‘Our country is in a hellhole right now’—Cardi B
January 18, 2019 9:40 AM   Subscribe

As the partial US government shutdown winds up its fourth week, we learned that President Trump directed his attorney Michael Cohen to lie to Congress about his Moscow Tower Project (BuzzFeed), a bombshell development immediately condemned by Democrats (Politico) as obstruction of justice if not an impeachable offense (Lawfare). House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff and House Judiciary Committee Chairman Rep. Jerrold Nadler both pledged to investigate (AP). Attorney General nominee Bill Barr, writing to DAG Rod Rosenstein last June about "Muller's 'Obstruction' Theory", also declared, "[I]f a President […] suborns perjury[…], then he, like anyone else, commits the crime of obstruction." In other Cohen news, the Wall Street Journal revealed he hired an IT Firm to rig early CNBC, Drudge Polls to favor Trump, subsequently stiffing the firm and Trump (allegedly). Cohen still intends to testify before before the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform on on February 7th, despite concerns for his family (CNN) after Trump's repeated hostile public remarks.

• Bill Barr Round-up:
Barr May Do Exactly What Trump Wants—The nominee for attorney general vowed independence, but his answers raised disturbing questions. (The Atlantic);
William Barr tries to clean up his Clinton comments — but stumbles into a new Mueller problem (WaPo);
The Democrats’ capitulation to William Barr (WaPo);
The many red flags raised by William Barr’s hearing (WaPo)
• Shutdown Round-up:
‘Our country is in a hellhole right now’: Cardi B blasts Trump over government shutdown (WaPo)
Tens of thousands more federal employees called back to work (ABC)
Shutdown is starting to hurt Trump's financial deregulation agenda (Reuters)
Security, immigration controls fraying as impasse over Trump's wall stretches into its fourth week (USA Today)
The record-breaking government shutdown is putting the US at risk of a major cyberattack (Business Insider)
Shutdown prompts hunger strike at Manhattan jail as family visits are canceled (NYT)
• Impeachment Round-up:
Impeach Donald Trump—Starting the process will rein in a president who is undermining American ideals—and bring the debate about his fitness for office into Congress, where it belongs; and Why Democrats Have Suddenly Started Talking About Impeachment (The Atlantic)
How to Talk About Impeachment: Preventing Harm to the Country (Marcy Wheeler/EmptyWheel.net)
Ex-GOP congressman David Jolly to Democrats: Gear up to impeach Trump. It's your constitutional duty. (USA Today)
The Only Impeachment Guide You’ll Ever Need (Politico)
• Emoluments Round-up:
Federal agency ‘improperly’ ignored constitutional concerns before allowing Trump to keep lease to his hotel, internal watchdog says (WaPo)
T-Mobile announced a merger needing Trump administration approval. The next day, 9 executives had reservations at Trump’s hotel. (WaPo)
At Trump’s Inauguration, $10,000 for Makeup and Lots of Room Service (NYT)
When asked about the emoluments clause yesterday, Attorney General nominee Bill Barr said: "I couldn’t even tell you what it says." (Natasha Bertrand)
IN OTHER HEADLINES:

Trump Administration Appeals Ruling Blocking Citizenship Question On 2020 Census (NPR). A federal judge ordered the question be scrapped in a blistering order on Monday: The census citizenship question was designed to discriminate—until incompetence doomed it (Scott Lemieux for NBC).

Trump Is Fraying Nerves Inside the Pentagon (CNN) "Pentagon officials have also been unnerved by requests from the White House National Security Council, which continues to ask the Pentagon for options to attack Iran. Military planners CNN has spoken to say these requests are concerning since there is no real understanding of how Iran might react — or exactly what military objective the Trump Administration is trying to achieve."

• Deripaska’s Rusal Flouts Sanctions Pledge With New Kremlin Stooge (Daily Beast) "The move further concerned lawmakers already worried that the changes made to comply with Treasury’s demands would prove cosmetic." As House Republicans join with Democrats to challenge the Trump administration's plans to lift sanctions, (WaPo), the Daily Beast's Erin Banco reflects, "I keep thinking about the conversations I’ve had over the last five months with people from Treasury who hailed the Rusal delisting as a “sanctions success story”"

Shutdown Has Dropped grenade Onto Trump’s 2020 Team—The president publicly brags he is getting the best of Democrats as unhappy campaign officials find themselves trying to fire up his base. (Politico) "‘This is a really bad spot for him,’ said one person familiar with Trump’s campaign[…]. ‘He may just be fighting because he doesn’t know what the hell else to do.’" (c.f. In a PBS NewsHour poll, 57 percent of registered voters said they would definitely vote against Trump in 2020)

• GOP Congressmen Meet With Holocaust-Denying Troll Chuck Johnson (Daily Beast) Reps. Andy Harris (R-MD) and Phil Roe (R-TN) say they didn’t know about the alt-right troll’s past.

• A Night at the Theater With Trump’s Accusers (NYMag/The Cut) Seeing The Pussy Grabbers Plays, an eight-act play telling the stories of the women allegedly assaulted by Donald Trump, in the company of some of them.

Government may have split up thousands more migrant families (AP) "‘The total number and current status of all children separated from their parents or guardians ... is unknown,’ according to the report. It could be thousands more because family separations were taking place much earlier, during an influx that began in 2017, investigators found."

• Robert Wright's longform essay How Trump Could Wind up Making Globalism Great Again (Wired): "There’s reason to think that, in a weird way, the Trump presidency, rather than drag us into a death spiral of tribalism and lethal technology, could be a roundabout path to a higher plane."

• After Giuliani's CNN interview, in which he claimed if "the collusion happened, it happened a long time ago" (USAToday), Jack Shafer writes in Politico: Rudy Giuliani Is Not Doing His Best Work These Days "Trump’s lawyer often sounds like he’s defending John Gotti rather than the president of the United States."

Today is the 728th day of the Trump administration and the 27th day of the government shutdown. There are 654 days until the 2020 elections.

New in MetaTalk:
MetaTalk on Keeping Arguing about the US Primaries in Check, about avoiding the stuff that has gone badly on MetaFilter in previous election cycles.
Hyucking Hyuck, a thread where people can post their jokes, one-liners, favorite Twitter snark, etc.

Previously in U.S. Politics Megathreads: "I may declare a national emergency dependent on what's gonna happen…"

Megathread-Adjacent Posts and Sites:
Women's March AND March for Life events this weekend
Tribal Politics (How Tribal Psychology Makes Us Prefer Being Wrong)
They’re Gonna Rock It: The First Day Native Women Served on Capitol Hill
"If you’re a good person, you have to sign RIGHT NOW" (Mothership Strategies political consultants' fundraising schemes)
Salvator Mundi: The Art of the Deal (oligarchs, money-laundering, Robert Mueller, and the world's most expensive painting)
• OnceUponATime's Active Measures site
• Chrysostom's 2018 Election Ratings & Results Tracker

Elsewhere in MetaFilter: Working for a Campaign 101; Should government do what people want or what's effective governance? (AskMe).

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 Little Dawn and zachlipton 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 Doktor Zed (2262 comments total) 139 users marked this as a favorite
 
The thought I can't shake is that the end goal for the shutdown is to drag it out long enough that most of the federal workforce quits and all those services can be privatized.
posted by OverlappingElvis at 9:45 AM on January 18 [103 favorites]


A brief MeTa note that many readers of political threads may not be aware. It is commonplace for these huge threads to have 200+ comments deleted; the last thread had 400+ comments deleted. This represents a ton of work for the mods. Let's do our best to keep things constructive. Here is the most recent MeTa thread discussing long politics posts.
posted by Jpfed at 9:49 AM on January 18 [109 favorites]


Infrastructure Week is coming, Exclusive: Trump meets with Cabinet officials to revive infrastructure push - sources (Reuters).
posted by peeedro at 9:50 AM on January 18 [8 favorites]


A friend of mine works at the USDA, doing botany research. As you'd imagine, that includes things like watering the plants and recording data, on a careful regular schedule.

Needless to say, all of her experiments will basically need to be restarted from scratch.

Meanwhile, she's starting to feel the pinch, and wondering whether she should start looking for a private-sector job, or what.

Now imagine this, multiplied by tens of thousands.

Such a stupid waste. All for one man-child's fragile little ego.
posted by escape from the potato planet at 9:50 AM on January 18 [112 favorites]


Government Shutdown Leads to Pornhub Traffic Increase (SFW but a link to PornHub.com)
posted by chavenet at 9:51 AM on January 18 [10 favorites]


Certainly that could well become the end goal - perhaps it has already become the end goal - but do we really believe the initial intent was anything bar a fit of pique?
posted by ominous_paws at 9:51 AM on January 18 [6 favorites]


In this June 2018 memo to Rosenstein and Engel, incoming AG William Barr states:

Obviously, the President and any other official can commit obstruction in this classic sense of sabotaging a proceeding's truth-finding function. Thus, for example if a President knowingly destroys or alters evidence, suborns perjury, or induces a witness to change testimony, or commits any act deliberately impairing the integrity or availability of evidence, then he, like anyone else, commits the crime of obstruction.

This seems to be the basis of Amy Klobucher's question about obstruction during the confirmation hearings. Well done Amy, she made him double down on that position.
posted by adept256 at 9:51 AM on January 18 [18 favorites]


The thought I can't shake is that the end goal for the shutdown is to drag it out long enough that most of the federal workforce quits and all those services can be privatized.

Snopes just posted (and debunked) a right wing meme along similar lines.
posted by Horace Rumpole at 9:52 AM on January 18 [6 favorites]


The thought I can't shake is that the end goal for the shutdown is to drag it out long enough that most of the federal workforce quits and all those services can be privatized.

It's true. Time was, if you landed a good federal position, you could trust that you'd have pretty decent job security for life. Even if we get through the current crisis, it'll be a long time before our best and brightest can trust the government enough to go work for them.

You can also reduce immigration by ensuring that only the wealthiest and most privileged would ever want to live in America.
posted by Faint of Butt at 9:53 AM on January 18 [14 favorites]


Has anyone (news source wise, I mean) begun making a tracker for how many senators seem to be wavering? Kind of like a whip count for impeachment? This is clearer evidence than I thought we would get outside of Mueller, and it might help folks know which Senators to pressure.
posted by corb at 9:54 AM on January 18 [14 favorites]


I don't think the shutdown has an end goal, to be honest. The current administration is too ignorant of the minutae of governing to know what they're doing or not doing.

The remarkably prescient S. Kendzior would like to suggest otherwise: This is a hostile restructuring - thread
posted by progosk at 10:00 AM on January 18 [20 favorites]


Has anyone (news source wise, I mean) begun making a tracker for how many senators seem to be wavering?

It's not exactly what you're looking for but WaPo's Philip Bump has a list of 14 republican senators who are on record for holding a president accountable for obstruction of justice, when that president is named Bill Clinton. TLDR; Blunt, Burr, Crapo, Enzi, Graham, Grassley, Inhofe, McConnell, Moran, Portman, Roberts, Shelby, Thune, and Wicker all voted for the impeachment charge on obstruction when it was a democrat as president.
posted by peeedro at 10:03 AM on January 18 [36 favorites]


I was in mid conversation in the previous thread. Hopefully it's ok to pick it up here.

My initial comment: It sounds like they actually made plans to fly commercial, and then details of those plans were leaked, but I haven't seen that reported explicitly.

Response: Pelosi’s aide, Hammill, tweeted that multiple WH sources shared the info with hill reporters.

Right, but have any of those hill reporters written about WH sources sharing those details? Seems important since the WH is denying it.
posted by diogenes at 10:05 AM on January 18 [4 favorites]


Maybe it would be more accurate to say that they might have a goal in mind, but no clear vision about unintended consequences that would hamper even their intentions.
posted by Autumnheart at 10:06 AM on January 18 [2 favorites]


I'm waiting to see what the outcome is of the lawsuit filed against the government asking the court to order that workers can't be forced to work without pay. If the government loses that one, then the shutdown calculus changes very fast. If they can't force essential employees to work while the government is shut down, then things are likely to become so untenable that even the Turtle has to go ahead and agree to allow a vote to reopen the government. Right now they're getting by because TSA, ATC, Coast Guard, various federal law enforcement agencies, and others have to show up to work or lose their job. If they end up being able to stay home, and flying becomes intolerable or impossible, then that's probably that.
posted by azpenguin at 10:06 AM on January 18 [13 favorites]


For Trump, it's a tantrum. For the people around Trump, it's a gambit for hostile restructuring. For the rest of us, the longer it goes on, the more of an opportunity for impeachment it becomes.

The Buzzfeed article is great, but it's like...the eleventy millionth impeachable offense, and not even the one we have the most evidence for.

The sticking point, for both, is Mitch McConnell. And if he's implicated in Russia treason, or other crimes that get caught up in the Mueller investigation....then I don't know.

Either way, either Trump folds when challenged on his one move, like he always has in his long and storied history of failure, or, with enough pasty-faced, white supremacist, Christian Dominionist crazies whispering in his ear, we head toward constitutional crisis sooner rather than later.

Incredibly, this is a serious question: what happens if the Senate Majority Leader is impeached?

And so is this: do we...do we start a GoFundMe for congressional investigators?
posted by schadenfrau at 10:07 AM on January 18 [21 favorites]


Presumably they would elect someone else as Senate majority leader. The president pro tempore of the Senate ranks under the Speaker of the House in the presidential succession.
posted by Autumnheart at 10:14 AM on January 18 [3 favorites]


Waiting for a Shutdown to End in Disaster
As the longest government shutdown in American history lurches toward its fifth week, a grim but growing consensus has begun to emerge on Capitol Hill: There may be no way out of this mess until something disastrous happens.

[...]

According to the Washington Post reporter Robert Costa, some Republican lawmakers close to the White House have privately concluded that the shutdown won’t end until TSA employees stay home and Americans “get furious about their flights.”

On a similar—if darker—note, I spoke to one congressional staffer who wondered aloud whether it might take a stressed-out air-traffic controller causing a plane crash to bring an end to the shutdown. And several aides worried that some kind of terrorist incident would end up serving as the catalyst to get the government up and running again.

[...]

Now that he’s in the fight, Trump seems to be relishing the opportunities for showmanship that the shutdown affords him. Why bother governing—a job he has rarely seemed to like—when he can spend all day doling out Quarter Pounders to college-football players, plotting publicity stunts, and trading barbs with political enemies? As long as Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell stays in line—and he’s shown no signs that he plans to break ranks—the president will be free to keep the show going for as long as he wants.

[...]

On Wednesday night, I spoke with a Democratic House aide who confessed that she was ambivalent about the shutdown. The battle had unified her party, with Democrats linking arms in defense of their ideals and in defiance of Trump. Polls suggested that a majority of Americans were with them, and that the “optics” of the fight were good. “While it may be horrible for the country,” she said of the shutdown, “it’s fine for the party.”
posted by jgirl at 10:15 AM on January 18 [11 favorites]


AP's Steve Peoples on the Trump White House's reaction to the Buzzfeed bombshell:
Trump spokesman Hogan Gidley repeatedly refuses to deny central allegation in BuzzFeed report that Trump instructed Cohen to lie to Congress about Russia: “I’m not going to give any credence or credibility to Michael Cohen.”

Fox News Host: “That was not a denial.”
The NYT's Maggie Haberman has Rudy Giuliani's long-awaited statement: "Giuliani finally responds: “Any suggestion – from any source – that the President counseled Michael Cohen to lie is categorically false. Michael Cohen is a convicted criminal and a liar. To quote the prosecutors, he has traded on “a pattern of lies and dishonesty over an extended period of time” and for that “he is going to pay a very, very serious price.” Today’s claims are just more made-up lies born of Michael Cohen’s malice and desperation...”"

Meanwhile, the Daily Beast reports Trump's legal team is as chaotic as ever: John Dowd, President Trump’s Old Lawyer, Is Still Whispering in His Ear—That’s according to Dowd himself, and confirmed to The Daily Beast by the president’s current lawyer, Rudy Giuliani. "Giuliani said that in several conversations with his lawyers about the Mueller probe, Trump has asked, “What does John [Dowd] think?” All the instances came long after Dowd’s departure from the team, Giuliani added. […] On an informal basis, Dowd is still very much “a part of the team,” the former New York mayor added."
posted by Doktor Zed at 10:16 AM on January 18 [7 favorites]


I don't think the shutdown has an end goal, to be honest.

it's hard for me to read some kind of high (or even low) strategy into the Trump Shutdown. Rather, it feels like the only card he's really got left in the game he's playing, which is to give The Base what he promised them. It feels as simple as that. Somebody else said it a while ago. This is really just Trump doing what he's always done, fumbling incompetently away at the top of the pyramid, making a mess of things ... until eventually something or someone bails him out.

Except he's never been in quite so high a pyramid*. How exactly does the President of the United States get bailed out?

* and ummm, the oval office isn't even the top of a pyramid really, the structure of American Power being rather more complicated than that.
posted by philip-random at 10:18 AM on January 18 [11 favorites]


Why would Republican lawmakers be waiting for a disaster to end the shutdown, when they could end it anytime they wanted by passing a funding bill?
posted by Autumnheart at 10:18 AM on January 18 [13 favorites]


An impeached officer stays in office until removed. The most likely scenario would be the Senate passing a resolution dismissing the charges. If enough Republicans were on board with convicting, he wouldn’t still be Majority Leader anyway.

The President pro tempore of the Senate is the longest serving member of the majority party (Chuck Grassley), and is not the same as the majority leader.
posted by Huffy Puffy at 10:20 AM on January 18 [1 favorite]


Why would Republican lawmakers be waiting for a disaster to end the shutdown, when they could end it anytime they wanted by passing a funding bill?

Because, like Mark Sanford as mentioned in the previous thread, they'd get primaried out.

To which I say, well, that's kind of your fault, isn't it? Your candidate was Trump. You couldn't produce anyone better; even Jeb! didn't impress anyone. Find a better candidate, and then worry about it. For now, how about just reopening the goddamned government, and regrouping later.
posted by Melismata at 10:22 AM on January 18 [13 favorites]


Why would Republican lawmakers be waiting for a disaster to end the shutdown, when they could end it anytime they wanted by passing a funding bill?

McConnell could end it any time he wants to. He doesn't want to. I'm sure there are some rank and file GOP members who would happily vote to reopen the government if McConnell allowed the vote, but none of them are willing to publicly stand up to him directly without some sort of disaster that would force his hand.
posted by Roommate at 10:22 AM on January 18 [9 favorites]


Doktor Zed: Why Democrats Have Suddenly Started Talking About Impeachment (The Atlantic)

Aherm, may I point to a statement by John Whitbeck, the chairman of Virginia's Republican Party, on NPR on May 2nd, 2018: "If the Democrats take the House, they will impeach this president. And it's coming, if they have the majority."

So, this sounds crazy, right? Except that NPR story includes a soundclip, where Trump was first putting words in the mouth of Maxine Waters:
PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: We have to keep the House. Because if you listen to Maxine Waters ... she goes around saying, we will impeach him. We will impeach him.
(And then there's the fake quote, twisting this bit into a dumb meme that if elected president, her first act would be to impeach Trump, as if to shift the story that DONNY HIMSELF was spreading and make Congresswoman Waters look like a fool, but I digress.)

Back to the present: amid the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) press releases re-spun as articles, Wired makes the bold proclamation: If Trump Told Cohen to Lie, Impeachment Is Coming (Garrett M. Graff, Jan. 18, 2019)
AS THE GOVERNMENT shutdown neared the one-month mark, the political landscape shifted under Washington’s feet Thursday night, dramatically and perhaps permanently altering the path of our nation’s politics. BuzzFeed’s duo of Russia probe reporters posted a blockbuster report that President Trump directed Michael Cohen to lie to Congress about the Trump Tower Moscow Project.

The allegation, which Buzzfeed sourced to two federal law enforcement officials, simultaneously adds new information to both the “collusion” and “obstruction” sides of the Russia probe. The idea that the President of the United States directed his personal attorney to lie to Congress about his attempt to complete a multi-hundred-million-dollar deal with Vladimir Putin in the midst of the presidential campaign is, in short, as big as it gets.

As senator Sheldon Whitehouse, a former prosecutor, laid out [tweet], the accusation at the core of the BuzzFeed report constitutes at least four potential felonies: “criminal obstruction of justice (18 U.S.C. 1505, 1512), subornation of perjury (18 U.S.C. 1622), conspiracy (18 U.S.C. 371) and likely aiding and abetting perjury (18 U.S.C. 2).” Those phrases also meant something specific to students of recent political history: Suborning perjury was part of the articles of impeachment that targeted both Richard Nixon and Bill Clinton.
Emphasis mine, because ... yeah, this particular "Maybe This Time..." is looks like the needle is pushing towards "YES, this time Trump went too far."
posted by filthy light thief at 10:23 AM on January 18 [23 favorites]


Why would Republican lawmakers be waiting for a disaster to end the shutdown, when they could end it anytime they wanted by passing a funding bill?

They think a disaster will give them enough political cover to break from Trump. It'll be a race to see which of them can be first to stand atop the rubble and declare enough is enough.
posted by notyou at 10:23 AM on January 18 [17 favorites]


According to the Washington Post reporter Robert Costa, some Republican lawmakers close to the White House have privately concluded that the shutdown won’t end until TSA employees stay home and Americans “get furious about their flights.”
I'd be really curious about what percentage of potential Trump fans fly regularly, though. I live in Iowa, and my friends here default to driving, even really long distances to places that I would definitely prefer to fly to. I wouldn't be surprised if flying vs. driving were one of those invisible differences that divided the middle-to-upper-middle-income white people who might consider voting for Trump from middle-to-upper-middle income people who wouldn't dream of voting for that asshole.

Honestly, I don't know what it's going to take for people here to start feeling like the shutdown is hurting them.
posted by ArbitraryAndCapricious at 10:23 AM on January 18 [14 favorites]


Why would Republican lawmakers be waiting for a disaster to end the shutdown, when they could end it anytime they wanted by passing a funding bill?

They're desperately hoping that a disaster will be enough to either cow the Dems into negotiating with terrorists and funding the wall, or else cow Trump into backing down and allow them to get the shutdown ended without having to call out the President and risk him turning on them in an impotent rage.

They're basically holding out and waiting for a miracle that lets them resolve this situation without losing face. Which: too fucking bad.
posted by sciatrix at 10:24 AM on January 18 [27 favorites]


Melismata: For now, how about just reopening the goddamned government, and regrouping later.

Reopen and regroup? Sounds like a prior (failed) GOP jingle: repeal and replace. They need better song writers.

In other (scientific) news: To fight climate misinformation, point to the man behind the curtain -- Point not just to the lies, but who's behind them, researchers suggest. (Cathleen O'Grady for Ars Technica, Jan. 18, 2019)
In 2018, Gallup’s annual environment survey found that overall concern about climate change in the US was roughly stable. But within that stability was a growing divide. The 87 percent of Democrats who reported in 2017 that they believe global warming is a result of human activity bumped up slightly to 89 percent in 2018. Meanwhile, for Republicans, that number dipped from 40 percent in 2017 to 35 percent in 2018.

How can the misinformation campaign driving this divide be fought? Just reporting and reiterating the facts of anthropogenic climate change doesn’t seem to work [Ars Technica x 2]. A paper in Nature Climate Change this week argues that attempts to counter misinformation need to draw on the research that is illuminating the bad actors behind climate denialism, the money funding them, and how their coordinated campaigns are disrupting the political process.

Facts alone won’t cut it

“It is not enough simply to communicate to the public over and again the scientific consensus on human-caused climate change,” write Justin Farrell, Kathryn McConnell, and Robert Brulle in their paper, because “individuals’ preexisting ideologies [Ars Technica] and values systems can play a significant role in whether they accept or reject scientific consensus.”

Something called “attitudinal inoculation” [Ars Technica] does show some promise as a strategy—essentially informing people of the facts while also providing a warning of the existence of misinformation campaigns and the arguments and strategies they might use. This “vaccine” strategy can create resistance by using a small dose of the virus, and it seems to work across the political spectrum.
posted by filthy light thief at 10:29 AM on January 18 [32 favorites]


They're basically holding out and waiting for a miracle that lets them resolve this situation without losing face.

McConnel is crafty, but craven. He's by and large the only decision maker who can save Trump from himself. He could easily veto Trump, but that would mean he wouldn't be Trump's boy anymore either.

Pelosi's play here, rightly I think, is to hold out long enough for Senate Republicans to revolt and over-ride McConnel publicly. She's probably only a handful of votes away from getting a veto over-ride majority in the Senate on a funding bill and gets more leverage with every terrible news story.

At this point McConnel might possibly prefer that as the least damaging option. There is less heat to him and caps the growing discontentment at the base. That makes Pelosi his Fairy Godmother here, if he's only smart enough to realize it.
posted by bonehead at 10:37 AM on January 18 [9 favorites]


PBS News Hour's Courtney Norris: "NEW: Sen. Jeff Merkley has formally requested FBI Director Wray open a perjury investigation into Sec. of Homeland Security Kirstjen Nielsen. @SenJeffMerkley says “new documents show Nielsen lied in sworn testimony to Congress about the administration’s family separation policy.”" (pic)

The NYT's Caitlin Dickerson, yesterday: "First DHS said I made up family separation, that sources were lying to me and giving fake documents. Then they said it lasted only 45 days under “zero tolerance.” Today, HHS confirmed publicly what our reporting has always shown: None of that pushback was true."

Rep. Ted Lieu clarifies:
TRANSLATION: @SecNielsen lied to the American people when she said there was no family separation policy. (This is not news, but I want to keep highlighting Nielsen is a liar).

NEWS: The family separation policy resulted in even more children ripped away from their parents.
posted by Doktor Zed at 10:38 AM on January 18 [118 favorites]




The realisation yesterday (when was that?) that *thousands* of children had been separated and incarcerated, beyond what was already known, and that this was going on before the advertised policy change came and went like a small cloud passing across the disc of the sun. It has filtered down to last century's news within 24 hours. In the coming few weeks, it will be important, for everyone's sanity, to sift, filter, and ensure that the big stories (no Big Macs, no Typos) stick.
posted by stonepharisee at 10:51 AM on January 18 [57 favorites]


BeginAgain: It’s still a little bit crazy to me that Trump has had the potential for a relatively boring and “successful” presidency (a growing economy, Middle East conflicts winding down, R control over Congress)

diogenes: That's kind of an odd framing. He's beholden to a hostile foreign power. A crisis was inevitable. There was never the potential for a boring and successful presidency.

Speaking for BeginAgain, and possibly misintrpreting their point, but I think the idea was that Trump had it really good when he won. It would have been easy to just coast on the successes set up by Obama, and in fact he did, for a while*.

But he had to be the Anti Obama, trying to undo anything with Obama's signature on it. That wasn't the whole of the problem - it was compounded by the fact that it was all so damned inept -- NO ONE of skill is in this administration, unless you count their over-all plan to take the money, inflict misery upon those deemed to be "Others," and run away with their ill-gained loot. They're pirates pretending to be modern royalty.**

*Well, depending on who you asked: Economists agree: Trump, not Obama, gets credit for economy (Liz Peak in an opinion piece run on The Hill, Jan. 14, 2018 -- but per her bio line, "Liz Peek is a former partner of major bracket Wall Street firm Wertheim & Company. For 15 years, she has been a columnist for The Fiscal Times, Fox News, the New York Sun and numerous other [Conservative] organizations."

For a more balanced look, Comparing the 'Trump economy' vs. the 'Obama economy' (Meg Kelly/The Washington Post | Fact Checkre, Sept. 18, 2018)
Many of the eight factors we examined tell a common story — the start of Trump’s economy follows the trend set by the last years of Obama’s economy. We’ll keep an eye out as the president’s policy changes — from tariffs to taxes — settle into the U.S. and global markets, but as of now, Trump is still working off the base Obama built.
** Confirmed in this headline and article: Economists see the Trump economy slowing drastically next year before a possible recession in 2020 (Patti Dom for CNBC, Nov. 21 2018)
  • Economic growth pops in 2018, boosted by tax cuts, but those benefits should fade in 2019 and growth will get back to its longer-term pace of near 2 percent.
  • A group of 10 economists, including the Fed, have an average forecast of 2.4 percent for 2019, according to a CNBC survey.
  • Three big factors are behind the slower growth — fading impact of tax cuts, trade wars and tariffs and the Federal Reserve’s rate-hiking policy.
  • Economists do not see a recession until 2020, at the earliest.
That 2020 date is key - if Trump and Co stay out of jail and can juice the economy once more, he has some chance at re-election. If he stays out of jail but we get a recession in 2020, his changes go down further, unless he can pin it on the Dems well enough to fool half of voters that he's still going to do right by them, or at least hurt the right people (New York Times). Voter suppression and mis-information campaigns, if not blocked, could help him retain his illegitimate position.
posted by filthy light thief at 10:53 AM on January 18 [18 favorites]


“While it may be horrible for the country,” she said of the shutdown, “it’s fine for the party.”

This seems to be the slogan for politics in the Trump era. I hate that this kind of self-interest over-rides everything else. Ugh.
posted by Fizz at 11:20 AM on January 18 [17 favorites]


@parscale: Since Chuck and Nancy keep stonewalling the President, we’ll send the wall to them, brick by brick, until they agree to secure the border! buildtheborderwall.com

@meridithmcgraw: Inbox: For a payment of $20.20, the Trump campaign says they will send a “faux brick” to Pelosi and Schumer’s offices “with facts about the need for border security and an appeal to “TEXT ‘WALL’ to 88022.”

@jackiekcalmes: Oh, so it's BRICKS now? I thought we'd moved from cement to steel? Does Trump know? Did you tell the steelworkers that Trump's said would benefit from the wall construction?
And why do we need $5.7 billion now if you can't make up your mind what the wall is made of?

@JohnDingell: Some 800,000 workers aren’t being paid during the shutdown, but Trump and his campign sure are. Families are suffering, yet this President remains a damned two-bit grifter.

@JoshSchwerin: Remember this when somebody gets a brick thrown through their office window
posted by zachlipton at 11:23 AM on January 18 [60 favorites]


I'd be really curious about what percentage of potential Trump fans fly regularly, though...

Honestly, I don't know what it's going to take for people here to start feeling like the shutdown is hurting them.


The precipitating event may be illness due to a lack of food inspections. Everyone eats, and a mass food poisoning may strike a nerve with people whose concept of morality is more likely to include an emphasis on cleanliness.
When asked what foods he won't eat during the shutdown, food safety attorney Bill Marler said, "I would say anything you aren't controlling yourself, so any fresh, uncooked products on the market place," such as ready-to-eat salads and prepackaged sandwiches, or meals that aren't cooked.
...
"I worry about those foods that are going to institutions like hospitals, like nursing homes ... I worry about our most vulnerable consumers," said Catherine Donnelly, a professor at the University of Vermont and expert on the microbiological safety of food.
posted by Jpfed at 11:29 AM on January 18 [36 favorites]


“While it may be horrible for the country,” she said of the shutdown, “it’s fine for the party.”

This seems to be the slogan for politics in the Trump era. I hate that this kind of self-interest over-rides everything else. Ugh.


I hate this too, and when we had a 4 day shutdown about DACA a year ago, I was very much "stop the shutdown!"

But now it just feels inevitable, and we might as well get it over with. We had, what, 3 shutdowns in 2018? Trump takes hostages and makes threats. It's all he knows how to do. We gave in twice already in 2018. Since it worked so well for him, he's doing it again.

The better this tactic works, the more Trump will use it. I think capitulating now and paying the ransom will just put the hostages (federal workers, and all of us who depend on them) in more danger, since it gives him an incentive to do this again in the future.

So just this once, I'm saying "hold firm." Make him see that these tactics DON'T always work. We don't negotiate with terrorists.

But fuck "fine for the party." Do it only if you honestly believe it's good for the American people, including, in the long run, federal workers.
posted by OnceUponATime at 11:32 AM on January 18 [22 favorites]


Despite exhortations like "it's the economy stupid," do we have real evidence that the state of the economy is actually something the average American is capable of understanding or really giving a shit about, except to the extent that they're told they should?

It is pretty clear that only a tiny group of the already well-to-do has benefited from the post-2008 economic "recovery."
posted by aspersioncast at 11:32 AM on January 18 [8 favorites]




Those walls sure do work wonders...

CBP: Group of 376 migrants tunneled under border wall near Yuma
posted by MrVisible at 11:42 AM on January 18 [7 favorites]


The WaPo covered the meeting between Trump and North Korean Kim Yong Chol. Three things stood out: "denuclearization" is still an undefined term, the talks have been stalled because North Korea doesn't have any reason to treat envoy Steve Biegun seriously, and Kim Yong Chol is described as a "spy chief" and Trump sure has a thing for hosting people like that in the White House.
posted by peeedro at 11:43 AM on January 18 [5 favorites]


The ongoing government shutdown seems like a good time to rewatch this from 2017:
posted by mazola at 11:44 AM on January 18 [6 favorites]




There's a food line for furloughed federal workers in DC that currently stretches around the side of this building.

Mere blocks from the Old Post Office, currently being soiled as a Trump Hotel.

A breadline in front of the huge TRUMP sign there would be an indelible image.
posted by ryanshepard at 11:55 AM on January 18 [59 favorites]


According to the Washington Post reporter Robert Costa, some Republican lawmakers close to the White House have privately concluded that the shutdown won’t end until TSA employees stay home and Americans “get furious about their flights.”

They're basically begging someone, anyone, to give them enough cover to go against Trump's wishes. They need a big group to hide behind, like the TSA, so they can claim they're helpless and have to reluctantly go against the president. This still fails on the obvious points of Mitch Mconnell being Mitch McConnell and Trump being Trump.

But hey, it might lead to something crazy like Trump just firing the whole TSA without any plan to replace them, because that would make everything so much better, right?
posted by scaryblackdeath at 12:00 PM on January 18 [12 favorites]


Incredibly, this is a serious question: what happens if the Senate Majority Leader is impeached?
Under Article I, Section 5, clause 2, of the Constitution, a Member of Congress may be removed from office before the normal expiration of his or her constitutional term by an “expulsion” from the Senate (if a Senator) or from the House of Representatives (if a Representative) upon a formal vote on a resolution agreed to by two-thirds of the Members of that body present and voting....

Members of Congress are not removed by way of an “impeachment” procedure in the legislature, as are executive and judicial officers, but are subject to the more simplified legislative process of expulsion. A removal through an impeachment requires the action of both houses of Congress—impeachment in the House and trial and conviction in the Senate; while an expulsion is accomplished merely by the House or Senate acting alone concerning one of its own Members, and without the constitutional requirement of trial and conviction.
posted by DevilsAdvocate at 12:12 PM on January 18 [4 favorites]


Reuters, $11 toothpaste: Immigrants pay big for basics at private ICE lock-ups
Detained in a California lockup with hundreds of other immigrants seeking asylum, Duglas Cruz faced a choice.

He could content himself with a jailhouse diet that he said left him perpetually hungry. Or he could labor in the prison’s kitchen to earn money to buy extra food at the commissary.

Cruz went to work. But his $1-a-day salary at the privately run Adelanto Detention Facility did not stretch far.

A can of commissary tuna sold for $3.25. That is more than four times the price at a Target store near the small desert town of Adelanto, about two hours northeast of Los Angeles. Cruz stuck with ramen noodles at 58 cents a package, double the Target price. A miniature deodorant stick, at $3.35 and more than three days’ wages, was an impossible luxury, he said.

“If I bought that there wouldn’t be enough money for food,” Cruz said.
posted by zachlipton at 12:21 PM on January 18 [67 favorites]


Cruz went to work. But his $1-a-day salary at the privately run Adelanto Detention Facility did not stretch far.

Isn't that an obvious violation of the 13th Amendment? He's an asylee; he hasn't been convicted of any crime.
posted by Faint of Butt at 12:24 PM on January 18 [89 favorites]


Dustin Volz, WSJ: "DNC Says Russia Tried to Hack Into its Computer Network Days After 2018 Midterms"
WASHINGTON—The Democratic National Committee said it was targeted by an unsuccessful cyberattack eight days after the 2018 midterm elections—and believes one of the Russian hacking groups that broke into its network during the 2016 presidential campaign was behind the attempted intrusion.

Official DNC email addresses received spear-phishing emails on Nov. 14, 2018, the political organization wrote in an amended court submission filed late Thursday as part of a long-running lawsuit against the Russian government and others entities. There is no evidence that the attack was successful, the DNC said.

“The content of these emails and their timestamps were consistent with a spear-phishing campaign that leading cybersecurity experts have tied to Cozy Bear,” the DNC wrote, using a name commonly used to identify the hacking squad associated with Russian intelligence services. “Therefore, it is probable that Cozy Bear again attempted to unlawfully infiltrate DNC computers in November 2018.”
...
Cozy Bear was the first of two Russian groups to hack the DNC during the 2016 presidential cycle, according to the U.S. intelligence community and cybersecurity companies that investigated the intrusions.
...
Investigators concluded Cozy Bear wasn’t the Russian group that orchestrated the hack and leak operation of Democratic emails in 2016—and that its mission appeared to be one more aligned with traditional foreign espionage, such as eavesdropping on private communications to glean insight into possible policy decisions. The other group that hacked the DNC, known as Fancy Bear and associated Russia’s military intelligence agency, is generally blamed for the overt attempts to interfere in the election.
...
Some cyber researchers in recent months have said they have tracked new phishing campaigns linked to Cozy Bear. U.S.-based cyber firm FireEye published research saying it had detected new phishing activity on Nov. 14—the same day DNC said it received the unsuccessful phishing emails––against over 20 of its clients in various industries, including law enforcement, the U.S. military, transportation and national government.

In December the National Republican Congressional Committee disclosed that it fell victim to a cyberattack last April by an unidentified hacker that some familiar with the investigation believe was a foreign operator. In that episode, the intruder maliciously accessed confidential committee emails that were being hosted by a third-party cloud-service provider through a password compromise.
posted by OnceUponATime at 12:25 PM on January 18 [11 favorites]


But hey, it might lead to something crazy like Trump just firing the whole TSA without any plan to replace them, because that would make everything so much better, right?

We should have dissolved the TSA and gone back to private contracted airport security anyway. If that were to happen here I'd call it a silver lining in a huge ugly cloud.

Personally I'm doubtful we'll see a motivating food safety issue because of this shutdown before other negative effects like TSA lines or some other social services - perhaps beer availability? Libertarian "they have a motivation to stay in business!!" statements are junk but food safety is a process, so it's not just going to go poof because inspection & enforcement stops. Those operations know that barring societal breakdown they'll be back to being inspected eventually (and if society breaks down they have bigger problems) so they're not going to just suddenly start doing reckless shit. I'm sure eventually there will be some marginal actors who will fuck up without regular policing but I don't think it'll speed up enough to worry people.

Unfortunately I think the public is primed to just view occasional food poisoning as the cost of society now. When was the last year without a sizable recall because of e coli and produce? The shutdown will likely just mean that these things, which people expect to happen, will be uglier and take longer to be detected and stopped. Perhaps what would have been a recall will instead be hushed up because some bean counter decides it's cheaper to pay off some victims than actually recall product. But that's probably under the radar, not a call to action.
posted by phearlez at 12:27 PM on January 18 [4 favorites]


Trump’s Shutdown Is a Historic Opportunity for Democrats (Nathaniel Frank and Evan Wolfson, Slate)
But while Democrats may be poised to win the short-term political argument over the shutdown, the pain and suffering it has inflicted are part of a long-term right-wing strategy that’s older and broader than many people realize. That strategy involved a decades-long campaign to turn everything from the courts to the Congress to the country’s overall cultural character sharply rightward by stigmatizing forms of collective action—government, unions, even voting—that history shows are necessary counterweights to the greed of the powerful.

This long-game effort calls for an equal and opposite strategy: something that will bolster the promising, if disparate, elements of the resistance—mass protests, diverse candidates, grass-roots door-knocking, bold policy ideas—by offering a sustained, deep story about the positive role government plays in American life. To change the narrative effectively, progressives should launch a long-term persuasion campaign designed to restore belief in government.

This campaign should draw lessons from the right-wing playbook and should also take elements from the last great successful progressive persuasion push: the movement to shift public opinion on LGBTQ equality. As with that transformation, which involved rejecting shame and timidity to insist that “gay is good,” this campaign should reinvigorate the understanding that “government is good,” and integrate a values-driven narrative alongside organizing, legislating, and other methods of change.
It's an opportunity for those who understand that there is a long game going on, and understand what it is. Emphasis mine.
posted by ZeusHumms at 12:32 PM on January 18 [42 favorites]


Trump’s Russian Policy: Outright Collusion … or Baffling Incompetence? (Mike Pesca, Slate, 1/17/2019)
Whether it’s to own the libs, feed his ego, or plow headfirst into the fire, Trump—even in a thought experiment where he is innocent—has acted in ways that are inexplicably destructive.
It's an odd thought experiment that ends with the idea that the end results would be the same either way.
posted by ZeusHumms at 12:40 PM on January 18 [10 favorites]






impeachment in the House and trial and conviction in the Senate; while an expulsion is accomplished merely by the House or Senate acting alone concerning one of its own Members, and without the constitutional requirement of trial and conviction

I should have been more clear. Both of these remedies seem like they depend on the Senate Majority Leader allowing the votes in the first place.

Does Mitch McConnell have to, like, be arrested before his strangle hold on the Senate is broken? I honestly don't know.
posted by schadenfrau at 12:47 PM on January 18 [7 favorites]


It's an odd thought experiment that ends with the idea that the end results would be the same either way.

It's especially weird considering we know that Putin had something on Trump: Trump's own outreach over Trump Tower Moscow. But in Pesca's thought experiment, Putin held nothing over Trump even though we know for a fact that's not true.

And now as of today we know that the coverup extended to suborning perjury.
posted by BungaDunga at 12:53 PM on January 18 [4 favorites]


What happens if a big earthquake hits during the government shutdown?

Same thing that happened when two big wildfires hit. And Hurricane Maria.
posted by Autumnheart at 12:54 PM on January 18 [22 favorites]


Federal workers look set to miss their second pay period. @LisaDNews
(ICYMI) CONFIRMED w/ mult. offices:

- The Senate has left for the next week. No votes are expected next week.
- Senators will get 24-hours'
notice of any votes.
- SO: Senate essentially expecting no deal and that *fed workers will miss a second paycheck*
And it appears the Times has confirmed what Pelosi said: the White House leaked their plans to fly commercial to Afghanistan, even as the White House continues to deny it:
People close to Mr. Trump, who did not want to be identified because they said they did not have authorization to divulge Ms. Pelosi’s schedule, revealed late Thursday that she was planning to make the trip anyway, flying commercially. Word of the plan spread through the White House, and among those who had conversations about it was Mr. Trump himself.

On Friday, a White House official denied the charge, saying that there was no way for Ms. Pelosi to have kept her trip a secret.
The Onion did its part: Defiant Pelosi Begins Swimming To Afghanistan After Trump Denies Use Of Government Plane
posted by zachlipton at 12:59 PM on January 18 [46 favorites]


CBS, U.S. refuses to discuss Iranian TV anchorwoman's detention
The constitutionality of the material witness law has "never been meaningfully tested," said Ricardo J. Bascuas, a professor at the University of Miami School of Law. "The government only relies on it when they need a reason to arrest somebody but they don't have one."

No matter the reason for Marzieh Hashemi's detention, she should have been granted a court appearance by now, Bascuas said.
She's a US citizen.
posted by zachlipton at 1:04 PM on January 18 [53 favorites]


I've seen this video floating around lately & don't remember seeing it back when it was taken. It's pretty creepy, no?

@kylegriffin1 In light of recent reports, it's worth highlighting again this July 2017 video of Trump seeming to gesture to Putin at the G-20.
[video]
posted by scalefree at 1:05 PM on January 18 [5 favorites]


MrVisible: Those walls sure do work wonders...

CBP: Group of 376 migrants tunneled under border wall near Yuma


Regarding the limitations of walls, there is (as always) a very good Alexandra Erin Twitter thread from a few days back. Takeaway:
The wall is going to stop somewhere in the neighborhood of diddly and squat, so if the wall goes up, the point will not be to make us as a people feel safer but to make us as a people feel less safe. More afraid. Terrified. The wall didn't stop them. They're still coming.

The wall's not designed to fail. It's not designed to do anything. It was a rhetorical concept to score political points, but using it has backed Trump into a position where he's got to pursue building it. And its failure will become the next rhetorical trick.

...

"We tried it your way, but these sick people are so determined they will cut through our beautiful wall." And the circumvention of the wall will be said to prove their intent is bad, because they didn't just walk in through an open door, they kicked it in.

The Trump regime has already committed atrocities to try to purge the country by shock and fear. That's the point of child separation. They want refugees to be more afraid to come to the US than they are to flee the dangers in their homelands.

...

The wall is the tactic of a racist fearmonger. But a fearmonger can't sell a solution that makes his marks actually *feel* safer, because in doing so he ends his power.

If the wall is built, it will be used to incite more fear, worse fear, deadlier fear.

We cannot allow it.

...

You know what time it is:

Cry havoc and let slip the dogs of civic participation.

posted by InTheYear2017 at 1:23 PM on January 18 [50 favorites]


The glee that washed over me with the Buzzfeed story drop has slowly but surely transformed into a furious anger. I am fighting my inclinations to wallow in angst and gloom, which is usually where anger takes me eventually.

I'm strongly in agreement with saysthis, from the tail end of the previous megathread. Aggressive intervention is warranted by the emergency situation that is rapidly escalating in the Executive Branch right now.

Trump is so very very clearly and definitively demonstrating that he is an active threat to the safety and security of the United States and its citizens, and is particularly hazardous to our duly elected officials. He is brazenly and openly broadcasting that this threat of harm is intentional, it is malicious, and he will not stop trying to actively harm anyone and everyone he chooses.

Pelosi can act right now by convening an emergency session of the House of Representatives and bring Robert Mueller in to corroborate the factual claims made in the Buzzfeed article. He is patriotic more than he is partisan, and he would likely comply with Pelosi if the scope of questions was narrow and didn't threaten other investigations. If Mueller agrees that it is substantially correct and supported by multiple independent smoking-gun incontrovertible evidence, then impeachment proceedings must start immediately after that, literally starting the vote while Mueller is walking toward the chamber exits.

Trump is actively harmful, right now. Whether he's acting on behalf of or under the direction of hostile foreign enemies, or he's history's most oblivious patsy, he has unquestionably demonstrated his intention and ability to cause harm to our citizens, our Government, and our elected leaders. This threat needs to be contained with extreme prejudice immediately.

Stop him now. Failure to act, by the only people who have the constitutional authority to do so, is a gross dereliction of duty.

Neutralize this unprecedented and unpredictable hostile enemy before he can do any more harm.

His immediate Administration staff and the military chain of command has a choice right now, with every order that Trump issues to them, of either doing this dangerous criminal's bidding, or standing in his way. Insubordination is risky, but if you can't do it in the face of this clear and present danger, when do you finally plant your feet? Following orders and facilitating this hostile domestic enemy's harmful actions is an overt threat to the country itself. You don't need to act on behalf of a known, named, and declared enemy nation or organization in order to commit acts of destructive aggression against our unexpectedly fragile nation at this turbulent time. We the people have a well-defined expression for this systematic, destructive, aggression: waging war.

Make no mistake, war against the United States is happening right now, and Donald Trump is waging it with every tweet, with every abhorrent administrative decision and executive order that stand in direct opposition to the highest principles that are expressed through, and strengthened by our Constitution. That Constitution is the charter by which the government of the United States has claim to legitimacy, as it is the only expressed consent of we the people to be so governed.

Donald Trump is continually ignoring, undermining, or outright attacking the Constitution.

At least one of his tweets this morning regarding Michael Cohen and his father-in-law cannot be seen as anything less than a felony act of witness tampering and intimidation. He is openly and repeatedly committing felonies, in a flagrant disregard for the laws of this country to which he has the most unique and solemn responsibility to defend. Donald Trump continues to declare war on the United States of America, through his relentless hostile aggressions that aren't just a dereliction of his duty, but an intentional, malicious, and doggedly persistent campaign to harm the people, institutions, and Constitution of this nation. The President has been given that blessed burden of tireless defense of this nation, and thereby has also been given terrifying powers he alone can wield to fulfill his sacred duty to defend. Instead of defending, he is attacking, thereby showing himself to be an enemy.

This president has declared war on the United States. That is treason, even if Congress is unwilling or unable to recognize or declare his status as an enemy.

The unique, historically unprecedented danger posed by the position of this existential threat within the Executive branch of the very government itself warrants an unprecedented and unmistakable countermeasure.

The possible punishments for being found guilty of treason are harsh. I don't invoke that word lightly. With what is known now, particularly considering the troves of unreleased but almost assuredly incontrovertible evidence currently in secretive investigative custody on our behalf, the charge is warranted.

But he's not even hiding it. The staggering audacity of his very public behaviors paints an undeniable portrait of Enemy Combatant Individual 1. He's been telling us for years exactly who and what he is, and we need to at last believe him, and act appropriately.

Stop him before he launches his next attack. People's lives are at stake. He told us in his uniquely dramatic honesty that he can get away with murder, which in his horrifically distorted world is about as close to a sincere promise as he can get, and the preventable deaths of migrant children is part of his fulfillment of that promise. He will not stop, he's told us loud and clear that he has no intention of stopping. He's going to continue his war against us, and no number of dead bodies will be too many for him.


Stop him. Today. Before he fulfills more of the horrible promises he made, before he adds even more evidence to the astonishing flood of it that pours so audaciously unprovoked from his every word and action, that he is an earnest, willful traitor to the United States.

This is an unnecessary flirtation with unknown dangers. I'm trying to balance the possibility of civil unrest that might arise from aggressive intervention, against the existential threat of a known traitor being given free reign to wallow unchecked in the Presidency. What are we even trying to defend if we are just going to watch it happen in high-definition agonizing slowness? Everything about this situation has unpredictable historical gravity, and no matter how we get through this we will be forever different. Patience feels like a concession, a surrender. It's just not good enough.

I want us to be better than this.

It saddens me to no end that the institutional defenses in our arsenal would have been engaged with an entirely different disposition if a treasonous President had somehow emerged from the progressive political networks, rather than conservative ones. A progressive equivalent to Trump, if such a thing could exist at all, would have been summarily derailed from any shot at real political power long before the first Primaries were even being scheduled. The gears of justice always turn faster and more aggressively for the poor and powerless and their defenders, and that demonstrable reality is entrenched very deep, and must be addressed with stark honesty if we are to survive and thrive as a nation.

(and I'll stop now, too. Restraining myself to the extent necessary to be this careful and measured in my screed herein is physically and emotionally exhausting.)
posted by yesster at 1:24 PM on January 18 [87 favorites]


Trump will be 2 years in office come Sunday. (I've aged 2000). I've posted these trackings of the Dow Jones performance for presidents at the time of their anniversaries.

The Dow Jones has been around in some form since May 2, 1885. My usual source of historic data has gone 404, so I ended up using a database from a financial firm that goes back to 1900. Here is a list of the percent increase (or decrease) in the first two years of each presidency. I didn't include McKinley, as he started the century in his second term.

Among these Trump's two year performance is 8 out of 20. Trump is no Gerald Ford.

1. F. Roosevelt +90.5%
2. Coolidge +54.0%
3. Obama +48.7%
4. Harding +39.3%
5. Eisenhower +36.5%
6. L. Johnson +33.1%
7. Ford +26.4%
8. Trump +24.6%
9. Clinton +19.4%
10. Bush I +18.4%
11. Reagan 12.6%
12. Truman +8.4%
13. Kennedy +6.0%
14. T. Roosevelt -21.7%
15. Wilson -5.3%
16. Taft 0% (59.92 on March 4, 1909. 59.92 on March 4, 1911)
17. Nixon -8.7%
18. Carter -12.7%
19. Bush II -18.9%
20. Hoover -42.3% (it would go a lot lower)

For those wondering about following the Dow, doing it on a day to day basis will inspire craziness. For example, with the crash of the markets in 1929, the Dow Jones sat at 326.5 on October 22nd and 198.69 on November 13th. In the coming months it would rise to 245.09 by September 10th, 1930 before finally spiraling down to 41.22 in July, 1932.
posted by dances_with_sneetches at 1:27 PM on January 18 [14 favorites]


Buzzfeed’s Chris Geidner:
BREAKING: #SCOTUS removes the Census citizenship question case — over the evidence allowed in the case — from the argument calendar; the "briefing schedule is suspended pending further order of the Court." It was supposed to be heard on Feb. 19.

So, what now? Well, the most likely next step is for DOJ to ask the Supreme Court to review the case — a request for certiorari before judgment. (This would make sense b/c the issue needs to be resolved before the Census is printed this summer.)

So, although the case has been removed from the argument calendar — don't think it's gone. I'd be surprised if we don't see it back before the justices, on the merits, yet this term.
posted by Doktor Zed at 1:27 PM on January 18 [14 favorites]


Earlier someone said they didn't see the Buzzfeed Cohen bombshell in the NYT at all.

Right now, 4:45pm EST on Friday, the top of the right-most (op ed) column on their web site's front page is Frank Bruni, "Buzzfeed's Cohen Story Suggests Trump Never Wanted to Be President." The story itself is below the fold but fairly prominent: "Democrats Call for Inquiry Into Report That Trump Directed Cohen to Lie"
posted by msalt at 1:45 PM on January 18 [10 favorites]


It pays well to work with the Mnuchin. The three Americans to control shares in Deripaska business empire < FT

"Mr Knower of Cerberus Capital Management, Mr Crane, senior operating executive at Pegasus Capital Advisors and Mr Baker, former global chair of corporate restructuring at Latham & Watkins, will also serve as trustees for shares controlled by associates of Mr Deripaska and a Russian bank, Bloomberg reported."
posted by Harry Caul at 1:52 PM on January 18 [8 favorites]


I’ve been reading through section 170 of the 113rd Senate Manual, which is the latest that’s up, and it has a lot of specific times and actions and instructions for the Presiding Officer, but the majority leader is not specifically mentioned. Obviously if you have the votes you can do whatever, but the trial at least starts up automatically. It’s a separate session from general business.
posted by Huffy Puffy at 2:13 PM on January 18 [4 favorites]


I've posted these trackings of the Dow Jones performance for presidents at the time of their anniversaries.

But isn't it basically just superstition to think that the President influences the performance of the stock market (and the entire economy) as much as seems to be the conventional wisdom?
posted by thelonius at 2:15 PM on January 18 [6 favorites]


WaPo, Senate GOP mulling rules change to speed up confirmations of Trump nominees
Senate Republicans are again considering using a controversial procedural maneuver to change how the chamber handles presidential nominations — a move that would significantly speed up processing of President Trump’s nominees and that of his successors in the White House.

Typically, a nomination can be debated for a maximum of 30 hours on the Senate floor after senators invoke cloture, which is a vote that officially cuts off unlimited debate on a nomination and now only needs a simple majority to occur. But Republicans are mulling cutting short those 30 hours to as brief as two hours for relatively noncontroversial nominees, such as candidates for the district court.

Changing the Senate rules was one of several topics raised during a private Senate Republican retreat held at a conference center at Nationals Park on Thursday. While GOP senators discussed wanting support from Democrats to revise the rules — a process that would take 67 votes — Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) also raised the prospect of using the so-called “nuclear option” to change the rules unilaterally, according to two senators in attendance who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss the closed-door retreat.
Sarah Binder has some thoughts on why this is happening and why it didn't happen already.
posted by zachlipton at 2:42 PM on January 18 [6 favorites]


Trump announcement via Twitter: I will be making a major announcement concerning the Humanitarian Crisis on our Southern Border, and the Shutdown, tomorrow afternoon at 3 P.M., live from the @WhiteHouse.

His use of the word Crisis here indicates this will be the announcement of a national emergency since that's the prerequisite for doing so.
posted by Justinian at 2:56 PM on January 18 [16 favorites]


This is the bumpy part, right? He is not going to get saner or less crimey the closer he gets to ouster. Far from it, dude.

YT link of Trump's ... gesture to Putin at G20, around 00:51.
twitter video doesn't work on any device I have and noiamnotgettingtwitter.
posted by petebest at 3:08 PM on January 18 [8 favorites]


If he does, I think the impeachment momentum begins to hit critical mass.
posted by schadenfrau at 3:12 PM on January 18 [4 favorites]


He's actually gonna do it. I never thought it was likely. Ugh.
posted by j_curiouser at 3:13 PM on January 18 [5 favorites]




Trump's been amplifying his rhetoric since before the shutdown began. @realDonaldTrump first started using the c-word in regard to the border on December 22nd, upgrading to the "Humanitarian and National Security crisis" in conjunction with his Oval Office speech announcement on January 7. It's interesting that today, however, he dropped the national security angle. The broader picture is that he's using reality TV show promo tactics—"Tune in tomorrow to learn what Donnie's major announcement is!"—to draw attention away from the Buzzfeed bombshell. We'll see how far he's willing to take it.

Meanwhile, a border-district GOP rep sets Rolling Stone straight about the situation there: Republican Congressman: Trump’s Border Crisis Is a ‘Myth’
Congressman Will Hurd of Texas is an increasingly lonely voice in the “build the wall” Republican Party of Donald Trump. A 41-year-old former undercover CIA officer, Hurd represents one of the largest congressional districts in America, Texas’ 23rd, a vast expanse of land roughly the size of Georgia that stretches from San Antonio to El Paso.

Hurd’s district includes 820 miles of the U.S.-Mexico border, more than any other member of the House of Representatives. But if you’re expecting Hurd, who was narrowly re-elected to a third term last year, to support President Trump’s “big, beautiful wall” and stand with the decision to partially shut down the federal government over the fight, you’ve got it all wrong. Trump’s border crisis is a “myth,” Hurd tells Rolling Stone, and a wall made of cement or steel slats is a “third-century solution to a 21st-century problem.”

“What I always say is building a wall from sea to shining sea is the most expensive and least effective way to do border security,” Hurd says.

He is one of the few Republicans to break ranks and vote with Democrats to approve funding to reopen the government. On Wednesday, he announced that he’d landed a coveted seat on the powerful Appropriations Committee, bringing the perspective of someone who actually knows the border to Congress’ main government-funding committee.
The full interview is worth reading for an on-the-ground look at the situation as well as a Republican who can talk about it without sounding utterly batshit.
posted by Doktor Zed at 3:17 PM on January 18 [44 favorites]


Hurd is a living example of the fact that Texas is becoming purpler and purpler. Which is a good thing, obvs
posted by mumimor at 3:20 PM on January 18 [17 favorites]


My understanding of the legalities here are that Congress has ceded so much authority to the President that he can almost certainly declare the emergency legally (though it will no doubt be challenged anyway) but that his ability to use that emergency to steal money from other places is very much in doubt. Is that everyone else's understanding too?

I assume he'll try to have the military build it with DoD funds rather than grab at disaster relief funds but I wouldn't be surprised at anything anymore.
posted by Justinian at 3:22 PM on January 18 [4 favorites]


He's already ordered the DoD to do some concertina wire and "enforcement" mission bullshit so yea, he's definitely going to keep on pressing everything until he's removed. He's cornered. Our best bet is ironically for him to think he's not cornered, that he still has leverage and control, so that when he's removed it'll be a surprise and an insult. Once he knows he's cornered for sure he's going to cause intense harm.
posted by odinsdream at 3:25 PM on January 18 [4 favorites]


YT link of Trump's ... gesture to Putin at G20

That doesn't seem that unexplainable to me? It's, "You and me, we're tight buds." The fist-shake is international bro sign for "we're manly brothers, you and I." I mean, it's fucking ridiculous because they are not bros, they are heads of adversarial states and supposedly grown ass adults, but the gesture seems pretty standard.
posted by soren_lorensen at 3:26 PM on January 18 [24 favorites]


If he does, I think the impeachment momentum begins to hit critical mass.

Nope, a fake national emergency will do nothing to move Republicans, there's been several Senators encouraging him to do just that, including Graham. The only "surely this..." that might move them one day is the Mueller report, and that's pretty unlikely too, as was just stated above:

Even Trump loyalists know that Trump-Putin-treason is a real thing, they just think it's an OK price for the racism.

Yep, that's accurate, and most of the base openly admits it. They would gladly vote to install Putin himself, as long as he promised to bring his agenda of open white supremacy and open warfare against liberals with him.

The Pod Save America guys last week thought that the national emergency might be the only way to let Trump out with some sort of face saving move, it'll get blocked in court immediately, and let Trump pretend he's done something and is "fighting for the wall" on FOX. At this point that might be the least bad option, but letting him throw an authoritarian fit every few months (or weeks?) backed by McConnell and relying on the (increasingly Trumpified) courts to save us isn't sustainable either.
posted by T.D. Strange at 3:26 PM on January 18 [10 favorites]


Noted that this announcement is also suddenly after he met with DPRK officials.
posted by fluttering hellfire at 3:28 PM on January 18 [7 favorites]


Also its not clear at all that after declaring a state of emergency, Trump will actually allow the government to reopen. He could just keep it up, we don't really know how much he's looking for a way out versus just being Trump.
posted by T.D. Strange at 3:28 PM on January 18 [6 favorites]


Proof that corporate news has f**k-all of an idea for what to do: NYT story on Trump's-definitely-provably-obstructed-justice-at-least is STILL below the fold, under the Kim Jong Un summit "news", "Pelosi delays trip", and I shitteth thee not, a story on Alabama Democrat is mad about the shutdown. Eventually the story appears, entitled Democrats Call for Inquiry Into Report That Trump Directed Cohen to Lie (!!!)

The fnording NYT needs to wake the f up.
posted by petebest at 3:29 PM on January 18 [23 favorites]


Of course he's going to do it. What else can he do?

If he loses chunks of his hardcore base, he's done. No one else supports him, either because the others are sane or because they fear the wrath (electoral and otherwise) of his hardcore base. And the number one thing that his hardcore base wants is The Wall, as a tall, ineffective, expensive monument to how America Is Just For Us.

He can't butt heads with Pelosi and win. He can't force the House to give in. And he's shitting mothballs over all things Mueller and Russia right now. So, this situation calls for a futile and stupid gesture on someone's part... and he's just the guy to do it.
posted by delfin at 3:31 PM on January 18 [2 favorites]


Rep. Grace Meng (D-NY-6) has introduced a bill (H.R. 522) that would prohibit emergencies from being used to build border walls. The text isn't available on congress.gov yet, but here is her press release. It has four cosponsors so far. I would expect it to pass the House if Trump actually declares an emergency, although as long as McConnell maintains his inexplicable iron grip on the Senate I don't see how it goes anywhere there.
posted by jedicus at 3:31 PM on January 18 [23 favorites]


He's losing at every turn. The harm from the shutdown grows increasingly dire, his approval is falling, Nancy Pelosi dunks on him and when he tries to retaliate he falls flat on his face. And then there's the new Cohen revelations, which have to have them all scared. Also, he currently stands to lose the State of the Union, and the Women's March is tomorrow and he wants those headlines for himself.

He can't keep fighting the shutdown fight. He needs it to go away. He also needs to look big and strong and do something to hurt some of his usual targets. And above all, he's not thinking about the consequences or whether or not it will work, because he never does. So yeah, I was worried but not super worried about a declaration of emergency with his last "address." This time it seems to add up a little more clearly.
posted by scaryblackdeath at 3:35 PM on January 18 [9 favorites]


WSJ, Byron Tau and Alexandra Berzon, Justice Department’s Reversal on Online Gambling Tracked Memo From Adelson Lobbyists
The legal reasoning behind the Justice Department’s unusual reversal this week of an opinion that paved the way for online gambling hewed closely to arguments made by lobbyists for casino magnate and top Republican donor Sheldon Adelson.

In April 2017, one of the lobbyists sent a memo to top officials in the Justice Department, arguing that a 2011 opinion that benefited online gambling was wrong.

Officials in the department’s Criminal Division, in turn, forwarded it to the Office of Legal Counsel, which had issued the opinion, and asked attorneys there to re-examine their stance that a law on the books for decades didn’t prohibit online gambling, according to documents and interviews with people familiar with the matter.

The Justice Department this week announced that its Office of Legal Counsel had, in an unusual move, reversed its position, according to documents and interviews.

The department’s new position was a victory for Mr. Adelson, who has poured millions into a multiyear lobbying campaign on the matter, according to public lobbying disclosures. In addition to his advocacy to curb online gambling, Mr. Adelson spent tens of millions in the 2016 election backing President Trump and has emerged as one of the most powerful and influential donors in GOP politics.
posted by zachlipton at 3:37 PM on January 18 [24 favorites]


The fnording NYT needs to wake the f up.

Nobody has confirmed the BuzzFeed News story yet. Jason Leopold has a problematic past with sourcing stories. Other news orgs aren't going to run with it until they know it's solid.

The NY Times story is just a reaction to the BuzzFeed story; the WaPo has done the same thing, Democrats vow aggressive investigations into report that Trump directed Cohen to lie to Congress; CNN too from the other side, Republicans stay mum on bombshell BuzzFeed reporting.
posted by peeedro at 3:39 PM on January 18 [17 favorites]


Some of NYT's hesitancy on the Buzzfeed bombshell may be related to incidents in the reporter's history. See:
Reporter with checkered past comes back with Trump Tower Moscow bombshells for BuzzFeed (CNN)

BuzzFeed defends reporter behind bombshell Cohen story (The Hill)
Of course, right-leaning media are pushing this angle hard. See:
Shocker: Reporter Who Co-Wrote ‘Bombshell’ Story About Trump Directing Cohen To Lie Has A Fake News History ([deliberately not linking to] Townhall)
posted by zakur at 3:41 PM on January 18 [6 favorites]


CNN, Nicole Gaouette, Lawmakers lambast Pentagon climate report
Hurricane Florence ravaged Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune in North Carolina in September, leaving behind an estimated $3.6 billion worth of wreckage. But there's no mention of that in a new Pentagon report detailing the impact of climate change on the defense department.

The "Report on Effects of a Changing Climate to the Department of Defense" does not mention Camp Lejeune, the Marine Corps, Hurricane Florence or even the threats posed by extreme weather events -- more destructive storms, more intense rainfall -- that scientists say are more likely given climate change and global warming.

Those omissions are just one reason lawmakers greeted the Congressionally mandated report with eviscerating criticism on Friday. The report didn't meet the legal requirement to list the 10 most vulnerable military installations for each service, they said. And despite the global impact of climate change, it didn't list a single US military installation outside the United States.
posted by zachlipton at 3:46 PM on January 18 [15 favorites]


CNN: Stalled shutdown talks leave Trump feeling cold

There is some joy in knowing that Trump would like to be nowhere else right now than at Mar-a-lago, but the optics would be terrible, so he's forced to sit alone in an under-staffed White House in January.
posted by gwint at 3:47 PM on January 18 [24 favorites]


CBS, Trump says he'll make “major announcement” about border
A senior administration official told CBS News Chief Washington Correspondent Major Garrett that Mr. Trump will present what the White House believes could be a deal to end the shutdown. The deal was largely influenced by talks between Vice President Mike Pence, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and Trump son-in-law and senior adviser Jared Kushner.
Those...those are all Republicans. They maybe made a tentative deal with themselves?

That fits in with something Politico reported today:
The administration, the [GOP] senator added, is not fully factoring in that the Senate’s 60-vote threshold will require Democratic support.

“Every time I talk to them. That’s the assumption, that they believe we can just do it,” the senator said.
It's strange that they want to simultaneously blame Pelosi for the shutdown while acting as if they can end it entirely on their own.
posted by zachlipton at 4:19 PM on January 18 [18 favorites]


There's two reporters on the Buzzfeed byline, and only Leopold has a "checked past". They're not going after Cormier, and hoping to disparage the story by attacking only half the people signed on.
posted by T.D. Strange at 4:21 PM on January 18 [7 favorites]


Wait, so he's not announcing a national emergency tomorrow? You can't just keep calling these press things and say nothing, can you?

The administration, the [GOP] senator added, is not fully factoring in that the Senate’s 60-vote threshold will require Democratic support.

Well, yeah, and the Dems have the majority in the House? If you can command a majority in the House it seems like you'd get the 7 Democratic Senators needed to break a filibuster. This point seems to only matter in the case where a majority of House Democrats support a given deal while a majority of Senate Democrats oppose it... which doesn't strike me as likely. So how is the Senate more of a stumbling block to a deal than the House?
posted by Justinian at 4:24 PM on January 18


There's a concern about reporters sourcing and then there's accusing the president of ordering lying to Congress in service of treason with at least two "law enforcement sources" which you'd be a damn fool to publish if your were at all unsure.
posted by odinsdream at 4:25 PM on January 18 [9 favorites]


People interested in Jason Leopold's checkered past, who have some time on their hands, might want to listen to this Longform Podcast episode. There's an argument to be made, which he makes fairly convincingly, that his massive mistake taught him to be much more careful about his sourcing; and in fact, it was his need to rebuild his credibility that led him into the FOIA specialization that's put him back on the map since then, since documents tend to be more reliable than human sources. Ymmv.
posted by Dr. Send at 4:30 PM on January 18 [15 favorites]


Wow
A spokesperson for special counsel Robert Mueller's office, Peter Carr, disputed BuzzFeed News’ report.

“BuzzFeed’s description of specific statements to the Special Counsel’s Office, and characterization of documents and testimony obtained by this office, regarding Michael Cohen’s Congressional testimony are not accurate,” Carr said.
Given how rarely the Special Counsel's office speaks on anything, that's a notable, if utterly vague to the point of near-meaninglessness, statement.
posted by zachlipton at 4:34 PM on January 18 [50 favorites]


Buzzfeed better be right here or Leopold needs to stop being a journalist and Buzzfeed's entire journalism arm will be in deep doo-doo. Fool me once, shame on me, fool me twice, won't get fooled again.
posted by Justinian at 4:37 PM on January 18 [26 favorites]


That's why the Times hasn't gone all in. Maybe Buzzfeed got Killian Document-ed.
posted by vibrotronica at 4:37 PM on January 18 [3 favorites]


The Special Counsel’s statement also aligns with the vague, polite statement Lanny Davis put out yesterday evening.
posted by notyou at 4:44 PM on January 18 [2 favorites]


Has anyone (news source wise, I mean) begun making a tracker for how many senators seem to be wavering?

I've been trying to keep track, and this is the latest sign of wavering I've seen, reported by Politico yesterday:
Some Senate Republicans were also trying to give Trump an off-ramp, including Sens. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) and Rob Portman (R-Ohio). They hoped to get as many as 20 Republicans and 20 Democrats to sign their letter to Trump, with the hopes that a substantial Democratic commitment to debating border security and a push from Trump’s own party could shift Washington’s stalemate.
As noted by Elizabeth Drew in The Inevitability of Impeachment (NYT), 67 Senate votes is the magic number, and a goal of rallying 20 GOP Senators seems like a step in that direction. If they can get that many GOP members on board, it's no longer an attempt at pleading with the President, it reads like an implied threat.
posted by Little Dawn at 4:48 PM on January 18 [4 favorites]


That’s a strange non-denial denial for the spokesman to break his silence for. My (optimistic) guess would be that the SCO wants to delay Congress from subpoenaing witnesses and documents on the basis of this report. Don’t know if that means anything is imminent, but it should put a damper on all the urgent impeachment talk of the past 24 hours for a couple weeks at least.
posted by stopgap at 4:49 PM on January 18 [11 favorites]


John Dowd, President Trump’s Old Lawyer, Is Still Whispering in His Ear—That’s according to Dowd himself, and confirmed to The Daily Beast by the president’s current lawyer, Rudy Giuliani.

I was wondering why the Beast would be at all interested right now in dragging Dowd back into the spotlight and why Giuliani is so willing to help shine it on him…

The LA Times's Chris Megerian delves into Dowd's original role as Trump's lawyer in light of the Buzzfeed bombshell:
Who saw Michael Cohen's false testimony before he gave it to Congress?

Rudy Giuliani tells me it was shared with the president's lawyers ahead of time.

John Dowd, the president's lawyer at that point, says he didn't give it to Trump.

But did the president talk to Michael Cohen about his testimony?

"I don't know if the president had an individual conversation with him," Rudy Giuliani told me.

It's clear that all of this has drawn scrutiny from Robert Mueller.

In a court filing, the special counsel said Michael Cohen "described the circumstances of preparing and circulating his response to the congressional inquiries."
Marcy Wheeler: "There ya go: John Dowd's the guy who helped Cohen coordinate his lies with Don Jr." (I'd also include Jay Sekulow as a candidate, but even if he were, he's shrewd enough to pin this on Dowd as the fall guy.)
posted by Doktor Zed at 4:50 PM on January 18 [5 favorites]


Chris Hayes
The Carr denial is fascinating and also pretty lawyerly: "description of specific statements" and "characterization"
• Also notable they declined comment in the story itself and then released this *22 hours* after it published. Which is a little odd.

Renato Mariotti
1/ What this suggests to me is that some of the information relied upon by the sources cited by @BuzzFeedNews exists, but was mischaracterized by the sources, who I strongly suspect were not prosecutors.
2/ As I discussed during the episode of my #OnTopic podcast (with @neal_katyal) that is coming out soon, the description of the materials in the @BuzzFeedNews report is so vague that we know very little about them. We don’t know who wrote the texts or emails or who received them.
3/ In a white collar criminal case, precision is very important. It is possible that a law enforcement agent, analyst, or contractor saw a document but didn’t understand its legal significance or a nuance in the document that is important. These cases are rarely black and white.

Malcolm Nance
Shorter Special Counsel statement: ‘Your report may not be precise ... but, more importantly WE don’t leak.’ #CarryOn
posted by chris24 at 5:00 PM on January 18 [18 favorites]


Buzzfeed has pulled its reporter from AC360 in the wake of Carr's statement. That's not a good sign in terms of their confidence in their sourcing and such.
posted by Justinian at 5:02 PM on January 18 [7 favorites]


The non-denial denial from the SCO may also have the intended effect of calming panic in the White House and the crime family in order to buy Mueller more time for whatever he wants that time for. It may be about stalling the House investigations, but it also may be about controlling I-1's reactions. Malcom Nance's read cited above also sounds pretty solid.
posted by scaryblackdeath at 5:02 PM on January 18 [9 favorites]


Ken Dilanian (NBC)low @KenDilanianNBC
To be clear: Mueller is not disputing that Cohen says Trump told him to lie. He’s disputing the line about corroborating evidence taken from Trump Org emails, texts, etc. Still a huge deal. But not a total refutation. In fact, Cohen’s 11/30 memo says Trump directed him to lie.
posted by chris24 at 5:06 PM on January 18 [11 favorites]


@RonanFarrow

I can’t speak to Buzzfeed’s sourcing, but, for what it’s worth, I declined to run with parts of the narrative they conveyed based on a source central to the story repeatedly disputing the idea that Trump directly issued orders of that kind.
posted by bluesky43 at 5:07 PM on January 18 [9 favorites]


The fnording NYT needs to wake the f up.
It's good to remember that if some big breaking news hasn't shown up in the Times, it's almost always NOT because they're asleep. They're probably more awake than ever, frantically trying to independently confirm it, because that's what they do. And almost always, the problem turns out to be the fnording story, not the fnording NYT.

But "problem" doesn't necessarily mean the story's false, of course. Just that it's not as clear-cut as earlier sources had presented.

It's good to remember this, because it certainly will happen again.
posted by neroli at 5:09 PM on January 18 [14 favorites]


Right, the NYT was clearly correct here and it's important to acknowledge that, not just memory hole the criticism and move on to the next time it's time to criticize the NYT.

If Buzzfeed got this story substantially, or even more than trivially wrong, they have done a massive disservice to journalism but more importantly to the country as a whole because it will become a giant cudgel for TrumpCo to absolutely hammer every single journalist investigating them and all the Democrats in Congress who commented with "If true, then..." statements. Which were a lot.

On the other hand if that statement from the SC's office is actually a very carefully parsed denial of a minor aspect of the story while the story as a whole is actually true then they've done journalism and the country a disservice by sowing that discord in an attempt to keep their investigation under wraps for longer. Normally I'd dismiss this possibility as Mueller's office has never shown poor judgment in that way... but in this case they actually declined to comment on the story before publication. If they had told Buzzfeed the story was false, Buzzfeed may well have taken a second look or worded things differently. To decline comment and then to push back less than 24 hours later publicly is very questionable.

Either of the above options is a bad result.
posted by Justinian at 5:14 PM on January 18 [51 favorites]


Speaking of Katyal, WaPo has an op-ed by Neal Katyal and Michael Hayden, The House should investigate impeaching Trump:
We have been exceptionally reluctant to call for the impeachment of President Trump. Impeachment runs the risk of undoing an election and dividing the nation. But there is a big difference between calling for impeachment and calling for an investigation into whether impeachment is appropriate.

After careful review of the articles of impeachment for President Richard M. Nixon, we now believe it is appropriate for the House of Representatives to begin the process by launching an impeachment investigation. No legislator should rush to judgment one way or the other. The process should be designed to uncover the facts.
posted by peeedro at 5:14 PM on January 18 [6 favorites]


Special Counsel Mueller is apparently disputing the BuzzFeed News claim that there is proof Trump told Cohen to lie to Congress. I am 💯 serious when I say: Mueller does not want Donald Trump to shut down his investigation, and Mueller knows that Donald Trump is an idiot. That is why he has made this temporary claim, just like his temporary claim that Donald Trump was not the “target of an investigation”. Simple! 😪😍🇺🇸
posted by East Manitoba Regional Junior Kabaddi Champion '94 at 5:15 PM on January 18 [21 favorites]


Buzzfeed has now put out a statement that they stand by their reporting.
posted by Justinian at 5:15 PM on January 18 [14 favorites]


@Popehat
FWIW my read of the Special Counsel statement is "Oh hell yes obviously we think Trump was in the loop but no we don't have all the evidence they claim." (The fact that someone in the White House was in the loop of Cohen lying was already clear from their sentencing brief.)

---

Yeah, I think BuzzFeed's sources – perhaps FBI agents rather than lawyers – were more confident that what SDNY/Mueller has shows Trump told Cohen to lie than Mueller wants to be publicly or legally right now.
posted by chris24 at 5:19 PM on January 18 [9 favorites]


BuzzFeed were right with the Steele Dossier and they’re right now. Other groups either want to temporarily or permanently deny that, but I have 17 Surprising Reasons Why They’re Wrong (Number 8 Will Surprise You!)
posted by East Manitoba Regional Junior Kabaddi Champion '94 at 5:19 PM on January 18 [39 favorites]


I’m with East Manitoba on this. And it is truthful to say the article is not accurate because there are probably not only documents but tapes.
posted by jasondigitized at 5:21 PM on January 18 [7 favorites]


I think you guys are reaching because of how badly you want it to be true. I mean, I absolutely believe it's true as well, but it's not about what people believe it's about what they can prove. A statement from the SC's office disputing the story on the basis of something like what jasondigitized suggests would be a grave disservice to the country and not something I would expect. There must be something important wrong with the Buzzfeed story.
posted by Justinian at 5:26 PM on January 18 [15 favorites]


Buzzfeed has now put out a statement that they stand by their reporting.

BuzzfeedPR issued a statement six hours ago in response to CNN's hatchet job, before SCO issued its own: "Jason is one of the best journalists in the world, and he has proven it, with reporting that's been months ahead of developments in the Mueller investigation. His and Anthony's work has been provoved to be true at every turn—and it's interesting that these personal attacks are surfacing only now, as the facts become more dangerous for the individuals involved.

"BuzzFeed News stands by this story 100%"

BuzzFeed were right with the Steele Dossier and they’re right now.

The Steele Dossier is, of course, nowhere near 100% accurate, but in publishing it, Buzzfeed pushed the envelope of what the media was willing to report about Trump and Russia. I suspect this is a similar case.

On a completely different topic, could I just mention how fun and refreshing the Hyucking Hyuck thread is? Everyone's bringing their best humor, and the nonstop stream of jokes, japes, and gags really lifts my spirits. Here's hoping the experiment will continue!
posted by Doktor Zed at 5:26 PM on January 18 [17 favorites]


I've been holding my breath on the Cormier/Leopold stories, because I worked with Cormier several years ago. He's an aggressive reporter, good at developing law enforcement sources, but he also wrote a story that resulted in the longest, ugliest correction I saw in my professional career. It was a "please don't sue us" kind of correction, based on an investigation of a county sheriff.

I think he's better, wiser, more careful reporter now, but man, with every byline and every story I can't help having the mental image of a high-wire act. I hope that he and Leopold are bombproof, because if not, Trump will use it to reverse the momentum that's building.
posted by martin q blank at 5:26 PM on January 18 [22 favorites]


I don't know if it was on purpose, but releasing this the day before Trump makes some big announcement is kind of good, in that any announcement of him changing the investigation would make the claims in the story more credible, and affect public opinion where he appears to be reacting to the story. Maybe it'll be NK, maybe UK, maybe Syria again. I'm planning on making an angel food cake soon, so if he does announce something bad I'll put some words on it that I didn't think he'd ever ankle Mueller.
posted by rhizome at 5:27 PM on January 18 [1 favorite]


Ben Smith of Buzzfeed, 8:24pm EST:
In response to the statement tonight from the Special Counsel's spokesman: We stand by our reporting and the sources who informed it, and we urge the Special Counsel to make clear what he's disputing.
posted by lalex at 5:36 PM on January 18 [9 favorites]


Greg Sargent (WaPo)
It seems like an awfully narrow denial. Carr is saying that the "description of specific statements to SC's office" are inaccurate.
Here is what's attributed. We don't know *how much* or *what* is inaccurate here:
Now the two sources have told BuzzFeed News that Cohen also told the special counsel that after the election, the president personally instructed him to lie — by claiming that negotiations ended months earlier than they actually did — in order to obscure Trump’s involvement.
• Second, Carr says that the "characterization of documents/testimony" obtained by SC regarding "Cohen's Congressional testimony" is not accurate. Here's what we're told on that. How much of this, or what in particular, is inaccurate? Unclear.
The special counsel’s office learned about Trump’s directive for Cohen to lie to Congress through interviews with multiple witnesses from the Trump Organization and internal company emails, text messages, and a cache of other documents. Cohen then acknowledged those instructions during his interviews with that office.
posted by chris24 at 5:37 PM on January 18 [4 favorites]


Matt Miller, former DOJ and DSCC, MSNBC analyst is saying what I am trying to say only a lot better: You can spend hours parsing the Carr statement, but given how unusual it is for any DOJ office to issue this sort of on the record denial, let alone this office, suspect it means the story’s core contention that they have evidence Trump told Cohen to lie is fundamentally wrong.

My suspicion based on following the story and the SC's statement is that Cohen coordinated his lies with someone in the White House and they have evidence of that... but that evidence is not directly linked to Trump himself. Which was the characterization of the Buzzfeed piece.
posted by Justinian at 5:37 PM on January 18 [14 favorites]


I think you guys are reaching because of how badly you want it to be true.

FWIW, I think several of the things suggested here can simultaneously be true. There probably is something wrong with the Buzzfeed story, but we're also being left in the dark as to what that might be specifically. That leaves us to wonder why, and what benefit there is to leaving us dark on that point.

But I 100% agree that Buzzfeed being wrong in any way here is a gift to the right-wing bullshit machine and everyone who rallies around the "fake news" battle cry. That part of it absolutely sucks and I'm not looking forward to it.
posted by scaryblackdeath at 5:38 PM on January 18 [9 favorites]


“BuzzFeed’s description of specific statements to the Special Counsel’s Office, and characterization of documents and testimony obtained by this office, regarding Michael Cohen’s Congressional testimony are not accurate,” Carr said.

This is like when you're 13 years old and your mom accuses you of selling weed. If you don't sell weed, you tell your mom "That's not true!" and if you DO sell weed you ALSO say "That's not true!". I can't imagine the special counsel responding with anything other than "Buzzfeed's description is not accurate", regardless of whether it's accurate or not.
posted by 23skidoo at 5:39 PM on January 18 [2 favorites]


[I think we've gone circles around the BuzzFeed story/DOJ denial/possible interpretations enough and can wait for more information to drop.]
posted by Eyebrows McGee (staff) at 5:40 PM on January 18 [15 favorites]


Marcy Wheeler
Folks, as I noted in my post from this morning, the BuzzFeed story conflicted with what SCO had Cohen allocute to under oath. That raised questions for me last night. ABOUT THE BUZZFEED SCOOP: IT’S IMPORTANT, BUT IT OVERSELLS THE LYING PART
• Keep in mind that the BF story is scoped just like Cohen's plea filings were scoped, which went thru SDNY, and SDNY is famously leaky, suggesting sources are at SDNY and not SCO.
• Now consider that SDNY doesn't need Cohen to prove a campaign finance case against Trump, bc they've got people like Weisselberg who didn't themselves commit perjury. That meant they could aggressively characterize Trump's instructions to Cohen.
• Mueller, however, DOES need Cohen. The entire reason he made him plea to that lie, the entire reason he's not gotten a 5K, the entire reason Cohen has shut the fuck up is that Mueller needs to be able to put Cohen on the stand.
• That may well explain why EVEN COHEN'S LAWYER describes Trump's role in Cohen's two lies very differently (the update to my post). SDNY has an incentive to be dramatic w/Cohen's testimony, Mueller must be measured.
• If I'm right that BF's sources are in the vicinity of SDNY, then Mueller is likely even more pissed at them than BF (tho they prolly hate BF bc they've gotten parts of the story no one else has).
• Mueller has spent 1.5 years ensuring they never get accused of leaking. If BF's sources were SDNY, then SDNY just endangered that effort. And THAT is prolly why SCO made a statement, not (primarily) bc of what BF said.
posted by chris24 at 5:54 PM on January 18 [45 favorites]


CNN's Marshall Cohen and Katelyn Polantz find "a handful of distinct areas where reporting from BuzzFeed's bombshell lines up with court records, including the charging documents against Michael Cohen, sentencing memos and hearings": What Court Filings Tell Us About BuzzFeed's Trump-Cohen Allegations

In fact, Cohen’s 11/30 memo says Trump directed him to lie.

Here's what Cohen's defense memo specifically says:
Information 18 Cr. 602: Counts Seven and Eight: Campaign Finance Violations &
Information 18 Cr. 850: Count One: False Statements to Congress

We address the campaign finance and false statements allegations together because both arose from Michael’s fierce loyalty to Client-1. In each case, the conduct was intended to benefit Client-1, in accordance with Client-1’s directives.
That may be a piece of lawyerly rhetorical slight of hand, but it sure sounds like the defense is saying Trump directed Cohen to lie to Congress the same way he told him to lie about the Stormy Daniels hush money. They're more circumspect, however, in the actual section on "False Statements to Congress":
Michael’s false statements to Congress likewise sprung regrettably from Michael’s effort, as a loyal ally and then-champion of Client-1, to support and advance Client-1’s political messaging. At the time that he was requested to appear before the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence and House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, Michael was serving as personal attorney to the President, and followed daily the political messages that both Client-1 and his staff and supporters repeatedly and forcefully broadcast. Furthermore, in the weeks during which his then-counsel prepared his written response to the Congressional Committees, Michael remained in close and regular contact with White House-based staff and legal counsel to Client-1.
So we're back to the hypothesis that a Trump lawyer, probably John Dowd, was coordinating Team Trump's prevarications on Capitol Hill, with the implication by Cohen's lawyers is that it was done at Trump's behest. Perhaps Cohen only received the instructions secondhand, through an intermediary, but they came from the top.

What we don't know is if Mueller has proof of this or merely Cohen's word…

P.S. At the moment, the mainstream media is issuing tons of sloppy reporting about the SCO statement, with headlines like the WaPo's "In a rare move, Mueller's office denies BuzzFeed report that Trump told Cohen to lie about Moscow Project", which may be just as bad as BuzzFeed potentially overselling their story.
posted by Doktor Zed at 6:00 PM on January 18 [7 favorites]


Liked the wedding ring story? Here are further feel-good tales. (Alexandra Petri, WaPo)
If you liked the heartwarming story of the furloughed federal employee who pawned her wedding ring, only to have her family buy it back for her, don’t worry! There are plenty more stories where that came from!

One of the more depressing angles of being alive in this wonderful corner of time is our relentless tendency to try to put a positive spin on horrifying situations: This isn’t a horrifying story about someone without access to the medication they need to live; it’s a heartwarming tale of how 50 strangers got together and bought insulin! This isn’t a harrowing account of how teachers supply classrooms from their own pocket; it’s a feel-good story about the Mom Who Bought 90 Glue Sticks and a Truck! (My friend Jessica M. Goldstein has written about this “Feel-Good Feel-Bad Story” phenomenon repeatedly.)

If we are going to continue this relentless insistence on presenting fundamentally alarming tales about the system’s deep brokenness as uplifting stories of human friendship, here are a few more readers should love: […]

Right in the Feels! This Little Match Girl Was Finally Reunited with Her Grandmother!

Inspiring! Unused Baby Shoes Find New Home

Heartwarming! After Fired Employee Dies on the Street, Former Factory Owner Takes in and Raises Her Child as His Own […]

Uplifting! Self-Sacrificing Employees Demonstrate for Shirtwaist Factory Owner the Importance of Keeping Doors Unlocked
Damn.
posted by Johnny Wallflower at 6:17 PM on January 18 [71 favorites]


I think this is relevant.

@juliettekayyem:
"For two years, stories, whether accurate or not, had no political consequences b/c Ryan didn't do anything. When House Dems start to take news stories as potential evidence to start essentially legal proceedings, Mueller's office has an interest in correcting."
posted by Tarumba at 6:22 PM on January 18 [46 favorites]


Well, since we have to wait a while to find out the whole obstruction story...I was still curious about that signed boxing glove that went to the Liberty U. CIO in lieu of payment for faking polls. (Chronicle story here.) I have no direct connection, but one the most most famous ever MMA guys is Royce Gracie, and he was a supporter of Trump back in 2016. You can read his endorsement here, all about discipline and respect. I wonder what he thinks now?
posted by TreeRooster at 6:33 PM on January 18 [3 favorites]


At the moment, the mainstream media is issuing tons of sloppy reporting about the SCO statement, with headlines like the WaPo's "In a rare move, Mueller's office denies BuzzFeed report that Trump told Cohen to lie about Moscow Project", which may be just as bad as BuzzFeed potentially overselling their story.

This is why non-denial denials work. The media (who you would expect to know better) never parses carefully when dramatic over-generalized interpretations are available.
posted by stopgap at 6:42 PM on January 18 [5 favorites]


1. Today reminds me a lot of one of the most talked-about episodes during Woodward and Bernstein's historic reporting on Watergate, which is probably better remembered as a key plot point in the "All the President's Men" movie.
That's the start of a good thread from Will Bunch, and I want to pullquote the piece that articulates something I've been vaguely feeling lately but haven't seen many people taking about:
There's a real -- and important -- debate about the secretive and methodical pace of the Mueller investigation. The special counsel's go-slow mode is calibrated to prove the most facts, and get the most convictions [...] while Mueller chugs along, America as we know it is falling apart. Congress, tasked with keeping the executive branch in check, has no idea what's going on after two years of GOP intentional ignorance. The media is racing to fill the void with scoops...

because that's what journalists do. Mueller's team had a chance to offer Buzzfeed's reporters guidance but instead fostered a day of chaos. That's not serving the public. Team Mueller are not gods. They make mistakes. Their approach should be questioned.
posted by lalex at 6:43 PM on January 18 [44 favorites]


> Trump announcement via Twitter: I will be making a major announcement concerning the Humanitarian Crisis on our Southern Border

Speaking of humanitarian crises: Trump wants to take ‘unnecessary’ food away from Americans in Puerto Rico: "In a new low in Trump’s cruel desire to inflict more pain upon the American citizens in Puerto Rico, Trump is opposing funding for nutrition assistance to families on the devastated island."
posted by homunculus at 6:51 PM on January 18 [19 favorites]


Politico: Cohen’s adviser presses lawmakers on safety concerns after Trump attacks
A legal representative for Donald Trump’s former lawyer Michael Cohen expressed concern to congressional investigators this week about his clients’ safety and urged Republicans to rein in the president’s attacks on his former fixer.

“I’m very concerned about the president of the United States acting like a mobster,” Davis said in a short phone interview Friday, just before an MSNBC appearance. “It’d not be any difference if the ‘don’ called somebody telling the truth a ‘rat’ and attacked the family and sent the implicit message to beware.”

Minutes later, Davis went on MSNBC to reiterate that message: “Family is out of bounds. There is only one person in this country — one president in our history — that would threaten family as a tactic to make fear of somebody he calls a ‘rat’ by telling the truth. And that’s President Trump, and the Republicans should be holding him accountable.”
...
House Democrats plan to discuss their options for responding to Trump and protecting Cohen in the coming days. Rep. Gerry Connolly, a senior Oversight panel member, said his party should go back and review how Congress protected witnesses during a series of sensitive hearings they had in the 1960s on organized crime and the mafia.

“It’s not even a veiled attempt at intimidation of a witness and obstruction of the process of witnesses wanting to come forward to testify before the legislative branch of government,” the Virginia Democrat said Friday. “It’s a repugnant act on the part of the president who clearly is afraid of public testimony by Mr. Cohen under oath.”

Asked whether he thought his GOP counterparts on the committee might use their relationships with Trump to get him to back off—ranking Republican Jim Jordan and panel member Mark Meadows are close allies of the president—Connelly said no.
Cohen's own lawyer, folks. ("legal representative" but still)
posted by saysthis at 6:57 PM on January 18 [9 favorites]


Both WaPo and the NYT have pieces up on the Mueller denial and both seem to support the idea that this wasn't intended as a carefully parsed statement denying very narrow aspects of the story, but rather as much broader refutations.

From WaPo:
The story had claimed Cohen had acknowledged to Mueller’s prosecutors that the president directed him to deceive Congress about key facts linking the president to the proposed Trump Tower project in Moscow. BuzzFeed also said Mueller learned about the directive to lie from “interviews with multiple witnesses from the Trump Organization and internal company emails, text messages, and a cache of other documents.”

Mueller’s denial, according to people familiar with the matter, aims to make clear that none of those statements in the story are accurate.
And then from NYT:
The New York Times has not independently confirmed the BuzzFeed report. One person familiar with Mr. Cohen’s testimony to the special counsel’s prosecutors said that Mr. Cohen did not state that the president had pressured him to lie to Congress.
Things looking pretty grim for Buzzfeed. And us, I guess, given how TrumpCo will use this mess.
posted by Justinian at 7:10 PM on January 18 [7 favorites]


Huh? From tomorrow's White House schedule:
1:00PM THE PRESIDENT hosts a Naturalization Ceremony
Oval Office
Closed Press
That's prior to the 3pm remarks on the border and shutdown.

Does anyone have any idea who the President is naturalizing in the Oval Office?
posted by zachlipton at 7:14 PM on January 18 [7 favorites]


at's the start of a good thread from Will Bunch,
9. But more importantly, it's time for Congress, with a Democratic House, to start serving the public with a public, open process, moving at an urgent deliberative speed, that will determine whether Donald Trump is fit to serve out his term. 10. The obvious vehicle for that an immediate House impeachment inquiry with public hearings ASAP. What just happened today with the Buzzfeed flap makes that need even more urgent, not less so. The secret Mueller probe isn't helping us, the American people, get the government.. 11. ...re-opened, or telling us whether the president of the United States is a Russian agent, a question we needed answered yesterday, not months from now. Only Congress and its impeachment vehicle can do that. So please get to work. Tomorrow if possible. -30-
This, and Chris Murphy's initial response to the Buzzfeed story, strike me as exactly right. We can't afford to wait for Mueller anymore. It's already almost close to too late. Either Mueller needs to wrap this up, and issue his report, like within a month, and let Congress know that he's going to do so, or the Democratic House needs to start subpoenaing the same witnesses and evidence in a parallel open investigation and public hearings. We've waited long enough, we need real answers. Democracy really is dying. A secret investigation that never ends isn't saving it fast enough, and if it takes 4 more years to get all the facts, and after Trump is reelected...it'll be too late to help us.
posted by T.D. Strange at 7:15 PM on January 18 [51 favorites]


But I 100% agree that Buzzfeed being wrong in any way here is a gift to the right-wing bullshit machine and everyone who rallies around the "fake news" battle cry. That part of it absolutely sucks and I'm not looking forward to it.

I've got some good news and some bad news for you. The good news is that whatever pans out with the Buzzfeed article, there will be no effect upon those rallying around the "fake news" flag.

The bad news is that there will be no effect because they've always acted in bad faith and facts don't matter. The rally around their "fake news" flag, screaming their "fake news" battle cry will continue as scheduled regardless.
posted by mikelieman at 7:28 PM on January 18 [18 favorites]


All of the "OMG MUELLER HURRY UP I CAN'T TAKE IT" commentary is striking me as a little too breathless, and suspect. I know there are real people suffering under Trump, but I want it to take as long as it takes so that it sticks. If Trump slithers out of all of this, and if that is attributable to uncrossed t's and undotted i's, then I will be very cross indeed.
posted by rhizome at 7:30 PM on January 18 [10 favorites]


Connecting several dots, with the mods' indulgence: all of the different statements and facts we know fit one scenario, where Trump's attorney Dowd told Cohen (in person and corroborated via text, email or other document) to lie to congress, and said in those messages that "this comes straight from the President."

That is NOT the same as Cohen telling Mueller that Trump directed him to lie, and the characterization of the evidence would also be wrong -- though none of it would evidence against Trump actually making that order. It would just be indirect.
posted by msalt at 7:31 PM on January 18 [30 favorites]


All of the "OMG MUELLER HURRY UP I CAN'T TAKE IT" commentary is striking me as a little too breathless, and suspect.

Mueller really needs to give Congress a timeline. If this is close to wrapping up, by all means wrap up and issue the report. If it's open ended and no where close to making a final judgment or findings of fact...Congress has a responsibility to conduct the real oversight that should've been happening in parallel with the criminal investigation this whole time, and which the Republicans have been blocking. And ALL of that needs to be in completely open hearings, no more cloak and dagger shit. Open. In public. No redaction. And if Congress pursuing the same sources and witnesses and evidence puts pressure on Mueller to come to conclusions faster...good. That's what should've been happening all along, and only didn't because Republicans were also guilty of treason and treasonous cover-up of more treason.
posted by T.D. Strange at 7:41 PM on January 18 [31 favorites]


I don't know that the refusal to investigate is really treason, absent facts not in evidence. It does constitute nonfeasance of office, though. Malfeasance and nonfeasance is pretty much how Republicans roll in the best of times, though.
posted by wierdo at 7:45 PM on January 18


All of the "OMG MUELLER HURRY UP I CAN'T TAKE IT" commentary is striking me as a little too breathless, and suspect. I know there are real people suffering under Trump, but I want it to take as long as it takes so that it sticks. If Trump slithers out of all of this, and if that is attributable to uncrossed t's and undotted i's, then I will be very cross indeed.

Mueller is investigating a criminal enterprise that is decades old, involves hundreds of people in dozens of countries, and is at the highest levels of our government. To do it justice on every single bit of it would take years of work. We don't have years to let them keep destroying our government and any hope we have to mitigate the effects of climate change. He's welcome to keep working but we need action now to stop the harms. Congress is the only vehicle we currently have left that can do anything, but they should be doing it, not waiting for Mueller.
posted by odinsdream at 8:14 PM on January 18 [50 favorites]


Mueller’s denial, according to people familiar with the matter, aims to make clear that none of those statements in the story are accurate.

It's weird because the Trumps have spent the last couple of days attacking Cohen as a liar, not saying the Buzzfeed report was inaccurate.

This isn't the first time that the official line out of Washington has poured water on reportage about Russia-gate only to later have it verified.
posted by Ray Walston, Luck Dragon at 8:58 PM on January 18 [10 favorites]


>That's the start of a good thread from Will Bunch

Speaking of Bunch, his latest column LA school strike is very good.

L.A. teacher strike may be cutting edge of a revolution against what’s rotten in America
And that’s not all, in many ways. the L.A. teacher strike feels more like the cutting edge of a wider social revolution. For one thing, as noted in a recent Atlantic analysis of the standoff, both the students and the teachers who remain in the city’s public schools after the charter-school stampede are heavily Hispanic, and many see the roots of this movement not so much in the contract battles of yesterday but the so-called “brown power” uprisings of the 1960s and early 1970s — a fight for social justice.

Also, timing is everything. And the thousands of red-shirted teachers and students flooding the uncharacteristically rain-soaked streets of Los Angeles this past week are showing what protest can do at the exact same moment when things are unraveling everywhere else, when 800,000 federal workers have been working without pay for a month, when many more who depend on Washington for income or vital services are also about to be slammed by the government shutdown, and when our deer-in-the-headlights Establishment seems flummoxed by a growing case for impeachment of a dangerous president.

Noguera told me he’d visited a picket line at one L.A. school on Wednesday morning and what he heard was that teachers had reached a tipping point where the poor conditions inside the public schools were no longer acceptable — that if they didn’t take action now then “we’re pretending that we’re offering kids an education — and that in some way we’re complicit.”

If the teachers of Los Angeles can win back in the streets what they so passively watched slip away over the last decade, it’s possible — likely, really — that other citizens will start to speak out and act up more aggressively as well, in a year when increasingly America’s center is not holding.
posted by homunculus at 9:09 PM on January 18 [33 favorites]


[Deleted a bunch of chatter & speculation.]
posted by Eyebrows McGee (staff) at 9:13 PM on January 18 [11 favorites]


Trump plans to make Democrats an offer to end shutdown, not declare national emergency, in Saturday speech, official says
President Donald Trump plans to offer Democrats another proposal to end the shutdown when he addresses the nation from the White House on Saturday afternoon ....

Trump's idea is to put something on the table to get Democrats to engage with negotiations. Trump is not expected to back down from his demand for a border wall, but the plan will seek to entice Democrats by offering other concessions.
Hoo boy, this isn't going to go well. He's probably going to offer to call it "peaches" again.
posted by mmoncur at 9:26 PM on January 18 [9 favorites]






Trump and the GOP are crushing themselves with the immigration hardliner position + shutdown and must be hearing it from all sides. Unless Trump is offering a DACA fix and a broader path toward comprehensive immigration reform, he does not have enough to take the leverage away.
posted by notyou at 9:38 PM on January 18 [2 favorites]


AJC poll has Trump approval at -19 (37/56) in *Georgia*.
posted by Chrysostom at 9:50 PM on January 18 [37 favorites]


I've seen quite conflicting reports as to whether the reporters on the Buzzfeed story themselves saw any of the supposed underlying documentary evidence or if they only heard about it via their sources. That seems like a pivotal question to me; has anyone seen a definitive statement on that they can point us towards?
posted by Justinian at 10:06 PM on January 18 [3 favorites]


As I said earlier, before we learned about the buzzfeed credibility crisis: We shouldn't need Mueller.

Trump committed a felony this morning in a tweet, which is just the latest in a very long line of felonies that Traitor #1 willingly and intentionally committed, right there in the limelight of all the public attention he can turn on himself, while purportedly performing the duties of the President. He has made sure that we have watched him commit felonies. This brazen criminality is how he demonstrates his contempt for, and dominance over, any and all of the laws of the USA.

And so far, his contempt is warranted, because nobody anywhere is stopping him. In all the various agencies and departments of career government employees who are specifically responsible for ensuring our defense from enemies both foreign and domestic, there is nary a whisper of resistance to this hostile occupation. Every day is a fresh opportunity for Trump to commit another new felony in front of everyone, while daring us to do anything about it.

That is an aggressive action directly defying the Constitution, and his duty to defend it. That establishes his status as an Enemy of the State, whether or not the Russia treasons are true. (they're true)

We don't need Mueller to impeach, and we don't need Congress to tell us who our enemies are. He's right there where we can see him, treasoning every day with complete impunity.

Every day he's allowed to remain in office is a damning indictment of the entire intelligence and enforcement apparatus of our government.

We're also demonstrating a deep inability to defend the USA, and the world must be taking notice. The damage of this realization, of how utterly broken and nakedly vulnerable this nation is, will likely be permanent.

Medicare for all, right now. Take all of the funding from our largely pointless military and war mongering systems. A vast arsenal of that size cannot provide for our defense, if a hostile enemy can conquer the Presidency this easily with no consequence whatsoever, for two years (and counting).
posted by yesster at 10:22 PM on January 18 [108 favorites]


It's an odd thought experiment that ends with the idea that the end results would be the same either way.

It's a thought experiment that paves the way for the "He's not a criminal, just an idiot. Being an idiot isn't a crime" defense. No thanks.
posted by ctmf at 10:27 PM on January 18 [1 favorite]


I wish CNN would delete its account. The next part of the story quoted above is:

However, this plan is not based on negotiations with Democrats and White House officials are pessimistic that it will change much in stalled talks, because Democrats have previously refused to counter the White House's proposal.

No, fuckwits, the Democrats passed a House bill to fund the government. It’s identical to the bipartisan Senate bill which was passed uninimously ye olde one month ago. That’s the starting point for negotiation. Orange Tinyhands’ extremist demands are not the starting point. Mitch McTurtle’s dereliction of duty in the Senate is not the starting point.
posted by SakuraK at 10:38 PM on January 18 [62 favorites]


But there's no mention of that in a new Pentagon report detailing the impact of climate change on the defense department.

I'm pretty sure I remember the NDAA having language in it prohibiting the DoD from spending a dime studying climate change effects (which many high-up people are worried about, since many military bases happen to be in inconvenient locations).

So that's awkward, if you're required by law to write a report about a thing you can't spend any money studying.
posted by ctmf at 10:50 PM on January 18 [2 favorites]




That AOC speech was great. We absolutely need someone who will talk about this and who can also get people to watch. And even if you tuned in to hate watch it, can you really disagree with the message? I hope she is the 2nd woman president (after Pelosi finishes this term). But just getting her ideas out there so effectively is a huge benefit right now.
posted by snofoam at 4:41 AM on January 19 [4 favorites]


[One deleted. Just going to quickly cut off an invitation to a big, wildly speculative sidebar debate on Mueller's secret personal motivations, for good or evil.]
posted by taz (staff) at 5:30 AM on January 19 [19 favorites]


NYMag tweeted yesterday evening:
In a new poll, even 45% of self-identified Republicans approved of @AOC's 70% top marginal tax rate

Poll: Majority Backs AOC’s 70 Percent Top Marginal Tax Rate "Some pundits deemed Ocasio-Cortez’s plans for soaking the rich “radical.” Forty-five percent of GOP voters say it sounds about right."
To which Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez responded: "All your base (are) belong to us 👾"
posted by Doktor Zed at 6:32 AM on January 19 [163 favorites]


One thing I haven't seem mentioned that could give a little different perspective on the Cohen Kerfuffle: it's possible (albeit potentially willfully optimistic) to view this as the exception that proves the rule, in close to the actual precise meaning of that term: if this was so egregiously incorrect that it actually prompted a statement from the SCO... what does that say about all the other *hand wave* stuff *hand wave* that's been said/leaked/released this whole time without a peep out of them?
posted by jammer at 7:22 AM on January 19 [6 favorites]


That's a good point. Comey said in his testimony that this is why they don't usually confirm true stories OR deny false ones...lest the lack of a denial be taken as confirmation.

I was not sure why the special counsel's office would be leaking this when I thought it was a leak, and now I am not sure why they would be denying it. I guess I come to the same conclusion as before... either way, letting any information out seems like a sign that the endgame is near.
posted by OnceUponATime at 7:57 AM on January 19 [1 favorite]


I was not sure why the special counsel's office would be leaking this when I thought it was a leak

The Special Counsel’s Office doesn’t leak. As far we know, there hasn’t been a single leak on their side — only leaks from witnesses/targets and their lawyers, and from peripheral law enforcement sources like the FBI and SDNY. But the SCO doesn’t leak, so the question should always be: who is leaking, and why?
posted by stopgap at 8:44 AM on January 19 [10 favorites]


The WaPo has a piece that offers a roundup of reporting like BuzzFeed's that remain unverified, BuzzFeed’s stumble fuels doubts about the press, even if a few details are missing:
  • No news outlet, for example, has been able to corroborate the Guardian’s story in late November about a secret meeting between Trump’s former campaign chairman, Paul Manafort, and Julian Assange
  • Last month, McClatchy reported that unidentified intelligence agencies had picked up cellphone signals indicating that Cohen had traveled to Prague at the height of the presidential campaign in 2016
  • CNN has published at least two disputed stories in the Russia probe. The first, in June of 2017, reported that Congress was investigating a Russian investment fund with ties to Trump transition officials.
  • A second CNN article in July reported that Michael Cohen intended to tell Mueller that Trump had approved a fateful meeting at Trump Tower in June 2016 between Russian operatives and his top campaign officials, Manafort, Donald Trump Jr. and son-in-law Jared Kushner.
  • BuzzFeed itself faced a buzz saw of criticism from Trump supporters for publishing the Steele Dossier, a collection of unconfirmed reports alleging that Russian officials held compromising information about Trump
The difference here is the denial from the SCO. Since everybody has a different characterization of the denial, this one is worth sharing:
The fact that the normally buttoned-up special counsel’s office felt compelled to issue a statement at all suggested that the story’s conclusions were too baldly stated and too consequential to stay unchallenged. In effect, Mueller’s office seemed to be saying that BuzzFeed went too far, and got some things wrong, though it did not say how or what.

In fact, what it didn’t say was important, too. It didn’t say that Mueller had no evidence that Trump had sought to influence Cohen — just that BuzzFeed’s description of such statements was inaccurate. Nor did it spell out which reported statements were inaccurate and in what way. Further, it offered no details about how BuzzFeed had mischaracterized any evidence that Mueller has collected.
posted by peeedro at 9:06 AM on January 19 [21 favorites]


We interrupt this wire service to bring you so much chatter and speculation - What did the SCO deny exactly? They denied that the BF reporting was "accurate", is that accurate? Is that truthful?

It seems like they could have said "this is not true" or "no such testimony exists" or something more along the lines of what the WaPo later asserted, that a little bird told them what the SCO meant to say was that none of the references were true. I mean they're denying it, is that right? Something like "The report paints a false picture", "these reported events did not happen" - But instead went with "not accurate"? 22 hours after the story dropped and engulfed the news cycles across the world?

Okay. Let's go to the tape:
“BuzzFeed’s description of specific statements to the Special Counsel’s Office, and characterization of documents and testimony obtained by this office, regarding Michael Cohen’s Congressional testimony are not accurate,” Mueller spokesman Peter Carr said in a statement. He did not elaborate. (Politico's report)

I think ol Rude may have accidentally cracked the case: Later Friday, Giuliani said Cohen "is on his way to destroying the credibility of anyone relying on him.” SCO might be in more of a delicate position than usual and wanted to stop a runaway train of a news story to keep control of it. The reddit magahats are in full victory lap mode. It's bullplop.

Bullplop!
posted by petebest at 9:12 AM on January 19 [5 favorites]


Peeedro, couldn’t it be as simple as the president’s tweets to or at Cohen et al are his witness tampering? At some point either Spicer or SHS said the president’s tweets are official communications. If the president is tweeting something at a witness that seems intimidating to my mind.
posted by Gadgetenvy at 9:13 AM on January 19 [3 favorites]


"The report paints a false picture", "these reported events did not happen"

Both of those require speculation. A good lawyer could say, "we have no evidence that those reported events happened," but not "it didn't happen." Same with false picture - the story might describe a situation that's not what's currently being investigated, or that assumes facts not in evidence, but that doesn't mean it's actually wrong. The only denial they can make is "some of that is not accurate."

Okay, they could also say, "we do not, in fact, have documents describing Cohen's orders from Trump to lie," but they may have reasons for not doing that. (Maybe they can't verify that because they haven't finished dredging through the emails and audio tapes.)

I suspect the real truth is found in Trump's reaction: he's not filing a lawsuit for libel. Buzzfeed accused him of a federal crime - suborning perjury - and his reaction is "Cohen's a damn liar; nobody should believe him" and "fake news" but not "BF, you're going down like Gawker."
posted by ErisLordFreedom at 9:22 AM on January 19 [8 favorites]


Axios's Jon Swan has a leak from the Trump White House as they test the waters prior to Trump's afternoon announcement: Exclusive: Trump Plans Shutdown Compromise
President Trump plans to use remarks from the Diplomatic Reception Room on Saturday afternoon to propose a notable immigration compromise, according to sources familiar with the speech.

The offer is expected to include Trump’s $5.7 billion demand for wall money in exchange for the BRIDGE Act — which would extend protections for Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) — and also legislation to extend the legal status of Temporary Protected Status (TPS) holders, according to a source with direct knowledge.

Jared Kushner and Mike Pence have led the crafting of this deal and the negotiations with members, according to White House officials.

A source privy to the negotiations told me the inflection point for Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell was the letter from Nancy Pelosi telling Trump not to deliver the State of the Union.[…] [A]fter Pelosi’s letter, the source said, it became clear to McConnell she was “never going to get off her position and some other spark needed to happen.”

McConnell told the president that it was his view that Pelosi was never going to move. She would and could not negotiate on border funding because her caucus, and Trump needed to be the one to put something forward he would sign so that McConnell would have the presidential backing to bring it to the floor.[…]

The Pence-Kushner-McConnell meeting on Thursday night solidified the plan. McConnell did not try to write the bill for them; this bill is the culmination of Kushner and Pence’s conversations with some Democrats and an inventory of proposals they discussed. Democratic whip Dick Durbin is Kushner’s closest Democratic ally in the Senate after they worked together on criminal justice reform, according to White House officials.
CNN's Jeremy Diamond corroborates: "A source familiar with the 3pm [4pm]* speech confirms this @jonathanvswan scoop to me. Trump is expected to propose a extending DACA & TPS protections (BRIDGE Act) in exchange for his $5.7 billion wall demand"

* Per the WH public pool, Trump's announcement has been pushed back to 4 PM because his newly added quick stop to Dover Air Force Base to see the coffins of the Americans killed in Syria on Wednesday.

The NYT's Kushner-friendly Maggie Haberman adds: "Confirmed - this is what Kushner has been working on. They believe they can get enough senate votes to push it through and then pressure builds on the House. And/but, as always, things with Trump can change and nothing it set until the president actually says it."

CNN analyst Juliette Kayyem: "As I just noted, it seemed odd for WH to speak of a deal when only Kushner, Pence and McConnell in room. But the deal is actually convincing McConnell that Trump has folded and is back to deal he rejected when Rs in charge and before they wrecked such misery on fed employees." and "The ? is with the Dreamers being allowed to stay due to court injunction and the Dems unified and in charge of House, will they go back in time?"

As we've seen time and again, Team Trump is trying to generate anticipation by setting a date for a vague "major announcement" and then leaking details to take the temperature of public opinion—or sow confusion (they do this with candidate searches as well). Whether Trump actually follows through, however, is always up for grabs.
posted by Doktor Zed at 9:28 AM on January 19 [16 favorites]


The offer is expected to include Trump’s $5.7 billion demand for wall money in exchange for the BRIDGE Act — which would extend protections for Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) — and also legislation to extend the legal status of Temporary Protected Status (TPS) holders, according to a source with direct knowledge.


no, that's not good enough - he needs to reunite all the families he's broken up since that deal was first proposed

he has committed a massive human rights violation and it MUST be corrected
posted by pyramid termite at 9:35 AM on January 19 [47 favorites]


Under the gun is no way to conduct this deal, and I hope Democrats don't play. The message should be "open the government now, and we can talk DACA-for-Wall swaps later, when we're not in the midst of a self-inflicted disaster" (spoiler: we will not swap a fully funded wall for any sort of DACA/DREAM amnesty).
posted by jackbishop at 9:38 AM on January 19 [27 favorites]


i don’t see how pelosi’s response to this isn’t “no, reopen the government with the CR that passed the senate unanimously, and once that’s done we can talk about the Dreamers (and maybe the wall but lol no).”
posted by murphy slaw at 9:41 AM on January 19 [13 favorites]


spoiler: we will not swap a fully funded wall for any sort of DACA/DREAM amnesty

I don't think it's either; $5.7B isn't close to a fully funded wall, and the BRIDGE act isn't amnesty, it just kicks the can down the road providing provisional protected status for another three years.
posted by peeedro at 9:43 AM on January 19 [4 favorites]


Splinter: We Work for the Federal Government and It's Time to Strike
This administration is using the shutdown and its effects to pick and choose which parts of the federal government to operate to the benefits of its masters in industry. Oil and gas easements are granted, but no inspections of facilities to ensure environmental and safety laws are conducted. Tax refunds are processed, but no audits will be conducted against wealthy tax cheats.

Without direct action, the inevitable endgame is that more and more federal employees who were hired to fulfill democratic laws will quit because they can’t afford their bills, and the deconstruction of the federal workforce will be greatly accelerated, leaving the most vulnerable Americans unprotected. This will also lead to an undemocratic privatization of government services when certain functions are rebuilt.

To prevent this, those who are currently deemed “essential” and those who are being recalled must strike and refuse to work without pay.
posted by Rhaomi at 9:55 AM on January 19 [60 favorites]


According to the National Immigration Law Center the BRIDGE Act offers...
No path to U.S. citizenship.

People who are eligible for—or who already have—DACA may receive work authorization and provisional protected presence (PPP) for at most three years.

People who do not have DACA would have to apply for PPP (under BRIDGE). People who have DACA would automatically have PPP until the date their DACA expires. Upon expiration, they could apply for PPP (under BRIDGE).
Emphasis mine. Am I right to read that as "we'll postpobe the deportations for 3 years if you tell us where to find you so that we can deport you at that time"? And their FAQ seems to say it's not 3 years after you apply, it's 3 years after the law passes!

Those links don't make it sound like BRIDGE status wouod be renewable, but this link says it would be? Does anyone know? Does it come with any restrictions on legal immigration?
posted by OnceUponATime at 10:17 AM on January 19 [18 favorites]


My suspicion is $5-6 billion doesn't actually get much built, but rather mostly disappears down various channels of graft and corruption. Even so, I'm not sure how any compromise on any amount of wall money is acceptable. DACA, TPS, separated families, all of that is incredibly important. It's lives on the line. It's also hostage tactics, all in exchange for a monument to racism--no matter how much or how little ground it covers, that's what it is--and a massive scar on the landscape doing permanent ecological harm.
posted by scaryblackdeath at 10:19 AM on January 19 [25 favorites]


The president fills his time on phone calls with random people in a Paris brasserie, ‘Would you like to speak to the president?’ (WaPo)
“I hear you’ve been saying nice things about me,” the president volunteered.

The statement caught me by surprise and I demurred. The man at the table next to us had mentioned to the president that, even in Paris, people were talking about him. “Are they still there? Let me speak to them,” the president had said, I later learned.

Whatever had been conveyed to him about the conversation McAuley and I had been having, he seemed to believe he had a sympathetic American on the other end of the phone. But with my noncommittal response, he seemed a bit puzzled.

He asked me another question: “Are you Hillary or are you Trump?”

At that point, I realized that confusion was rampant on both ends of this telephone call.

“I’m a reporter,” I replied.
posted by peeedro at 10:20 AM on January 19 [37 favorites]


My suspicion is $5-6 billion doesn't actually get much built, but rather mostly disappears down various channels of graft and corruption.

This was always going to be the case. Trump still has to make payments on his civilian life, he can't just claim Presidential Bankruptcy. Not only does he have to make decisions that benefit his friends and creditors, he has to make direct payments to them.
posted by rhizome at 10:24 AM on January 19 [3 favorites]


Burgess Everett (Politico)
News: Democrats are panning Trump's temporary DACA/TPS deal 3 hours before his announcement

"Dems were not consulted on this and have rejected similar overtures previously. It’s clearly a Republican and Republican negotiation," aide says

---

Good.
posted by chris24 at 10:26 AM on January 19 [43 favorites]


The offer is expected to include Trump’s $5.7 billion demand for wall money in exchange for the BRIDGE Act — which would extend protections for Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA)

This is the same deal that Trump agreed to by telephone a year ago and then reneged on in the 20 minutes it took Durbin and Graham to travel from the Capital to the White House. Since then federal judges have already placed Trump's DACA repeal on hold, so Trump is now offering nothing that is not already in place. DACA is already extended by judicial ruling.

If he really wants to make a serious offer, it would be to make DACA permanent for both current and future children, including a path to citizenship. And he needs to do it in writing this time since he changes his mind every 20 minutes. Otherwise he offering nothing.
posted by JackFlash at 10:27 AM on January 19 [22 favorites]


Harry Enten points out a pretty stunning (and heartening) Pew Research poll: More Americans pessimistic about Trump's presidency than any presidency in last 25 years.

It doesn't sound that surprising at first, since the successful/unsuccessful numbers largely track his net approval rating, but compare with past administrations and you find that his unsuccessful % is higher (and undecideds lower) then the last three presidents... at the end of their second terms. Even Bush post-Iraq, Katrina, midterms, and economic crash had a higher number of people saying it was too early to judge his tenure.
posted by Rhaomi at 10:27 AM on January 19 [21 favorites]


It really bothers me that, in January of 2019, the president* is still asking random people that he ends up on the phone with if they’re “Hillary or Trump?” I liked his answer, but I really wish he had said “I’m an American.” Remember when the president used to be the president of all Americans, not just his base?
posted by Weeping_angel at 10:33 AM on January 19 [36 favorites]


She would and could not negotiate on border funding because her caucus

They have a fascinating* way of looking at things. Not, "she won't agree to this because she thinks it's a horrific violation of various human rights and also a waste of a fuckton of money," and not even, "because it's against the will of her constituent voters," but "because the congressional team she's part of wouldn't like it."

They really don't think non-millionaires are human.

*a euphemism
posted by ErisLordFreedom at 10:46 AM on January 19 [13 favorites]


Indian Country Today, Outrage as non-Native youth wearing #MAGA hats taunt and disrespect Native elder
Native Twitter has gone ablaze as a Native American elder singing the AIM Song in Washington DC during the Indigenous Peoples March was ridiculed, taunted and mocked by a group of non-Native youth.

The video, which was posted by YouTube account holder KC NOLAND, was also screen captured and shared on other social media accounts with views shortly gaining tens of thousands of views.

The elder is Nathan Phillips, an Omaha elder who is also a Vietnam Veteran and former director of the Native Youth Alliance. He is also a keeper of a sacred pipe and holds an annual ceremony honoring Native American veterans in the Arlington National Cemetery.
Here's a video in which Phillips discusses what happened: "I wish I could see the energy of these young men to making this country really really great...helping those that are hungry."

The students are reportedly Catholic school students from Northern Kentucky.

@AJentleson: On MLK weekend, a mob of whites heckled indigenous people while the lone black statewide officeholder in VA (population 20% black) protested as the legislature paid tribute to a Confederate general. But tell me more about how we're not instilling racism in the next generation. One act by young people wearing Trump’s hat. The other by statewide elected officials. One casual and spontaneous, the other planned & official. Both in broad daylight. Both statements of power: racists don’t have to hide, they feel protected and emboldened in Trump’s America.
posted by zachlipton at 10:47 AM on January 19 [109 favorites]


We will hear that mob of students harassing that man is an aberration, how this isn't the real character of the school, how this isn't what they're taught, and how these are basically good kids deep down. Something like this only happens because many adults showed them this is okay. Day after day. Their parents, their teachers, and lately, their president.

I'm trying to imagine what I'd do if I was still teaching and I saw my students do something like this, but the hypothetical doesn't work. It requires me to be surprised. There's no chance the parents and teachers of these kids can be surprised. None. They produced this.
posted by scaryblackdeath at 10:50 AM on January 19 [47 favorites]


[Couple deleted. The linked incident is outrage-inducing, agreed, but let's not go twenty "that's horrible" comments elaborating on that. Ideally these threads are for substantive updates on potus and actual national political news/analysis.]
posted by LobsterMitten (staff) at 11:01 AM on January 19 [7 favorites]


Did the naturalization thing scheduled for 1pm get canceled?
posted by a box and a stick and a string and a bear at 11:08 AM on January 19 [1 favorite]


#1. The function of the U.S. government should never be used as a pawn in negotiations for anything. Not for anything, ever.
#2. The wall would never work for the supposed immigration problems.
#3. The crisis at the border is a racist fantasy which Trump has time and again tried to support through transparent, outright lies.
#4. We should never fund fantasies, much less racist ones. To give into propagandist lies disgraces us as a nation.
posted by dances_with_sneetches at 11:13 AM on January 19 [38 favorites]


Marcy Wheeler has some thoughts on the Special Counsel's statement last night: Peter Carr Speaks. It's all totally speculative, but the theory is that it only makes sense if Cohen has a role to play in a possible future trial:
Finally, the actions Carr took yesterday (and Mueller’s big-footing on Cohen’s testimony before the Oversight Committee next month) only make sense if Cohen might have to play a role in a possible trial, and not a report submitted confidentially to Attorney General William Barr. That’s what more likely explains Carr’s response than anything else: the discrepancy between what Buzzfeed reported and what Cohen allocuted posed a risk to a possible jury trial. And that may explain another reason why Mueller is a lot more modest about Trump’s role in Cohen’s lies than SDNY is.

Trump’s not going to be indicted by Mueller — at least not before he leaves office via election defeat or impeachment. So Mueller’s focus needs to be on the crimes of those he can charge, like Don Jr. That doesn’t rule out that the evidence he’s looking at show that Trump oversaw a series of coordinated false statements. He did! With Mike Flynn’s lies, Don McGahn’s clean up of Flynn and Jim Comey’s firings, the response to the June 9 meeting, and yes, this Trump Tower deal, nothing explains the coordinated story-telling of multiple Trump flunkies other than Trump’s approval of those lies. It is, frankly, journalistic malpractice that the press hasn’t noted that, especially on the June 9 meeting, the evidence that Trump lied and ordered others to has already been made public. Trump’s tacit (and explicit, with the June 9 statement) approval of serial false statements, to Congress, to the FBI Director, to FBI Agents, and to Mueller, is an impeachable offense. Multiple outlets have gotten solid proof of that, they just haven’t stated the obvious like Buzzfeed did, perhaps in part because they’re relying on White House sources for their reporting.

But Mueller won’t need to allege that for his case in chief, at least not on the issue of the Trump Tower deal. Because the events that matter to Mueller’s case in chief — the events to which Cohen might have to serve as a witness — happened in 2016, not 2017 or 2018. And the guilt that Mueller would need to prove beyond a reasonable doubt if he does indict this conspiracy is not Trump’s guilt — except as an unindicted co-conspirator. It is Don Jr’s guilt.
Did the naturalization thing scheduled for 1pm get canceled?

They released an updated schedule this morning (to add the President's trip to Dover for the reception of service members killed in Syria) that has the naturalization ceremony moved to 2:45, still closed press. I've yet to see anyone who knows who is being naturalized (Melania's parents already took their oath last fall, if you were thinking along those lines)
posted by zachlipton at 11:18 AM on January 19 [6 favorites]


Why would they release a notice about naturalization without saying who it is?

That seems weird. If the potus is involved it has to be someone important right?
posted by sio42 at 11:31 AM on January 19 [2 favorites]


Trump’s tacit (and explicit, with the June 9 statement) approval of serial false statements, to Congress, to the FBI Director, to FBI Agents, and to Mueller, is an impeachable offense. Multiple outlets have gotten solid proof of that, they just haven’t stated the obvious like Buzzfeed did, perhaps in part because they’re relying on White House sources for their reporting.

Emphasis added, for the Grey Lady, which Wheeler goes into as part of a Twitter thread about how reporters have forgotten other examples of Trump's suborning perjury:
When I was arguing--correctly--that Buzzfeed was wrong that theirs was the first example of Trump ordering others to lie (I provided 4 other examples), I got tons of pushback.

After some reflection, I realized why: bc other outlets that had presented rock solid proof Trump had suborned perjury hadn't said what BuzzFeed said, straight out, Trump told people to lie. He did. There's abundant public evidence he did. But the news outlets didn't say that.

At least three of the stories that provided rock solid evidence that Trump suborned perjury were published by NYT. But NYT didn't say that.

Significantly, NYT got those stories thru access journalism. Access journalism that has LONG misled the public abt the investigation.

So the reason why BuzzFeed claimed--incorrectly, IMO--that they were the first to show that Trump ordered a subordinate to lie is bc NYT (and others, but most of all NYT) refused to say what the evidence it was looking at showed: that Trump ordered people to lie.

There are two differences here:
1) NYT got those stories thru access journalism. BuzzFeed got yesterdays from well placed LE sources.
2) @BuzzFeedBen is more aggressive than NYT's.
Meanwhile, BuzzFeed spokesperson Matt Mittenthal has issued an updated statement: “As we’ve re-confirmed our reporting, we’ve seen no indication that any specific aspect of our story is inaccurate. We remain confident in what we’ve reported, and will share more as we are able.” (via the NYT's Michael Grynbaum )
posted by Doktor Zed at 11:34 AM on January 19 [21 favorites]


That seems weird. If the potus is involved it has to be someone important right?

It just needs to be performative.
posted by mazola at 11:34 AM on January 19 [10 favorites]


It's just so frustrating to me to see people posting about appealing to reason with these Republicans (I don't mean necessarily at MeFi but in articles or FB or whatnot). I mean, there may be some reason attached to their masters checkbooks that eventually sticks a pin in McConnell's ass, but the dreams of the Confederacy are being realized with the crumbling institutions and suffering people - most specifically Black people, but any minority will do and also all disgusting poor people really, and and forced unpaid labor, because the people being hurt are the people they want to hurt. They literally do. not. care. Wasn't one of their followers reported to complain recently, "they're hurting us too, and we're not the people they are supposed to be hurting." But of course, if you're not a rich white guy- preferably with Confederate roots or at minimum the appropriate disdain for nonwhites - then yeah, you are also one of the people they are absolutely gleeful about hurting.

/full disclosure In the last week I listened to the unabridged audiobook of White Rage, by Carol Anderson. Have you read it/heard it? You should. Everyone should. I thought about doing a FanFare on it.
/additional disclosure, middle-aged white woman
posted by Glinn at 11:38 AM on January 19 [9 favorites]


Durbin says 'No thanks.'
DURBIN RESPONSE TO REPORTED WHITE HOUSE OFFER TO END TRUMP SHUTDOWN IN EXCHANGE FOR BORDER WALL AND DACA

WASHINGTON — U.S. Senate Democratic Whip Dick Durbin (D-IL) today issued the following statement after reports that President Trump will offer to end the government shutdown M exchange for $5.7 billion for President Trump's border wall and temporary protection for some DACA and Temporary Protected Status (TPS) recipients:

First, President Trump and Senate Majority Leader McConnell must open the government today. Second, I cannot support the proposed offer as reported and do not believe it can pass the Senate. Third, I am ready to sit down at any time after the government is opened and work to resolve all outstanding issues.
posted by chris24 at 11:53 AM on January 19 [43 favorites]


I love that they're preemptively saying Hell No. Rob him of much of the attention his speech/offer might get.
posted by chris24 at 11:55 AM on January 19 [11 favorites]


[A few deleted. If you haven't seen it, we're asking folks to redirect snarky one-liners and "here's the deal I'D offer for the wall" jokes, etc, over to the joke thread that we're test-driving.]
posted by LobsterMitten (staff) at 12:15 PM on January 19 [5 favorites]


Dems need to echo Durbin and be unified on this. Trump cannot offer "The Wall _and_ X, Y or Z" in exchange for ending the shutdown and be taken at all seriously, no matter what X, Y or Z is, because the offer itself is illegitimate. The shutdown and the Wall are separate concerns, one being of major importance and the other being a racist daydream. Every day that Trump and McConnell maintain the charade that they're equivalent, much less inseparable, is dereliction of duty on their part.

To even consider "...okay, give us A, B and C and open the government" offers grants the Wall political legitimacy. That, too, would be dereliction of duty.
posted by delfin at 12:21 PM on January 19 [14 favorites]


The only problem with the Dems preemptively reacting to these leaks about Trump's speech is that this leaves Trump room to pivot. He can now offer something different to strike a deal (though who knows what) or declare a bogus national emergency because he can paint the Dems as unwilling to compromise.

And the LA Times's Noah Bierman asks, and answers, Why Can’t Trump Make Deals? No One Trusts Him Anymore
As Trump reaches the halfway mark of his term on Sunday, he has left a trail of negotiating partners from both chambers of Congress, both political parties and countries around the world feeling double-crossed and even lied to.[…]

“He just undermined the trust and confidence that some Republican members did want to have in him,” said Carlos Curbelo, a Florida Republican who lost his House seat in November, in part because of Trump’s unpopularity.[…]

Trump’s tactics were honed over decades. Throughout his business career, he moved from one project to the next — real estate development, sales, casinos and branding — often leaving scorned partners or creditors to deal with the fallout from bankruptcies or deals gone bad.

“This was all to stay ahead of his reputation,” said Michael D'Antonio, author of “The Truth About Trump.” But “in Washington,” he said, “you can’t escape who you are for very long. He’s proven that he can’t keep his word.”[…]

The president has broken records for false statements, according to nonpartisan fact checkers. An increasing majority of voters — by 61% to 34% in one recent poll — say he is not honest. The same poll, from Quinnipiac University, found that voters also rated his leadership skills as poor, by 58% to 39%.[…]

“Even things that should on paper be easy, there just always seems to be a way for him to step on his own foot,” said a former aide who requested anonymity to avoid upsetting his current employer. “Sometimes, this is unintentional — he just says stuff.”[…]

After Trump seems to have made a decision, he remains “flexible,” as another former aide put it, making it nearly impossible for his staff to craft a strategy to rally Congress or the public. Often, he will hear from far-right lawmakers in the House Freedom Caucus, or from like-minded commentators including Ann Coulter, Laura Ingraham or Sean Hannity.[…]

“What kind of credibility do you have when the president says he supports a bill and then says he doesn’t like it anymore?” one of the former officials asked.
The current situation with Trump is familiar to anyone with a passing familiarity with his business career: Trump makes grandiose promises he can't keep, refuses to address imminent problems, cuts off his options and boxes himself in, alienates his partners and pisses off his creditors, and finally digs in with a take-it-or-leave-it offer, threatening to blow everything up if he doesn't get his way (or be allowed to get away). Only this time, it's happening in D.C. instead of Manhattan or Atlantic City.
posted by Doktor Zed at 12:29 PM on January 19 [14 favorites]


I love that they're preemptively saying Hell No. Rob him of much of the attention his speech/offer might get.

Given his past, the preemptive rejections could really get under his skin to the point that he goes completely off-script. How, or can, his staff keep him on-script?
posted by Thorzdad at 12:34 PM on January 19 [3 favorites]


Trump makes grandiose promises he can't keep, refuses to address imminent problems, cuts off his options and boxes himself in, alienates his partners and pisses off his creditors, and finally digs in with a take-it-or-leave-it offer, threatening to blow everything up if he doesn't get his way (or be allowed to get away).

..and then eventually settles outside of court when confronted, (with his daddy tax fraud trust fund millions) instructing his legal team to beg for a clause that news of the settlement is squashed in the press.
posted by Harry Caul at 12:34 PM on January 19 [3 favorites]


I don't want to start an argument here and this is solely my own opinion, but as a purist lefty pacifist pragmatic realist, if Trump offers enough goodies, I'd be perfectly willing to "fold" (ie, compromise), regardless of whether that's a dereliction of duty, betrayal of the government, negotiating with terrorists, etc. Tens of thousands of hostages are being seriously hurt, and to be honest, I never really believed the idea that you must let the hostage-taker shoot these hostages because the alternative would just encourage them more in the future. In the real world, I support paying for hostages and then trying to hunt down the hostage-takers afterwards, and the game-theory stuff seems about as tenuous as the similar logic that the death penalty is a good deterrent. The future is long, Trump's time is short, and the immediate damage being done is real, so if we can get some good stuff in return for some wall, I'm okay with that even if there are symbolic losses for our side. Even the wall itself is mainly symbolic: in reality, it will be a few scraps of concrete quickly decaying in the desert, rebar instantly rusting to pieces because 80% of the funds were embezzeled away before it was even started, and the environmental damage will be real but a fantastically tiny drop in the bucket compared to the damage done by our metastasizing civilization daily. If we can get real stuff on DACA or other important things, then avoiding the symbolic damage / win for Trump is for me not worth the real, serious harm being done to thousands of people. A hostage standoff that ends with saving the hostages, handing the hostage-taker a bag of money, rescuing some additional long-forgotten hostages, and then hunting the hostage-taker down in two years, is not a terrible solution in the eyes of this purist lefty pacifist realist.

All that said, it sounds like what Trump is offering is not yet worth making a deal over, so at the very least we keep pushing until the trade is worth it. There's also the serious problem that you can trust neither Trump nor McConnell to make binding promises about future bills, so making a credible deal, no matter how much is promised, is a serious practical challenge no matter how willing one may be to bargain.
posted by chortly at 12:36 PM on January 19 [8 favorites]


Pelosi's statement on Trump's "plan": "taken together, they are a non-starter. For one thing, this proposal does not include the permanent solution for the Dreamers and TPS recipients that our country needs and supports."
posted by zachlipton at 12:45 PM on January 19 [27 favorites]


I honestly don't care if he reacts badly to being preempted. Not gonna live my life based on what he might do. That's abuser behavior. We have power now and need to use it.
posted by chris24 at 12:45 PM on January 19 [73 favorites]


Tens of thousands of hostages are being seriously hurt

Hundreds of thousands, and that's before we get to the fact that SNAP recipients have received their final food stamp allotment until the gov't is running again. So yeah, the idea of a deal shouldn't be off the table.

There's also the serious problem that you can trust neither Trump nor McConnell to make binding promises about future bills

Yep yep yep. Any exchange/bargain/agreement needs to be on paper and signed into the approved budget, not some "do this and later I will..." claim.

And Pelosi and other Democrats need to keep pushing the message: We passed a budget. Both houses. It was going through the final stages, and Mitch McConnell decided that Donald wouldn't sign it so there was no value in even showing it to him--even though they have the votes to override a veto. This is not a Democratic failure; it's Trump's failure to govern and Mitch's failure to do his job.
posted by ErisLordFreedom at 12:48 PM on January 19 [49 favorites]


I never really believed the idea that you must let the hostage-taker shoot these hostages because the alternative would just encourage them more in the future. In the real world, I support paying for hostages and then trying to hunt down the hostage-takers afterwards

That works in the real world because you can, uh, hunt down and kill/imprison the hostage-takers. The analogy breaks down when it comes to negotiation because you can do nothing equivalent.

The debt ceiling is up in 6 weeks. What do you think Trump will do if Dems cave on the arguably much less important government shutdown?
posted by Justinian at 12:51 PM on January 19 [15 favorites]


Supreme Court unlikely to hear Trump DACA appeal
If the justices don't take up the issue during the court's current term, the government will be required to keep the program going for at least ten more months.
WASHINGTON — The U.S. Supreme Court took no action on Friday on the future of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program. It now appears likely that the court will not take up the issue during its current term, which would require the government to keep the program going for at least ten more months.

The Trump administration urged the justices to hear appeals of lower court rulings that prevent the government from shutting DACA down, but Friday was the last day for adding cases to the current term's docket, barring unusual circumstances. Any cases accepted in subsequent weeks won't be heard until the next term, which begins October 1, and it would take a few months more for the court to issue a decision.
So if Dems sit tight & do nothing, we still get 10 months of DACA for free. This is pure Trump, offering literally nothing in exchange for what he wants.
posted by scalefree at 12:53 PM on January 19 [24 favorites]


That works in the real world because you can, uh, hunt down and kill/imprison the hostage-takers. The analogy breaks down when it comes to negotiation because you can do nothing equivalent.

Sorry to be unclear there -- the analogy was meant to be impeaching Trump and/or electing someone else in two years.

The debt ceiling is up in 6 weeks. What do you think Trump will do if Dems cave on the arguably much less important government shutdown?

Specifically with regard to the debt ceiling, I don't really expect a deal there, and expect the government will have to fall back on the usual accounting tricks, which as I vaguely recall are expected to be able to last into the fall, at which point the shit really hits the fan. But I expect that to happen whatever the outcome of the current shutdown -- though god knows I have no confidence in my predictive abilities at this point, and am a bit skeptical of any strategic decision that heavily depends on a strong confidence in scenario A vs B eventuating in the future -- and therefore my disposition towards taking good deals on the table, should such a thing ever appear.
posted by chortly at 12:58 PM on January 19 [1 favorite]


Dems need to echo Durbin and be unified on this. Trump cannot offer "The Wall _and_ X, Y or Z" in exchange for ending the shutdown and be taken at all seriously, no matter what X, Y or Z is, because the offer itself is illegitimate

Which brings up the question of how many Democrats support the wall, because I'm sure there are some, and I'm sure some of those some make campaign donations. That alone probably determines how illegitimate the offer turns out to be.
posted by rhizome at 12:59 PM on January 19 [2 favorites]


@DLind: I think it's really important to understand this as the WH realizing that it can't count on a SCOTUS DACA decision as a pressure point for Ds anymore. Problem for them: Ds are realizing the exact same thing.

@brianschatz: You don’t negotiate a compromise with your own Vice President and your son in law. That’s not how this works.

@elianayjohnson: Told there’s increasing nervousness inside the White House that Trump’s gambit will fail with Dems, which seems clear at this point — but also that it will hurt him with his base, which has supported him thru shutdown.

@DLind: Hard to imagine they didn't understand that the Anns Coulter of the world would not be on board with this. The question has always been whether those folks can successfully turn the base against Trump; it's an open question, but one the WH has not yet been willing to test.
posted by zachlipton at 1:07 PM on January 19 [23 favorites]


Um, is this a do-over of his oval office speech from 10 days ago?
posted by homunculus at 1:13 PM on January 19 [6 favorites]


I am writing my Senators to insist that any deal include immediate citizenship for Deamers and TPS recipients. Any deal with a N-year path to citizenship will be broken as soon as possible; this is a group that wants to set fire to green cards and deport everyone they can.
posted by benzenedream at 1:15 PM on January 19 [16 favorites]


He's offering a temporary extension of protections for some immigrants in exchange for... everything he wants? That's ridiculous and this is going nowhere.
posted by Justinian at 1:18 PM on January 19 [54 favorites]


President Trump is now saying how important a moral imperative it is to legalize those brought to America as children, the DACA recipients... for three years. In exchange for the wall funding. Trump’s bargaining chip is that he is willing to do something which is obviously right and morally obligatory, and which requires no significant effort or expenditure... for three years. It’s a protection racket. It’s Tony Soprano saying he’ll make sure your restaurant doesn’t burn down. For three years.
posted by East Manitoba Regional Junior Kabaddi Champion '94 at 1:23 PM on January 19 [64 favorites]




@elianayjohnson: Told there’s increasing nervousness inside the White House that Trump’s gambit will fail with Dems, which seems clear at this point — but also that it will hurt him with his base, which has supported him thru shutdown.

@DLind: Hard to imagine they didn't understand that the Anns Coulter of the world would not be on board with this.


Ya think?

Ann Coulter
Trump proposes amnesty. We voted for Trump and got Jeb!
posted by chris24 at 1:27 PM on January 19 [18 favorites]


Ann Coulter: Trump proposes amnesty. We voted for Trump and got Jeb!

That means Trump is going to renege on the deal he just offered 10 minutes ago. You can't do a deal with Trump.
posted by JackFlash at 1:40 PM on January 19 [31 favorites]


CNN's Manu Raju: McConnell, who has said repeatedly only bills with support of Trump and Dems can end shutdown, says he will hold vote on Trump proposal - even though Dems are rejecting it. “Everyone has made their point—now it’s time to make a law. I intend to move to this legislation this week”

McConnell blocked bills to reopen the government twice this week, but he's willing to let Trump's DOA proposal receive a floor vote (despite how many times Trump has been rude to him and pulled the legislative rug out from under him). The Gravedigger of Democracy at work.
posted by Doktor Zed at 1:42 PM on January 19 [49 favorites]


Twitter thread on the cost of maintaining a wall of steel slats.

But that says "forget the Mexican side" and somehow I'm skeptical that Mexico would put any effort at all into maintaining "their side" of a fence.
posted by kirkaracha at 1:46 PM on January 19 [2 favorites]


McConnell blocked bills to reopen the government twice this week, but he's willing to let Trump's DOA proposal receive a floor vote

Nice posturing. Senate Republicans get a chance to give proof that they're anti-government-shutdown, with little guarantee that anything changes for the better (since the House is unlikely to vote the proposal in).
posted by ZeusHumms at 1:48 PM on January 19 [2 favorites]


So, correct me if I'm wrong here, but it appears that Trump's "major announcement" was basically just a repeat of his prior demands with an offer of three years amnesty for DACA recipients as the bribe he hopes the Democrats will accept? Did I get it right, or was there something I missed?

I hope the Democrats stand firm. We cannot negotiate with hostage takers, nor can we permit the Republican habit of trying to gain by blackmail what they can't gain by legitimate democratic processes to be normalized.

My only complaint with the Democrats so far is that, especially the Senate Democrats, are permitting normal government business to continue rather than shutting down everything except negotiations to re-open the government. Not one Trump nominee should be permitted a hearing until the government is reopened. IIRC it only takes a single Senator to withdraw unanimous consent and bring the entire Senate to a near halt with votes taken for absolutely everything, and I'm sad that no Democrat has yet done this.
posted by sotonohito at 1:53 PM on January 19 [6 favorites]


I do not understand how a legislative body turns out to be the personal playground of a single individual, with no way for the body to do anything about that individual.
posted by maxwelton at 1:53 PM on January 19 [39 favorites]


Vox has an explainer will all the parts of this proposal, if you want the details on a dead horse.

@SarahPierceEsq: NOTE - what the President offered was NOT like the BRIDGE Act, which would have offered protections to 1.3 million. INSTEAD, it is like Goodlatte's Securing America’s Future (SAF) Act that would essentially enshrine DACA protections into law for the EXISTING 699,000 recipients.

There's a lot of concern that the asylum changes in here could end up being very bad, but we'd need to see the actual text of the bill McConnell moves to understand whether or how that's the case.
posted by zachlipton at 1:56 PM on January 19 [4 favorites]


If you're referring to the Senate, it isn't. The majority of the Senate should be considered to be pleased by McConnell's stonewalling and in support of his actions. Their obstinate silence rules out any other possibility.
posted by delfin at 1:58 PM on January 19 [4 favorites]


The shutdown has almost nothing to do with Trump. They don't need him at all to reopen.

Mitches owns this shutdown and has (paid for?) received a free pass from corporate news.
posted by petebest at 2:05 PM on January 19 [14 favorites]


But that says "forget the Mexican side" and somehow I'm skeptical that Mexico would put any effort at all into maintaining "their side" of a fence.

Given that the vast majority of any wall/fence will be well inside the US border, I suspect you’re correct.
posted by Thorzdad at 2:08 PM on January 19 [5 favorites]


Not going over well on Breitbart either. Not gonna link, but two headlines.

Trump Pitches Dems: Daca for 230 Miles of ’Barrier’

Three-Year Amnesty, Most of Border Remains Open

posted by chris24 at 2:13 PM on January 19 [1 favorite]


So he pissed off his base for something that has no chance of passing. Not racist enough for a racist.

Steve King
A Big Beautiful Concrete Border Wall will be a monument to the Rule of Law, the sovereignty of the USA, & @RealDonaldTrump. If DACA Amnesty is traded for $5.7 billion(1/5 of a wall), wouldn’t be enough illegals left in America to trade for the remaining 4/5. NO AMNESTY 4 a wall!
posted by chris24 at 2:19 PM on January 19 [4 favorites]


But that says "forget the Mexican side" and somehow I'm skeptical that Mexico would put any effort at all into maintaining "their side" of a fence.

Note that the wall would need to be built entirely on American land; it'd be near the Mexican border, but not on it. US agents would still be tasked with patrolling the "Mexican side" of the wall, even though they'd have trouble accessing it. (They would, however, be likely to shoot people who approach the wall from the other side, probably without checking to see if they have a legal right to be there.)

The land on the other side would be unusable by Mexico, as it's US property; it'd also be unusable by most US citizens - the wall plan involves losing a large strip of land near the border for any purpose other than "maintain the wall."

Given how incompetently it'd no doubt be made, and how unlikely maintenance funds are, I don't mind negotiations that involve actual funding for a wall - as long as what's gotten in exchange is actually worth something. Citizenship for DREAMers is the perfect option for that.
posted by ErisLordFreedom at 2:33 PM on January 19 [2 favorites]


Assuming the Senate actually passes a bill--which is far from given if the immigration hardliners howl loudly enough--Pelosi's response is simple: Pass a clean CR with no DACA and no wall (again), then pass a bill with $5.7B for border security in exchange for something like the full amnesty program the Senate passed in 2013, plus a couple of items from the voting rights bill the House just passed. Alternately, you could pass a bill with the 3-year protection DJT floated today and, like, $1B in border security.

Easy. Now we're negotiating! Otherwise the shutdown is back in Trump and McConnell's court.
posted by johnny jenga at 2:36 PM on January 19 [11 favorites]


Please stop treating the wall like a real thing.
posted by Barack Spinoza at 2:36 PM on January 19 [81 favorites]


Given how incompetently it'd no doubt be made, and how unlikely maintenance funds are, I don't mind negotiations that involve actual funding for a wall - as long as what's gotten in exchange is actually worth something. Citizenship for DREAMers is the perfect option for that.

I doubt that anyone thinks the wall will be effective in any way, except maybe trump and the most hardcore of his supporters. It's mostly a power move over the left, and it's also a validation of the Executive and The Senate countermanding the will of the people by coordinating on shutdowns whenever they don't get their way. The DACA "bargaining chip" is illusory anyway - it's another problem that they invented so that they can use it to enact fascist policy. It's like kidnapping your neighbor's dog and then offering it back so you can buy his car below market value. Regardless of all of that, we're dealing with people who view symbolic power as absolute (that's the essence of right wing bigoted identity politics), and who have shown time and time again they cannot be trusted. They "give" us DACA and then find some smooth (or, more likely, completely blatant) way to rip it away again. It's an awful deal, and any Democrat who remotely considers it should have a much deserved primary coming their way in 2 years.
posted by codacorolla at 2:47 PM on January 19 [5 favorites]


Rather, it feels like the only card he's really got left in the game he's playing, which is to give The Base what he promised them. It feels as simple as that.

I think we tend to lose sight of a fact that is very important in these discussions. Although Trump is almost totally id driven, those around him are filled with agenda. His reason for pursuing the wall is just as you state, but don't forget that the wall, which he initially thought was silly, was fed to him by some of these evil schemers (Bannon, e.g.) on the campaign trail. So we don't know the underlying purpose, although it has served up multiple opportunities to the racists and government destroyers around him.
posted by Mental Wimp at 3:06 PM on January 19 [2 favorites]


Please stop treating the wall like a real thing.

This. The point isn't that the wall will work or that it needs to be maintained. IT'S NOT A GOOD-FAITH ARGUMENT! The debate here isn't "do we need a wall or not?" The debate is "is this a white ethno-christian country or not". Building a wall, any wall, means that anyone who isn't white isn't welcome here.

It's not about the wall but what the wall represents.
posted by VTX at 3:16 PM on January 19 [66 favorites]




As Matt Yglesias noted, Wall™ is not a priority for hardline immigration restrictionists (other than a symbolic fuck-you) who really want changes to the law to keep out even more non-whites and punish the US citizen children of unauthorised immigrants.

There's a parallel here with Theresa May changing the font of her Brexit deal without changing the terms. The assumption is that I-1 can essentially offer the same proposal again and again, while McConnell can keep a clean CR off the Senate floor, because doing so will eventually get the media to forget the Oval Office "proud to own the shutdown" meeting and lapse back into default bothsidesism. (You could see a hint of that over the past couple of days.) The job for Democrats is to remind the media of that boast. On camera.
posted by holgate at 3:38 PM on January 19 [9 favorites]


Politifact: Is it really more expensive to keep the government shut?

(spoiler: it's complicated but almost certainly yes, the shutdown is effectively costing us millions of dollars per hour)
posted by Two unicycles and some duct tape at 3:43 PM on January 19 [21 favorites]


The land on the other side would be unusable by Mexico, as it's US property; it'd also be unusable by most US citizens - the wall plan involves losing a large strip of land near the border for any purpose other than "maintain the wall."


If this were a real problem then a wall wouldn't be enough, because tunnels are a thing. Egypt's experience is instructive here: they have gradually increased the buffer zone between Egypt and Gaza to 1500 meters (nearly a mile) and it reportedly still doesn't work. They've also tried ongoing things like digging for tunnels and pouring sewage into trenches that intersect the paths of tunnels. So an effective border wall wouldn't just be effectively sacrificing the use of US territory on its far side, but also a vast swathe on its inside - including, I suppose, a big chunk of San Diego. And it's not even as if 1.5 kilometres is enough: it was enough at the time, but the border zone used to be much smaller, or nonexistent: if the stakes are high enough then the tunnels just keep getting longer.
posted by Joe in Australia at 3:58 PM on January 19 [17 favorites]


Simon Rosenberg
1/Key point: Trump is not going to reopen the government until he gets his immigration bill passed but offers 1) a plan which cannot pass Senate or House 2) path which would preclude regular order - no committees, hearings, studies, debate, votes. Process normally takes months.
2/And to me this is the rub - the President is literally trying to change how our democracy has worked for hundreds of years. He has to do this because his immigration plan can never pass as is, and he needs to break the system to get what he wants.
3/Debate isn't really abt immigration/border it's abt Trump and McConnell conspiring to make Trump something more than a President, an authoritarian, a Mad King. Trump made no concession today. He just changed the terms of his anti-democratic demands.
4/More on all this in a thread from earlier today: Bottom line - Trump is asking for something no Speaker can ever give him - a structural weakening of the legislative branch.
5/Folks need to keep asking - why can't the President just bring his immigration ideas to Congress as all other Presidents have for hundreds of years? Have the debate, go thru the process we set up in the 18th century. Why does the govt need to be shutdown? This is the issue.
6/So the reasonable scenario now is Trump’s bill fails in the Senate, Dems pass their own bill with no wall funding. Where are we then Mr President? Is this leadership and a path forward? It’s monumental incompetence and intolerable stupidity, holding us all hostage.
posted by chris24 at 4:09 PM on January 19 [67 favorites]




I just received an email from my senator asking what I want him to do about the shutdown (my senator is Mark Warner). I emailed him that he should not give in to Trump's demands for a wall because it is only his attempt to cater to his base's white ethno-nationalism, and the wall is not only immoral, it's un-American. Of course that's just my view, but I wanted to remind everyone -- now is a good/important time to contact your representatives and tell them what you want them to do about the shutdown.
posted by rue72 at 4:25 PM on January 19 [30 favorites]


There have already been a bunch of border tunnels discovered near San Diego, some with rails and air handling systems. The wall has always been a bullshit idea.
posted by LionIndex at 4:30 PM on January 19 [13 favorites]


the wall is not only immoral, it's un-American.

un-American and un-Constitutional. The word "immigration" does not appear in the Constitution. This is obviously because the Framers enjoyed Open Borders.

That changed in 1882 with the racist and sexist ( and therefore unconstitutional ) Chinese Exclusion Acts, initially targeting Chinese women. A Federal power-grab.

The only reason this is considered "normal" is because this nation is built on the blood and bones of slaves and racism is baked into it. ( See 3/5th Compromise )
posted by mikelieman at 4:32 PM on January 19 [32 favorites]


Four women found guilty after leaving food and water for migrants in Arizona desert
A federal judge on Friday reportedly found four women guilty of misdemeanors after they illegally entered a national wildlife refuge along the US-Mexico border to leave water and food for undocumented migrants.

According to The Arizona Republic, the four women were aid volunteers for No More Deaths, an advocacy group dedicated to ending the deaths of undocumented immigrants crossing desert regions near the southern border.
posted by jgirl at 4:41 PM on January 19 [27 favorites]


WaPo, Inside the Mueller team’s decision to dispute BuzzFeed’s explosive story on Trump and Cohen. Rosenstein's office makes an interesting cameo.

This is a very careful yet confusing report about which I have nothing other to say beyond Quinta Jurecic's conclusion: Something weird is happening here, but I have no clue what it is
posted by zachlipton at 4:44 PM on January 19 [20 favorites]


The WaPo story confirms that the SC office's statement is indeed intended as an almost blanket denial rather than a careful parsing. I agree something weird is happening but it appears that the weirdness involves why Buzzfeed's sources are so sure about something which appears to be false? Were they planning to burn Buzzfeed the whole time? Or is this evidence in the possession of a law enforcement entity besides the SC's office, like SDNY... but has not been shared between SDNY and the SC? How could that possibly be?

In any case the limb on which Buzzfeed is standing has begun to tremble.
posted by Justinian at 4:56 PM on January 19 [5 favorites]


On MSNBC, a pundit was hypothesizing that maybe the AG handed down the order that the denial be made. He was just hypothesizing, though.
posted by rue72 at 4:59 PM on January 19


via Politico: Diocese apologizes after students mock Native American at D.C. rally
Videos circulating online show a youth staring at and standing extremely close to Nathan Phillips, an elderly Native American man singing and playing a drum. Other students, some wearing Covington clothing and many wearing red "Make America Great Again" hats and sweatshirts, surrounded them, laughing and jeering.

[...] "We extend our deepest apologies to Mr. Phillips," the statement read. "This behavior is opposed to the Church's teachings on the dignity and respect of the human person."

According to the "Indian Country Today" website, Phillips is an Omaha elder and Vietnam veteran who holds an annual ceremony honoring Native American veterans at Arlington National Cemetery.

"When I was there singing, I heard them saying 'Build that wall, build that wall,'" Phillips said, as he wiped away tears in a video posted on Instagram. "This is indigenous lands. We're not supposed to have walls here. We never did."

He said he wished the group would put their energy into "making this country really great."
posted by Little Dawn at 5:01 PM on January 19 [25 favorites]


This still stands out though:
Two people familiar with the matter said lawyers at the special counsel’s office discussed the statement internally, rather than conferring with Justice Department leaders, for much of the day. In the advanced stages of those talks, the deputy attorney general’s office called to inquire if the special counsel planned any kind of response, and was informed a statement was being prepared, the people said.
The special counsel's office never comments on anything. So why did Rosenstein's office call to ask if they were going to break from that practice and respond? Why did the DAG's office know enough details of the investigation to specifically believe the BuzzFeed story could call for a response? Was it just because Congress was starting to talk impeachment, or is Rosenstein so in the loop in the investigation that he knows where the BuzzFeed story went wrong?
posted by zachlipton at 5:02 PM on January 19 [20 favorites]


On MSNBC, a pundit was hypothesizing that maybe the AG handed down the order that the denial be made. He was just hypothesizing, though.

The WaPo story says that the deputy AG (I assume Rosenstein) inquired as to whether the SC's office was going to put out a statement but it doesn't seem to imply that it was an order. I suppose one could argue it was a turbulent priest kind of inquiry but even if it was I don't see Mueller's team putting out an untrue denial.

Buzzfeed is still saying their sources remain solid and have not changed their reporting, so something is fucked somewhere.
posted by Justinian at 5:03 PM on January 19 [7 favorites]


The SC response to Buzzfeed’s story is reminding me more and more of Comey’s dismissal of NYT in his testimony. In June 2017.
posted by Harry Caul at 5:17 PM on January 19 [3 favorites]


Please stop treating the wall like it's a real thing.

I'm aware it's not, but I apologize, my framing was flippant about something that's gravely serious.

While all of us here realize "The Wall" is just a monument to MAGA, I think it's important to make that common knowledge and a media narrative. Immigration hardliners aren't willing to give up anything of substance for "The Wall" precisely because it's not actually a real thing. If they scream loudly enough about Trump's proposal, then they might demonstrate this fact all by themselves with either another failed Senate vote or another last minute reversal by Trump.

But if they do pass the proposal, then I think a bit of "negotiation" over "The Wall" will demonstrate how fake it is and put the blame for the shutdown back on the Republicans, where it belongs.

And while it's risky to even pretend to treat the proposal and "The Wall" like real, good faith things, there's also risk to letting Trump and the media spin a narrative that the Democrats are the ones who are being stubborn.
posted by johnny jenga at 5:22 PM on January 19 [1 favorite]


WaPo, Inside the Mueller team’s decision to dispute BuzzFeed’s explosive story on Trump and Cohen.

n.b. Matt Zapotosky shares the byline on this article, and his DoJ articles experienced an uptick in sourcing when Trumpist Ezra Cohen-Watnick slipped in as an aide to Sessions. Now that Matt Whitaker is in place at the top, Justice seems even leakier. His piece today on the Buzzfeed story seems like it's spun to discredit Leopold and Cormier's reporting as much as possible, which, coincidentally, takes the heat off Trump for Cohen's perjured testimony.
posted by Doktor Zed at 5:22 PM on January 19 [1 favorite]


Please stop treating the wall like it's a real thing.

I'm aware it's not, but I apologize, my framing was flippant about something that's gravely serious.


I apologize for the confusion, johnny jenga. Looks like we posted our comments simultaneously. I was replying to the comment immediately prior to yours, above, not your comment.
posted by Barack Spinoza at 5:26 PM on January 19 [1 favorite]


Nancy Pelosi has issued a statement (OK, tweeted) on Trump's afternoon announcement:
What is original in the President’s proposal is not good. What is good in the proposal is not original. Democrats will vote next week to add additional border security funding for ports of entry, advanced technology for scanning vehicles for drugs & immigration judges.

What we didn’t hear from the President was any sympathy for the federal workers who face so much uncertainty because of the chaos of the #TrumpShutdown.
Chuck Schumer also issued a statement (pic) and tweeted:
There’s only way out: open up the government, Mr. President, and then Democrats and Republicans can have a civil discussion and come up with bipartisan solutions.

It was President @realDonaldTrump who single-handedly took away DACA and TPS protections in the first place—offering some protections back in exchange for the wall is not a compromise but more hostage taking.
Meanwhile, the WaPo reports on McConnell's manoeuvring behind the scenes to work with Trump: "McConnell laid out his plan in a private call with GOP senators late Saturday afternoon, where there was little dissent, according to an official who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss private deliberations. […] McConnell could move [the package] to advance as early as Tuesday, although a Thursday vote appears more likely[….] McConnell’s decision to advance the bill to the Senate floor in the coming days marks a reversal of his promise not to hold votes on legislation that did not already have explicit support from the White House and Democratic leaders."

Which one of these members of Congress sounds like their position is weakening?
posted by Doktor Zed at 5:40 PM on January 19 [39 favorites]


WaPo, ‘We’re left in the dark’: As many industries get shutdown relief, those without political clout feel left behind, in which how you get treated during the shutdown depends on who you are:
Alaska’s cod and pollock fishing fleet headed out on the Bering Sea this month without delay, thanks to federal inspectors brought back from furlough to certify their boats. And alcohol producers have two calls scheduled next week with Treasury Department officials to discuss how to keep new products moving onto liquor store shelves.

But advocates for survivors of domestic violence have not been able to find an official at the Department of Housing and Urban Development to help them access their grant money for temporary housing. And some Native American leaders said they are operating with no guidance about what to do about the abrupt cutoff of federal funds.

In the chaotic landscape of the partial federal shutdown, some constituencies have gotten speedy relief and attention from federal officials — while others are still trying to get in the door.

The lack of guidance from the White House on what services can be considered essential — as well as the ability of agencies to restart some programs with discretionary funds — has created an opening for politically connected interests to prod parts of the government back into action.

The haphazard aspect of what services are getting restored has fueled a sense that the shutdown, in many cases, has been more painful for those without political power, critics said.
...
Some nonprofit groups and shelters that receive funding through HUD to subsidize transitional housing costs for domestic violence victims cannot access the grant money because they are locked out of HUD’s computer system — and the staffers who would help are furloughed.
Some states, including Nebraska and Ohio are paying out their February SNAP benefits early to ensure people get their benefits before funds run out, but are now working to make sure recipients get the news and budget accordingly. There's not enough money to make full payments for March.
posted by zachlipton at 5:46 PM on January 19 [39 favorites]


The "immigration hardliner" response looks like a feeding frenzy:
“Trump proposes amnesty. We voted for Trump and got Jeb!” Coulter added, referring to Trump’s 2016 GOP primary rival, former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, who has previously criticized the president’s immigration rhetoric.
And that's just one example, of course.
posted by Little Dawn at 5:52 PM on January 19 [1 favorite]


FWIW I think that kind of strategy is pretty effective for whatever cause it's being employed towards. You get to rally the base with red meat while still getting 60 percent of what you want. I wish the left would take notes.
posted by codacorolla at 5:58 PM on January 19 [1 favorite]


effectively sacrificing the use of US territory on its far side, but also a vast swathe on its inside - including, I suppose, a big chunk of San Diego

San Diego is like 3 cities and 17 miles from the US/Mexico border.
posted by sideshow at 6:11 PM on January 19 [2 favorites]


No, San Ysidro is part of San Diego and right on the border. It's connected to the rest of the city by a thin strip of territory running through the bay.
posted by LionIndex at 6:21 PM on January 19 [10 favorites]


codacorolla: The DACA "bargaining chip" is illusory anyway - it's another problem that they invented so that they can use it to enact fascist policy. It's like kidnapping your neighbor's dog and then offering it back so you can buy his car below market value.

This right here in a nutshell. It's not a deal, it's a RANSOM.
posted by hangashore at 7:16 PM on January 19 [17 favorites]


ErisLordFreedom: "The land on the other side would be unusable by Mexico, as it's US property; it'd also be unusable by most US citizens - the wall plan involves losing a large strip of land near the border for any purpose other than "maintain the wall." "

The only upside is it might turn out to be the sort of defacto nature preserve that the Korean DMZ is.
posted by Mitheral at 7:30 PM on January 19 [6 favorites]


[I-1] is asking for something no Speaker can ever give him - a structural weakening of the legislative branch.

As I've said before, American folk civics is now more parliamentary -- 18th-century limited-monarchy parliamentary -- than the constitutional model in which Article I, er, comes first. That's exploitable. The reformulation here assumes a permanent rural veto (because Senate and heartlandism) which is almost a permanent GOP veto. But it also assumes that a GOP president acquires the de facto power of the purse in a way that won't be available to Dem presidents.
posted by holgate at 8:00 PM on January 19 [3 favorites]


Vox: By the numbers: how 2 years of Trump’s policies have affected immigrants

Most telling are these:

55%: Hispanics who say they worry a lot or some that they, a family member or a close friend could be deported (up from 47 percent in January 2017).
78%: Share of Hispanics who are not citizens or legal permanent residents who worry (up from 67 percent in January 2017).
46%: Latinos who said they were confident in their place in America (down from 54 percent in January 2017).
49%: Latinos who said they had “serious concerns” about their place in America (up from 41 percent in January 2017).
24%: Latinos who reported being treated in a discriminatory way in last year.
22%: Latinos who were criticized for speaking Spanish in public in last year.
22%: Latinos told to go back to their home country in last year (including 25 percent of second-generation Latinos and 10 percent of third-or-later-generation Latinos).

#JerryLundegaardfeels
posted by saysthis at 8:28 PM on January 19 [15 favorites]


This right here in a nutshell. It's not a deal, it's a RANSOM.


A ransom implies you intend to release the hostage.

DACA enrollees are only being offered an extension in this deal
posted by ocschwar at 8:29 PM on January 19 [6 favorites]


The ‘Bright Spot’ for Trump in the Government Shutdown (Elaina Plott, The Atlantic)
The president used the closures as justification for skipping the World Economic Forum, in Davos. But he’s never shown a desire to engage with voters or leaders who challenge him.
He doesn't like variety or challenge, two things that travel regularly provides.
posted by ZeusHumms at 9:10 PM on January 19 [6 favorites]


mikelieman: "un-American and un-Constitutional. The word "immigration" does not appear in the Constitution. This is obviously because the Framers enjoyed Open Borders.

That changed in 1882 with the racist and sexist ( and therefore unconstitutional ) Chinese Exclusion Acts, initially targeting Chinese women. A Federal power-grab.
"

I'm not a constitutional scholar, but also I would think that the power to control immigration flows pretty clearly from the portion of Article 1, Section 8 that states as a power of Congress, "To establish an uniform Rule of Naturalization." Naturalization is distinct from immigration, to be sure, but it's related. There is a long history of not sticking to black letter text in the Constitution, way before Justice Douglas's emanations and penumbras.

From a more realpolitik perspective, something is constitutional if the Supreme Court finds it so. And there were a number of cases related to the Chinese Exclusion Act and subsequent immigration legislation that came before the Court (Chae Chan Ping v. US, Nishimura Ekiu v. US, Fong Yue Ting v. US). And SCOTUS consistently found that Congress had power to control immigration (and indeed, that there was limited scope for judicial review of most such decisions).
posted by Chrysostom at 9:25 PM on January 19 [8 favorites]


“This Was the Last Straw”: State Staffers Fume as Pompeo Backs Trump in Shutdown (Abigail Tracy, Vanity Fair)
"For staffers who were already frustrated with their newish, Trump-loving boss, being forced to work without pay has been salt in the wound. Worse, it has underscored a growing sense within the State Department that diplomats don’t have Mike Pompeo’s respect."
...

Perhaps even more important than the paycheck, however, is what the shutdown has symbolized for America’s diplomatic corps. Current and former State staffers I spoke to were particularly upset by Pompeo’s decision to bring his wife, Susan, on his trip in the Middle East last week, even as some diplomats were filing for unemployment benefits or working unpaid overtime to manage the workload. “I don’t like it because no matter what you do, the wife needs staffing,” a former U.S. ambassador told me. “During a shutdown, it is just totally inappropriate.” (Pompeo defended the decision, saying Susan is a “force multiplier.”)

Together with his unceasing praise of Donald Trump, Pompeo’s perceived cavalier attitude toward the shutdown has made some staffers feel like they have been taken for granted—or worse, been taken advantage of. “What is universal is a sense that they are pawns in a bigger political dynamic,” said Rob Berschinski, a former deputy assistant secretary of state still in touch with former colleagues.
posted by ZeusHumms at 9:41 PM on January 19 [23 favorites]


This NYT report on where Trump now finds himself reminds me of how in the story of Frankenstein, the monster is the doctor who created him:
Yet in seeking to inch toward the center, Mr. Trump alienated portions of his hard-right base, the core supporters he most depends on and the group he and his closest aides have most feared losing. That raised the possibility that, in his zeal to get out of an intractable situation, he may have landed himself in the worst of all worlds, without a clear solution or the support of his most ardent followers.
and in other news:
An NPR poll released last week showed Mr. Trump’s approval ratings down and the first cracks in backing among critical supporters, including whites without a college education and white evangelicals.
posted by Little Dawn at 10:19 PM on January 19 [9 favorites]


The Postmates driver who brought us our takeout last night was a furloughed NASA Ames lawyer.
posted by notyou at 10:23 PM on January 19 [86 favorites]


From the WAPO article:
While neither Cohen nor his representatives had ever said explicitly that Trump directed Cohen to lie to Congress, Guy Petrillo, Cohen’s attorney, wrote in a memo in advance of his sentencing, “We address the campaign finance and false statements allegations together because both arose from Michael’s fierce loyalty to Client-1. In each case, the conduct was intended to benefit Client-1, in accordance with Client-1’s directives.”

Client-1 refers to Trump. Petrillo declined to comment Saturday. It is unclear precisely what “directives” Petrillo was referring to, though he did not allege elsewhere in the memo that Trump explicitly instructed Cohen to lie to Congress. He wrote that Cohen was “in close and regular contact with White House-based staff and legal counsel to Client-1” as he prepared his testimony and “specifically knew . . . that Client-1 and his public spokespersons were seeking to portray contact with Russian representatives in any form by Client-1, the Campaign or the Trump Organization as having effectively terminated before the Iowa caucuses of February 1, 2016.”
It seems clear to me that Trump probably did not personally tell Cohen to lie, but rather communicated through his staff to Cohen that officially business with Russia had ended. Cohen knew that to be a lie, and knew Trump knew that to be a lie, and he knew that Trump knew that he knew to tow the party line. Trump is legally shielded from wrongdoing, perhaps, by the letter of the law, though his lie is absolutely ethically damning. He was, at the least, lying to the American public during a presidential election regarding his relationship with a hostile foreign power while it was conducting an attack on the United States. Impeach him for that.
posted by xammerboy at 10:42 PM on January 19 [8 favorites]


From a more realpolitik perspective, something is constitutional if the Supreme Court finds it so.

For an even more realpolitik perspective, "Acts of the legislature are presumed Constitutional UNLESS the US Supreme Court rules otherwise".

I'm not naive about the realities but I think it's important to remember what the docs actually say, and the original intent of the framers vs. the contemporary implementation.
posted by mikelieman at 11:00 PM on January 19 [3 favorites]


According to the Brookings Institution, in August 2018, there was enough potential obstruction of justice by then to warrant a second edition of their report, and more credible attorneys than Cohen who have also cooperated with Mueller investigation:
We also know that White House Counsel Don McGahn and his lawyer at one point were reportedly so concerned that the president was going to blame McGahn that he provided extraordinary cooperation with the special counsel, including sitting for 30 hours of interviews in an apparent effort to exonerate himself.
This cold logic is my favorite part:
We also explain our view that a sitting president does not enjoy immunity from prosecution, as some have claimed. If facing an indictment so burdens the president that he cannot fulfill the duties of his office, it is hardly self-evident that those obligations should trump the rule of law. Under our constitution, we elect a vice president whose principal responsibility is to assume the office of the president if the chief executive resigns or is incapacitated. Temporary or permanent incapacitation of a president by indictment is not the same as incapacitation of the office or of the executive branch. For those reasons, we believe that criminal indictment of a president is better viewed as an option of last resort rather than one that is foreclosed by any binding legal opinion.
posted by Little Dawn at 11:03 PM on January 19 [24 favorites]


From Emptywheel's colleague: "As to whether Trump personally ordered Cohen to do so, face to face, (and there is still a decent shot of that being true, but we do not know), that is not the end of the discussion legally."
Just another nugget to chew on.
posted by kemrocken at 11:06 PM on January 19 [1 favorite]


A ransom implies you intend to release the hostage.

Kidnap for ransom is a stunt pulled by the desperate and inexperienced. Trump is a professional mobster, and what he's asking for is protection money, which is an annuity business. Once he sees that he can use threats against the Dreamers for leverage to extract what we wants, there is no reason for him not to keep pulling that lever and demanding larger and larger tributes until it stops working.
posted by contraption at 11:11 PM on January 19 [65 favorites]


He was, at the least, lying to the American public during a presidential election regarding his relationship with a hostile foreign power while it was conducting an attack on the United States. Impeach him for that.

According to the Brookings Institution, in August 2018, there was enough potential obstruction of justice by then to warrant a second edition of their report, and more credible attorneys than Cohen who have also cooperated with Mueller investigation:

From Emptywheel's colleague: "As to whether Trump personally ordered Cohen to do so, face to face, (and there is still a decent shot of that being true, but we do not know), that is not the end of the discussion legally."

An NPR poll released last week showed Mr. Trump’s approval ratings down and the first cracks in backing among critical supporters, including whites without a college education and white evangelicals.


The sound of the Overton Window moving. Music to my ears.
posted by saysthis at 11:11 PM on January 19 [14 favorites]


I mean - this isn’t likely to happen this way for various reasons but I like to keep all my failure modes open - this comment “You know, some of us have seem to come to it being a foregone conclusion that Trump is going to lose in 2020, that he’s just so unpopular and scandal ridden, but just a quick look at history should dispel that. Look at where Regan was in the exact same point (in the polls) in his Presidency, less popular than Trump by a healthy chunk, got schlacked in the ‘82 midterm more than Trump did in 2018 (11.8% D in 82, +8.6% D in 18), then look at how the 1984 election went for Reagan..”

Won all but one state.

So I think the way to operate is to assume barring his death or resignation (more likely then most situations, I think, guy is miserable) we have to assume eight years of this no matter what.

(There are obvious huge differences between an upcoming 2020 and 1984 but it’s worth nothing 84 is when the Democratic Party got shellshocked and the leadership still behaves as if it’s fighting 84 in the same way the old GOP neocons always acted like it was 68.)

The Overton windowis moving pretty radically, I’ve always said I’m sensitives to shifts in WhatIs Acceptable Discource for Media people and wooo boy we’ve had several I would’ve considered radical enough I just the past 6 months. i stand by my previous prediction, we’re going to be a very different country in the next few years for good or ill.
posted by The Whelk at 11:50 PM on January 19 [33 favorites]


All I know is Demprez20x2 jeez belongs here, and this is the first article in major media addressing a point many on this site have made many a time, mostly in my view correctly.

Axios: Why 2020 Democrats can't ignore Trump

If you asked me to explain why, I'd suck compared to them, they have pro writers

"No matter how substantive an HRC speech would be in 2016, if there was one line on Trump, that's what would be the one that was on the news,"

If candidates can't say "I'm not like Trump because I stand for [things]" in 50 words or less, try again.
posted by saysthis at 3:24 AM on January 20 [3 favorites]


A ransom implies you intend to release the hostage.

Kidnap for ransom is a stunt pulled by the desperate and inexperienced. Trump is a professional mobster, and what he's asking for is protection money, which is an annuity business.


It's for this very reason that analogies are sometimes not that useful. But in any case I believe the original intended symbolic value of the "kidnapped parties" wasn't the dreamers but the federal workers' jobs. Their jobs are being held as ransom while wall funding and daca are being bandied about as bargaining ploys. But you're correct in that it's also an implied protection racket because Trump can threaten "nice jobs, be a shame if anything should happen to them" every time the continuing resolution runs out.
posted by xigxag at 3:59 AM on January 20 [10 favorites]


A museum dedicated to the history of the U.S. Border Patrol seeks to give a more complex view of a once unknown agency that rose from obscurity to become one of the nation’s most powerful arms of law enforcement. The privately funded museum in El Paso, Texas — near one of the busiest U.S. ports of entry — attempts to piece together its history as the nation’s views on immigration, travel and border security have changed.

Using photos, artifacts, newspaper clippings and even movie posters, the U.S. Border Patrol Museum explores the story from the agency’s formation — to fight Chinese immigration and enforce Prohibition — to its current role at a time of massive migration, cartel drug smuggling and political skirmishes.


glorification
posted by infini at 4:46 AM on January 20 [28 favorites]


Regarding whether or not the executive branch specifically ordered Cohen to lie to Congress, is it accurate to say they knew about the lie once it was spoken and hence can be taken to task for not correcting the record? Or was the original Cohen testimony secret enough that the White House has plausible deniability for not knowing about it?

chris24: So he pissed off his base for something that has no chance of passing. Not racist enough for a racist.
Steve King: ... If DACA Amnesty is traded for $5.7 billion(1/5 of a wall), wouldn’t be enough illegals left in America to trade for the remaining 4/5.
It's pretty striking how much they care about hurting Dreamers, who actually number in the thousands rather than the millions (contrary to Corn Hitler's math) and are probably, from the mainstream white American perspective, the most "sympathetic" people in a migration predicament today.( During and after 2016, Trump had repeatedly promised to treat Dreamers well rather than say "illegal is illegal" or whatever.) But I guess it's not that different from a wall; in both cases the point is symbolic cruelty, because fascism prefers that even to any pragmatic accomplishment of its goals.
posted by InTheYear2017 at 6:01 AM on January 20 [1 favorite]


The. Best. People.

Jon Swaine (Guardian)
Rudolph Giuliani tells @CNNSotu that Trump may indeed have spoken to Michael Cohen about his congressional testimony beforehand. "And so what if he talked to him about it?" Denies Trump told Cohen to lie.

Meet the Press
WATCH: @rudygiuliani, President Trump’s personal lawyer, says that negotiations over Trump Tower Moscow likely went up to the 2016 election. #MTP
VIDEO
posted by chris24 at 6:31 AM on January 20 [29 favorites]


He also throws Dowd, Sekulow and Cobb under the bus by suggesting Cohen talked to them as well before his testimony.
posted by chris24 at 6:37 AM on January 20 [11 favorites]


#TimeTravelTrump

@realDonaldTrump It's almost like the United States has no President - we are a rudderless ship heading for a major disaster. Good luck everyone!
8:41 PM - 19 Mar 2014
posted by scalefree at 6:45 AM on January 20 [21 favorites]


As folks here are noting, this really is a hostage situation:
“No, Amnesty is not a part of my offer,” Trump tweeted. “It is a 3 year extension of DACA. Amnesty will be used only on a much bigger deal, whether on immigration or something else. Likewise there will be no big push to remove the 11,000,000 plus people who are here illegally-but be careful Nancy!”
This article is linked from the current red-lettered, all-caps Drudge banner: TRUMP DANGLES FULL AMNESTY, with no reference to holding 11,000,000 plus people hostage.
posted by Little Dawn at 6:51 AM on January 20 [18 favorites]


It's pretty striking how much they care about hurting Dreamers,

It makes sense when you keep in mind clawsoon's hypothesis
I think that toxic masculinity can be boiled down to the idea that the world is divided into fuckers and fuckees. If you don't constantly demonstrate that you're a fucker, you get turned into a fuckee. Being a fucker is the essence of manliness
A long-form analysis is On Social Sadism by China Miéville

"Performative Cruelty", as seen in the catholic high-school kids harassing the native american viet-nam veteran...
posted by mikelieman at 6:57 AM on January 20 [73 favorites]


He already rejected the "bigger deal" last year. Fearless leader Chuck Schumer was willing to give him full funding for his stupid wall, $25 billion, in exchange for the full Dream Act. Then Stephen Miller and Sean Hannity vetoed it. That's the problem here, Trump is not the final arbiter of a deal he can accept, FOX News is.

He can't put up a credible offer in exchange for anything Democrats actually want to negotiate for. And I'm conceding here that there's something that would be worth trading away the racist symbol of the Wall for at all, which I don't think there is, but could be convinced otherwise if there were really a large immigration reform and citizenship deal on the table. On the other side, Republicans know that "the Wall" is at best a boondoggle, and more likely total vapor-policy, and it is completely useless as something to "trade away" at all, so they're never going to allow him to make any real policy concessions to Democrats in exchange for it.
posted by T.D. Strange at 7:00 AM on January 20 [30 favorites]


Openly considering full amnesty will... not appease the Steve King set. He already went through this with the gun control thing. He's not a reliable negotiator nor a reliable ally. Now that they've got their Supreme Court picks, why don't they just wash their hands of him?
posted by Selena777 at 7:48 AM on January 20 [2 favorites]


There’s always more court seats somewhere.
posted by schadenfrau at 7:51 AM on January 20 [8 favorites]


Steve King's constituents don't even agree with Steve King about immigration. Polling has shown that a large majority of people in King's district want a path to citizenship for Dreamers, and a majority want a path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants who are not Dreamers.
posted by ArbitraryAndCapricious at 7:59 AM on January 20 [17 favorites]


So I think the way to operate is to assume barring his death or resignation (more likely then most situations, I think, guy is miserable) we have to assume eight years of this no matter what.

If we can keep the House and take back the Senate, especially if we can get close to a veto-proof majority, we can shut down most of his power. We can pass laws demanding the President hand over his tax returns every year. We can push through the emoluments investigations. We can pass environmental laws, pass civil rights laws, pass medicare for all, pass an 80% tax rate on multimillionaires and re-fund all the defunded things. Pass the ERA through Congress rather than state votes. We can pass education laws that will have DeVos fuming. We can refer evidence to various criminal courts. We can impeach and remove both of them. Hell, we can investigate and impeach SCOTUS justices, and leave the damn court running at 7 or even fewer and tell him, "it stays this way until you nominate Garland."

He's already burned through the goodwill and blithe avarice of his pack of grifters; people are strongly considering saying "no" when he asks them to run a department, because they've figured out it's not a free ride of money and power. He has to run - that's his only play here - but he didn't want the job the first time and he's even less happy about it now. Without the support of both houses, he's flailing; without either, he'd go entirely off the rails.
posted by ErisLordFreedom at 8:26 AM on January 20 [11 favorites]


I'm talking about the inordinately prominent hardliners that he's keeping the government closed for - King's ideological group.
posted by Selena777 at 8:27 AM on January 20


He's not keeping the gov't closed for King's group. Setting aside the issue that McConnell is the one actually keeping the gov't closed, Trump's interest is entirely in flexing his power; this is something he can do, and it gets a reaction from a lot of people, so it's what he's doing.

He can't win the support of Democrats so he's out to get their fear and rage. He isn't happy that his approval numbers have dropped with everyone, but he quickly convinces himself that those results are fake news - he likes hurting people, and it's good for ratings, so his people must like it. "His people" is defined as "whichever people are telling him he's awesome right now;" they are his because they support him, not the other way around.
posted by ErisLordFreedom at 8:35 AM on January 20 [18 favorites]


Andrew Kaczynski (CNN)
BuzzFeed News is strongly standing by its Michael Cohen story. BF reporter @a_cormier_:“I have further confirmation that this is right. We are being told to stand our ground…The same sources that we used in that story are standing behind it, as are we.”
VIDEO

---

Plus you had Rudy basically admitting Trump talked to Cohen about his testimony this morning.
posted by chris24 at 8:42 AM on January 20 [29 favorites]


The Wall is a wedge issue and like abortion and gay marriage and bathroom bills before it the Republicans may not even want the issue solved so long as it turns out their base. From that perspective everything so far makes a lot more sense.
posted by Rumple at 8:58 AM on January 20 [28 favorites]


If we can keep the House and take back the Senate, especially if we can get close to a veto-proof majority

There's no universe in which Trump is reelected and Democrats retake the Senate. The 2020 map is not as bad as 2018, but it's not good for Democrats either. There's only a few credible pickup opportunities, none of which are locks or even lean Democrat (in descending order of likelihood: Colorado, Arizona, Maine, Iowa/North Carolina, Georgia) and Democrats need to win at least 5 of those, or 4 plus holding Alabama, just to get to a majority. There's no universe where Democrats can win a veto-proof majority in the Senate, ever. And probably no universe where we will ever come close to a filibuster-proof 60 again either. So things that posit having 60 or 67 Senate seats are worth discussing only slightly more than the progressive wishlist for a constitutional convention. If you want to talk radical action in the Senate, it's going to have to be with BOTH a Democratic president in 2020, and 50 Senate Democrats willing to repeal the filibuster.
posted by T.D. Strange at 9:14 AM on January 20 [17 favorites]


My hope is Trump personally told Cohen to lie to congress. What I think is more likely at this point is that Trump told Cohen something along the lines of "Our Russia business is finished. Now go to Russia and get me that hotel." Now, did Trump tell Cohen to lie to congress or not? One lawyer may say yes, and another no. While I don't think Giuliani would see any problem with that statement, I think most juries would see right through it. This is the kind of language mob bosses use to shield themselves with the letter of the law while making their orders crystal clear.
posted by xammerboy at 9:18 AM on January 20 [3 favorites]


There's no upside to Cohen testifying in a couple of weeks, especially now that Cormier and Leopold are going back to their sources, every other media org is hitting its own sources, and Giuliani spent the morning spitting out prebuttals. (There's probably more upside from him saying that I-1's threats to his family make it impossible to testify.)

Cummings ought to hold hearings on the Hotel des Emoluments instead.
posted by holgate at 9:32 AM on January 20 [2 favorites]


“No, Amnesty is not a part of my offer,” Trump tweeted. “It is a 3 year extension of DACA. Amnesty will be used only on a much bigger deal, whether on immigration or something else. Likewise there will be no big push to remove the 11,000,000 plus people who are here illegally-but be careful Nancy!”

So this is a humanitarian crisis requiring the longest government shutdown in history and on the verge of being declared a national emergency but it's not a big enough deal to offer anything substantial as a concession for getting the border wall built, even though the wall is "the only solution" to the supposed problem? Huh.
posted by SpaceBass at 9:41 AM on January 20 [40 favorites]


There's only a few credible pickup opportunities, none of which are locks or even lean Democrat (in descending order of likelihood: Colorado, Arizona, Maine, Iowa/North Carolina, Georgia)

Montana's constantly overlooked as a credible pickup opportunity with Daines and I don't see why: Tester just won re-election and Daines' approval is 10 points lower than Tester's (42 v. 52). Not to say it's a likely pickup but a strong opponent would definitely have a good shot.
posted by Rust Moranis at 9:44 AM on January 20 [11 favorites]


I think it's because Tester is the sort of sui generis candidate that can win in a blood red state that we don't really have a model for recreating. He's like Manchin if Manchin actually held Democratic positions. It's not clear there's another Tester waiting to challenge Daines, although I freely admit I don't know the field of potential Montana democrats. But I'd put Montana along with Texas next on my list, definitely below those I listed.
posted by T.D. Strange at 9:48 AM on January 20 [3 favorites]


I think it's because Tester is the sort of sui generis candidate that can win in a blood red state that we don't really have a model for recreating.

We also have Bullock as governor so Jon can't be entirely sui generis.
posted by Rust Moranis at 9:50 AM on January 20 [5 favorites]




Steve Bullock is the current Democratic governor of Montana and he's term limited. So he's probably running for Senate in 2020 or president.

His approval rating is 54% and his net approval is +26.
posted by chris24 at 9:52 AM on January 20 [13 favorites]


I think it's because Tester is the sort of sui generis candidate that can win in a blood red state that we don't really have a model for recreating. He's like Manchin if Manchin actually held Democratic positions.

Montana also has a greater number of federal workers per capita than West Virginia, which is a non-insubstantial factor.
posted by C'est la D.C. at 9:58 AM on January 20 [4 favorites]


The Wall is a wedge issue and like abortion and gay marriage and bathroom bills before it the Republicans may not even want the issue solved so long as it turns out their base. From that perspective everything so far makes a lot more sense.

But unlike those issues the Wall has the disadvantage of being utterly incoherent as policy, impracticable in execution, and ludicrously wasteful of revenue. Both blanket abortion illegality and not recognizing gay marriage have prior art in American history: they're horrible, hurtful ideas but fairly unambiguously straightforward to enshrine in law with little immediate outlay of revenue. Bathroom bills are a bit messier: outside of schools, gyms, and other facilities where some record of participants' genders is kept it's not clear how they'd be implemented (nobody actually wants the "gender police" hovering inside mall bathrooms to assess your sex, I don't think), but even there the implementation-level details can be stated somehow and in a way which looks vaguely revenue-neutral. Basically, even though these things may be political pie-in-the-sky, they're logistically plausible enough to be put forward as suggestions which some (terrible) segment of the population can believe that, if their political will is strong enough, could actually happen.

By contrast, I find it hard to imagine anyone who knows anything at all about construction thinks the problem with the Wall is political wlll. It's a huge undertaking, which would have massive cost both for construction and upkeep, which would take years to finish no matter how badly people wanted it, and on which major logistical questions remain unanswered still. It's pie-in-the-sky not only as a political undertaking but also as a practical one.
posted by jackbishop at 10:00 AM on January 20 [7 favorites]


Trump, Mueller and the lessons of history: Special prosecutors "are incapable of saving us" (Andrew O'Hehir, Salon)
"Legal scholar Andrew Coan says Mueller's survival is a tribute to democracy — but don't look to him as a savior"
...

What do you think will come out of the Mueller investigation? What do you hope will come out of it?

I’m going to punt on that. It would be irresponsible to speculate on that question. But I will say that the reason we have these investigations is to find out what happened. I think that both liberals and conservatives have tended to think about this in the wrong way. I think it's become an article of faith among liberals that if Mueller's allowed to complete his investigation he's going to produce a really damaging report. I think conservatives secretly share this belief, which is why we see them attacking Robert Mueller so relentlessly. I mean, you don't typically attempt to destroy the person that you think is about to exonerate you.

But I don't think we know enough to be confident that this report will in fact be as damaging as either side assumes. There are a lot of key questions that we don't yet know the answers to. There's a huge amount of smoke here, and there seems almost certain to be some kind of fire. But exactly how big that fire is, who's involved and who started it, we really don't know yet.
posted by ZeusHumms at 10:02 AM on January 20 [3 favorites]


Sherrod Brown is another in Ohio. Jason Kander even though he lost and I'm not sure he's got another run in him. Mayor Pete Buttigeg, maybe. There is a mold of blue collar, working class focused, unfortunately almost all white guy Democrats that are out performing the national party in red states. Which makes it really unfortunate Democrats abandoned organized labor in the 90s, imagine how many more Testers and Browns and Bullocks we could have on the bench if that hadn't happened.
posted by T.D. Strange at 10:05 AM on January 20 [10 favorites]


Steve Bullock is the current Democratic governor of Montana and he's term limited. So he's probably running for Senate in 2020 or president.

Scuttlebutt up here is that Bullock is indeed planning on a Senate run.
posted by NoxAeternum at 10:14 AM on January 20 [9 favorites]


Bloomberg: Trump-Kim February Summit Expected to Take Place in Vietnam.

"Administration officials are planning for President Donald Trump’s second summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un to take place in Vietnam, said people familiar with the plans. […] The February summit is likely to take place in Hanoi, the capital, but Danang, site of the 2017 Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation meeting, and Ho Chi Minh City in the country’s south have also been discussed as possible venues."

Like a crap used car salesman, Trump's been bloviating about having "made a lot of progress that has not been reported by the media" without mentioning any actual details of that progress. (video)
posted by Doktor Zed at 10:16 AM on January 20 [2 favorites]


Picking up on earlier thoughts that the only actually sane (if evil) leverage is McConnell and the Republican Senators, and our best chance forward is to force a bill through the Senate first, whereupon Trump has to actually veto it:

Does anyone know of an organization or website that is collecting the opinions of each Republican Senator on McConnell's no-bill strategy? That is, what do their offices say when you ask them "Do you approve of McConnell refusing to bring to a vote the funding bill you already voted for?" I can think of lots of ways to dodge the question, but I'm a bit curious what their flacks actually say, and how many of them outright say Yes vs dodging. I'm also curious what they individually say to "Do you agree with McConnell's new rule for the Senate that no bills should ever be brought to floor unless they are already approved by the President?" That's a pretty big change in Senate rules and there too it's hard to believe any Republican Senator can outright say they approve of that.

My guess is that responding to these sorts of questions is tricky for many Republicans, hence the new plan to pass Trump's new "compromise" in the Senate, at which point the whole "no bills" strategy can be dropped in favor of "the Senate and President back this compromise bill, why won't the House," which is a much safer position for Republicans to be in. At that point we have a Senate bill and a House bill, and we're almost back in familiar House-Senate reconciliation committee territory, which much as both sides will dislike it, is probably the most realistic path to getting out of this mess. But in the meantime, I'd still like to put the R Senators on the spot about McConnell's bullshit new rules, or see what they've already said about it if anyone knows where that might be.
posted by chortly at 10:20 AM on January 20 [13 favorites]


Basically, even though these things may be political pie-in-the-sky, they're logistically plausible enough to be put forward as suggestions which some (terrible) segment of the population can believe that, if their political will is strong enough, could actually happen.

Yes, this. Anti-civil-rights laws can be enforced socially as well as legally. Same-sex marriage being legal doesn't make it available everywhere until you have higher courts willing to override local community restrictions; abortion rights don't bring access to abortion clinics; legal access to school bathrooms doesn't help a kid get through a gauntlet of scowling, punching co-students. The bigots just need a figleaf of legality - or a hands-off approach from the higher courts - to enforce the rules they want to happen.

The wall, OTOH, requires a tremendous outlay of money AND it's not something that bigots in Idaho - or even bigots in Texas - can strengthen just by the power of their will and going about their daily lives. A lot of rich powermongers are pushing "the wall" as equivalent to "anti-abortion" or "fight the gay agenda" as if the average evangelical Nazi could make it happen and keep it functioning just by maintaining their hate level, and it really can't work that way.

I almost want them to grab some useful concessions for the wall ("extend DACA" is not it) and then spend the next two decades pointing to "Trump's Folly" and telling everyone how the Republican party wants to waste taxpayer money on drama-projects that don't help anyone. (The meme possibilities for a rusting and partially-broken wall are amazing.)
posted by ErisLordFreedom at 10:25 AM on January 20 [9 favorites]


There is a mold of blue collar, working class focused, unfortunately almost all white guy Democrats that are out performing the national party in red states.
Abby Finkenauer, the 29-year-old Democrat who recently unseated a Republican in Iowa's first congressional district, is very much in that mold. I don't know how she would play nationally, though, and I don't know if she has national ambitions. (I wouldn't be surprised if she were eyeing Chuck Grassley's Senate seat in 2022.) I strongly suspect that the left wing of the party would denounce her as a neoliberal shill for things that they would let slide in a dude with the same political profile.
posted by ArbitraryAndCapricious at 10:38 AM on January 20 [9 favorites]


Bloomberg: Trump-Kim February Summit Expected to Take Place in Vietnam

Your friendly reminder here that almost all of the folks who'd have to support this trip (USSS, State, NSC, etc - there's a lot that goes into an overseas POTUS trip) are working UNPAID. Working without pay is insulting enough, flying halfway around the world and working massive unpaid OT is far worse.

Pompeo recently did this in the Middle East, and let's just say State employees aren't too happy - here's a good Vanity Fair piece on it: “This was the last straw”: State Staffers fume as Pompeo backs Trump in shutdown

These idiots are acting like everything is fine. YOU ARE NOT PAYING YOUR EMPLOYEES, THIS IS NOT FINE.
posted by photo guy at 10:42 AM on January 20 [49 favorites]


Like a crap used car salesman, Trump's been bloviating about having "made a lot of progress that has not been reported by the media" without mentioning any actual details of that progress.

The progress that has been made hasn't been done by Trump or his regime--it's all intra-Korean stuff managed by Moon and Kim.

Trump's behavior has driven a wedge between South Korea and the US; the former is no longer confirming with its BFFish United States whether it should keep doing its thing with the North and just going ahead and doing it.
posted by anem0ne at 10:57 AM on January 20 [6 favorites]


To emphasise, the point of bathroom bills isn't to station gender police in bathrooms or whatever, it's both to empower the people who were already harassing trans people in bathrooms and to position trans people as "controversial" so you can attack our slow, hard-won progress. Left to their own devices, an awful lot of people think "well that's a bit weird, but whatever, I'm not an asshole" when it comes to trans people, meaning they don't really care when we convince insurance to pay or things or institutions to change our gender markers. Tell them these things are controversial and that they should be scared of us and they'll kick up a fuss.
posted by hoyland at 10:58 AM on January 20 [70 favorites]


It's also a sort of flanking move to attack anyone queer or who isn't appropriately feminine.
posted by anem0ne at 11:00 AM on January 20 [48 favorites]


Okay, so now it's obvious that the Russian asset in the oval office is actively sabotaging the nation with this pointless shutdown. But consider also that every single government employee in a sensitive position is now enormously vulnerable to compromise due to their dire financial circumstances.

I honestly can't think of a more effective way of sabotaging the economy and security of the United States from the office of the President than the course of action that President Trump is on.
posted by MrVisible at 11:04 AM on January 20 [31 favorites]


Natalia Rybka is accosted and brutally manhandled by FSB the moment she touched down in Moscow after being deported from Thailand. She secretly taped Oleg Deripaska on his yacht with a senior Russian official talking about manipulating US politics.
Last april the reporter maxim Borodin fell to his death from his fith floor flat. Although mainly investigating Russian mercenaries in Syria he had also investigated political scandals, including allegations made by a Belarusian escort known as Nastya Rybka in a video posted by Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny.
posted by adamvasco at 11:17 AM on January 20 [34 favorites]






It's also a sort of flanking move to attack anyone queer or who isn't appropriately feminine.

Of the handful of videos where a woman gets harassed out of a bathroom (once dragged out by police I think) I think pretty much all the women targeted were in fact Cis Lesbians of the Butch persuasion so this definitely rings true. It's main target is trans women, but it's work against anyone of any gender who doesn't conform.
posted by Homo neanderthalensis at 11:27 AM on January 20 [9 favorites]


New from the Times:
Mr. Giuliani said in an interview with The New York Times that Mr. Trump “recalls a series of conversations” with his former lawyer and fixer, Michael D. Cohen, about the project during the campaign.

“He can’t tell you the date” that it ended, Mr. Giuliani said. “There are no entries or phone logs” that indicated specifics, he added.

“The best he could do is, ‘We talked about it, I knew he was running with it, I honestly didn’t pay much attention to it,’” Mr. Giuliani said, characterizing Mr. Trump’s memory. He added that Mr. Trump recalled, “‘It was all going from the day I announced to the day I won.’”
So Trump admits pursuing a deal with Russia, a deal involving a *former* GRU agent, with sanctioned banks, and an adversary he knew was helping him win the election, up until he won. All while denying it in public, and after the FBI had warned his campaign about possible Russian interference. And after it had become a campaign issue.
posted by chris24 at 11:29 AM on January 20 [49 favorites]


Former FBI agent Asha Rangappa also points out: “And didn’t report either the deal or the contacts as the FBI requested in their security briefing, and lied about both”

It’s as though Giuliani’s strategy is to admit to Trump’s crimes and culpability because “if the future president does it, it’s not illegal”.
posted by Doktor Zed at 11:38 AM on January 20 [32 favorites]


I've always been of the opinion that of course he did it and of course there's tons of evidence because no one's ever gone broke betting on Trump doing the worst thing in the stupidest way possible. But how fucking bad must they think the Mueller report is going to be to be preemptively admitting to all this shit.
posted by chris24 at 11:46 AM on January 20 [42 favorites]


Trump, Mueller and the lessons of history: Special prosecutors "are incapable of saving us"

I dunno, you could make a good case that Archibald Cox and Leon Jaworski saved the U.S. from Nixon. The electoral process certainly didn't. And Congressional Republicans weren't going to do anything until the Special Prosecutors pried free the information about Nixon's secret taping system, and those tapes started to come out (or get suspiciously erased).
posted by msalt at 11:59 AM on January 20 [26 favorites]


Buzzfeed is really strongly standing by its reporting. Combined with Giuliani's... whatever that was... this morning and now it's the SC's rebuttal that seems questionable? I think at this point we have no idea what's going on but Schiff better get out his subpoena pants and get to the bottom of this because clearly we can no longer wait.
posted by Justinian at 12:39 PM on January 20 [28 favorites]


Special Counsel's rebuttal was NOT a denial even though it's shamelessly and repeatedly being reported as such. It said that specific things were inaccurate, without specifically saying anything. The SC's motivation is unknown, but a categorical denial wasn't their intent here.

BuzzFeed broke the Steele Dossier, a document dragged through the mud repeatedly, yet findings in it have held up remarkably well.

It's a very weird world when BuzzFeed News is a trusted source, but right now I have no basis to think they aren't quite confident in this story, for good reason.
posted by mcstayinskool at 12:55 PM on January 20 [38 favorites]


Both blanket abortion illegality and not recognizing gay marriage have prior art in American history: they're horrible, hurtful ideas but fairly unambiguously straightforward to enshrine in law with little immediate outlay of revenue.

Yes, that's my point: Republicans have had lots of chances to ban abortion but they prefer to just keep picking at it to keep the issue alive.

I agree The Wall would be a logistical nightmare to build and maintain and likely would be of marginal effectiveness, but would argue that the underlying point is that they have no intention of building it other than a few symbolic sections and I would bet they really would not mind talking about it for the next 10 years.
posted by Rumple at 1:01 PM on January 20 [5 favorites]


Counterpoint to the idea of wedge issues being a thing: Republicans introduced 1000+ antiabortion restrictions since taking control in 2010, shuttered abortion clinics in every state they control, and made overturning Roe and explicit litmus test for all their judges. They do like to run on culture war issues instead of economic ones...but they also really do want to inflict the pain on women and minorities that their policies would cause. We know because they have, at every opportunity, and continue to propose and enact ever more draconian policies every year while never compromising or rolling back, ever. It's both.
posted by T.D. Strange at 1:11 PM on January 20 [78 favorites]


Yes, they have effectively kept it as a live issue by these 1000+ restrictions (which really do have an effect, I don't mean to minimize that) but they have not gone for their home run of banning it, or defining it as murder, or whatever else one would expect. (I realize it would certainly go to the Supreme Court if they tried to ban it - but they just had control of Congress and Presidency and have stacked the court, and they haven't even tried anything - as they also didn't when W was in charge).

Anyway this is a bit of a derail except I expect to see The Wall as Debate become a parallel issue over time and one of the lasting legacies of Trump.
posted by Rumple at 1:20 PM on January 20 [1 favorite]


I know food stamps can be a polarizing issue but there are 38 million people on food stamps who could potentially not get their benefits in March if this shutdown continues. That will be a lot of people going hungry because the two sides cannot come together to move things forward. About 44 percent of food stamps recipients are children.
posted by rocopoly01 at 1:30 PM on January 20 [22 favorites]


That will be a lot of people going hungry because the two sides cannot come together to move things forward.

The problem with this statement is that only one side is willing to work on things, while the other side is sticking its tongue out and lighting itself on fire.
posted by Celsius1414 at 1:45 PM on January 20 [53 favorites]


they have not gone for their home run of banning it, or defining it as murder, or whatever else one would expect.

Yes, they have. There are inactive laws in multiple states that have been found unconstitutional. Ohio and Iowa banned abortion after six weeks. Mississippi banned abortion after 15 weeks. Indiana allows homicide charges for a fetus. Ohio tried to pass personhood bills that would completely criminalize abortion TWICE. Don’t go around pretending that these laws aren’t being pushed as far as legally possible.
posted by the agents of KAOS at 1:46 PM on January 20 [94 favorites]


>So Trump admits pursuing a deal with Russia, a deal involving a *former* GRU agent, with sanctioned banks, and an adversary he knew was helping him win the election, up until he won. All while denying it in public, and after the FBI had warned his campaign about possible Russian interference. And after it had become a campaign issue.

Not to worry, I'm sure the NYT and WaPo are even now writing up damning stories that use the words "lie" and "impeachment" without using "Democrats" in the title. With all this information smack in the public sphere such that anyone can parse it exactly so, why wouldn't they get all Times New Roman on it?

*dramatic pause* Oh yeah. Right, I keep forgetting. Hey - member that time when they were all "FBI Sees No Clear Link to Russia" and then got super fussy when it was pointed out how much free ink and support they gave the Turmp campaign?

>>Special Counsel's rebuttal was NOT a denial even though it's shamelessly and repeatedly being reported as such.

THANK YOU. Yes. That. That WaPo "deep dive" on the SCO "denial" is replete with "people familar with the matter" as the only source, and yet that's the same "source" BFN used so - ?? (We shouldn't trust anonymous sources unless they come from WaPo. Got it.) And it's a long article with many quotes from a source that's supposedly so familiar with the epically leak-proof office of Mueller. The WaPo is really sure the SCO statement was a full blanket denial of all things related to the SCO investigation in that BFN article. Which is great, but it wasn't, so.
posted by petebest at 2:56 PM on January 20 [26 favorites]


The Mystery of the Disappearing Security Clearance
President Trump tried to unilaterally strip a CIA director’s security clearance, but it’s still unclear whether he actually did.

Trump can issue these dicta (interdicta?) without any oversight or due process, whether they're effective or not, but caution dictates that they have to be treated as if they are effective. Consequently, there may as well be no due process at all.
posted by Joe in Australia at 2:59 PM on January 20 [4 favorites]


My current theory on the Mueller office denial, is that they are hoping to ask Trump about this situation when they question him in person. They want to keep exactly what they know and the pile of evidence they have for what they know quiet--so that he'll feel more free to just lie as usual. With the Buzzfeed story public, he'll be more on guard on that topic and have more opportunity to spin obfuscation.

Regardless, it's a very, very, very strange situation and the digging in we've seen on both sides today makes it even more strange.
posted by flug at 4:04 PM on January 20 [8 favorites]


Regardless, it's a very, very, very strange situation and the digging in we've seen on both sides today makes it even more strange.

Which is oddly reassuring. Since the whole train went off the rails, NONE OF THIS IS NORMAL. So now the legal system is catching up with all the "NOT NORMAL" stuff, and of course, it's going to look "NOT NORMAL".

In other words, "Well you know it's gonna get stranger. So let's get on with the show."
posted by mikelieman at 4:22 PM on January 20 [7 favorites]


My current theory on the Mueller office denial, is that they are hoping to ask Trump about this situation when they question him in person.

That may be true, and if I have one criticism of the SC's investigation so far (based on my decades of experience not being involved in any form of law enforcement) it's that they've let the "subpoena Trump yes/no" question go unresolved so long. The longer they let Trump go without talking to him the more info is going to leak back.

If their plan was to hold this until they could ask Trump about it they done fucked up.
posted by Justinian at 4:23 PM on January 20 [9 favorites]


My current theory on the Mueller office denial, is that they are hoping to ask Trump about this situation when they question him in person.

Mueller's team is really unlikely to make a plan that requires Trump to say something incriminating, for two reasons: He's a lifelong liar, and they already have the receipts. You don't need to ask Trump anything about anything to build a case, and it would be irresponsible to make a plan that relied on doing so.
posted by odinsdream at 4:58 PM on January 20 [4 favorites]


He's a lifelong liar, and they already have the receipts. You don't need to ask Trump anything about anything to build a case, and it would be irresponsible to make a plan that relied on doing so.

No, but they can still plan on asking him things because he's a lifelong liar, adding them to the ever-expanding list of perjurious instances.
posted by Celsius1414 at 5:06 PM on January 20 [12 favorites]


Meanwhile, the Trump administration continues to blunder about in the Middle East as it attempts to confront Iran, Haaretz reports: Trump's 'Arab NATO' Push Against Iran Comes to a Head, and He's the Biggest Obstacle—Next month, Washington will convene 70 world leaders in Warsaw in an attempt to form an alliance against Iran. But they all remember Trump's zigzagging policies
In less than a month, officials from 70 countries will come to Warsaw for the anti-Iran show Pompeo is staging. It’s not clear what the conference is meant to achieve, since the administration has already taken the most important step – withdrawing America from the nuclear deal. Efforts to persuade the European Union to follow suit have failed, renewed sanctions have already been imposed, and even if their full implementation has been postponed until May, the message has gotten through.

Usually, such a conference is convened prior to some diplomatic or military move. But this time, it seems to be an effort to maintain the anti-Iranian momentum, given that threats and pressure haven’t persuaded Iran either to reopen the nuclear deal or negotiate a separate deal on its ballistic missile program. […]

America’s diplomatic strategy, to the degree that it deserves that term, is operating on two main tracks. One is aimed at persuading as many states as possible to join the sanctions on Iran, thereby narrowing the gaping holes created by Iran’s ties with Russia, China and Turkey. The second is aimed at building an effective Arab coalition to block Iranian influence in the Middle East.[…]

The flowchart for U.S. policy against Iran in the Middle East requires it first to effect a reconciliation between the Arab states, then persuade Iraq to reduce its ties with Iran, push Lebanon to decide whether to make Hezbollah a partner in the government, see what can be done to end the war in Yemen and persuade Turkey to abandon its alliance with Iran.
Incidentally, today officially marks the mid-point of Trump's occupation of the Oval Office—only 730 more days to go…
posted by Doktor Zed at 5:56 PM on January 20 [9 favorites]


According to the NYT, many people remember Trump's zigzagging:
“I think he was always a terrible negotiator,” said Tony Schwartz, co-author with Mr. Trump of “The Art of The Deal.”

That book, published in 1987, was intended to be an autobiography of Mr. Trump, who was 41 at the time. Mr. Schwartz said that he created the idea of Mr. Trump as a great deal maker as a literary device to give the book a unifying theme. He said he came to regret the contribution as he watched Mr. Trump seize on the label to sell himself as something he was not — a solver of complicated problems.

Rather, Mr. Schwartz said, Mr. Trump’s “virtue” in negotiating was his relentlessness and lack of concern for anything but claiming victory.

“If you don’t care what the collateral damage you create is, then you have a potential advantage,” he said. “He used a hammer, deceit, relentlessness and an absence of conscience as a formula for getting what he wanted.”
posted by Little Dawn at 6:07 PM on January 20 [21 favorites]


My theory on the sphinx-like response from Mueller's office about the Buzzfeed story is that it may be related to how important it is to maintain the integrity of the investigation, i.e. no leaks:
[...] special counsel Robert S. Mueller III does his job methodically, secretly and effectively, wrapping up one witness after another. Despite the Trump onslaught, he retains the confidence of most Americans. The Pew Research Center reports, “A majority (55%) remains confident that special counsel Robert Mueller is conducting a fair investigation into Russian involvement in the 2016 election. Confidence in Mueller has held steady over the course of the past year, and there remains more confidence in Mueller to conduct a fair investigation than in Trump to handle matters related to the inquiry appropriately.”
And I think this detail may also be important to note, in the context of how important maintaining the integrity of the investigation appears to be:
The reporter informed Mueller’s spokesman, Peter Carr, that he and a colleague had “a story coming stating that Michael Cohen was directed by President Trump himself to lie to Congress about his negotiations related to the Trump Moscow project,” according to copies of their emails provided by a BuzzFeed spokesman. Importantly, the reporter made no reference to the special counsel’s office specifically or evidence that Mueller’s investigators had uncovered.
In this context, it looks like they didn't have an opportunity to respond in advance, and then took unusual action after publication to protect the integrity of the investigation from the appearance of leaks.
posted by Little Dawn at 6:27 PM on January 20 [4 favorites]


T.D. Strange: "Jason Kander even though he lost and I'm not sure he's got another run in him. Mayor Pete Buttigeg, maybe."

Kander has had struggles with depression, which is why he dropped out of the KC mayoral race; hard to say where he goes next. When Buttigeg finishes with his quixotic presidential campaign, he's going to be getting a lot of pressure to run for Indiana governor (up in 2020).
posted by Chrysostom at 7:23 PM on January 20 [1 favorite]


(based on my decades of experience not being involved in any form of law enforcement)

Heh. We've sort of normalised how I-1 has already handed out pardons to people who didn't deserve them, is reported to have offered pardons to key actors in the Russia investigation, and is in a position to pardon even more of them even before any indictments come out -- and that the offer of pardons might itself be obstruction of justice. When you come for the self-appointed king, you better not miss.
posted by holgate at 7:27 PM on January 20 [1 favorite]


In this context, it looks like they didn't have an opportunity to respond in advance, and then took unusual action after publication to protect the integrity of the investigation from the appearance of leaks.

posted by Little Dawn at 6:27 PM on January 20 [1 favorite +] [!]


This rings true to me. As I recall, there is no law against investigators lying about the investigation, so this could be a lie in order to preserve a belief in the "persons of interest" that they are not implicated.
posted by Mental Wimp at 7:28 PM on January 20 [3 favorites]


Shutdown imperils NASA’s decadelong ice-measuring campaign
The spreading effects of the partial U.S. government shutdown have reached Earth’s melting poles. IceBridge, a decadelong NASA aerial campaign meant to secure a seamless record of ice loss, has had to sacrifice at least half of what was supposed to be its final spring deployment, its scientists say. The shortened mission threatens a crucial plan to collect overlapping data with a new ice-monitoring satellite called the Ice, Cloud, and Land Elevation Satellite (ICESat)-2.
posted by homunculus at 7:34 PM on January 20 [22 favorites]


This rings true to me. As I recall, there is no law against investigators lying about the investigation, so this could be a lie in order to preserve a belief in the "persons of interest" that they are not implicated.

It wouldn't be illegal for it to be a lie but I think the odds of that are so close to nil as to be indistinguishable. It could be a lawyerly parsing aimed at specific aspects of the story rather than all or most of it, though followups from WaPo and NYT have indicated otherwise. But a flat-out lie? I can't see it happening. Lying to a suspect during an interrogation (and I suspect Mueller's guys do even that very sparingly... these aren't beat cops working a corner man) is entirely different than lying to the American people on a matter of such national importance.
posted by Justinian at 7:40 PM on January 20 [7 favorites]


lying to the American people on a matter of such national importance.

Especially when we already know that one of Team Trump's tactics is going to be claiming that Mueller is a lying liar whose investigation is full of lies. Any admitted deceit by Mueller, no matter how defensible, is going to be spun as tainting the veracity of the entire enterprise.
posted by xigxag at 8:09 PM on January 20 [6 favorites]




I don't think they're lying, but I think the vague response from Mueller's office makes sense as protective lawyerly parsing in the context of Wapo's follow up reporting:
People familiar with the matter said Carr told others in the government that he would have more vigorously discouraged the reporters from proceeding with the story had he known it would allege Cohen had told the special counsel Trump directed him to lie — or that the special counsel was said to have learned this through interviews with Trump Organization witnesses, as well as internal company emails and text messages.
The details could be the problem with Buzzfeed's story, especially given how Mueller's office emphasized "descriptions of specific statements" and "characterization of documents," but I read it as vague enough to deflect the appearance of leaks while also not confirming or denying much of anything.
posted by Little Dawn at 8:18 PM on January 20 [2 favorites]


Good analysis of the DC confrontation in a short thread:

@IowaPeg:
2 Videos show Nick is lying about Nathan Phillips.
Phillips told AP he moved between the two groups to diffuse the tension.
This video is from pov of the BI group- clearly shows that's exactly what he did.
By the end you can see kids have surrounded NP
posted by Johnny Wallflower at 8:33 PM on January 20 [26 favorites]


Bear in mind that just like The Wall isn't really a wall, "Trump Tower Moscow" isn't really a hotel in Russia.

In an organization like Trump's, influence-seekers are going to hitch their personal hobbyhorses to whatever bandwagon has momentum at the moment. So for Manafort, the Trump Tower Moscow is "getting whole with Deripaska," for Sater, it's the "Ukraine peace plan," for Cohen it's history's greatest money laundering conduit, and for Kushner it is, implausibly, refinancing 666 5th Ave. For the FSB and GRU, it's "part of Russia and its government's support for Mr. Trump." Only Trump thinks it's an actual building, but he doesn't distinguish that from a metonym for the whole farrago of corruption with which it's associated.

Frankly, I don't think it's safe to assume that the Tump Organization is capable of clearly distinguishing between the campaign and the tower project. So when they say it lasted up until the election, they might be talking about the campaign as a subproject of Trump Tower Moscow.

It's also worth bearing in mind that the "continuous shifting of rhetorical focus" endemic to fascist thought isn't just a propaganda tactic. That tactic arrises from a habit of sloppy thought. The same sloppiness will be evident when talking about the Wall, or Trump Tower. In one sentence the Tower is my pet project, in the next it's a literal building, and in the next it's an umbrella term for the whole mess. So maybe it was over in 2014, June 2016, or November, or it's not over at all, or all of those things are true or none of them.

Realizing that everybody was talking about it, but nobody agreed on what it was, will help explain why none of what we hear about it holds together consistently. It was never a clear and consistent thing in the first place.
posted by dirge at 9:09 PM on January 20 [68 favorites]


Importantly, the reporter made no reference to the special counsel’s office specifically or evidence that Mueller’s investigators had uncovered.

This is the part that bothers me. I worked on newspaper investigative teams for eight years. More importantly, because of my skillsets (background in finance and data analysis), I often worked with young reporters when they were digging into potential investigations. Whenever you have a story like this, the *bare minimum* is calling involved parties for a comment. (Buzzfeed clearly did that.) But what rookies would often do is call and say, "I'm working on a story that says X," and of course the involved party would give a vague denial or a "no comment." And -- this is the key point -- that's what a novice reporter wants, a "no comment" that doesn't refute their story and therefore allows the story to pass muster with an editor. Hey, they got a chance to respond, right?

But that's not best practice. As a reporter, what you should do is go to the central players in the story and tell them *exactly* what you've got, and see if they can dispute the specific statements. As a reporter, you *never* give out a copy of your story in advance, but many times, on the big stories, I'd type up a bullet-point list of every fact that would be in the story, give it to the subjects, and say, have at it.

That's not to say you hold off if they dispute it. They will. But you want them to say specifically what they think is wrong. Most of the time, you get pushback but no denial of the facts, and you publish that story. But more than once, the response sent me back to do more digging, more analysis and I got a better, rock-solid story.

As I posted above, I know one of the reporters and he has done some great work, and he also has made at least one major mistake in his early days. So far Buzzfeed's reporting has been excellent and has stood up. What I worry is that the run of success might have made them a bit cocky, or earned them a bit too much lenience from their editor. A good editor will ask not only "how do you know this?" but "how do you know your source knows this?" And without a satisfactory answer, that editor will send the story back. I don't know if their editor had the experience or the courage to do that.
posted by martin q blank at 10:12 PM on January 20 [81 favorites]


I'm not a reporter, and have never been one. However, I would imagine in this case there was the extra pressure of suspecting the Special Counsel's Office might kill the story, regardless of its veracity, if they felt it impeded their investigation in any way. My imaginings come from my memories of all the shenanigans the Washington Post reporters pulled to get sources to back their stories in the movie "All the President's Men". I have no idea how well that jibes with reality, but the circumstances sure are similar.

One reason I suspect a parsing error is that if Trump and crew implied, or even directly ordered, Cohen to lie, but not in those words, I suspect it could hurt their investigation's credibility later if they didn't refute the accusation. If Trump merely said "Our business with Russia is officially done. Now go get me my hotel." then later Trump's legal team could claim Mueller had shown bias by supporting a claim with contestable evidence. The SCO's hands would be tied in terms of refuting the Buzzfeed story. This also jibes with their weird non-denial denial, which does make sense if the Buzzfeed story is a mis-characterization in a literal sense but a true description of what happened at the same time.
posted by xammerboy at 11:12 PM on January 20 [5 favorites]


Also, Trump's kids would be dumb enough to put "please lie to congress" in an email, but Trump's campaign staff and lawyers? I doubt they even knew anything. I think it more likely they were simply communicating the official line that Trump has no business with Russia.
posted by xammerboy at 11:23 PM on January 20 [2 favorites]


NYT, Book by Former Staff Member Describes a White House ‘Out of Control’, in which Cliff Sims, former communications aide and campaign staffer, has decided a book deal sounds like a profitable next step:
John F. Kelly, as White House chief of staff, presented himself as the man leading a charge of “country first, president second.” The attorney general suggested administering lie-detector tests to the small group of people with access to transcripts of the president’s calls with foreign leaders. And President Trump sought a list of “enemies” working in the White House communications shop.
...
But Mr. Sims also describes painfully awkward interactions with Paul D. Ryan, the former speaker of the House, during efforts to repeal the health care law and after the Charlottesville white nationalist riots. During the legislative discussions, according to Mr. Sims, Mr. Trump abruptly left the Oval Office during a meeting with Mr. Ryan to watch television in the adjacent dining room, before returning some moments later.

When Mr. Ryan expressed displeasure with the president’s statements after the Charlottesville riots, Mr. Trump called Mr. Ryan, Mr. Sims writes.

“I remember being in Wisconsin and your own people were booing you,” Mr. Trump yelled, recalling Mr. Ryan distancing himself from Mr. Trump after the infamous “Access Hollywood” tape emerged in October 2016. “You were out there dying like a dog, Paul. Like a dog!”
Most of the descriptions sound like the same chaos we see publicly, though "country first, president second" is a fairly extraordinary thing for a chief of staff to say, let alone not succeed at achieving.
posted by zachlipton at 11:30 PM on January 20 [10 favorites]


As to Cliff Sims et al. I suggest they re-read their dictionaries.

Hagiography:
a very admiring book about someone or a description of someone that represents the person as perfect or much better than they really are, or the activity of writing about someone in this way.
We will always remember that they are fascists.
posted by vac2003 at 2:32 AM on January 21 [4 favorites]




Pence Compares Trump to Martin Luther King Jr. (David Boddiger, Splinter)

He was on CBS News' Face The Nation.
And somehow, in Pence’s brain, or in the brain of whoever convinced him that this ridiculous stunt was a good idea, the spreading of fear and xenophobic paranoia about immigrants seeking a better life relates to the life’s work of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Folks, the gaslighting has now reached interstellar dimensions
posted by ZeusHumms at 4:53 AM on January 21 [50 favorites]


From a longer Vox piece this morning on Senator Kamala Harris’ declaration to run:
Harris would be the first African American woman to be a major party nominee for the presidency if she ultimately secures the Democratic nomination. With her announcement, she joins trailblazers including Shirley Chisholm and Carol Moseley Braun, two African American women who have previously vied for the Democratic ticket.
posted by Barack Spinoza at 5:05 AM on January 21 [20 favorites]


From the NYTimes article linked above by Little Dawn:
One example of that stamina — seen by others as evidence of unreliability — recounted in Mr. O’Donnell’s book, “Trumped! The Inside Story of the Real Donald Trump — His Cunning Rise and Spectacular Fall,” written with James Rutherford, involved the construction of an exclusive lounge at the top of a casino.

Mr. Trump liked very high ceilings, according to the account. He screamed and cursed when he was told some ceilings had to be low to allow for pipes. He begrudgingly acquiesced. But he had forgotten by the time he next visited the construction site. He cursed again. Was reminded again. To the bewilderment of his executives, that cycle repeated itself several times.

Finally, toward the end of construction, Mr. Trump reamed an executive with vulgarities, leapt up and punched a hole in one of the low ceilings. “After that day,” Mr. O’Donnell wrote, “Donald never set foot inside it again if he could help it.”
He's been abusive, stupid and lazy all along.
posted by mumimor at 6:18 AM on January 21 [72 favorites]


This frequent cycle of [Get notion in skull -> Angrily insist on notion -> Be told it can't be done -> temporarily acquiesce -> Seemingly forget about impossibility -> Angrily insist on notion] seems to happen so much and it's as pathetic as it is alarming.

You'd expect it to end in one state or another -- a total acquiescence, or a permanent state of insistence on the bugaboo until it is (somehow) accomplished. But no, it seems like the yelling is what he cares about more than either living in reality or manifesting his brainfarts, or it's the result of personality traits in exact balanced opposition (causing him to rise and back down with equal degree).
posted by InTheYear2017 at 6:56 AM on January 21 [14 favorites]


What Is the Far Right’s Endgame? A Society That Suppresses the Majority.
Nancy MacLean, author of an intellectual biography of James McGill Buchanan, explains how this little-known libertarian’s work is influencing modern-day politics.
Tell me more about the relationship between Koch and Buchanan.

I think too many people on the left have really underestimated Koch’s intelligence and his drive, and also misunderstood his motives. There’s been brilliant work by journalists, really good digging on the money trail and the Koch operations, but much of that writing seems to assume that he is doing this just because it’s going to lower his tax bill or because he wants to evade regulations, personally. I think that really misgauges the man. He is deeply ideological and has been reading almost fanatically for a very long time. I see him as someone who’s quite messianic. He’s compared himself to Martin Luther and his effort being like the Protestant Reformation. When he invested in Buchanan’s center at George Mason University, he said he wanted to “unleash the kind of force that propelled Columbus.”

This is not someone who’s just trying to lower his tax bill. He wants to bring in a totally new vision of society and government, that’s different from anything that exists anywhere in the world or has existed because he is so certain that he is right. I think it’s more chilling because it doesn’t correspond to the ideas we have about politics.

Right, like he’s not trying to get a particular person elected. You mention several times Buchanan was very against that idea, that the point was to get a particular person elected. The point, for him, was to change the whole system.

Right. You asked how the two men connected. I only have the documentary trail that I found. But from what I found, I believe that they first came in contact or first began to work together about 1969 or 1970, and that was in the context of the campus upheaval against the war in Vietnam, and for black studies, and so forth. Buchanan wrote a book about the campus unrest that applied his particular school of thought to it. Koch had an operation called the Center for Independent Education, and that center took Buchanan’s book and turned it into a kind of pamphlet that could be circulated more broadly.

In 1970, Koch joined the Mont Pelerin Society. Once he got in, he began to advertise his many different organizations and efforts and try to recruit and get people to events and so forth, through Mont Pelerin. Buchanan helped with the founding of the Cato Institute and with various other intellectual enterprises that were close to Charles Koch’s heart, like this thing called the Institute for Humane Studies.
posted by scalefree at 7:03 AM on January 21 [41 favorites]


According to the NYT, it's de ja vu, all over again:
The email did not mention that the article would also assert that Mr. Mueller had substantial evidence of the supposed presidential marching orders — a vital component that gave the story so much apparent heft.

To be fair, Fortress Mueller has been a frustration for reporters. The special counsel’s office has kept leaks to a minimum while refusing, for the most part, to confirm or deny whatever report about its work is firing up the news algorithm. While its impenetrability may explain the BuzzFeed reporters’ casual-seeming approach, it’s not much of an excuse for skipping the steps taught in Journalism 101.

[...] Even after the special counsel’s statement on Friday night, Rachel Maddow of MSNBC speculated that it wasn’t a true denial. During an interview with Mr. Smith, she asked, “Do you have any concern that this statement from the special counsel’s office might be an effort to dissuade you and dissuade your reporters from pursuing this, even if it is accurate, either because it interferes with the special counsel’s investigation in some way or it is otherwise too uncomfortable for this Justice Department?”
posted by Little Dawn at 7:07 AM on January 21 [4 favorites]


Giuliani is always perplexing, but I really don't understand why he confirmed the heart of the Buzzfeed story after the Mueller statement came out. I guess because he knows it's true, and leaning into denial will be problematic later? It still seems like shutting up would have been an easier and more effective path for now.
posted by diogenes at 7:20 AM on January 21 [5 favorites]


Pence Compares Trump to Martin Luther King Jr.

This is just one more step down a path of very purposeful neutering of King's message (and those of other civil rights leaders) by the descendants of the forces they fought against. They know what they're doing, and their followers want to believe that they would have been walking over that bridge because "Equality, yay!"
posted by Etrigan at 7:24 AM on January 21 [38 favorites]


Giuliani is always perplexing, but I really don't understand why he confirmed the heart of the Buzzfeed story after the Mueller statement came out.

If Giuliani is meant to get ahead of the news, then I can see why he would confirm it in the middle of the Mueller denial. That makes the story so convoluted that it's hard to follow, and then hard for casual watchers to know what to believe.
posted by gladly at 7:26 AM on January 21 [6 favorites]


Trump’s Rhetoric Is Raising the Risk of Right-Wing Terrorism (Daniel Byman, Slate)
"We need to have a serious debate about the causes of political violence, before the next attack."
...

Right-wing extremists have embraced Trump. According to extremism scholar J.M. Berger, in the right-wing Twitterverse, “Support for Trump outstripped all other themes by a wide margin,” with #MAGA slogans and imagery pervading much of their content. ... All political causes have a loony fringe, but the president’s reaction to his most extreme supporters is at times sympathetic and in other cases a genuine question mark, in contrast to other leaders who openly rejected objectionable individuals and movements on their side of the political spectrum.

The president’s reactions, and nonreactions, make right-wing terrorism much more potentially dangerous. They give more attention to extreme voices and legitimate their cause. In addition, the Trump administration has not devoted resources to right-wing terrorism despite the danger it poses. As such, it is more likely to continue and has a greater political impact—the goal of terrorism.
posted by ZeusHumms at 7:42 AM on January 21 [30 favorites]


This frequent cycle of [Get notion in skull -> Angrily insist on notion -> Be told it can't be done -> temporarily acquiesce -> Seemingly forget about impossibility -> Angrily insist on notion] seems to happen so much and it's as pathetic as it is alarming.

If this was a domestic violence case, this is the kind of defendant who would get arrested for violating the restraining order. This case includes a standoff, hostages, threats of harm and an ability to act on them, as well as powerful enablers who currently seem too scared to take coordinated action to address the threats of harm. If there were kids involved, CPS would likely be arriving by this point.

Similarly, it has been my experience that law enforcement reaches out when they are acutely concerned about the risks of harm, such as when there has been a standoff. I've been thinking about the motivation of Buzzfeed's law enforcement sources and why they would attempt to leak information, and given how present and real the risks appear to be, that may help explain it. As an attorney, it can be frustrating to only have paper and the rule of law to fight with, so I empathize with the instinct to accelerate the process, while also cringing about the potential negative impacts on all of the cases that may be brought in the nearish future.

And similarly, Guiliani's behavior may be easier to understand if he is seen as similar to an attorney representing a volatile, self-destructive client in a domestic violence case. Damage control is basically impossible with a client like this.
posted by Little Dawn at 7:50 AM on January 21 [9 favorites]


GoFundMe launches fundraiser for workers affected by government shutdown (Jon Porter, The Verge)

This is a direct relief fund run by the company itself which will distribute donations to a number of nonprofits helping the workers impacted by the shutdown.
posted by ZeusHumms at 7:59 AM on January 21 [15 favorites]


News You May Have Missed for 20 January 2019.
posted by joannemerriam at 8:09 AM on January 21 [6 favorites]


Why 2019 Could Be Marijuana’s Biggest Year Yet
A green tide in Congress raises hopes that pot could be legal under federal law by year’s end. (Politico)
posted by Barack Spinoza at 8:20 AM on January 21 [8 favorites]


I don't know that the Koch-Buchanan article should be terribly surprising, although it is quite accurate. The Kochs and their ilk are clearly not card-carrying Trumpoids, though they've found him to be a useful idiot along the road to their goals, nor are they solely interested in profit, though it's certainly one of their primary aims.

History is littered with wannabe philosopher-king types who wish nothing more than to impose their own particular beliefs on society, to remake its caste system into their own flavor of meritocracy in which The Right People are in charge. Some have a distinctly religious approach to that, while others, like the Koches, are far more secular. (Though their fervor certainly approaches that of religious devotion; there's some quibbling to be made over whether you can have a religion based on ideals rather than anthropomorphized deities.)

It is authoritarianism in a nutshell; only _I_ and people who think like me are qualified to judge Right and Wrong, only _we_ grasp what's truly best for you, so only _we_ should be allowed to grasp the reins of power. Whether the gun being pointed at the masses is physical, economic, theological or otherwise is the differentiator between one authoritarian movement or another, separating Bull Connor from Rushdoony from Mencius Moldbug. It's only partially about personal gain; it is about control. And any means used to gain that control is legitimate to them, because it is all about the perceived desirability of their ends.
posted by delfin at 8:30 AM on January 21 [36 favorites]


President Trump Posts Altered Photos to Facebook and Instagram That Make Him Look Thinner (Gizmodo)
Does it matter if the president is overweight? Not really. But for a guy who’s constantly complaining about fake news, it’s pretty hypocritical that President Trump’s social media team is using photos that have been altered to make him look thinner and less wrinkled. It’s especially weird that his fingers have been made longer, which might lead one to believe that the president has had some input in these alterations. But, again, that’s just speculation at this point.
posted by box at 8:52 AM on January 21 [45 favorites]


Trump's kids would be dumb enough to put "please lie to congress" in an email

While that's likely a bit blunt even for them, I can easily imagine direct instructions of, "don't mention X meeting" and "whatever they ask, don't tell them about this business deal." Or even, "Dad says it's important not to talk about Z." Not quite "instructions to lie to Congress," but very much telling a witness what not to say, with the obvious intention of, "and if they ask you directly, lie about it."

And it's also possible that they mentioned what to say instead of "I don't know" or "I can't answer that": something like, "If they ask about real estate in Russia, tell them we have no plans in that direction." And that is telling him to lie, but since it doesn't use the word "lie" or "perjury," I'm sure the Trumps don't think it's illegal.
posted by ErisLordFreedom at 8:54 AM on January 21 [4 favorites]


GoFundMe launches fundraiser for workers affected by government shutdown (Jon Porter, The Verge)


I said, almost two years ago, we have to go forward assuming the federal goverment won’t exist.

I didn’t realize it woukd be this literal.
posted by The Whelk at 8:57 AM on January 21 [30 favorites]


Trump Makes Surprise Visit To MLK Memorial, Leaves After About 2 Minutes (HuffPo)

“The president addressed reporters during the Martin Luther King Jr. Day visit but did not mention the civil rights icon.”

He doesn’t deserve to stand at the foot of that statue.
posted by Barack Spinoza at 9:38 AM on January 21 [89 favorites]


the BuzzFeed reporters’ casual-seeming approach . . . skipping the steps taught in Journalism 101

The Post and NYT are so all-in on the Buzzfeed hate-on that it seems like they're foreclosing on their own credibility if they were to confirm all or parts of that story at this point. I think this is what Jay Rosen talks about when he criticizes the press for believing the myth that they're "above it all," when in fact they're participating in the course of events through their editorial decisions.
posted by Dr. Send at 9:44 AM on January 21 [46 favorites]


it seems like they're foreclosing on their own credibility if they were to confirm all or parts of that story at this point.

Largely agree. The big papers hate to concede that a small paper (or God forbid, a web-only upstart) beats them on something. They look lazy -- or worse, complicit -- if the story proves to be true. But you can be sure that the Post and NYT editors fairly flogged their reporters to get confirmation. (I've been on both sides of this equation.) That they haven't yet means either that Buzzfeed has better sources, or that Buzzfeed's are wrong. Given that Buzzfeed is based in NYC and its biggest stories have come out of there, I'm concerned it's the latter (SDNY types who have only second-hand knowledge of the action). But as someone who spent most of his career at small and mid-sized papers, I hope that at the end of the day, BF can rub the big guys' noses in it.
posted by martin q blank at 11:19 AM on January 21 [15 favorites]


it’s not much of an excuse for skipping the steps taught in Journalism 101.

I always thought that ramming a stick up one's rear end was a masters-level class. Again, to cite Marcy Wheeler, Cormier and Leonard are operating with a different source network outside the constraints implicit in "elite" journalism's house style and use of access. That doesn't vindicate or condemn their work, but it also doesn't give the NYT or WaPo the authority to get snitty.
posted by holgate at 11:27 AM on January 21 [10 favorites]


The same BuzzFeed writers broke this story a month and half ago and there's never been any pushback on it and everybody else ran with it.

The Trump Organization Planned To Give Vladimir Putin The $50 Million Penthouse In Trump Tower
posted by chris24 at 11:38 AM on January 21 [37 favorites]


Buzzfeed also broke this almost 6 months before any others picked it up. Trump Tower Moscow, Sater and Cohen's hijinks.
posted by Harry Caul at 12:11 PM on January 21 [7 favorites]


NYT, Kenneth Vogel, Russian Oligarch and Allies Could Benefit From Sanctions Deal, Document Shows
When the Trump administration announced last month that it was lifting sanctions against a trio of companies controlled by an influential Russian oligarch, it cast the move as tough on Russia and on the oligarch, arguing that he had to make painful concessions to get the sanctions lifted.

But a binding confidential document signed by both sides suggests that the agreement the administration negotiated with the companies controlled by the oligarch, Oleg V. Deripaska, may have been less punitive than advertised.

The deal contains provisions that free him from hundreds of millions of dollars in debt while leaving him and his allies with majority ownership of his most important company, the document shows.
I am shocked, shocked.
posted by zachlipton at 12:24 PM on January 21 [22 favorites]


The Shutdown Is Making the U.S. Less Prepared for Hurricane Season (Brian Kahn, Earther/Gizmodo)
Of all the trouble the shutdown has brought upon the weather community, this might be the most impactful. Putting the off-season on hold over Trump’s imaginary border emergency could result in real life-and-death consequences if a hurricane strikes U.S. shores this year.

Last year saw two multi-billion dollar hurricanes hit the U.S.. The year before was the costliest hurricane season in history. Yet losses would’ve been much worse if not for National Hurricane Center (NHC) and the U.S. hurricane program improvements, ranging from narrowing the cone of uncertainty that shows a storm’s projected path to refining response plans. The bulk of those improvements happen at this time of year, when the odds of hurricanes are low and scientists and program managers can turn to long-term projects. The NHC, along with a host of other federal agencies from the Environmental Monitoring Center to the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) analyze data, tweak forecasts and models, and provide training to local emergency managers, all so every American can get better forecasts and evacuation warnings.

All that has come to a grinding halt as the shutdown has dragged on.
Oh, joy.
posted by ZeusHumms at 12:26 PM on January 21 [16 favorites]




From the Oneonta, N.Y., Daily Star, in the middle of I-1 country*:
In Our Opinion: Evil has an ally at the State Dept.
[A]s a career-driven opportunist, Pompeo is wiling to put loyalty to an erratic, isolationist president ahead of his country’s best interests.

*Regardless of Delgado, who got an Ag seat -- yay!
posted by jgirl at 12:45 PM on January 21 [6 favorites]


Rudy's brain worms would like to make a clarification:

My recent statements about discussions during the 2016 campaign between Michael Cohen and then-candidate Donald Trump about a potential Trump Moscow ‘project’ were hypothetical and not based on conversations I had with the President. My comments did not represent the actual timing or circumstances of any such discussions.
posted by diogenes at 1:27 PM on January 21 [10 favorites]


Ok, that is definitely news, but it also definitely belongs in the hyucking hyuck thread.
posted by schadenfrau at 1:31 PM on January 21 [4 favorites]


@courtneyknorris: NEW: TSA experienced a national rate of 10% of unscheduled absences compared to 3.1% one year ago on the same day. "Many employees are reporting that they are not able to report to work due to financial limitations..some airports experienced longer than usual wait times

Air travel seems to be on the verge of imminent collapse, and we're no closer to ending the shutdown.
posted by zachlipton at 1:33 PM on January 21 [17 favorites]


WaPo headlines right now:

"Some Trump voters now blame him for government shutdown. While the president's relationship with much of his base remains strong, his ties are fraying with voters in key pockets throughout the industrial Midwest..."

But right below it we have:

"Senate Republicans all but surrender to Trump on wall despite shutdown’s toll. ... Under pressure from conservatives to help Trump deliver on a signature campaign promise and unable to persuade him to avert the partial government shutdown, these lawmakers have all but surrendered to the president’s will."

Which is it??
posted by Melismata at 1:37 PM on January 21 [1 favorite]


Some Trump voters now blame him for government shutdown ...

Senate Republicans all but surrender to Trump on wall despite shutdown’s toll ...

Which is it??


They're not mutually exclusive. What it's really saying is Republican lawmakers are acting against their best interests. Unlikely, but not impossible.
posted by ZenMasterThis at 1:45 PM on January 21 [6 favorites]


Between personal leave, special circumstances leave, and flexitime usage, a 10% overhead for unplanned absences isn't much more than what I budget for in my capacity as a workforce planner on a *normal* day. How little sick leave does a federal worker in the US get?
posted by MarchHare at 1:48 PM on January 21 [2 favorites]


Air travel seems to be on the verge of imminent collapse, and we're no closer to ending the shutdown.

Republicans have as much as said that's what it's gonna take before they will stand up to Trump.
posted by emjaybee at 1:55 PM on January 21 [1 favorite]


From WaPo: Sen. Kamala Harris’s 2020 policy agenda: $3 trillion tax plan, tax credits for renters, bail reform, Medicare for all.

I'd prefer getting rid of the tax credit for mortgages rather than expand it to renters but, eh, whatchagonnado.
posted by Justinian at 1:56 PM on January 21 [4 favorites]


10% unplanned sick leave would be 4.5 to 5 weeks a year. That’s really high for unplanned leave. On top of the normal scheduled vacations and sick leave for things like surgery, I bet they are pushing towards 20% absent.
posted by meinvt at 2:02 PM on January 21 [3 favorites]


Air travel seems to be on the verge of imminent collapse, and we're no closer to ending the shutdown.

I flew SNA -> SJC -> SNA last week, and the only thing that caused delays was all the people showing up at 6:30AM for their 9:30AM flights* because the news said TSA would be a disaster. Santa Ana and San Jose aren't huge airports, of course, but at least this point the "TSA is going to bring the country down!" rhetoric is a bit overblown, based on my experience this week.

* This had the knock-on effect of making all the food places suuuuper crowded and backed up, since what else are people going to do with 2+ hours to kill but eat and drink? I found out the hard way that I should have grabbed dinner on the way to the airport Friday night.
posted by sideshow at 2:42 PM on January 21 [5 favorites]


Have any of the credible 2020 Dem candidates not endorsed Medicare for All? Seems like the Overton window on this didn't shift, it pole vaulted.
posted by Justinian at 3:13 PM on January 21 [35 favorites]


I'm curious: what would happen if Trump just showed up to give the State of the Union at the House of Representatives chamber? Setting aside whether he'd even want to do it or how everyone would know in advance so it wouldn't really be a surprise... but what if the Republicans showed up and Trump showed up? I know he technically has to be invited by the Speaker of the House, but would they stop him? How? Who? I have a hard time believing whatever Capitol police guards are usually there would stop the Secret Service and the President... or would they?

I'm sure Trump is much happier not having to "do the homework" of prepping for a speech, but he might also instinctively know his base would eat up the performative dickishness as Trump "playing by his own rules."

It's a weird thought experiment because when they let big things like the Emoluments clause slide, it seems like there aren't any mechanisms to stop these procedural norms from being broken too.
posted by bluecore at 3:33 PM on January 21 [2 favorites]


I'm curious: what would happen if Trump just showed up to give the State of the Union at the House of Representatives chamber?

The reason he won't do this is because, in light of it being unannounced, nobody will be there. Especially the all-important TV cameras.
posted by CommonSense at 3:37 PM on January 21 [22 favorites]


I know he technically has to be invited by the Speaker of the House, but would they stop him? How? Who? I have a hard time believing whatever Capitol police guards are usually there would stop the Secret Service and the President... or would they?

POTUS doesn't need an invite to enter the chamber only to make the speech. So nobody would stop him from entering the House chamber. If he then started to make the speech one assumes Speaker Pelosi would rule him out of order. If he ignored her and continued, well, that's when it would get interesting. She would be within her rights to at that point instruct the House's Sergeant at Arms to present the Mace of the United States to POTUS to restore order.

If Trump continued, Pelosi would have to instruct the SaA to arrest the President. Who the hell knows how that would play out. I don't know if he even has that authority. The SaA of the Senate does if I understand the protocols correctly but I don't know about the SaA of the House.

But again the key point is that POTUS can enter the House without an invite just not give a speech.
posted by Justinian at 4:04 PM on January 21 [33 favorites]


Between personal leave, special circumstances leave, and flexitime usage, a 10% overhead for unplanned absences isn't much more than what I budget for in my capacity as a workforce planner on a *normal* day. How little sick leave does a federal worker in the US get?

Same, I staff for 20% over, but I also count training (initial and continuing) and miscellaneous routine requirements like occupational medical screening at the clinic in that 20%. I have a lot of training, so 10% unscheduled leave would start to make me unhappy and put me in a big required training and medical appointment debt that would crush me later.
posted by ctmf at 4:23 PM on January 21


On top of the normal scheduled vacations and sick leave for things like surgery, I bet they are pushing towards 20% absent.

I... would not approve any scheduled leave with a 10% unscheduled leave trend and service degradation. Approving that would be management malpractice. (On the other hand, maybe I'm not getting paid either, so I might stamp leave slips with yolo, lol)
posted by ctmf at 4:28 PM on January 21 [7 favorites]


As some might recall from recent years shenanigans and Dem floor protests, the majority party can just order CSPAN to turn off the cameras. That would remove any motivation for Trump to want to speak in the House chamber.
posted by phearlez at 5:26 PM on January 21 [26 favorites]


Wouldn't the leave have been scheduled before the shutdown?
posted by Mitheral at 5:31 PM on January 21


If it comes to it, I’m sure the Senate Majority Leader would be happy to invite the President to give his speech in the Senate instead of the House. There aren’t as many seats, but they wouldn’t need many as Democrats (save for a few scalliwags) from both chambers would boycott the event.

Fun times.
posted by notyou at 6:09 PM on January 21


Mitheral, all leave is canceled during a shutdown.
posted by wintermind at 6:57 PM on January 21 [2 favorites]


Hypothetically:
On Sunday, Mr. Giuliani told The Times that Mr. Trump had said the discussions around the proposed tower were “going on from the day I announced to the day I won.” In television interviews the same day, he said that discussions about the tower might have continued up until November 2016 — the month Mr. Trump was elected president.

But on Monday, Mr. Giuliani, in a widely issued statement, said that he was making hypothetical remarks.

“My recent statements about discussions during the 2016 campaign between Michael Cohen and then-candidate Donald Trump about a potential Trump Moscow ‘project’ were hypothetical and not based on conversations I had with the president,” Mr. Giuliani said.
These are fun times, indeed:
Giuliani told Fox News that Trump "had several conversations with Michael Cohen about the Trump Tower proposal. Cohen said the effort ended in January of 2016, and as far as President Trump knows, it ended then." However, Giuliani added that Trump can't say definitely when the proposal was shelved and answered a written question from Mueller to that effect.

"President Trump remembers very little about this, and Michael Cohen keeps saying different things," Giuliani said. "There are no documents to reflect anything about this transaction other than a letter of intent."
posted by Little Dawn at 7:02 PM on January 21 [5 favorites]


The Trump Administration Quietly Changed the Definition of Domestic Violence and We Have No Idea What For (Natalie Nanasi, Slate)
Without fanfare or even notice, the Department of Justice’s Office on Violence Against Women made significant changes to its definition of domestic violence in April. The Obama-era definition was expansive, vetted by experts including the National Center for Victims of Crime and the National Domestic Violence Hotline. The Trump administration’s definition is substantially more limited and less informed, effectively denying the experiences of victims of abuse by attempting to cast domestic violence as an exclusively criminal concern.

The previous definition included critical components of the phenomenon that experts recognize as domestic abuse—a pattern of deliberate behavior, the dynamics of power and control, and behaviors that encompass physical or sexual violence as well as forms of emotional, economic, or psychological abuse. But in the Trump Justice Department, only harms that constitute a felony or misdemeanor crime may be called domestic violence. So, for example, a woman whose partner isolates her from her family and friends, monitors her every move, belittles and berates her, or denies her access to money to support herself and her children is not a victim of domestic violence in the eyes of Trump’s Department of Justice. This makes no sense for an office charged with funding and implementing solutions to the problem of domestic violence rather than merely prosecuting individual abusers.

Restoring nonphysical violence to the definition of domestic violence is critical. As the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports, over one-third of U.S. women (43.5 million) have experienced “psychological aggression” at the hands of an intimate partner. Experts have long recognized that the manipulative behaviors identified in the Obama-era definition as restricting a victim’s liberty or freedom can cause greater and more lasting damage than physical harm. ... In nearly every case, the bruises and broken bones eventually heal, but the psychological scars can last a lifetime.
Bolded emphasis mine.
posted by ZeusHumms at 7:34 PM on January 21 [71 favorites]


There's a lot of concern that the asylum changes in here could end up being very bad, but we'd need to see the actual text of the bill McConnell moves to understand whether or how that's the case.

Update: they're very bad.

@TheToddSchulte [FWD.us], tweets cleaned up by me:
NEW: POTUS's "offer" to re-open the government is up [1300 page PDF]. In at least 2 places I've seen, there was a huge effort to mislead press & public:
1) They keep calling this the BRIDGE Act. It is not, its just current DACA
2) This has *massive* asylum restrictions

I'm reading in real-time. On asylum: press release says "a further corresponding statutory change would be required to ensure the proper return of those who circumvent the process by coming to the United States without authorization."

NEW Stephen Miller addition: On page 417, there is a 20% expansion in immigrant jail beds. That is a massive expansion for the Trump administration's ability to keep families detained and part of their long-term strategy.

This is also *not* an extension for those who have TPS, despite that is how it was sold. It only covers 4 countries, albeit the largest ones in terms of TPS population, Haiti, El Salvador, Guatemala & Honduras. Excludes all the African countries for example.

On asylum changes, There are at least 2 huge restrictions to asylum:

1) What they're selling as helping with in-country processing is in fact an unworkable program with a cap on asylum numbers and in exchange they will eliminate people's ability to claim asylum at the border...
2) They change TVPRA to that children from contiguous countries like the northern triangle who escape violence and reach the US can be immediately deported with a chance to seek an asylum hearing.
One change would eviscerate the notion of Temporary Protected Status by making it only apply to those lawfully present. Another would make it impossible for Central American Minors to apply for asylum at the border, and then imposes a cap of 50k applications per year, of which only 15k can be granted, and the applications would be done by DHS, not immigration judges, with no appeals process. Many other changes would make the asylum process unworkable as well.

As far as I can tell, they tried to present a reasonable offer to reopen the government, and then loaded it up with some of Stephen Miller's wishlist when it came time to file the actual amendment text in the Senate.
posted by zachlipton at 7:38 PM on January 21 [39 favorites]


nycsouthpaw: The Republican bill containing the President’s “offer” to reopen the govt makes extreme changes to the asylum system, including forbidding entirely asylum applications by Central American minors at the border or other ports of entry.
This is a significantly worse 'offer' than anything Trump has previously 'agreed' to and then reneged on, or anything proposed by Graham. It's a Fuck You offer designed to be unacceptable. Stephen Miller is the President.
posted by T.D. Strange at 7:39 PM on January 21 [58 favorites]


As far as I can tell, they tried to present a reasonable offer to reopen the government, and then loaded it up with some of Stephen Miller's wishlist when it came time to file the actual amendment text in the Senate.

I think a real problem here is the White House has no one that can draft legislation other than Stephen Miller, or has delegated full authority over the boring draft portions to staff answering to Miller, likely because they literally don't have anyone else in the White House who is capable of focusing on a draft for more than 90 seconds without getting distracted by cable news and Twitter. It's a White House full of complete morons...and Stephen Miller, the lone, insanely racist, policy nerd. So no matter what Trump agrees to...Miller is the one actually drafting the policy.
posted by T.D. Strange at 7:43 PM on January 21 [32 favorites]


Rudy911 has either not asked I-1 because he's scared of the answer, or has asked and received answers so conflicting that the answers to Mueller were designed to accommodate all versions of the lies he was told.

IANAL, but it seems to me as if a lawyer who can't ascertain what his client actually did is not really lawyering. Or even playing a lawyer on TV. This gets into Harry Frankfurt bullshit territory:
The liar is inescapably concerned with truth-values. In order to invent a lie at all, he must think he knows what is true. And in order to invent an effective lie, he must design his falsehood under the guidance of that truth. On the other hand, a person who undertakes to bullshit his way through has much more freedom.
The US media (especially the political media) has a difficult time with bullshitters.
posted by holgate at 8:01 PM on January 21 [12 favorites]


The Trump Administration Quietly Changed the Definition of Domestic Violence and We Have No Idea What For (Natalie Nanasi, Slate)

So, for example, a woman whose partner isolates her from her family and friends, monitors her every move, belittles and berates her, or denies her access to money to support herself and her children is not a victim of domestic violence in the eyes of Trump’s Department of Justice.


Yes they did, didn't they?

One side effect of this presidency that I hope becomes a national priority is science on what abusers with power do, and what they cost us. We are f**king cavemen when it comes to keeping sadists and abusers away from positions of power, and discussions of it often aren't couched in dollar terms because it devalues individual experience. Well, we're all experiencing it now, so it's time to quantify it.
posted by saysthis at 8:13 PM on January 21 [34 favorites]


IANAL, but it seems to me as if a lawyer who can't ascertain what his client actually did is not really lawyering. Or even playing a lawyer on TV. This gets into Harry Frankfurt bullshit territory:

This isn't really the case, there's plenty of cases where you as the lawyer can't tell what the client did, or wouldn't ask because having that knowledge would compromise the defense. An ethical defense cannot assert facts while having actual knowledge that those facts are false. Doing so is grounds for disbarment. A lawyer can do a fine job defending the client, without knowing whether they are truly guilty or not, that's not the point in a criminal case, the state has to prove it beyond a reasonable doubt. The lawyer is there to challenge the state's presentation of the evidence, and present alternative interpretations, not assert something he knows not to be true. What Rudy is doing though, is inexplicable from a legal standpoint. He's asserting facts that he can't know without having talked to his client, in public, for no clear legal reason, and backtracking on facts he asserted the day or hour before, clearly compromising his client's interest. But he's not really mounting a legal defense, he's playing a PR strategy on TV, and we don't know yet how much his lies and changing facts can hurt Trump if this ever move to a true legal phase.
posted by T.D. Strange at 8:18 PM on January 21 [8 favorites]


Giuliani gave a batshitinsane interview to the New Yorker to try to explain why he keeps contradicting himself, and he's not helping: “Even if He Did Do It, It Wouldn’t Be a Crime”: Rudy Giuliani on President Trump
The Times reported yesterday, “President Trump was involved in discussions to build a skyscraper in Moscow throughout the entire 2016 presidential campaign . . .”

He’s wrong! They’re wrong!

“. . . His personal lawyer said on Sunday.”

I didn’t say that. Go find out where I said that on Sunday. I never said he was involved in such conversations. I said the same thing I said to you, which is—

The quote in the story from you is that the “ ‘discussions were going on from the day I announced to the day I won,’ Mr. Giuliani quoted Mr. Trump as saying during an interview with The New York Times.”

I did not say that.

The Times just made that quote up?

I don’t know if they made it up. What I was talking about was, if he had those conversations, they would not be criminal.

If he had them, but he didn’t have them?

He didn’t have the conversations. Lawyers argue in the alternative. If we went to court, we would say we don’t have to prove whether it’s true or not true, because, even if it’s true, it’s not criminal. And that’s why Mueller will not charge him with it.
I'm just going to stop you there, Rudes, because we do know exactly what you told NBC on "Meet the Press" yesterday—they thoughtfully took the precaution of video-recording your words and beaming them out to the entire world because that's the fundamental purpose of their existence—, and there was no hypothetical or arguing in the alternative there: "Well it's our understand that they went on throughout 2016—weren't a lot of them, but there were conversations. Can't be sure of the exact date...Probably up to, could be up to as far as October, November."
Does it matter to the American people if it’s true? We are living in a democracy here. We want to know these things.

That’s an insane question you just asked me. I am not saying that he did it. I just told you he didn’t do it. I am telling you that their investigation is so ridiculous that, even if he did do it, it wouldn’t be a crime. Now, would the American people be interested in it? Of course. There’s a big difference between what the American people would be interested in and what’s a crime. The American people can be interested in a lot of things people conceal that aren’t crimes. I’m a criminal lawyer. I am not an ethicist. And I defend people against unfair criminal charges.
...
Saying things for Trump, not always being truthful about it—do you ever worry that this will be your legacy? Does that ever worry you in any way?

Absolutely. I am afraid it will be on my gravestone: “Rudy Giuliani: He lied for Trump.” Somehow, I don’t think that will be it. But if it is, so what do I care? I’ll be dead. I figure I can explain it to St. Peter. He will be on my side, because I am, so far . . . I don’t think, as a lawyer, I ever said anything that’s untruthful. I have a sense of ethics that is as high as anybody you can imagine. I’ve been doing this forever. I am doing what I believe in. I may not always be right, but I am doing what I believe. And I believe this man has been treated horribly.
Click the link for more, including Giuliani making a weird reference to "tapes" and a well-timed casual "The Central Park Five? Trying to think of other people treated badly" by interviewer Isaac Chotiner.
posted by zachlipton at 8:21 PM on January 21 [43 favorites]


wintermind: "all leave is canceled during a shutdown."

So if you had planned a couple weeks off to get married or something you not only can't take the time off but you are in some cases working for free?
posted by Mitheral at 8:21 PM on January 21 [6 favorites]


And here we were worrying that the whitehouse was going to make a really tempting offer to try and peel away dems in congress, lol.
posted by ryanrs at 8:22 PM on January 21 [19 favorites]


Does McConnel still plan to being Trump’s offer to a vote?
posted by C'est la D.C. at 8:26 PM on January 21 [1 favorite]


Click the link for more, including a well-timed casual "The Central Park Five? Trying to think of other people treated badly" by interviewer Isaac Chotiner.

I'm pretty stoked to see Chotiner get snapped up by the New Yorker (he was previously at Slate) because it looks like he'll have more opportunities for high-profile interview targets like ol' Rudy. I think one of Chotiner's main strengths as an interviewer is that he: a) actually listens to an interview subject's answers and reacts and asks follow-ups instead of just rattling down a list of pre-determined questions, and b) is willing and able to call people out on their BS and/or clown on them. Case in point:
Do you—

But I can tell you, from the moment I read the story, I knew the story was false.

Because?

Because I have been through all the tapes, I have been through all the texts, I have been through all the e-mails, and I knew none existed. [...]

Wait, what tapes have you gone through?

I shouldn’t have said tapes. [...]
Also, bringing up the Central Park Five in the midst of Rudy complaining about unfair treatment was just *chef's kiss*. Rudy Giuliani shouldn't be able to appear anywhere in public without someone screaming "Central Park Five" in his face at least once every fifteen minutes.
posted by mhum at 8:49 PM on January 21 [68 favorites]


Does McConnell still plan to bring Trump’s offer to a vote?

And if so, can this get all 53 R votes, or even break 50? But not that any of that matters: since McConnell et al. know that it will never get 60, it doesn't really matter if it gets 45 or 53 or 56 with a few D turncoats. Either way, they know that Democrats will decry anything that Trump would ever agree to, and either way they intend to use the vote to blame the Democrats for preventing the shutdown from ending. So given that, I imagine they reason that they might as well pass something juicy and lib-triggering as something more "moderate."
posted by chortly at 9:27 PM on January 21


Mitheral, yes, that's my understanding based on the last few of these [shutdowns] we've been through. There's also a nice little twist in that many Feds take use-or-lose leave at the end of the year (a maximum of 240 hours of annual leave can be carried from one year to the next for most employees), and you lose those hours into the ether, too.
posted by wintermind at 9:29 PM on January 21 [4 favorites]


- This makes no sense for an office charged with funding and implementing solutions to the problem of domestic violence rather than merely prosecuting individual abusers.

McClatchy DC, May 2017 - Massive cuts to Violence Against Women programs just ‘technical,’ White House says
WaPo, Feb. 2018 - Trump still hasn’t nominated a director for the Violence Against Women office at the Justice Department
The National Coalition Against Domestic Violence, Feb. 2018 - NCADV Denounces President Trump's FY'19 Budget Request

This administration would like to do away with that charge, the funding, any implementation of solutions, and the office itself. The new wording specifies:

The term “domestic violence” includes felony or misdemeanor crimes of violence committed by a current or former spouse or intimate partner of the victim, by a person with whom the victim shares a child in common, by a person who is cohabitating with or has cohabitated with the victim as a spouse or intimate partner, by a person similarly situated to a spouse of the victim under the domestic or family violence laws of the jurisdiction receiving grant monies, or by any other person against an adult or youth victim who is protected from that person’s acts under the domestic or family violence laws of the jurisdiction. [emphasis mine]

[Also, the NRA (with its keen interest in the Domestic Violence Offender Gun Ban, aka the Lautenberg Amendment) may have lobbied for a briefer def.]

Lastly, nolo.com - Claiming Asylum Based on Domestic Violence

IMPORTANT NOTE: This is a changing area of U.S. immigration law. In 2018, U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions, in a case called Matter of AB, undercut the possibility of claiming domestic violence as a ground for asylum. Then a federal court decision in December, 2018 held in the case of Grace v. Whitaker that Sessions had violated both the Administrative Procedure Act (APA) and the Immigration and Nationality Act.

The Nation, 11/28/18 - They’re Refugees, Fleeing Gang Violence and Domestic Abuse. Why Won’t the Trump Administration Let Them In?
NBC, 12/19/2018 - Federal judge strikes down Trump asylum rules for domestic and gang violence victims

TPTB sometimes do things out of sheer bloody-mindedness, but in this instance, for them, there was no downside to re-defining 'domestic violence' at the DOJ's Office on Violence Against Women.
posted by Iris Gambol at 9:38 PM on January 21 [28 favorites]


can this get all 53 R votes, or even break 50? But not that any of that matters: since McConnell et al. know that it will never get 60, it doesn't really matter if it gets 45 or 53 or 56 with a few D turncoats

The vote count on this will be interesting, it's bad enough on the asylum changes and TRS restrictions that no Democrats should be tempted to cross over, and there's real Republican constituencies like the Cubans who traditionally Republicans would not sell out. Who knows how much that holds now, but it wouldn't be that surprising for this proposal to not even carry the whole Republican Senate caucus, much less draw Democratic votes. Again, this is a total Fuck You proposal, they know this can't come close to passing.

Meanwhile a clean CR, or even a full year funding bill, would get 50 votes handily, and most likely draw a veto proof majority.

This is Mitch McConnell's shutdown. He's the ONLY person in America keeping it going. He has the power to override Trump at any time. Every federal employee and person that relies on federal programs that suffers, Mitch is directly, personally, responsible, in a way that is hard to attribute as directly to any other political figure in American history outside of a wartime order. Mitch McConnell is personally hurting millions of American citizens, and may kill some. It will end THE MOMENT McConnell allows a vote.
posted by T.D. Strange at 9:45 PM on January 21 [44 favorites]


Why does anyone think Guliani is coherent and acting as a lawyer? His only purpose is as media chaff; his point is just to suck up oxygen and airtime and repeat a few cult talking points
posted by benzenedream at 10:02 PM on January 21 [8 favorites]


House Judiciary Democrat: Kavanaugh Will ‘Likely’ Be Investigated for Perjury

Representative Joe Neguse (D., Colo.), a freshman member of the House Judiciary Committee, told constituents Friday that the panel will “likely” investigate perjury claims against Supreme Court justice Brett Kavanaugh and may move to impeach him depending on their findings.

I thoroughly welcome a real investigation.
posted by adept256 at 10:08 PM on January 21 [114 favorites]


James Fallows at the Atlantic has a short bit about the Coast Guard during the shutdown.

I'm at a loss: who would re-up after this? The agency is going to lose a lot of good people, and nobody seems to be even noticing. Not to mention all the CG families running short on food or risking eviction.

Is anyone in Congress trying to pass a carve-out for DHS?
posted by suelac at 10:34 PM on January 21 [11 favorites]


Hmm. Not saying I agree with it but I thought I'd post it anyhow, even though the present circumstances are significantly more urgent than parsing polls from the 2016 election:

American Conservative: "Why Ex-churchgoers flocked to Trump"
posted by Rufous-headed Towhee heehee at 10:58 PM on January 21 [1 favorite]


That Giuliani interview in New Yorker is bonkers.

I don’t usually read them bc reporters generally don’t press the interviewee but wow ...Chotiner is amazing with his pushbacks of facts and quotes. Giuliani sounds desperate and flailing, cornered.

It gives me hope that these circus clowns are not gonna be able to keep this circus together, especially on the witness stand.
posted by sio42 at 11:15 PM on January 21 [12 favorites]


Much like "internships" in the business world, government employment with no direct monetary compensation is an effective guarantee that the candidate pool is entirely comprised of the wealthy.
posted by yesster at 11:40 PM on January 21 [3 favorites]


Justinian: If he ignored her and continued, well, that's when it would get interesting. She would be within her rights to at that point instruct the House's Sergeant at Arms to present the Mace of the United States to POTUS to restore order.

That is an awesome bit of arcane ritual, thanks! If you didn't follow his link, be sure to check out the picture of the Mace, an actual physical object.
"Sitting above the ebony rods of the mace is a cast-silver globe, which holds an eagle with spread wings. The continents are etched into the globe, with North America facing front. The eagle, the national bird, is cast in solid silver. … on the rare occasion that a member becomes unruly, the Sergeant at Arms, upon order of the Speaker, lifts the mace from its pedestal and presents it before the offenders, thereby restoring order."
Is there ritual language for this occasion? I want the Sergeant at Arms to say "Desist from disorder or fear the mighty wrath of the House Mace!!"
posted by msalt at 11:49 PM on January 21 [34 favorites]


Perhaps it has been useful that a lot of interviewers just go through the motions, as in a way it has not trained their subjects to be able to respond to actual interrogation when it does happen.
posted by chiquitita at 12:36 AM on January 22 [3 favorites]


So I am currently up at 3:30am in order to catch a train from Boston to New York to take a flight to Phoenix because my original direct flight to Phoenix got cancelled, and then the new flight that would have gotten me to Philly so I could get to PHX in time to teach my class—- well, that flight had us sitting on the tarmac for four hours as a cluster of weather, maintenance, and airline stupidity delays occurred.

The final result was that we came back to the gate due to ATC giving us a “completely ridiculous delay that times out our cockpit crew”. By the time we got back to the airport and rebooked, no new seats were available out of Boston until Wednesday or possibly Thursday.

Upshot: ATC was the last problem in a string of issues, but I can’t help but wonder if the shutdown is the real culprit, cf. this article about the stupid situation they are in (some has changed, now they can use sick leave).

BOS has a very high cancellation (and slow cancellation) rate today, for a storm that was mostly yesterday. I think the air traffic decay is starting to be felt. Let’s find Mitch McConnell and put him in a plane on the tarmac until he ends this.
posted by nat at 12:50 AM on January 22 [16 favorites]


But in the Trump Justice Department, only harms that constitute a felony or misdemeanor crime may be called domestic violence. So, for example, a woman whose partner isolates her from her family and friends, monitors her every move, belittles and berates her, or denies her access to money to support herself and her children is not a victim of domestic violence in the eyes of Trump’s Department of Justice. This makes no sense for an office charged with funding and implementing solutions to the problem of domestic violence rather than merely prosecuting individual abusers.


So just yesterday I was catching up with a friend who was complaining about the process of dealing with the executor of a family member's will. He is, according to her "the kind of Christian who thinks women should be inferior" and refuses to have anything to do with her, despite her having a power of attorney authorizing her to handle matters relating to the inheritance. Her husband works out of town, but this guy insists on calling him about things the husband has no idea about, after which he calls his wife, she answers the question and then he has to communicate that back to the executor. If she tries to contact him directly, he refuses to talk to her.

My husband added the story of a grubhub team who service his restaurant where the husband does all the driving because the wife is not allowed to drive. She does the running of the food, but any discussion of business or complaints require you to go out to car to speak to him because she's not allowed to discuss business.

My point is, to you and I this move by the Justice Department seems nonsensical, but to a certain sector of this country, it's a move towards legitimizing their "faith-based lifestyle" and not letting people call it abuse anymore.
posted by threeturtles at 12:51 AM on January 22 [104 favorites]


[Giuliani] is not really mounting a legal defense, he's playing a PR strategy on TV, and we don't know yet how much his lies and changing facts can hurt Trump if this ever move to a true legal phase.

I'm not sure if Giuliani is supposed to know anything substantial in his own right; he's just saying stuff that he thinks or has heard. I think these statements would mostly be considered hearsay, but Giuliani's constant changes of story would make him an undesirable witness even if his statements turned out to be covered by some exemption.
posted by Joe in Australia at 1:02 AM on January 22 [2 favorites]




I fly multiple times per week: Chicago, NYC, Houston, Cincinnati. I'm currently sitting in Newark. For the first time in years, I just got barked at by a TSA guy. The problem was trivial, which made it even more disturbing. The strain is showing. I literally told him a) I didn't vote for the motherfucker, and b) seriously, if he and his colleagues stopped working for free this would all be over faster. There are thousands upon thousands of us traveling consultants who fly every week. If we can't fly, our companies can't make money and our clients don't get the services they need. All of these companies understand the very real cost of this shutdown and they won't like it. They all make political donations.
posted by nushustu at 3:28 AM on January 22 [65 favorites]


Hmm. Not saying I agree with it but I thought I'd post it anyhow, even though the present circumstances are significantly more urgent than parsing polls from the 2016 election:

Notably, that story is about where Trump's primary support came from, rather than the general election. So it's specifically looking at non-churchgoing Republicans.
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 5:49 AM on January 22 [3 favorites]


Vox: How Trump wins press conferences - YouTube (12:36)

Press conferences as ritual.
posted by ChurchHatesTucker at 6:13 AM on January 22 [3 favorites]


Why does anyone think Guliani is coherent and acting as a lawyer? His only purpose is as media chaff; his point is just to suck up oxygen and airtime and repeat a few cult talking points

The question is, why do the TV networks keep booking him? What purpose do they think it serves? Is he seriously such a ratings boost that airing his obvious nonsense is preferable to not giving an unrepentant, unsubtle liar a national audience?
posted by Gelatin at 6:27 AM on January 22 [7 favorites]


SCOTUS just stayed the 9th Circuit's order barring the military from discriminating against transgender servicemembers. 5-4, of course.
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 6:37 AM on January 22 [18 favorites]


WaPo story on the Court’s ruling:

Supreme Court allows Trump restrictions on transgender troops in military to go into effect as legal battle continues
The Supreme Court on Tuesday allowed President Trump’s broad restrictions on transgender people serving in the military to go into effect while the legal battle continues in lower courts.

The justices lifted nationwide injunctions that had kept the administration’s policy from being implemented.

It reversed an Obama-administration rule that would have opened the military to transgender men and women, and instead barred those who identify with a gender different from the one assigned at birth and who are seeking to transition

The court’s five conservatives--Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. and Justices Clarence Thomas, Samuel A. Alito Jr., Neil M. Gorsuch and Brett M. Kavanaugh--allowed the restrictions to go into effect while the court decides to whether to consider the merits of the case.
posted by Barack Spinoza at 6:56 AM on January 22 [18 favorites]


Rudy911: I have a sense of ethics that is as high as anybody you can imagine.

Being a divorced Catholic, while he has a sense of ethics, he doesn't follow any ethical standards.

In the video of the exchange disseminated by a conservative advocacy group, Neguse did not explain which specific statement of Kavanaugh’s he believes constituted perjury.

I think the Kavanaugh Perjury "low hanging fruit" is his denials of being a violent, blackout drunk, and the testimony of his college roommate that Kavanaugh was a violent, blackout drunk.
posted by mikelieman at 7:10 AM on January 22 [28 favorites]


The question is, why do the TV networks keep booking him? What purpose do they think it serves? Is he seriously such a ratings boost that airing his obvious nonsense is preferable to not giving an unrepentant, unsubtle liar a national audience?

My uncharitable answer to my husband about why Rudy keeps getting air time is that it's a modern equivalent of reading tea leaves or chicken entrails. Rudy comes on and makes loud, incomprehensible mouth noises and then the pundits go to town in the attempt to figure out what it all means. Humans like trying to find patterns in chaos and randomness and Giuliani's performances offer lots of opportunity to make that effort. The networks should stop giving him a platform.
posted by danielleh at 7:30 AM on January 22 [26 favorites]


Calls For Change Follow NPR/Frontline Black Lung Investigation (NPR, January 22, 2019)
Thousands of coal miners are dying from an advanced form of black lung disease, and federal regulators could have prevented it if they'd paid closer attention to their own data.

That's the conclusion of a joint NPR/Frontline investigation that aired last month and continues tonight on PBS.

The regulatory system that is supposed to protect coal miners from exposure to toxic silica dust failed to prevent dangerous exposures more than 21,000 times since 1986, according to data collected by the Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA) and analyzed by NPR/Frontline.

And while the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) counted 115 cases of advanced black lung nationwide through its monitoring program from 2010 to 2018, NPR and Frontline identified more than 2,300 cases by contacting health clinics across Appalachia.

Federal regulations for silica dust in coal mines haven't changed in decades, even as mining has changed. But since the NPR/Frontline report, some are calling for a new response.

A call for congressional hearings

Rep. Bobby Scott, D-Va., the chair of the U.S. House Committee on Education and Labor, says he will schedule congressional hearings on the epidemic of advanced black lung disease and the regulatory failures cited by the NPR/Frontline investigation. "Congress has no choice but to step in and direct MSHA and the mining industry to take timely action," Scott said in a statement.
Emphasis mine. Investigative reporting matters. Elections matter.
posted by filthy light thief at 7:38 AM on January 22 [49 favorites]


Justinian: Have any of the credible 2020 Dem candidates not endorsed Medicare for All? Seems like the Overton window on this didn't shift, it pole vaulted.

This may not be pole-vaulting, but this is definitely a solid push for inclusive and supportive policies -- For 2020 Democrats, The Race Is On To Win Over Black Voters (NPR, January 21, 2019)
When Elizabeth Warren announced her exploratory committee for president at the end of last month, the Massachusetts senator didn't only talk about a crumbling middle class - her signature policy issue - but she acknowledged the impact of race and racism on the economy, saying that "families of color" face a rockier path "made even harder by the impact of generations of discrimination."

A few weeks later, Julian Castro, the former Secretary of Housing and Urban Development, explicitly spoke about reforming the justice system when he announced his candidacy for president, saying that "for far too many people of color, any interaction with the police can become fatal."

Just last week on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert, New York Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand announced her intentions to run for president by mentioning the need to take on "institutional racism."

And California Sen. Kamala Harris chose the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday to announce her campaign, highlighting issues of racial inequality and her parents' experience in the civil rights movement. "The thing about Dr. King that always inspires me is that he was aspirational," Harris told ABC's Good Morning America on Monday, nodding to a theme of her campaign.
NPR goes on to state "All of these Democrats are making explicit appeals to African-American voters," but ignores the fact that most of those statements are not exclusively focused on African American voters, and rather speak more broadly to people of color.
posted by filthy light thief at 7:46 AM on January 22 [18 favorites]


Ted Koppel's Nightline got its start as "Iran Crisis -- America Held Hostage" followed by a running tally of the days the embassy staff were captive.

I wonder whether it could be revived as "Trump's Shutdown -- America Held Hostage."
posted by dances_with_sneetches at 7:52 AM on January 22 [21 favorites]


Local credit unions and a few banks in my area have been offering no-interest, short-term loans to government employees affected by the shutdown. It is a net positive for those who need it, and can get it, but its a net negative overall. Ad-hoc relief enables the situation to fester unresolved even longer.
posted by yesster at 8:24 AM on January 22 [16 favorites]


There's another wrinkle behind Giuliani's media blitz about the Buzzfeed bombshell, from NBC'S Geoff Bennett: “A source familiar with the matter tells @HallieJackson that on Friday morning, after the disputed BuzzFeed article dropped, the president’s legal team "raised concerns" in a letter to Mueller's office. This was prior to the special counsel issuing its rare rebuke Friday evening.”

The WSJ's Rebecca Ballhaus confirms: "Friday marked the first time that Trump’s legal team contacted Mueller over a media report, according to a person familiar with the matter. The lawyers said they hoped the special counsel’s office would address the BuzzFeed report expeditiously, the person said." And: "More precisely: Friday marked the first time that Trump’s legal team contacted Mueller to ask him to address a media report."

And this morning BuzzFeed's legal editor Chris Geidner has an update on the Grand Jury mystery client, confirming it's a corporation wholly owned by a foreign state:
#SCOTUS also allows the secret grand jury matter to proceed under seal, with a redacted version of the cert petition to be made public.

JUST IN: The mystery foreign-owned company grand jury subpoena dispute is Supreme Court docket No. 18-948.

Here is the redacted cert petition in the mystery foreign-owned company grand jury subpoena dispute
https://www.supremecourt.gov/DocketPDF/18/18-948/81196/20190122085546947_00000001.pdf
posted by Doktor Zed at 8:26 AM on January 22 [11 favorites]


SCOTUS just stayed the 9th Circuit's order barring the military from discriminating against transgender servicemembers. 5-4, of course.

Trans twitter is, as one would expect, exploding over this (so soon after the feel-good story of the weekend, what with the stream); what's notable is that while this is happening on trans twitter, there's also stuff calling out Kamala Harris and the fact that this party-line SCOTUS vote essentially isn't making many waves outside of transworld.

Which seems to be putting people there more on edge.
posted by anem0ne at 8:29 AM on January 22 [9 favorites]


SCOTUS Lifts Two Injunctions Against Trump’s Trans Troops Ban—but the Policy Remains Blocked (Joseph Stern, Slate)

There was one injunction before the above two that was already lifted.
Yet a fourth nationwide injunction, issued by U.S. District Judge Marvin J. Garbis in Maryland, remains in place—for now. The Trump administration may argue that this ruling only applies to the initial ban, not the Mattis policy. But Garbis’ injunction still seems to forbid the Pentagon from discriminating against transgender troops by blocking all “policies and directives” encompassed in Trump’s initial memo. Since the Mattis policy merely implemented those “policies and directives,” the injunction should apply to them, as well.
Some say it's a matter of time until the fourth is lifted as well.
posted by ZeusHumms at 8:38 AM on January 22 [4 favorites]




showing a group of the kids hanging out unsupervised and yelling at passersby before the incident.

To be clear, they're harassing women walking by.
posted by chris24 at 8:58 AM on January 22 [79 favorites]




To be clear, they're harassing women walking by.

18 year old Covington basketball star on trial as a violent serial rapist

It's the exact same culture that produced Kavanaugh.
posted by Rust Moranis at 9:07 AM on January 22 [79 favorites]


Former MS-13 Member Who Secretly Helped Police Is Deported (ProPublica)

An immigration judge said he was “very sympathetic” to the teenager who cooperated with authorities only to be jailed with those he informed on. The judge nonetheless rejected his plea for asylum.
posted by Barack Spinoza at 9:12 AM on January 22 [16 favorites]


[A few comments deleted - sorry, "can we cut off Russia's internet" is a pretty big topic unto itself that would be better served either by a narrow AskMe or if you want a wider ranging discussion, by finding an article or source on it and making a separate post on the blue.]
posted by LobsterMitten (staff) at 9:26 AM on January 22 [4 favorites]


ABC catches Mark Burnett influence-peddling: US Banker With Ties to Putin’s Inner Circle Sought Access to Trump Transition: Sources - ABC News
Nine days after Donald Trump won the presidency, as scores of supporters clamored for meetings with his transition team, the Hollywood producer of “The Apprentice,” Mark Burnett, reached out to one of Trump’s closest advisers to see if he would sit down with a banker who has long held ties to Russia.

The banker, Robert Foresman, never got the role he was seeking with the fledgling Trump administration. But he has recently attracted the attention of congressional investigators as one more name on an expanding list of Americans with established ties inside the Kremlin who appears to have been seeking access to the newly elected president’s inner circle, according to three sources familiar with the matter.

Foresman, who is now vice chairman of the Swiss bank UBS’s investment arm, lived for years in Moscow, where he led a $3 billion Russian investment fund and was touted by his new company as someone who maintains connections to Russian President Vladimir Putin’s inner circle.[…]

[I]n mid-November [2016], Foresman sought contacts inside Trump’s orbit. And with Burnett’s help, he found his way onto the daily calendar of Thomas Barrack, who at the time was chairing what would become Trump’s $100 million inaugural fund, internal emails show.[…]

Foresman was listed on Barrack’s schedule after a series of other meetings Barrack had that day – including a 10 a.m. sit-down with Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner and a 3 p.m. meeting with the president-elect. Foresman’s name appears without a scheduled time, and a notation, “Mark Burnett contact,” next to it.[…]

Email exchanges shared with ABC News show Barrack’s meeting with Foresman was ultimately canceled. But sources said Foresman continued to pursue a role with the Trump team. In January, he secured a meeting with retired Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn, according to two sources familiar with Foresman’s contacts.[…]

Also during the transition, Foresman held a December meeting in New York with the chairman of a state-owned Russian development bank [Vnesheconombank (VEB)], Sergei Gorkov, according to a recent court filing in an unrelated case. Gorkov was the same banker who flew from Moscow to New York for one day that month to meet with Kushner.
Sometimes the Trump-Russia affair looks less like an international conspiracy than the world's shittiest LinkedIn network.
posted by Doktor Zed at 9:33 AM on January 22 [39 favorites]


What happens if Putin wins? Michael McFaul on "the end of the liberal international order" (Matthew Rozsa, Salon)
"Salon speaks with Michael McFaul, former US ambassador to Russia and a man that Vladimir Putin wants to interrogate"

If American-British businessman Bill Browder is Russian President Vladimir Putin's "public enemy no. 1," then Michael McFaul, who served as President Barack Obama's representative to Russia from 2012 to 2014 after helping him craft the "Russia reset" policy as a senior foreign policy adviser, is seemingly a close second. Along with Browder, McFaul was one of several people who Trump offered to hand over to Putin for interrogation at the Helsinki summit last July.


Let's say Vladimir Putin wins, what does that look like for America and for the world?

Well, for the free world, I'm trying to think where to pick up the story. I am optimistic that he eventually will fail. I think our ideas are better. I'm much less certain about that prediction than I was four or five years ago, because in the short term, he has achieved real successes with like-minded people in Hungary, and Italy, and in the UK, and now in the United States.

The consequence, I think, is the end of the liberal international order. If he succeeds, that's what he's aiming to do. The breakup of states as you have in the UK, the breakup of alliances and NATO, the breakup of the European Union, those are all things that Putin thinks are in his national interest. Tragically, he had some wins lately.
posted by ZeusHumms at 9:52 AM on January 22 [20 favorites]


This is apparently very on brand for these little assholes:

Newest video to surface of the Covington kids shows one of them yelling to a group of girls “IT’S NOT RAPE IF YOU ENJOY IT!” Fuck anyone who is still defending them. Catholic Schools in the south like Covington are incubators for vile racism and misogyny.


Polite request that we either a) don't pull in tweets quite so much in here and/or b) if we do, please don't copy paste the awful thing, especially in all caps. I don't read Twitter, and stumbling across tweets like this remind me why I stopped reading Twitter - I would prefer not to stumble across them on MeFi as well.

nothing personal, zombieflanders - you're tops.
posted by lazaruslong at 10:02 AM on January 22 [21 favorites]


and/or b) if we do, please don't copy paste the awful thing, especially in all caps.

I thought there were people who couldn't read tweets for some reason, and copypasta was therefore preferred.
posted by ChurchHatesTucker at 10:07 AM on January 22 [17 favorites]




AVClub - Rep. Alexandra Ocasio-Cortez tells rich guy Stephen Colbert why her 70 percent tax isn't scary

The charming AOC on Sotomayor, making trouble, #WheresMitch, her social media theory, and more; the 'zero fucks' faux-mining in the second clip kills me.

Over at the CBS store - a Don't Even Talk To Me Until I've Had My Paycheck fundraising mug: "100% of The Late Show's profits from this mug will benefit World Central Kitchen, which is feeding federal workers going unpaid during the government shutdown."
posted by Iris Gambol at 10:18 AM on January 22 [32 favorites]


[One deleted. Just to address this, copying offensive stuff into the thread is something we'd like people to avoid in general, yes -- generally please don't unless there's some really really compelling reason why the actual quote is needed rather than a description of it. And -- on Covington Catholic -- if we really need to dig deeply into particulars about the one school, probably we're at the point where it should split off into a separate post.]
posted by LobsterMitten (staff) at 10:22 AM on January 22 [24 favorites]


So, um, follow up to my hypothetical question yesterday about what if he just decided to give the SOTU speech:

Yamiche Alcindor (PBS White House correspondent):

1) Just confirmed that the White House has sent a letter to the Sergeant-at-Arms, asking to schedule a walk-through for State of the Union and that President Trump still plans to be at the U.S. Capitol on Jan 29 for the speech. (First reported by @johnrobertsFox.)

2) UPDATE: A WH official tells me that President Trump is preparing to give the State of the Union as scheduled. I specially asked where? That person said they are preparing for the House.

???
posted by bluecore at 10:43 AM on January 22 [18 favorites]


CNN: FBI has lost several informants who had penetrated target groups at the center of terrorism investigations, a joint terrorism task force coordinator said anonymously in a report released Tuesday by the FBI Agents Association. via @davidgshortell and @SchneiderCNN

That’s from Jim Acosta (CNN)

Translation: the Trump Shutdown is making Americans less safe by the day.
posted by Barack Spinoza at 10:46 AM on January 22 [38 favorites]


2) UPDATE: A WH official tells me that President Trump is preparing to give the State of the Union as scheduled. I specially asked where? That person said they are preparing for the House.

Has there been anything on this from Speaker Pelosi since her initial letter to the President about it? Because her letter did not cancel it or tell him it's not happening as scheduled. It suggested they work together to reschedule it, which they haven't done, and asked him to "consider" doing it in writing, which he apparently has considered and decided against.

Maybe she'll cancel it, but she hasn't yet, as far as I know.
posted by The World Famous at 10:52 AM on January 22 [2 favorites]


Maybe she'll cancel it, but she hasn't yet, as far as I know.

It would require passing a Concurrent Resolution in both houses "providing for a joint session of Congress to receive a message from the President." Based on the current status of legislative bills currently available online, it doesn't look like one has even been introduced yet. No vote, no speech.
posted by stopgap at 11:07 AM on January 22 [11 favorites]


When I have called my elected folks this week and last, I am getting a lot of full voicemail boxes. Does anyone know if that is shutdown related or volume related or perhaps Start of a New Congress related?
posted by Emmy Rae at 11:10 AM on January 22 [2 favorites]


It would require passing a Concurrent Resolution in both houses "providing for a joint session of Congress to receive a message from the President."

Ah, yes. A little embarrassed that hadn't occurred to me.
posted by The World Famous at 11:15 AM on January 22 [1 favorite]


2) UPDATE: A WH official tells me that President Trump is preparing to give the State of the Union as scheduled. I specially asked where? That person said they are preparing for the House.

From the WaPo, Trump prepares two versions of State of the Union address as shutdown tensions escalate:
Trump is preparing two versions of his annual speech — one that could be delivered in Washington and another that would be held somewhere else in the country, according to a senior White House official. The administration is trying to do advance work to prepare for an address at the Capitol, but as top House official, Pelosi has the power to determine whether Trump can give the speech in the House chamber.
posted by peeedro at 11:28 AM on January 22 [3 favorites]


If I'm getting this right: the modern tradition is to fulfill the Constitutional "from time to time" stipulation by resolving every year to hold a joint session and inviting the POTUS. That session has to be established by a new joint resolution (I think? Or does only the House pass it?) -- it never happens "by default".

So here's a thought: If he's possibly planning to "crash the party" or whatever, why would he not do so in the Republican Senate rather than the Democratic House? If you're going to break protocol anyway it doesn't matter if you also change the location, right? Or might he prefer to spectacle of being stopped?
posted by InTheYear2017 at 11:29 AM on January 22 [2 favorites]


That's a good learner on how the SOTU happens procedurally from WaPost, . . .along with the tidbit that the WH director of presidential advance is named Bobby Peede.
posted by Harry Caul at 11:29 AM on January 22 [15 favorites]


So here's a thought: If he's possibly planning to "crash the party" or whatever, why would he not do so in the Republican Senate rather than the Democratic House? If you're going to break protocol anyway it doesn't matter if you also change the location, right? Or might he prefer to spectacle of being stopped?

If nothing is scheduled, House members won't be there, and there won't be speakers and microphones and press set up. What's he going to do: lunge for a mic?
posted by Lord Chancellor at 11:31 AM on January 22


The WaPo reports on another senior resignation from the Trump administration: Top Diplomat For European Affairs Resigns From State Department
A. Wess Mitchell, the top diplomat in charge of European affairs, will resign from the State Department next month, creating a key vacancy at a time when European leaders are questioning President Trump’s commitment to historic alliances.

Mitchell, 41, cited personal and professional reasons in a Jan. 4 letter of resignation he submitted to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo. His last day as assistant secretary of state for European and Eurasian affairs is Feb. 15.
A critic of the Obama administration's diplomacy, Mitchell favored diplomatic ties with Hungary's authoritarian regime and emphasized ‘baurden sharing’ in US-European relations, but he was otherwise pro-NATO. His departure a week before the major NATO summit in Brussels could be just coincidence, or it might be a straw in the wind.
posted by Doktor Zed at 11:35 AM on January 22 [10 favorites]


why would he not do so in the Republican Senate rather than the Democratic House?

I found this article that covers the various possible outcomes. With respect to the Senate, the issue is getting 60 votes to prevent a filibuster, though I guess nothing could stop it if Mitch wanted to go nuclear over this BS.
posted by stopgap at 11:44 AM on January 22 [1 favorite]


Nancy's daughter, Alexandra Pelosi, was on TV earlier this month and said of her mother 'She'll cut your head off and you won't even know you're bleeding, that's all you need to know about her'. Tough talking on her mom's behalf, I thought, but it's becoming a pretty good metaphor for what she's doing to Trump.
posted by adept256 at 11:53 AM on January 22 [21 favorites]


Supreme Court Takes 1st Gun Case In Nearly A Decade, Possibly With Big Consequences (NPR, January 22, 2019)
With the Supreme Court now having five justices who are less likely to approve of gun regulations and laws, it granted a major gun case Tuesday for the first time in nearly a decade.

The court granted a right-to-carry case out of New York that that pits the New York State Rifle & Pistol Association against the City of New York. New York bans transporting permitted handguns outside city lines, even if the gun is not loaded and locked in a container. The guns currently can only be taken to one of a handful of shooting ranges within city limits.

The case could have wide ramifications for gun rights and gun restrictions across the country, depending on how broadly the court rules.

Conservative justices have been champing at the bit to take up gun-rights cases. Justice Clarence Thomas in 2014, for example, criticized the court for not taking up more gun cases, calling it a "disfavored" right.

"The right to keep and bear arms is apparently this Court's constitutional orphan," Thomas wrote (PDF).

With a newfound majority after the confirmation of Justice Brett Kavanaugh, conservatives may have their chance to make a broad ruling, holding, for example, that the right to own a gun means the right to carry one, or it could rule more narrowly, saying New York's law is overly restrictive or something in between.

When the Supreme Court decided in 2008 and 2010 that there is a personal right to own a gun for self defense in one's home, the vote was 5-to-4, with Justice Anthony Kennedy the deciding vote.

The late Justice Antonin Scalia wrote a long opinion, but the critical section said essentially that state and local governments could still enact reasonable regulations.

Since then, the National Rifle Association and its supporters have brought plenty of gun cases to the Supreme Court, but the justices stayed away from the issue — one suspects because four of the five conservatives thought that Kennedy would approve many of these regulations. But Kennedy is now retired.

Note: The Supreme Court did not take up the Trump administration's ending of the Obama-era Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals policy challenge. That leaves DACA protections in place for immigrants brought to the United States as children until at least Feb. 19 when the justices are scheduled to meet again.
Entire NPR article (sorry NPR, you're good at succinct articles)
posted by filthy light thief at 11:55 AM on January 22 [6 favorites]


Lord Chancellor: If nothing is scheduled, House members won't be there, and there won't be speakers and microphones and press set up. What's he going to do: lunge for a mic?

White House Moves Forward With State Of The Union Plans After Pelosi Urged Delay (NPR, January 22, 2019)
After a week of tit for tat with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, amid a monthlong government shutdown, the White House is now moving ahead with plans for the president's State of the Union address, proceeding as if it were happening as originally planned next week.

White House officials are aiming for the speech to occur before a joint session of Congress on Tuesday, Jan. 29. But it is far from guaranteed. The House must pass a resolution to call a joint session with the Senate before the president can come speak.

It's unclear whether that will happen; Pelosi hasn't yet weighed in on whether she will allow it.

White House and House Democratic aides confirm to NPR that the White House requested a security walk-through of the U.S. Capitol on Monday. That was declined because of the federal Martin Luther King Jr. holiday.
We were saved from an impromptu SotU address security walk-through on Dr. MLK Jr. Holiday thanks to the day being a federal holiday.

Trump reached out to Pelosi over the weekend ... via twitter.
Nancy, I am still thinking about the State of the Union speech, there are so many options - including doing it as per your written offer (made during the Shutdown, security is no problem), and my written acceptance. While a contract is a contract, I’ll get back to you soon!
It almost sounds like he thought he was leaving her a voice message, instead of a public notice. So weird. So 2019.
posted by filthy light thief at 12:00 PM on January 22 [12 favorites]


What happens if Putin wins? Michael McFaul on "the end of the liberal international order"
Lenin and his comrades created the Communist International. I do think Putin is leading something akin to an Illiberal International, not only in our country, but trying to find like-minded individuals, and movements and parties first and foremost, in Europe, in the United States and he's investing in those relationships...


This part was interesting. It's the antithesis of super power foreign policies of the last 50-60 years. During the cold war countries used to try to outcompete each other on dimensions of freedom. The Soviets celebrated a marxist "freedom from" - freedom from religion, racism, sexism, exploitation, hunger, the past, nature and so on. The American's celebrated a "freedom to" - get rich, be the boss, drive big cars, buy crazy stuff, rebel and so on.

Now with the lack of global ideological competition there is no battle over freedoms anymore. It's neoliberal order all the way - we are all slaves to a market economy and the only ideological alternative offered up seems to be the opportunity to put on the boot of fascism be the oppressor of others yourself.

I think this is clearly Putin's strategy but his goals still seem a bit opaque to me. He wants more power for Russia and therefor himself either in absolute (russia gains) or relative (everybody else loses) senses but I am not really sure how the rise of illiberal democracy really works that well for him or Russia in the long run.
posted by srboisvert at 12:00 PM on January 22 [14 favorites]



I think this is clearly Putin's strategy but his goals still seem a bit opaque to me.


The world at large is opaque to him. Like all human beings, Putin can only process so much information in a day. If his intelligence apparatus was up to the task of enabling him to be a mastermind pulling strings everywhere, the Ukraine revolution would never have happened. He is as much in a filter bubble as any of us. This is not a good thing.
posted by ocschwar at 12:05 PM on January 22 [9 favorites]


Nancy, I am still thinking about the State of the Union speech, there are so many options - including doing it as per your written offer (made during the Shutdown, security is no problem), and my written acceptance. While a contract is a contract, I’ll get back to you soon!

Pelosi Deputy Chief of Staff Drew Hammill responded: To be clear, the Speaker’s Office never received a “written acceptance” from the President.

And Trump never met a contract he wouldn't break.
posted by Doktor Zed at 12:06 PM on January 22 [22 favorites]


SCOTUS just stayed the 9th Circuit's order barring the military from discriminating against transgender servicemembers. 5-4, of course.
and
Supreme Court Takes 1st Gun Case In Nearly A Decade, Possibly With Big Consequences (NPR, January 22, 2019)
I don't know if it's just me, but a blatantly partisan (and perhaps corrupt) Supreme Court seems to be very damaging for the international perception of the US as a beacon of democracy. There are tons of other things that have undermined that perception for decades, but to me, this is extra bad. If you can't trust the rule of law, you cannot live as a free citizen.
posted by mumimor at 12:06 PM on January 22 [17 favorites]


That beacon got switched to a nightlight bulb many decades ago.

With an odd-numbered court and increasing polarization, it's hard to avoid the appearance of partisanship on SCOTUS. We're not quite at the full reactionary court crisis point, but we're very close, to where whoever put up that mistaken RBG obituary screen should be sued for causing heart palpitations nationwide.
posted by delfin at 12:19 PM on January 22 [2 favorites]


From the NewYorker Rude article (and thank you for introducing me to Isaac Chotiner):

Last thing, and then you can go shower. The President has called this a witch hunt. If that’s the case, were you surprised the Mueller team said that the BuzzFeed story was flawed?

I think they had no choice but to do that. And I do think that, when they do something good, we should commend them, which I did immediately. And, when they do something bad, it is my job to point that out. And they did do something good. I don’t think their whole team is a bunch of renegades. I think some are. I think they have some good people there. But, also, they were basically being victimized. The story said two federal agents gave this information out. The federal agents would have had to work for them.

It could have been people from the Southern District of New York office.

Kinda. It could have been, but everything pointed back to . . . BuzzFeed made it sound like it came out of the special counsel’s office. I think they were angry on their own. It didn’t take us to get them angry. I would have been angry.


"Kinda"?? And what's the SDNY-FBI-Rudy trigonometry there? They tipped him off about Weiner, but they didn't about this story? And did SCO "deny" the "accurateness" of the story just to placate the screamy manbaby? It'd be hard to fault them if they did although a true wave to impeach was started and they single-handedly stopped it. (h/t WaPo and NYT. They stopped it.)
posted by petebest at 12:20 PM on January 22 [2 favorites]


2) UPDATE: A WH official tells me that President Trump is preparing to give the State of the Union as scheduled. I specially asked where? That person said they are preparing for the House.

This was entirely predictable, and I imagine lots of us probably didn't predict it here because it seemed like unhelpful speculation. But as it was entirely predictable, I have to imagine Pelosi and company planned through several possible outcomes, including this one. And it's one of the reasons why she was so deliberate in her language in both that letter and her public statements on the matter.
posted by scaryblackdeath at 1:04 PM on January 22 [6 favorites]


It looks like there are now two bills: the Wall + bullshit temporary Dreamer stuff + Stephen Miller cruelty one, and a surprise new one that funds the government through February 8??
posted by theodolite at 1:05 PM on January 22 [2 favorites]


When I have called my elected folks this week and last, I am getting a lot of full voicemail boxes. Does anyone know if that is shutdown related or volume related or perhaps Start of a New Congress related?

Congress is working. New members are not fully staffed at this point, and there's always staff churn in a new congress at least through March. If the full voicemail is in D.C., it might be because of snowstorm-related employee absences. And it certainly could be volume related.
posted by jgirl at 1:11 PM on January 22 [1 favorite]


Although to be absolutely clear; if they pass the Feb 8 funding bill that isn't a compromise, it's a full capitulation by the GOP. I suppose we're not supposed to say that in order to let them save face but, no, fork those guys.

(Obviously the racist Miller bill will never pass.)
posted by Justinian at 1:11 PM on January 22 [10 favorites]


Looks like McConnell is finally trying to slip the Trump noose. A CR to Feb 8 is not the end, but it leaves them in distinctly worse position on Feb 8 -- though perhaps someone hopes that with a reinstated SOTU, Trump can bully-pulpit his way to victory.
posted by chortly at 1:13 PM on January 22


If nothing is scheduled [for a State of the Union address], House members won't be there, and there won't be speakers and microphones and press set up. What's he going to do: lunge for a mic?

I wouldn't put it past the Trump administration to try a guerilla speech by just showing up, and you can be sure the press would be there with battery power and boom mics to record all of his words.

Is there a typical set time for the SOTU? In that case, Pelosi's best move would be to make sure the House is not in session, lights off, doors locked, maybe even circuit breakers popped.
Trump wins is he forces a speech in the full chamber with Republicans cheering. But if he gives his talk in the hallway outside a locked door he loses.
posted by msalt at 1:13 PM on January 22 [5 favorites]


It's also potentially a way for both parties to have it both ways: the cruelty-extra bill passes the Republican Senate but fails in the Democratic-held House, while the short-term funding without a wall does the reverse--Republicans vote it down in the Senate while the House passes.

This means both sides can shout "We voted to reopen the government but the other side blocked us." It's the status quo but with refreshed rhetoric, and the main party I see benefiting from that is specifically Mitch McConnell.

I dunno. I'll hope for the best, I guess?
posted by scaryblackdeath at 1:14 PM on January 22 [5 favorites]


This was entirely predictable, and I imagine lots of us probably didn't predict it here because it seemed like unhelpful speculation. But as it was entirely predictable, I have to imagine Pelosi and company planned through several possible outcomes, including this one.

Flashback to when the minority Republican party was....uh...protesting??...in favor of offshore drilling. Pelosi officially adjourned the House, turned out the lights, and killed CSPAN coverage. (Also you can read about Republican antics a decade ago, when they were slightly less hateful, but still harmful and stupid.)
posted by grandiloquiet at 1:15 PM on January 22 [10 favorites]


It's also potentially a way for both parties to have it both ways: the cruelty-extra bill passes the Republican Senate

Except that it won't, it will fail the cloture vote and never come up. And I think the GOP surrender bill passes the Senate.
posted by Justinian at 1:18 PM on January 22 [3 favorites]


scaryblackdeath: while the short-term funding without a wall does the reverse--Republicans vote it down in the Senate while the House passes.

If I'm not mistaken, this has already happened multiple times, right?
posted by InTheYear2017 at 1:21 PM on January 22 [3 favorites]


this has already happened multiple times, right?

This [the Senate voting on a House passed CR or government reopening bill] has not happened this term; McConnell has blocked each attempt to place a bill on the floor.
posted by notyou at 1:29 PM on January 22 [5 favorites]


Trump's decided to double down on the Covington kids:
Donald Trump has defended a group of high school students who were filmed apparently confronting a Native American activist and military veteran. In a tweet on Tuesday, the president said the students “have become symbols of fake news”. He also suggested the students will use their experience “to bring people together”.
posted by xammerboy at 1:37 PM on January 22 [4 favorites]


the president said the students “have become symbols of fake news”
Well he isn't wrong. To look at the video and then imagine/protest that these kids were acting in good faith is a prime example of distorting reality beyond all norms and order.
posted by mumimor at 1:41 PM on January 22 [43 favorites]


It looks like there are now two bills: the Wall + bullshit temporary Dreamer stuff + Stephen Miller cruelty one, and a surprise new one that funds the government through February 8??

To the extent this was even a plan at all (it was originally reported as a "bipartisan deal"), it all fell apart within 15 minutes because now they're saying Trump won't sign the February 8 bill.

@AliABCNews: The Schumer/McConnell announcement is not a deal, aides on both sides say. They had to announce both votes in order to reach an agreement to avoid the Senate staying in session through the weekend, and neither R's nor Dems think there are the votes to pass the short-term bill.

@mkraju: McConnell is NOT supporting the House bill that the Senate will vote on Thursday to reopen the government until early February, and the WH has indicated Trump will NOT sign it. Several GOP aides say it won’t get 60. Dems have votes to block Trump plan also. Shutdown continues

It seemed like this was possibly a way out for them—let them take the failed vote on the bill with the wall funding and then try to get to 60 on the House-passed bill without it—, but it seems like it was never really even a deal that could lead to reopening the government so much as a plan to try to send the Senate home for the weekend.
posted by zachlipton at 1:41 PM on January 22 [13 favorites]


Ohh, that definitely changes things. I was under the impression that McConnell was bringing up the bill as part of a deal and not a procedural maneuver. The original reporting was... not good and quite misleading.

This is going to go on for a long, long time.
posted by Justinian at 1:44 PM on January 22 [6 favorites]


My 16 year old was asking about what it would take for a general strike, or to borrow his words, if we seize the means of creating capital, the capitalists will start to talk. His rotc crew is donating their trip funds to feed coast guard families. This is fucked up.

But he’s right, if there’s not some sort of mass protests, general strikes, they will continue to force government workers into slavery. If the workers quit, they’ll likely not get paid for the month of unpaid labor they already sacrificed, as well as losing insurance, pensions, and everything they paid into the private retirement funds.

The politicians aren’t going to save us. Mueller isn’t going to save us. Buzzfeed isn’t going to save us.

I will cart my crippled ass out to the barricades, but how do we start? Because I’m starting to think it’s the only chance we’ve got.
posted by SecretAgentSockpuppet at 1:55 PM on January 22 [28 favorites]


Trump's decided to double down on the Covington kids:

Or triple down (possibly)...

President Trump will meet with Covington Catholic boys at the White House [Rawstory]
President Donald Trump will meet with the Covington Catholic High School boys at the center of a national controversy over their confrontation with a Native American man on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial.

The news was posted by Fox News host Laura Ingraham, who described the students as having been “threatened by the leftist internet mob” and said the meeting could happen as soon as Wednesday.

...

Update: A CBS News producer disputes the report with an anonymous source.

“They are not coming tomorrow, they are not coming this week, that does not mean they are not going to come at all? I don’t know,” he quotes the anonymous source as saying.

...

Update 2: Ingraham is now backing away from her reporting, saying that “White House now seems to be in flux” and that the meeting would happen “after shutdown.”
Guessing he wants to meet with them, but has one of the saner factions trying to talk him out of it...
posted by Buntix at 1:55 PM on January 22 [21 favorites]


My 16 year old was asking about what it would take for a general strike, or to borrow his words, if we seize the means of creating capital, the capitalists will start to talk

The government isn't the means of creating capital. All this would mean is to privatize the operations that are currently federalized.

A strike isn't what we're looking for. What we're looking for is a way to pay federal employees directly, and in a larger sense, re-staff the government with effective employees, without having to go through Congress. Basically the opposite of a strike.
posted by Autumnheart at 2:00 PM on January 22 [4 favorites]


[Maybe take continuing "should government workers strike?" discussion over to the shutdown and possible strike thread.]
posted by LobsterMitten (staff) at 2:02 PM on January 22 [3 favorites]


Buzzfeed calls BS on Giuliani: Trump’s Lawyer Said There Were “No Plans” For Trump Tower Moscow. Here They Are.
On Monday, his lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, said “the proposal was in the earliest stage,” and he went on to tell the New Yorker that “no plans were ever made. There were no drafts. Nothing in the file.”

However hundreds of pages of business documents, emails, text messages, and architectural plans, obtained by BuzzFeed News over a year of reporting, tell a very different story. Trump Tower Moscow was a richly imagined vision of upscale splendor on the banks of the Moscow River.
Rudy simply lacks the mental stamina for the non-stop lying that working as Trump’s public-facing lawyer requires.
posted by Doktor Zed at 2:13 PM on January 22 [61 favorites]




Taibbi: The Beltway press mostly can’t stand [AOC]. A common theme is that, as a self-proclaimed socialist, she should be roaming the halls of Rayburn and Cannon in rags or a barrel.

Can someone please explain this to me?
posted by reductiondesign at 2:36 PM on January 22 [2 favorites]


Rayburn and Cannon are the buildings that house congressional offices - she should be wandering around begging the corporate overlords for more scraps, not slicing from the loaf herself.
posted by Exceptional_Hubris at 2:38 PM on January 22 [26 favorites]


Another day, another Cliff Sims book excerpt. How Trump Offered NASA Unlimited Funding to Go to Mars in His First Term
Donald Trump nearly derailed a televised call to the International Space Station after he got distracted, first by a sudden fantasy of going to Mars before the end of his first term in the White House, and then by a trip to the bathroom to check his reflection in the mirror, according to Team of Vipers, a new book by Cliff Sims, who worked as a communications official for Trump on his presidential campaign and in the West Wing.

The April 24, 2017 video call to congratulate the astronaut Peggy Whitson, who that day broke the record to become the American who has spent the longest amount of time in space, was an unusually smooth public event for the president.
The President, who had to be on camera in three minutes or he'd miss the window to communicate with the space station, started asking about getting a manned mission to Mars by the end of his first term, offering an unlimited budget, and was disappointed when told it wouldn't be possible to shave a decade off the timeline in the NASA bill he had just signed a month earlier.
posted by zachlipton at 2:42 PM on January 22 [28 favorites]


Meanwhile, in North Carolina...our amazing(ly inept and corrupt) Republican House Speaker has invited DJT to give the SOTU in Raleigh, and Trump gave an appreciative phone call but "no commitment to actually bring the speech to Raleigh."
posted by witchen at 2:56 PM on January 22 [4 favorites]


I know that people are writing off the Feb08th bill, though surely with farm export reports not going out (according to NPR) amid everything else that is hurting rural areas there's some pressure on GOP senators to vote yes.

It's, what, 18 defections? 18 GOP senators who have major military bases, contractors, government projects, extensive areas of farms exporting food, etc etc.

Even if it doesn't get to the veto-proof side, just sending the bill to Trump's empty desk ups the pressure. AND no one knows how he would react to the thing if it did arrive after he shouted "no" about it. Maybe he'll own-goal on agriculture subsidies and make every MAGA farmer shit themselves.
posted by Slackermagee at 3:00 PM on January 22 [7 favorites]


As a fed who's not getting paid, and who doesn't have resources to ride this out much longer, I'm strongly opposed to the February 8th bill. It would really help a lot of people -- me included -- but we'll just be back here again in a month. This needs to be dealt with once and for all.
posted by wintermind at 3:05 PM on January 22 [45 favorites]


The WaPo's Philip Rucker has a insider account of the Trump White House dealing with the shutdown: Trump Two Years In: The Dealmaker Who Can’t Seem to Make a Deal
One month into the shutdown, the longest in U.S. history, a preponderance of public polls show Trump is losing the political fight. For instance, a Jan. 13 Washington Post-ABC News survey found that many more Americans blame him than blame Democrats for the shutdown, 53 percent to 29 percent. And the president’s job approval ratings continue to be decidedly negative.

“Even though he thinks he’s doing a great job for his core, it’s ripping the nation apart,” said one Trump friend, who spoke on the condition of anonymity. “I don’t think there is a plan. He’s not listening to anybody because he thinks that if he folds on this, he loses whatever constituency he thinks he has.”

Behind the scenes at the White House, some aides acknowledge the difficulties.

“The president is very much aware he’s losing the public opinion war on this one,” one senior administration official said. “He looks at the numbers.”[…]

Trump’s management of the impasse has also drawn criticism about his competence as an executive. The administration this past month has been playing a game of whack-a-mole, with West Wing aides saying they did no contingency planning for a shutdown this long and have been learning of problems from agencies and press reports in real time. Officials have scrambled to respond as best they can and keep key services operating, but they fear they may soon run out of so-called Band-Aid solutions, and temporary pots of money may run dry in February, one official said.

Inside the West Wing, morale has been low in recent weeks, according to aides. Mick Mulvaney, the acting White House chief of staff, has not sought to impose the same level of discipline as his predecessor, John F. Kelly, so aides flow in and out of the Oval Office, reminiscent of the early months of Trump’s presidency.[…]

Trump has been preoccupied by the political messaging and stagecraft of the shutdown showdown, according to White House aides. He has personally met with outside allies to ask them to go on cable television to defend his position, and he has spent time calling those who have praised him.[…]

In private conversations with advisers, Trump alternately complains that nobody has presented him a deal to end the shutdown, grouses about Pelosi and Schumer and asks how the fight affects his reelection chances. Aides said they have shown him polling that shows he is losing the shutdown battle and that most Americans do not think the situation at the border is a crisis, as he and his administration have termed it.
Art of the Deal ghostwriter Tony Schwartz assesses Trump's bargaining prospects: "Trump’s problem in negotiating with Dems to reopen govt is that he has literally no interest other than his own — namely saving face. That’s a terrible place from which to accomplish anything when you don’t have all the power."
posted by Doktor Zed at 3:09 PM on January 22 [29 favorites]


Last I read, the debt ceiling goes back into effect on March 29th, with some time after that for fiddling with the treasury payment schedule before we hit the hard limit. I'm assuming that whatever budget they're considering would include an increase in that? Or would we be back in this brinkmanship as government in a few weeks?
posted by msbutah at 3:13 PM on January 22


Well, the pilot of this flight just told us that our delay in landing is due to “a lot of ATC issues due to staffing”. I missed teaching my class— and that’s the lowest possible form of issue. ATC keeps us safe and we need to pay them.
posted by nat at 3:17 PM on January 22 [36 favorites]




ATC can keep us safe by reminding us that takeoffs are optional.
posted by ocschwar at 3:18 PM on January 22 [36 favorites]


Ways to get the shutdown over, without encouraging hostage taking:

1) Do not give McConnell a moment of peace until he allows a funding bill to the Senate floor for a veto-proof vote
posted by benzenedream at 3:23 PM on January 22 [41 favorites]


They don't 👏 need 👏 Trump 👏👏

But they're scared of him.

The WaPo took a survey yesterday of GOP senators, and Profiles in Courage, it ain't: Senate Republicans All But Surrender to Trump On Wall Despite Shutdown’s Toll
One month into a historic government shutdown, Republican senators are standing staunchly behind President Trump’s demand for money to build a border wall, even as the GOP bears the brunt of the blame for a standoff few in the party agitated for, according to interviews this past week with more than 40 Republican senators and aides.

Under pressure from conservatives to help Trump deliver on a signature campaign promise and unable to persuade him to avert the partial government shutdown, these lawmakers have all but surrendered to the president’s will. Their comments show how the cracks in the 53-member Republican majority that emerged at the outset of the shutdown have not spread beyond a handful of lawmakers.

Asked about the pressure from constituents and some of the 800,000 affected federal workers to end the impasse, GOP senators insisted they are facing equal — if not more — insistence to stand behind Trump and his call for $5.7 billion for a U.S.-Mexico border wall, especially from conservative voters.
[…]

Throughout the dozens of interviews with The Washington Post, only six Republican senators were willing to say they would support reopening the government without wall money and without the president’s approval being a precondition. Some Republicans, such as Sens. Cory Gardner (Colo.), Susan Collins (Maine) and Lisa Murkowski (Alaska), have made it clear almost since the shutdown began that they would back spending legislation to end the impasse, even without border wall funding.

“Just a few weeks ago, they had no qualms in saying, ‘yeah, let’s move [a stopgap funding measure] until the eighth of February’ with nothing. They didn’t ask for anything with that and they were good with that then,” Murkowski said of her Republican colleagues. “And now we’re not good with it?”

Asked if she believed Senate Republicans, writ large, were afraid to cross Trump, Murkowski responded: “I think some are, absolutely.”[…]

Yet in private, key Republicans are signaling more concern about the long-term repercussions of the shutdown and the atmosphere in Washington deteriorating after weeks of bitter brinkmanship and no substantive negotiations to reopen the government.

White House officials and GOP leaders would accept virtually any offer from Democrats to end the impasse, hoping they sell it to Trump as a “victory” and move forward, said one Republican with close ties to both the administration and congressional leaders. This person, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss private conversations, said there is extreme consternation about how poorly the shutdown was playing out and how polling shows many Americans heaping blame on Trump.

There is growing concern in the GOP that the longer the shutdown drags on, the more the party will stand to suffer politically.
Alaska has more federal workers per capita affected by the shutdown than any other, according to the WaPo, so Murkowski's political self-interest is pretty predictable on this issue.
posted by Doktor Zed at 3:29 PM on January 22 [8 favorites]


It's, what, 18 defections? 18 GOP senators who have major military bases, contractors, government projects, extensive areas of farms exporting food, etc etc.

20 to override a veto, no? 2/3 of 100 rounds to 67, and Democrats currently have 47 seats. 13 to invoke cloture and send it to his desk.
posted by Justinian at 3:32 PM on January 22 [7 favorites]


It appears that Andrew Cuomo just signed Liz Kruger's S. 240/A. 21 Reproductive Health Act. Prepare yourself for the backlash.
posted by mikelieman at 4:00 PM on January 22 [3 favorites]




Specifically, “Sarah Sanders says that WH has reached out to the Covington Catholic kids and invited them to the WH but any meeting would take place after the shutdown.”
posted by Doktor Zed at 4:03 PM on January 22 [2 favorites]


It appears that Andrew Cuomo just signed Liz Kruger's S. 240/A. 21 Reproductive Health Act. Prepare yourself for the backlash.

We're going to see a lot of progressive legislation introduced (and hopefully passed) in New York State in the next few months. Two reasons: 1) the Democrats finally have control of both chambers and the governorship for the first time in almost a decade, so they no longer have to compromise with a Republican-controlled Senate, and 2) Governor Cuomo wants to run for president and has recently begun giving way more lip service to progressive issues (he went from "weed is a gateway drug" to "here is my proposal for recreational weed" in two years, for example). As a result, every progressive interest group that does state-level advocacy is rushing to get their long-neglected issues into bills this session. And the NYS legislative session ends in June, so they're having to work fast.
posted by showbiz_liz at 4:11 PM on January 22 [34 favorites]


I believe there was concern about new reps from the left not getting committee assignments?

@desiderioDC: Source tells me @AOC just got a spot on the House Oversight Committee. Wow.
Confirming @LissandraVilla: progressive flamethrowers Ro Khanna, Ayanna Pressley, and Rashida Tlaib also got Oversight spots.

They'll be matched up for fights with the Freedom Caucus, which is also disproportionately represented on Oversight.
posted by zachlipton at 4:33 PM on January 22 [70 favorites]


If GOP senators (especially from farm / western states) are not budging, it's probably time to visit them when they're back in their home states for the weekend. Or visit their home-state offices tomorrow.
posted by holgate at 4:40 PM on January 22 [3 favorites]


Senators are afraid of Trump for a reason. They have access to polling and other information that gives them pretty good insight into how things will play with their constituents (well, the ones that are likely to vote for them especially). It's very easy for those of us living outside of the Trump bubble to discount his popularity and power, but I think seeing no turncoat elected Repubs tells you a lot about how powerful Trump remains.
posted by chaz at 4:44 PM on January 22 [8 favorites]


White House invites for the MAGA thug kids? Once again Trump disrespects vets, particularly ones who aren't cis straight white males. At this point it's clearly his default pose.

Even if we were to accept the kids were just victims here, inviting only them and not inviting Phillips is the political equivalent of if Obama had only invited Skip Gates for a beer and not the campus police sergeant who wrongly arrested him.

(That's to say nothing of how every discussion of the issue automatically asserts with no reflection whatsoever that the real bad guys were obviously, unquestionably, the very scary Black Hebrew Black Israelite Blacks.)
posted by xigxag at 4:48 PM on January 22 [20 favorites]


Trump’s popularity among his base has lately been showing weakness, due to the shutdown, which is why they’ve clung so hard to the Kentucky Catholic schoolboys: it’s a cheap way to reset the white identity bonds between Trump and base.
posted by notyou at 4:52 PM on January 22 [25 favorites]


(That's to say nothing of how every discussion of the issue automatically asserts with no reflection whatsoever that the real bad guys were obviously, unquestionably, the very scary Black Hebrew Black Israelite Blacks.)
I mean, I don't know whether you've ever encountered those guys before, but they are unquestionably assholes. They're assholes who pretty much everyone knows to ignore, but being real jerks in public is kind of their thing. The problem is that everyone with a bit of sense knows to ignore them and walk away, and these dumb suburban rich boys had never been out of their suburban bubble enough to know that it was stupid to be confrontational and escalate the situation.
posted by ArbitraryAndCapricious at 5:08 PM on January 22 [49 favorites]


Daily Beast, ‘We Are Fighters’: Trans Troops Are Not Giving Up After SCOTUS Ruling for Trump Ban, featuring a photo of an awesome "DON'_ ASK DON'_ _ELL: MISSION INCOMPLETE" shirt
If the Trump administration gets its way, this would be the result: people in King’s position will eventually leave, people in Karnoski’s position will be discouraged from joining, and eventually the military would no longer have openly transgender service members. But both King and Karnoski remain undeterred.

“It’s kind of a calling—and once you’ve heard that calling, it isn’t really something that you would ignore,” Karnoski told The Daily Beast.

“I’m a service member,” said King. I love serving my country. And service members are not victims. We are fighters—and we will continue to fight for what’s right.”
BuzzFeed, Transgender Soldiers Are Terrified, Disappointed, And Anxious After The Supreme Court’s Ruling
“Transgender soldiers are waking up and seeing this nation is going to turn their backs on them, and that is a difficult thing to swallow,” Chief Warrant Officer Lindsey Muller, an active duty Army attack helicopter pilot who also served during the Iraq war, told BuzzFeed News.

“To be told that I’m now a burden, after nearly 19 years of service, it’s really hard to understand,” she said.

“The uneasiness is palpable,” she added, describing phone calls from other transgender soldiers and applicants. “They are terrified.
...
“As trans people, we have served for two years with honor and dignity," Wyatt said. "There are no words to describe how much pain suffering we have incurred these past years.” For now, she said, “I am going to do my job to the best of my ability, I will still serve my country just as I did before.””
posted by zachlipton at 5:25 PM on January 22 [20 favorites]


-Boys are caught on video demonstrating the bigotry and white privilege of their community.
-Pushback lets everyone who is uncomfortable calling out said bigotry to retreat to their corners.
-Further evidence shows: yep, it's even worse than it looked.
-No apologies from the boys or their community, no reflection, only doubling-down.
-Right wing culture war adopts boys as mascots.

I feel like I've seen this show somewhere before. Swap out "boys" for some other pronoun, singular or plural, but almost assuredly male and white.
posted by scaryblackdeath at 5:29 PM on January 22 [70 favorites]


Axios has that 4 interesting people have been named to the House Oversight Committee:

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez
Ro Khanna
Ayanna Pressley
Rashida Tlaib
posted by Xyanthilous P. Harrierstick at 5:39 PM on January 22 [17 favorites]


Mark Warner introduces legislation to prevent future government shutdowns in the event of funding lapses: The Stop STUPIDITY Act. The acronym stands for Shutdowns Transferring Unnecessary Pain and Inflicting Damage In The Coming Years

Seung Min Kim: Isn’t it the STUPIDITCY Act?
posted by peeedro at 5:43 PM on January 22 [25 favorites]


The very scary Black Hebrew Black Israelite Blacks

I have ran into these guys before, and stopped to listen. I can only describe them as a bunch of black guys decked out in medieval space garb who preach non-stop about the white devil. I am not looking forward to Trump presenting them to America as your average leftist minority protest group.
posted by xammerboy at 5:51 PM on January 22 [28 favorites]


ArbitraryAndCapricious, yes they are definitely obnoxious asshole cult members, I do totally agree. In fact, if you listen to the clip they are telling the indigenous women that they should be subservient to their husbands, that they're fake five-dollar culture vulture Indians, they called the MAGA kids dusty-ass crackers and basically dared them to come over and get an ass whooping. And more along that vein. But, as fucked up as all that is, they were exercising their first amendment rights no more or less than the MAGA brats themselves who as we know were all about building Wall, regulating women's bodies and engaging in some casual racism for extra credit. The BHIsraelites are if anything more subdued in a way. Unlike the free-range MAGAteens, their m.o. is to stake out a corner of a public gathering and lob loud vocal taunts from the sidelines. They don't form a large group to surround and physically intimidate people, at least not in my experience.

They're also incidentally not necessarily African Americans and in theory don't even identify as black. One of this particular group was Puerto Rican and another Panamanian, and their theology includes the idea that indigenous peoples of the Western hemisphere belong to various of the true tribes of Israel and should consider themselves as natural kin.
posted by xigxag at 5:58 PM on January 22 [7 favorites]


WSJ's Rebecca Ballhaus reports on Democratic oversight of the DoJ:
House Judiciary Chairman Nadler in letter to Whitaker ahead of his Feb. 8 testimony asks:
- if Trump contacted him after Cohen’s guilty plea
- if Trump contacted him after he was ID’d as “Individual 1”
- if Trump considered firing SDNY officials
https://judiciary.house.gov/sites/democrats.judiciary.house.gov/files/documents/1.22.2018%20Letter%20to%20Whitaker.pdf

The letter also asks Whitaker: "Did you have any communication with the White House about the BuzzFeed report or the decision of the Special Counsel’s office to issue its subsequent statement? If so, with whom? What was discussed?”
Nadler has more uncomfortable questions for Whittaker:
• President Trump fired former Attorney General Jeff Sessions November 7, 2018. On or before that date, did you have any communication with any White House official, including but not limited to President Trump, about the possibility of your appointment as Acting Attorney General? If so, when and with whom? Did any of those communications discuss the possibility of your recusal from oversight of the Special Counsel's investigation?
•  You announced your decision _not_ to recuse yourself from the Special Counsel's investigation on December 19, 2018. Did you consult with the White House about that decision, before or after it was announced? If so, with whom?
• Have you ever received a briefing on the status of the Special Counsel's investigation? If so, have you communicated any information you learned in that briefing to any White House official, including but not limited to President Trump, or any member of President Trump's private legal team?
He's also asked that Whittaker give 48 hours' advance notice if Trump intends to invoke executive privilege on any of the questions.

Elections matter.
posted by Doktor Zed at 5:59 PM on January 22 [49 favorites]


i, for one, enjoyed watching the black hebrew israelites (instances of whom i too have encountered in real life) call the not-very-catholic catholic school boys "esau," old school shade the catholic school boys did not appear sufficiently versed in their nominal founding literature to appreciate.
posted by 20 year lurk at 6:04 PM on January 22 [43 favorites]


They don't form a large group to surround and physically intimidate people, at least not in my experience.

It really depends on the specific sect. The SPLC has warned of some hate group activity within some BI sects, I'm not sure which the DC contingent fell into.
posted by corb at 6:17 PM on January 22 [2 favorites]


I am not looking forward to T[erriblest Presidont] presenting them to America as your average leftist minority protest group.

the hate group rating under SPLC's imprimatur is why i'm reasonably confident such a characterization will not find a receptive, credulous audience. except among the deplorable base, maybe.
posted by 20 year lurk at 6:29 PM on January 22 [3 favorites]


The fact that those kids' reaction to getting street harassed by obnoxious weirdos (something that many of us have to deal with on a regular basis in our daily lives from pretty young ages) was to... well, definitely not walk away and ignore them like anyone with a lick of sense and experience dealing with harassment is a testament to their privilege. That they then directed their ill-advised retaliatory aggro to the person trying to deescalate is, again, a sign of their unthinking privilege. Never once did it seem to occur to any of them that hey, this might end badly for us, maybe we should take a hint and leave this area for a bit. And I guess it hasn't really ended badly for them, and they were right. They did a stupid stupid thing that anyone who has had obscenities shouted at them on the street on the regs* would never do, and it turned out just fine.

*My most recent nom de random asshole is "stupid bitch". I did not attempt to step to this gentleman because doing so would have been dumb and definitely not ended well.
posted by soren_lorensen at 6:33 PM on January 22 [33 favorites]


I just think it's a little hilarious that the dumb little racist MAGA boys managed to get into a toxic-masculinity-off with some of the only people who could rival them in the toxic-masculinity department.
posted by ArbitraryAndCapricious at 6:41 PM on January 22 [33 favorites]


Politico reports that the knives are coming out for Rudy: Trump exasperated by gaffe-prone Giuliani—After the president's freewheeling lawyer cleans up yet another set of public comments, the West Wing's patience is wearing thin.
Trump was apoplectic after a pair of weekend media interviews by his personal lawyer, in which Giuliani said that the president had been involved in discussions to build a Trump Tower in Moscow through the end of the 2016 campaign — a statement that enraged Trump because it contradicted his own public position, according to two sources close to the president.

Giuliani’s statement was the latest in a series of remarks over several months that has required walk-backs or reversals, and Trump spent much of Sunday and Monday fuming to aides and friends about his lawyer’s missteps. Most of those people share Trump’s frustration, noting that the former New York mayor often appears to lack a mastery of the facts of Trump’s legal headaches.

Giuliani’s public remarks — typically made in sporadic clusters of freewheeling media interviews — have long exasperated White House aides, including the president’s in-house lawyer handling the Russia investigation, Emmet Flood. The latest fracas comes at a time of maximum vulnerability for the president and his legal team. Special counsel Robert Mueller has no deadline for finishing his work, but many outside observers see him as nearing the end of his probe into 2016 Russian election meddling and whether it was coordinated with Trump or his campaign.

Asked who in the White House is responsible for handling Giuliani’s missteps, a White House aide said, “Handling Rudy’s f--- ups takes more than one man.”[…]

Despite his frustrations with Giuliani, Trump associates say the president understands his value as an attack dog against Mueller. Because legal advisers have told the president that he cannot be indicted while in office, Trump has put a greater emphasis on the politics of the Mueller probe and fending off a potential impeachment by Congress rather than on contesting specific allegations the special counsel seems to be pursuing.

“I think that the president has been persuaded that he needs to treat this as a political matter and so this is primarily going to be a messaging battle, and Rudy much of the time has been a very effective messenger,” said a former White House aide.
For his part, Giuliani thinks he’s simply engaging in “alternative arguing”: “I do have a mastery of the facts, which is why I can spin them honestly, argue them several different ways.”
posted by Doktor Zed at 6:57 PM on January 22 [9 favorites]


Rayburn and Cannon are the buildings that house congressional offices

Just to expand on this, there are seven Congressional office buildings:
* Russell Senate (Sen. Richard Russell [D-GA])
* Dirksen Senate (Sen. Everett Dirksen [R-IL])
* Hart Senate (Sen. Philip Hart [D-MI])

* Cannon House (Speaker Joseph Cannon [R-IL])
* Longworth House (Speaker Nicholas Longworth [R-OH])
* Rayburn House (Speaker Sam Rayburn [D-TX])
* Ford House (Rep. Gerald Ford [R-MI]) => This one is a few blocks away and doesn't have Member offices, just committee staff, and other odds and ends like the Architect of the Capitol.
AOC's actual office is in Cannon; Pelosi's is in Longworth.
posted by Chrysostom at 7:09 PM on January 22 [8 favorites]


HuffPo: Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross has agreed to testify before Congress next month amid accusations he lied about his controversial decision to add a citizenship question to the 2020 census the last time he was under oath in front of Congress.
posted by Chrysostom at 7:12 PM on January 22 [12 favorites]


Not new to avid mega thread readers but interesting to see everything in one place and the scope of it The Young Left’s Anti-Capitalist Manifesto (538)
posted by The Whelk at 7:14 PM on January 22 [16 favorites]


Good news dept:

* Illinois's State Board of Elections voted to leave Crosscheck, the Kris Kobach-designed program that was being used to purge eligible voters.

* Meanwhile, Kobach's replacement as Kansas SOS is looking at scrapping the program altogether.
posted by Chrysostom at 7:17 PM on January 22 [29 favorites]


Speaking of Kobach, Fear of Kobach and 2020 ‘disaster’ drive Pompeo recruitment, say GOP strategists, in which Republicans are trying to get Pompeo to run for Senate in Kansas (replacing the retiring Sen. Roberts) so that Kobach doesn't run and turn what should be a safe red seat into a repeat of the disaster that was his gubernatorial campaign.

Also speaking of Kobach, turns out he used state funds to pay for the continuing legal education class a federal judge ordered him to take as a sanction after he kept trying to introduce last-minute new evidence. He previously paid a $1,000 fine, issued for misleading the court, with a government credit card that had been issued to an employee who was deployed with the National Guard at the time.
posted by zachlipton at 7:25 PM on January 22 [19 favorites]


PPP poll has every Dem they asked about beating Trump:
* Biden 53%, Trump 41%
* Sanders 51%, Trump 41%
* Harris 48%, Trump 41%
* O’Rourke 47%, Trump 41%
* Warren 48%, Trump 42%
* Booker 47%, Trump 42%
* Gillibrand 47%, Trump 42%
posted by Chrysostom at 7:29 PM on January 22 [23 favorites]


Did they factor in Russian interference in the 2020 election?
posted by perhapses at 7:42 PM on January 22 [9 favorites]


It's good to see Trump at no higher than 42% but it's disheartening to see all the Democrats except Biden under 50% (Sanders currently being an I). Of course Biden and Sanders are also the two candidates with the highest name recognition so that probably helps.

But 5 points is an uncomfortably small lead given the last couple years. Very uncomfortably small.
posted by Justinian at 7:42 PM on January 22 [26 favorites]


“I do have a mastery of the facts, which is why I can spin them honestly, argue them several different ways.”

Assuming:

-- that the competent lawyers in the White House (basically, Emmet Flood) have taken advantage of the multiple JDAs and the discovery process after the Cohen raid to assemble something approximating a narrative of what happened;
-- that I-1 lies about everything;
-- that Rudy 911 spends more time on the blower to I-1 and journalists than with the competent lawyers;

I think it's likely that Rudes accidentally blurts out damning truths in his freestyle sessions that are known to the targets of the investigation but not to him or the other lawyers.
posted by holgate at 7:45 PM on January 22 [2 favorites]


From the same PPP poll: Finally, we asked voters to put Trump’s Presidency so far in historic context. 44% say Trump is the worst President of the last 40 years to 31% for Barack Obama with no one else polling in double digits. Obama wins when it comes to who voters say is the best President of the last 40 years with 31% to 26% for Ronald Reagan, 15% for Trump, and 11% for Bill Clinton. 53% of voters wish Obama was still President, to 43% for Trump. And 49% of voters wish Hillary Clinton was President instead, to 43% for Trump.

31% say Obama was the worst president. White male supremacy is a hell of a drug.
posted by benzenedream at 7:45 PM on January 22 [50 favorites]


The terrifying thing to me is that I remember the "27% crazification factor" during the GWB years.

I think everyone fucked up taking that as some sort of baseline or constant. Sure feels like a lot more than that now.
posted by absalom at 7:46 PM on January 22 [12 favorites]


But 5 points is an uncomfortably small lead given the last couple years.

That’s 760 respondents and a 3.6% MOE. I dunno. I think it’s way too early to start being concerned about “leads” and whatnot.
posted by lazaruslong at 7:47 PM on January 22 [10 favorites]


I suspect quite a few poll-takers have trouble not seeing various Democratic candidates as anything but in competition, which will naturally have the effect of splitting the field. Also, few want to look so ~unsophisticated~ that they would support absolutely any Dem over Trump, even though that's the best answer and more people doing it would lead to higher numbers all around.

20 year lurk a: the hate group rating under SPLC's imprimatur is why i'm reasonably confident such a characterization will not find a receptive, credulous audience. except among the deplorable base, maybe.

This is reasonable. At the same time, whenever another right-wing figurehead is exposed as even more heinous than previously believed, the left is asked (often by supposed educated centrists) to disown antisemite Louis Farrakhan, who is a literal Trump supporter. So.
posted by InTheYear2017 at 7:51 PM on January 22


the thing to remember about the 27% crazification factor is that it originated in a discussion about Alan Keyes’ run for the Illinois seat in the US Senate against Barack Obama - which is to say that it specifcally excluded the devoted racist bloc.

trump’s base is the intersection of the 27% incurably crazy demographic and the single-issue white supremacy voters, which is why his floor seems to be higher than the crazification factor indicates.
posted by murphy slaw at 7:55 PM on January 22 [63 favorites]


Leads?! Leads, yeah sure. I'll uh, just check with the boys down at the Crime Lab! They uh, got uh, four more detectives working on the case. They've got us working in shifts! HAhahahaha.

Leads. But speaking of burying ledes, here's a fun article that could be just what it says it is, or it could be a perfect metaphor for coroporate news In The Time of Turmp:

“White House press briefings, in steady decline even before the partial government shutdown, have now ground to a halt as a prolonged power struggle among President Trump’s aides leads to a muddled messaging strategy,” CNN reports.

“No one has emerged as the clear leader among Sarah Sanders, Bill Shine, Kellyanne Conway or Mercedes Schlapp, leading to deep divisions among one of the administration’s most fractious departments and causing a void for a coverage-obsessed president.”


So let's hope nothing too involved hits their plates as they'll be desperately trying to cling to relevance for *something/Anything*.
posted by petebest at 7:57 PM on January 22 [5 favorites]


Operation Shut Up Rudy is on.

AP, Giuliani’s media blitz draws ire of Trump and some allies
Rudy Giuliani’s latest media blitz, which was filled with a dizzying array of misstatements and hurried clarifications, agitated President Donald Trump and some of his allies, who have raised the possibility that the outspoken presidential lawyer be at least temporarily sidelined from televised interviews.

Trump was frustrated with Giuliani, according to three White House officials and Republicans close to the White House who were not authorized to speak publicly about private conversations. The president told advisers that he felt his lawyer had obscured what he believed was a public relations victory: the special counsel’s rare public statement disputing portions of a BuzzFeed News story that Trump instructed his former attorney, Michael Cohen, to lie before Congress.

The president told confidants that Giuliani had “changed the headlines” for the worse and raised the possibility that Giuliani do fewer cable hits, at least for a while, according to the officials and Republicans.
Vanity Fair, Jared and Ivanka-whisperer Gabriel Sherman, “Trump Is Screaming. He’s So Mad at Rudy”: Giuliani’s Fate Is Uncertain After Botched Interviews
Trump is “furious” with Giuliani’s recent botched press appearances, two Republicans briefed on the president’s thinking told me. What makes the most recent interviews so frustrating to Trumpworld is that, on Friday, the president secured his biggest victory yet when Robert Mueller’s spokesman issued a rare public denial of BuzzFeed’s explosive report alleging Trump had directed Michael Cohen to lie to Congress about Trump Tower Moscow. “Before Rudy stepped in it, Mueller had basically called BuzzFeed ‘fake news,’” a Republican close to the White House said. According to sources, a debate is playing out inside the West Wing over Giuliani’s future. Trump is being encouraged by several people, including Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner, to dump Giuliani before it’s too late, while outside advisers Corey Lewandowski and Dave Bossie are lobbying Trump to keep Giuliani. “Trump is screaming. He’s so mad at Rudy,” one of the sources said. (“No, he’s not pissed. He just wants it clarified,” Giuliani told CNN’s Dana Bash on Tuesday, when asked about the president’s response to the interviews.)

As Giuliani’s unforced errors pile up, former West Wing officials and 2016 campaign veterans are privately debating what’s gone wrong with Rudy. Why, they ask, is he making statements that so obviously damage his client? A former White House official speculated that maybe Giuliani “has lost his mind.” But there are other, more charitable ways of interpreting Giuliani’s interviews. As I’ve previously reported, the Trump-Giuliani relationship hasn’t been good for weeks. Giuliani has said privately that he “hates the job” and that Mueller’s final report will be “horrific” for Trump. Facing these challenges and pressures, it’s understandable he would make mistakes, the thinking goes. “Everyone who works for Trump screws up because there’s no way to please the guy,” an outside Trump adviser said.

But, frustrating as the job may be, Giuliani also may be addicted to it. Friends said the former New York mayor was embittered after being out of the limelight for years following his failed 2008 presidential campaign. He’s been exhilarated by the press attention that comes with being Trump’s lawyer. Sources said Giuliani often books his own interviews and frequently texts with television news anchors. “There’s a school of thought that it’s better to be famous and ridiculed than ignored,” a Giuliani friend told me. But the media environment has become vastly more complicated than it was a decade ago, the last time Giuliani was on the national stage, and he has struggled to adapt. “This has been a trial by fire for him,” the friend said. “He can’t just say whatever he wants, because he’s being fact-checked on Twitter. Every time he does anything he gets caught.”
We're stuck in this bizarre loop where Rudy is clearly worse than useless at providing information, yet he's also one of the only people who has access to all the information who goes around talking about it, so everyone wants to try to get him to say something that incriminates the President, which he'll then later deny. All the while, he grows ever more enamored of seeing his own face on TV.
posted by zachlipton at 8:07 PM on January 22 [18 favorites]


he's also one of the only people who has access to all the information

Hypothetically. Do you think, for instance, that he knows who Junior called at 4:27pm and 8:40pm on June 6th 2016?
posted by holgate at 8:26 PM on January 22 [5 favorites]


Rudy hasn't been "reined in" before, has he? It's abject Kremlinology to pursue it, but maybe they have some "take the news cycle" statistics they boil down to a number that Rudy didn't meet. The "tapes" word usage probably has me the most curious (possibly enough to rewatch for facial tics), but everything else had already long been speculated or spelled out by Emptywheel and others.
posted by rhizome at 8:28 PM on January 22 [1 favorite]


trump’s base is the intersection of the 27% incurably crazy demographic and the single-issue white supremacy voters, which is why his floor seems to be higher than the crazification factor indicates.

My quick guideline is subtract 27% from both sides of a poll to get a sense of what the "Not Insane" cohort thinks.
posted by mikelieman at 8:29 PM on January 22 [3 favorites]


hat makes the most recent interviews so frustrating to Trumpworld is that, on Friday, the president secured his biggest victory yet when Robert Mueller’s spokesman issued a rare public denial of BuzzFeed’s explosive report alleging Trump had directed Michael Cohen to lie to Congress about Trump Tower Moscow. “Before Rudy stepped in it, Mueller had basically called BuzzFeed ‘fake news,’”

This is what they're counting as a victory...a completely vague non-denial "denial", just because Mueller finally said one word, possibly after being prompted by Whitaker the Toilet Salesman.
posted by T.D. Strange at 8:30 PM on January 22 [3 favorites]


From that AP story:
Part of his confusion is that while Giuliani frequently speaks to his client, the president’s legal team has had a difficult time corralling [I-1] for a lengthy debriefing about the facts of the case, particularly from events stemming before the presidency, according to one official and a Republican close to the White House.
The lawyers don't have access to all of the information. They are having to reverse-engineer it as best they can. The stuff that matters is a rigidly-defined area of doubt and uncertainty.
posted by holgate at 8:33 PM on January 22 [5 favorites]


many Feds take use-or-lose leave at the end of the year (a maximum of 240 hours of annual leave can be carried from one year to the next for most employees), and you lose those hours into the ether, too.

Nah, if you make a good-faith effort to schedule that leave prior to the end of the leave year and it gets denied (and you have a denied written request or several to show), you can get it restored.

Interesting thing about that 10% sick number at TSA - that might not just be out-for-the-day-type sick. If you take leave while a furlough is going on, you stand the chance of being immediately furloughed. With the back-pay thing sorted in advance, I bet there are people *trying* to get furloughed by calling in sick. Unsustainable.
posted by ctmf at 8:45 PM on January 22


This feels like the third or fourth “Trump has had it up to here with Giuliani” tea reading we’ve gone through.
posted by notyou at 9:48 PM on January 22 [14 favorites]


It really depends on the specific sect. The SPLC has warned of some hate group activity within some BI sects, I'm not sure which the DC contingent fell into.

Even "some hate group activity" understates the situation. I don't know the names of the individuals at the Capitol Saturday or their connections to other BI groups and members, but members of one group -- the Nation of Yahweh, led by the late Yahweh ben Yahweh, were convicted of 14 murders and some other crimes. (CW: details are gruesome).

The reason this matters is that many conservatives online are saying that Nathan Phillips is lying when he says that he stepped in because he feared violence between the MAGA kids and the BHI. This history of violence lends credence to his explanation. In the video BHI members are bragging that the kids don't dare mess with them.
posted by msalt at 9:57 PM on January 22 [9 favorites]


A strike isn't what we're looking for. What we're looking for is a way to pay federal employees directly, and in a larger sense, re-staff the government with effective employees, without having to go through Congress. Basically the opposite of a strike.

There's a part of me that really likes something like this idea: a strike against tax withholding, individuals directing payments to government workers. Buuuut... this is also effectively privatization. It lets the wealthy and ideologically possessed who would *love* to jettison public institutions into the realm of private voluntary funding do just that. Hell, it lets those among them with the right grifter's instinct set themselves up as the middleman.

I think that generalizes to the fact that just as there's ultimately no way for the worst actors in the GOP to achieve their goals while respecting the best of American law, norms, and institutions.... there's no way stop Republicans from governing badly via extralegal action, short of actual complete revolution. Any attempt to take over something that's being mismanaged at the federal level other than the entirety of government feeds right back into their plan to cripple public institutions.

The legal fallbacks are state government and beating the shit out of the GOP in the future elections, which will hopefully be easier the more people can see that the parties are in fact different and elections have consequences, possibly up to and including the mass layoff of the entire federal workforce.
posted by wildblueyonder at 10:23 PM on January 22 [4 favorites]


I think that generalizes to the fact that just as there's ultimately no way for the worst actors in the GOP to achieve their goals while respecting the best of American law, norms, and institutions....

I linked to this a few days ago. It fills in a lot of the gaps I've had in the big picture. I think it dovetails nicely with what you're saying.

What Is the Far Right’s Endgame? A Society That Suppresses the Majority.
posted by scalefree at 10:40 PM on January 22 [27 favorites]


The 5-to-7-point leads almost every Democrat has over Trump doesn't concern me... yet, because they haven't built up much name recognition... yet. The highest rated two old guys with 10 and 12 point leads have been around forever, and remember much of the so-called Liberal Media was promoting The Donald for decades - two years of awfulness doesn't erase all that goodwill, but close to 4 years will come closer.
posted by oneswellfoop at 11:18 PM on January 22 [1 favorite]


I mean, that media stuff doesn’t get talked about enough, by treating Trump as a fun news item cause he was good for business and clicks all the major news networks basically ran free press for him for years - he didn’t have to buy airtime or print ads or whatever and the most watched news network in the country was basically running his media team (going so far as to send him talking points for speeches) and now controls what he talks about by telling him what to say via thier morning news show he watches.

the TV is President now. Literally. Allowing these media empires to consolidate will go down as one of the biggest mistakes in history, along with just allowing people to have that much money to influence things in the first place.

If you want toke down the right you take down their funding. Everything is being propped up by outside billions. You think Breitbart ever made a single dollar in profit?
posted by The Whelk at 11:24 PM on January 22 [51 favorites]


What Is the Far Right’s Endgame? A Society That Suppresses the Majority.

That vision in the first paragraph sounds an awful lot like Galt's Gulch to me.

Also, I don't believe these guys want to stop their suppression at the borders but spread it around the planet.
posted by infini at 12:38 AM on January 23 [8 favorites]


House Intelligence Committee Looking Into Tweet About Viral MAGA Hat Teen Video (Nick Robins-Early, Huffington Post)
The Twitter account @2020fight on Friday posted the minute-long video of Covington Catholic High School students and Omaha tribe elder Nathan Phillips, and was viewed over 2.5 million times in the days since. The tweet sparked a national controversy and heated partisan debate over the incident, which included President Donald Trump defending the students against allegations of racism.

But now there is additional scrutiny over how the video became so widely viewed after Twitter suspended the @2020fight account on Monday, following a CNN investigation into several suspicious aspects of the account. The @2020fight account followed over 37,000 users and averaged 210 posts and likes a day, which experts say are classic signs that an account may be automated or inauthentic. The account claimed to be a California school teacher named Talia, but the photo used matched a Brazilian blogger and model.

The House Intelligence Committee is now requesting more information about the @2020fight account. A spokesperson for Sen. Mark Warner (D-Va.) ― who is vice chairman of the U.S Senate Select Committee On Intelligence ― also told HuffPost that the senator’s office had contacted Twitter regarding the video.
...

As recently as Jan. 13, the @2020fight account was listed on social media marketplace Shoutcart ― a service that allows individuals to pay for “shoutout” posts on highly followed social media accounts, according to Robert Matney, Director of Communications at cyber security firm New Knowledge. The @2020fight account, which had around 41,400 followers at the time, listed a price of $20 a tweet.
posted by ZeusHumms at 4:59 AM on January 23 [39 favorites]


PPP poll has every Dem they asked about beating Trump:

Actually I think that's kind of comforting? Like, last time around there was a lot of talk about 'who is electable' rather than 'who is a good leader, who is best for our country right now'. Those polls show that it doesn't matter - any Democrat with a pulse can beat Trump, so people can afford to choose who is actually best rather than who has The Best Chance To Win.
posted by corb at 5:03 AM on January 23 [11 favorites]


It isn’t just the Covington Catholic students — MAGA hats are a teen trend (Rebecca Jennings, Vox)
The red baseball caps are a provocative way to signify you’re on a “winning” team.
posted by ZeusHumms at 5:05 AM on January 23 [12 favorites]


House Intelligence Committee Looking Into Tweet About Viral MAGA Hat Teen Video (Nick Robins-Early, Huffington Post)
The Twitter account @2020fight on Friday posted the minute-long video of Covington Catholic High School students...


I've followed 2020fight for quite awhile. I always figured that her pick and name were intentionally obscure because a public school teacher who posted so many things that angered right wing people so often would have to be stupid to attach their real info to their account. I too, like anyone who isn't paid to be political should, also use a different name on Twitter to be safe. Though, my pic isn't of someone else, it's of the egg that ended up being popular on Instagram.

I think that this person may be being scapegoated for a couple reasons:

-I had a fairly lengthy conversation with them about certain really in the weeds details about US common core math, with them being for it and me being slightly against.

-I saw them looking for and asking advice on local places to get cheap supplies for the more poor students in her classes.

-I'm from the same state that she was supposed to be from. She knew more small details about said state than I do.

-She didn't say anything false in her tweet about the MAGAhat ogreteens. Her video wasn't cut or messed with. It was just a minute of a situation described the way that the situation looked based on that minute. It was going to get out anyway.

-Public schoolteachers don't get paid that much. If she amassed 40k followers, I don't fault her for monetizing that like every other person seems to, as long as she wasn't propping any products that are immoral, which I never noticed.

Either way, her content was often great, and it's pretty damn ridiculous that Twitter lets hundreds of thousands of Russian Magabots run wild all over Twitter lying about every little thing while busting one person who hurt some vile teens' feefees.
posted by bootlegpop at 5:15 AM on January 23 [56 favorites]


It looks like Pete Buttigieg is officially in. I think he's a more credible pick for VP, but I kind of like the idea of having a 37-year-old in the race.
posted by ArbitraryAndCapricious at 5:30 AM on January 23 [8 favorites]


It isn’t just the Covington Catholic students — MAGA hats are a teen trend (Rebecca Jennings, Vox)

My teenage daughter lives in the DC suburbs (a block away from the parking garage where Woodward and Bernstein first met Deep Throat, I recently discovered to my delight), and she routinely tells me about how she has to avoid the throngs of MAGA-hat tourist shithead teens whenever she goes into the city.
posted by Etrigan at 5:39 AM on January 23 [38 favorites]


More shutdown news:

NBC: FBI Agents Say Shutdown Is Hampering Counterterrorism, Sex Trafficking Probes—"The fear is, our enemies know they can run freely," says an FBI counterterrorism agent.
The partial government shutdown is hampering FBI investigations into terror suspects, drug traffickers and child sexual predators, according to a report by a group representing the federal law enforcement officers.

The 72-page report, titled "Voices from the Field," features dozens of firsthand accounts from unnamed agents detailing the ways the shutdown is hindering their work.[…]

The FBI’s roughly 35,000 employees, including 13,000 special agents, are bracing to miss their second paycheck this Friday as the shutdown stretches into its fifth week.

"That is one month, four weeks, 30 days without pay," FBI Agents Association President Thomas O’Connor said Tuesday at a news conference.

O’Connor’s voice began to quiver as he recalled bringing food to his office Monday night to help those in need. "It is truly sad that we must resort to this because we are being let down by our elected officials," O’Connor said.
CNN: State Department Cancels Border Security Conference Due To Shutdown Over Border Security
The 16th International Export Control and Border Security Conference was scheduled to take place in Edinburgh, Scotland, in mid-February, with a goal of preventing the proliferation and transfer of weapons of mass destruction and conventional weapons across borders.

However, it has been postponed "due to uncertainty associated with the continuing partial U.S. federal government shutdown," according to a letter obtained by CNN, signed by Kathryn Insley, the director of the Office of Export Control Cooperation. In the letter, dated January 16, Insley wrote that they "are working to identify alternative dates" and would be in contact with participants "as soon as we are operational again."
WaPo: Hundreds of IRS Employees Are Skipping Work. That Could Delay Tax Refunds.
Hundreds of Internal Revenue Service employees have received permission to skip work during the partial government shutdown due to financial hardship, and union leaders said Tuesday that they expected absences to surge as part of a coordinated protest that could hamper the government’s ability to process taxpayer refunds on time.

The Trump administration last week ordered at least 30,000 IRS workers back to their offices, where they have been working to process refunds without pay. It was one of the biggest steps the government has taken to mitigate the shutdown’s impact on Americans’ lives.

But IRS employees across the country — some in coordinated protest, others out of financial necessity — won’t be clocking in, according to Tony Reardon, president of the National Treasury Employees Union, and several local union officials. The work action is widespread and includes employees from a processing center in Ogden, Utah, to the Brookhaven campus on New York’s Long Island.
NYT: Shutdown’s Pain Cuts Deep for the Homeless and Other Vulnerable Americans
posted by Doktor Zed at 5:59 AM on January 23 [37 favorites]


It isn’t just the Covington Catholic students — MAGA hats are a teen trend

I work in a pretty touristy area, and we get a lot of folks from rural Appalachia (and the suburbs of Charlotte and Atlanta) who seem to enjoy provoking hippies/hipsters in Asheville. Recently I saw two teens, who looked like siblings, wearing t-shirts that said TRUMP. Then, to my delight, a kid wearing a shirt that said “Team Mueller.”

Maybe there are other Muellers out there, sports Muellers perhaps, but it was a welcome sight.
posted by witchen at 6:11 AM on January 23 [24 favorites]


It isn’t just the Covington Catholic students — MAGA hats are a teen trend (Rebecca Jennings, Vox)

All those teen (boys) being radicalized into white male supremacy by YouTube? You don't say
posted by schadenfrau at 6:13 AM on January 23 [45 favorites]




Tomi Lahren: AOC Encouraged Physical Violence Against Me With Cardi B Tweet (Nicole Lafond, TPM)

Metafilter Cynic: Noted conservative personality name checks noteworthy individuals with popular online followings to boost ratings metrics.
posted by ZeusHumms at 7:07 AM on January 23 [19 favorites]


@Alyssa_Milano
The red MAGA hat is the new white hood.

Without white boys being able to empathize with other people, humanity will continue to destroy itself.
Media reaction was predictable (Google News). This will probably make the hats even more popular now.
posted by ZeusHumms at 7:13 AM on January 23 [23 favorites]


The red MAGA hat is the new white hood.

I would argue that the red MAGA hat is more like a brown shirt, because the wearers aren't afraid to show their faces.
posted by ZenMasterThis at 7:16 AM on January 23 [94 favorites]


Tomi Lahren: AOC Encouraged Physical Violence Against Me With Cardi B Tweet (Nicole Lafond, TPM)

Another cynical take is that Lahren's obviously bad faith isn't even meant to be taken seriously by her viewers, but rather to preempt criticism that conservatives in general and Trump in particular encourage violence with their rhetoric. By making an obviously, laughably phony claim, she encourages her drones to dismiss genuine claims as phony as well.

Of course, AOC doesn't have a (now-forgotten) string of attempted bombing assassinations and a mass shooting or two to her credit the way the rhetoric of the right does.

For Lahren and the people she speaks for, what makes AOC scary is that she's talking about economic justice, which means going after their money.
posted by Gelatin at 7:21 AM on January 23 [28 favorites]


Another cynical take is that Lahren's obviously bad faith isn't even meant to be taken seriously by her viewers, but rather to preempt criticism that conservatives in general and Trump in particular encourage violence with their rhetoric. By making an obviously, laughably phony claim, she encourages her drones to dismiss genuine claims as phony as well.

Its kayfabe.
posted by yesster at 7:38 AM on January 23 [20 favorites]


> The red baseball caps are a provocative way to signify you’re on a “winning” team.

Hopefully someday soon they'll be the equivalent of the t-shirts pre-printed for the team that winds up losing the Super Bowl, but more likely they'll (and this is a better-case scenario) wind up being an alternate Confederate flag.
posted by The Card Cheat at 7:41 AM on January 23 [9 favorites]


Government Executive published a poll last week about the shutdown: Nearly Three-Quarters of Federal Workers Oppose Shutdown, Majority Oppose Wall

"Federal employees remain overwhelmingly opposed to the partial government shutdown, according to a new poll by Government Business Council and GovExec.com, with 72 percent against it and just 21 percent supporting it. […] Just 34 percent of federal employees support President Trump’s request for funding a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border, while 56 percent oppose it. Of those against the wall, more than four out of five are strongly opposed to it. One in 10 respondents said they were neither for nor against Trump’s push for the wall."

Newsweek covers Team Trump's message to furloughed government workers: Federal Employees Going Through ‘a Little Bit of Pain’ but Border Wall Is ‘Bigger Than’ Them Says Lara Trump
The 800,000 furloughed federal employees and 400,000 working without pay due to the government shutdown over $5 billion dollars in funding for a wall on the U.S. southern border are going through “a little bit of pain,” but “this is so much bigger than any one person” said Lara Trump, campaign adviser and daughter-in-law to President Donald Trump and wife to Eric Trump, to right-leaning web show Bold TV on Monday.[…]

“I know it’s hard, I know they have bills to pay, they have mortgages, they have rents that are due, but the president is trying every single day to come up with a good solution here and the reality is it’s been something that has gone on for too long and gone unaddressed,” she said.
Meanwhile, CBS's latest survey shows Trump and his wall are historically unpopular: Pelosi Has Edge Over Trump On Budget Negotiations, CBS News Poll Shows
Seven in 10 Americans don't think the issue of a border wall is worth a government shutdown, which they say is now having a negative impact on the country. But partisans don't want their own side to budge: 65 percent of Republicans say President Trump should refuse a budget unless it includes wall funding, and 69 percent of Democrats think congressional Democrats should keep refusing to fund it.

Among Americans overall, and including independents, more want to see Mr. Trump give up wall funding than prefer the congressional Democrats agree to wall funding. Comparably more Americans feel House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is handling negotiations better than the president is so far.[…]

Republicans are more divided than Democrats are on whether the shutdown is worth it [28% say it is, 71% say no].[…]

Mr. Trump's overall approval rating has dipped three points from November to 36 percent today. Fifty-nine percent of Americans now disapprove of the job he is doing – a high for his presidency, although just one point above his previous high. The president's ratings have not varied much over the course of his term so far.
Here's the link to a PDF with the complete poll results.
posted by Doktor Zed at 7:43 AM on January 23 [15 favorites]


“I know it’s hard, I know they have bills to pay, they have mortgages, they have rents that are due,

No, I don't think you do, Lara.
posted by Rykey at 7:51 AM on January 23 [46 favorites]


Last time I was unemployed, the mounting debt hobbled me for years afterward. It doesn't disappear with a pay-day.
posted by dances_with_sneetches at 7:54 AM on January 23 [87 favorites]


This will also wreck a lot of people's credit which will haunt and limit them for a long time even once the checks resume.
posted by chris24 at 7:59 AM on January 23 [62 favorites]


Last time I was unemployed, the mounting debt hobbled me for years afterward. It doesn't disappear with a pay-day.

This will also wreck a lot of people's credit which will haunt and limit them for a long time even once the checks resume.

So Trump and McConnell get to shaft loyal, competent, and professional government workers, and at the same time benefit the vulture capitalists and rent-seekers of the payday loan industry, who will get to extract more interest on their debt, despite it being no fault of the workers.
posted by Gelatin at 8:05 AM on January 23 [51 favorites]


“Big Sister” Barbara Lee’s Advice for the New Women of Color in Congress (Christina Cauterucci, Slate)
How do you see your role in this wave of new progressive women, especially women of color, taking seats in Congress?

I hope I am a supportive peer who can really help them navigate the legislative process, and do exactly what they want to do in their congressional career—serving their constituents and how they want to go, what path they want to take. And now as a co-chair of the Steering and Policy Committee, I want to make sure they’re able to get to the committees that they want—to carve out what issues they want to address. In terms of the seniority system and how you navigate that—I’ve had a lot of experience … [with] ways to think out of the box and be creative in what I want to do when there are systemic and institutional kinds of roadblocks.

So I want to help [new members of Congress] figure those out. But also, I have to tell you: They encourage me, and they give me a lot of insight, and I learn a heck of a lot from them. It goes both ways.
posted by ZeusHumms at 8:07 AM on January 23 [31 favorites]


[Reminder there's a Shutdown and strike thread for folks who want to talk about the shutdown at more length]
posted by LobsterMitten (staff) at 8:10 AM on January 23 [2 favorites]


House Intelligence Committee Looking Into Tweet About Viral MAGA Hat Teen Video

I am not and haven't been one of those "russiagate democrats are all worthless" leftists. But good god. It was disgusting enough that the media leapt for any chance to paint the nazi children in a sympathetic light. Now we get the establishment Democrat response of "it must be interference from foreign actors that's fomenting this racial strife." No, dipshits. It's us. It's our little sociopaths being unafraid to display their hate on camera and getting praise and adoration and Good Morning America airtime for it. Looking overseas for your culprit bespeaks the party's continuing devotion to stability, civility and low-key nationalism over the life and safety of its constituents.
posted by Rust Moranis at 8:32 AM on January 23 [46 favorites]


Looking overseas for your culprit bespeaks the party's continuing devotion to stability, civility and low-key nationalism over the life and safety of its constituents.

Both/and, no? The Kremlin didn’t invent old-fashioned American racism (unofficial motto: “There since Day 1!”) but they’ve proven deft at flaming our self-started racist conflagration.
posted by Barack Spinoza at 8:38 AM on January 23 [27 favorites]


(Also, so not as to abuse EDIT:)

Admittedly, it can’t really be that hard to pull off since so many of our fellow Americans are so deeply racist and under-/malinformed in the first place.
posted by Barack Spinoza at 8:42 AM on January 23 [4 favorites]


I'm all for the House investigating anyone fanning divisiveness in the US, as long as it focuses on the conservatives who openly do this. Sunday, as the PR-firm driven counterattack took hold, literally HUNDREDS of right-wing YouTube videos flooded the channel (often with all caps headlines and +++s) repeating the same points.

These made it impossible to find, for example, a very telling video by someone in the moment who did a 360 pan around Nathan Phillips to show how surrounded he was by Covington kids. (Still can't find it -- msg me if you know the one I mean.)
posted by msalt at 8:46 AM on January 23 [18 favorites]


@mkraju: NEW: Elijah Cummings announces "in-depth investigation" of the WH and Trump transition team security clearance processes, citing breaches at the highest levels of government, including with Michael Flynn. Cummings sends letter to WH asking for an array of documents.
posted by Chrysostom at 8:46 AM on January 23 [81 favorites]


Here's Cummings's full four-page letter to Pat Cipollone. He's going after Flynn, Kushner, Pence, Rob Porter, Gorka, Bolton, KT McFarland, and more. He is absolutely not messing around.
posted by Doktor Zed at 8:50 AM on January 23 [76 favorites]


NYT, Texas Democrat Leaves 2 Posts Over Accusations She Fired an Aide Who Reported Sexual Assault
Representative Sheila Jackson Lee, facing blowback from a lawsuit claiming she fired an aide who said she was sexually assaulted by a supervisor at the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation, has decided to resign as the foundation’s chairwoman on Wednesday.

And Ms. Jackson Lee, a Texas Democrat in her 13th term, will also step down temporarily from an important House Judiciary subcommittee chairmanship.
posted by zachlipton at 8:52 AM on January 23 [12 favorites]


NEW: Elijah Cummings announces "in-depth investigation" of the WH and Trump transition team security clearance processes, citing breaches at the highest levels of government, including with Michael Flynn. Cummings sends letter to WH asking for an array of documents.

Elections, consequences, etc. For everyone who was caterwauling about how "spineless" Democrats were in 2017, remember we were in the minority in both houses. Elect a majority in the House and watch those spines stiffen and action be taken.

I'd love to see the Senate taken back in 2020. That is as important as the Presidency, I think.
posted by Rosie M. Banks at 8:58 AM on January 23 [32 favorites]


ArbitraryAndCapricious: "It looks like Pete Buttigieg is officially in. I think he's a more credible pick for VP, but I kind of like the idea of having a 37-year-old in the race."

I don't. He's probably the best Democratic shot at Indiana governor, as opposed to a very very slim shot at the presidential nomination.

Likewise, Beto should run for TX Senate, Hickenlooper should run for CO Senate, Bullock should run for MT Senate. We need those seats.
posted by Chrysostom at 9:00 AM on January 23 [64 favorites]


There are going to be many, many Democratic candidates who will be classifiable under the We'd All Be Better Off If You Stuck With What You're Doing Now heading.
posted by delfin at 9:02 AM on January 23 [10 favorites]


There’s still plenty of time for a bunch of candidates to fail early and switch to Race B.
posted by Huffy Puffy at 9:06 AM on January 23 [7 favorites]


It's not a good look, though, to be running for a seat as a consolation prize. Hmmm, I should poke around and see if anyone has run numbers on the effect of that....
posted by Chrysostom at 9:09 AM on January 23 [12 favorites]


Here's Cummings's full four-page letter to Pat Cipollone. He's going after Flynn, Kushner, Pence, Rob Porter, Gorka, Bolton, KT McFarland, and more. He is absolutely not messing around.

Yeah, in 11 pages Cummings goes into exactly what they expect, when they expect it, and the legal grounds for expecting it. KUDOS to the staffers who put so much energy and effort into this example of Effective Congressional Oversight, and I'm sure the recipient is shitting bricks right now.
posted by mikelieman at 9:13 AM on January 23 [53 favorites]


Both/and, no? The Kremlin didn’t invent old-fashioned American racism (unofficial motto: “There since Day 1!”) but they’ve proven deft at flaming our self-started racist conflagration

The failure to recognize this makes me crazy. I think people worry about a misattribution of responsibility, that shining a light on deliberate, inciting interference will somehow let the perpetrators of the hook. But...no? That is not how it works. Literally no one is saying these little shits aren't terrifying, racist Kavanaughs.

But they were immediately protected by a PR firm that has connections to Mitch McConnell, I *think* through that former aide/CoS or whatever who also heads up McConnell's PAC, the one that got all the money from Russian oligarchs and the NRA?

Like, I'm not making this up. That is a real thing. An oligarch and politically-connected PR firm went to bat for a bunch of high schoolers. THAT IS VERY WEIRD.

So, I mean, yeah. On general principles I think we should blitz them with investigations from every angle, so for that alone, fuck yeah. But this is also EXACTLY the sort of culture war front that we know Russian intelligence has sought to manipulate in the past. This is a 100% valid avenue for investigation. And if we're lucky, it leads to smoking guns that lead to more investigations.

Like, that's how investigations work. You follow all the leads. This is a lead.
posted by schadenfrau at 9:15 AM on January 23 [85 favorites]


Trump just sent a gaslighting, passive-aggressive letter to Soeaker Pelosi “accepting her invitation” to address Congress during the “upcoming” State of the Union. I’ll find the text.

o.O
posted by Barack Spinoza at 9:25 AM on January 23 [12 favorites]


Here’s a link via twitter to the letter.

God, he’s such an ass.
posted by Barack Spinoza at 9:31 AM on January 23 [20 favorites]


Trump just sent a gaslighting, passive-aggressive letter to Soeaker Pelosi “accepting her invitation” to address Congress during the “upcoming” State of the Union. I’ll find the text.

Apparently he's trying to turn some letter she sent him that vaguely refers to the SoU into a formal, irrevocable contract. Trump's business methodology at its finest.
posted by scalefree at 9:32 AM on January 23 [10 favorites]


Like, I'm not making this up. That is a real thing. An oligarch and politically-connected PR firm went to bat for a bunch of high schoolers. THAT IS VERY WEIRD.

It's not weird, though. A right-wing PR firm proactively creating the right's version of the Parkland teens is the least surprising thing. There's untold millions in grift to be made and that udder's ready to be milked of lib tears.

Remember the Eric Garner video? And the immediate, overpowering "he was no angel, anyway if he wasn't tall the cops wouldn't have had to murder him" counternarrative? How would you feel if instead of addressing the murder itself or the evil lies that followed it, congress were to decided to spend their time and energy investigating whether the video was disseminated by foreign adversaries?
posted by Rust Moranis at 9:36 AM on January 23 [13 favorites]


Politico reports the Trump administration's stonewalling/buck-passing has begun for the new congress: Trump's Health Secretary Refuses Democrats' Request to Testify On Separated Kids
HHS Secretary Alex Azar has declined a request to testify on the Trump administration's policy of separating migrant families at the border, angering House Democrats who accused the administration of "stonewalling" their investigation into the controversial practice.

House Energy and Commerce Chairman Frank Pallone (D-N.J.), who announced earlier this month plans to hold a hearing on the administration's separation policy, had personally asked Azar to testify, a committee spokesperson told POLITICO. Azar's office declined the request Tuesday afternoon, the spokesperson said.

"It has been eight months since this cruel policy came to light, and Secretary Azar has yet to appear before Congress at a hearing specifically on this policy," Pallone said in a statement, calling Azar's refusal "unacceptable."[…]

An HHS official said the department offered other Trump appointees to testify, including the top two officials involved in providing care to the children: Lynn Johnson, the assistant secretary overseeing the children and families program, and Jonathan Hayes, who leads the refugee office. The committee, however, has rejected those offers.[…]

The House Judiciary Committee has also said it will hold hearings on family separations. Pallone on Tuesday said Azar will eventually face questions on his role in the policy.

"[W]e are going to get him here at some point one way or another," he added.
Let the subpoenaing begin!

Here's Cummings's full four-page letter to Pat Cipollone.

Oops. The attached summary Document Requests section is four pages. Cummings's letter is seven.
posted by Doktor Zed at 9:36 AM on January 23 [14 favorites]


But they were immediately protected by a PR firm that has connections to Mitch McConnell, I *think* through that former aide/CoS or whatever who also heads up McConnell's PAC, the one that got all the money from Russian oligarchs and the NRA?

But the Congressional Dems are saying they want to investigate the account of the person/people who posted the video, not any of that. And yes, that's a monumentally stupid waste of time and resources given the plethora of targets that are both lower-hanging fruit, demonstrably worse people/orgs, and not more likely to just be some random schoolteacher who "lucked" into viral fame.
posted by zombieflanders at 9:42 AM on January 23 [6 favorites]


So there's a million more important things going on, and once again asshole-in-chief steals the show with reality tv drama. All the cable news networks haven't shut up about his decision to go ahead with SOTU since the story broke over 30 min ago.

The Cummings inquiry letter is fantastic and not messing around. I'm almost fine if it doesn't get media attention if it allows those investigating to keep their head down and do their business. Let all the house investigations commence immediately and start taking down the Kushner level targets etc. Keep flipping them until we run them all out of town.
posted by andruwjones26 at 9:46 AM on January 23 [17 favorites]


Both/and, no? The Kremlin didn’t invent old-fashioned American racism (unofficial motto: “There since Day 1!”) but they’ve proven deft at flaming our self-started racist conflagration

The failure to recognize this makes me crazy. I think people worry about a misattribution of responsibility, that shining a light on deliberate, inciting interference will somehow let the perpetrators of the hook. But...no? That is not how it works. Literally no one is saying these little shits aren't terrifying, racist Kavanaughs.


The racism is all our own problem. Absolutely.

A foreign power attacking us through every means it can get away with to exacerbate that problem is still an attack, and a foreign power attacking us is still an enemy. We need to address both the internal and external problems. There's a riddle in here about walking and chewing gum somewhere.
posted by scaryblackdeath at 9:52 AM on January 23 [12 favorites]


Since this post's title comes from Cardi B, it might be worth noting that her estranged husband, Migos rapper Offset, made some comments about the hellhole to Esquire
“Seeing people talk about how they can't pay their bills but they have to work. That's some slave shit....

And then the president, I don't really want to speak on him but he's rich. Make a [n-word] respect you, because a [n-word] don't respect you. He's rich and has these folks struggling."
posted by box at 10:03 AM on January 23 [3 favorites]


How would you feel if instead of addressing the murder itself or the evil lies that followed it, congress were to decided to spend their time and energy investigating whether the video was disseminated by foreign adversaries?

This is exactly why Russian political interference using social media is so pernicious. It's all too easy to ignore or overlook when they are spreading controversy one thinks should be spread. However, allowing them that platform has been well proven to be incredibly destructive to our society.

In this particular case, it appears that an investigation is misguided, at least with respect to the original tweet, but not everyone has the information we have, and it certainly looks close enough to a troll account to anyone who only sees the surface.

It's entirely possible a few days from now Congressional staffers will gather some more evidence and quietly drop it. Or maybe they will find that everything was amplified (after the fact) in a way that reeks of interference. Only by looking into everything that gives the appearance of troll bots can Congress figure out a way to draw the necessary distinctions.

Despite what the TV has been telling us for 30 years, investigations shouldn't only target the guilty. If they do, there is something very suspect about the investigator. Some suspicious things are not actually wrong or illegal. Acting as if looking into something is a declaration of that thing being inappropriate is unhelpful at best.
posted by wierdo at 10:08 AM on January 23 [15 favorites]


How would you feel if instead of addressing the murder itself or the evil lies that followed it, congress were to decided to spend their time and energy investigating whether the video was disseminated by foreign adversaries?

It’s the “instead” that I think is possibly straw-man-like.

And, dude, that comparison is...maybe not great. The murder of Eric Garner was a crime, and should have been investigated as such. And it was a murder. These teens haven’t committed murder. There is no murder to investigate. Congress seem to be going after whatever possible crime might have been committed — fraud, whatever — as a way of getting the entire truth of the incident, which is what investigations are supposed to do.

What would you have them do “instead”? Investigate the social media presence of teenagers for racist memes? That seems like an appropriate use of Congressional power to you?
posted by schadenfrau at 10:10 AM on January 23 [7 favorites]


And, dude, that comparison is...maybe not great. The murder of Eric Garner was a crime, and should have been investigated as such. And it was a murder. These teens haven’t committed murder.

The only reason the media and centrist politicians finally took the antifascist side over Charlottesville is that someone was murdered. Bodies in the street is what it would take for them to come out against the MAGA hat kids, too.

What would you have them do “instead”? Investigate the social media presence of teenagers for racist memes? That seems like an appropriate use of Congressional power to you?

I would have the house intelligence committee keep their foot out of it entirely. Period. The waters have been muddied enough with cynical misdirection and both-sidesism. They already have one billion clearly legitimate and clearly treasonous lines of inquiry and they should be giving those their attentions. Yes, they can walk and chew gum at the same time; that doesn't mean that their time and money and staff are infinite.
posted by Rust Moranis at 10:25 AM on January 23 [9 favorites]


But the Congressional Dems are saying they want to investigate the account of the person/people who posted the video, not any of that. And yes, that's a monumentally stupid waste of time and resources given the plethora of targets that are both lower-hanging fruit, demonstrably worse people/orgs, and not more likely to just be some random schoolteacher who "lucked" into viral fame.

It does look like a (no pun intended) red herring but I can understand House Dems being somewhat skittish anytime the spectre of Russian interference pops up.

There's a serious technological awareness gap in the upper echelons of government. I'm really pleased to see signs of that gap closing, with people like AOC who's not just immersed in Internet culture but deeper issues like the risks of encoding racism into AI (took me by surprise, she really knows her stuff) & Beto O'Rourke who actually founded his own ISP. We need to recruit more like them to help navigate the 21st Century legislative issues.
posted by scalefree at 10:27 AM on January 23 [9 favorites]


It's not a good look, though, to be running for a seat as a consolation prize. Hmmm, I should poke around and see if anyone has run numbers on the effect of that....

Worked for Marco Rubio.
posted by Daily Alice at 10:33 AM on January 23 [4 favorites]


And Tim Kaine. And Lieberman. etc.
posted by phearlez at 10:35 AM on January 23 [4 favorites]


NBC, Trump recognizes Venezuela opposition leader Juan Guaido as interim president
President Donald Trump officially recognized opposition leader Juan Guaido as Interim President of Venezuela after Guaido declared himself the country's leader amid cheers from thousands who were protesting in the streets.

"In its role as the only legitimate branch of government duly elected by the Venezuelan people, the National Assembly invoked the country’s constitution to declare Nicolas Maduro illegitimate, and the office of the presidency therefore vacant," said Trump in a statement. "The people of Venezuela have courageously spoken out against Maduro and his regime and demanded freedom and the rule of law."
...
Maduro was inaugurated two weeks ago to a second, six-year term, which the U.S. and dozens of other countries have called illegitimate.
This follows yesterday's Pence Tells Venezuelans That U.S. Backs Efforts to Oust Maduro, in which Pence shot a video directly encouraging Venezuelans to take action to overthrow Maduro.
posted by zachlipton at 10:37 AM on January 23 [7 favorites]


The Cohen hearing has been postponed due to "ongoing threats"; I think I called it upthread. Even if it's an excuse to avoid a hearing that would be limited and allow Jim Jordan and others to grandstand, it's a good excuse.
posted by holgate at 10:38 AM on January 23 [6 favorites]


Prepare For Birtherism 2.0: The Kamala Harris Edition (Nancy LeTourneau, Washington Monthly)
In other words, rather than question where Harris was born, these folks want to completely redefine what it means to be a “natural born citizen” in a way that excludes Harris. As Wohl demonstrated, if that doesn’t fly, they’ll simply claim that she wasn’t raised in the United States, even though Harris has lived here for 44 of her 55 years (she lived in Canada from the age of 7 until she graduated from high school).

We’ll have to see what kind of traction this gets. Should Kamala Harris become the 2020 Democratic nominee, I expect we’ll hear a lot more of this kind of thing. Keep in mind that it was a revival of birtherism about Obama that gave Donald Trump a platform on the national political stage.

But having experienced this particular brand of racism before means that fuses will be extremely short.
Very short.
posted by ZeusHumms at 10:41 AM on January 23 [30 favorites]


"Ongoing threats against his family from President Trump and Mr. Giuliani, as recently as this weekend"

Isn't that, you know, the definition of witness tampering? Like, we all saw Trump make the threats, and then now Cohen saying he won't show up, and this is all publicly happening before our eyes in real time?

Cohen, of course, knows this, which makes it the perfect way for him to get out of testifying, but it still doesn't change the fact that we all saw what happened.
posted by zachlipton at 10:42 AM on January 23 [48 favorites]


phearlez: "And Tim Kaine. And Lieberman. etc."

I don't think those are directly comparable to running for another office the *same year* that your presidential campaign flamed out, which is what we were talking about.

Tim Kaine ran in 2018, after being the VP nom in 2016. Lieberman did run for VP and Senate simultaneously, but he was already Senator, so you've got incumbency effects.
posted by Chrysostom at 10:48 AM on January 23


Barack Spinoza: Trump just sent a gaslighting, passive-aggressive letter to Soeaker Pelosi “accepting her invitation” to address Congress during the “upcoming” State of the Union. I’ll find the text.

If you're Twitter blocked or adverse, NPR has it, too: Trump Says State Of The Union Will Be 'On Schedule' And 'On Location' (January 23, 2019) -- document embedded in the article.
The president's letter amounts to an affirmative RSVP for an invitation that was already withdrawn. His may not be the last word, however. The Democratic-controlled House still has to pass a resolution to hold a joint session with the Senate before hosting the president.
Summary: Thanks for inviting me to your event on January 3rd, to be held on January 29th. I'm ignoring the fact that you cancelled the event on January 16th.
posted by filthy light thief at 10:51 AM on January 23 [13 favorites]


Progressive groups gearing up to primary 6 House Dem moderates >>

#TX28 CUELLAR
#MA06 MOULTON
#MA08 LYNCH
#NY04 RICE
#MD02 RUPPERSBERGER
#IL03 LIPINSKI

BUT unlike 2018 DCCC now vows to help anti-abortion @RepLipinski
from the start
posted by Chrysostom at 10:51 AM on January 23 [20 favorites]


a gaslighting, passive-aggressive letter

A good reminder of Miss Teen USA dressing rooms, "moved on her like a bitch", Summer Zervos, Natasha Stoynoff and all the other allegations of sexual assault.
posted by holgate at 11:08 AM on January 23 [18 favorites]


But while progressives still hope that an independent judiciary will act as a check on Donald Trump, McConnell is taking a longer view—doing something rather more apocalyptic and decidedly more cynical. He continues to pack the judicial branch with extremely young, radically conservative white Christian men who will—assuming constitutional democracy survives—continue to deliver wins on gun rights and anti-abortion rights as well as the deregulation of environmental, consumer, labor, and other safeguards, long after Trump leaves office. These picks will also continue to work to circumscribe the vote itself, through gerrymandering, voter suppression, and limitless money in politics.

The article includes this bit, which explains in part (beyond, you know, the racism) why so many "Never Trump" Republicans continue to support him:

Carrie Severino, the chief counsel and policy director of the conservative Judicial Crisis Network, told Politico at the time that “Executive orders don’t outlast the president, legislation can change, but these judgeships last a long time,” adding that there are “a lot of Never-Trumpers and conservatives who have had to admit, sometimes begrudgingly, that ‘Wow, this has been a home run.’
posted by The Card Cheat at 11:19 AM on January 23 [35 favorites]


Boston's doing something right. The tourists don't fucking dare wear MAGA hats.
posted by ocschwar at 11:21 AM on January 23 [30 favorites]


On the subject of McConnell packing the judiciary, Buzzfeed's Zoe Tillman has an update on Trump's new batch of proposed judges: Trump Is Doubling Down On Some of His Criticized Judicial Nominees – But Not All Of Them—Those renominated include Wendy Vitter, opposed by Democrats for her comments about abortion. Thomas Farr, who never got a final vote when several Republicans broke ranks, was not on the list.
President Donald Trump is making a new push on some of the most criticized judicial nominees he selected during his first two years in office, with the White House announcing late Tuesday the renomination of 50 of the president's picks for the federal bench.

However, the Senate returned 73 federal court nominees when the last Congress ended in early January — meaning there are 23 previous nominees that Trump has decided to drop, or hasn't determined what to do with just yet. The omissions include a handful of nominees opposed by Democrats, as well as all of Trump's nominees for federal courts in California — the state's senior senator, Democrat Dianne Feinstein, has been in talks with the White House about reconsidering certain names, two sources familiar with the situation tell BuzzFeed News.[…]

The vast majority of judicial nominations returned to the White House at the start of the new Congress this month were for seats on the district and circuit courts. But they also included the president's picks for vacancies on the US Court of Federal Claims — the court that's handling a number of lawsuits filed by federal workers required to work without pay during the partial shutdown — and the US Court of International Trade. The renominations list included two of Trump's three Federal Claims nominees, and both previous nominees for the Court of International Trade.
Pics of the full list: 1, 2, 3
posted by Doktor Zed at 11:26 AM on January 23 [3 favorites]


Boston's doing something right. The tourists don't fucking dare wear MAGA hats.

But every so often, yahoos on motorcycles thunder down I-93 from New Hampshire and ride around the State House a couple times, then go back up I-93.
posted by adamg at 11:29 AM on January 23 [5 favorites]


Every few weeks we seem to get another flurry of stories about TrumpCo filling up the judiciary and I'm not exactly sure what we're supposed to do with it. We know they're doing it and we know there's nothing we can do to stop it for at least 2 more years and we know it's going to have devastating effects for decades.

It's like if a family member had a slowly debilitating and fatal disease and the doctor kept writing you emails every so often saying "Hey, just wanted to let you know your family member is still dying, have a good day." Like hey thanks but thats not something we're likely to forget.

Yeah, the judge thing is killing us. Same as it was a few weeks ago, and a year ago.
posted by Justinian at 11:34 AM on January 23 [83 favorites]


Step 1: recapture the Senate.
Step 2: pass a law to federalize the issuing of limited liability corporate charters.
Step 3: watch our oligarchs scream in terror.

That is what we do. Look for nuclear options.
posted by ocschwar at 11:39 AM on January 23 [48 favorites]


the president is trying every single day to come up with a good solution here

beginning at 5am yesterday morning, please list in order the things which the president tried, the outcome of each of those things, and what he is doing to address the failure of each of those things.
posted by quonsar II: smock fishpants and the temple of foon at 11:39 AM on January 23 [25 favorites]


Speaker Pelosi wrote Trump back [letter attached]: BREAKING: @SpeakerPelosi to decline steps to permit a State of the Union Jan 29

She reminds him that he's accepting an invitation that was cancelled and says "I am writing to inform you that the House of Representatives will not consider a concurrent resolution authorizing the President's State of the Union Address in the House Chamber until government has opened." She says she'll welcome him in the chamber after that.
posted by zachlipton at 11:42 AM on January 23 [108 favorites]


> "I am writing to inform you that the House of Representatives will not consider a concurrent resolution authorizing the President's State of the Union Address in the House Chamber until government has opened."

Translated, "I offered you the fig leaf of security concerns, but fine, if you want me to say fuck you, I'll say that."
posted by RedOrGreen at 11:46 AM on January 23 [131 favorites]


The WH correspondent on MSNBC (whose name I missed, sorry) repeated as fact the common but false belief that Trump can't enter the Capitol unless invited because of separation of powers. As I posted before that's not true. It's important, I think, that we know what powers Trump actually does and does not have since he's so dead set on doing whatever he wants.

Do better, WH reporter!
posted by Justinian at 11:51 AM on January 23 [12 favorites]


Every motherfucker who took out the knives for Pelosi as Speaker should stab themselves in the face while screaming I WAS WRONG I AM SO SORRY YOU ARE A BADASS.
posted by phearlez at 11:55 AM on January 23 [150 favorites]


federalize the issuing of limited liability corporate charters

What would this do? (And that's aside from the question of, "how would this work in a MAGAhat-controlled congress?")
posted by ErisLordFreedom at 12:00 PM on January 23 [1 favorite]


The Atlantic's Natasha Bertrand has an update from the House Dem chairs about Michael Cohen: Just in: House Oversight chair Elijah Cummings and House Intel chair Adam Schiff say Michael Cohen not testifying has never been an option. "We expect Mr. Cohen to appear before both Committees, and we remain engaged with his counsel about his upcoming appearances.” (Pic of full statement) They say furthermore, "As we stated previously with our colleague, Chairman Jerry Nadler of the Judiciary Committee, efforts to intimidate witnesses, scare their family member, or prevent them from testifying before Congress are textbook mob tactics that we condemn in the strongest terms."

MSNBC's Kyle Griffin: "Reporting by @KatyTurNBC just on @MSNBC: A source close to Cohen says his wife and father-in-law are particularly scared, feel directly targeted by Trump. "The threats are real," the source says, "Trump knows what he's doing." Cohen's wife feared physically attending the hearing."
posted by Doktor Zed at 12:09 PM on January 23 [39 favorites]


I imagine the idea about the president having to be invited into Congress was influenced by the fact that the British monarch cannot enter the House of Commons.
posted by Chrysostom at 12:10 PM on January 23 [12 favorites]


Every motherfucker who took out the knives for Pelosi as Speaker should stab themselves in the face while screaming I WAS WRONG I AM SO SORRY YOU ARE A BADASS.

I would append "TURNS OUT I HAD NO IDEA WHAT 'MINORITY PARTY' MEANT!". Also, keep those knives ready for 2020 (assuming Dems take the Senate) so you can do the same thing when Schumer actually has power to do things.
posted by sideshow at 12:12 PM on January 23 [10 favorites]


The WH correspondent on MSNBC (whose name I missed, sorry) repeated as fact the common but false belief that Trump can't enter the Capitol unless invited because of separation of powers.

But they can make it that way very easily.

Lisa Desjardins
From sources all over the Capitol:
- POTUS DOES have right to enter the House chamber, at anytime.
- That includes if they are out of session, technically.
- But he can't speak from podium or dais w/out express House permission.
I can't believe I'm writing all this.

Josh Chafetz
‏Retweeted Lisa Desjardins
His right to enter the House chamber is pursuant to House Rule IV -- which can be amended by simple majority of the House at any time.

---

Pelosi also controls the mics and cameras, so....
posted by chris24 at 12:16 PM on January 23 [54 favorites]


That is what we do. Look for nuclear options.

Flush out the tax havens (and repatriate the proceeds). They seem to be where a whole lot of the money corrupting politics (whether via Russia, the U.S. or U.K.) comes from.

And maintaining the unfettered wealth imbalance tax havens help facilitate is perhaps the primary cause for those pushing the far-right authoritarian agenda from the top, in the same way that white supremacy is for their hoi polloi.
posted by Buntix at 12:17 PM on January 23 [8 favorites]


His right to enter the House chamber is pursuant to House Rule IV -- which can be amended by simple majority of the House at any time.

There's no need to keep him out of the House chamber - if he wants to show up and listen, he's welcome. Just keep him away from cameras and mics, and he'll go away on his own pretty quick.
posted by ErisLordFreedom at 12:25 PM on January 23 [6 favorites]


Dunno. Pelosi and the dems are showing more of a backbone right now than they have at any other point in my lifetime (including the times when they held a majority).

Democrats are openly talking about and fighting for the things that they believe in. They aren't backing down or giving up the farm when pressured by the other party. They finally understand how the Overton window works, and they're pushing it back in the right direction. This feels very different than anything else we've experienced.

The current iteration of Speaker Pelosi is also far more outspoken than anything I've seen before. The poker face is gone — she's the smartest one in the room, she has all the cards, and she's not afraid to hide it. If past criticisms of Pelosi are invalid, it's only because her political genius was rarely demonstrated out in the open.
posted by schmod at 12:26 PM on January 23 [95 favorites]


Every motherfucker who took out the knives for Pelosi as Speaker should stab themselves in the face while screaming I WAS WRONG I AM SO SORRY YOU ARE A BADASS.

And she's teaching a masterclass on How It's Done to everyone smart enough to pay attention.
posted by mikelieman at 12:30 PM on January 23 [22 favorites]


Justinian: The WH correspondent on MSNBC (whose name I missed, sorry) repeated as fact the common but false belief that Trump can't enter the Capitol unless invited because of separation of powers.

So you're saying he's ... a vampire?

And this has become politics as reality TV, as CNN's page with Live Updates on the Government Shutdown now include a video clip of Trump saying that Pelosi's response is an example that Democrats have been "radicalized," saying "this will go on for a while, and ultimately the American people will have their way because they want to see no crime," as if paying for or building the magical southern border wall/ fence/ thing will Ends Crime Forever (maybe he's just going to re-categorize more crimes as non-crimes, like when the administration changed the definition of domestic violence -- linking back in this thread).

Then he said "we lowered prescription drug prices, the first time in 50 years, the Democrats would never do that." It looks like he's overstating what's going on -- Grassley to hold drug pricing hearing (Nathaniel Weixel for The Hill, Jan. 22, 2019)
The Senate Finance Committee's first hearing of the year will focus on prescription drug prices, panel chairman Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) announced Tuesday.

The Jan. 29 hearing "will be the first in a series of hearings scrutinizing prescription drug pricing and considering policy and oversight solutions to lower costs for American patients," Grassley said in a statement Tuesday.
Meanwhile, the Invisible Hand does its thing: Prescription Drug Companies Are Raising Prices on Older Medicines (Erik Sherman for Fortune, via Yahoo! News, January 18, 2019)
Prescription drug prices have become one of the “hottest political issues” of 2019, according to the Indianapolis Star. And drug manufacturers keep adding fuel to the fire.

Companies have sharply raised prices on older drugs in the face of shortages and recalls, the Wall Street Journal reported. Some of the medicines are now triple or more their previous cost.

Out of 120 drugs that the FDA listed as in short supply, a third raised prices after the shortages began. The manufacturers argue that the prices only reflect their own higher expenses to fill shortages.
And more recently, Hard-to-trace groups work to kill proposals to lower drug prices (Christopher Rowland and Jeff Stein, for The Washington Post, via Mercury News, January 22, 2019 at 8:58 pm | UPDATED: January 23, 2019 at 4:25 am)
The political war over prescription drug practices is spawning a frenzy of activity by outside lobbying groups, some with names that mask their ties to industry and one that has gone to great lengths to disguise its origins.

The increase in advertising, advocacy and pressure tactics is aimed at thwarting some proposals to control drug costs proposed in the Democratic-controlled House, such as allowing Medicare to negotiate drug prices, as well as ideas to curb prices pursued by the Trump administration.
Of course, none of this comes up in Trump's fake news soundbite. It's just GOP MISSION ACCOMPLISHED!
posted by filthy light thief at 12:32 PM on January 23 [20 favorites]


In more health news: Pelosi works her health care strategy from the ground up (Ricardo Alonso-Zaldivar, Associated Press via WSB-TV Atlanta, Jan 22, 2019)
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is laying out her strategy on health care and first up is improvements to "Obamacare" and legislation to lower prescription drug costs. "Medicare for all" will get hearings.
Pelosi and President Donald Trump have been sounding similar themes about the need to address the high drug costs. But her plans to broaden financial help for health insurance through the Affordable Care Act are unlikely to find takers among Republicans.

Either way, Democrats believe voters gave them a mandate on health care in the midterm elections that returned the House to their control.

Pushing her agenda, Pelosi is working from the ground up through major House committees. Her relationships with powerful chairmen and subcommittee chairs stretch back years. She's "playing chess on three boards at once," said Jim McDermott, a former Democratic congressman from Washington state, who predicts Pelosi's most difficult challenge will be "herding new members" impatient for sweeping changes.

Responding to written questions from The Associated Press, Pelosi called the ACA "a pillar of health and financial security," comparing it to Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security. "Democrats have the opportunity not only to reverse the years of Republicans' health care sabotage, but to update and improve the Affordable Care Act to further lower families' premiums and out-of-pocket costs, and expand coverage."
Sounds pretty radical, in the right sort of way, to me.
posted by filthy light thief at 12:35 PM on January 23 [29 favorites]


And she's teaching a masterclass on How It's Done to everyone smart enough to pay attention.

I'm not unhappy with anything Pelosi has done lately, but it seems a little premature to declare her strategy a complete success. We're still mid-crisis.
posted by diogenes at 12:38 PM on January 23 [20 favorites]


And this has become politics as reality TV, as CNN's page with Live Updates on the Government Shutdown now include a video clip of Trump saying that Pelosi's response is an example that Democrats have been "radicalized," saying "this will go on for a while, and ultimately the American people will have their way because they want to see no crime," as if paying for or building the magical southern border wall/ fence/ thing will Ends Crime Forever

In this morning's Twitter rampage he decided that the GOP's new slogan for 2020 will be “BUILD A WALL & CRIME WILL FALL!” so it's good to see he still remembers that so many hours later.
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 12:39 PM on January 23 [6 favorites]


There's no need to keep him out of the House chamber - if he wants to show up and listen, he's welcome. Just keep him away from cameras and mics, and he'll go away on his own pretty quick.

Nope. Motherfucker wants optics and reality-TV-show drama, we'll give it to him. Bar the doors. Tell him he's trespassing on Congressional property and threaten to summon the Capitol Police, who do not serve at the discretion of the executive, to expel the interloper. Send the sergeant-at-arms to stand menacingly at the door, wielding the Congressional Mace. Make a human circle, join hands, and sing kumbaya; I don't care, just make it clear that you're not going down without a fight, and that every negotiation from here on out will end exactly like this if he doesn't stop throwing temper tantrums on Twitter.

It's not likely to be a fight she can win, but it will for damn sure take all media attention away from the SOTU address that will happen outside the chamber.
posted by Mayor West at 12:40 PM on January 23 [20 favorites]


"President Barges In and Gives Speech Despite Being Refused" seems like a tipping point in history sort of moment to me. And I would say it won't happen and it won't be that big a deal, but I keep thinking about stuff like the initial Muslim ban when we had judges giving orders that law enforcement agencies were basically ignoring. If that was misreported, I'd feel better to know that--but then I'm down the rabbit hole of doubting my own memories and what I saw in the press, which feels like yet another effect of all the constant gaslighting.

Right now I'm reminding myself that Nancy Pelosi is 100x smarter than every one of the goons in this White House put together and has surely gamed all this out. But I'm also thinking "turn out the lights and lock the doors and go home" sounds like the kind of thing requiring under/currently-un-paid workers to handle and I don't know which way they break.

Trump throws tantrums. Nancy makes plans and has actual backbone (and yes, screw her critics). That's kinda where I'm at now.
posted by scaryblackdeath at 12:41 PM on January 23 [11 favorites]


I don't think the Seth Moultons and Tim Ryans of the world had the knives out for Pelosi because they thought she wouldn't be tough enough on Trump. While I think neither has any love for Trump's policies or governance, they certainly saw some political opportunity in using him as a forcing function to demand a leadership change. I bet if you asked them privately, they'd acknowledge that she's extremely competent. That's why they tried to pounce on her when she was at her weakest.
posted by tonycpsu at 12:46 PM on January 23 [4 favorites]




He'll find a venue, set it up as a campaign rally style event, and sling red meat even more than he would have if it were held in the Capitol. The question is will the major networks suspend their programming to carry it, and I think they probably will.
posted by tonycpsu at 12:49 PM on January 23 [29 favorites]


His right to enter the House chamber is pursuant to House Rule IV -- which can be amended by simple majority of the House at any time.

Reading to the bottom of the section, it appears that the President, VP, and their private secretaries cannot be excluded. Of course, that's a total of four people speaking to an empty chamber with no lights.
posted by mikelieman at 12:50 PM on January 23 [3 favorites]


The question is will the major networks suspend their programming to carry it, and I think they probably will.

Then they should give equal time to Pelosi and Schumer giving a response. From the Capitol chambers.
posted by Gelatin at 12:51 PM on January 23 [54 favorites]


I don't care why they were wrong. I just care that they were and it's time for some auto-facial-stabbin and apologizing groveling for their transgression.

I'm not unhappy with anything Pelosi has done lately, but it seems a little premature to declare her strategy a complete success. We're still mid-crisis.

I don't think anyone is doing that. I'm certainly not. But I am calling her strategy a good one considering her opponent and a good one on appearance.
posted by phearlez at 1:00 PM on January 23 [3 favorites]


Fast-moving news day in Caracas: Venezuelan president Nicholas Maduro has given US diplomats 72 hours to leave the country. (Sacramento Bee with the latest from AP)
posted by box at 1:01 PM on January 23 [11 favorites]


C-SPAN is obliged to show gavel-to-gavel House business when it's in session. Pelosi could conceivably declare a recess subject to the call of the chair and they wouldn't be able to show anything else.

(But this is perhaps too big of a distraction for the DC media right now.)
posted by holgate at 1:07 PM on January 23


I don’t think I1 giving a rally counts under the mandate that he provide a sotu to Congress. He’s still going to have to write a book report, even if mean ol Miss Nancy wont let him read it in front of the class.
posted by SecretAgentSockpuppet at 1:08 PM on January 23 [15 favorites]


Buzzfeed's Zoe Tillman brings news from the Mueller front:
JUST IN: Here is Paul Manafort's reply to materials Mueller's office submitted last week re: whether he lied. His lawyers dispute that the evidence supports the conclusion that he intentionally lied. (It appears the redactions are properly done this time)
https://assets.documentcloud.org/documents/5692176/1-23-19-Manafort-Reply.pdf

Manafort's lawyers: "Rather, when placed in proper context, much of the evidence presented by the OSC merely demonstrates a lack of consistency in Mr. Manafort’s recollection of certain facts and events"
Vox's Andrew Prokop attempts to read into the redactions: "Perhaps a claim that there were two Ukraine peace plans Manafort and Kilimnik discussed at different points " (pic)
posted by Doktor Zed at 1:08 PM on January 23 [4 favorites]


@CrimeADay 40 USC §§5109 & 5104(e)(2)(A) make it a federal crime to enter or remain on the floor of either House of Congress without authorization from that House.
posted by scalefree at 1:11 PM on January 23 [14 favorites]


Bangor Daily News: Susan Collins voices support for wall funding in Trump’s latest pitch to end shutdown
U.S. Sen. Susan Collins backs President Donald Trump’s offer to reopen the federal government for $5.7 billion in border wall funding, though she called it “by no means ideal” and remains noncommittal on a rival Democratic plan also up for a Senate vote on Thursday.
Not exactly a surprise, but there it is.
posted by notyou at 1:14 PM on January 23 [12 favorites]


From a strict law-nerdery perspective, I'm not sure why a rally in some arbitrary location can't qualify as the State of the Union while a written letter would. Just mail Congress a DVD or whatever the kids use today, no? All three are forms of "giving information".

I suppose it could be argued that in rally-mode, he's vastly less informative because he's more prone to following tangents of idiocy than a teleprompter, but...
posted by InTheYear2017 at 1:27 PM on January 23 [5 favorites]


U.S. Sen. Susan Collins backs President Donald Trump’s offer to reopen the federal government for $5.7 billion in border wall funding, though she called it “by no means ideal” and remains noncommittal on a rival Democratic plan also up for a Senate vote on Thursday.

Susan Collins got a lot of mileage out of her phony "moderate" pose, despite voting pretty much in lockstep with the worst Republicans. Her apparently abandoning pretense and declaring her vote in lockstep with the so-called Tea Party and the new-Confederates is a bold choice, but I wonder if the voters of Maine will reward her for it.
posted by Gelatin at 1:28 PM on January 23 [12 favorites]


but I wonder if the voters of Maine will reward her for it.

The voters of Maine have not yet come down from the high of not having LePage as governor anymore.
posted by Melismata at 1:33 PM on January 23 [31 favorites]




Oh, and for those who may not be aware, LePage = Trump:

"LePage was the first Maine governor to use social media to promote the annual State of the State address, when he used Twitter to send several tweets previewing his February 5, 2013, speech. As Governor, LePage issued 642 vetoes, which broke the record of 118 set by Governor James B. Longley and was more than all his predecessors since 1917 combined. Most of LePage's vetoes have come since 2013, when Democrats regained control of the Legislature from the Republicans. In the 2015 session of the Legislature, LePage promised to veto every bill sponsored by a Democrat, regardless of its merits, in retaliation for the rejection of his proposal for a constitutional amendment referendum to eliminate Maine's income tax. LePage later expanded his veto threat to all bills sponsored by all legislators in order to force needing a 2/3 vote on them for passage. He stated that he feels it is the only way he can "get the most representation that I can for the people of the state of Maine" and that Democrats had convinced Republicans to sponsor bills to get around his initial veto threat." (Wikipedia)
posted by Melismata at 1:45 PM on January 23 [6 favorites]


I wonder if Trump will take this opportunity to hold the State of the Union speech at a venue of his choosing, have all the congressional Republicans attend, plus pack the house with his supporters, so he's speaking to a 100% friendly audience, and thus establish a new tradition where the party that doesn't hold the White House is frozen out of the State of the Union Address as the new normal.
posted by The World Famous at 1:48 PM on January 23 [5 favorites]


From a strict law-nerdery perspective, I'm not sure why a rally in some arbitrary location can't qualify as the State of the Union while a written letter would. Just mail Congress a DVD or whatever the kids use today, no? All three are forms of "giving information".

US Constitution Article 2 Section 3 Clause 1
He shall from time to time give to the Congress Information of the State of the Union, and recommend to their Consideration such Measures as he shall judge necessary and expedient;
Says nothing about timing, format or location. Could be a letter, a MAGA rally or an MP3 published to whitehouse.gov.
posted by scalefree at 1:52 PM on January 23 [4 favorites]


> I wonder if Trump will take this opportunity to hold the State of the Union speech at a venue of his choosing [...]

He can hold a speech any time he likes, and he can invite whoever he wants - that doesn't make it a "State of the Union" address. No joint session => It's not a State of the Union address.

Of course, he doesn't need to deliver one - a DVD of his campaign rally with chants of "Lock her up" would be a fine summary of the state of our union right now, and meet his Constitutional obligations just fine.
posted by RedOrGreen at 1:55 PM on January 23 [7 favorites]


Vox, Kellyanne Conway wants you to stop calling Trump’s wall a wall
In a confusing discussion with CNN reporter Abby Phillip, White House counselor Kellyanne Conway asked why Phillip and recent CBS polls on the ongoing government shutdown kept referring to a “wall” rather than “steel slat barriers.” After nearly four years of demanding a border wall even at the cost of an unpopular government shutdown, the Trump administration now appears to wish to avoid the word “wall” at all costs.

“I’m asking why you and the polling questions, respectfully, are still saying ‘wall’ when the president said you can call it whatever you want,” Conway said.
...
However, Trump himself appears to not have gotten the message, tweeting multiple times Tuesday morning about the need to “BUILD A WALL.”
posted by zachlipton at 1:55 PM on January 23 [20 favorites]


On a different, podcast-y note, Ken White aka popehat, talking on ”All the Presidents Lawyers” has some good points about the whole ‘Buzzfeed news’ . A good podcast, brings a perspective that is otherwise not heard in the media.
posted by From Bklyn at 1:58 PM on January 23 [4 favorites]


Chris Murphy shut down talk he might jump in the Presidential ring. Points out that maybe 2 or 3 Senators should stay behind to, you know, do Senate things.
posted by Justinian at 2:00 PM on January 23 [21 favorites]


Trump seems to have given up on doing the SOTU in the Capitol, telling reporters "we'll do something in the alternative"

He said that about needing funding for the wall in the budget, too, and look where we are.

Also:

“I’m asking why you and the polling questions, respectfully, are still saying ‘wall’ when the president said you can call it whatever you want,” Conway said.

Thx for the permission, Mr. President. So that would include calling it a "wall" if that's what I want to call it, no?

posted by Rykey at 2:14 PM on January 23 [11 favorites]


Going through the links here, I am overwhelmed and worried by the Republican activism. Not just for you people who actually live in the USA, but also all of the rest of us who have to deal with the USA. Happily, the 2018 elections made it clear that elections matter and votes matter. But we all need a lot more of that, in all 50 states. As it is right now, a naive communist is a lot less dangerous than a tea-party racist, for the world, not just the USA.
posted by mumimor at 2:25 PM on January 23 [7 favorites]


White House counselor Kellyanne Conway asked why Phillip and recent CBS polls on the ongoing government shutdown kept referring to a “wall” rather than “steel slat barriers.”

We have lots and lots of examples of this kind of thing in tone arguments, "you're saying it wrong!" Control over language is one of the most basic ways that humans can interfere with each others' lives, and naturally this flows downhill to authoritarian regimes.
posted by rhizome at 2:29 PM on January 23 [23 favorites]


It's particularly Orwellian (or Kellyanniean?) to assert that Trump never wanted a wall, he has always wanted steel slats, which are not a wall, how dare you use such a loaded term?
posted by BungaDunga at 2:35 PM on January 23 [37 favorites]


Specifically, it's as if during That Scene In 1984, they changed all the posters and whatnot to be about the neverending war against Eastasia and all the while the leader continued giving a speech about the ongoing war against the evil and brutal regime of Eurasia. Maybe not as coordinated and efficient, but even Orwell didn't posit that level of doublethink.
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 2:39 PM on January 23 [8 favorites]


They've been trying to pivot away from "The Wall" basically from the inauguration, except Trump loves the rush he gets from the applause and the chant*.

An enterprising PoliSci grad student should look at the chicken and egg problem that is Trump and the Base. It's not always clear who's leading whom.

---------
(*And Trump doesn't pivot.)
posted by notyou at 2:48 PM on January 23 [4 favorites]


Two new polls are out today, CBS and AP and they're both terrible for Trump.

Approval down to 36% (down 3 from last poll) and 34% (down 8 from last month!) respectively, both close to all-time lows and the lowest in over a year. And disapproval is up to 59% in AP, an all-time high. And his approval with Inds is near all-time lows as well. The story at 538 averages is clear as well.

And that doesn't even get to the Wall and shutdown numbers in these polls where he's getting killed. He's losing badly and his base is showing signs of breaking over this.
posted by chris24 at 2:51 PM on January 23 [44 favorites]


I’m asking why you and the polling questions, respectfully, are still saying ‘wall’ when the president said you can call it whatever you want,

This is our chance to choose a name and have the Democrats repeat it any chance they get. I suggest "Colossal monument to racism."
posted by mmoncur at 2:56 PM on January 23 [25 favorites]


U.S. Sen. Susan Collins backs President Donald Trump’s offer

On a brighter note, she voted for Bart "I like beer" O'Kavanaugh, so that $1.X million dollar war chest is waiting to be given to her next opponent.
posted by duoshao at 3:10 PM on January 23 [16 favorites]


We have a perfectly good word for it, it's called a "boondoggle" though you can also add "completely pointless", "economically devastating", "ecologically damaging", and of course "racist and hateful" as modifiers.

Border Boondoggle is also good if you like alliteration.
posted by emjaybee at 3:17 PM on January 23 [20 favorites]


So this is a pretty short (half hour) talk with the author of The Reactionary Mind On how vulnerable Trump and the GOP is because they basically got everything they wanted and have no future vision and tying it into Cater/Reagan and how the long term project of the right was to destroy the labor movement - just really interesting stuff.
posted by The Whelk at 3:35 PM on January 23 [14 favorites]


Washington Post: White House seeks list of programs that would be hurt if shutdown lasts into March
White House acting chief of staff Mick Mulvaney has pressed agency leaders to provide him with a list of the highest-impact programs that will be jeopardized if the shutdown continues into March and April, people familiar with the directive said.
(Emphasis mine.)
posted by scaryblackdeath at 3:37 PM on January 23 [12 favorites]


The Hill: The McConnell Blocks Bill to Reopen Most of Government
Sen. Tim Kaine (D-Va.) went to the Senate floor to ask for consent to take up the House-passed bill that would fund every agency and department impacted by the partial shutdown, except the Department of Homeland Security, through Sept. 30.

McConnell, however, objected. It's the fourth time he's blocked the bill to reopen most of government. He has also blocked, as recently as Tuesday, a House-passed bill to fund the Department of Homeland Security through Feb. 8.
(I cant believe I have to link to The Hill, but this basic piece of reporting doesn’t seem to be receiving any attention in the mainstream media. Which says a lot about how the politics of the shutdown is being mishandled by them.)
posted by Doktor Zed at 3:39 PM on January 23 [39 favorites]


White House counselor Kellyanne Conway asked why Phillip and recent CBS polls on the ongoing government shutdown kept referring to a “wall” rather than “steel slat barriers.”

It will be journalistic malpractice if one of the major news outlets doesn't show up to the next press conference with a laminated poster of today's Trump Tweets about "The Wall," to ask Kellyanne whose words we should be using.

Extra points if one of them manages to get in a question about the viability of eating one's pudding if one doesn't eat one's meat
posted by Mayor West at 3:46 PM on January 23 [9 favorites]


$1.X million dollar war chest is waiting to be given to her next opponent.

You mean $3.8 million dollar war chest.
posted by OnceUponATime at 3:48 PM on January 23 [42 favorites]


Politico, White House eyes energy push as Russia strategy
The White House is weighing a new round of executive actions to boost the U.S. energy industry in an attempt to portray strength against Russia.

The moves the White House is considering — President Donald Trump’s third effort to help pipeline companies — include possible executive orders that would weaken states’ power to block energy projects and ease the construction of new pipelines to facilitate the movement of a glut of domestic oil and gas, according to a senior administration official and others familiar with the effort.

The administration official said the pipeline executive order would be “quite similar” to the president’s previous actions, but “broader, deeper.”
...
“This is not only about economic growth and power. A lot of this is about international security policy. We’re aiming at the Russians. We can beat them,” the senior administration official told POLITICO.
Why the hell would you give someone anonymity to say that? Anyway, I guess they're trying infrastructure week (along with the ongoing climate change denial week) again.
posted by zachlipton at 3:53 PM on January 23 [5 favorites]


NPR has more on Cummings’s investigation of John Bolton’s security clearance and his NRA ties: House Oversight Panel Launches Inquiry Into White House Security Clearances
The oversight committee is specifically interested in Trump's current national security adviser, John Bolton, and his onetime participation in a Russian gun rights campaign.

Bolton recorded a video in 2013 for The Right To Bear Arms, a Russian gun rights group then run by Maria Butina, the Russian woman who has admitted serving as a clandestine agent for Russia.

NPR has previously reported that Bolton was asked to do the video by a former president of the National Rifle Association.

Cummings asked the NRA in a letter Wednesday to provide any documents related to Bolton's foreign contacts.[…]

Cummings also asked for more information about the NRA's subcommittee on international affairs, a largely opaque group that Bolton was appointed to head in 2011. The committee told the NRA that it expected a response by Feb. 6.
posted by Doktor Zed at 4:17 PM on January 23 [29 favorites]


[Couple things deleted. In general it's a really good idea to start with looking for the actual text of a bill, not by repeating the things people you distrust in the first place are saying and asking folks to prove those folks wrong.]
posted by cortex (staff) at 4:18 PM on January 23 [9 favorites]


Fast-moving news day in Caracas: Venezuelan president Nicholas Maduro has given US diplomats 72 hours to leave the country. (Sacramento Bee with the latest from AP)

Update: US State Dept. says it does not consider Maduro's order to break relations, or for US diplomats to leave Venezuela, as legal, and the US “will take appropriate actions to hold accountable anyone who endangers the safety and security of our mission and its personnel.”

This seems like a rather provocative escalation, and it's fundamentally unclear what happens if the government of a country orders us out and we don't acknowledge that government is in charge so we just stay.
posted by zachlipton at 4:38 PM on January 23 [22 favorites]


I've followed 2020fight for quite awhile. I always figured that her pick and name were intentionally obscure because a public school teacher who posted so many things that angered right wing people so often would have to be stupid to attach their real info to their account. I too, like anyone who isn't paid to be political should, also use a different name on Twitter to be safe. Though, my pic isn't of someone else, it's of the egg that ended up being popular on Instagram.

Brandy Zadrozny dug deep on this account and agrees with your conclusions: the account seems to belong to a teacher in California who tweets a lot and took steps to remain anonymous, not part of some kind of foreign plot.
posted by zachlipton at 4:43 PM on January 23 [17 favorites]


This seems like a rather provocative escalation, and it's fundamentally unclear what happens if the government of a country orders us out and we don't acknowledge that government is in charge so we just stay.

Government of Venezuela wishes for all diplomatic missions to remain present, proclamations from persons or entities lacking any authority in this matter notwithstanding.
posted by save alive nothing that breatheth at 4:58 PM on January 23 [4 favorites]


We’re aiming at the Russians. We can beat them,” the senior administration official told POLITICO.

Gah. You know how else you can beat them? By making their export (dirty energy) obsolete.

(The comment about easing the domestic glut gives the game away; this is about helping dirty energy multinationals get their product to better-paying markets overseas — which will drive up the price for domestic consumers.)
posted by notyou at 5:06 PM on January 23 [11 favorites]


Whatever the fuck is going on in Venezuela, I'm definitely glad that our diplomats are caught in the middle of an international incident when the State Department is "minimally staffed" because of the stupid shutdown.
posted by ArbitraryAndCapricious at 5:14 PM on January 23 [36 favorites]


If you're interested in following events in Venezuela from a sympathetic point of view, that's pretty much the entire of Boots Riley's twitter right now.
posted by absalom at 5:21 PM on January 23 [16 favorites]


Another day, another Cliff Sims excerpt. Come for the description of Kellyanne Conway "if she’d collected 98 Dalmatians with only 3 more to go" along with the strange detail that Conway has both an executive assistant and a "body man" who follows her around, and stay for Sims putting on the record that "a source close to the President" can well just be the President himself.
Like many presidents, he was obsessed with White House staffers who leaked against him—and was always on a quest to figure out a way to unmask them. On one memorable occasion, the president got a prominent White House reporter on the phone who had written a story that quoted anonymous staff members. “Who gave you this story?” Trump asked playfully. “I’d just be curious to know who told you this.”

The reporter laughed somewhat nervously, saying they obviously could not reveal their sources. Leaning over the phone in the Oval Office, arms crossed in front of him with his elbows sitting on the Resolute Desk, Trump tried to cut a deal. “Well, I guess that’s fine,” he replied. “But, of course, you know I could give you so much better stories—so much better.” After a little more unsuccessful coaxing, Trump relented. The reporter hung up without a hot scoop from “a source close to the president.”
The primary purpose of the excerpt is to relate the time Sims claims he was called to Conway's office to draft a statement for her about how much he really likes the President, and caught her texting away to every news outlet under the sun bashing her co-workers.
posted by zachlipton at 5:25 PM on January 23 [11 favorites]


[Folks, the Venezuela situation seems like something that might work best as its own post with some context on the situation built into it rather than bits and pieces of twitter strung throughout in here.]
posted by cortex (staff) at 5:26 PM on January 23 [19 favorites]


RC046 passed the House today 229-184. It was the most recent 2019 appropriations bill to pass the house without any wall funding. Democrats supported it 223-1.

The 1 no vote among Democrats was AOC, who voted against reopening the government if the bill didn't defund ICE. Sure it's a purely symbolic vote but the symbolic votes are usually by members in close districts not somebody who is gonna win their district by 60 points. Kinda crappy in my opinion.
posted by Justinian at 5:50 PM on January 23 [9 favorites]


Fox News's Chad Pegram poses a loaded question to Pelosi (Trump having called the SOTU situation "A horrible precedent"):
I ask Pelosi if she is concerned about establishing a new precedent by perhaps not having a State of the Union speech:

Pelosi: No. Not at all
Vox's Aaron Rupar has a video:
REPORTER: Why not invite Trump to a joint session next Tuesday?

PELOSI: "Because government is closed."
PBS's Yamiche Alcindor: "Just ran into VP Pence at the WH and I asked him what he thought of Pelosi calling off the SOTU. Pence said of President Trump, “He has a constitutional duty to report on the state of the union.”"

Just Security's Asha Rangappa: "The Constitution says that the President shall report on the state of the union “from time to time.” He has no constitutional right to do it on a certain date, or in person, or in the House chamber. #TooBadSoSad"
posted by Doktor Zed at 5:52 PM on January 23 [44 favorites]


White House officials were caught off guard Wednesday by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi formally disinviting President Donald Trump from giving his State of the Union address from the House chamber, leaving them scrambling for a response.

Yeah, I get Ronna Romney McDaniel's posts on my FB page and got her smug post this morning saying "Good for President Trump for calling Nancy Pelosi's bluff." That was, of course, before Ronna realized it was not a bluff. No way would she have made that post if she hadn't completely misjudged the situation.
posted by The World Famous at 5:58 PM on January 23 [12 favorites]


Reminder that OMB director and acting COS Mick Mulvaney dissed Meals on Wheels for 'not producing results'. They aren't requesting a list of agencies affected to try to work something out, they're doing it to close them outright. This is Mulvaney's wet dream.
posted by fluttering hellfire at 5:59 PM on January 23 [32 favorites]


nb. I'm linking to a video on purpose than any one of a hundred hot takes and think pieces about the M on W thing. I think it's important that we show the original. They said it. We saw it. We can still see it. That's what happened no matter how Fox News or the Moonies at the Washington Times or the Riefenstahls at the NYT try to spin it as 'oh he didn't really mean that'
posted by fluttering hellfire at 6:04 PM on January 23 [7 favorites]


The 1 no vote among Democrats was AOC, who voted against reopening the government if the bill didn't defund ICE. Sure it's a purely symbolic vote but the symbolic votes are usually by members in close districts not somebody who is gonna win their district by 60 points.

Moving out to the left and leaving Pelosi as a relative moderate seems a viable option, especially if one is in a safe district.
posted by ChurchHatesTucker at 6:18 PM on January 23 [19 favorites]


Yabbut... when the position of the Democratic caucus in the House is that government funding should not be held hostage to policy goals it's a little questionable to hold government funding to your policy goals. At that point you've moved the goalposts to "it's okay to not pay workers, just not for this particular goal."

Wanting to defund ICE is moving left. Wanting to refuse to pay workers unless ICE is defunded doesn't strike me as particularly leftist. Paying workers what they earn is leftist, no?
posted by Justinian at 6:24 PM on January 23 [59 favorites]


Trump: Pelosi Cancelling State Of The Union Is ‘A Great Blotch’ On The Country (Matt Shuham, TPM)
“The State of the Union speech has been cancelled by Nancy Pelosi because she doesn’t want to hear the truth,” Trump told reporters from the White House’s Cabinet Room, saying that Pelosi is “afraid of the truth and the super-left Democrats.”
He probably believes that she can't handle the truth.
posted by ZeusHumms at 6:33 PM on January 23 [17 favorites]


Wanting to refuse to pay workers unless ICE is defunded

Do you really think she would do that if she was the deciding vote? That's what symbolic means, let's not get silly. On the other hand, maybe someone should ask her exactly that. Our hard-hitting media! Oh wait...
posted by ctmf at 6:57 PM on January 23 [7 favorites]


[A few "here's what I think we should call it instead of 'wall', then" type comments removed over the course of the last while. That kind of group riffing is a good example of the sort of thing that we're hoping folks can use the experimental Hyucking Hyuck thread for, since it's basically purpose built to allow for that without clogging up the catch-all with a string of one-liners.]
posted by cortex (staff) at 7:03 PM on January 23 [16 favorites]


Defunding ICE is an entirely defensible demand, within this context, as a step toward Republican compensation for the act of holding government hostage in the first place. If we do manage to return to the status quo ante, it won't really the status quo ante at all, it'll be a post-shutdown world, and the interest on back pay to workers won't square things up by itself.

Of course it would be horrendous politics for the Democratic caucus to unify behind any new demands at all, and in practical terms would screw everyone over. But my point is that by not adding demands to a clean CR, Dems are being especially generous.
posted by InTheYear2017 at 7:10 PM on January 23 [4 favorites]


when the position of the Democratic caucus in the House is that government funding should not be held hostage to policy goals it's a little questionable to hold government funding to your policy goals

It's a counter to the Senate Republicans "we'll open the govt if you agree to x." AOC gets out there and says, "no, agree to y." Pelosi (and, really, the rest of the party) says "let's meet in the middle and just open the govt. "
posted by ChurchHatesTucker at 7:41 PM on January 23 [25 favorites]


@realDonaldTrump: As the Shutdown was going on, Nancy Pelosi asked me to give the State of the Union Address. I agreed. She then changed her mind because of the Shutdown, suggesting a later date. This is her prerogative - I will do the Address when the Shutdown is over. I am not looking for an........alternative venue for the SOTU Address because there is no venue that can compete with the history, tradition and importance of the House Chamber. I look forward to giving a “great” State of the Union Address in the near future!

He gets told "no" by one woman he's required to listen to, and he folds completely.
posted by zachlipton at 8:22 PM on January 23 [91 favorites]


The oversight committee is specifically interested in Trump's current national security adviser, John Bolton, and his onetime participation in a Russian gun rights campaign.

During the Obama years, Bolton was also involved in the campaign to get the MEK removed from the foreign terrorism list, and earned a lot of money doing so. Oh, and he was hanging out with Pamela Geller long after Geller decided that it was best to hang out with European white-nationalist types. It's not unusual for foreign policy types to retreat to sinecures or lobbying when the other party is in power, but Bolton seemed to pick out every dodgy crank.
posted by holgate at 8:48 PM on January 23 [8 favorites]


Washington Post: White House seeks list of programs that would be hurt if shutdown lasts into March

White House acting chief of staff Mick Mulvaney has pressed agency leaders to provide him with a list of the highest-impact programs that will be jeopardized if the shutdown continues into March and April, people familiar with the directive said.


This also serves as a pressure tactic to nudge people into voting for an existing bill to reopen government & give in to Trump.
posted by ZeusHumms at 9:10 PM on January 23 [5 favorites]




The current iteration of Speaker Pelosi is also far more outspoken than anything I've seen before. The poker face is gone — she's the smartest one in the room, she has all the cards, and she's not afraid to hide it.

When I started paying attention to it, something that I noticed again and again in business and politics was that the best, the brightest and the bravest in the room are the women, more often than not. The reason I had never fully, consciously realized this before is because when as soon as women accomplish things, everyone rushes in to discredit/minimize their accomplishments or otherwise tear them down, and I bought into the narrative as much as anyone else did.

Quick story. Someone upthread linked to the wikipedia page for the Mace of the US House of Representatives. That article says that there is no instance on the official record of any member ever being presented with the Mace, but does note that there is a video of a threat to do so, in 1994, to Rep. Maxine Waters. If you go watch the video, you can see her brief speech that caused other members to threaten her with the Mace:

"Thank you very much Madam Chairwoman. Last evening a Member of this House, Peter King, had to be gaveled out of order at the Whitewater hearings of the Banking Committee. He had to be gaveled out of order because he badgered a woman who was a witness from the White House, Maggie Williams. I am pleased I was able to come to her defense. Madam Chairwoman, the day is over when men can badger and intimidate women...

[interruptions begin from the floor]

...marginalize them, and keep them from speaking. I am pleased I was able to come to her defense. We are now in this House, we are members of this House, we will not allow men to intimidate us and to keep us from participating. Madame Chairwoman thank you again. You see a man [unintelligible]. Madame Chairlady, do you ever see men do this to other men? It is only when a women attempts to speak...it is only when a woman attempts to exercise her rights in this house that you have this kind of intimidation. This is a fine example of what they try to do to us. I am pleased that I was able to come to Maggie Williams' defense. The women of this nation will not continue to have this kind of treatment. That's a fine example. Thank you Madame Chairwoman."

That's a great speech by today's standards. She said it during the 90s, the decade of Monica Lewinsky, Marcia Clark and Tonya Harding, when we collectively decided to be pretty fucking awful to women for basically just being women. Maxine Waters was saying this stuff the whole time, even when the country seemed mostly okay with bullying women. She's only become nationally known for being a total badass in recent years, but she's been always been like that. I now see women who are like that, everywhere, every day, and we (society) are only just starting to see it. At the same time Trump is intimidating Michael Cohen into silence, Nancy Pelosi is standing front and center and telling him no, again and again, and taking all the blowback that comes from him and his rabid base without blinking, even once.
posted by triggerfinger at 9:25 PM on January 23 [146 favorites]


Denver Post: Colorado Republican Sen. Cory Gardner’s spokesman told us Wednesday he intends to vote for a clean funding bill that would open the government with no increased border-security funding attached.
posted by Chrysostom at 9:43 PM on January 23 [57 favorites]


Sen. Cory Gardner’s spokesman told us Wednesday he intends to vote for a clean funding bill that would open the government with no increased border-security funding attached.

Which is what Mitch was trying to avoid, the venal shithead that he is. Nobody gives a shit about the wall, you notice how there have been, oh, twice-weekly? polls about Trumps approval rating, how he'd fare against every elected Democrat of Presidential age...but I've not seen a poll about the wall, who wants the wall, what the wall is worth, or anything like that. If only I were a billionaire.
posted by rhizome at 9:50 PM on January 23 [2 favorites]


The last poll I saw about the wall came out today. Way too many people still think the wall is a good idea (a couple points over 40%, same as Trump's approval before the current downturn) but only something like 17% thought it was worth shutting down the government over. So the wall itself is still only 10 or 12 points underwater but the idea of the shutdown over it is massively unpopular.
posted by Justinian at 9:53 PM on January 23 [10 favorites]


only something like 17% thought it was worth shutting down the government over

Cool, and I think it's safe to say this is the important number. Even if they're saying "Oh, 40% of those surveyed are still racist," that's not nearly as immediately material as the 17%. I mean, the similarities with Brexit seem glaring, in terms of these being things that are being pushed through, and in not a lot of peoples' best interests..
posted by rhizome at 10:37 PM on January 23 [3 favorites]


I'm not unhappy with anything Pelosi has done lately, but it seems a little premature to declare her strategy a complete success. We're still mid-crisis.

What the U.S. has desperately lacked since the day that Barack Obama left office has been leadership. Nancy Pelosi is providing leadership, and the fact that she is not promoting herself to become president is a big part of what makes her a true leader. She is doing what needs to be done, for its own sake.
posted by msalt at 11:37 PM on January 23 [97 favorites]


Gelatin : [T]hey should give equal time to Pelosi....giving a response. From the

...Oval Office in the White House.

Yes I am implying that her presidency at this point is nearly inevitable. As noted above she is one of a very few bringing leadership to the nation. For multiple coalescing and intersecting political and cultural reasons--including triggerfinger's excellent point/observation just above--I believe this is rapidly becoming the Speaker's time.
posted by riverlife at 1:23 AM on January 24 [5 favorites]


I don't want to clog up the thread with back and forth so I'll just say I couldn't disagree more. Not that Pelosi isn't awesome but at the idea that her presidency is inevitable. It won't happen. I won't say it's a 0% chance but certainly sub 1%. And I don't think people should get their hopes up (and thus dashed.)
posted by Justinian at 2:06 AM on January 24 [31 favorites]


From the Twitter thread of Ben Winkler, Washington DC director of MoveOn:
Here's the target list I've seen circulating privately: R senators who, we hear, want to reopen the govt:

Alexander
Blunt
Burr
Cassidy
Collins
Enzi
Ernst
Fischer
Gardner
Graham
Isakson
Kennedy
McSally
Murkowski
Portman
Rick Scott
Roberts
Romney
Young
MoveOn has a toll-free legislative hotline: 855-456-0395. (That way, [they] can count the calls we generate.)
posted by TWinbrook8 at 2:45 AM on January 24 [19 favorites]


Trump has folded:
President Donald Trump said Wednesday night he is postponing his State of the Union address until the partial government shutdown ends, yielding after a weeklong showdown with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.

Following a high-stakes game of dare and double-dare, Trump conceded that "no venue ... can compete with the history, tradition and importance of the House Chamber" and that he was not looking for an alternate option after Pelosi served notice earlier Wednesday that he won't be allowed to deliver the address to a joint session of Congress next week.
posted by GrammarMoses at 2:45 AM on January 24 [9 favorites]


Trump has folded...

Yes, well...This is Trump we're talking about. All it will take is some talking head on Fox telling him he caved to a woman, and he'll be right back to stamping his feet and demanding to do the SotU in the House.
posted by Thorzdad at 2:52 AM on January 24 [23 favorites]


It's true that Trump folded. At the same time, I'm hesitant to characterize it that way because it would be literally illegal for him to give a speech in the House if they refuse to invite him to do so. If he ends the shutdown without wall money, that would be folding, because it would be him making a concession when other valid options remain.

Like... on some future date, something will cause Trump to no longer be president. Whatever it is, he likely will refuse to call that thing legitimate, even if (heaven and hell forbid) it's the end of a second term. But if he eventually decides to leave office quietly after "teasing" us with a declaration that he wouldn't, it won't be "Whoa, after all his tough talk, he buckled under hardly any pressure at all!" it will be "Oh, thank god, he chose not to flout the law for the 10,785th time."
posted by InTheYear2017 at 4:06 AM on January 24 [12 favorites]


The real reason the Senate is taking 2 doomed votes to end the shutdown (Dylan Scott, Vox)
The pageantry of failed floor votes has become one of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s calling cards in the Senate over the past few years. They’ve proven a potent tool to defuse awkward standoffs and to navigate stalemates. It used to be that a failed bill on the Senate floor signaled weak leadership, but McConnell has used them to his tactical advantage in a highly polarized Washington.

McConnell has used this gambit before in high-pressure situations. Some Republican lobbyists in town have called it a “show them a body” strategy: holding votes you know will fail in order to break the impasse over a given issue.
...

So what’s the point? Senators will get a public opportunity to release their frustrations by voting to open the government — and McConnell will have shown Democratic leaders and President Trump that neither course has the necessary support in the Senate right now.

Politico Playbook explained the objective of the dueling failed votes like this: “This is a pressure-valve release, of sorts.” It is not actually intended to end the shutdown.
posted by ZeusHumms at 4:34 AM on January 24 [13 favorites]


ArbitraryAndCapricious: it's because she's third in the line of succession, and she's next if both Trump and Pence are impeached

Not just that, but: simultaneously impeached/removed. The case of Gerald Ford was practically invented to confuse civics students: He was the House minority leader, easily misremembered as Speaker (but it was a Democratic House, so he couldn't have been). Then, after Spiro Agnew resigned, he was chosen to be vice president.

If something happened to Mike Pence tomorrow, a new Republican VP would be chosen; Pelosi wouldn't "ascend" to that vacant office. If something happened to Individual-1, it's the same deal, with Pence losing the VP position (to become prez) and a new Republican VP being chosen in a separate process.

I believe Trump has some reason to worry about losing his job (though I still rate the likelihood quite small), but Pence has almost nothing to worry about (for him to get that scrutiny is an even less likely timeline).
posted by InTheYear2017 at 6:07 AM on January 24 [14 favorites]


Civil penalties for polluters dropped dramatically [85%] in Trump’s first two years, analysis shows (WaPo)
Civil penalties for polluters under the Trump administration plummeted during the past fiscal year to the lowest average level since 1994, according to a new analysis of Environmental Protection Agency data.

In the two decades before President Trump took office, EPA civil fines averaged more than $500 million a year, when adjusted for inflation. Last year’s $72 million in fines was 85 percent below that amount, according to the agency’s Enforcement and Compliance History Online database.
posted by Barack Spinoza at 6:08 AM on January 24 [24 favorites]


tomorrow marks the second missed paycheck for federal workers
posted by angrycat at 6:18 AM on January 24 [21 favorites]


WaPo reports on Jared's role in the shutdown: ‘Master Negotiator’ or ‘Nonentity’? Kushner Thrusts Himself Into Middle of Shutdown Talks.
Kushner has emerged as an omnipresent and assertive player in the now-33-day impasse, despite deep skepticism on Capitol Hill about his political abilities and influence, according to more than a dozen Trump associates, law­makers and others involved in the discussions.

Repeatedly assuring Trump that he can personally strike a deal with Democrats, Kushner has overshadowed other advisers in a largely empty West Wing this month. He usually huddles to discuss strategy each morning with the president, Vice President Pence and a few others, White House aides said.[…]

Convinced that Senate Democrats will eventually crack and that there are votes for a bipartisan agreement, Kushner has urged the president to dig in while also adjusting his position as his popularity suffers in public polls, according to a person close to him and White House officials.

Kushner, who referred a request for comment to the White House, has told Trump advisers that he has solid relationships with several Democrats, such as Senate Minority Whip Richard J. Durbin (Ill.), and that he can sell a compromise to moderate Democrats and Republicans with whom he built a rapport while working on the criminal-justice bill.

But a number of key Senate Democrats, including Sen. Joe Manchin III (W.Va.), haven’t heard from Kushner in weeks, according to aides. And aides to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.) say he has played no role in their discussions to reopen the government.

“He is totally a nonentity,” one senior Democratic aide said.[…]

Yet Trump, who often tires of advisers, has continued to give a great deal of control to Kushner, according to a senior White House official.[…]

Another senior White House official called Kushner’s positioning “delusional.”
It's astonishing that Jared's track record of bad advice hasn't completely discredited him at the Trump White House, but that's the way nepotism works. And the person who described Jared as a "master negotiator" is Rep. Matt Gaetz, so chalk that up to pure sycophancy.
posted by Doktor Zed at 6:21 AM on January 24 [24 favorites]


Only one Speaker of the House has ever gone on to become President, and that was James K. Polk.

Supposedly one of the factors in the acquittal of Andrew Johnson was that Senate President pro tem Ben Wade, who would have become President, was viewed as too radical. Likewise, it was much easier for Republican Senators to desert Nixon with Ford sitting there, vs. Carl Albert (who hated having a Secret Service detail following him around anyway).
posted by Huffy Puffy at 6:27 AM on January 24 [3 favorites]


Donald Trump and his ship of fools are courting calamity in Venezuela (Guardian)
Going off half-cock in crucial matters of foreign policy and international relations is a familiar characteristic of the Trump administration. Trump himself is demonstrably clueless about such matters. And after a wave of high-level sackings and resignations during his first two years in office, he badly lacks experienced, politically savvy and level-headed advisers. That dangerous weakness may be about to be exposed.
posted by CheesesOfBrazil at 6:28 AM on January 24 [7 favorites]


And the person who described Jared as a "master negotiator" is Rep. Matt Gaetz, so chalk that up to pure sycophancy.

Let's not leap to the worst possible reason. It may simply be that Gaetz had polished off a couple of bottles of mouthwash right before talking to the reporter.
posted by Etrigan at 6:30 AM on January 24 [6 favorites]


Nancy Pelosi is providing leadership, and the fact that she is not promoting herself to become president is a big part of what makes her a true leader. She is doing what needs to be done, for its own sake.

Ambitious women are consistently described as seeking power for the sake of power rather than as an act of public service. Considering the effect it had on the election in 2016, I would be very cautious about replicating that dynamic in how we talk about our female leadership seeking the presidency now, even if it's to praise Nancy Pelosi.

Nancy Pelosi is an exceptional leader who has been underestimated many times. And the fact that Kirsten Gillibrand, Kamala Harris and Elizabeth Warren want to be president does not undermine their status as leaders.
posted by Emmy Rae at 6:56 AM on January 24 [63 favorites]


They are such fucking assholes:
Trump's commerce secretary: I don't quite understand' why federal workers need food banks during shutdown
Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross said Thursday that he was confused why thousands of federal workers, who've already missed one paycheck, are relying on food banks during the partial government shutdown.

Ross said on CNBC's "Squawk Box" that he didn't understand why some of the roughly 800,000 unpaid federal workers have flocked to food banks for meals instead of taking out loans against back pay guaranteed by a bill President Trump signed last week.

"I know they are and I don’t really quite understand why," said Ross, who's reportedly worth roughly $700 million.
posted by PontifexPrimus at 7:10 AM on January 24 [86 favorites]


There are other quotes where he says it's no big deal if 800,000 people never get paid because it's a small drop in our larger economy.
posted by archimago at 7:47 AM on January 24 [14 favorites]


John Kelly Is Back…And Telling Trump To Reopen The Government (Kate Riga, TPM)
Former chief of staff John Kelly joined his fellow ex-DHS secretaries in imploring President Donald Trump to allow the government to reopen, citing the suffering of DOD employees and the risk that they’ll leave vital posts to seek work in the private sector.

Though the letter is addressed to both Trump and members of Congress, it calls for restoring funding immediately, which the Democratic bill currently in the Senate would do if Trump would allow Republicans to vote for it.
The story also includes a tweet from Chuck Schumer with the text of the letter and the observation that "This is President @realDonaldTrump’s former Chief of Staff. Who left just recently. Calling for the President to re-open the government. Without the wall."
posted by Excommunicated Cardinal at 7:49 AM on January 24 [43 favorites]


There are other quotes where he says it's no big deal if 800,000 people never get paid because it's a small drop in our larger economy.

Without even counting federal contractors, it still exceeds the steel industry that Ross embroiled the country in a trade war over.
posted by zombieflanders at 7:54 AM on January 24 [25 favorites]


That interview with Wilbur Ross is something else.
"So the 30 days of pay that some people will be out, there’s no real reason why they shouldn’t be able to get a loan against it, and we’ve seen a number of ads of financial institutions doing that."
That's some Lucille-Bluth-level out-of-touch-with-reality. Why don't they have tens of thousands of dollars in liquid assets just sitting around? Why can't they just borrow the money from their parents, who are bottomless fountains of wealth, like normal people? Or go the bank, where they'll definitely give you a loan on the spot with no collateral and no red tape, because they'll just secure it with the vast sums of money you have invested elsewhere.
posted by Mayor West at 7:56 AM on January 24 [80 favorites]


In Another Recession, It Could Be Tough For Washington To Boost The Economy (NPR, January 24, 2019)
It just might be time to start thinking about a recession.

Not a recession in the immediate future, of course. The latest jobs report was unexpectedly strong, and the economy is growing at a good clip.

But there's reason to get nervous. A majority of economists surveyed by the Wall Street Journal predict a recession by the end of 2020, and a majority of Americans appear to have the same fear.

Then there's the yield curve — a measure of how much of a return U.S. debt is paying out. That curve happens to be a good predictor of recessions, and it's flashing, if not red, then yellow right now.

But even if a recession isn't coming next month, it's never too early to start thinking about how prepared the country is. And there's a good case to be made that the levers that we usually pull to stop a recession either won't work this time, or won't work as well as they have in the past.
2020, you say? So can we blame Trump for this downturn?

GOP will hamstring Dems with bad economy (Bruce Bartlett, Opinion contributor for USA Today, Nov. 21, 2018)
The next recession could be a particularly bad one, too, because Republicans will be loath to take even the modest countercyclical measures that President George W. Bush supported in 2007 and 2008. Especially if it looks likely that a Democrat will win in 2020, Republicans might intentionally sabotage the economy so that they can blame the downturn on Democrats, just as they blamed the last one on President Barack Obama, even though it began in December 2007, according to the nonpartisan National Bureau of Economic Research.
And Obama ended it, teeing up a better economy for Trump to ride, only to have him to sink it in 4 years, or less. A recession isn't great, but politically, the timing seems pretty good for Dems to cue up a New Green Deal, both cutting emissions and adding jobs, in a time when automation will continue to impact the workforce -- Robots Will Take Jobs From Men, the Young, and Minorities (Tom Simonite for Wired, Jan. 24, 2019)
Economists who study employment have pushed back against recent predictions by Silicon Valley soothsayers like Elon Musk of an imminent tidal wave of algorithmic unemployment. The evidence indicates US workers will instead be lapped by the gentler swells of a gradual revolution, in which jobs are transformed piecemeal as machines grow more capable. Now a new study predicts that young, Hispanic, and black workers will be most affected by that creeping disruption. Men will suffer more changes to their work than women.

The analysis, from the Brookings Institution, suggests that just as the dividends of recent economic growth have been distributed unevenly, so too will the disruptive effects of automation. In both cases, nonwhite, less economically secure workers lose out.
Time to be proactive, for the environment AND the economy! That's not going to happen with the GOP, because white plight is good for their causes, as fear and suffering rally their base, while those on top will benefit from increased automation.
posted by filthy light thief at 8:00 AM on January 24 [24 favorites]


Vanity Fair has an inside report from Michael Cohen's camp about calling off his testimony: “We Don’t Accept This Behavior and There Are Consequences”: Inside Michael Cohen’s Decision to Postpone His Big Day on Capitol Hill
According to people familiar with his thinking, Cohen was looking forward to telling the truth to Congress and a hungry audience. He had already spent hours preparing for the testimony; he continued to meet with officials in order to cooperate in investigations with the Southern District of New York, the New York Attorney General, and the special counsel. He did not, however, want to leave his family vulnerable to further attacks, according to these people. He also did not want the president to get away with what House Democrats had previously called an effort to “discourage, intimidate, or otherwise pressure a witness not to provide testimony to Congress.” {emphasis added} […]

It is not yet clear when Cohen might reschedule his appearance. He is due to begin serving his sentence on March 6. There is a very real possibility that Cummings could subpoena Cohen to appear before his committee. People familiar with Cohen’s thinking have said he would comply with any subpoena, but he would not answer any questions unless he knew that the president would not longer be a threat to him. “If they can do this to Michael—intimidate him and obstruct justice and tamper with witnesses—they can do that to anyone and no one will be able to testify in the open, out of fear,” a person familiar with his thinking told me. Congress was going to have the chance to ask questions of Cohen on February 7, this person said, and now, until it is rescheduled and Cohen feels that strong enough action has been taken to ensure the safety of his family, that chance is off the table. “This is the time for Democrats and Republicans to make a bipartisan effort to take real action to say we don’t accept this behavior and there are consequences.”
Relatedly, Marcy Wheeler writes in TNR: How Trump Suborns Perjury—Even without BuzzFeed’s explosive report about Michael Cohen, the evidence shows that the president has persuaded his associates to lie to Congress and the feds.

"Under Trump, the lies are facilitated not through any kind of bureaucratic genius, but instead through an insistence that underlings toe the public line. These lies include more innocuous ones like inauguration attendance, as well as more serious ones involving Trump’s awareness that a Russian linked to military intelligence was brokering a $300 million real estate deal at the same time that Russia’s military intelligence was offering dirt stolen from Trump opponent’s server to his son. […] The record indicates that Trump decides what lie is going to be told, and the people around him, indirectly or otherwise, do what they need to sustain it, even if it includes lying to Congress, the FBI, and Mueller’s team."
posted by Doktor Zed at 8:11 AM on January 24 [24 favorites]


That interview with Wilbur Ross is something else.

"So the 30 days of pay that some people will be out, there’s no real reason why they shouldn’t be able to get a loan against it, and we’ve seen a number of ads of financial institutions doing that."


Sure would be nice if some Dems in an oversight roll wanted to look into whether the ole commerce secretary has any financial interests in any of those financial institutions running those ads . . . since hes lied twice before about divesting (including in a bank stock)
posted by Exceptional_Hubris at 8:12 AM on January 24 [36 favorites]


Ross' theory is that every federal worker should be able to get payday loans because they'll be guaranteed by the retroactive pay they'll receive once the government reopens.

Which almost makes sense in a spherical-cow sort of way.
posted by BungaDunga at 8:14 AM on January 24 [5 favorites]


"So the 30 days of pay that some people will be out, there’s no real reason why they shouldn’t be able to get a loan against it, and we’ve seen a number of ads of financial institutions doing that."

FWIW, I did a little digging. Credit Unions with members in federal service are bending over backwards. Making short term, zero-interest loans, etc.

Wells-Fucking-Fargo however will waive late fees and negative credit reporting for up to 90 fucking days.

So, once again, support your local Credit Union and they'll support you.
posted by mikelieman at 8:16 AM on January 24 [84 favorites]


I have a strong feeling that if Ross were in the position of deciding whether to grant some loans personally, he'd decline. Just as it's absurd to imagine, say, Jared and Ivanka accepting work from a tenant in lieu of rent (as other departments heads have advised).
posted by InTheYear2017 at 8:20 AM on January 24 [16 favorites]


I suspect he'd be happy to lend to federal workers... if they paid a sufficiently high interest rate. It's probably not a bad business, since you know that they are all going to get paid eventually.
posted by BungaDunga at 8:25 AM on January 24 [6 favorites]


Has anyone been calling the Trump and Kushner properties to ask what chores or barter they'll exchange for a one night stay or club membership?
posted by cmfletcher at 8:25 AM on January 24 [17 favorites]


My boss spent the long weekend on Block Island, which is off the coast of Rhode Island. He couldn't come home Monday because the ferries were all shut down, thanks to a winter storm.

He's a recreational salt-water sailor himself. I told him that he's lucky that the ferries stopped sailing (instead of persisting in dangerous weather), since the Coast Guard isn't getting paid and maybe if they'd foundered he would have been left to his own devices -- and his eyebrows shot up as he said, "Oh! I never thought of that!"

Yeah, there's knock-on effects all over the place, I tell you -- and I think most people still haven't felt them.
posted by wenestvedt at 8:28 AM on January 24 [35 favorites]


Ross' theory is that every federal worker should be able to get payday loans because they'll be guaranteed by the retroactive pay they'll receive once the government reopens.

And a disproportionately big slice of that reimbursement will go directly to payday lending industry. Leaving correspondingly less disposable income for the Federal workers.

Marvel at the fact that people like Ross are willing to say such things not only in public, but also on the record. It'll make enacting a 70% marginal income tax rate (with a corresponding boost to capital gains, of course) a genuine pleasure.
posted by Gelatin at 8:31 AM on January 24 [77 favorites]


Wilbur Ross is truly out of touch and just extremely high on privilege, I've read through the case regarding the citizenship question on the census and it was still of examples of this: his insistence that merely wanting something to happen would cause it to happen, constant frustration at people not doing his bidding immediately without pushback, refusal to learn anything or admit errors, gaslighting, flat out making shit up, basically emailing about "let's do crimes." It's absolutely unsurprising to hear he doesn't get basics about people not getting paid.
posted by odinsdream at 8:35 AM on January 24 [26 favorites]






I can confirm that my credit union is offering loans with no interest or payments for 60 days to furloughed workers.
posted by runcibleshaw at 9:23 AM on January 24 [6 favorites]


Ah yes, the Post on minimum wage, I'm sure that it will be fair and balanced journalism at its finest.
posted by Phlegmco(tm) at 9:28 AM on January 24 [7 favorites]




Shouldn't the WaPo article fact checking AOC make note somewhere of their potential conflict of interest in regards to Amazon? Or is that sort of thing out if fashion?
posted by thedward at 9:36 AM on January 24 [10 favorites]


It did: "Disclosure: Jeffrey P. Bezos, Amazon’s chief executive, owns The Washington Post."
posted by Turd Ferguson at 9:39 AM on January 24 [14 favorites]


The political scientist Donald Trump should read (Ezra Klein, Vox)
"What Trump would do if he really wanted his wall."


[Frances Lee’s] research reverses the conventional wisdom on two forces that we’ve long believed make American politics run more smoothly: political competition and presidential leadership. The conventional wisdom holds that close competition ensures voters have real choices and politicians face real accountability and strong presidential leadership injects a necessary energy into the system. Lee challenges both views, presenting new evidence suggesting that both forces intensify, and perhaps even drive, the kind of all-out partisan combat that is paralyzing the system.

The current government shutdown is Lee’s thesis in action.


The implication is that if Trump truly wanted his wall — which was always going to be difficult with a Democratic House that opposes it on both ideological and electoral grounds — he should’ve gone about it quietly, trying to work out a deal behind closed doors that both sides could present as a win.

That’s the crucial thing: Presidents who want to get big legislation done amid divided government have to do everything in their power to avoid making that outcome a win for them, and a loss for the other side. It’s an emotionally unsatisfying form of leadership, but if you care more about the policy than the winning, it’s your best bet.

But Trump cares about the winning. So he’s escalated and escalated, focusing the entire country’s attention on the issue, staking his reputation on winning the shutdown fight and the funding for the project. There’s literally no strategy he could’ve chosen that would’ve made Democratic support for the wall less likely.
posted by ZeusHumms at 9:49 AM on January 24 [27 favorites]


On the other hand, Trump's wall and shutdown strategies are excellent for energizing and rallying his base.
posted by ZeusHumms at 9:52 AM on January 24 [1 favorite]


[Folks, the "Pelosi as president" theorizing is a profound derail. Let's leave that rabbit hole to the rabbits. Thanks. ]
posted by restless_nomad (staff) at 9:57 AM on January 24 [27 favorites]


Islamberg leaders: Foiled plot 'hurts our hearts'
Members of the Islamberg community and representatives from Muslims of America, Inc. held a press conference Wednesday following Tuesday’s announcements of a foiled plot to attack the Muslim enclave in Delaware County [N.Y.].

During an hour press conference, Islamberg leaders railed against Islamophobia, emphasizing their roles within the community, thanking law enforcement for their swift action and making a plea for religious tolerance and understanding.
posted by jgirl at 10:02 AM on January 24 [9 favorites]


Here's a transcript of Ross's remarks: he straight up says "now, true, the people might have to pay a little bit of interest." Which also demonstrates how out of touch he is and makes me wonder if he's ever stopped to briefly contemplate a payday loan and how much it costs. He also calls it a "liquidity crisis," which is totally how normal people talk about their personal finances. And he's entirely forgotten about another set of workers:

@MEPFuller: As Wilbur Ross touts legislation granting federal workers backpay *after* the shutdown ends, it’s a good time to remember that most federal contractors — cafeteria workers, carpenters, security officers, etc. — don’t get backpay. Ever. And they’re often the most vulnerable.

Nobody's making loans to the contractors, because they're not getting backpay.
posted by zachlipton at 10:05 AM on January 24 [81 favorites]


I dreaded going on vacation or becoming sick for a day or two. Then my conservative supervisor, who would personally turn down assistance to any case I would bring to her, took over for me and spent my month's budget in two days. When that supervisor personally met the person requesting assistance, she couldn't say no. In one instance she funded a man who wanted to travel from Washington to El Paso to meet his girlfriend.

It sounds like both you and your so-called superior should be in each other's jobs.

Conservatives (for the most part) think poor people in need are lay-abouts, but only if they don't meet them.

They can't stand the thought of anyone getting something they deserve, as defined by their own personal values. But objective criteria (administered by the "faceless, unaccountable bureaucrats" are exactly what enables the needy to get assistance without someone's subjective morality standing in judgement, which is why conservatives hate it.
posted by Gelatin at 10:16 AM on January 24 [19 favorites]


That’s the crucial thing: Presidents who want to get big legislation done amid divided government have to do everything in their power to avoid making that outcome a win for them, and a loss for the other side. It’s an emotionally unsatisfying form of leadership, but if you care more about the policy than the winning, it’s your best bet.
This seems like it will be relevant for the foreseeable future. Off to read to find out how it works out when one side is run by pirates allied with an apocalyptic death cult.
posted by schadenfrau at 10:22 AM on January 24 [18 favorites]


Local shutdown efects report: yesterday my local food bank was almost wiped out by hungry Coast Guard people. I am told they came through as a unit or troop, commanding officers and all.

The food bank is gearing up for a lot more people when people run out of SNAP benefits. It was already extra busy yesterday and next week may be the busiest I've personally yet seen.

This is not ok.
posted by loquacious at 10:26 AM on January 24 [80 favorites]


Nancy Pelosi responds to Wilbur Ross: "Is this the 'let them eat cake' kind of attitude, or 'call your father for money?'"
posted by Dashy at 10:45 AM on January 24 [102 favorites]


Schumer, e'er the diplomat, tries to translate in to rich-people-speak: "Secretary Ross, they just can't call their stock broker and ask them to sell some of their shares"
posted by Dashy at 10:47 AM on January 24 [18 favorites]


How to move the Overton Window: Elizabeth Warren to propose new ‘wealth tax’ on very rich Americans, economist says
Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) will propose a new “wealth tax” on Americans with more than $50 million in assets, according to an economist advising her on the plan, as Democratic leaders vie for increasingly aggressive solutions to the nation’s soaring wealth inequality.

Emmanuel Saez and Gabriel Zucman, two left-leaning economists at the University of California, Berkeley, have been advising Warren on a proposal to levy a 2 percent wealth tax on Americans with assets above $50 million, as well as a 3 percent wealth tax on those who have more than $1 billion, according to Saez.

The wealth tax would raise $2.75 trillion over a ten-year period from about 75,000 families, or less than 0.1 percent of U.S. households, Saez said.
posted by zombieflanders at 10:49 AM on January 24 [77 favorites]


Pelosi has her eyes on the prize, responding to @realDonaldTrump's SOTU concession: Mr. President, I hope by saying “near future” you mean you will support the House-passed package to #EndTheShutdown that the Senate will vote on tomorrow. Please accept this proposal so we can re-open government, repay our federal workers and then negotiate our differences.

This morning Pelosi held a news conference (w/video): "As the #TrumpShutdown hits Day 34, the consequences of this senseless shutdown continue to build. President Trump & Senate Republicans must allow us to do the responsible thing and re-open government." At one point, she mentions Ross: "Wilbur Ross saying he doesn't understand why, when he was asked about people going into food lines and pantries and the rest, he says he doesn't understand why they have to do that."

@realDonaldTrump deliberately misunderstands and responds, "Nancy just said she “just doesn’t understand why?” Very simply, without a Wall it all doesn’t work." and declares, "We will not Cave!" (Trump also is workshopping a new all-caps rallying cry: "BUILD THE WALL AND CRIME WILL FALL!") So he's back to lies and trolling as the shutdown continues.

I know it's a fool's errand trying to track down the sources of Trump's bullshit, but sometimes it's the only way to reassert reality.
posted by Doktor Zed at 10:49 AM on January 24 [30 favorites]


My initial reaction to the Dems proposal of offering 5.7B for border security that can't be used for the wall was that it was caving. But my reaction on reflection is that it is a pretty savvy move - most Americans can be on board with border security particularly if it involves an increase in immigration judges and better facilities for those waiting asylum decisions, as well as how to figure out what to do with people who have overstayed their visas. And the icing on the cake is that Individual-1's main racist talking point (build the wall!) is totally neutralized. So once again, I say go Pelosi!
posted by bluesky43 at 10:49 AM on January 24 [12 favorites]


Lanny Davis Calls For ‘Criminal Investigation’ Of Giuliani For ‘Witness Tampering’ (Nicole Lafond, TPM)
Lanny Davis, legal adviser and spokesman for Michael Cohen, called for an investigation into President Trump’s lawyer Rudy Giuliani over what he’s calling “witness tampering.”

“Let me be very clear, the House of Representatives now has an obligation,” Davis told ABC’s “Good Morning America” on Thursday. “A resolution of censure when the President of the United States indisputably intimidates and obstructs justice to prevent a witness from testifying is an order. So is a federal criminal investigation of Rudy Giuliani for witness tampering. Calling out a man’s father-in-law and wife in order to intimidate the witness is not fair game.”
I think Davis is on the right tack here---Individual 1 and his pet "lawyer" Giuliani are on national/global media networks actively committing crimes, in front of everybody, to obstruct the administration of justice through witness intimidation.
posted by Excommunicated Cardinal at 10:56 AM on January 24 [60 favorites]


How to move the Overton Window: Elizabeth Warren to propose new ‘wealth tax’ on very rich Americans, economist says

I love the plan, but it needs better branding. Call it a "hoarding tax." We don't want to hurt all people with wealth, just the ones who sit on it like fucking Smaug and contribute nothing to society.
posted by Faint of Butt at 10:56 AM on January 24 [72 favorites]


We don't want to hurt all people with wealth

"It should be illegal to be a billionaire" isn't yet a majority opinion in the Democratic Party but it needs to be.
posted by Rust Moranis at 11:00 AM on January 24 [55 favorites]


FoB Wealth is, by its definition, hoarded capital. I dont think 'wealth tax' is a bad name but i do think it could be zipped up with an all caps EXTREME beforehand. You wanna get rich? you still can. You need more than 50M dollars? no fucking way.
posted by Exceptional_Hubris at 11:00 AM on January 24 [18 favorites]


Reminder while were all living in overton-window-shifting-dreamland: we still live in a country where you can write off the interest on the loan for your VACATION HOME. . .
posted by Exceptional_Hubris at 11:01 AM on January 24 [23 favorites]


I love the plan, but it needs better branding. Call it a "hoarding tax."

Or a Miser Tax. Or a Scrooge Tax.

As a society, we have a ton of negative ideas about people who hold on to individual wealth to the detriment of the larger community. May as well tap into that cultural reserve.
posted by Uncle Ira at 11:08 AM on January 24 [60 favorites]


Victorian thinker John Ruskin has come back into vogue lately. Here are some of his thoughts on wealth and the wealthy (and "illth"), which the discussion of a wealth tax reminded me of. (From Unto This Last (1862))
Wealth, therefore, is ‘The possession of the valuable by the valiant’; and in considering it as a power existing in a nation, the two elements, the value of the thing, and the valour of its possessor, must be estimated together. Whence it appears that many of the persons commonly considered wealthy, are in reality no more wealthy than the locks of their own strong boxes are, they being inherently and eternally incapable of wealth; and operating for the nation, in an economical point of view, either as pools of dead water, and eddies in a stream (which, so long as the stream flows, are useless, or serve only to drown people, but may become of importance in a state of stagnation should the stream dry); or else, as dams in a river, of which the ultimate service depends not on the dam, but the miller; or else, as mere accidental stays and impediments, acting not as wealth, but (for we ought to have a correspondent term) as ‘illth,’ causing various devastation and trouble around them in all directions; or lastly, act not at all, but are merely animated conditions of delay, (no use being possible of anything they have until they are dead,) in which last condition they are nevertheless often useful as delays, and ‘impedimenta,’ …
It does feel like there's been a lot of illth running amok lately, "causing various devastation and trouble," and it may be a good idea to reduce it.
posted by notyou at 11:17 AM on January 24 [22 favorites]


We don't want to hurt all people with wealth

"It should be illegal to be a billionaire" isn't yet a majority opinion in the Democratic Party but it needs to be.


I also believe corporate bankruptcy should destroy the wealth of the board members. Like conservatives always say "It's a moral hazard unless they have skin in the game".

You want the power? Then say hello to responsibility...and consequences.

Liability should be a lot less limited.
posted by srboisvert at 11:27 AM on January 24 [59 favorites]




I love the plan, but it needs better branding. Call it a "hoarding tax." We don't want to hurt all people with wealth

We don't want to hurt any people with wealth, we want to tax the ones with shit-tons of wealth specifically because they have enough money that they WON'T be hurt by such a taxation. Taxing the very wealthy will not hurt them, it will just make them have less money.
posted by 23skidoo at 11:30 AM on January 24 [28 favorites]


Manchin is a yes on the first vote in the senate (along with 7 republicans) to advance trumps wall plan.

Only 40 senators have voted thus far.
posted by Exceptional_Hubris at 11:52 AM on January 24 [2 favorites]


NBC's David Gura checks in on Mike Pompeo after his diplomatic tour: “Asked by if U.S. soldiers would defend a NATO ally "if needed," Secretary of State Mike Pompeo says, "I'm not going to get into hypotheticals..."”
Martha MacCallum, Fox News: But there are some people who ask the question about Article 5. If Montenegro is attacked, should young men and women from the United States fight to defend Montenegro? What’s the answer to that?

Pompeo: The answer is coalitions can work when every member of the coalition is doing their fair share. That’s how these relationships have worked for an awfully long time. And unfortunately, some countries took a vacation for 20 years and thought that the threats from Russia or from Asia or from all the places in the Middle East and terrorism – they weren’t doing what they needed to do to protect their countries. Our urging is this: every country needs to make sure it’s contributing enough to make sure that their country is secure, and when they do, America will be with them to support their efforts.

MacCallum: So yes, American soldiers would go to defend Montenegro, if needed?

Pompeo: I’m not going to get into hypotheticals about what might happen or how a certain scenario might unfold, but make no mistake about it: America has always been there when there were important American and global interests at stake.
WaPo's Dan Lamothe : “U.S. officials typically answer yes unambiguously and refer to such a situation as an "Article 5 obligation" -- i.e., something world leaders promised to each other in a treaty.”

Any response other than "yes" is unacceptable, but Pompeo's repeating the Trumpist party line about transactional alliances. This will not go over well with NATO allies in advance of the Brussels summit.
posted by Doktor Zed at 11:52 AM on January 24 [52 favorites]


From jgirl’s link above:
Hussein Adams, Chief Executive of Muslims of America Inc, cited the “misuse of social media and internet to spread lies” as a prime impetus for the anti-Muslim rhetoric that has led to multiple threats on Islamberg in particular, and called on one another to “continue an open dialogue to avoid misinterpretations of what it is to be Muslim.”
You know, this totally reminded me of Fox News’ claims that vast swaths of America were under Sharia law and were “no go zones”, where Muslims had taken over and usurped local law. It’s no wonder these guys, who probably grew up hearing about this stuff when they were younger, would conspire to commit a terrorist attack against a Muslim community.
posted by gucci mane at 11:55 AM on January 24 [4 favorites]


Just to firmly explain how far into fantasy land a wealth tax is, if implemented naively it would require a constitutional amendment and a much bigger IRS and a huge book of new regulations on how non-liquid things are valued.

I think adding more individual tax brackets, rolling back the corporate tax cuts, and taxing all capital gains and dividends as ordinary income would have more bang for the buck.
posted by zrail at 11:59 AM on January 24 [7 favorites]


Jamelle Bouie, The New York Times -- Yeah, You Read That Right -- The New York Fucking Times -- How You Feeling Now, Bret Stephens?: Trump’s Wall of Shame
posted by tonycpsu at 12:00 PM on January 24 [7 favorites]


filthy light thief, Wed., Jan. 23, 2019: Then [Trump] said "we lowered prescription drug prices, the first time in 50 years, the Democrats would never do that." It looks like he's overstating what's going on -- Grassley to hold drug pricing hearing [on Jan. 29, 2019]

Trump Seeks Action To Stop Surprise Medical Bills (NPR, January 24, 2019)
President Trump instructed administration officials Wednesday to investigate how to prevent surprise medical bills, broadening his focus on drug prices to include other issues of price transparency in health care.

Flanked by patients and other guests invited to the White House to share their stories of unexpected and outrageous bills, Trump directed his health secretary, Alex Azar, and labor secretary, Alex Acosta, to work on a solution, several attendees said.
So perhaps Trump thought that his Wednesday proclamation = automagically lower prescription drug prices? Yeah, sounds plausible.

It'll be interesting to see what comes of this current direction. Hopefully we'll get more than declaring the opioid epidemic a crisis, but not providing any funding (NYT, Oct. 26, 2017), or even declaring it a national emergency, which would have given state and local agencies more freedom to try new approaches and access to funds.

Instead, Trump is using the opioid crisis to justify the need for the wall -- "The epidemic is an integral part of the president’s anti-immigration rhetoric, but it otherwise hasn’t become an urgent part of his policy agenda." (Vann R. Newkirk II for The Atlantic, Jan. 9, 2019)
Donald Trump hasn’t talked about the opioid epidemic much recently. So when he used the peerless pulpit of the Oval Office to discuss it on Tuesday night, it could have been an opportunity to rally the public and to provide meaningful solutions.

His words framed the urgency of the situation, which for many Americans may have been out of sight in the past few months. “Our southern border is a pipeline for vast quantities of illegal drugs, including meth, heroin, cocaine, and fentanyl,” he said. “Every week, 300 of our citizens are killed by heroin alone, 90 percent of which floods across from our southern border. More Americans will die from drugs this year than were killed in the entire Vietnam War.”

The president isn’t wrong about the yearly death toll. Opioids like heroin and fentanyl killed more than 70,000 people in 2017, higher than the more than 50,000 Americans who died in Vietnam. If the 2018 and 2019 numbers are similar, the total number of Americans killed by opioids since 2014 will rival the number killed in World War II. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recently confirmed that opioid deaths have become such a burden, they’ve reduced the overall American life expectancy.

But Trump presented the same fix for the crisis as for every other problem in his speech: the border wall that he’d gone on TV to pitch. The epidemic, in that way, was only a convenient means to an end, fuel for an argument the president has been making for years. The wall is the only proposal that Trump has genuinely fought to enact as president, but it’s the one that will almost surely do the least to halt the epidemic.
Emphasis mine -- sorry, suffering Americans, your misery is just a tool to promote his racist policies and narcissistic monument to himself.
posted by filthy light thief at 12:16 PM on January 24 [12 favorites]


The Senate is currently voting on the White House and the House bills to reopen the government. It's not going great.

First, please enjoy Sen. Bennet (D-CO) going full "can you believe this asshole?" mode on Ted Cruz who now thinks shutdowns are bad: "These crocodile tears that the Senator from Texas is crying for first responders are too hard for me to take."

Second, the White House's bill, which they packed full of Stephen Miller's wishlist to restrict asylum, has now been voted down by Republican Senators Lee and Cotton (Democratic Senator Manchin voted for it), presumably because they think it doesn't hurt immigrants enough. So Republicans couldn't even show unanimity in their failure here.

The White House's plan went down 51-47; it needed 60. Onto the House bill, without the wall funding.
posted by zachlipton at 12:18 PM on January 24 [45 favorites]


Why wouldn't existing capital gains taxation rules cover all the ways to value things?

Capital gains taxes don’t care about valuation, per se. They tax the difference between the price you buy at and the price you sell at. If you’re going to implement a wealth tax you have to be able to accurately ascertain the value of non-monetary components of wealth (art, private businesses, horses, real estate that isn’t actively on the market, intellectual property, etc.) and you have to do it at least once a year. On top of that you have to figure out a way to do this across international borders if you actually plan on the tax actually being effective.

That’s a hard thing.
posted by zrail at 12:19 PM on January 24 [10 favorites]


Tallahassee Democrat, Florida Secretary of State Michael Ertel resigns after Halloween blackface photos emerge [cw: blackface photo]. It gets worse though. Yes, you might be wondering how blackface photos could get worse, since that really seems sufficiently horrible on its own: the photo is from 2005, and he was "posing as a Hurricane Katrina victim in blackface" at a Halloween party.
posted by zachlipton at 12:21 PM on January 24 [39 favorites]


A woman Hurricane Katrina victim in blackface, to be precise.
posted by Sophie1 at 12:22 PM on January 24 [18 favorites]


That’s a hard thing.

It definitely is! But we do already do all the stuff you list... when you die and your estate has to be valued for the estate tax. Granted that's once a lifetime rather than once a year which is a massive difference.

There's definitely a reason these sorts of wealth clawbacks tend to be one-offs rather than annual.
posted by Justinian at 12:22 PM on January 24 [5 favorites]


Capital gains tax is triggered upon sale, for the most part, therefore there is a clear valuation.

While I think it's good for our more radical Congresspeople to agitate for a wealth tax, I think there is more danger than many here realize in taking it up as part of the party platform. Wealth, especially in America is aspirational. The old saw about the American poor thinking of themselves as temporarily embarrassed millionaires is more accurate than I'd like it to be.

Even high top marginal income tax rates are perceived quite differently than literally confiscating people's stuff because I personally think they have too much, which is exactly how a wealth tax would be perceived. Not to mention that it's pretty easily gamable anyway with trusts and even perfectly legitimate businesses. Better to have a wide definition of income to capture it when it is made (and the liquidity available to pay the tax is more certain) and an estate tax to keep generational wealth from continuing to become a thing again.

Also, I don't particularly care for having the government snooping into precisely what assets a person happens to own at any given time when there is no suspicion of illegal activities. While the wingers fetishize the Constitution to a ridiculous degree, they aren't entirely wrong in the idea that there are limits to how intrusive government should be regarding an individual's life. If there are less intrusive means to accomplish the goal, better to use those, if for no other reason than practicality.
posted by wierdo at 12:23 PM on January 24 [5 favorites]


[Guys, the double-digit deleted confusion over who voted what is why liveblogging doesn't work in these threads.. Please take your time and contextualize your comments. ]
posted by restless_nomad (staff) at 12:29 PM on January 24 [28 favorites]


Speaking of trusts... perhaps it's time to return to the idea that perpetual trusts are bad?
posted by another_20_year_lurker at 12:32 PM on January 24 [2 favorites]


To be precise, that wasn't a vote on a bill but a vote on cloture, right? I'm not aware of any process whereby a bill actually needs 60 votes to pass, even though every news source I can find is describing it in those terms.
posted by InTheYear2017 at 12:33 PM on January 24 [1 favorite]


It was the vote on cloture, but in the modern Senate a vote for cloture is, 99.99% of the time, effectively a vote on passage. Especially when the 60-vote threshold applies (you might find one person who'd vote for cloture but not the bill itself, McCain-on-healthcare-like, but not 10).
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 12:35 PM on January 24 [2 favorites]


One widely used tax dodge for wealth is: take out a loan against your huge pile to finance your current life. Not only do you avoid paying tax from actually redeeming the gains -- bonus, the interest on that loan is tax-deductible (when you're wealthy it's a "business" loan)!

Loan gets paid off when you die, at which point the value of the pile is stepped up. But that's another ball of wax ...

You had to value that huge pile to get a loan against it. That's one valuation.
posted by Dashy at 12:38 PM on January 24 [3 favorites]


And now for the Senate vote on the House's wall-free bill to reopen the government.

Several Republicans have crossed over to join Democrats in voting for the bill: Lamar, Collins, Gardner, Isakson, Murkowski, Romney.

The Democratic bill to reopen the government goes down 52-44 (it also needed 60, yes this was a cloture vote, not voting: Burr, Paul, Risch, Rosen).

The White House's plan went down 51-47; it needed 60.

Update: that should be 50-47. Sen. Braun (R-IN), presiding over the Senate, said the wrong number for some reason or another. So the White House's big plan got 50 votes.
posted by zachlipton at 12:38 PM on January 24 [10 favorites]


So now what, we're still closed with nothing left to vote on?
posted by fluttering hellfire at 12:48 PM on January 24 [6 favorites]


Right, still closed, but like valuing wealth, which is easier when something is sold, the votes today tell us where the Senate is. Which is leaning toward the Democratic plan and away from Trump's.

Pelosi's strong offer tomorrow may knock everything loose.
posted by notyou at 12:54 PM on January 24 [16 favorites]


not voting: Burr, Paul, Risch, Rosen

For the record: Burr (NC), Paul (KY) and Risch (ID) are Republicans and Rosen (NV) is a Democrat. None of them are particularly moderate. So with full participation, the vote would almost certainly be 53-47 on both bills.
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 12:58 PM on January 24 [4 favorites]


I'm sure this has been discussed before, but is the rule actually that literally 60 votes are always needed for cloture? Or would 51 have been enough without the permanent threat of filibuster, like the good old days? If the latter, I would love to know which Republicans would actually go on the record as willing to filibuster the clean reopening of government, the same bill they unanimously voted for previously. It's one thing when McConnell just refused to allow a vote at all, but now that they're voting on it, responsibility is shared.
posted by Roommate at 12:59 PM on January 24 [7 favorites]


I'm sure this has been discussed before, but is the rule actually that literally 60 votes are always needed for cloture?

Yes, after reforms in the late 60's, the number for cloture was set at 3/5ths of all senators seated, instead of senators present.

Also, all a filibuster means is the prevention of cloture. This can be done by making sure there's 41 votes against it, or by controlling the floor if you know there's 60 votes for cloture.
posted by NoxAeternum at 1:22 PM on January 24 [1 favorite]


is the rule actually that literally 60 votes are always needed for cloture

Apparently so.
posted by BungaDunga at 1:22 PM on January 24


That's the rule. The rule can be changed by a simple majority vote. So far nobody on either side (in the Senate) thinks that's a good idea.
posted by Justinian at 1:24 PM on January 24 [3 favorites]


Seriously, I highly recommend watching Sen. Bennet (D-CO)'s epic anti-Cruz rant. posted above by zachlipton. Also what he has to say about The Wall. Highly cathartic, especially for my fellow Texans. (Non-twitter link.)
posted by threeturtles at 1:26 PM on January 24 [40 favorites]




When do employees get their back pay? If a CR is passed? Or only if a new budget is passed?
posted by thefoxgod at 1:33 PM on January 24 [1 favorite]


Statement from Sarah Sanders, via The Hill's Jordan Fabian: “The President would consider a CR only if it includes a down payment on the wall.”
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 1:34 PM on January 24


A three week continuing resolution is definitely better than nothing, but I'm worried we'll be right back at the same place in three weeks.
posted by ArbitraryAndCapricious at 1:35 PM on January 24 [3 favorites]


NBC news with more activity by our Asset-In-Chief (rhymes with no-thanktions)
posted by Harry Caul at 1:37 PM on January 24 [3 favorites]


When do employees get their back pay?

When a CR is passed. They also already passed a technical bill which would allow a mid pay-cycle disbursement of funds to repay everyone...which really begs the question of why the fuck this is allowed to happen, if even the Republicans have already agreed to make (most) everyone whole, but still must suffer until some indeterminate time.

If Democrats do retake complete control, ending the hostage taking by reforming the antideficiency act and/or passing a new budget law that automatically passes continuing resolutions need to move to the top of the list.
posted by T.D. Strange at 1:38 PM on January 24 [8 favorites]


Statement from Sarah Sanders, via The Hill's Jordan Fabian: “The President would consider a CR only if it includes a down payment on the wall.”

And then they revised the statement to add the word "large". It's a bullshit offer that's going nowhere. He gets no wall money to open the government. None.
posted by Justinian at 1:40 PM on January 24 [29 favorites]


Roommate: If the latter, I would love to know which Republicans would actually go on the record as willing to filibuster the clean reopening of government, the same bill they unanimously voted for previously. It's one thing when McConnell just refused to allow a vote at all, but now that they're voting on it, responsibility is shared.

All Republicans except nine voted against cloture on debate to reopen government sans wall. Three of them didn't vote, while the other six crossed the aisle. One Democrat didn't vote, but (unsurprisingly) none of them crossed over on this.

Comparing the two votes may be confusing because they're not mirror images, but the numbers result from the existence of both Republicans and one Democrat (Manchin) who believe in re-opening either with or without a wall. As far as I can tell, no Senators are against both bills (a la AOC).
posted by InTheYear2017 at 1:43 PM on January 24


LA Times, U.S. officials to start pushing asylum seekers back across the border
U.S. border officials finalized plans Thursday to require asylum seekers to remain in Mexico while their cases are considered in the United States, a dramatic escalation of the Trump administration’s immigration crackdown.

Border officers will start pushing asylum applicants back across the border as soon as the implementation becomes operational on Friday, beginning at the San Ysidro port of entry in California, a Homeland Security official said on condition of anonymity to discuss internal planning.
posted by zachlipton at 1:44 PM on January 24 [7 favorites]


Provoked By Trump, The Religious Left Is Finding Its Voice (NPR, January 24, 2019)
Religious conservatives have rarely faced much competition in the political realm from faith-based groups on the left.

The provocations of President Trump may finally be changing that.

Nearly 40 years after some prominent evangelical Christians organized a Moral Majority movement to promote a conservative political agenda, a comparable effort by liberal religious leaders is coalescing in support of immigrant rights, universal health care, LGBTQ rights and racial justice.

"We believe that faith has a critical role to play in shaping public policies and influencing decisionmakers," says the Rev. Jennifer Butler, an ordained Presbyterian minister and founder of the group Faith in Public Life. "Our moral values speak to the kinds of just laws that we ought to have."

Her group, part of what could be considered a religious left, says it has mobilized nearly 50,000 local clergy and faith leaders, with on-the-ground operations in Florida, Georgia, North Carolina and Ohio. Butler founded the organization in 2005 with a precedent in mind: It was religious leaders who drove the abolitionist movement in the 19th century and the civil rights movement in the 20th century.
I'm glad to see this gathering coming together to respond to the hate and division spread in the name of Christianity.
posted by filthy light thief at 1:53 PM on January 24 [55 favorites]


Border officers will start pushing asylum applicants back across the border as soon as the implementation becomes operational on Friday
On the 'Are We The Baddies?' scale, that puts us at the level of Bulgaria 2014 now.
posted by Harry Caul at 1:55 PM on January 24 [15 favorites]


Meanwhile, Lawsuits Allege 'Grave Harm' To Immigrant Children In Detention (NPR, January 24, 2019)
At least four federal lawsuits have been filed since March that challenge the way the government cares for child migrants. The legal actions allege that the administration is ignoring a federal mandate to place immigrant children "in the least restrictive setting available."

Advocates for the migrant children say they are being locked up for months when there are family members already living in the United States ready to take them into their homes. Most of the underage migrants are teenagers who trek to the U.S. border from Central America alone or without a parent or legal guardian. They say they're fleeing violent street gangs in their home neighborhoods and most of them ask for asylum. They are allowed to live with sponsors while they await their day in immigration court.
The Lawsuits:
A lawsuit on behalf of migrant children in ORR custody claims the government is violating a federal mandate by prolonging confinement of underage immigrants on the false pretext that adult sponsors are unfit custodians.

A class action lawsuit on behalf of migrant children and their potential sponsors challenges "egregious delays" in the release of the youths from ORR custody because of rigorous fingerprint background checks.

A class action lawsuit represents migrant teenagers detained by ICE who came to the US when they were 17 years old and arrested when they turned 18; the legal action calls on ICE to follow the federal mandate that immigrant teenagers should be placed in "the least restrictive setting available."

A class action lawsuit accuses the Office of Refugee Resettlement of working with ICE to "facilitate civil immigration enforcement against sponsors."
In the past year, lawyers say at least 170 willing sponsors were arrested and put in deportation proceedings after coming forward for the child.
posted by filthy light thief at 1:58 PM on January 24 [38 favorites]


And now he's called an unscheduled press pool to talk about the FART act. [real].
The White House press pool has just been summoned for an unscheduled event. Not sure what this is, but we’ll likely be hearing from President Trump shortly. Per pool, reporters have been brought into the Cabinet room where POTUS is meeting with Republican lawmakers. The topic of the meeting is the US Reciprocal Trade Act. The bill, known as the Free and Reciprocal Trade Act (FART Act) would withdraw the US from the World Trade Organization and increase Trump tariff powers.
posted by T.D. Strange at 2:07 PM on January 24 [30 favorites]


zachlipton: LA Times, U.S. officials to start pushing asylum seekers back across the border

Mexico Says Will Not Accept Return of At-Risk U.S. Asylum Seekers (Anthony Esposito, Jan. 23, 2019, U.S. News & World Report)
MEXICO CITY (Reuters) - Two U.S.-Mexico meetings have been held to work out details of a new plan to return across the shared border migrants seeking U.S. asylum, but Mexico will not accept anybody facing a credible threat back home, a Mexico Foreign Ministry spokesman said.

In a major policy change, U.S. President Donald Trump's administration said on Dec. 20 it would send non-Mexican migrants who cross the U.S. southern border back to wait in Mexico while their U.S. asylum requests are processed.

At the time, Mexico said it would accept some Central American asylum seekers for humanitarian reasons, in what many saw as an early concession to Trump by Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, who took office on Dec. 1.
...
In an interview on Tuesday, Foreign Ministry spokesman Roberto Velasco said Mexico cannot accept the return of migrants who are "in danger."

"If they return people that are vulnerable, that have a founded fear of persecution in Mexico, or people that require some special attention, we don't have resources to address that," he said.
Emphasis mine, as Mexico Reports Highest Ever Homicide Rate In 2018, Tops 33,000 Investigations (Fanessa Romo for WKSU, Jan. 23, 2019)
Mexico's homicide rate continued to skyrocket last year, making 2018 the deadliest on record for the country with an average of 91 deaths a day.

A report [PDF] released by Mexico's Secretariat of Security and Citizen Protection recorded 33,341 intentional homicides in 2018, a 15% increase over 2017, which held the previous record for the highest number of opened investigations with 28,866 cases [PDF].

Widespread violence over more than a decade has ravaged cities and towns alike, as drug cartels and criminal organizations appear to operate with impunity, facing few if any repercussions from law enforcement agencies that are rife with corruption or crippled by intimidation.
I realize that the US-Mexico talks on pushing migrants back into Mexico have been going on for a short while now, but this report is making it look like we're intentionally asking asylum seekers to face increased dangers while waiting to hear their cases.
posted by filthy light thief at 2:08 PM on January 24 [10 favorites]


"We believe that faith has a critical role to play in shaping public policies and influencing decisionmakers,"

Fuck, no it doesn’t. Look, I appreciate that they’re on the progressive side of a lot of things, but “faith” shouldn’t be anywhere near our government, on either side. We should be pushing to get all religion out of politics, not inviting more in.
posted by greermahoney at 2:10 PM on January 24 [78 favorites]


Provoked By Trump, The Religious Left Is Finding Its Voice (NPR, January 24, 2019)
I feel like this narrative really only works if you ignore black people. Because there's been a black religious left since always.
posted by ArbitraryAndCapricious at 2:13 PM on January 24 [128 favorites]


Fuck, no it doesn’t. Look, I appreciate that they’re on the progressive side of a lot of things, but “faith” shouldn’t be anywhere near our government, on either side. We should be pushing to get all religion out of politics, not inviting more in.

Faith is part of ideology, personal ethics, and identity; it's kind of hard to not have it inform how people interact with government. Should we have laws based on religions? No, but should religious people make laws. In so far as they are people, yes.
posted by Lord Chancellor at 2:13 PM on January 24 [24 favorites]


Yeah if you kick religion out of politics you gotta kick out Martin Luther King Jr.
posted by BungaDunga at 2:15 PM on January 24 [15 favorites]


I’m a dirt worshipping pagan and I give money every month to Reverend William Barber and the Poor People’s Campaign.
posted by Sublimity at 2:16 PM on January 24 [51 favorites]


The FART act? What the hell?

*reads on, sees what it does*

Takes the USA out of the WTO and gives Trump more authority to impose trade tariffs!!!???

Nancy won’t let that act go very far, but nevertheless, in the Before Time a news item like that would have cratered Wall Street.
posted by notyou at 2:22 PM on January 24 [23 favorites]


CNN, Exclusive: White House preparing draft national emergency order and identified $7 billion for wall
The White House is preparing a draft proclamation for President Donald Trump to declare a national emergency along the southern border and has identified more than $7 billion in potential funds for his signature border wall should he go that route, according to internal documents reviewed by CNN.

Trump has not ruled out using his authority to declare a national emergency and direct the Defense Department to construct a border wall as Congress and the White House fight over a deal to end the government shutdown. But while Trump's advisers remain divided on the issue, the White House has been moving forward with alternative plans that would bypass Congress.
...
According to options being considered, the administration could pull: $681 million from treasury forfeiture funds, $3.6 billion in military construction, $3 billion in Pentagon civil works funds, and $200 million in Department of Homeland Security funds, the official said.
It seems like it would be problematic to declare an emergency over something that Congress just explicitly declined to fund this afternoon, but avoiding problematic things is hardly the White House's priority. The story is careful to note that there's no firm plan he'll sign it, just that the order is being prepared and updated.
posted by zachlipton at 2:24 PM on January 24 [9 favorites]


Nancy won’t let that act go very far, but nevertheless, in the Before Time a news item like that would have cratered Wall Street.

The FART Act has been around since 2018.
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 2:26 PM on January 24


And now he's called an unscheduled press pool to talk about the FART act. [real].

Whatever nonsense this turns out to be. it is almost certainly Trump’s reaction to having to give in to Pelosi on the SOTU. Suffering narcissistic injury compels him to strike out at another target.

Still, having been dominated by Pelosi, he’s showing her his belly, per Bloomberg’s Jennifer Jacobs:
Trump says Pelosi was “reasonable” to say no State of the Union address til after govt reopens.

“It’s really her choice,” he says.
Daniel Dale is live-blogging/fact-checking Trump’s press conference, although at the moment, he’s mostly bloviating about the Wall and border security fantasies.
posted by Doktor Zed at 2:28 PM on January 24 [5 favorites]


[The faith-or-not thing is too big for this thread. ]
posted by restless_nomad (staff) at 2:37 PM on January 24 [24 favorites]


Still, having been dominated by Pelosi, he’s showing her his belly, per Bloomberg’s Jennifer Jacobs:
Trump says Pelosi was “reasonable” to say no State of the Union address til after govt reopens.

“It’s really her choice,” he says.


It's going to be very interesting when Republican lawmakers realize that he is easier and more predictable to deal with using dominance instead of sycophancy.
posted by jason_steakums at 2:38 PM on January 24 [39 favorites]


I don't mean to pick on you, Dr Zed, but yours is the most recent example, so I'm going to use it, but I wonder if it's a good idea to run with the dominance-lingo about Trump rolling over etc, like in this quote: Still, having been dominated by Pelosi, he’s showing her his belly...

I feel that a lot of what is going on these days is because some people have a 'fuck or be fucked' mentality (it has been discussed several times here, and there is a very good analysis of it somewhere on the site - a comment I cannot find). It's a kind of mentality that, I feel, should absolutely not be encouraged, and I think we should frame AWAY from it as much as possible.

Maybe 'Pelosi is one of the few people who manages to occasionally spark fleeting glimmers of reason in Trump'?

Anyone can 'own' someone else on the internet; few people can boast to discover traces of Trump, the human. I feel this makes her stature appear much more impressive.
posted by doggod at 2:40 PM on January 24 [9 favorites]


It's going to be very interesting when Republican lawmakers realize that he is easier and more predictable to deal with using dominance instead of sycophancy.

Won't work, because for Republicans, he has the ultimate tool to reassert dominance - he can cut off their support. He has no such leverage over Pelosi, which is why dominance games don't work with her.
posted by NoxAeternum at 2:41 PM on January 24 [1 favorite]


Trump's response to Sec. Ross's comments [video], in which the president thinks banks and grocery stores will "work along" for federal workers who aren't getting paid. While there have been some great acts of charity, grocery stores will not, in fact, give you groceries if you do not give them money in exchange.
posted by zachlipton at 2:45 PM on January 24 [79 favorites]


Honestly, at this point I'm not as surprised at the fact that Trump clearly doesn't know the first thing about buying groceries as I am at how often it comes up.
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 2:49 PM on January 24 [37 favorites]


Maybe 'Pelosi is one of the few people who manages to occasionally spark fleeting glimmers of reason in Trump'?

Donald Trump has lived his life as an unreasonable asshole for over seventy years, and his zero-sum worldview is a familiar topic here. The face-eating leopard isn't going to change his spots after one public setback.

Incidentally, here's a report from the House by Fox's Chad Pergram: “From colleague Peter Doocy. Pelosi on Trump saying he wants a down payment for the wall to re-open the gov't: Pelosi: "That is not a reasonable agreement between the senators" Reporter: "Do you know what he’s talking about?" Pelosi: "I don’t know if he knows"”
posted by Doktor Zed at 2:57 PM on January 24 [36 favorites]


Won't work, because for Republicans, he has the ultimate tool to reassert dominance - he can cut off their support. He has no such leverage over Pelosi, which is why dominance games don't work with her.

I honestly think he's afraid to use his leverage in a real fight and only plays dominance games when kid gloves are on - see his fear of firing anyone personally. I think against a republican lawmaker going hard after him to get what they want he'd flinch and hurt himself with his base by showing weakness.

And I kind of think McConnell knows this and that's why he's been blocking bills. If Trump vetoes a bill to keep the government open, that's not going to move the needle much with his base, if it takes a veto override and he can be shown standing up for it with a fig leaf of grumble grumble Democrats swamp grumble to cover the loss it won't either, but if he flinches and signs it anyways before it goes back for an override vote it will show him as the paper tiger he is. And that kind of identity crisis in the base would be bad for all Republicans.
posted by jason_steakums at 2:57 PM on January 24 [12 favorites]


The Stranger: [Governor] Inslee Gives Unemployment Benefits to Coast Guard, TSA, and Other Federal Workers in Washington state
posted by scaryblackdeath at 3:09 PM on January 24 [38 favorites]


I resistbotted Iowa Senator Joni Ernst and just got the most lukewarm response ever: a paragraph about how the government shouldn't be held hostage to politics, and then a paragraph about how border security was also very important and shouldn't be a partisan issue. She meant that as a criticism of Democrats, but there was no mention of the wall. She's voting in lock-step with Trump, but I really get the sense that her heart isn't in it. I'm going to call her office tomorrow.
posted by ArbitraryAndCapricious at 3:09 PM on January 24 [14 favorites]


Donald Trump has lived his life as an unreasonable asshole for over seventy years, and his zero-sum worldview is a familiar topic here. The face-eating leopard isn't going to change his spots after one public setback.

Oh, I completely agree, Dr. Zed, I'm not arguing that HE will have a road-to-Damaskus moment or anything like this. I'm arguing for a move away about the rhetoric that is currently (allowed to) control public life. It's all about winning, power over, dominating, superior and inferior, us vs them. It's so pervasive that it almost automatically invites people to find antagonists and seek to subdue them, and we have zero control over what random thing individual people base their choice of 'team' on.

I also feel that it encourages people to loose sight of what (beyond sheer survival) we are fighting for: an inclusive society in which everyone can thrive. And that is not a society in which people dominate each other; it is a society in which you stand up for what is right, you fight for those who are at risk of exclusion or worse, as far as you need to take that fight. But you never seek to dominate. You stand up FOR. There is no place for dominance in this society; this kind of gamified/ militarized approach to having a society is antithetical to what we all ultimately hope can be achieved once this nightmare is over.

So, to me, standing up to Trump (which has an explicit 'standing up FOR something') is not a matter of dominance so much as of not loosing sight of the dream endangered by this profoundly unserious and dangerous lot, and pursuing it doggedly even in the face of (temporary, apparent) defeat. And this is what I think reframing Nancy Pelosi's actions (and others') can achieve: remind everybody that at the bottom of this heap of shit is something achievable and worth having.

Thi