredit the whole of a report, or to spread lies: Russian Hackers Are Using 'Tainted' Leaks to Sow Disinformation (Andy Greenberg for Wired, May 25, 2017)
OVER THE PAST year, the Kremlin's strategy of weaponizing leaks to meddle with democracies around the world has become increasingly clear, first in the US and more recently in France. But a new report by a group of security researchers digs into another layer of those so-called influence operations: how Russian hackers alter documents within those releases of hacked material, planting disinformation alongside legitimate leaks.
Which is to say that there may be fake info in the dossier to make the whole thing seem less credible, even though we're seeing more and more of it corroborated, years later.


WaPo reports on Trump's tweet this morning: Trump claims without evidence that ‘most of the people not getting paid’ in partial government shutdown are Democrats

Of course, because attacking those designated as his enemies plays well to his base, and that's all that matters.
posted by filthy light thief at 10:41 AM on December 27 [9 favorites]


ZeusHumms: Donald Trump Is Handing House Democrats a Loaded Gun (Paul Glastris, Washington Monthly)

Another pullquote, to clarify the title:
Soon after “The Big Lobotomy” came out, the Hewlett Foundation used it as a key source document in launching the Madison Initiative, a $50 million annual grant-making effort to encourage congressional and electoral reform. The Washington Monthly became one of the Madison Initiative’s first grantees and a hub for writers, scholars, and activists, both liberal and conservative, who have made the case that Congress should increase its budget for staff to boost its ability to deliberate and provide oversight. Two of our regular contributors, Lee Drutman of New America and Kevin Kosar of the R Street Institute, formed a group to hold briefings on the Hill directly making this case to members and staffers on both sides of the aisle. They found champions, including Republicans like Senator Mike Lee and Representative Kevin Yoder who, together with Democrats such as Representative Tim Ryan, got the funding increase for House and Senate staff—including for paid internships—into an appropriations bill Donald Trump signed in September.

This gives Democrats in the new Congress a lot more power. Staff are crucial for conducting the hearings and investigations necessary to hold the executive accountable, as well as for serious policymaking that isn’t outsourced to lobbyists. Both tasks will be essential if Democrats are to use their majority to help pull the country back from the brink of Trump-induced disaster. And in the long run, a well-staffed Congress is a more functional one, regardless of which party is in power.
Emphasis mine. Increased staffing isn't bad, unless you've been relying on it to run campaigns of grift and lies for decades, culminating with getting a Russian asset elected President, and then all your dirt can be made public, and your laws based on lies come to light.
posted by filthy light thief at 10:48 AM on December 27 [24 favorites]


The opposition is fully on board with letting Mexico pay for the southern boondoggle.

I understand that this is a poison pill offer, but the opposition really isn't on board for a wall no matter who pays for it. A wall across the southern border of a friendly country and ally is a terrible idea for many reasons.
posted by JackFlash at 10:50 AM on December 27 [29 favorites]


Well The Cheeto lost the popular vote by a significant margin (and his ratings outside core supporters have been going down since then). So it's likely that most in a 50%+1 sort of way are Democrats.
posted by Mitheral at 10:50 AM on December 27


Biden didn’t do much for Delaware the state, he did a lot for banks and insurance companies. Delaware has a lot of people in it who were hurt by his actions.

There is a chance that Delaware has more corporations than registered voters (~700,000).
posted by srboisvert at 10:53 AM on December 27 [4 favorites]


Just to reflect that $5 billion would include $1.3 billion for current wall maintenance and staffing. The remainder would pay for about 100 miles of new border wall.

Which is to say, this has never been about building “the” wall, but about building a tiny stretch of it as another episode in Security Theatre.

posted by darkstar at 10:59 AM on December 27 [9 favorites]


support for the Steele Dossier is really starting to pile up

weeeeeeeeeeeee!
posted by pee tape at 11:00 AM on December 27 [63 favorites]


Some Republicans have dismissed the distinction between fencing and wall and said a wall could be an improvement to barriers along portions of the border.

It's Wall if he can stand in front of it and give a speech. (The point of reference here is the fashykitsch 2016 RNC set.)
posted by holgate at 11:03 AM on December 27 [3 favorites]


support for the Steele Dossier is really starting to pile up

As Marcy Wheeler repeatedly says, the idea of Steele's work as a reference narrative that somehow needs to be proven or disproven ought to go away, even if it won't because pee tape. The reference narrative is Mueller's prosecution documents, and at least since the GRU indictments tells us more about what was going on. Yes, its biggest gaps are in the period that Steele was working -- late summer to November of 2016 -- but they won't be filled in until the very end.
posted by holgate at 11:13 AM on December 27 [6 favorites]


Posting this Atlantic article as a follow-up to my comment earlier in this thread regarding the need to rework the 25th Amendment:

Is Something Neurologically Wrong With Donald Trump?

There's absolutely no reason that there should not be an outside panel to assess the President's cognitive fitness for office on a yearly basis, with the report made publicly available. And given what we saw of the pressure placed on Ronny Jackson to give Trump a passing grade, the panel should also report on the President's physical fitness. If the VP/cabinet want to shirk their constitutional responsibilities concerning the President's health and fitness, we all should be aware of what they are choosing to ignore.
posted by longdaysjourney at 11:15 AM on December 27 [16 favorites]


WaPo reports on Trump's tweet this morning: Trump claims without evidence that ‘most of the people not getting paid’ in partial government shutdown are Democrats

Of course, because attacking those designated as his enemies plays well to his base, and that's all that matters.


It also means that as president he is making decisions based on his belief of their differential partisan impact. COMPLETELY IN THE OPEN.

Remember that the Republicans triggered an investigation of the IRS based on the flimsiest fabricated evidence of bias.
posted by srboisvert at 11:16 AM on December 27 [59 favorites]


longdaysjourney: There's absolutely no reason that there should not be an outside panel to assess the President's cognitive fitness for office on a yearly basis, with the report made publicly available.

Alternatively, when a president publicly flaunts norms and laws, he could be impeached and tried for his crimes, to remind everyone that no one is above the law.
posted by filthy light thief at 11:24 AM on December 27 [71 favorites]


You know, it occurs to me that it's in the Republicans' best interest to invoke the 25th now, which would allow Pence to choose a new VP. That way, if both Trump and Pence are implicated in the Mueller report, then they can impeach Pence without making Pelosi the President. The worst-case scenario for them now is pretty grim. I realize that they may be totally fine with letting both Trump and Pence get away with treason to prevent a President Pelosi, but if I were them, I still wouldn't want to be dealing with that particular set of choices.
posted by ArbitraryAndCapricious at 11:33 AM on December 27 [7 favorites]


Alternatively, when a president publicly flaunts norms and laws, he could be impeached and tried for his crimes, to remind everyone that no one is above the law.

That would require a Republican party that wasn't dedicated to covering up for and abetting the criminal actions and rule-breaking of a GOP President and a media that wasn't addicted to "both sides" false equivalence, neither of which currently exist in this dimension or are likely to come to pass.
posted by longdaysjourney at 11:52 AM on December 27 [4 favorites]


to remind everyone that no one is above the law.

That would be fantastic if it were true. But the fact is that some people really are above the law, and the President is apparently now on that list.
posted by The World Famous at 12:00 PM on December 27 [8 favorites]


"No one is above the law," like "the arc of history bends toward justice" and "America is good," will require some evidence before it can be stated as fact. As a statement right now it's akin to "we will certainly escape this burning house."
posted by Rust Moranis at 12:07 PM on December 27 [38 favorites]


You know, it occurs to me that it's in the Republicans' best interest to invoke the 25th now, which would allow Pence to choose a new VP.

It's been in their best interest to do that since January 21st, 2017. But the Republican Party is Trumpist to the point that any form of planning for a post-Trump America, or in any other way admitting that Trump may have a fault up to and including mortality, is blasphemy (and yes, I'm using that word intentionally).
posted by Etrigan at 12:08 PM on December 27 [7 favorites]


Creating and implementing an independent panel to assess the president's mental and physical fitness faces the same barriers. If we can fix the problems that are would prevent a panel like from being implemented congress would have already impeached the bastard and there would be no need.

An independent presidential mental/physical fitness panel is treating a symptom that wouldn't be there if we could treat the damn disease, white supremacy.

I do some "root cause analysis" for my job and one of the more helpful techniques for getting to the root cause of a particular problem is to ask "why" until the answers stop making sense and/or get ridiculous.

Problem, the president is mentally unfit to fulfill the duties of his office. Why?
Congress won't impeach him. Why?
They're beholden to an extreme and racist voter base. Why?
They vote for white supremacy.

I can't really explain why people are white supremacists though I'm sure we could put together some of the existing research and at least partially answer it but that's about as deep as we can get. You can do this same thing for most of the issues with the Trump admin and you'll pretty much always come back to racism and/or misogyny as the root cause.
posted by VTX at 12:12 PM on December 27 [15 favorites]


DHS secretary Kirstjen Nielsen on who is responsible for killing the children: you are.

As human rights groups, Democratic lawmakers, and the United Nations demanded an independent probe into the deaths of two Guatemalan children in US Border Patrol custody, President Donald Trump’s Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen sparked outrage on Wednesday by declaring that “open borders” advocates and the kids’ “own parents” — not Trump’s inhumane treatment of immigrants — are to blame.

“Our system has been pushed to a breaking point by those who seek open borders,” Nielsen said in a statement just hours after eight-year-old Felipe Alonzo-Gomez died in US custody on Christmas day.


Since childhood I've had nightmares that conflate my Cluster B Personality Disorder mother with Hitler. I've been waiting to wake up for years.
posted by Rust Moranis at 12:23 PM on December 27 [32 favorites]


Giuliani: Trump won't give Mueller any more written answers

"I think I announced about 10 days ago 'over my dead body,' and I'm not dead yet,” Giuliani said, referencing a remark he made to "Fox News Sunday" host Chris Wallace earlier this month.

That comment was made in response to a question Wallace asked about whether Trump would sit with Mueller for an in-person interview.

Days later, Giuliani told Axios that Trump's legal team "might agree" to providing Mueller with additional written responses to potential follow-up questions. "

posted by Twain Device at 12:33 PM on December 27 [4 favorites]


whether Trump would sit with Mueller for an in-person interview.

Everyone but Trump knows that that interview, when it eventually happens, is going to send him to prison. Trump seems to think that he could just say, "hey, I'm a good guy; this is just how business works" and any actual crimes will be ignored. He also has absolutely no idea what activities are illegal. I can see him saying, "No collusion! No collusion! I had a call with some Russian guys and they said they'd buy some MAGA signs for me and post some articles online in order to show their interest in Trump Tower Moscow. We didn't collude on anything! And collusion isn't a crime anyway!"
posted by ErisLordFreedom at 12:47 PM on December 27 [8 favorites]


How Mark Burnett Resurrected Donald Trump as an Icon of American Success
subtitle: With “The Apprentice,” the TV producer mythologized Trump—then a floundering D-lister—as the ultimate titan, paving his way to the Presidency.
(New Yorker)

I still give a share of the blame to NBC and cannot honestly believe there's enough of a firewall between News and Entertainment to keep the 'Apprentice tapes' secret without massive intervention by parent company Comcast.
posted by oneswellfoop at 12:59 PM on December 27 [57 favorites]


I was under the impression that the Apprentice tapes were in the possession of Mark Burnett's production company, not NBC.
posted by BungaDunga at 1:09 PM on December 27 [6 favorites]


in one of our very rare and typically short 'discussions' about politics, way back during the campaign i said something about trump being an ignorant putz. my brother looks at me and says (in a calm, sincere voice) "Deb and I have watched The Apprentice for years and we have come to have great respect for Donald Trump."

i'd been telling that boy television was rotting his mind for 10 years by then. that was the moment i became sure of it.
posted by quonsar II: smock fishpants and the temple of foon at 1:14 PM on December 27 [97 favorites]


From the very first episode of The Apprentice onward Trump was, to me and Mrs. VTX at least, very clearly a moron who didn't know what he was doing. Jr. was a guest judge sometimes and made his dad look like Warren Buffet by comparison. Ivanka was the only one that every pulled off anything close to a veneer of competence. Every subsequent season went downhill from there.

TV might have been the thing rotting his poor brain but if so it was only because his brain was particularly susceptible to rot.
posted by VTX at 1:22 PM on December 27 [3 favorites]


In the earliest seasons of The Apprentice Trump had two co-judges who were the adults in the room while he mugged it up and asked dumb questions and said "yer fired." That he replaced them with his dreadful idiot children should have told viewers everything they needed to know about his capacity for good leadership.
posted by prize bull octorok at 1:31 PM on December 27 [24 favorites]


VTX: lol - you don't know the half of it! ain't going to hijack the thread but suffice it to say that my brother is a longtime limbaugh loon in good standing, one who currently RELIES upon the very social safety nets he would set afire. so yes, he's been deranged for a long time, and a sucker for 'reality' tv in any form.
posted by quonsar II: smock fishpants and the temple of foon at 1:34 PM on December 27 [5 favorites]


More Americans blame Trump for government shutdown: Reuters/Ipsos poll

"Forty-seven percent of adults hold Trump responsible, while 33 percent blame Democrats in Congress, according to the Dec. 21-25 poll, conducted mostly after the shutdown began. Seven percent of Americans blamed congressional Republicans.[…]

"Just 35 percent of those surveyed in the Reuters/Ipsos poll said they backed including money for the wall in a congressional spending bill. Only 25 percent said they supported Trump shutting down the government over the matter."
posted by Doktor Zed at 2:00 PM on December 27 [6 favorites]




It sure seems like McClatchy are going to come out of this Cohen/Prague thing looking like journalistic powerhouses or complete credulous idiots. I don't see much middle ground at this point. Nobody else will touch it with a 10 foot poll and they keep doubling down on there being a bunch of strong evidence for it.
posted by Justinian at 2:07 PM on December 27 [5 favorites]


while 33 percent blame Democrats in Congress [...] Only 25 percent said they supported Trump shutting down the government over the matter.

25% of eligible voters voted for Trump in 2016.
posted by Rust Moranis at 2:15 PM on December 27 [11 favorites]


Before Christmas this quote from a 2015 Mick Mulvaney radio interview was bouncing around (on CNN for example):
MERCER: Immigration. Donald Trump says build a wall. Deport all illegal immigrants. Rules are rules.

MULVANEY: I've never been in the boxcar caucus. You know, ship them home in boxcars and let the Lord sort them out. The fence is an easy thing to sell politically. It's an easy thing for someone who doesn't follow the issue very closely to say, oh well, that'll just solve everything, build the fence.
As it's some particularly clear evidence that Republicans were entirely conscious that they were voting in 2016 for a re-run of the Holocaust, Mulvaney now enjoying the role of Chief of Staff of the Boxcar White House, I figured I'd track down the specifics for posterity: this was broadcast by station WRHI on August 25, 2015 as an episode of the program Closeup with interviewer Patti Mercer. The above quote starts 8 minutes in.

(Internet Archive link, although the IA site is indicating that robots.txt rules don't allow them to display the actual .mp3 audio of the interview.)

Another damning hilarious-terrible quote from the interview: That's what concerns me—I wonder who's more interested in going around the Constitution to get things done, Barack Obama or Donald Trump!
posted by XMLicious at 2:36 PM on December 27 [9 favorites]


So there may or may not be a pee tape but there definitely is a selfie. A nude one. No idea whose nude body was selfied but none of the obvious choices makes this an appealing prospect.

@bradheath Lawyers for a Russian company charged over election complain that "the Special Counsel has made up a crime that has never been prosecuted before in the history of the United States, and now seeks to make up secret procedures for communicating ex parte to the court."

@bradheath Lawyers for the Russian company - who are seeking permission to share "sensitive" gov't info with the Russians wonder: "Could the manner in which [Mueller] collected a nude selfie really threaten the national security of the United States?"

@bradheath Also, apparently, among the millions of pages of records Mueller's has collected on Russian election interference is a "nude selfie."

@bradheath Here's the whole filing. Spoiler: It doesn't give away whose nude selfie Mueller now possesses, or how he obtained it. ->
posted by scalefree at 2:44 PM on December 27 [15 favorites]


It doesn't give away whose nude selfie Mueller now possesses, or how he obtained it.

Oh, man. A very masculinity-shattering pic of Putin would pretty much be the end-game against Trump. “Here, Mr. Mueller. Everything you need, wanted, or wished for.”
posted by Thorzdad at 2:53 PM on December 27


I truly do not want to see a nude selfie of anyone involved in any way with this administration, and I'm also having trouble coming up with a situation in which a nude selfie is going to be incriminating enough to matter.
posted by ArbitraryAndCapricious at 3:00 PM on December 27 [24 favorites]


I now understand the reasoning behind the extraordinary security required for last week's mysterious hearing. I cannot express enough gratitude for everyone involved, sparing the world of the horror intrinsic to this image. This is Chekov's Gun writ large upon the stage, a Sword of Damacles balanced over our collective necks. This is a thing that must remain secret; no matter the cost, it must be paid.
posted by scalefree at 3:06 PM on December 27 [25 favorites]


We are well past the "surely this" point and are now riding a tsunami of garbage to destinations unknown. The question is not "how does the nude selfie advance the investigation," but rather, from which deeply submerged bolus of heretofore occulted horrors did the nude selfie detach and float up to us, and what will follow it? I'm going to go take a little walk in the sunshine right now, god bless you all.
posted by prize bull octorok at 3:07 PM on December 27 [70 favorites]


I think the point here is whatever evidence they have was collected using "National Technical Means", and disclosing how they got it would disclose the classified program that collected it. Mueller does NOT just make things up, regardless of how the GOP and Russians spin it.
posted by mikelieman at 3:10 PM on December 27 [4 favorites]


about 9,800 detained migrant children are in facilities holding 100-plus total kids, including Tornillo [TX] and Homestead [FL].

Homestead.

When we come to make the documentary, this absolutely bleakest of ironies has to be its title.
posted by Devonian at 3:12 PM on December 27 [22 favorites]


"tornillo" also means "screw."

Screw - Prison Officer – probably originating from a Victorian form of punishment involving a wheel to be turned on which a screw could be turned to make it more or less difficult.
posted by Rust Moranis at 3:17 PM on December 27 [5 favorites]


I now understand the reasoning behind the extraordinary security required for last week's mysterious hearing.

Pretty sure that's a different case...this has to be one of the two cases where russians were previously indicted, and they're trying to demand that the US turn over all of its evidence to them so they can compose their defense. The secret grand jury panel was about opposing production of evidence to Mueller.
posted by SpaceBass at 3:18 PM on December 27 [1 favorite]


I dunno, a nude selfie of Donald (and, really, how much of a narcissist do you have to be to imagine Photo of a Nude Fat Old Man is a turn-on for anyone outside a select group of fetishists? I say this as a nu...as a fat old man) sent to someone akin to our friend Butina, with associated discussion between them some time later demonstrating that the wretched thing was being used as kompromat ("hey, gherkin, Pravda can either feature the 'presidential' privates on the front page tomorrow...or news of US sanctions being lifted. Which do you think it should be?") would be pretty damning.

Hell, a President reckless and stupid enough to send noods in our society* should, in and of itself, reason enough to oust them from office.

* I would rather live in a society which doesn't give a rat's fuck about what consenting people (all parties involved need to consent, obvs) do with their bodies, but we live in Puritanica.
posted by maxwelton at 3:22 PM on December 27 [7 favorites]


and I'm also having trouble coming up with a situation in which a nude selfie is going to be incriminating enough to matter.

While I agree, remember that nude selfies are what probably cost Clinton the election. (As did a lot of other things obviously, given the closeness of the race).
posted by Justinian at 3:29 PM on December 27 [3 favorites]


[Let's not go nude selfie crazy y'all.]
posted by cortex (staff) at 3:31 PM on December 27 [23 favorites]


Tyrant! We should be allowed at least as many nude selfie comments as there were for that year-old interview with Joe Biden.
posted by prize bull octorok at 3:32 PM on December 27 [52 favorites]


Justinian- you mean the Anthony Weiner investigation which turned up the laptop with the extra EMAILS right before the election?

That's a funny butterfly flapping its wings sort of explanation for how we got here. If only a time traveler could go back in time and stop Anthony Weiner... the world would never suspect what a bullet had been dodged.
posted by OnceUponATime at 3:35 PM on December 27 [11 favorites]


The Government May Be Shut Down, But Taxpayers Are Footing The Bill For Mar-a-Lago Party Tents
At loggerheads with Congress over funding his signature border wall, president Donald Trump shut down large swaths of the federal government at midnight on Friday. Roughly 800,000 federal employees are affected, many of whom will remain on furlough without pay if the shutdown continues.

But even as much of the federal government grinds to a halt, Trump’s Mar-a-Lago resort still needs tents for the winter party season—and taxpayers are footing at least $54,000 of the bill.

According to government spending data, Grimes Events & Party Tents Inc. of Delray Beach, Florida was paid $54,020 by the U.S. Secret Service on December 19 for “TENT RENTAL FOR MAL.”

An employee named Honey who answered the phone at Grimes Events & Party Tents told Quartz, “We are providing tents for the Mar-a-Lago New Year’s Eve party, yes.”
This is going to end so well.
posted by scalefree at 3:54 PM on December 27 [41 favorites]




Don't be too literal with the "nude selfie" phrasing. Imagine a known Russian agent taking a selfie at a party with Individual-1 and a couple of nude models (or something like that). That gets you "nude" and "selfie" and "compromising" without having to go to any great mental effort to figure out the "what were they thinking".
posted by Horkus at 4:14 PM on December 27 [5 favorites]


Eric "nude selfie" Dubelier, Concord's lead lawyer in this case, is being paid by whoever's paying him to troll Mueller, be a condescending dick in his briefs, and hog some headlines. And he seems to be enjoying it.
posted by holgate at 4:21 PM on December 27 [2 favorites]


Mike Luckovich: 7 year old who still believe in Santa
posted by growabrain at 4:28 PM on December 27 [3 favorites]


to be clear, being a dick in briefs does not technically constitute a nude selfie
posted by Two unicycles and some duct tape at 4:38 PM on December 27 [28 favorites]


Seen at Costco
posted by growabrain at 4:51 PM on December 27 [42 favorites]


Cell signal puts Cohen outside Prague around time of purported Russian meeting

I have to think the US already had this data (although maybe it hadn't reached Mueller) and it has only been made public now in order for one side or the other to shape the public narrative.

A lot of SIGINT sources seem to have been burned over the past couple of years, the most egregious being Turkey's release of tapes apparently recording Khashoggi's last moments, and the CIA releasing (via Turkey) an intercepted conversation between the Saudi Ambassador to the USA and his brother, MBS. So basically there's no longer even a pretence that “Gentlemen do not read each others' mail.”

This change is probably inevitable, even desirable at this point, because if you've been thoroughly penetrated what's the point of concealing the fact? All you're doing is empowering your enemy by lulling your defenses into a false state of security. It's like 9/11: you can't resist multi-fronted attacks if everybody is keeping their security concerns compartmentalised.
posted by Joe in Australia at 5:59 PM on December 27 [8 favorites]


Don't be too literal with the "nude selfie" phrasing. Imagine a known Russian agent taking a selfie at a party with Individual-1 and a couple of nude models (or something like that). That gets you "nude" and "selfie" and "compromising" without having to go to any great mental effort to figure out the "what were they thinking".

To add another data point, you can literally pay to get a nude woman painted with your company's logo to walk the aisles at trade shows in Russia (at least at oil & gas trade shows ... or, *ahem*, so I'm told). Thereby you could easily get your "nude selfie" standing beside her.
posted by ZenMasterThis at 6:11 PM on December 27 [4 favorites]


John Mulaney's analogy for the Trump White House:
This guy being the president, it's like there's a horse loose in a hospital. I think eventually everything's going to be OK, but I have no idea what's going to happen next. And neither do any of you, and neither do your parents, because there's a horse loose in the hospital. That's never happened before! No one knows what the horse is going to do next, least of all the horse. He's never been in the hospital before, he's just as confused as you are
posted by growabrain at 7:05 PM on December 27 [83 favorites]


A lot of SIGINT sources seem to have been burned over the past couple of years, the most egregious being Turkey's release of tapes apparently recording Khashoggi's last moments...

Just to be pedantic, that was very likely not sigint but would be considered humint. It was likely not scraping and than filtering a large volume of data but instead very focused and deliberate. The CIA one, likewise. It isn’t just academic; targetted surveillance is pretty different from a social-impact point of view.
posted by Bovine Love at