"When I say something that you might think is a gaffe, it’s on purpose"
February 5, 2019 5:47 PM   Subscribe

Tonight at 9 pm, Donald Trump will make his second State of the Union address, in which he is expected to expatiate on the themes of "choosing greatness", infrastructure investment (maybe), bipartisanship (hopefully), and not declaring a national emergency (yet). Having made little progress on last year's SOTU promises (NYT), this year's could be even less believable (Politico). Here's how to watch it (Politico) or, if you prefer, drink to it (Newsweek).

• Wall Negotiations/National Emergency Round-up:
‘A Watershed Moment’: Trump Faces Crossroads Amid Mounting Threats On All Sides (WaPo) "House Democrats have made clear they will not vote to fund wall construction ahead of the Feb. 15 deadline to pass a new homeland security spending bill. Senate Republicans also are overwhelmingly resistant to declaring a national emergency, according to two senior GOP aides."
Trump Could ‘Be Forced’ to Declare National Emergency, GOP Border Negotiator Says (Politico) Rep. Henry Cuellar (D-Texas), who represents a border district, "emphasized the legal doubts surrounding Trump’s threats to declare a national emergency to begin wall construction, saying that “any reasonable judge is going to say this is not an emergency.”"
Republicans Defy Trump On National Emergency (Politico) “As a practical matter, the president might be able to get his veto sustained,” said Sen. Roger Wicker (R-Miss.). “The 99 percent likelihood is that a court would enjoin that emergency declaration and for the rest of the president’s first term the matter of the emergency would be tied up in the court and there would be no wall.”
Republicans Suggest Trump Won’t Get All The Wall Money He Wants — But They Are Unclear About What He Wants (WaPo) “Obviously, it’d be great if the president decided to sign the bill,” Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said Tuesday. “I think we don’t yet know what his view is on this, but I think the conferees ought to reach an agreement and then we’ll hope that the president finds it worth signing.”
Path to Trump’s Border Wall Narrows as Republicans Balk at Emergency Declaration (NYT) "Mr. Trump is not expected to declare the state of emergency during Tuesday’s address. But he continues to threaten that he will divert funding for other military and infrastructure projects to build the wall, with or without congressional approval. He has told people close to him that he views the threat as his last remaining leverage in the fight."
• National Security Round-up:
Trump gets ready for State of the Union address – live news (Guardian) "Trump is expected to declare near-total triumph over the Islamic State group in Syria in his State of the Union address Tuesday, but U.S. defense officials are increasingly fearful that the militants are simply biding their time until the Americans leave the battlefield as planned, the Associated Press reports"
US commander says he was 'not consulted' on decision to leave Syria (Guardian) Gen Joseph Votel, head of Central Command, warned Isis will continue to pose a threat following US withdrawal
‘Unconscionable’: GOP Senate Homeland Security chair torches Trump’s Syria policy (Politico) "Johnson was one of 43 Senate Republicans to back a measure by Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) on Thursday that rebuked the president’s Syria policy in a bipartisan vote."
Trump disagrees with his own intelligence team. We catalog the differences (PolitiFact) "In his tweets, Trump was mostly responding to statements by Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats and CIA director Gina Haspel."
Author of Controversial Nunes Memo Joining National Security Council (CNN) "A congressional aide [Kashyap Patel] who was key in crafting the controversial Republican House Intelligence Committee memo that accused FBI and Justice Department officials of abusing their surveillance authority is set to join the National Security Council, two sources familiar with the matter said."
Why Intelligence Leadership Won’t Resign in Response to Trump’s Criticisms (LawFare) "The bureaucratic norm of putting one’s head down and getting to work lives particularly strong in intelligence circles."
Sold to an Ally, Lost to an Enemy—The US shipped weapons and secrets to the Saudis and Emiratis. Now, some are in the hands of fighters linked to al Qaeda and Iran. (CNN)
• INF Treaty Round-up:
Russia Pulls Out of Nuclear Treaty in ‘Symmetrical’ Response to U.S. Move (NYT) In a tit-for-tat response to the Trump administrations moves, Vladimir Putin suspends the observation of the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty.
Tom Nichols: Okay, everyone, I'm going to explain why the INF Treaty even existed and why it's an idiotic move to dump it and think we can replicate our success against the USSR in the 1980s all over again.[tweets|Thread reader]
Europe and the End of the INF Treaty (Carnegie Institute) "The Europeans, while standing behind NATO, have some hard choices to make. […] But there is little doubt that Putin can, and indeed has, threatened Europe (meaning Germany) over America’s decision to quit the INF."
John Bolton is a serial arms control killer (WaPo) Nuclear weapons policy expert Joseph Cirincione explains how Bolton's instincts to kill any treaty plays into Putin's hands, strengthening Russia position while weakening European cooperation.
• Trump Investigation Round-up:
New York federal prosecutors seek interviews with Trump Organization executives (CNN)
Federal prosecutors issue sweeping subpoena for documents from Trump inaugural committee, a sign of a deepening criminal probe (WaPo)
The Investigation Into Trump’s Inauguration Money Looks Quite Serious—The US Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York subpoenaed the inaugural committee on Monday. (Vox)
The Plan to Keep Trump’s Taxes Hidden (Politico) The Trump administration wants to drag an expected Democratic request for the president’s tax returns into a quagmire of arcane legal arguments.
[Maryland] Prosecutors Subpoena Records from Trump’s Scottish Golf Clubs (Vanity Fair) "Maryland prosecutors have subpoenaed a company owned by Donald Trump for records related to his Scottish golf courses, seeking information about the president’s possible violations of the emoluments clause of the Constitution."
• NRA Round-up:
Mueller Wants To Know About 2016 Trump Campaign's Ties to NRA (CNN)
N.R.A. Seeks Distance From Russia as Investigations Heat Up (NYT)
NRA Heavyweight Wanted Access to Putin: Leaked Email—“[I]mpressing the NRA’s Russian hosts is the quickest way to secure a private interview with President Putin,” an organizer of the NRA’s infamous 2015 trip to Moscow wrote. (Daily Beast)
Investigators Are Zeroing in on Top NRA Leaders’ Russia Ties—and Challenging the Gun Group’s Story (Mother Jones)
NRA Says 2015 Moscow Trip Wasn’t 'Official.' Emails, Photos Reveal Gun Group's Role. (ABC)
• Immigration Round-up:
US Sees Limitations On Reuniting Migrant Families (AP) "Jonathan White, who leads the Health and Human Services Department’s efforts to reunite migrant children with their parents, said removing children from 'sponsor' homes to rejoin their parents 'would present grave child welfare concerns.'"
Finding All Migrant Children Separated From Their Families May Be Impossible, Feds Say (NBC)
As U.S. Starts Deportations, Asylum-Seekers Face Perils in Mexico (Reuters)
Immigrants Drove Hours for Fake, ICE-issued Court Dates on Thursday (CBS)
Immigrant Rights Attorneys and Journalists Denied Entry Into Mexico (LAT)
Immigrant Tech Workers Struggle to Get H-1B Visas Under Trump: ‘I’ve Never Felt So Helpless’ (LAT) "While many people zero in on Trump’s crackdown against illegal immigration, his administration has also tightened or ended various paths to legal immigration."
Report: Immigration Applications Are Seeing “Crisis-Level” Delays Under the Trump Administration (Mother Jones)
IN OTHER HEADLINES:

• Before Expected Call for Unity, Trump Laced Into Democrats at Lunch for TV Anchors (NYT) Laying into Joe Biden (among possible 2020 challengers), Trump said, "His gaffes are unbelievable. When I say something that you might think is a gaffe, it’s on purpose; it’s not a gaffe. When Biden says something dumb, it’s because he’s dumb."

Mueller Witness’ Team Gamed Out Russian Meddling … in 2015 (Daily Beast). “At the time we were discussing the subject of cyber interference in democratic processes, it felt like just another idle intellectual exercise. But retrospectively, it feels a bit too on-the-nose not to be disturbing.”—Former Wikistrat analyst Peter Marino

• Trump Campaign Spending Erupts As President Enters Reelection Mode (Politico) Trump 2020 campaign spending dramatically increased to $23 million in the final quarter of last year, driven by midterm rallies and digital advertising (and $289,673 in "collateral" payments for hats). See also: “There’s a Revolt Against Parscale”: Amid Biden Night Sweats, the Knives Come Out (as Always) in Trump’s West Wing (Vanity Fair)

Insider leaks Trump's "Executive Time"-filled private schedules (Axios) (read all the schedules). "The schedules, which cover nearly every working day since the midterms, show that Trump has spent around 60% of his scheduled time over the past 3 months in unstructured 'Executive Time.'"

'They basically have nothing to do’: Trio of Republicans face life in exile (Politico). Duncan Hunter, Chris Collins and Steve King are on the sidelines after being stripped of their committee assignments.

US Oil Lease Near Sacred Park Pushes Forward (AP). The Bureau of Land Management "will move forward in March with the sale of oil and gas leases that include land near Chaco Culture National Historical Park in New Mexico and other areas sacred to Native American tribes."

How the Proud Boys Became Roger Stone’s Personal Army (Daily Beast). "When asked whether the Proud Boys mischaracterized his “1st degree” initiation in the video, Stone accused this reporter of being a member of the Communist Party and did not return further questions." See also: Proud Boys' founder Gavin McInnes sues Southern Poverty Law Center over hate group label (NBC)

The Palm Beach Post reviews "Mar-a-Lago: Inside the Gates of Power at Donald Trump’s Presidential Palace" How Trump used law suits, leaks to the National Enquirer, and threats to the town government to establish his Florida retreat. See also: Trump’s travel to Mar-a-Lago alone likely cost taxpayers more than $64 million (Washington Post).

Today is the 746th day of the Trump administration. There are 636 days until the 2020 elections and 10 until the short-term spending bill to keep the government open runs out.

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, alternative song lyrics, etc...
There is no coin cabal, come chat about a Megathread challenge coin

Previously in U.S. Politics Megathreads: "Our country is in a hellhole right now."--Cardi B

Megathread-Adjacent Posts and Sites:
The Empty Quadrant (on the social-liberal-fiscal-conservatism of Howard Schultz)
Comments Sought by Feb 12 on US Health Privacy Law
Curtailing Inequality and Saving Democracy
Day 31: Government Shutdown/Strike
Women's March AND March for Life events
• OnceUponATime's Active Measures site
• Chrysostom's 2018 Election Ratings & Results Tracker

Elsewhere in MetaFilter: Working for a Campaign 101; Should I volunteer for this candidate? (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 box, I.forgot.my.password, 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 (1884 comments total) 124 users marked this as a favorite
 
[Preemptive reiteration: I know we got a nice new thread here but regardless please keep the livebloggy reactions to the SOTU in check. Let's try to skip contextless reactions or spit-takes and one-liners; contextualized reactions and comments summing up a digest of a larger bit of content are gonna work better.]
posted by cortex (staff) at 5:52 PM on February 5 [21 favorites]


Holy cow. Given the depth and breadth of the content of these posts — serious hat-tip to the posters — no wonder I’m feeling overwhelmed by the magnitude and pervasiveness of it all!

How could anyone hope to keep a firm handle on this mess?
posted by darkstar at 5:54 PM on February 5 [50 favorites]




This is going to be the second year in a row that I can't be bothered to watch, after about 2 decades of always watching.
posted by MrBobaFett at 5:59 PM on February 5 [20 favorites]


A few symbology notes:

Speaker Pelosi sending a pretty clear message by wearing a brooch of the ceremonial Mace of the House of Representatives [photo]

Tiffany Trump is wearing white, [photo] possibly standing with the Democratic women in suffragette white. Melania Trump is wearing black and a single glove.

Also, I very like the shout of "Madam Speaker" at the start.
posted by zachlipton at 6:04 PM on February 5 [40 favorites]


Text "sotu" to 50409 and they will text you when it is over.
posted by OnceUponATime at 6:05 PM on February 5 [6 favorites]


So Elizabeth Warren mistakenly relying on (or cynically exploiting) family stories of Indian lineage disqualifies her as a presidential candidate? Clearly 2020 is not a year for anyone but the absolute best Democratic candidate IMO so if another contender has a cleaner shot, I'd skip Warren too.

But in an age when the president elected despite any number of glaring character flaws proved to be perhaps the bull-shittiest president ever, that's it for her? Or is it that the emergence of a second document with Indian in her handwriting makes you wonder if there's another shoe to drop?
posted by sacre_bleu at 6:06 PM on February 5 [4 favorites]


Text "sotu" to 50409 and they will text you when it is over.

That number is for Resistbot
posted by ChurchHatesTucker at 6:20 PM on February 5 [3 favorites]


Is anyone live fact-checking it?
posted by dobbs at 6:22 PM on February 5


The Washington Post is fact-checking/live-blogging Trump's SOTU. (The Toronto Star's redoubtable Daniel Dale's fact-checking sporadically since he's on deadline.)
posted by Doktor Zed at 6:23 PM on February 5 [5 favorites]


There is some preemptive fact-checking from the Associated Press:
TRUMP: “You saw the jobs report just came out. …The African-Americans have the best employment numbers in the history of our country. Hispanic Americans have the best employment numbers in the history of our country. Asian-Americans the best in the history of our country.” — CBS interview.

THE FACTS: Black unemployment is not currently the lowest ever, possibly in part to the partial government shutdown, which lifted joblessness last month. Black unemployment did reach a low, 5.9 percent, in May. But that figure is volatile on a monthly basis. That rate has since increased to 6.8 percent in January.

Hispanic and Asian-American joblessness has also risen off record lows last year. Hispanic unemployment last month was 4.9 percent, up from a low of 4.4 percent reached in October and December. Asian-American unemployment was at 3.1 percent, up from 2.2 percent in May.

Moreover, there are multiple signs that the racial wealth gap is now worsening. The most dramatic drop in black unemployment came under President Barack Obama, when it fell from a recession high of 16.8 percent in March 2010 to 7.8 percent in January 2017.
posted by Little Dawn at 6:28 PM on February 5 [12 favorites]




So apparently Trump just started talking before Pelosi spoke the traditional "I have the high privilege and distinct honor to introduce POTUS" introduction. Whether he was being rude, clueless of protocol, or trying to get out ahead of an overtly unenthusiastic line reading by Pelosi is left as an exercise to the reader.
posted by Rhaomi at 6:31 PM on February 5 [17 favorites]


My analysis so far is that this is fucking gross, that the state of the union address in general is a stupid ritual for a more functional society, and that I hope this is the last time the wheezing, dying american beast is forced to perform the dance of humiliation.
posted by Rust Moranis at 6:32 PM on February 5 [52 favorites]


One thing that stands out to me so far is that there's effectively no agenda in this speech. We're a half hour in, and it's all "appreciate the congrats" stuff, as Josh Marshall says. We've got a parade of special guests, but there's been absolutely nothing forward-looking, anything he wants to actually do. Just now, he's finally getting around to mentioning that we need to fund the government in 10 days before launching into more doom and gloom stuff about the border, but this is just entirely devoid of any policy.

It's all looking back: moon landing, WWII vets, historical economic data. There's no positive future vision of any kind.
posted by zachlipton at 6:35 PM on February 5 [22 favorites]


Trump thanked Alice Johnson, whose sentence he commuted, for showing that we are all “in control of our own destiny”. What about all the people with near-identical stories to Alice Johnson who remain imprisoned, because the President hasn't experienced the whim to commute their sentence? How do they control their own destiny? Politicians show their worth by enacting humane policy, not by performing a handful of benign acts to provide a fig-leaf for their malevolent agenda.
posted by East Manitoba Regional Junior Kabaddi Champion '94 at 6:35 PM on February 5 [42 favorites]


Now he's on how the globalists want open borders to replace the American worker. Straight-up Nazi shit. Democrats need to walk out.
posted by Rust Moranis at 6:37 PM on February 5 [23 favorites]


zachlipton: "We've got a parade of special guests, but there's been absolutely nothing forward-looking, anything he wants to actually do. Just now, he's finally getting around to mentioning that we need to fund the government in 10 days before launching into more doom and gloom stuff about the border, but this is just entirely devoid of any policy.

It's all looking back: moon landing, WWII vets, historical economic data. There's no positive future vision of any kind.
"

Vladimir Putin’s politics of eternity
Whereas inevitability promises a better future for everyone, eternity places one nation at the centre of a cyclical story of victimhood. Time is no longer a line into the future, but a circle that endlessly returns the same threats from the past. Within inevitability, no one is responsible because we all know that the details will sort themselves out for the better; within eternity, no one is responsible because we all know that the enemy is coming no matter what we do. Eternity politicians spread the conviction that government cannot aid society as a whole, but can only guard against threats. Progress gives way to doom.

In power, eternity politicians manufacture crisis and manipulate the resultant emotion. To distract from their inability or unwillingness to reform, they instruct their citizens to experience elation and outrage at short intervals, drowning the future in the present.
posted by Rhaomi at 6:41 PM on February 5 [41 favorites]


So Elizabeth Warren mistakenly relying on (or cynically exploiting) family stories of Indian lineage disqualifies her as a presidential candidate? Clearly 2020 is not a year for anyone but the absolute best Democratic candidate IMO so if another contender has a cleaner shot, I'd skip Warren too.

As someone from Oklahoma like Warren, the idea that this whole thing got so big in the first place seems insane. Half the people in the state have stories like this. Some of us actually do have that heritage, while many others think they do based on those family stories. And most of us have no idea who is correct and who's not. It's just not an uncommon thing at all. If she's mistaken she's mistaken, because people believe what their families have told them. Assigning some ulterior motive to it is a huge stretch.
posted by downtohisturtles at 6:43 PM on February 5 [144 favorites]


I didn't see it mentioned so: The designated survivor tonight is Rick Perry. Repeat, the next President if something really bad happens is Rick Perry.

Sleep well.

(ok, fine, the speech will be over soon. Don't ruin this for me.)
posted by Justinian at 6:53 PM on February 5 [16 favorites]


Assigning some ulterior motive to it is a huge stretch.

The whole Pocahontas thing started years ago with Boston Herald columnist Howie Carr, who long ago devolved from a State House muckraker to a right-wing troll.
posted by adamg at 6:56 PM on February 5 [13 favorites]


There has been a little meat in this speech, but it has been underwhelming. He's a terrible speaker when it comes to something like this. He'd rather be ranting.
posted by vrakatar at 6:59 PM on February 5 [2 favorites]


Trump had a riff on more women working, which the newly elected Democratic women in white quickly turned into cheering for themselves [video] and it was amazing, video part 2. If you're not watching, it's worth seeing these clips.

@christinawilkie: In case you were wondering the answer is yes, Trump did just try to take credit for the nationwide backlash against his presidency. The genuine surprise was that it turned into a memorably nice moment.
posted by zachlipton at 6:59 PM on February 5 [80 favorites]


I have no words for this (he's an idiot) except YAY WOMEN.
posted by bluesky43 at 7:04 PM on February 5 [6 favorites]


He's a terrible speaker when it comes to something like this. He'd rather be ranting.

They definitely fed him some tranquilizer gummies, like last time.

Incidentally he got to the HIV portion that we were speculating about earlier and instead of any dastardly scheme like we were worried about, or any proposal or plan at all, he just said "we're gonna beat AIDS" and moved on. Now he's talking about murdering babies in the womb.
posted by Rust Moranis at 7:04 PM on February 5 [4 favorites]


It's worth seeing the graph of the 'boom' in manufacturing jobs (hint: it started in 2010),
posted by bluesky43 at 7:08 PM on February 5 [5 favorites]


NBC is live fact-checking, with updates posted after scrolling past this:
He didn’t call it a "witch hunt." But Trump took a veiled swipe at special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation while calling for unity and touting his administration’s domestic accomplishments on jobs and the economy.

“An economic miracle is taking place in the United States and the only thing that can stop it are foolish wars, politics or ridiculous partisan investigations,” he said. “If there is going to be peace and legislation, there cannot be war and investigation.”

It's reminiscent of President Richard Nixon criticizing the Watergate investigation in his 1974 State of the Union speech, in which he said, "One year of Watergate is enough."
posted by Little Dawn at 7:09 PM on February 5 [9 favorites]




This speech has no concept of transitions. He just says a thing, whether it's "cancer bad" or "school choice good" or "abortion bad" and moves on to the next one without a breath in between. There's no speechwriter here, just a list of stream of consciousness bullet points. He said something about Venezuela, which leads to socialism is evil and will never be in the USA, which somehow leads to moving the US Embassy in Israel. It's just incoherent.
posted by zachlipton at 7:11 PM on February 5 [25 favorites]


As someone from Oklahoma like Warren, the idea that this whole thing got so big in the first place seems insane.

Am I right to believe that in Senator Warren's early years, the mythical Cherokee ancestor was not something to proclaim proudly, but something to tell the kids only in whispers? I've Aussie descent, and pride in being descended of criminals only started in the 1960s. Lots of Australians made an effort to be more English than the English for most of the 20th century.
posted by ocschwar at 7:11 PM on February 5 [8 favorites]


Can these allegedly full-grown senators and representatives please stop clapping and cheering every 2 minutes? High school commencements are better behaved.
posted by GuyZero at 7:12 PM on February 5 [4 favorites]


It's sickening, I agree. White men in ties clapping, while women in white sit in silence.
posted by Marie Mon Dieu at 7:15 PM on February 5 [18 favorites]


Native American heritage wasn't ever something to be ashamed of, as far as I know.
posted by Johnny Wallflower at 7:15 PM on February 5 [11 favorites]


I wouldn't say that, oschwar. The fabled "native american ancestor" has been a staple of American family mythology, particularly in certain regions including Oklahoma where Warren is from, for at least a century. How Americans went from purges and killing to mythologizing NA ancestry in the space of one generation is complicated.
posted by Justinian at 7:16 PM on February 5 [26 favorites]


Am I right to believe that in Senator Warren's early years, the mythical Cherokee ancestor was not something to proclaim proudly, but something to tell the kids only in whispers?

Not really. 125 years ago there were advantages to claiming native American ancestors. And these claims became part of family history as fact.

Paying to Play Indian: The Dawes Rolls and the Legacy of $5 Indians

It may be fashionable to play Indian now, but it was also trendy 125 years ago when people paid $5 apiece for falsified documents declaring them Native on the Dawes Rolls.

These so-called five-dollar Indians paid government agents under the table in order to reap the benefits that came with having Indian blood. Mainly white men with an appetite for land, five-dollar Indians paid to register on the Dawes Rolls, earning fraudulent enrollment in tribes along with benefits inherited by generations to come.

“These were opportunistic white men who wanted access to land or food rations,” said Gregory Smithers, associate professor of history at Virginia Commonwealth University. “These were people who were more than happy to exploit the Dawes Commission—and government agents, for $5, were willing to turn a blind eye to the graft and corruption.”
posted by bluesky43 at 7:16 PM on February 5 [22 favorites]


Now on to his Tree of Life Synagogue shooting material, as if the blood will wash out. The balls on him.
posted by Rust Moranis at 7:19 PM on February 5 [8 favorites]


Per this article from a site called Timeline, another reason for white families in the South to develop a Cherokee myth was to bolster associated claims about how long your family had lived in the area. And it combined, weirdly, with the Lost Cause narrative -- as in, the Cherokee nation bravely fought the federal government but lost, and we Southerners did the same thing, too. (Also complicated by the reality that some actual Cherokee did take part in the Confederacy, though not nearly as many as Confederates who claimed to be so.)
posted by InTheYear2017 at 7:25 PM on February 5 [16 favorites]


There have been some previous posts about the phenomena of claimed 1/16th Cherokee ancestry.
posted by ckape at 7:30 PM on February 5 [5 favorites]


Well, that was ninety minutes of unsurprising but still appalling horseshit.
posted by cortex at 7:31 PM on February 5 [69 favorites]


it was also trendy 125 years ago when people paid $5 apiece for falsified documents declaring them Native on the Dawes Rolls

$5 noobs^?? Truly, there is nothing new under the sun.
posted by stopgap at 7:32 PM on February 5 [54 favorites]


I hate that guy but that was a decent close.
posted by vrakatar at 7:32 PM on February 5 [1 favorite]


This extraordinary Doug Mills photo of Speaker Pelosi turning some applause back on the President (or doing baby shark doo doo doo doo?) is the photo of the night.

We're done after 1:22:27 of garbage that largely seemed to focus on things that happened decades ago, some fearmongering and blaming immigrants for everything, and a little sidetrip to call for an end of the investigations into himself.
posted by zachlipton at 7:34 PM on February 5 [28 favorites]


Resistbot is not timely. The SOTU is over. It's safe to tune in.
posted by ChurchHatesTucker at 7:38 PM on February 5 [4 favorites]


Sure was a great look when all those Democrats stood and clapped for "we will never be a socialist country."
(Something something capital always siding with fascism over socialism something something)
posted by Rust Moranis at 7:38 PM on February 5 [34 favorites]


So the wall bit...We're deffo getting a shutdown next Friday.
posted by fluttering hellfire at 7:41 PM on February 5 [4 favorites]


"America will never be a socialist country"

well, not with that attitude.
posted by The Whelk at 7:42 PM on February 5 [240 favorites]


I don't want to belabor the thread or the point, but I too (born and raised in Oklahoma) always understood from a very early age that I was "one-thirty second Cherokee", even though the supposed actual native american great-great grandparent was never fully identified. I never doubted it for a minute, and still have no reason to not believe it, but if I ran for national office I suppose I would be eviscerated for it also.
posted by yhbc at 7:50 PM on February 5 [21 favorites]


Per this article from a site called Timeline, another reason for white families in the South to develop a Cherokee myth was to bolster associated claims about how long your family had lived in the area.

My family are all from the South, and all 8 of my great-grandparents have colonial-era ancestry back to the 1600's (pre-Mayflower in Virginia, 1630's Maryland, and Quakers who came to Pennsylvania with William Penn), and as far as I am aware I never heard my parents or grandparents or any of my relatives make any claim to Native American ancestry.
posted by Pseudonymous Cognomen at 7:53 PM on February 5 [2 favorites]


By far the most important line in the State of the Union Address was one not remarked upon by any of the talking heads on PBS:
If there is going to be peace and legislation, there cannot be war and investigation.
It was clearly a line invented by the President himself, and it was a line that fell flat. But it contains a powerful statement of the President's viewpoint: that the act of investigating the President is equivalent to waging war, and that if the President is investigated, there can be no legislation, and, perhaps, there can be no peace.

That's the State of the Union.
posted by East Manitoba Regional Junior Kabaddi Champion '94 at 7:57 PM on February 5 [129 favorites]


[Maybe let's not in fact belabor the native heritage anecdote thing, folks.]
posted by cortex (staff) at 7:57 PM on February 5 [22 favorites]


The bit where Trump says there are more women in Congress than ever before was hilarious. Good on Pelosi for urging the new Democratic representatives to give him a standing ovation; comedy like that deserves to be acknowledged. I wonder if we'll ever find out who wrote it into the address?
posted by Joe in Australia at 7:59 PM on February 5 [37 favorites]


Trump thanked Alice Johnson, whose sentence he commuted, for showing that we are all “in control of our own destiny”. What about all the people with near-identical stories to Alice Johnson who remain imprisoned, because the President hasn't experienced the whim to commute their sentence? How do they control their own destiny?

I notice that both Alice Johnson and the other gentleman Trump introduced who was also released from prison had both become devout born-again Christians whilst in jail. Clearly "control your own destiny" means "accept Jesus" in this administration.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 8:01 PM on February 5 [18 favorites]


Sure was a great look when all those Democrats stood and clapped for "we will never be a socialist country."


I genuinely want more liberals and centrists to be as honest as possible about where they stand about the destination state of their actual ideology so everyone can actually see how far we can go with their politics.
posted by Ouverture at 8:02 PM on February 5 [24 favorites]


Here's a good roundup of Northam/Fairfax from Crystal Ball.
posted by Chrysostom at 8:05 PM on February 5 [7 favorites]


The rebuttal by Stacey Abrams was given in front of an audience of sorts, and I'm not thrilled that the tradition is always zero reaction from them until their applause at the end. I didn't even watch a single second of the SoTu, and I could sense the contrast with the clapping and cheering that must have punctuated that one. The effect is unfortunate, and the silence is probably a nontrivial part of why the response is always considered a snooze, but few pundits will admit this cause, because that would be confessing to possession of a hindbrain.
posted by InTheYear2017 at 8:13 PM on February 5 [6 favorites]


The thing that shocked me was that in the initial commentating period (after the speech and before the Democratic rebuttal) not one of the CNN panelists even brought up the fact that Trump just openly and proudly declared the start of a brand new arms race. Look I get that the wall and immigration are a big deal but an arms race has the potential to wipe out the entire world. Those of us here outside of the US are a bit concerned about the current state of your union.
posted by sardonyx at 8:14 PM on February 5 [66 favorites]


Good on Pelosi for urging the new Democratic representatives to give him a standing ovation

She was following their lead, there.
posted by ChurchHatesTucker at 8:15 PM on February 5 [3 favorites]


So the wall bit...We're deffo getting a shutdown next Friday.

I dunno, he went on and on about the border, but it kinda felt like he almost abandoned the whole idea of the wall, in a deniable-to-the-base way: "It will be deployed in the areas identified by border agents as having the greatest need" at least means he's given up on walling off the whole border sea-to-sea; a couple hundred feet of steel slats, enough for a photo op, and he can declare victory and go home.

Please. Go home. And stay there. That's all I ask, Donald
posted by ook at 8:17 PM on February 5 [2 favorites]


I don't think Alice Johnson would have been released without the help of Kim Kardashian.
posted by armacy at 8:17 PM on February 5 [12 favorites]




Stacy Abrams' speech was worth watching the other one for.
posted by rebent at 8:18 PM on February 5 [8 favorites]


@EC....or getting lovebombed by the pastor(s) of the local evangelical cult when everyone else in their lives gave up on them (with good reason).
posted by brujita at 8:19 PM on February 5 [2 favorites]


A few things I noticed:

His comment about ending the investigation

his use of the word Holocaust
posted by rebent at 8:20 PM on February 5 [3 favorites]




[Nancy Pelosi] was following their lead, there.

No, that was the previous line about women filling 58% of newly created jobs. When he delivers the one about more women in Congress than ever before you can see Pelosi doing a lifting motion with her palms to ensure that Democratic representatives drove the point home by standing up. But whatever, it was an incredible moment considering that there are no more Republican women in Congress today than there were thirty years ago.

(Yes, I know that's because of the 2018 midterms, it's still worth noting. WaPo analysis from January 3rd )
posted by Joe in Australia at 8:32 PM on February 5 [19 favorites]


Annotated State of the Union transcript from the WaPo and Politico.
posted by peeedro at 8:34 PM on February 5 [4 favorites]


The thing that shocked me was that in the initial commentating period (after the speech and before the Democratic rebuttal) not one of the CNN panelists even brought up the fact that Trump just openly and proudly declared the start of a brand new arms race. Look I get that the wall and immigration are a big deal but an arms race has the potential to wipe out the entire world.

Take some small comfort in Democrats controlling the House now. New nuclear weapons have to be funded, Nancy Pelosi isn't about to open up a blank check for a new and pointless nuclear buildup. Maybe some force modernization stuff, but that probably would've happened anyway, even Obama talked some about that. But we're not going back to trying to pump out as many nukes as possible like its 1962, no matter how many treaties John Bolton manages to sabotage.
posted by T.D. Strange at 8:36 PM on February 5 [13 favorites]


Yeah, the Democratic House is a comfort, but as you said, T. D. Strange, Bolton is still there, whispering in Donald's ear, while Putin is purring seductively in the other one. That combination is enough to cause some queasy feelings, no matter how many checks and balances exist. It's enough of an issue that I don't think it should be glossed over and dropped from the public's attention. Then again, I suspect the public at large wouldn't really care.
posted by sardonyx at 8:42 PM on February 5 [2 favorites]


As I was getting ready for work this morning, I switched to CNN to see if Trump was done yet, and got a tv full of people chanting USA! USA! like we were back in the 80s and Hacksaw Jim Duggan was beating up another wrestling (probably also an American) portraying a blatantly racist caricature of whatever evil foreign empire we were all supposed to hate at whatever moment it was.

I was maybe 10 years old back then, but even so, without the words to describe it yet, I found it utterly revolting, just rampant, naked nationalism. Literally, the only reason we were given to cheer a slob like Duggan was that he was (literally) draped in the American flag, and his opponent was *not from around here* or *thought his country was pretty good, too.* Living over seas, whenever I’m in a situation with non-American friends and something like that happens (World Cup, Olympics, whatever) there’s always a moment where I feel like I need to apologize, and they’re looking at me with sympathy.

Hearing it now, 30 years later, makes my skin crawl. It’s one thing, though, for it to be chanted by mid 80s wrestling fans, and another entirely for it to be chanted in the House of Representatives. The rote applause because the president said America is pretty awesome (and if you don’t, it’s a chance for your opponent in the next election to claim you don’t love America), and the trained circus animal standing ovations are bad enough. But here we are, and the only thing that’s changed is the venue, and that we’ve got a different slob draping himself in the flag.

There really isn’t anything anymore that can’t be dragged down so far into the muck that we can’t remember why we used to think it mattered.
posted by Ghidorah at 8:45 PM on February 5 [74 favorites]


FWIW, Abrams's speech getting very strong reviews online, even from people on the right.
posted by Chrysostom at 8:47 PM on February 5 [22 favorites]


A tweet from Amy Klobuchar: I’m making a big announcement on Sunday. Join me there: http://amyklobuchar.com .

One presumes she isn't announcing that she saved a bunch of money on her car insurance by switching to GEICO. I think she'd be an incredibly formidable general election candidate against Trump since she directly undermines his most important support in the Midwest but I'm not sure what she sees as her path to the nomination. Will be watching with interest though!
posted by Justinian at 8:50 PM on February 5 [25 favorites]




Here's a good 1:53 clip from Abrams' speech that cuts to the heart of it: "Even as I am very disapointed by the president's approach to our problems, I still don't want him to fail. But we need him to tell the truth. And to respect his duties. And respect the extraordinary diversity that defines America."
posted by zachlipton at 8:55 PM on February 5 [43 favorites]


Trump has already started production of a new low-yield nuclear weapon – essentially a Trident missile with the warhead's second thermonuclear stage removed – meant to be a "usable" tactical nuke.

Unfortunately the Russians won't know if a sub-launched missile is a cute little tactical one headed for the Fulda Gap or a city-buster headed for Moscow until they've already launched their return volley.

The arms race is on, and stupider than ever.
posted by nicwolff at 8:55 PM on February 5 [28 favorites]


A tweet from Amy Klobuchar: I’m making a big announcement on Sunday. Join me there: http://amyklobuchar.com .

I've been calling Harris/Klobuchar for a year. They'll be the nominees, easily. Which is a bit too bad because originally in 2017, I was for Klobuchar/Franken.
posted by OnTheLastCastle at 8:59 PM on February 5 [8 favorites]


Klobuchar won'r survive a minor investigation into her staffing practices
posted by The Whelk at 9:02 PM on February 5 [5 favorites]


Klobuchar won'r survive a minor investigation into her staffing practices

Not being familiar with Klobuchar's staffing practices: uh, what are her staffing practices and why are they worth mentioning?
posted by cjelli at 9:06 PM on February 5 [17 favorites]


She has a high turnover on her staff.

And as long as there's no harassment or abuse, that won't matter.
posted by asteria at 9:07 PM on February 5 [1 favorite]


They'll be the nominees, easily.

Given the past couple years, maybe bold assertions about what WILL happen are not super wise.
posted by Chrysostom at 9:08 PM on February 5 [53 favorites]


I do not yet have an informed opinion on the implications of Senate staff turnover but it's always struck me as implausible someone might not thoroughly vet all of those sorts of potential issues before jumping in to a high profile race? Wouldn't that be the bare minimum you'd do?

On the other hand it was just revealed that the Governor or Virginia dressed either in blackface or a Klan robe, and the current President ran despite decades of criminal activity barely concealed in his closet so I must be giving politicians too much credit.
posted by Justinian at 9:23 PM on February 5 [19 favorites]


Annotated State of the Union transcript from the WaPo and Politico.
In June, we mark 75 years since the start of what General Dwight D. Eisenhower called the Great Crusade -- the Allied liberation of Europe in World War II. On D-Day, June 6, 1944, 15,000 young American men jumped from the sky, and 60,000 more stormed in from the sea, to save our civilization from tyranny.
...
In 2019, we also celebrate 50 years since brave young pilots flew a quarter of a million miles through space to plant the American flag on the face of the moon.
Awesome! Two Democratic big-government projects driven by higher taxes on the rich. Thank you, Mr. President!
posted by kirkaracha at 9:40 PM on February 5 [44 favorites]


I thought his official position was that “there were very fine people on both sides” of D-Day. Weird to see him throw his base under the bus like that. Did notsee that coming.
posted by Barack Spinoza at 9:43 PM on February 5 [20 favorites]


I was maybe 10 years old back then, but even so, without the words to describe it yet, I found it utterly revolting, just rampant, naked nationalism. Literally, the only reason we were given to cheer a slob like Duggan was that he was (literally) draped in the American flag, and his opponent was *not from around here* or *thought his country was pretty good, too.* Living over seas, whenever I’m in a situation with non-American friends and something like that happens (World Cup, Olympics, whatever) there’s always a moment where I feel like I need to apologize, and they’re looking at me with sympathy.

Hearing it now, 30 years later, makes my skin crawl. It’s one thing, though, for it to be chanted by mid 80s wrestling fans, and another entirely for it to be chanted in the House of Representatives. The rote applause because the president said America is pretty awesome (and if you don’t, it’s a chance for your opponent in the next election to claim you don’t love America), and the trained circus animal standing ovations are bad enough. But here we are, and the only thing that’s changed is the venue, and that we’ve got a different slob draping himself in the flag.

There really isn’t anything anymore that can’t be dragged down so far into the muck that we can’t remember why we used to think it mattered.
posted by Ghidorah at 12:45 PM on February 6 [5 favorites −] Favorite added! [!]


#whatisthehashtagthatsmetoobutforpatriotism. I'm glad I didn't watch. Displays of patriotism make my skin crawl, especially because like Ghidorah, I live overseas, and I have to watch it from people from multiple countries, and do it or not do it for my own team in front of people from other countries too.

I don't care where you're from, it's rarely a good look. Humankind is made up of individuals who do actual things, and the times when a nation full of individuals act willingly and in concert to achieve something not zero-sum, self-interested, or outright abusive are really f**kin rare, and if you ask me, those are the only times worth cheering for the nation-team.

And then they did the thing in the House of Representatives. Fine. President Camacho the SOTU and be done with it already, this slow torture is killing me.
posted by saysthis at 9:50 PM on February 5 [6 favorites]




Unfortunately the Russians won't know if a sub-launched missile is a cute little tactical one headed for the Fulda Gap or a city-buster headed for Moscow until they've already launched their return volley.


Sure they will. Trump will have told them in advance.
posted by benzenedream at 9:58 PM on February 5 [11 favorites]


The Larry Sabato rundown on the Virginia situation that is cited by Chrysostom above leaves out two additional complications in the already boggling story. The woman who spilled the beans to Big League Politics, from a private Facebook message from Tyson, the woman claiming assault, is Adria Scharf, a social justice activist in Richmond who is married to a progressive college professor who happens to be a close advisor to Richmond Mayor Lavar Stoney. Stoney and Fairfax are sort of political rivals, but why is Scharf, a progressive Democrat, contacting a right-wing rag? Tune in tomorrow.
posted by kemrocken at 10:10 PM on February 5 [4 favorites]


On his line about there being more women in congress than ever:

Women are on track to make up nearly 40% of House Democrats in 2019, but less than 7% of House Republicans, she said.


The women deserve congratulations, but he doesn't get any credit for that. Then he explodes any goodwill with his baby killer bullshit.

It was nice of him to invite OG Antifa, the D-Day vets.
posted by adept256 at 10:14 PM on February 5 [27 favorites]


I also accidentally caught the last 5 minutes or so of Trump's speech, but that was enough to get the gist. The point, I thought, was to have all the Republicans constantly cheering, clapping, and standing for him. It legitimizes him. It completes the transformation of the Republican party from pretending to be primarily about conservative philosophy to being primarily driven by nationalism and anti-globalism.
posted by xammerboy at 10:28 PM on February 5 [3 favorites]


Newly unearthed video shows Trump ‘meeting with Russians in Moscow in 1995’

I saw that earlier and did a quick search to see if this was a previously known meeting. Found it in the Wikipedia entry, Business Projects of Donald Trump in Russia. He was apparently there in a consulting role for an underground mall connected to the Moscow Metro, but he was also trying to get in on the project, proposing additional construction of residential units (which they didn't end up doing).
posted by p3t3 at 10:30 PM on February 5 [1 favorite]


Am I right in thinking that he never mentioned climate change? Unbelievable.
posted by SLC Mom at 11:37 PM on February 5 [2 favorites]


Why would he mention climate change?
posted by The World Famous at 11:39 PM on February 5 [9 favorites]


Remember the last caravan that everyone freaked out about right before the mid terms and then it turned out that there was potentially some rat-fuckery with the organization of it and how convenient it was to give everyone a boogie man right before the elections? And now he’s in this can’t lose, can’t back down fight for his racist wall and suddenly there’s another caravan to be terrified of? Is anyone else thinking shenanigans?
posted by Weeping_angel at 11:45 PM on February 5 [7 favorites]


Contrast Mike Pence jacking off with Nancy Pelosi rolling her eyes.
posted by bendy at 11:45 PM on February 5 [1 favorite]


Speaking of which:

Who Is Mike Pence? 12 Percent of Americans Say They Have Never Heard of the Vice President: Poll

30 million Americans don't know who he is. To paraphrase a comedian I've heard, he's like a manilla envelope stapled to a beige wall.
posted by adept256 at 12:19 AM on February 6 [35 favorites]


Living over seas, whenever I’m in a situation with non-American friends and something like that happens (World Cup, Olympics, whatever) there’s always a moment where I feel like I need to apologize, and they’re looking at me with sympathy.

More the half the human beings on Earth didn’t watch the 2018 World Cup because “who cares who wins? One country is just as good as any other!”. Nationalism is literally the entire point. Your friends were looking at you with sympathy because you felt the need the apologize for something they were participating in whole heartedly. Or maybe it was because the USMNT lost to Trinidad and Tobago in late 2017 and they didn’t even get to go to the 2018 World Cup.
posted by sideshow at 12:20 AM on February 6 [1 favorite]


More the half the human beings on Earth didn’t watch the 2018 World Cup because “who cares who wins?
To be accurate, it was actually 'more than half the human beings on earth watched at least one minute of the World Cup'.

Which sounds much less impressive, and doesn't really support the belief that nationalism is huge everywhere…
posted by Pinback at 1:30 AM on February 6 [1 favorite]


Cheering for your team or even chanting "USA" aren't nationalism as I understand it. That sort of thing is just fandom and local pride, like cheering for your high school basketball team. It doesn't mean you hate people from the other high school or think them less than human. Nationalism is the idea that a ethnic group/culture should get its own state. Like the Kurds (tired of being a mistreated minority) want a Kurdish state. Like Jews wanted a Jewish state. If you want your ethnic/religious/cultural group to have its own nation, you're a nationalist.
posted by OnceUponATime at 2:02 AM on February 6 [3 favorites]


Seeing and hearing crowds of red-flushed wild-eyed screaming white people bellowing USA USA USA is terrifying if you are not white. Comparing minorities who have faced systemic campaigns of extermination wanting their own state to that is, uh. Don't know how to word my feelings on that and not get banned.
posted by poffin boffin at 2:41 AM on February 6 [84 favorites]


Well, that was ninety minutes of surprising but still appealing horseshit.
posted by unliteral at 3:07 AM on February 6 [1 favorite]


Not to further a derail on what is or isn’t nationalism, but yeah, USA! chants, especially where I described them, as coming from wrestling, nationalism is the whole point. The guy with the American flag was the good guy at all times, even when he blatantly cheated (Duggan was known for hiding foreign objects/brass knuckles in his shorts, or simply beating people with the 2x4 he carried around), and the other guy, Russian, Arab, French, literally whatever, they were bad because they weren’t American.

I’m fine with people cheering their hometown, or their country, because it’s a place they like, and want to see it do well in friendly competition. When it’s “my place is the best, and you are lesser than I because you come from somewhere that is not my place,” that’s what I see as nationalism, and that’s what I hear when I hear the USA chants.
posted by Ghidorah at 3:11 AM on February 6 [14 favorites]


I don't think the retired mathematician guy who wrote books about Windows and that blog post should be regarded as much of an authority on what nationalism means, particularly not what Trump means when he says "I'm a Nationalist" or how it would connect to members of Congress who have abetted his crimes shouting "USA!"

It has seemed to me, in reading more about how the word is used and which words from other languages are translated using it, over the past few years, that it's dangerous to regard it as a well-defined phenomena with broader characteristics which inform the meaning when it's used descriptively to apply to a specific situation.

Remember that formulating some benign both-sidesism generalized definition of nationalism and allowing that to color your perception of their own actions and motives is exactly what Bannon and Trump and company want you to do.

Their Nationalism is the kind of nationalism where it's outrageous for PoC to kneel during the national anthem or for anyone to portray history too accurately if it reflects poorly on the nation, where the government should be able to torture people including its own citizens if the right noises are made about a supposed urgency, and where there can be a good kind of rounding up millions of people and putting them in camps—when it's for the good of the nation, y'know.

It's a loose rationalization for the exercise of power, not a cerebral political philosophy or consistent code of conduct.

If I'm recalling correctly Mao was a Nationalist / member of the Kuomintang, at the same time he was a member of the Chinese Communist Party, before the split between them.
posted by XMLicious at 3:17 AM on February 6 [13 favorites]


I think that Nancy P has mastered this way to make her face light up with grandmotherly ambience and then like invisible knives fly out of her eyes, hit their target, and are unfelt until a certain period of festering sets in. And you can sort of barely sense the moment those knives are unsheathed except for a slight glaze on that beaming visage, a moment she is governed only by her deep desire for Trump to know intimately a series of Lovecraftian horrors.

I mean, that's what I got out of that Pelosi clapping Trump off gif.
posted by angrycat at 3:54 AM on February 6 [53 favorites]


The Atlantic has a nice monkey wrench of an article to throw into future political discussions: Liberals and Conservatives React in Wildly Different Ways to Repulsive Pictures
In which pre-cognitive genetic features such as germophobia, density of fungiform papillae on tongues and foul odor sensitivity can predict ideology to an alarming amount of significance in test subjects.
posted by Harry Caul at 4:33 AM on February 6 [46 favorites]


Melissa McEwen at Shakesville has written A LOT about Mike Pence. Here's an excellent piece about his destructive ambition. She even has an appropriately named label dedicated to him.
posted by kokaku at 4:34 AM on February 6 [14 favorites]


Cheering for your team or even chanting "USA" aren't nationalism as I understand it. That sort of thing is just fandom and local pride, like cheering for your high school basketball team. It doesn't mean you hate people from the other high school or think them less than human.

There is a vast and cavernous difference between "your high school basketball team" and "a country which has to co-exist with other sovereign nations".

A couple days after 9/11 I had a conversation with a friend about how we were already getting uneasy with how many flags we saw springing up; I said that "I'm just afraid that waving the flag is quickly going to turn into waving the flag at someone." And sure enough, Islamophobia shot waaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaay up, even targeting people that weren't even Muslim but just looked "other".

Cheering for your local sports team is one thing. Hell, cheer for your country's Olympic sports team. But the nations themselves are not sports teams and should not be treated as such - the fallout when two nations compete on a rugby field or what have you is very, very different from the competition when two nations compete over borders.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 4:49 AM on February 6 [38 favorites]


That's an interesting article, and I reflexively flinch away from articles suggesting conservative's brains are different. But it did draw my attention to the cover of the March edition of The Atlantic. One third of it is bold red capitals (on blue!) saying 'IMPEACH'.

It refers to this article:

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.

The cover is interesting because the colours and font break a zillion design rules. They've made it look so ugly on purpose, because surely they know better.
posted by adept256 at 4:56 AM on February 6 [17 favorites]


On reflection, maybe they made the cover so ugly knowing that, according to their own reportage, conservatives will fucking hate it.
posted by adept256 at 5:14 AM on February 6 [2 favorites]


The Atlantic has a nice monkey wrench of an article to throw into future political discussions: Liberals and Conservatives React in Wildly Different Ways to Repulsive Pictures
In which pre-cognitive genetic features such as germophobia, density of fungiform papillae on tongues and foul odor sensitivity can predict ideology to an alarming amount of significance in test subjects.


Be incredibly cautious about taking this research too seriously (or even seriously at all). It has all the hallmarks of replicability failures and cherry picked results. Almost every study of the "group x1 does y1 and group x2 does y2" that I have ever seen in psychology eventually breaks down under scrutiny.
posted by srboisvert at 5:25 AM on February 6 [26 favorites]


That technique causes an effect called Chromostereopsis, which causes the letters to jump forward at you slightly.

On the other hand, colorblind readers may have thought the Atlantic was entering their White Album phase.
posted by condour75 at 5:27 AM on February 6 [29 favorites]


On the other hand, colorblind readers may have thought the Atlantic was entering their White Album phase.

If this is an intentional design choice, it’s brilliant. A majority will look at that cover and see an urgent call to impeach. A minority of folks will see absolutely nothing and carry on with their day. Brilliant.
posted by Barack Spinoza at 5:42 AM on February 6


Re: The Atlantic: If the purpose of a magazine cover design is to get one to purchase the magazine, this one will be successful. For me.
posted by petebest at 5:47 AM on February 6 [7 favorites]


Am I right in thinking that he never mentioned climate change?

Yes, according to the Guardian:
A climate scientist and a former government expert in the audience for Donald Trump’s speech said this will likely be the last administration that can forego talking about climate change.

Trump didn’t mention rising temperatures or extreme weather, although he did tout the country’s status as the top producer of oil and gas and boast about how quickly his officials have moved to cut regulations. [...]

Joel Clement, who resigned from the Interior Department because he said the administration was muzzling scientists and ignoring climate change impacts on vulnerable communities, now works with the Union of Concerned Scientists. He was invited by Maine Rep. Chellie Pingree.

“The Trump administration’s strategy is to ignore climate change and pretend it doesn’t exist and pretend the science doesn’t exist even if it’s coming from its own agencies,” Clement said. “To not say anything about it is just ignorance, and it’s irresponsible.”
posted by Little Dawn at 5:48 AM on February 6 [16 favorites]


If this is an intentional design choice, it’s brilliant. A majority will look at that cover and see an urgent call to impeach. A minority of folks will see absolutely nothing and carry on with their day. Brilliant.

You'd have to have an extremely rare form of colorblindness (achromatopsia, which affects 1 in 40,000 people) for that magazine cover to potentially not scan. But I'm confused about how it's brilliant to put out secret messages that colorblind people can't read for no apparent reason? Unless this comment was ironic.
posted by One Second Before Awakening at 5:54 AM on February 6 [6 favorites]


I was thinking it might be a clever commentary on, say, willful blindness when it comes to Trump and impeachment. But I’ll stop with the aesthetic derail.
posted by Barack Spinoza at 5:57 AM on February 6 [5 favorites]


Takeaways From Trump’s 2019 State of the Union Address (NYT):
“If there is going to be peace and legislation, there cannot be war and investigation. It just doesn’t work that way!” [...]

Representative Adam Schiff of California, chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, smiled. He has already begin examining whether money laundering could have motivated Mr. Trump’s coziness with Russian oligarchs.
posted by Little Dawn at 6:06 AM on February 6 [21 favorites]


ProPublica: Confidential Memo: Company of Trump Inaugural Chair Sought to Profit From Connections to Administration, Foreigners
A person familiar with the creation of the memo said it was written by Rick Gates, who was deputy chairman of the inaugural committee and was then hired by Barrack as a Colony consultant. The memo is on Colony letterhead. Gates, who was fired by Colony after he was indicted in Robert Mueller’s Russian interference investigation in October 2017, did not immediately respond to a request for comment. Gates has pleaded guilty to conspiracy and lying to the FBI, and he is cooperating with law enforcement.
The Hill: Mueller probe filings raise prospect of more indictments
Despite rampant speculation that Mueller is close to finalizing his report, the language used in court documents over the past few months offers clues that suggest his probe might ensnare more individuals. [...]

Mueller has repeatedly sought to delay former Trump campaign aide Richard Gates’s sentencing, citing his cooperation with several ongoing investigations.
posted by Little Dawn at 6:45 AM on February 6 [6 favorites]


It's been said countless times already, but it will bear repeating until the end of this crisis: If Trump has nothing to hide, then he has nothing to fear from investigations. And Trump is not acting like a man with nothing to hide.
posted by Faint of Butt at 6:46 AM on February 6 [30 favorites]


Listened to Senator Klobuchar on Minnesota Public Radio this morning, inviting everyone to come out to Boom Island for her announcement. As one does in Minnesota, she advised people to dress warmly, maybe bring a hand warmer or two.
posted by ZeusHumms at 6:51 AM on February 6 [10 favorites]


If Trump has nothing to hide, then he has nothing to fear from investigations. And Trump is not acting like a man with nothing to hide.

I want to gently push back aginst the "nothing to hide" line, including because of the Fifth Amendment's guarantee of a presumption of innocence (Regent University School of Law), but also because we don't get to decide how our words are ultimately interpreted - it's just not how criminal prosecution works.

"Nothing to hide, nothing to fear" is a standard argument against privacy and civil rights (ACLU), so I encourage caution about the potential sacrifice of core democratic values in exchange for convenient slogans that we'd otherwise be fighting if they were turned against us.
posted by Little Dawn at 7:01 AM on February 6 [80 favorites]


Stacy Abrams saying that the White House responded "timidly" to mass shootings was brilliant framing which I hope to see adopted widely.
posted by Emmy Rae at 7:02 AM on February 6 [71 favorites]


[Couple comments deleted. Sorry, let's not drive off into general theories about humankind or "ugh these stupid people who still support him, what is wrong with them" or god forbid "sports cultivate xenophobia" general stuff.]
posted by LobsterMitten (staff) at 7:28 AM on February 6 [15 favorites]


"Nothing to hide, nothing to fear" is a standard argument against privacy and civil rights (ACLU), so I encourage caution about the potential sacrifice of core democratic values in exchange for convenient slogans that we'd otherwise be fighting if they were turned against us.

There's a distinct difference between investigation and prosecution (and a less distinct one between those and persecution). I don't know anyone who said that no one should have ever investigated Benghazi, or Clinton's emails, or Whitewater, etc. But once the investigation is done, then it's done.

Trump is clearly saying that no one should investigate collusion, that no one should look at his business dealings, that no one should be allowed to ask questions about his rampant malfeasance, for no reason other than "It's bad for everyone when things happen that the Leader doesn't like." That's a standard that would render not just criminal prosecution impossible at every level, but society.
posted by Etrigan at 7:47 AM on February 6 [70 favorites]


I think that Nancy P has mastered this way to make her face light up with grandmotherly ambience and then like invisible knives fly out of her eyes, hit their target, and are unfelt until a certain period of festering sets in.

Nancy Pelosi is perfectly situated for this moment in history, and I, for one, will be forever grateful that she was elected to stand for another term as speaker.
posted by bluesky43 at 7:54 AM on February 6 [58 favorites]


The Wall Street Journal is heavily paywalled, so it's barely worth even linking to the story, but in the light of one white guy with racist yearbook pictures, it's grimly humorous to see them run this headline: "‘I Was Young’ Isn’t an Excuse: Business Leaders Need to Revisit Yearbooks: High-profile executives and business owners should conduct ‘opposition analysis’ on themselves to see if damaging pre-digital images could come to light."
posted by octobersurprise at 7:56 AM on February 6 [16 favorites]


30 million Americans don't know who he is. To paraphrase a comedian I've heard, he's like a manilla envelope stapled to a beige wall.

For me, that's far more scary than it is funny. Power is often at its worst and most evil when it's relatively obscure. How many Americans actually know who Henry Kissinger, John Yoo, or William McRaven are and the atrocities against humanity they have all committed?

To this point, Splinter published a long piece this week into Joe Ricketts.

"Wait, who's Joe Ricketts?"

I'm glad you asked.
posted by Ouverture at 7:56 AM on February 6 [19 favorites]


WaPo: Ruth Bader Ginsburg was seen in public Monday. Conspiracy theorists still insist she’s dead. It's QAnon, Ben Garrison, Sebastian Gorka, and James Woods aided by Twitter and YouTube.
posted by peeedro at 7:57 AM on February 6 [1 favorite]


How could anyone hope to keep a firm handle on this mess?

Late answer.

By knowing that one can't on their own, by accepting that the only possible sane response to the last two years has something to do with trusting one's greater community to have enough reason, rationality and overall commitment toward truth (for lack of a better word) that together, through complex and nuanced sharing of knowledge and wisdom and related research and discussion that we might just collectively have enough intellectual and emotional tenacity to (eventually) ride the ongoing chaos toward someplace reasonably calm and hopeful.

In other words, thanks everybody for doing what you're doing (no two of us doing exactly the same thing) toward NOT all going to hell together in a handbasket (though what handbaskets and trips to hell have in common, I'm still trying to grasp).
posted by philip-random at 7:58 AM on February 6 [4 favorites]


Last night Nancy Pelosi stood up and clapped when Trump said that the US will never be a socialist country, so ultimately she's going to be an obstacle to the goals of the left.
posted by One Second Before Awakening at 7:58 AM on February 6 [13 favorites]


The Wall Street Journal is heavily paywalled, so it's barely worth even linking to the story,

As a heads up, I've found outline.com to be very useful in dealing with WSJ articles.
posted by corb at 7:59 AM on February 6 [11 favorites]


CNN has a scoop about the SCO's investigation of the Trump inauguration: Exclusive: Mueller's Team Questioning Russian Oligarchs
Special counsel Robert Mueller's team has taken the unusual step of questioning Russian oligarchs who traveled into the US, stopping at least one and searching his electronic devices when his private jet landed at a New York area airport, according to multiple sources familiar with the inquiry.

A second Russian oligarch was stopped during a recent trip to the US, although it is not clear if he was searched, according to a person briefed on the matter.

Mueller's team has also made an informal voluntary document and interview request to a third Russian oligarch who has not traveled to the US recently.

The situations have one thing in common: Investigators are asking whether wealthy Russians illegally funneled cash donations directly or indirectly into Donald Trump's presidential campaign and inauguration.[…]

The sources did not share the names of the oligarchs but did describe the details of their interactions with the special counsel's team.

One area under scrutiny, sources say, is investments Russians made in companies or think tanks that have political action committees that donated to the campaign.
Meanwhile, NBC has a development from Capitol Hill: Former Trump lawyer Michael Cohen's Testimony Delayed—Cohen's testimony was originally going to take place on Friday. HPSCI Chairman Adam Schiff said "in the interests of the investigation", Cohen will appear Feb. 28th (he's supposed to report to federal prison on March 6).
posted by Doktor Zed at 7:59 AM on February 6 [13 favorites]


"‘I Was Young’ Isn’t an Excuse: Business Leaders Need to Revisit Yearbooks: High-profile executives and business owners should conduct ‘opposition analysis’ on themselves to see if damaging pre-digital images could come to light."

How is this not, like, the first thing your campaign manager tells you when you open your first campaign office? "Hey, is there any concrete proof that you were (or are) a huge racist piece of shit? Like, are you on record with any newspapers questioning the Holocaust, or are there pictures of you in blackface in a yearbook anywhere? Maybe you have a history of being drunk and abusive to women that we should know about before your confirmation hearing?"
posted by Mayor West at 7:59 AM on February 6 [20 favorites]


Pelosi didn't stand up and clap, but she was certainly clapping politely which kind of sucked to see. The cut away to Bernie's blank expression surrounded by a bunch of standing ovation democrats is emblematic of...a lot of things that need to change in the party. As was AOC's thousand yard stare.
posted by windbox at 8:03 AM on February 6 [29 favorites]


I dropped into this thread earlier this morning and read some of the Nationalism and "USA!" discussion, so I thought I'd drop this in: I homeschool our nine year old daughter, and the history lesson reading his morning was on Hitler's rise to power. One of the review questions I gave her from the book was why people were moved to support him. Her answer, "He said he would make Germany great again." She then had to wait until I finished my laughing fit before I could move onto the next question.
posted by AlonzoMosleyFBI at 8:05 AM on February 6 [57 favorites]


My mistake, I'd only heard it described, haven't actually seen the video. But yeah, I was very disappointed with that entire happenstance.
posted by One Second Before Awakening at 8:06 AM on February 6 [1 favorite]


NPR links: Two things NPR didn't expand upon from Abrams: "America achieved a measure of reproductive justice in Roe v. Wade, but we must never forget: It is immoral to allow politicians to harm women and families to advance a political agenda. We affirmed marriage equality, and yet the LGBTQ community remains under attack."
posted by filthy light thief at 8:06 AM on February 6 [17 favorites]


If we're going to wish that Pelosi didn't play along with the marginal societal politeness of the ritual you may as well go full bore and wish she'd refused to ever issue the joint resolution inviting the President to the chamber to give the speech. Which I am okay with since the whole thing is a stupid waste of time. But the role of the leaders is to play the game 99 times out of 100 and leave the daily rough play to the folks down on the line.
posted by phearlez at 8:19 AM on February 6 [53 favorites]


Yeah, I'm good with not having a week of news about Socialist Pelosi.
posted by LarsC at 8:22 AM on February 6 [32 favorites]


How is this not, like, the first thing your campaign manager tells you when you open your first campaign office? "Hey, is there any concrete proof that you were (or are) a huge racist piece of shit? Like, are you on record with any newspapers questioning the Holocaust, or are there pictures of you in blackface in a yearbook anywhere? Maybe you have a history of being drunk and abusive to women that we should know about before your confirmation hearing?"

I have experience to speak to this. Our family-friend neighbor who went into local politics was surprised one day to get a call from his old high school back in Chicago, asking "do you have any idea why the GOP in your current town just called us to ask about your transcripts?" Fortunately he'd behaved himself back then, so they couldn't find anything. But the moral is: your own campaign manager better be on that, because if they're not, your opponent's will.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 8:24 AM on February 6 [15 favorites]


Yeah, I'm good with not having a week of news about Socialist Pelosi.

Myself, I'm pretty done with Democrats pre-emptively cringing and tacking rightward before it even becomes an issue.
posted by One Second Before Awakening at 8:28 AM on February 6 [29 favorites]


[Folks, it seems like agree-to-disagree on Pelosi clapping or related at this point -- it's fine for people to have different opinions on it but nobody's changing their positions here so let's not restate a dozen more times.]
posted by LobsterMitten (staff) at 8:33 AM on February 6 [23 favorites]


How is this not, like, the first thing your campaign manager tells you when you open your first campaign office? "Hey, is there any concrete proof that you were (or are) a huge racist piece of shit? Like, are you on record with any newspapers questioning the Holocaust, or are there pictures of you in blackface in a yearbook anywhere? Maybe you have a history of being drunk and abusive to women that we should know about before your confirmation hearing?"

They do do that (well, good ones do), but there are so many potentially disqualifying things that could be out there that no one could possibly list all of them and get firm "Yes" or "No" answers. So what a good campaign manager will do is ask a few general questions, a few targeted questions (e.g., in 2018, they would have asked more closely about whether former sexual partners would say they assaulted them) and hope that the candidate isn't just forgetting things, or (ahem) whitewashing their memories. Someone may have asked Fairfax "Do you have any former sexual partners who would say you assaulted them?", and he may have answered honestly that, as far as he knew, no one would say that.

And sometimes candidates just flat-out lie because they figure no one will ever bother to look for that old college newspaper where they were "just asking questions" about whether affirmative action was bad, because they're just running for County Commissioner, and then they run for the State Senate and no one ever found that newspaper, and then they're in Congress and no one ever found it, and suddenly people might be looking, but you can't tell your campaign manager "Oh, hey, this thing I never told you or anyone else about might be a thing...".

As I've recounted here before, I worked for a candidate who was found to be lying (to everyone including their spouse) about a three-year chunk of their life. The lie was uncovered when someone went to the fourth page of Google results for the candidate's name.
posted by Etrigan at 8:41 AM on February 6 [34 favorites]


How is this not, like, the first thing your campaign manager tells you when you open your first campaign office? "Hey, is there any concrete proof that you were (or are) a huge racist piece of shit?

When you aren't reflective (and/or honest) enough to be able to say if you've been a piece of shit, that's when you have problems.

Meanwhile—
NEWS: AG Mark Herring had a private meeting this morning with the legislative black caucus, Del. Lamont Bagby confirms. Asked if Herring discussed a photo of his own, Bagby said “He’ll talk about it.” Before he could say more, the House min ldr pulled him into a private room.
— Jonathan Martin @jmartNYT

posted by octobersurprise at 8:43 AM on February 6 [4 favorites]


WaPo: Ruth Bader Ginsburg was seen in public Monday. Conspiracy theorists still insist she’s dead.

And other luminaries of the modern right (Posobiec, Shapiro, etc.) are positioning themselves as the reasonable ones by saying "We're not like those crazy assholes. We don't think she's dead, we just think she isn't capable of handling the duties of the office if she isn't at all these official functions."
posted by Etrigan at 8:44 AM on February 6 [3 favorites]


Nogales International, Despite complaints, soldiers add more wire to Nogales border fence. There are photos in the article, and it looks, um, extremely militaristic. Local officials are not happy.
posted by zachlipton at 8:45 AM on February 6 [7 favorites]




@RepAdamSchiff

BREAKING: The House Intelligence Committee just voted to release all witness transcripts from our Russia investigation to the Department of Justice and Special Counsel Mueller.
12:42 PM - 6 Feb 2019
posted by bluesky43 at 8:47 AM on February 6 [93 favorites]


Holy crap, they're all at it (WaPo):

RICHMOND — Virginia Attorney General Mark Herring (D) said Wednesday he dressed in blackface during college, elevating the Capitol’s scandals to a new level that engulfed the entire executive branch of government.

“In 1980, when I was a 19-year-old undergraduate in college, some friends suggested we attend a party dressed like rappers we listened to at the time, like Kurtis Blow, and perform a song,” Herring said in a statement. “It sounds ridiculous even now writing it. But because of our ignorance and glib attitudes – and because we did not have an appreciation for the experiences and perspectives of others – we dressed up and put on wigs and brown makeup.”
posted by vickyverky at 8:48 AM on February 6 [9 favorites]


Okay, um....who is fourth in line and does there exist any leader in the state of VA that has not worn blackface?
posted by corb at 8:50 AM on February 6 [45 favorites]


... just voted to release all witness transcripts from our Russia investigation
Here we go. If I'm remembering correctly, a number of those early meetings of the HPSCI had some pretty egregious denials and obfuscations, esp. from the transition members.
posted by eclectist at 8:51 AM on February 6 [7 favorites]


Okay, um....who is fourth in line and does there exist any leader in the state of VA that has not worn blackface?

If you get rid of Northam, Fairfax, and Herring, you’re left with the Republican Speaker. He has the job because the Republicans literally won a coin toss to determine control of the legislature. I don't know whether he's worn blackface.

There's also a scooplet just coming out that Lt. Gov. Fairfax used profane and misogynistic language I won't quote in thread in reference to his accuser.
posted by zachlipton at 8:54 AM on February 6 [16 favorites]


Godammit. We had an excellent chance of unified Dem control of Virginia next year. Gah!
posted by Chrysostom at 8:56 AM on February 6 [13 favorites]


It would be the ultimate irony that Virginians will be forced to vote republican to rebuke racism.
posted by peeedro at 8:58 AM on February 6 [18 favorites]


' . . .does there exist any leader in the state of VA that has not worn blackface?'

Welcome to Virginia! Home to the capitol of the Confederacy.
posted by Harry Caul at 8:59 AM on February 6 [40 favorites]


He has the job because the Republicans literally won a coin toss to determine control of the legislature.

Pedantry: the coin flip meant it was 51-49, rather than 50-50. There are no rules in place for a 50-50 HOD; they would have had to work out a power-sharing arrangement, but *someone* would have had to be Speaker, and it might well have been a Republican.
posted by Chrysostom at 9:02 AM on February 6 [5 favorites]


Virginia Attorney General Mark Herring (D) said Wednesday he dressed in blackface during college, elevating the Capitol’s scandals to a new level that engulfed the entire executive branch of government.

There's a certain hilarity to this that I'm having trouble putting into words. Like, this dude totally thinks he's doing the Governor a solid by pointing out that, hey, it was 1980, ALL the blinkered and privileged white college students were doing it, and what're you going to do about it, impeach ALL of us? Solidarity, yo.

It might work for the GOP, guys, but that's, uh, quite a bold strategy to undertake when you're relying on a constituency that is largely not-white. Because YES, you dumb fuck, we're going to impeach all of you, salt the earth, and make sure no one ever considers doing this kind of dumb racist shit ever again.
posted by Mayor West at 9:02 AM on February 6 [26 favorites]


Some interesting commentary coming from the David Pakman show.
Don Jr & Kushner Transcripts Heading to Mueller Soon
posted by bluesky43 at 9:03 AM on February 6 [2 favorites]


AOC's thousand yard stare.

Responding to Peggy Noonan's complaint about her looking "sullen, teenaged and at a loss" at the SOTU, AOC tweeted back: "Why should I be “spirited and warm” for this embarrassment of a #SOTU? Tonight was an unsettling night for our country. The president failed to offer any plan, any vision at all, for our future. We’re flying without a pilot. And I‘m not here to comfort anyone about that fact."

Speaking of flying without a pilot, NBC reports: On Trump's Calendar, Just 17 Intelligence Briefings In 85 Days—U.S. officials also say Trump does not regularly read the written intelligence briefing sent over daily.
President Donald Trump, who doesn't regularly read the daily intelligence summary prepared for him, is also participating in relatively few in-person briefings from his spy agencies, according to intelligence officials and a review of his schedules.

A series of recently published presidential schedules show that he has been in just 17 intelligence briefings over the last 85 days. That's about the same frequency as two of his predecessors, Barack Obama and Bill Clinton, according to a former CIA briefer who has written a book on the subject. But unlike those former presidents, Trump does not regularly read the written intelligence briefing sent over each day to the White House, U.S. officials tell NBC News, and in private he frequently questions the integrity and judgment of the intelligence officials who are giving him secret information.[…]

When Trump believes something to be true, U.S. officials tell NBC News, it's extremely difficult for them to dissuade him, even if they have a mountain of evidence he is wrong. And when he doubts something they are telling him, he often requires iron-clad proof of a type that is rarely available from intelligence collection.

"This is the first president that the intelligence community has had to deal with whose instinctive departure point is not the truth," David Priess, a former CIA briefer, said on MSNBC. "He goes from his belief first."
posted by Doktor Zed at 9:04 AM on February 6 [70 favorites]


Like, this dude totally thinks he's doing the Governor a solid by pointing out that, hey, it was 1980, ALL the blinkered and privileged white college students were doing it, and what're you going to do about it, impeach ALL of us?

That's not my read at all. I don't think Herring thinks he's doing Northam a favor; I think he knows he is in line to be governor and had better get out in front of this.
posted by Chrysostom at 9:05 AM on February 6 [44 favorites]


[Folks, the Virginia fiasco should probably get its own thread, since it seems like it's gonna continue all the way down the chain.]
posted by LobsterMitten (staff) at 9:06 AM on February 6 [26 favorites]


NEW: Virginia Lt Gov Justin Fairfax released a new statement about the sexual assault allegations against him
posted by bluesky43 at 9:07 AM on February 6


There's a certain hilarity to this that I'm having trouble putting into words. Like, this dude totally thinks he's doing the Governor a solid by pointing out that, hey, it was 1980, ALL the blinkered and privileged white college students were doing it, and what're you going to do about it, impeach ALL of us? Solidarity, yo.


If he's doing anything for the governor it's showing the only possible right way to deal with this: admit, acknowledge the harm, acknowledge the ignorance behind the action, not make excuses, not preempt accepting consequences.
posted by phearlez at 9:09 AM on February 6 [16 favorites]


It is absolutely wild that, even while making an otherwise quite good apology for wearing blackface, the AG can't bring himself to say the word "racist". If you can't say "what I did was racist" when what you did was wear blackface, when can you say it?
posted by BungaDunga at 9:11 AM on February 6 [16 favorites]


That's a pretty good statement, IMHO, but with the news of him calling her names at the same time, it does fall pretty flat.
posted by AwkwardPause at 9:13 AM on February 6 [2 favorites]


I know I've posted some funny, inspirational, or incisive tweets from former MI congressman and Twitter master John Dingell over the years of this thread and I'm sure others have as well. A heartbreaking update:

Rep. Debbie Dingell
Friends and colleagues know me and know I would be in Washington right now unless something was up. I am home with John and we have entered a new phase. He is my love and we have been a team for nearly 40 years. I will be taking each day as it comes. We thank people for their friendship and support and ask for prayers and privacy during this difficult time.
posted by chris24 at 9:14 AM on February 6 [36 favorites]


It is absolutely wild that, even while making an otherwise quite good apology for wearing blackface, the AG can't bring himself to say the word "racist"

The New York Times: HOLD MY FUCKING BEER
Virginia Attorney General Says He Also Dressed in Dark Makeup
posted by octobersurprise at 9:21 AM on February 6 [27 favorites]


I want to gently push back aginst the "nothing to hide" line, including because of the Fifth Amendment's guarantee of a presumption of innocence (Regent University School of Law), but also because we don't get to decide how our words are ultimately interpreted - it's just not how criminal prosecution works.
I think this is an important point in the general case but the specific case carries some pretty overwhelming baggage. In this case the head of state has no peers to form a jury and is actively obstructing justice in the public eye. He should, could and will be tried in the court of public opinion.

Above and beyond the fact that his oath of office and the responsilbities he is charged with arguably do trump the presumptions one would make in the case of an arbitrary member of the republic.
posted by mce at 9:21 AM on February 6 [6 favorites]


[But seriously though: Virginia fiasco, separate post.]
posted by LobsterMitten (staff) at 9:27 AM on February 6 [23 favorites]


“...We’re flying without a pilot. And I‘m not here to comfort anyone about that fact."

Well, there is a pilot — he’s just not the President of the United States and is probably Russian.
posted by Celsius1414 at 9:27 AM on February 6 [7 favorites]


Come draft a quick new VA post on the wiki, because none of us have the heart to do it alone.
posted by zachlipton at 9:28 AM on February 6 [15 favorites]


The Pelosi clap has become a meme - photoshop edition.
posted by bluesky43 at 9:38 AM on February 6 [6 favorites]


I had no idea what Debbie Dingell was talking about, because I'm an idiot, so I googled, and in case any of you were in my situation, here you go. Her husband is John Dingell, he's 92, he's in hospice care after getting prostate cancer and suffering a heart attack, and it's getting worse.

He is (was, retired a few years ago) the longest-serving member of Congress at 59 years. His father, John Dingell Sr., held the seat for 22 years before that. Democrat, long-term chair of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, and Wikipedia says that among his many other accomplishments, "For his conduct regarding environmental issues during the 109th Congress the lobby group League of Conservation Voters (LCV) has awarded Dingell its highest rating, 100%." His wife Debbie holds his former seat in Michigan's 12th District since 2015.

Hell of a family and legacy, probably worth a memorial post, at least worth a moment of your day to remember that we have had and still have plenty of decent politicians.
posted by saysthis at 9:44 AM on February 6 [42 favorites]


I think this is an important point in the general case but the specific case carries some pretty overwhelming baggage. In this case the head of state has no peers to form a jury and is actively obstructing justice in the public eye.

I respectfully disagree that there are no peers to form a jury, but yes, the Worst Client in the World is often very public about what appears to be criminal activity, e.g. from the Brookings Institution in August 2018:
Evidence supporting the elements of that offense—an obstructive act undertaken with corrupt intent and having the requisite connection to a grand jury or congressional proceeding—was available in public reports and testimony.
In the meantime, from Politico, Schumer: Trump is 'scared' of Congressional oversight:
In an earlier Wednesday appearance on CNN, Schumer said the president's "ridiculous partisan investigations" warning revealed that he has "something to hide." The minority leader likened the denunciation of investigations to the 35-day government shutdown that rattled Washington last month. "And the president says if you investigate me I'm not going to make progress. That's already doing what he did with the shutdown. Holding the American people hostage," Schumer said. "He's got something to hide. Because if he had nothing to hide, he'd just shrug his shoulders and let these investigations go forward. He's afraid of them."
I think it is more helpful to point out the massive amount of damning evidence that is already public, because it seems like a more effective way to protect the integrity of the investigation than to risk sounding like a fishing expedition based on factors that can't be considered under the U.S. Constitution.
posted by Little Dawn at 9:44 AM on February 6 [9 favorites]


The Pelosi clap has become a meme - photoshop edition.

Someone on Facebook brilliantly pointed out that Pelosi's necklace consists of two red balls on a blue chain.
posted by Autumnheart at 9:51 AM on February 6 [45 favorites]


Trump’s State of the Union polled well … because Republicans watched it (Emily Stewart, Vox)
State of the Union audiences generally skew toward the president’s party
posted by ZeusHumms at 10:05 AM on February 6 [3 favorites]


"Nothing to hide, nothing to fear" is a standard argument against privacy and civil rights (ACLU), so I encourage caution about the potential sacrifice of core democratic values in exchange for convenient slogans that we'd otherwise be fighting if they were turned against us.

This isn't about Trump testifying, or submitting to questions (yet), or any Fifth Amendment issues where you're correct to say "nothing to hide" is terrible advice. But that's not what's happening here. You absolutely want to stay quiet and not offer evidence against yourself when under investigation (where possible), but you don't say, "I didn't steal from orphans and I've always said I didn't steal from orphans, so the police department should be disbanded." Big difference.
posted by rhizome at 10:13 AM on February 6 [17 favorites]


Final stages of the Russia probe: Trump is under assault from all directions (Heather Digby Parton, Salon)
We haven't yet seen evidence showing that the Russian government was directly conspiring with the Trump campaign to sabotage the election, beyond that Trump Tower meeting and Roger Stone's mysterious shenanigans. But [information released recently from internal Trump Org documents] is important because it shows that regardless of whether the Russians had anything on Trump before the 2016 campaign, they certainly did once he began to lie publicly about not having any business deals there. They clearly knew he was lying, which made him vulnerable to blackmail.
posted by ZeusHumms at 10:15 AM on February 6 [15 favorites]


regardless of whether the Russians had anything on Trump before the 2016 campaign, they certainly did once he began to lie publicly about not having any business deals there. They clearly knew he was lying, which made him vulnerable to blackmail.

And it's been said before on these threads but is worth repeating that regardless of whether Trump is unwillingly or even unwittingly under influence by the Russians, his actions are practically indistinguishable from someone who is being influenced by the Russians.

Investigation or no investigation, kompromat or no kompromat, Trump's public actions are incriminating enough.
posted by Gelatin at 10:20 AM on February 6 [27 favorites]


Virginia fiasco, separate post. Thanks everyone for their work on this.
posted by zachlipton at 10:29 AM on February 6 [32 favorites]


WaPo, Renae Merle, CFPB proposes weakening Obama-era payday lending rule, a win for industry
The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau on Wednesday proposed significantly weakening Obama-era rules governing payday lenders, boosting the fortunes of an industry accused of keeping low-income borrowers trapped in a cycle of debt.

Under the existing rule, which is set to take effect in August, payday lenders are required to verify that borrowers can afford the loans they are being offered. The proposal would rescind that requirement and delay the rule’s implementation until 2020.
----

Republicans govern in bad faith, part #9792486:

@jonward11: “Nobody cares.” - Republican White House chief of staff & budget chief on debt and deficit

@JakeSherman: Mulvaney used to care. As a matter of fact, he said it was his central policy concern when he ran against a Dem budget chair in 2010. He said he cared when he got to congress and was involved w fiscal battles. He seems to have only stopped caring when he went to go work for trump

@hughhewittI used to care but (1) we are having an experiment with how much debt it equites to spark hyper-inflation and (2) Republicans learned that spending the next generation’s money is great politics in the here and now and thought “Why let just Ds do this?”
posted by zachlipton at 10:36 AM on February 6 [29 favorites]


This extraordinary Doug Mills photo of Speaker Pelosi turning some applause back on the President (or doing baby shark doo doo doo doo?) is the photo of the night.

Isn't this called clapping back? Heh.

Together with the pin and the necklace, I'd say Nancy ruled the night.
posted by Mental Wimp at 10:38 AM on February 6 [6 favorites]


The NYT has some insider reactions to Trump's SOTU from House Democrats: Pelosi Declares House Will Not Be Intimidated From Its Trump Inquiries
[I]n a closed-door meeting with House Democrats, Ms. Pelosi had privately lambasted the president.

“He was a guest in our House chamber, and we treated him with more respect than he treated us,” she said, according to a Democratic aide in the room who was not authorized to discuss the private session publicly.

Ms. Pelosi also took a dig at Mr. Trump’s plan, detailed on Tuesday, to invest $500 million over ten years to developing new cures for childhood cancer, characterizing it as paltry.

“Five hundred million dollars over 10 years — are you kidding me?” she said, according to the aide. “Who gave him that figure? It’s like the cost of his protection of his Mar-a-Lago or something.”
n.b. Trump's Mar-a-Lago visits cost an average of $3.4 million per trip, and then there are the expenses from his frequent trips to his clubs in Bedminster, NJ and Sterling, VA. The total might be as high as $87,000,000, Trumpgolfcount.com estimates.
posted by Doktor Zed at 10:40 AM on February 6 [20 favorites]


@hughhewitt I used to care but (1) we are having an experiment with how much debt it equites to spark hyper-inflation and (2) Republicans learned that spending the next generation’s money is great politics in the here and now and thought “Why let just Ds do this?”

Groddamn but he is such trash. Before Obama and the stimulus package the biggest drivers of deficit spending had been Reagan and Bush and Bush. The only surplus in my lifetime came during Clinton's term. Bush II took that surplus and willfully threw it away for a dumbass tax cut when we all knew there was the look of a depression on the horizon. Which, surely enough, blew up deficits.
posted by phearlez at 10:50 AM on February 6 [56 favorites]


Mulvaney is completely in hock to payday lenders: they bankrolled his House campaigns. And his old district in SC, just over the state line from Charlotte, is full of them. (Payday loans are illegal in NC.)
posted by holgate at 10:51 AM on February 6 [17 favorites]


Payday loans are illegal in NC

Probably because they were preying on Ft. Bragg etc servicepersons
posted by thelonius at 10:53 AM on February 6 [11 favorites]


Probably because they were preying on Ft. Bragg etc servicepersons

Perhaps (it's been illegal since '07 to provide serving military and families with payday/title loans) but Fort Jackson is surrounded by them. Predatory lending is an SC thing.
posted by holgate at 11:00 AM on February 6 [3 favorites]


Governor withdraws most New Mexico National Guard from border (Las Cruces Sun News)
New Mexico's governor, arguing there is not an "overwhelming national security crisis," withdrew the majority of National Guard troops deployed at the state's southern border.

[Governor] Michelle Lujan Grisham on Tuesday also announced she would be sending more help to Hidalgo County — one of the state's three border counties — to assist with humanitarian needs.

“I reject the federal contention that there exists an overwhelming national security crisis at the southern border, along which are some of the safest communities in the country," the governor stated in a news release sent hours before President Donald's Trump's scheduled State of the Union. "However, I recognize and appreciate the legitimate concerns of residents and officials in southwestern New Mexico, particularly Hidalgo County, who have asked for our assistance, as migrants and asylum-seekers continue to appear at their doorstep."
There were roughly 120 troops deployed in support of federal agents watching the border.
posted by ZeusHumms at 11:01 AM on February 6 [49 favorites]


"I'm just afraid that waving the flag is quickly going to turn into waving the flag at someone."

It astounds me that the French, who displayed the fucking stars and stripes in solidarity with us just after 9/11, ended up being ridiculed and vilified by our Nationalist party members (remember Freedom Fries?).
posted by Mental Wimp at 11:05 AM on February 6 [25 favorites]


The State of the Union was deeply weird (Alexandra Petri, WaPo)
President Trump: It is the best of times! The union is very strong. It has, perhaps, never been stronger. We have more jobs than the Founding Fathers had people, and we have made great strides with regards to women, who now have jobs and, I am told, mostly sink when placed in water.

[Raucous, pointed applause from the Women in White]

Trump: We are entering a new golden age. First, we won World War II (a great thing to do, and especially at that time!) and then we went to the moon, and I have brought Buzz Aldrin and the moon here with me to say “Thanks.” You’re welcome, moon!

[BUZZ ALDRIN’S TIE, A SENTIENT ENTITY FROM SPACE WHOM THE GOVERNMENT HAS BEEN KEEPING A SECRET FOR ALL THIS TIME, NODS AND WAVES.]
posted by Johnny Wallflower at 11:06 AM on February 6 [15 favorites]


ZeusHumms: Governor withdraws most New Mexico National Guard from border (Las Cruces Sun News)

More from the Land of Enchantment: New Mexico governor signs 42 bills lawmakers had on fast track (Santa Fe New Mexican, Feb. 4, 2019)
Lawmakers had approved each of the bills in some form during past years with bipartisan support, but each was vetoed by [Democratic Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham's] predecessor, Republican Gov. Susana Martinez. Some were bills sponsored by Republicans and some were sponsored by Democrats.

In signing the bills during a single morning, Lujan Grisham sought to show that the gridlock from the Martinez administration had eased.

“Today is a signal that we are in fact working together and we are in fact open for business,” Lujan Grisham told reporters while surrounded by Democratic and Republican lawmakers during a news conference in her Cabinet room.

But Republicans in the House of Representatives objected to the process. They argued that new lawmakers had never seen these bills before and that the so-called “rocket docket” amounted to rushing what is meant to be a deliberative process.

In the end, though, few Republicans voted against the bills.
The article has a brief summary of some of the bills, and why in the world Susana Texana* vetoed them is beyond me. (* even though we can celebrate her for being the first female Governor of New Mexico and first Hispanic female state chief executive in the United States, and she was admitted to the State Bar of New Mexico, some like to jab that she was born and raised in Texas, as a way to say "she's not one of us." But it's a bad look for me, as a California native who hasn't been here a decade yet.)

Anyway, if you want to take a peek at what's happening in this "long" 60 day legislative session, The Santa Fe New Mexican has a Legislative section, and the current stories look to be lots of positive, progressive stories of bills in the works, like a bill to lessen the impact of criminal history on job search and A bill to make it less complicated for transgender people to change the sex designation on their birth certificate cleared the Senate on Tuesday by a vote of 26-13. (Note: there's a page-view for the Santa Fe New Mexican, but no countdown to how many pageviews you have left.)

Good things can happen when you have a Democratic majority in the Senate and House, along with a Democratic governor.
posted by filthy light thief at 11:18 AM on February 6 [32 favorites]


CNN:
House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff announced Wednesday a broad investigation his committee would undertake "beyond Russia" into whether President Donald Trump's financial interests are driving his actions.

Schiff said the investigation would "allow us to investigate any credible allegation that financial interests or other interests are driving decision-making of the President or anyone in the administration."

"That pertains to any credible allegations of leverage by the Russians or the Saudis or anyone else," Schiff told reporters after the House Intelligence Committee's first meeting in the new Congress.
posted by Chrysostom at 11:25 AM on February 6 [38 favorites]


From The Daily Beast: Less than 24 hours after President Donald Trump vowed to end HIV transmission in the United States within a decade, the Department of Justice announced that a U.S. attorney has filed a civil lawsuit to halt the creation of supervised injection sites, which exist to prevent opioid overdoses and the sharing of contaminated needles by intravenous drug users.

The lawsuit, filed against the nonprofit Safehouse and its executive director on Wednesday morning by U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania William M. McSwain, is the first of its kind. McSwain’s suit seeks a judicial decree preventing the opening of “consumption rooms,” given the green light by Philadelphia city officials last summer, which provide safe places for drug users to inject using sterile equipment under the supervision of medically trained staff.


Note: Fuck these fuckers. That is all.
posted by Bella Donna at 11:29 AM on February 6 [63 favorites]


Re: “Final Stages of the Russian Probe” Salon headline noted above, is there really any evidence of this? Aside from Guiliani nonsense, I mean? Seems to me there are still some very high profile individuals, and many complicated aspects that we have only heard about from Mueller and SDNY briefly or as a matter of course regarding other indictments/prosecutions.

Just a few off the top of my head: I-1, of course; two sons; one daughter; Kushner; Conway; maybe Pence; maybe any of another half-dozen senior admin staffers; then there’s House and Senate enablers/participants. Etc. Etc.

And I’m not mentioning many, including inauguration committee and Trump Org people, who I can think of, and of course many I can’t recall (and because brevity).

So, I admit not reading the Salon piece, because I’ve read these “final stages” pieces for the past year at least, and because I’ve seen the same assertion elsewhere without much substance to it. What evidence is there, exactly, of an endgame?
posted by young_simba at 11:36 AM on February 6 [3 favorites]


So, I admit not reading the Salon piece, because I’ve read these “final stages” pieces for the past year at least

This is the correct choice. I'm sure writing and publishing these articles is irresistible. You get easy clicks, and if you happen to publish your "it's almost over" piece at the correct time, you get to tweet about your tremendous foresight. If you're wrong, it just goes on the pile of premature calls that nobody will remember.
posted by diogenes at 11:48 AM on February 6 [12 favorites]


The lawsuit, filed against the nonprofit Safehouse and its executive director on Wednesday morning by U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania William M. McSwain, is the first of its kind.

The US Attorney in Boston has been vowing for several months now to prosecute anybody involved with running a safe-injection site in Massachusetts. He recently reiterated that, after Boston Mayor Marty Walsh, who once opposed the idea, came away impressed from visits to a couple of Canadian sites.

On Jan. 25, city and state health officials issued an alert about 6 HIV cases among IV drug users in Boston between November and January - compared to none in the same period a year earlier.
posted by adamg at 11:48 AM on February 6 [10 favorites]




HuffPost, Rowaida Abdelaziz, Yemeni Mother Affected By The Travel Ban Speaks Out After Her Son’s Death
At the State of the Union address Tuesday night, Rep. Zoe Lofgren (D-Calif.) brought Shaima Swileh, a 21-year-old Yemeni national, as her guest. In December, Swileh was granted a waiver to travel from Egypt to the U.S. to be with her only child, 2-year-old Abdullah Hassan, a U.S. citizen, who was dying from complications of hypomyelination, a genetic degenerative brain disease.

Swileh petitioned the State Department to arrive sooner but was denied because of President Donald Trump’s Muslim ban. It wasn’t until the Council on American-Islamic Relations in the Bay Area organized a public campaign, and Lofgren stepped in, that a waiver was granted. Abdullah died days after his mother’s arrival.
...
[Swileh]: "I just want to say, please, help these kind of cases of people who need the help. There are so many stranded people who need help, in Djibouti or elsewhere. At bare minimum, help those who need medical assistance. There isn’t a single American who would agree to live in a country where they have a sick child and their spouse is in another country. No one would want to live like this, American or any other nationality. Families must be together during times of happiness and during times of illnesses. "
posted by zachlipton at 11:56 AM on February 6 [29 favorites]


Solid, pithy thread from Larissa Alexandrovna on Trump/Russia. The gist of it:

“It was never about espionage. It was about money. Trump had one job: to lift sanctions when he became POTUS. Once the sanctions were lifted, every corrupt bastard in his orbit was going to make a lot of money...Trump did not need to be involved or even know of each separate conspiracy and each criminal undertaking (Flynn's nuclear plant, Manafort's pay off to Deripaska, etc.). He had his own bribe: Trump Tower Moscow and he needed it, because once again he was near bankruptcy.”

There’s more. From movies, when I think of “conspiracy” I think of lots of people involved in lots of intricate, interrelated details. While I know I’m mistaken, this is a good reminder why.
posted by young_simba at 12:00 PM on February 6 [66 favorites]


I think the main reason for people believing that the Russia investigation is almost done is this story...

Pete Williams and Allan Smith, NBC News, Jan 9th 2019:
"Rod Rosenstein, who oversaw Mueller probe, leaving DOJ after investigation wraps up"
A source close to Rosenstein said he intends to stay on until Mueller's investigative and prosecutorial work is done. The source said that would mean Rosenstein would remain until early March. Several legal sources have said they expect the Mueller team to conclude its work by mid-to-late February, although they said that timeline could change based on unforeseen investigative developments.

The source said once Mueller's work is done, the special counsel's report to the Justice Department would follow a few weeks later, and Rosenstein would likely be gone by then.

But others familiar with his thinking said there’s no firm timeline and that Rosenstein would work out a departure plan once the new attorney general is confirmed and on board.

Rosenstein had long intended to serve about two years as the Justice Department's No. 2 official, the administration officials say. They add that this is his own plan and that he is not being forced out by the White House. That's despite the fact that he's been a frequent target of criticism from President Donald Trump on Twitter.
That followed the ABC story which mentioned that Rosenstein would retire "in the coming weeks" but did not include the "after the investigation is finished" part.

ABC attributed their story to "multiple sources familiar with his plans" and NBC to "A source close to Rosenstein." That's vague enough that it's hard to speculate about the motives of such a source. But I don't think that either description would cover, say, "Rudy Giuliani."
posted by OnceUponATime at 12:01 PM on February 6 [5 favorites]


USA Today: Donald Trump Taps World Bank Critic David Malpass To Lead The International Finance Agency
Malpass’s nomination could draw objections from other world leaders because of his criticism of the 72-year-old agency he has now been tapped to lead.

Malpass has criticized both the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund, arguing that improvements are needed in the bank’s lending programs and that a process must be in put in place “to focus, prune and streamline” such multilateral organizations.[…]

In his post at Treasury, Malpass, 62, has served as the principal adviser to Mnuchin on international economic issues. He also has been involved in ongoing trade negotiations between the U.S. and China and will be part of a delegation that will travel to Beijing next week to continue the talks.

Before his was named to his current post, Malpass worked on Wall Street for 15 years as the chief economist for Bear Stearns, a now-defunct investment bank and brokerage firm, until its collapse in 2008. He also was a member of Trump’s transition team following the 2016 presidential election and served as deputy assistant secretary in the Treasury and State deparrments during the presidencies of Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush.
Paul Krugman is unimpressed:
Give Trump credit for consistency: his "the worst and the dumbest" strategy of choosing personnel hasn't varied a bit, and now he's trying to bring it to the World Bank […]

My favorite of all these was Malpass insisting in 2005 that U.S. household savings were actually pretty high, and everything OK, bc of rising home values. In case you've forgotten, here's what happened to real housing prices

And of course he signed the 2010 letter warning that Bernanke's efforts to rescue the economy would lead to high inflation

Imagine what appointing Malpass would do to intellectual quality and morale at the World Bank. But I don't know whether other countries will stand up to Trump on this
Foreign Policy: Will David Malpass Run the World Bank or Ruin It? "When it comes to the World Bank in particular—the world’s biggest development bank—Malpass in his time at Treasury has tried to slow down the its ability to raise more capital and to limit the number of countries it lends to. […] On the surface, the choice mirrors other Trump nominations, both for domestic and international positions, with leaders seemingly hand-picked to undermine the agencies they are tapped to lead."
posted by Doktor Zed at 12:11 PM on February 6 [7 favorites]


Trump just gave a speech to the Global Coalition to Defeat ISIS, in which he said that while ISIS has been decimated, it remains a dangerous threat and will do so for many years. You might think this sounds like a speech in which the President was reversing his decision to withdraw all troops from Syria. It was not. It was a speech in which Trump thanked the other coalition members for not withdrawing their troops from Syria. After all, they have an important job to do: protect America.
posted by East Manitoba Regional Junior Kabaddi Champion '94 at 12:23 PM on February 6 [10 favorites]




Donald Trump to visit UK for December Nato summit (Patrick Wintour, The Guardian)
posted by ZeusHumms at 12:41 PM on February 6


Solid, pithy thread from Larissa Alexandrovna on Trump/Russia.

This is a streamlined version of the Trump-Russia affair, not only throwing out everything we can't confirm (e.g. the Steele Dossier), but also drawing its conclusions from just what we know at present (which is a lot less than Mueller). It also gives Trump too much credit for being a hands-off boss, when he's more of an erratic micro-manager who charges his subordinates to make what he wants happen and then unpredictably drops in to focus specific details. Moreover, it completely ignores the "grand bargain" geopolitical manoeuvring that Trump conducted with the intermediaries of Putin, Netanyahu, and MBS during the 20160 campaign's last stages and the post-election transition—it's not just about money.

If we're lucky, this is the best-case scenario for Trump's collusion, one that will doubtless be more palatable than outright treason to GOP politicians when/if the time comes to talk impeachment seriously. In the meantime, Mueller keeps digging.

How else will we find out that Trump feels increasingly isolated?

Newsweek: Donald Trump Is the 'Most Isolated' President Since Richard Nixon, Watergate Journalist Bob Woodward Says
posted by Doktor Zed at 1:03 PM on February 6 [15 favorites]


People are starting to file their tax returns, and those who file early are typically people counting on a decent sized refund as soon as possible, and as the impact of the Republican tax bill starts to become clear, people are really not happy.

As Vox explains, there are a couple of things going on here, and since Americans don't understand the tax system at all (see the constant ignorance of the idea of marginal rates), everyone gets confused. The first is that some people will straight up pay more taxes under the new tax bill, and those people are only starting to realize it. Some of that will get worse in the coming years as the impacts of the changed inflation measures start to become apparent.

But the result of the tax bill also changed the way withholding works, and a lot of people ended up underwithheld as a result. Barely anybody changed their withholding to account for the new law. Some might ask if this was political manipulation for the midterms, to give paychecks a little boost knowing the bill would only come due after the election. But the effect of that is that more people will owe money when they file their tax returns now, and many of them are accustomed to getting refunds. That makes people upset, and that's true even if they're paying the same total amount in taxes this year that they paid last year; it's even true if their total taxes are less. People don't like getting hit with a surprise tax bill and many people focus on the size of the refund more than they care about giving interest-free loans to the government (plus it creates a shock to your budget to discover you owe). As David Dayen writes:
We saw this with the Obama administration’s 2009 “Making Work Pay” tax credit, which dribbled out $400 to individual weekly paychecks through changes to withholding. Studies showed that nobody actually knew they received a tax cut.

From a political standpoint, many will see the lower refund as confirmation that the tax cuts didn’t benefit them, regardless of how accurate that may be. There’s already anecdotal evidence of this from early filers.
Anyway, now would be a great time for a multi-million dollar ad push by Democrats to take advantage of this and blame Republicans as people file their taxes and get really angry.
posted by zachlipton at 1:14 PM on February 6 [80 favorites]




Buzzfeed's Emma Loop: House Judiciary Committee Chair @RepJerryNadler sends another letter to Acting AG Matt Whitaker basically warning him that he’s going to need to answer questions on Friday.

In his letter to Whitaker, Nadler spells out this out to the AAG: "I asked that you notify the Committee in writing no later than 48 hours before our hearing if President Trump plans to invoke executive privilege to prevent you from answering any of these questions. […] Because you have not provided any notification to the Committee regarding executive privilege—or, indeed, any communication in response to the January 22 letter—my understanding is that you will provide full and complete answers to these questions when they are asked at your hearing this Friday."

Nadler's ready to subpoena the former "MASCULINE TOILET" salesman tomorrow.
posted by Doktor Zed at 1:27 PM on February 6 [27 favorites]


We saw this with the Obama administration’s 2009 “Making Work Pay” tax credit, which dribbled out $400 to individual weekly paychecks through changes to withholding. Studies showed that nobody actually knew they received a tax cut.

This is endlessly frustrating because that was the right way to do it from an economic perspective. The idea is to get people to spend that money, and they do spend it when it's distributed that way. On the other hand, people tend to save it when you send them a check that says "Here's an extra $400 courtesy of George W Bush."

So what actually works for the economy doesn't work from a political advantage perspective.
posted by diogenes at 1:37 PM on February 6 [22 favorites]


All in all, I found him to be surprisingly good at avoiding the "well, that's a blatant lie" comments that I thought for sure were going to pop up in the news. Sure, there were some distractions and deceptive ways of presenting a few notions - but that's nothing new for any President since.. well. in my lifetime, at least.
posted by bradth27 at 1:42 PM on February 6


> what actually works for the economy doesn't work from a political advantage perspective.

And once again, Obama took the high road and focused on what would be good for the country, at the expense of what would be good for him and Democrats politically. He was so damn high-minded, to the point of extreme naivete... And what I wouldn't give to have him back.
posted by RedOrGreen at 1:42 PM on February 6 [46 favorites]


While it's true that many people don't understand the tax system, and aren't well versed in how withholding vs. total tax liability works, it doesn't change the fact that a lot of people are used to getting their tax refunds. People have long counted on a tax refund for a monetary boost early in the year. It's when the car finally gets fixed, or the kids finally go to the dentist, or some of the bills finally get caught up. Or maybe the old car finally gets replaced because there's money for a down payment, or a new tv gets bought. This money is a shot into the economy at that time. But now refunds are smaller or people now owe. People who owed now owe more. Suddenly there's a lot less money going into the economy. People are going to adjust their withholding so they have less money to spend, and that's going to take some more money out of the economy. The markets are long overdue for a drop, and I wonder if this is what's finally gonna start things.

But most people aren't rich. People were told that the tax cut was going to help them, that they'd be better off. And they look at a smaller refund or a bigger "amount owed" and they're pissed off. They don't necessarily understand withholding. They just know they aren't going to have that extra money this year.
posted by azpenguin at 2:06 PM on February 6 [43 favorites]


Vox - Why Trump ignored climate change and gun violence during the State of the Union

Because what are actual problems anyway.
posted by saysthis at 2:48 PM on February 6 [2 favorites]


T-Mobile executives seeking merger approval booked more than 52 nights at Trump’s hotel — more than previously known (WaPo):
Last month, The Washington Post reported that “VIP Arrivals” lists — issued by the Trump hotel daily to its staff — indicated that T-Mobile executives had stayed repeatedly at Trump’s hotel. On the day after the merger was announced, for instance, the lists showed nine T-Mobile executives were expected to check in.

Now, The Post has obtained VIP arrivals lists for additional days last year, which showed five more bookings at the hotel by T-Mobile executives, including chief executive John Legere. Those bookings — in October and December of last year — added 14 nights to the 38 previously reported.
Sen Warren and Rep Jayapal each sent letters to both the Trump Organization and T-Mobile seeking answers ahead of a joint House Energy & Commerce and Judiciary Committee meeting on the merger next week.
posted by peeedro at 2:51 PM on February 6 [10 favorites]




Sen. Amy Klobuchar's Abuse Of Staff Scared Off Candidates To Manage Her Presidential Bid (HuffPost)

is it usual to report on abusive emails that have been cc'd to large amounts of people and not report the emails themselves? like...wouldn't you want to verify them?
posted by schadenfrau at 3:00 PM on February 6 [6 favorites]


Sounds like working for a man anywhere. I'm not belittling abuse, but getting told your work isn't good on an email with a bunch of CC's isn't it.
posted by odinsdream at 3:00 PM on February 6 [17 favorites]


Sounds like working for a man anywhere. I'm not belittling abuse, but getting told your work isn't good on an email with a bunch of CC's isn't it.
posted by odinsdream at 7:00 AM on February 7 [+] [!]


It...it's not? That sounds abusive, at least to me. With myself, and clients, I tend to make clear that public floggings are only useful if you're firing that person as an example, and even then, you keep out the superlatives, you just say, "Thing happened, leading to bad thing, therefore we have to do this." Anything beyond that is abusive, at least to me, without the prior consent of the person to be criticized, and they have to approve the criticism before you send it out (again, unless egregious someone-might-die-and-this-was-an-understandable-human-mistake-but-seriously-never-again kind of situations). If public flogging is common from male bosses, omfg.

What is indisputable, however, is that Klobuchar’s office consistently has one of the highest rates of staff turnover in the Senate. From 2001 to 2016, she ranked No. 1 in the Senate for staff turnover as measured by LegiStorm, a widely used database of congressional staff salaries. She’s now third, behind Maryland Democrat Chris Van Hollen and Louisiana Republican John Kennedy.

Because this...sounds like something is up.
posted by saysthis at 3:09 PM on February 6 [32 favorites]


I don't think we really have enough information based on that HuffPo article to determine whether or not her behavior is abusive, but if multiple people are indeed turning down opportunities to work with her based on her reputation for being abusive, that seems like a serious problem. I want our Dem candidate to *actually* hire the best people, both for the campaign and for their work in the White House.

Time is short & there is a lot of important work to do both to defeat Trump and to undo all the damage done. We can't let a dysfunctional, high turnover work environment hamper that progress.
posted by the turtle's teeth at 3:12 PM on February 6 [5 favorites]


What is indisputable, however, is that Klobuchar’s office consistently has one of the highest rates of staff turnover in the Senate. From 2001 to 2016, she ranked No. 1 in the Senate for staff turnover as measured by LegiStorm, a widely used database of congressional staff salaries.

Let's look up LegiStorm on that other widely-used database of employee opinions.

If I didn't know better, I'd say it....sounds like something is up.
posted by rhizome at 3:15 PM on February 6 [9 favorites]


Time is short & there is a lot of important work to do both to defeat Trump and to undo all the damage done. We can't let a dysfunctional, high turnover work environment hamper that progress.

Yes, this. We already have a President with a dysfunctional, high turnover work environment in his administration. It's not so great.
posted by The World Famous at 3:16 PM on February 6 [3 favorites]


How to lie with cherry-picked statistics, edition 65354391...

Kevin Drum, Mother Jones, Here’s a Closer Look at President Trump’s Big Lie About El Paso
There’s simply no excuse for pretending that El Paso was ever a high-crime city or that it took the construction of a wall to bring down its crime rate. It’s just flatly not true.

This story wouldn't rate even a raised eyebrow as far as the routine background level of mendacity we've all come to expect, but even so, it's worth a click for the three charts just to see how shockingly egregious the lie about crime in El Paso really is.

(And spoiler alert, of course the wall makes no difference to the crime rate.)
posted by RedOrGreen at 3:18 PM on February 6 [19 favorites]


Time is short & there is a lot of important work to do both to defeat Trump and to undo all the damage done. We can't let a dysfunctional, high turnover work environment hamper that progress.
posted by the turtle's teeth at 7:12 AM on February 7 [+] [!]


Trump is a blaring red flag of a boss. A "dysfunctional, high turnover work environment" is bad enough already. I'd like to not have another one in the White House in 2020, and if Klobuchar really runs things like that...I guess we'll be hearing more about it, but mostly I like her, and I'd like this not to be true.
posted by saysthis at 3:24 PM on February 6 [1 favorite]


[We can probably wait to dig in on the Klobuchar thing until there's more concrete details on the Klobuchar thing.]
posted by cortex (staff) at 3:26 PM on February 6 [22 favorites]


Without championing a particular Democratic candidate...

No candidate is going to be perfect, because no human is perfect. Every candidate that comes forward is likely as not to be infected with some sort of flaw, especially flaws that might derive from being a competitive, Type A personality with a record in politics, because that’s the only type of people who are going to try to run for President (except for the extreme grifters or nut jobs).

Gabbard isn’t very liberal. Harris championed some insensitive positions as a prosecutor and, as a Californian, wouldn’t deliver a swing home state. Klobuchar may have been insensitive to workers. O’Rourke hasn’t won a statewide office. Warren caught flak for her blind spot in her familial pride at having an ancestor of Native American heritage. Bernie Sanders isn’t a Democrat and would be 80 in 2020. Kirsten Gillibrand has a muddled history on immigration and, like Harris, wouldn’t deliver a swing home state. Julian Castro hasn’t won a statewide office. Cory Booker will have to answer some uncomfortable questions about his time as mayor of Newark. Sherrie Brown is rumpled. Biden would be 78 in 2020 and has a record of centrism on some key economic issues.

That said, some of these weaknesses are definitely not disqualifiers. And most of the above have some amazing strengths. I definitely have my top three current faves for the primaries. And obviously, I’d happily vote for any of them in a General Election against Trump.

I just hope we don’t amplify the rumor mill, and pile on and rule out any potentially very good candidates because of a perceived weakness at this stage.
posted by darkstar at 4:09 PM on February 6 [67 favorites]


This story wouldn't rate even a raised eyebrow as far as the routine background level of mendacity we've all come to expect, but even so, it's worth a click for the three charts just to see how shockingly egregious the lie about crime in El Paso really is.

And, if people are listening to literally any of the sheriffs over counties on the border or any of the politicians (R and D), they are all saying the same exact thing. Immigrants come to America for a better opportunity. They could do crime anywhere. And, if the Immigrants happen to be undocumented, they really don't participate in crime. The amount of downside for them (and their families and the other immigrants they are sharing an apartment with and their immigrant co-workers)... it practically knows no bounds.

Sort-of related: I interviewed once for a research dept. who were looking at what they called the "Hispanic Paradox". That is, in that area of Texas, taken as a whole, the Hispanic community had many factors that should reduce life expectancy (lots of drinking, smoking, living in poverty, few doctor visits, etc.), yet had a life expectancy that was better than average for the risk factors that the group, as a whole, showed. I also want to say they may have had a better than average life expectancy than the average population of the area. The research was far enough along that the department had a pretty strong theory that much of it tied into how happy the group was. While you can still be happy and commit crime, it's less common. People who are desperate, scared, angry, etc. will commit more.
posted by a non mouse, a cow herd at 4:26 PM on February 6 [24 favorites]


After reading this piece from someone who worked for Reagan+both Bushes and who is now a senior fellow at a DC think tank that describes itself as "dedicated to applying the Judeo-Christian moral tradition to critical issues of public policy", along with their continued employment of literal war criminal David Frum and National Review writers like Reihan Salam and Alexandra DeSanctis, I am really, really bummed out that The Atlantic has taken such a rightward turn in the era of Trump. Adam Serwer is great, but god there is a lot of villainy to shovel through.

And yet, The Atlantic is not alone. There is the NYT with Ross Douthat, David Brooks, Bari Weiss, and Bret Stephens. Washington Post is a total crapshoot, but in a just world, Max Boot would be in a space station prison. For such an oppressed political group, conservatives sure seem to have an easy time finding public platforms for their views.

The only bright lights for me seem to be The New Republic, ProPublica, and The Intercept, despite Greenwald's inability to never log off. What a mess.
posted by Ouverture at 4:30 PM on February 6 [7 favorites]


Nancy owns Trump and he knows it. (Monique Judge, The Root)

I laughed at almost every sentence and had tears running down my face the whole time from laughing so uncontrollaby.
posted by a non mouse, a cow herd at 4:43 PM on February 6 [46 favorites]


Oh this is fantastic.
Nancy owns Trump and he knows it. (Monique Judge, The Root)

I laughed at almost every sentence and had tears running down my face the whole time from laughing so uncontrollaby.
posted by a non mouse, a cow herd at 4:43 PM on February 6

If you watched last night’s State of the Union address, you saw the Congressional OG show up with her gang in tow, wearing their colors and ready to drag your little “president” to hell if they needed to. With her army in white behind her, Fancy Pelosi (her gang name) sat behind the “president” as he gave his address, smirking at times and raising her eyebrows at others when he exaggerated or told an obvious lie. She was ready.

Keep in mind that the only reason Donald Trump was able to give his little speech in the first place is because the “Last O.G.” gave him permission too. She already checked his ass twice about it and shut down his previous attempts.

And he let her shut him down because if we are honest, Donald Trump is afraid of Nancy Pelosi.

posted by bluesky43 at 4:48 PM on February 6 [9 favorites]


Daily Beast: Paul Erickson, Russian Agent Maria Butina’s Boyfriend, Indicted for Fraud—The federal indictment in South Dakota alleges that he ran a criminal scheme from 1996 to 2018 using a chain of assisted living homes.

“The indictment alleges that Erickson ran a criminal scheme from 1996 to 2018 using a chain of assisted living homes called Compass Care. Erickson also allegedly defrauded investors through a company called Investing with Dignity that claimed to be “in the business of developing a wheelchair that allowed people to go to the bathroom without being lifted out of the wheelchair.” The indictment says he also ran a fraudulent scheme that claimed to be building homes in the Bakken oil fields of North Dakota.”

It’s grifters all the way down.
posted by Doktor Zed at 4:51 PM on February 6 [30 favorites]


Forgive this minor backtrack but something has been bothering me about the recent report that Donald was having trouble getting a loan from Deutsche Bank in 2016.
Donald J. Trump was burning through cash.

It was early 2016, and he was lending tens of millions of dollars to his presidential campaign and had been spending large sums to expand the Trump Organization’s roster of high-end properties.
So in early 2016, he was desperate for cash but then in July 2016, Donald forgave $47.5 million in loans he'd made to his campaign. What happened in those few months that not only made him no longer desperate for cash but also on top of that willing to wave good-bye to almost fifty million dollars?

The loans were forgiven right when revenue from outside donors started to really pick up so there was now an actual possibility that Donald could get paid back by the campaign. But somehow the guy who once cashed a check for 13 cents just walked away from those millions of dollars? This person screamed at Chris Christie about "stealing his money" for the transition team, but didn't have any kind of ownership over the actual dollars he personally loaned to his own campaign?
posted by SpaceBass at 5:21 PM on February 6 [42 favorites]


Doktor Zed: "Imagine what appointing Malpass would do to intellectual quality and morale at the World Bank. But I don't know whether other countries will stand up to Trump on this"

There's some talk the executive board may itself nominate another American. That way they can stick with the "an American always runs the World Bank" thing, but not go with Malpass.
posted by Chrysostom at 5:28 PM on February 6 [4 favorites]


Is there a particular reason that the USA always gets to run the World Bank?
posted by a box and a stick and a string and a bear at 5:37 PM on February 6 [1 favorite]


Traditionally, an American got the World Bank, and a European got the IMF. This made sense in the postwar environment, arguably; it's probably past its sell-by point now.
posted by Chrysostom at 5:40 PM on February 6 [14 favorites]


Is there a particular reason that the USA always gets to run the World Bank?

Because it is the largest shareholder.
posted by zakur at 5:41 PM on February 6 [1 favorite]


538 does a chat on what they see as the current state of the Dem primary. tl-dr; Harris++, Nate disagrees with the others about a bunch of the rest, Biden&Bernie's cred buys them more time to declare than anyone else but they are still on a timer which is ticking down.
posted by Justinian at 6:05 PM on February 6 [1 favorite]


They just know they aren't going to have that extra money this year.

And they're not the only ones, according to Politico: Farmers nearing crisis push back on Trump trade policies
The recent five-week shutdown froze government programs to assist producers with financing, planting decisions and much more. If another shutdown comes after Feb. 15, it will seriously interfere with the spring planting season, further complicating the picture for farmers. [...]

Farm debt is nearing the record levels set in the ‘80s, accounting for inflation, according to USDA statistics, and farm expenses are rising. Fertilizer and equipment have become costlier, due partly to Trump’s tariffs on steel, aluminum and certain chemicals made in China. [...]

The next few weeks could be critical in shaping how 2019 will turn out for U.S. agriculture: U.S. and Chinese officials have until March 1 to reach a trade deal before Trump ratchets up tariffs and Beijing retaliates. [...]

“If the farm economy continues to get worse in the run-up to 2020, my sense is that this will be devastating to Trump,” said Gregory Wawro, political science professor at Columbia University. “Although it is difficult to defeat a sitting president, it is hard to see how Trump wins a second term if things play out that way.”
posted by Little Dawn at 6:53 PM on February 6 [7 favorites]


“Although it is difficult to defeat a sitting president, it is hard to see how Trump wins a second term if things play out that way.”


Well, I’m afraid loads of farmers will still find a way to rationalize voting for Dumbass even as their farm is going under because of his stupid trade wars.
posted by darkstar at 7:07 PM on February 6 [13 favorites]


Biden&Bernie's cred buys them more time to declare than anyone else but they are still on a timer which is ticking down.
Biden and Bernie are unique in that they’re “next-in-line” candidates: the vice president to the most recent Democratic president and the runner-up in the most recent Democratic primary.
Hillary Clinton was the "next-in-line" candidate last time. I supported her in the primary and the general election. That's not a good enough reason for them to be the nominee and I would prefer someone younger.
For Beto, it’s sort of the exact opposite. His credentials are a little light. And IMO it reeks of arrogance to take all this time to decide when other, more experienced candidates have already gotten into the race.
I like Beto but I pretty much agree with this. Maybe not arrogance per se, but a little presumptuous.
posted by kirkaracha at 7:07 PM on February 6 [9 favorites]


I'd be more comfortable with Beto as the VP on a Harris/O'Rourke ticket.
posted by kirkaracha at 7:09 PM on February 6 [18 favorites]


I think they're not saying that Biden/Bernie would be strong nominees or good presidents; just that they have a little more time to play with, given that they have such strong name recognition, etc.
posted by Chrysostom at 7:40 PM on February 6 [3 favorites]


[Let's try not to accidentally slide full-on into "we've got to decide who should run for president" mode here w/r/t primary candidates.]
posted by cortex (staff) at 7:47 PM on February 6 [27 favorites]




After all, they have an important job to do: protect America.

Was that actually part of the speech or your own riff on it?
posted by scalefree at 8:51 PM on February 6 [1 favorite]


That's a brilliant idea. Republicans are gonna fight making Election Day a holiday as hard as they can. Cause they know it hurts them. They're not popular. When more people vote they do worse. Like the Popular Vote compact, cities and states need to start making Election Day a holiday on their own. Do it more and more among the states and eventually it becomes a thing nationwide. And Republicans can do nothing to stop it federally. If they prevent progress in one area of government it's up to us and our communities to make it happen wherever we can.
posted by downtohisturtles at 9:10 PM on February 6 [51 favorites]


How is it that the GOP doesn't see that by stating "Dems will win more if it's easier to vote" means that their policies are widely and wildly unpopular? How does that even get spun as a positive thing in The_Donald and other conservative circles?


‘There Is Going to Be a War Within the Party. We Are Going to Lean Into It.’ -- The Justice Democrats helped get Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez elected. Who are they after next? (David Freedlander for Politico, February 4, 2019)
“I am talking about the radical conservatives in the Democratic Party,” said Saikat Chakrabarti. “That’s who we need to counter. It’s the same across any number of issues—pay-as-you-go, free college, “Medicare for all.” These are all enormously popular in the party, but they don’t pass because of the radical conservatives who are holding the party hostage.”

Not long ago, this would have been an outlier position even among American liberals. Today, it’s the organizing principle of a newly empowered segment of the Democratic Party, one with a foothold in the new Congress.

Chakrabarti is chief of staff to Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, the closest thing to a new celebrity Congress has had in years—a 29-year-old former activist and bartender who, on the most recent Martin Luther King Day, sat on the same New York stage as the rapper Common, Black Panther director Ryan Coogler and MacArthur “genius award” winner Ta-Nehisi Coates.

Although it’s Ocasio-Cortez who gets all the headlines, she arguably wouldn’t be in Congress in the first place without the group Chakrabarti founded: Justice Democrats, a new, central player in the ongoing war for the soul of the Democratic Party. It was the Justice Democrats who recruited her in a quixotic campaign early on, providing a neophyte candidate with enough infrastructure to take down a party leader. And it is the Justice Democrats who see Ocasio-Cortez as just the opening act in an astonishingly ambitious plan to do nothing less than re-imagine liberal politics in America—and do it by whatever means necessary.
Some not-great framing and phrasing in the article (likening Justice Democrats to a "Tea Party-like populist coalition of voters" while ignoring that Tea Party Was Created by Big Tobacco and Billionaire Koch Brothers*), and apparently botching some details, like the fact that there were six other Justice Democrats who won their 2018 elections [Wikipedia] instead of Ocasio-Cortez being the only JD-backed winner ... yeah, maybe faulty on a number of fronts, but there are some interesting interviews with people involved in pushing the Democrats to the left (where many Americans reside, instead of the astroturf village of the Tea Party).


* Brendan DeMelle, HuffPo Contributor and Executive Director of DeSmogBlog.com, Feb. 11, 2013; Updated Dec. 6, 2017
A new academic study confirms that front groups with longstanding ties to the tobacco industry and the billionaire Koch brothers planned the formation of the Tea Party movement more than a decade before it exploded onto the U.S. political scene.

Far from a genuine grassroots uprising, this astroturf effort was curated by wealthy industrialists years in advance. Many of the anti-science operatives who defended cigarettes are currently deploying their tobacco-inspired playbook internationally to evade accountability for the fossil fuel industry’s role in driving climate disruption.

The study, funded by the National Cancer Institute of the National Institute of Health, traces the roots of the Tea Party’s anti-tax movement back to the early 1980s when tobacco companies began to invest in third party groups to fight excise taxes on cigarettes, as well as health studies finding a link between cancer and secondhand cigarette smoke.
The tobacco connection is news to me, and somehow even more gutting than the fact that billionaire conservatives were behind the "grass-roots" initiative.
posted by filthy light thief at 9:53 PM on February 6 [63 favorites]


WSJ's take on the same subject Little Dawn commented on above: “‘This One Here Is Gonna Kick My Butt’—Farm Belt Bankruptcies Are Soaring”, paywalled of course but a slightly larger excerpt is on Democratic Underground here. Excerpt from the excerpt:
Bankruptcies in three regions covering major farm states last year rose to the highest level in at least 10 years. The Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals, which includes Illinois, Indiana and Wisconsin, had double the bankruptcies in 2018 compared with 2008. In the Eighth Circuit, which includes states from North Dakota to Arkansas, bankruptcies swelled 96%. The 10th Circuit, which covers Kansas and other states, last year had 59% more bankruptcies than a decade earlier.

States in those circuits accounted for nearly half of all sales of U.S. farm products in 2017...
posted by XMLicious at 10:59 PM on February 6 [8 favorites]


From Brad Setser at the NYT: The Global Con Hidden in Trump’s Tax Reform Law, Revealed
despite Mr. Trump’s proud rhetoric regarding tax reform during his State of the Union address, there is no wide pattern of companies bringing back jobs or profits from abroad. The global distribution of corporations’ offshore profits — our best measure of their tax avoidance gymnastics — hasn’t budged from the prevailing trend. [...]

The craftiest and largest corporations can still legally whittle down their effective tax rate into the single digits. (In fact, the new law encourages firms to move “tangible assets” — like factories — offshore).

Overall, the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act amounted to a technocratic sleight of hand — a scheme set to shift an even greater share of the federal tax burden onto the shoulders of American families.
posted by Little Dawn at 11:09 PM on February 6 [21 favorites]


How is it that the GOP doesn't see that by stating "Dems will win more if it's easier to vote" means that their policies are widely and wildly unpopular? How does that even get spun as a positive thing in The_Donald and other conservative circles?

They're trained by Fox News to respond to key words with desired policies. It's Pavlovian.
They see "easier to vote" & read it as "easier to cheat". Doesn't need to make sense, doesn't need to be an actual mechanism to cheat if voting's made easier. They simply know it's true because of how many times they've heard it.
posted by scalefree at 11:30 PM on February 6 [12 favorites]


There's a great deal more background on the Koch brothers' long range efforts to roll back history in Nancy MacLean's excellent Democracy in Chains This program has its origins in Virginia's fight against desegregation, and the beginning of the american 'libertarian' movmement.

"In this vision for America, those without great power or property are prevented from using their majority votes to better their lives through a multi-pronged strategy that seeks to kill off unions, suppress voting, privatize schools, highways, Medicare and Social Security, stop action on climate change, transform the legal and judicial system and amend the Constitution to lock all of this into place permanently.

“The libertarian cause,” MacLean states in her book, “was never about freedom as most people would define it.” Rather, it was about “the promotion of crippling division among the people so as to end any interference with what those who held vast power over others believed should be their prerogatives.”
posted by Harry Caul at 2:44 AM on February 7 [44 favorites]


Trump's SotU speech: opinions vary.

Newt Gingrich: President Trump’s State of the Union changed history
Every once in a while a speech is so effective and powerful it changes the trajectory of history. President Trump’s 2019 State of the Union address was that kind of speech.

If you have not seen it, you should watch it online. Reading it will only convey 10 percent of its power. It was the interaction of the President with the members of Congress and the audience in the galleries that was so compelling.
[...]
This speech was designed to move toward unity and bipartisanship—and 56 percent of the viewers thought it will “do more to unite the country.”
[...]
The President entered the House chamber embattled with a divided country and bitter partisanship. He left it with a lot more humor and happiness. The ice may be breaking on bitter partisanship.

This was a speech that changed the trajectory of history.
posted by scalefree at 3:34 AM on February 7 [2 favorites]


Oh & the parts in between that I left out? Full to the brim with all the ways Pelosi & the Dems were gritting their teeth. Because bipartisanship means "we can have unity as long as you give in & do it 100% my way. Plus we still get to call you names, Libtards."
posted by scalefree at 3:52 AM on February 7 [8 favorites]


This was a speech that changed the trajectory of history.

Well, I guess we’ll just have to wait and see history’s take on that, Newt.
posted by Horace Rumpole at 3:58 AM on February 7 [25 favorites]


I'm looking back through the thread and realizing my interpretation of If there is going to be peace and legislation, there cannot be war and investigation doesn't seem to have showed up: it appeared to me that with those words he actually threatened to start a war to get out of his legal problems, but paired up “war and investigation” to muddy the waters.

But I suppose that even if he successfully starts a war, that's not really specifically related to the speech... it's still the points when the Republican party nominated him and the electoral college made him President when the trajectory of history changed.
posted by XMLicious at 4:13 AM on February 7 [5 favorites]


Newt Gingrich: President Trump’s State of the Union changed history

Me: Newt Gingrich’s level of bullshit has an inverse relationship to his relevancy.
posted by jaduncan at 4:28 AM on February 7 [38 favorites]


as per @alt_uscis they're putting razor wire on the U.S. side of the southern border wall
posted by angrycat at 4:48 AM on February 7 [7 favorites]


their policies are widely and wildly unpopular? How does that even get spun as a positive thing in The_Donald and other conservative circles?

There are a surprising number of people--often including me if I let the old self-reflection slip a little--who think that they are smarter than other people and that people who disagree with them simply know what's good for them. And that therefore popularity isn't relevant to the strength of an idea.

The Trumpist right wing have taken that reflex to the point of "this idea being unpopular means it's good."
posted by aspersioncast at 5:01 AM on February 7 [5 favorites]


The current (this week) exercise in scare-the-the-shite-out-of-the-people as seen in Nogales is the ridiculous amount of concertina razor wire facing its streets. It's the cheaper shrugging version of 'wall.' .

'The proclamation the city council is scheduled to vote on says concertina wire is typically something found in battlefields, and that placing it along the entirety of the border fence is "not only irresponsible but inhuman."

In a tweet, U.S. Rep. Raul Grijalva, a Democrat, called the additional wire a stunt by the Trump administration, which he said is "trying to create the perception of rampant lawlessness and crime."
posted by Harry Caul at 5:01 AM on February 7 [27 favorites]


~Newt Gingrich: President Trump’s State of the Union changed history
~Me: Newt Gingrich’s level of bullshit has an inverse relationship to his relevancy.


Newt's been working overtime to become relevant again ever since I-1 won the election. The problem is that Newt knows the shit he spouts is mostly packaged, partisan propaganda, whereas I-1 believes every incomprehensible word he utters is raw, unassailable truth. Frighteningly, Newt just doesn't fit in with the new management.
posted by Thorzdad at 5:06 AM on February 7 [6 favorites]


Adding to scalefree's point about Pavlovian response and aspersioncast's on elitism... there's a long tradition of conservative thought supporting an actual philosophy of sorts, argle-bargle with a classics education. Essentially, it's that certain voters -- the rural/white kind -- simply do merit an outsized influence, and others are either "illegal" or, like, may as well be "illegal". Sometimes this gets expressed as "We're a republic, not a democracy" and "Majority rule is mob rule" and "We can't let California and New York decide everything".

From this perspective, there is really is something fishy or even fraudulent about, say, a group of ~urban~ voters traveling to a poll together by bus. Of course the primary source of this is racism, but it intertwines with some bad (and ironic) logic about the need for "fairness" to the minority group that is Republicans, who consider themselves the ones who work for a living and/or earned their retirement. Tell a Fox News viewer about the notion of making Election Day a holiday, and they will connect the dots to "free handout" on their own. ("It wasn't a holiday for me and you don't see me complaining..")

XMLicious: I'm looking back through the thread and realizing my interpretation of "If there is going to be peace and legislation, there cannot be war and investigation" doesn't seem to have showed up: it appeared to me that with those words he actually threatened to start a war to get out of his legal problems, but paired up “war and investigation” to muddy the waters.

I assumed the surface-level intent of that speech is to combine defenses of the Syria withdrawal and obstructing justice. But it can serve mutiple purposes; certainly the word "war" has been a primer for American salivary glands for generations, hence a "war" on everything from poverty to terrorism.
posted by InTheYear2017 at 5:14 AM on February 7 [13 favorites]


Huh so not only is the Tea Party movement not grass roots, it’s pay-to-paint-the-fence (wall - steel slat and concrete barrier) druckery.
posted by tilde at 5:17 AM on February 7 [1 favorite]


Ohio city to stop observing Columbus Day, make Election Day holiday instead (TheHill)

Go Sandusky!


Might not matter. Miami Beach voted to raise minimum wage and ban plastic bags. State overruled based on a law we apparently enacted (gee I wonder why :::rolleyes:::) to prevent cities from making and enforcing laws like this.
posted by tilde at 5:19 AM on February 7 [2 favorites]


There's a great deal more background on the Koch brothers' long range efforts to roll back history in Nancy MacLean's excellent Democracy in Chains

And from Brooke Harrington, writing in the Guardian: 'Aristocrats are anarchists': why the wealthy back Trump and Brexit
After interviewing 65 wealth managers in 18 countries, I learned that many individuals with enormous wealth and power deeply resent any institutions that limit their freedom or hold them accountable to obey the law. Thus, they form common cause with populist political movements, which attack the authority and legitimacy of policy professionals and politicians. In this effort, the ultra-rich weaken the actors empowered to impose restrictions on them, liberating themselves to make even more money by flouting regulations, tax obligations, trade embargoes and other inconveniences. The goal, as a Guardian columnist wrote presciently back in 2012, is to “free the rich from the constraints of democracy” – and that, sooner or later, has the ironic consequence of aligning global elites with authoritarian nationalists.

These wealthy individuals’ political inclinations may seem like relatively harmless self-interest, until you consider the power they have to realize their ambitions.
posted by Little Dawn at 5:31 AM on February 7 [57 favorites]


How is it that the GOP doesn't see that by stating "Dems will win more if it's easier to vote" means that their policies are widely and wildly unpopular? How does that even get spun as a positive thing in The_Donald and other conservative circles?

Partly because the GOP doesn't care that their policies are unpopular. In fact, that plays into their whole victim mentality. Their policies are correct, even if deeply unpopular, so cheating by suppressing the vote, disenfranchising voters, etc. is not only necessary but also noble.

Assholes.

In news from NPR, "Whether it's a deadly cold snap or a hole in an Antarctic glacier or a terrifying new report, there seem to be constant reminders now of the dangers that climate change poses to humanity. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., and Sen. Ed Markey, D-Mass., think they have a start to a solution. Thursday they are introducing a framework defining what they call a Green New Deal — what they foresee as a massive policy package that would remake the U.S. economy and, they hope, eliminate all U.S. carbon emissions."

Huffington Post notes that polls show the Green New Deal appeals to voters from both parties. The GOP apparently hasn’t heard.
posted by Bella Donna at 5:33 AM on February 7 [43 favorites]


Sometimes this gets expressed as "We're a republic, not a democracy" and "Majority rule is mob rule" and "We can't let California and New York decide everything".

Well, those were in fact 18th Century concerns, weren't they? (Large States, pedants, not California as such). But what is always omitted from this is the story of the progressive expansion of political rights and democracy since that time. I suppose they think that is a bad story.
posted by thelonius at 5:41 AM on February 7 [1 favorite]


what is always omitted from this is the story of the progressive expansion of political rights and democracy since that time. I suppose they think that is a bad story.

According to the NYT: Painting Socialists as Villains, Trump Refreshes a Blueprint
The report by the White House Council of Economic Advisers, “The Opportunity Costs of Socialism,” did not prescribe any action but was meant to serve as a warning about the destructive economic policies that Mr. Trump believes Democrats would inflict on the United States.

Policies like tuition-free college were mentioned in the same ominous tone as the atrocities committed by Vladimir Lenin and Mao Zedong.
posted by Little Dawn at 5:49 AM on February 7 [4 favorites]


I learned that many individuals with enormous wealth and power deeply resent any institutions that limit their freedom or hold them accountable to obey the law.

Anarchy for us, tiny American flags for everyone else.
posted by dances_with_sneetches at 6:00 AM on February 7 [17 favorites]


The Daily Beast Betsy Woodruff reveals how DoJ officials are frantically pscrambling ahead of Matt Whitaker’s appearance on Capitol Hill: ‘They Hate This Guy’: Matt Whitaker Braces for Showdown With Dems
Acting Attorney General Matt Whitaker is set to testify before Congress on Friday, and in the Department’s sprawling Pennsylvania Avenue headquarters, dozens of officials have been working to get him ready.[…]

A person familiar with Whitaker’s preparation told The Daily Beast he is gearing up for an intense few hours.

“They hate this guy so much,” the source said.

Whitaker has gone through multiple practice committee hearings––known as moots––where Justice Department officials pepper him with questions that committee Democrats may lob, according to multiple DOJ officials involved in his preparation. They have tried to prepare him for lengthy statements, harsh tones, and leading questions. Dozens of department officials have helped him prepare, those officials told The Daily Beast, working through the government shutdown to brief him and get him ready. And they’re gearing up for questions about Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia probe, according to one source familiar with Whitaker’s preparation, including whether he had input on the investigation’s resources. On top of that, they’re braced for legal sparring if Democrats try to force Whitaker to testify about his conversations with the president.

“We don’t know what we’re up against with the House Judiciary Committee,” that source said. “We have no idea.”[…]

Chairman Jerry Nadler, meanwhile, appears to be laying the groundwork for a court fight. His spokesperson, Daniel Schwarz, said Whitaker should know exactly what’s coming.

“The notion that Mr. Whitaker doesn’t know what to expect on Friday is absurd,” Schwarz said. “We have given him months to prepare for this hearing, provided him with a list of questions more than two weeks ago, and we continue to give our Republican colleagues every opportunity to weigh in on the process. Most importantly, in repeated public letter after public letter, we have made our expectations for Mr. Whitaker’s appearance crystal clear. If he is still confused at this point, it is because he hasn’t done his homework—not because we haven’t explained it to him.”[…]

Nadler’s little-noticed 48-hour request could be significant. If Whitaker refuses to answer questions without invoking executive privilege, the committee could potentially move to hold him in contempt of Congress and then ask a federal judge to force him to answer their questions. The fact that Nadler has told Whitaker what he plans to ask and has requested notice of any executive-privilege claims means a federal judge may be more likely to side with a potential Democratic effort to compel testimony.
Here is Nadler’s original letter, which extensively lists all the questions the HJC wants to ask the AAG.
posted by Doktor Zed at 6:16 AM on February 7 [28 favorites]


The current (this week) exercise in scare-the-the-shite-out-of-the-people as seen in Nogales is the ridiculous amount of concertina razor wire facing its streets. It's the cheaper shrugging version of 'wall.'

Not that cheap, Cost of border deployments could approach $1 billion by end of fiscal year (WaPo).
posted by peeedro at 6:25 AM on February 7 [5 favorites]


thelonius Well, those were in fact 18th Century concerns, weren't they? (Large States, pedants, not California as such)

No, actually. That's modern justification slapped onto the system and often wrongly attributed as the original justification.

In fact, the states demanding the Electoral College were the largest, by population, in the original 13 colonies. At that point Virginia was the most populous state in the USA, and cities were barely blips on the landscape. The idea of large urban populations dominating politics would have been totally unthinkable to the Founders. At that point in history around 80% of the population, not just in the USA but worldwide, was employed in primary food production (farming, ranching, fishing) and lived either on farms or in small villages.

Virginia and the other slave states wanted the Electoral College for one simple reason: while they had the largest total populations, a significant percentage of that population was enslaved and thus didn't vote. The 3/5 compromise that counted enslaved people as 3/5 of a person for the purposes of calculating representation for that state in the House of Representatives gave the slave states representation in the House greatly in excess of what their free, voting, population would merit [1].

The Electoral College was the mechanism by which the slave states could expand the 3/5 compromise that gave them excess power in the House to also give them excess power in electing a President.

If the President was directly elected then only voters in Virginia and the other high population states would count. And that would give an advantage to free states in Presidential elections. By allocating Electoral Votes equal to the number of Senators plus the number of Representatives given to that state the slave states got to count the enslaved population towards their voice in electing the President.

It was never about protecting the interests of low population states, it was always a compromise that the high population slave states demanded in exchange for being part of America.

[1] Note, it was the free states that wanted enslaved people not to count at all, and the slave states that wanted enslaved people to count as full people. The free states negotiated down to 3/5 to avoid giving the slave states quite so much of an overwhelming majority in the House as they would otherwise.
posted by sotonohito at 6:27 AM on February 7 [75 favorites]



Ohio city to stop observing Columbus Day, make Election Day holiday instead (TheHill)

Go Sandusky!


That's a brilliant idea. Republicans are gonna fight making Election Day a holiday as hard as they can.

Sandusky's actually a really good example of why this is such a good idea. Home of Cedar Point amusement park and a hub for recreational boating and lake tourism, it's a small city/large town on the shore of Lake Erie about halfway between Cleveland and Toledo. The surrounding county is farmland, but the town itself often serves as a sort of bedroom community and retirement/second home for wealthy liberals and the remaining genteel Republicans from the two larger cities. Plus of course it's the county seat, so it's very much the driver of jobs and services for the area.

Erie county as a whole voted Democrat from 92 to 12, driven largely by the votes of Sandusky. But in the Republican ratfucking gerrymandering of 2010, Sandusky proper got jammed into a ridiculous district that skims the lakeshore from Western Cleveland to Toledo - clearly meant to cluster reliably Democrat areas into one district. Given that Ohio recently passed a bill requiring a more bipartisan approach to creating districts after the 2020 census, the town seems to be anticipating a possible future in a more geographically coherent district. Which means a district with more rural areas. So making Election Day a holiday is a step towards ensuring that places with lots of land but not many people don't dominate the policies of the area.
posted by soundguy99 at 6:45 AM on February 7 [15 favorites]


No, actually. That's modern justification slapped onto the system and often wrongly attributed as the original justification.

It was an actual issue.
posted by thelonius at 6:48 AM on February 7 [6 favorites]


"I am also proud to be the first president to include in my budget a plan for nationwide paid family leave, so that every new parent has the chance to bond with their newborn child," Trump said in his address on Tuesday.

Ignoring the lie about Trump being the first - Obama and Democrats have been fighting for years to get paid family leave - just what is Trump's plan? Turns out it was created and promoted by Ivanka. Are they going to raise taxes on the rich to pay for it? Of course not. The plan it to allow parents to borrow from their future Social Security retirement benefits. So the Republican family leave is just a debt that parents incur and pay for by impoverishing themselves in their old age.

Rich people like Ivanka have no clue about how real people live, but one thing she is sure of is that she doesn't want her taxes increased to help families and their children.
posted by JackFlash at 6:57 AM on February 7 [71 favorites]


Trump appeared awfully low-energy at the National Prayer Breakfast today…

Vox's Aaron Rupar has the video: "Trump, who was having a hard time this morning, accidentally said "the abolition of civil rights" was led by people of faith."

Daniel Dale has been live-blogging/fact-checking the whole event, in all its weirdness, e.g. “Trump's text says a SWAT officer "raced through" a doorway during the Pittsburgh massacre. Trump accidentally says "graced," then says, "graced and raced."”

And Trump concludes with yet another lie: “Trump says that when he urged Americans on Tuesday to choose greatness, "everybody in that room stood and applauded." (That came right after "results or resistance, vision or vengeance, incredible progress or pointless destruction," and Democrats did not stand and applaud.)”
posted by Doktor Zed at 7:04 AM on February 7 [12 favorites]


And while we are talking about stupid plans, how about Amy Klobucher:

"The American workforce is changing, & there isn’t one path to success. I’ve introduced bipartisan legislation with @SenSasse to allow people to use tax advantaged savings accounts to pay for educational expenses like skills training, apprenticeships, & professional development."

First off, partnering with fake moderate Ben Sasse should be the first clue that this is a terrible bill. But what is a tax advantaged account? It is just an IRA. So Klobucher is saying you can borrow from your retirement savings to finance your education. That assumes that you already have a job or have any retirement savings. You can already deduct some education expenses and student loan interest so this adds nothing for most people. But worse, it is a regressive handout to the wealthy because the higher your income, the bigger the tax deduction. Low income people pay very little or no income taxes so a tax advantaged account provides them precisely zero benefit.

Klobucher should be ashamed to promote such weak policy in coordination with Republicans.
posted by JackFlash at 7:12 AM on February 7 [21 favorites]


But what is a tax advantaged account? It is just an IRA.

Or a number of special savings accounts designed to allow parents to save for college, which have had the issue of being locked to just paying for college.
posted by NoxAeternum at 7:22 AM on February 7 [9 favorites]


Washington Post's Jeff Stein:

Woah @SpeakerPelosi openly mocks in Politico interview the Green New Deal plan now supported by 5 of the Dems' leading presidential candidates:

“The green dream or whatever they call it, nobody knows what it is, but they’re for it right?”
posted by One Second Before Awakening at 7:22 AM on February 7 [6 favorites]


“The green dream or whatever they call it, nobody knows what it is, but they’re for it right?”

The Green Dream is that our grandchildren still have an inhabitable planet. I don't know the specifics, but if you're not for it, you're against us.
posted by explosion at 7:26 AM on February 7 [79 favorites]


If the Justice Democrats and like-minded progressive Democrats are anything like the Anti-Tea Party that they're often painted, they can push discussions and policies hard toward the left, with or without central party support.


House Democrats Divided On Strategy To Force Release Of Trump's Tax Returns (NPR, February 7, 2019)
There is a mechanism, known as the "committee access" provision, that allows the tax writing committee to request tax records of any taxpayer from the secretary of the Treasury. It is unclear how the agency will respond to that request and whether it will stall or resist efforts to turn over Trump's personal returns to the panel.

On Thursday, the committee will take its first small step toward a resolution when it holds a narrow hearing on the laws related to presidential and vice presidential tax returns.

Ways and Means Committee member Rep. Bill Pascrell, D-N.J., says the subcommittee-level session, set to include academics and think tank scholars, is cautious but necessary. "This is our first real crack," Pascrell said. "We have a responsibility. You either live up to the responsibility or you don't."
...
House Democratic Caucus Chairman Hakeem Jeffries, D-N.Y., told reporters Wednesday that while Democrats are serious about their constitutional responsibility to investigate Trump, they aren't going to be reckless when they do it. "We will not be bullied by the president of the United States," Jeffries said. "That said, we're not going to overreach, we're not going to overinvestigate, we're not going to overpoliticize our constitutional responsibilities."

Asked specifically whether he plans to make Trump's tax returns a top priority, Jeffries responded with a different list of legislative goals like lowering health care costs, introducing an infrastructure plan and "cleaning up corruption."

That approach is shared by some moderate members on the Ways and Means Committee. Rep. Ron Kind, D-Wis., a former prosecutor, said he wants to defer to special counsel Robert Mueller when it comes to requesting sensitive documents like private tax returns, to avoid interference with that investigation.

"First of all, there's no rush," Kind said. "I gotta believe that the Mueller team already has their hands on the president's tax returns. If they're looking for a possible connection between Russia and his family, there is a danger in trying to go too far too fast."
Emphasis mine, and I think I'm on the side of Reps Hakeem Jeffries and Ron Kind, though it goes against Nancy Pelosi's promise to make getting Trump's tax returns a priory:

Congress Really Can Demand, And Get, Trump's Tax Returns. Here's How (NPR, October 11, 2018)
House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi vowed this week to demand President Trump's tax returns if Democrats win control of the House of Representatives next month.

Pelosi, seeking to regain her gavel as House speaker after elections in November, told The San Francisco Chronicle editorial board that the move "is one of the first things we'd do — that's the easiest thing in the world. That's nothing."
...
By law, taxpayer information is supposed to remain confidential. But as University of Virginia law professor George Yin, author of a 2017 article on the law (PDF), told NPR, Congress didn't like being dependent on the executive branch to provide tax records.

When the "committee access" provision, as it's known, became law in 1924, Congress had been dealing with taxpayers' information in the Teapot Dome scandal (Wikipedia) afflicting the Harding administration and in a controversy involving former Treasury Secretary Andrew Mellon. Like Trump, he had served in government while refusing to avoid conflicts of interest by letting go of his holdings.
But the October 2018 NPR article notes that the request is easy, but given that the request would go to Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin, who oversees the IRS, there could be a significant amount of pushback and Justice Department lawyers, and perhaps private lawyers, might fight the request in court.

But ...
Were Congress to get access to Trump's returns, it would be easy for lawmakers to disclose the information, despite various privacy protections that exist for taxpayers. The chair or committee with Trump's tax returns could submit them to the full House or Senate if there's a legitimate legislative purpose. At that point, the returns would very likely quickly become available for the public to see on the Internet.
Fun times ahead. And by "fun," I mean holy fook, I appreciate that there's are many paths to getting Trump's tax returns, and I realize that processes mean structure and reliability, but in the meantime, Trump's deplorable policies are still being put in place.
posted by filthy light thief at 7:28 AM on February 7 [10 favorites]


“The green dream or whatever they call it, nobody knows what it is, but they’re for it right?”

The construction of this sentence resembles that of some other prominent figure on the national political stage. Can't think of who it is.
posted by ZenMasterThis at 7:30 AM on February 7 [27 favorites]


But what is a tax advantaged account? It is just an IRA.

Or a number of special savings accounts designed to allow parents to save for college, which have had the issue of being locked to just paying for college.


Yeah, it sounds like the professional development equivalent of a FSA. Call me crazy, but that sound like a good idea to me. It’d be better to have free college for everyone, but in the meantime, it seems like a win to give regular people a mechanism to lower their tax burden and put the money toward their economic viability.
posted by Autumnheart at 7:32 AM on February 7 [6 favorites]


"First of all, there's no rush," Kind said. "I gotta believe that the Mueller team already has their hands on the president's tax returns.

Ron Kind is an idiot. There is zero, zip reason to believe that Mueller has Trump's tax returns. This would have to be approved by Treasury Secretary Mnuchin and if Mueller had requested them, you can be sure there would have been a huge constitutional fight raised by Trump's lawyers.

Nobody is ever going to see Trump's tax returns unless congress mandates it, and still it will be a big fight.
posted by JackFlash at 7:36 AM on February 7 [6 favorites]


said "the abolition of civil rights" was led by people of faith."

*Looks at the alliance of the religious right and the Republican party for the last 40+ years.*

Well, he's not wrong . . .
posted by soundguy99 at 7:50 AM on February 7 [41 favorites]


If you want some basic background on the Green New Deal, here is an article at MPR.
posted by Emmy Rae at 7:59 AM on February 7 [4 favorites]


“The green dream or whatever they call it, nobody knows what it is, but they’re for it right?”

The context of this, which was omitted in pull-quoting that sentence, makes it pretty clear that she supports passing climate change legislation but disagrees with the tactics of pushing for specific legislation that will not pass the Senate prior to 2020 as a priority:
The California Democrat did agree to launch a select committee on climate change, similar to the one she created back in 2007, when she first became speaker. Pelosi said Wednesday, however, the panel would not be tasked with writing a specific bill, and brushed off the idea of the Green New Deal as a “suggestion.”

“It will be one of several or maybe many suggestions that we receive,” Pelosi said. “The green dream or whatever they call it, nobody knows what it is, but they’re for it right?” Pelosi has long championed stronger environmental rules, and described climate change as her “flagship” political issue.

In the past decade, she has already seen Democrats try and fail to pass a sweeping cap-and-trade climate law. The next attempt, she said, will need broader support. “This time it has to be Congresswide,” Pelosi said.
Totally fair to criticize her for this if you think that it would make more sense to push for bills that can't pass now, but she's pretty clearly saying -- and has previously said! -- that she supports the general ideas behind the Green New Deal and would support them in a bill that could get passed into law, which (in her view) is after 2020. This is a debate about political strategies and messaging, not about the need for climate change legislation.
posted by cjelli at 8:01 AM on February 7 [64 favorites]


As professional and together as Pelosi is, I find it very difficult to believe she hasn't heard of and doesn't know the name of "Green New Deal", so her statement comes off as dismissive.
posted by Fleebnork at 8:05 AM on February 7 [26 favorites]


Virginia and the other slave states wanted the Electoral College for one simple reason: while they had the largest total populations, a significant percentage of that population was enslaved and thus didn't vote.

Slave states ranked by enslaved percentage of population in 1860:
57.2 South Carolina
55.1 Mississippi
47.0 Louisiana
45.1 Alabama
43.9 Florida
43.7 Georgia
33.4 North Carolina
30.7 Virginia
30.0 Texas
25.5 Arkansas
24.8 Tennessee
19.5 Kentucky
12.7 Maryland
9.7 Missouri
1.6 Delaware

All of the states with an enslaved population of 24.8% or higher seceded from the Union.
posted by kirkaracha at 8:07 AM on February 7 [10 favorites]


"The American workforce is changing, & there isn’t one path to success. I’ve introduced bipartisan legislation with @SenSasse to allow people to use tax advantaged savings accounts to pay for educational expenses like skills training, apprenticeships, & professional development."

Yeah, it sounds like the professional development equivalent of a FSA. Call me crazy, but that sound like a good idea to me. It’d be better to have free college for everyone, but in the meantime, it seems like a win to give regular people a mechanism to lower their tax burden and put the money toward their economic viability.

If you can afford to take additional time off of work or have the energy/time to take night classes, great. That's not the case for most middle-class people.
posted by joeyjoejoejr at 8:11 AM on February 7 [7 favorites]


What’s Your Green Deal? Any serious Democratic candidate must signal that mustering the full force of the U.S. government and economy to respond to the climate crisis is not only a moral imperative but a top priority in line with universal healthcare, a fair minimum wage, anti-corruption, criminal justice reform, and voting rights. For too long, Congress and the federal government have advanced incremental changes that do not match the scale and urgency of the climate crisis. (Crooked Media)
posted by The Whelk at 8:12 AM on February 7 [22 favorites]


Pelosi insultingly dismissing the Green New Deal while talking about forming a panel on climate change that will craft a bill that will need "congress-wide" "broader support" is a clear tell that she's interested in ineffective half-measures that won't meaningfully challenge energy corporations. If you doubt this, then consider her record and the record of the Democratic Party of the last few decades. And consider this article from just a few days ago about her top health policy aide reassuring insurance executives that they have nothing to fear from Medicare for All.

Pelosi is an effective political operator when seeking her goals, but her goals are completely incompatible with any policy that challenges major Democratic Party donors, no matter how important.
posted by One Second Before Awakening at 8:17 AM on February 7 [32 favorites]


Totally fair to criticize her for this if you think that it would make more sense to push for bills that can't pass now, but she's pretty clearly saying -- and has previously said! -- that she supports the general ideas behind the Green New Deal and would support them in a bill that could get passed into law, which (in her view) is after 2020. This is a debate about political strategies and messaging, not about the need for climate change legislation.

From a political strategy standpoint, this still seems like a significant misstep. So much of what can't pass now is also incredibly popular with American voters and is a significant reason behind AOC's electrifying popularity.

If Pelosi and the rest of the establishment wants excited and engaged voters in 2020, especially those from the demographics most affected by climate change and lack of healthcare, she's not going to accomplish that by...not fighting for what they want and what is right, even if it can't pass right now. After all, with Trump as president and a Republican Senate, what exactly can pass right now?

This political strategy only makes sense if Pelosi is worried about how the Democrats look to "moderate" Republicans who won't ever vote for them anyway.
posted by Ouverture at 8:18 AM on February 7 [14 favorites]


Russian-Style Kleptocracy Is Infiltrating America (Franklin Foer, The Atlantic)
When the U.S.S.R. collapsed, Washington bet on the global spread of democratic capitalist values—and lost

American officialdom, [Richard Palmer, former CIA station chief, Moscow] believed, had badly misjudged Russia. Washington had placed its faith in the new regime’s elites; it took them at their word when they professed their commitment to democratic capitalism. But Palmer had seen up close how the world’s growing interconnectedness—and global finance in particular—could be deployed for ill. During the Cold War, the KGB had developed an expert understanding of the banking byways of the West, and spymasters had become adept at dispensing cash to agents abroad. That proficiency facilitated the amassing of new fortunes. In the dying days of the U.S.S.R., Palmer had watched as his old adversaries in Soviet intelligence shoveled billions from the state treasury into private accounts across Europe and the U.S. It was one of history’s greatest heists.

Washington told itself a comforting story that minimized the importance of this outbreak of kleptomania: These were criminal outliers and rogue profiteers rushing to exploit the weakness of the new state. This narrative infuriated Palmer. He wanted to shake Congress into recognizing that the thieves were the very elites who presided over every corner of the system.


In other words, the United States has legitimized a political economy of shadows, and it has done so right in step with a global boom in people hoping to escape into the shadows.

American collusion with kleptocracy comes at a terrible cost for the rest of the world. All of the stolen money, all of those evaded tax dollars sunk into Central Park penthouses and Nevada shell companies, might otherwise fund health care and infrastructure. … Thievery tramples the possibilities of workable markets and credible democracy. It fuels suspicions that the whole idea of liberal capitalism is a hypocritical sham: While the world is plundered, self-righteous Americans get rich off their complicity with the crooks.

The Founders were concerned that venality would become standard procedure, and it has. Long before suspicion mounted about the loyalties of Donald Trump, large swaths of the American elite—lawyers, lobbyists, real-estate brokers, politicians in state capitals who enabled the creation of shell companies—had already proved themselves to be reliable servants of a rapacious global plutocracy. Richard Palmer was right: The looting elites of the former Soviet Union were far from rogue profiteers. They augured a kleptocratic habit that would soon become widespread. One bitter truth about the Russia scandal is that by the time Vladimir Putin attempted to influence the shape of our country, it was already bending in the direction of his.
posted by ZeusHumms at 8:26 AM on February 7 [53 favorites]


"Washington bet on the global spread of democratic capitalist values" = when American-style kleptocracy infiltrated Russia

From the 70s onward radical free market advocates kept trying to create bad kind of libertarian, privatized utopias out of existing states - tried first in South America and succeeded in the former USSR mostly by bribery and looting and hey guess what that thing that always happens happened, the mob took it over.

We’re all suffering from the failed experiment.
posted by The Whelk at 8:33 AM on February 7 [31 favorites]


When the U.S.S.R. collapsed, Washington bet on the global spread of democratic capitalist values—and lost

I haven't read the article yet, but IMO it's a bit worse than that. It's Washington thought it would be a great idea to impose libertarian values (deregulation, no social system worth mentioning) and supply side economics on Russia after the Sovjet collapse. The Republican economists in the Bush administration pushed through a system that couldn't even be realized in the US. And lo behold, it didn't work out as promised. (Though if one is conspiratorial, it might have worked out as planned).
posted by mumimor at 8:35 AM on February 7 [26 favorites]


That’s not a reason not to offer it. Not to mention we have this amazing thing called the Internet now, and I understand that a large number of colleges and universities are offering online curriculums.

Here's a better idea than telling an overworked single parent to spend 2 hours a night on a MOOC for a tax benefit: just fucking give people money. Take it from rich people and give to to poorer people. Poor people can spend that money how they choose even *gasp* on something that doesn't directly contribute to increasing productivity!
posted by codacorolla at 8:40 AM on February 7 [97 favorites]


The turn to neoliberal capitalism after the collapse of the Soviet Union had a huge death toll too:

“Rapid mass privatization as an economic transition strategy was a crucial determinant of differences in adult mortality trends in post-Communist societies,” they wrote in the report. The effects of privatization were “reduced if social capital was high.”

The report contends that life expectancy diminished in the early to mid-1990s in countries that were being rapidly transformed after the collapse of the Soviet Union. Even though the governmental and economic transitions occurred nearly two decades ago, the report said, “only a little over half of the ex-Communist countries have regained their pretransition life-expectancy levels.”

From 1991 to 1994, life expectancy in Russia was reduced by five years. But life expectancy in Croatia and Poland improved in the same period. By last year, the life expectancy of Russian men was less than 60 years, compared with 67 years in 1985.

Despite the immense upheaval, the transformation did not lead to higher mortality rates in Poland, the report says, possibly because of the country’s strong social institutions and also because Poles could emigrate or rely on Poles in Western Europe and North America for support.

posted by One Second Before Awakening at 8:42 AM on February 7 [16 favorites]


Have they actually announced what they want to be in the Green New Deal? Thus far all I know about it is the name and that it’ll involve lots of government programs. Which, sure, but it’s trivial to be in favor of something when nobody knows what it is, but that doesn’t pass anything; you have to actually write it down. I did see that it looks like they’re releasing a framework today, so that should help. But until then I’m not going to criticize Congressional leadership for not rushing to pass vaporware.

And I get that the future of humanity on the planet is at stake. But it doesn’t matter unless the Senate is willing to do something. It really really doesn’t. And if you think their inaction will kill us all, well, it still doesn’t make a difference to them, and it still doesn’t get anything done.
posted by Huffy Puffy at 8:43 AM on February 7 [8 favorites]


From the 70s onward radical free market advocates kept trying to create bad kind of libertarian, privatized utopias out of existing states - tried first in South America and succeeded in the former USSR mostly by bribery and looting and hey guess what that thing that always happens happened, the mob took it over.

We’re all suffering from the failed experiment.


America always forgets about the other 9/11.

What a cruel and awful irony that it eventually gave us such dismal gifts like Putin, the Iraq War, and Trump.
posted by Ouverture at 8:44 AM on February 7 [18 favorites]


Re: Trump's tax returns:

Rep. Ron Kind, D-Wis.: If they're looking for a possible connection between Russia and his family, there is a danger in trying to go too far too fast

"Is there a connection between Russia and his family" isn't the question.

The question is, "Are there debts ( or unrecorded loans ) of Donald J. Trump that render him susceptible to influence or blackmail by his creditors, who could be agents of Russia, Saudi Arabia, or any other entity."
posted by mikelieman at 8:46 AM on February 7 [18 favorites]


In the dying days of the U.S.S.R., Palmer had watched as his old adversaries in Soviet intelligence shoveled billions from the state treasury into private accounts across Europe and the U.S.
This makes me wonder to what degree that massive infusion of money into the US and Europe helped power the boom of the '90s—the venture capital, the market boom, the real estate bubble, etc. Has anyone done any work on that?
posted by octobersurprise at 8:49 AM on February 7 [29 favorites]


One of the upsides of the umbrella term Green New Deal is that it can encompass a huge variety of tactics and legislation, for example a truly holistic GND would include provisions for making public spaces more pleasant, beautiful, and accessible to encourage people to use them instead of more carbon intensive entertainment or transit.

It’s not just solar panels and bioswales, it’s community centers and garden classes.
posted by The Whelk at 8:51 AM on February 7 [38 favorites]


Mr. Whelk, you are very kind to have written a whole FPP in indirect response to my request for actual specifics.
posted by Huffy Puffy at 8:54 AM on February 7 [31 favorites]




[Folks, extended analyses of the Democrats are nothing we haven't been over and over and OVER, please let them go. Thanks.]
posted by restless_nomad (staff) at 9:00 AM on February 7 [9 favorites]


LA Times, In rush to revamp Medicaid, Trump officials bend rules that protect patients
As it races to revamp Medicaid by allowing work requirements for the first time, the Trump administration is failing to enforce federal rules directing states to assess the impact of the change on low-income patients who rely on the half-century-old safety net program, a Times analysis shows.

None of the eight states that the administration has cleared to implement a Medicaid work requirement has in place a plan to track whether Medicaid enrollees find jobs or improve their health, two goals often touted by administration health officials.

And nine of the 17 states that have sought federal permission to implement Medicaid work mandates have been allowed by the Trump administration to proceed with their applications despite failing to calculate the number of people who could lose coverage, according to a review of state and federal Medicaid records.
The regulations that authorize these waivers require states to conduct evaluations to see whether they meet their stated goals, but that's simply not happening, even as Arkansas has already kicked 18,000 people off their health insurance, because Medicaid work requirements aren't about getting people to work, it's about punishing the people Republicans have deemed "undeserving."
posted by zachlipton at 9:01 AM on February 7 [16 favorites]


Ha. Ha. *sob.* Kim Jong Un and Mohammed bin Salman make Foreign Policy's list of "Global Thinkers" in the category of "40 and under." So young! Their most murderous days still ahead of them!

(AOC and Ronan Farrow do, too, to be fair, but, still ...)
posted by octobersurprise at 9:09 AM on February 7 [12 favorites]


AOC Just Dropped Her Green New Deal Proposal—Here's What's Inside.

Some credit, please, for Sen. Ed Markey of Massachusetts, who is her co-dropper. He's not at all telegenic and is usually overshadowed by the state's other senator, but his heart and agenda are in the right place.
posted by adamg at 9:15 AM on February 7 [52 favorites]


That Green New Deal proposal is really solid. I love that it centers workers and marginalized people and turns the often boring and dread-inducing issue of climate change into something exciting and optimistic by presenting a concrete and achievable set of programs that would improve a lot of things about our country beyond just the immediate environmental issues.

Here's The Whelk's brand new thread on it for further discussion.
posted by One Second Before Awakening at 9:22 AM on February 7 [13 favorites]


It's almost as if she's reading this: AOC Just Dropped Her Green New Deal Proposal—Here's What's Inside.

This is good reading! In light of the comments about Pelosi earlier, I would note that this proposal is a 'sense of the House of Representatives' and not binding legislation; if you are reading this and getting excited, remember that this the kind of proposal that Pelosi was supportive of and endorsing be brought forward for the current Congress, to build towards binding legislation in the next Congress.
posted by cjelli at 9:32 AM on February 7 [7 favorites]


Betsy Woodruff for the Daily Beast:

NEW: DOJ tells House Judiciary Chairman Jerry Nadler that Matt Whitaker ***will not testify*** unless Nadler promises in writing by 6pm that he won't subpoena him.

tl;dr the DOJ is shitting themselves preparing for this to happen and it looks like Jerry Nadler has his ducks in a row - he gave DOJ/the WH 48 hour notice to provide explanations for what they would try to exclude due to executive privilege and, shockingly, they didnt meet his deadline. Looks like a "trap" to get Whitaker on contempt of congress (trap insofar as he seems genuinely contemptuous and its basically congress' job to do what theyre doing).
posted by Exceptional_Hubris at 9:54 AM on February 7 [52 favorites]


NEW: DOJ tells House Judiciary Chairman Jerry Nadler that Matt Whitaker ***will not testify*** unless Nadler promises in writing by 6pm that he won't subpoena him.


That... is not how this works. I won't testify unless you promise you won't make me testify? WTF.
posted by suelac at 9:57 AM on February 7 [56 favorites]


Typically when someone says they will do a thing as long as you promise they will face no consequences for not doing the thing, they do not actually plan to do the thing.
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 10:01 AM on February 7 [37 favorites]


CNBC: Trump is 'highly unlikely' to meet Chinese President Xi before March trade deadline
A meeting between President Donald Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping is "highly unlikely" before the March 2 deadline for reaching a trade deal, according to a senior administration official.

While Trump and Xi are still expected to meet, there's too much work to do to flesh out a deal with China and prepare Trump for a high-stakes meeting with North Korea's Kim Jong Un. Trump's summit with Kim is set for Feb. 27-28.

Trump and Xi may still meet "shortly thereafter" March 2, said the official, who requested anonymity, citing a lack of authorization to speak publicly about the talks.
On that news: “BREAKING: Stocks extend drop, Dow off 360 points, after sources tell CNBC that Trump and Xi are 'highly unlikely' to meet before March 1.”
posted by Doktor Zed at 10:03 AM on February 7


NEW: DOJ tells House Judiciary Chairman Jerry Nadler that Matt Whitaker ***will not testify*** unless Nadler promises in writing by 6pm that he won't subpoena him.

This is confusing in that it's such an obvious plot to get a commitment to not being subpoenaed, and then not testify voluntarily now that the threat of being compelled to testify is lessened, that it's not really clear what they're trying to accomplish.

Actual article out now, and, additionally:
Whitaker intends to refuse to answer some of the committee’s biggest questions, invoking executive privilege.

“It is clear that your proposed questions seek the kind of information that the Executive Branch has, during Administrations of both parties, historically declined to provide to the Congress,” [the letter says]. The letter also says Whitaker would testify that he did not promise Trump anything regarding the Mueller probe before becoming acting attorney general.
In additional to not testifying voluntarily unless he's told that he won't be compelled to testify -- ??? -- Whitaker is also saying he won't answer a bunch of questions when/if he does testify. Kind of gives the impression that Whitaker is very worried for...some reason.
posted by cjelli at 10:04 AM on February 7 [16 favorites]


I think the proper response to the attempted stonewalling by DoJ and Whitaker would be to subpoena him.
posted by VTX at 10:06 AM on February 7 [51 favorites]


I know we’re all dealing with our own crises, but has anyone seen anything about how the US plans to respond if the UK crashes out of the EU without a deal?

Because I feel like that’s a) an unfortunately very real possibility, and b) uuuuhhh something that’s going to fuck everything.
posted by schadenfrau at 10:09 AM on February 7 [10 favorites]


DOJ tells House Judiciary Chairman Jerry Nadler that Matt Whitaker ***will not testify*** unless Nadler promises in writing by 6pm that he won't subpoena him.

I'm glad we finally reached this stage. It's inevitable that the Trump administration will fight congressional subpoenas all the way to the Supreme Court. We might as well get started.
posted by diogenes at 10:15 AM on February 7 [73 favorites]


RE: Pelosi's dismissal of the Green New Deal earlier, Ocasio-Cortez and Markey responded by taking the high road at the GND press conference just now.

Alex C Kaufman:

Asked about Pelosi's "green dream" dig, @AOC says she's not offended. "It *is* a green dream."

@SenMarkey jumps in and says, "There is no greater champion on climate change than Nancy Pelosi."

-----

Also, more than 60 senators are signing on to the resolution. Y'all, if the Democratic Party puts its whole weight behind this idea they will DOMINATE elections. This is the kind of idea that can move masses.
posted by One Second Before Awakening at 10:26 AM on February 7 [81 favorites]


Further on Whitaker, here are some more excerpts from the DoJ letter, with context, and also the letter itself (on Documentcloud).

The weirdness of asking to not be subpoenaed makes maybe a smidge more sense in context of the full letter, which read like its staking out a paper trail in advance of a court fight over assertions of executive privilege and congressional oversight generally ("Respectfully, this proposed approach reflects a striking departure from the constitutionally based understanding between our co-equal branches of government").

The letter does not respond to the request to identify any specific areas in which the President is choosing to assert privilege, and instead asserts that the administration's current practice of having people decline to assert privilege in order to preserve the president's ability to...assert privilege...is not infringed upon ("Consistent with long-established practice, we would expect the Committee to pose the questions that it believes appropriate in connection with its oversight responsibilities, and the Acting Attorney General would do his best to answer those questions, consistent with the need to protect communications that are potentially subject to executive privilege.", emphasis mine). They also cite Barr several times, which, well.

In parallel with the current efforts to rush through the Barr nomination, I think one possibly-cromulent read on this is an attempt to delay things by punting to the courts for long enough to avoid any chance that Whitaker's testimony might in turn delay or block Barr's confirmation.

That or that Whitaker really does not want to answer questions. Could be both!
posted by cjelli at 10:40 AM on February 7 [13 favorites]


Howard Schultz just pulled a Jeb! [video] telling his audience at Perdue that they need to clap for a line about the cost of education. There are also all of 200 people watching that stream, and I assume a decent number are reporters watching because it's their job.
posted by zachlipton at 10:59 AM on February 7 [21 favorites]


The letter does not respond to the request to identify any specific areas in which the President is choosing to assert privilege

Marcy Wheeler has a good idea of which are the no-go areas:
Here are the questions that Whitaker is effectively refusing to answer:
1) Have you briefed POTUS/his legal team on SCO investigation?
2) Did POTUS lash out after he showed up as Individual-1 in Michael Cohen's plea deal?
3) Did POTUS talk about firing people in SDNY?
4) Did you communicate any information about Huber's review of investigations into Hillary Clinton to the WH, including POTUS?
5) Did you communicate w/WH about the Buzzfeed article stating that Trump ordered Cohen to lie?

The headline from DOJ's response should really be

BREAKING Whitaker refuses to answer questions about POTUS' tampering w/SCO and SDNY investigations, folks.
She goes into this in detail on Emptywheel.net: Big Dick Toilet Salesman Matt Whitaker Crams For His Open Book Test

In parallel with the current efforts to rush through the Barr nomination, I think one possibly-cromulent read on this is an attempt to delay things by punting to the courts for long enough to avoid any chance that Whitaker's testimony might in turn delay or block Barr's confirmation.

Coincindentally, CNN reports that this morning the Senate Judiciary committee voted on party lines to advance Barr, setting up a confirmation vote next week.
posted by Doktor Zed at 11:12 AM on February 7 [9 favorites]


> Coincindentally, CNN reports that this morning the Senate Judiciary committee voted on party lines to advance Barr, setting up a confirmation vote next week.

I dunno, shouldn't Democrats maybe threaten to filibuster the confirmation until the Acting AG responds to Congressional inquiries? Or is the Senate not supposed to protect the prerogatives of the House in this way? And who cares about "supposed to" anyway. Maybe they should hold the line on "No answers, no confirmation."
posted by RedOrGreen at 11:26 AM on February 7 [3 favorites]




There's no filibuster for confirmations anymore. It just takes 51 votes to cut off debate.
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 11:30 AM on February 7 [4 favorites]


Rob Woodall [R - GA-07] is not running for re-election in 2020. Woodall hung on by just 419 votes in 2018, and the district seems to be trending hard to blue. This will be on the top of the pickup list for Dems.
posted by Chrysostom at 11:33 AM on February 7 [23 favorites]


One Second Before Awakening: "Also, more than 60 senators are signing on to the resolution. Y'all, if the Democratic Party puts its whole weight behind this idea they will DOMINATE elections. This is the kind of idea that can move masses."

NB: 60+ representatives have signed on (out of 435), but only nine of 100 senators. This is still a very uphill battle, at least in Congress.
posted by Rhaomi at 11:45 AM on February 7 [16 favorites]


I know we’re all dealing with our own crises, but has anyone seen anything about how the US plans to respond if the UK crashes out of the EU without a deal?

Brexit supporters argued for a long time that England's "special relationship" with the U.S. meant that the U.S. would be willing to give them preferential trade deals. When Trump visited a while back he made it clear this would not be the case. In other words, Trump will use Brexit to ruthlessly negotiate deals that are in the U.S.'s best interests, just like the rest of the world will. My understanding is that it's the U.K. that will mostly suffer from Brexit.
posted by xammerboy at 11:52 AM on February 7 [11 favorites]


DOJ tells House Judiciary Chairman Jerry Nadler that Matt Whitaker ***will not testify*** unless Nadler promises in writing by 6pm that he won't subpoena him.

Dems should accelerate this fight. Issue a subpoena for tomorrow at 6:01pm tonight when he refuses to attend. He has announced all week that he's attending voluntarily Friday, so he can't very well claim he's not available.

At 9:01am tomorrow, when he doesn't show up, vote out the contempt citation and start looking for a judge to enforce it.
posted by msalt at 11:59 AM on February 7 [38 favorites]


Newt Gingrich: President Trump’s State of the Union changed history

I think Gingrich may be right, in the sense that if your are a NeverTrumper, and were waiting for Trump to pivot toward becoming "presidential" and adopting traditional conservative policy goals, then the State of the Union was a game changer. Trump is no longer an aberration, a blip, non-representative of the party as a whole. Trump didn't pivot during that speech. The Republican Party pivoted to him.
posted by xammerboy at 12:16 PM on February 7 [7 favorites]


Trump will use Brexit to ruthlessly negotiate deals that are in the U.S.'s best interests

No, he'll use it to negotiate deals in his own and his wealthy friends' interests. He never does anything in the broader US's interests.
posted by Rykey at 12:18 PM on February 7 [54 favorites]


Fascinating overview of public opinion on "the rich," income inequality, and taxation.

Generally, people favor having rich people (about 60 percent agree that "The United States benefits from having a class of rich people"), and about a third expect to be rich, although only 3 percent say they are already rich.

But for decades a strong majority - about two-thirds - say "upper-income people are paying too little in federal taxes" and a growing share (now 52 percent) say "our government should redistribute wealth by heavy taxes on the rich".

There are, as you'd expect, large differences between Ds and Rs. When asked
"which generally has more to do with why a person is rich?", 71 percent of Rs say "Worked harder than most other people," 62 percent of Ds say "Had more advantages in life than most other people".
posted by Mr.Know-it-some at 12:25 PM on February 7 [15 favorites]


Britain is a massive player in the global markets, and Brexit is about to become everyone's problem.
London is a major financial hub because of its passporting rights to the EU. As it says in the linked article, banks have already begun to move out of the city, and more will follow. On the top of that, the EU is cracking down hard on tax evasion and money-laundry, and other shady and illegal banking activities that are heavily concentrated in London, though they happen all over Europe. Brexiting doesn't save them from that.
As for the rest of British economy, well, massive isn't entirely accurate: The United States had $686 billion in total (two ways) goods trade with the European Union during 2016, its largest Goods trade partner. The US-UK trade is a large part of that, but as you see, less than a tenth.
Brexit will be a problem, but it won't in itself start a global crisis. Specially not if the EU holds tight, and right now, it seems it will. After the EU election in May, no one knows.
There's this whole mythology about the UK that is being unravelled these days which is a good thing, even as Brexit is a terrible thing for the British and Irish, and particularly the most vulnerable people in those countries.
posted by mumimor at 12:31 PM on February 7 [5 favorites]


At 9:01am tomorrow, when he doesn't show up, vote out the contempt citation and start looking for a judge to enforce it.

A periodic reminder that Congress has its own jail and technically can enforce subpoenas by sending the House sergeant at arms, arresting the recalcitrant witness, and clapping them in irons. If it's good enough for Teapot Dome, it's good enough for Trumpot Dome. You don't need a judge involved at all, though the imprisoned witness could file a writ of habeas corpus and get in front of a judge that way.
posted by BungaDunga at 12:32 PM on February 7 [15 favorites]


The New Green Deal could probably be paid for with a fraction of the military budget.
posted by Liquidwolf at 12:32 PM on February 7 [29 favorites]


Part of the problem with criminal contempt of Congress is that Congress can't enforce it. It has to send the citation to the US DoJ, which maintains that it has the inherent Constitutional authority to ignore the directive. Trying to get the DoJ to file criminal contempt case against the Acting AG is, uh, unlikely. A civil case is always possible though.
posted by BungaDunga at 12:37 PM on February 7 [6 favorites]


The New Green Deal could probably be paid for with a fraction of the military budget.

FY2019 military budget: $674 billion

Cost of New Green Deal: unknown, but likely "on the order of trillions of dollars over 10 years"

So in theory, yes, but it would be a pretty significant fraction, like perhaps a half.
posted by Mr.Know-it-some at 12:38 PM on February 7 [7 favorites]


I'm partial to the Srsly Wrong podcast's Mario Kart style Blue Shell Tax that at random intervals hits the nation's wealthiest person with a big bill, knocking them down to fourth place and then moving on to the new first placer.

There are so many feasible ways to fund any social program that "how will we pay for it?" should never stand in the way of a good idea.
posted by One Second Before Awakening at 12:43 PM on February 7 [31 favorites]


WOW. AOC on CSPAN demonstrating the corrupt system. In an easily understandable way I might add.
posted by yoga at 12:45 PM on February 7 [148 favorites]


So in theory, yes, but it would be a pretty significant fraction, like perhaps a half.

Which to me is one of the great opportunities of the Green New Deal: either by redirecting the military to do a lot of the work (which would be in the interest of national defense by avoiding conflicts over resources and refugee crises) or by simply cutting the military budget (since the US military and its contractors are very large polluters and the US spends far too much on the military anyway).

The US could cut its military budget in half and still spend more than any other country in the world.
posted by jedicus at 12:47 PM on February 7 [26 favorites]


Oil dependence is also a huge national security concern. It makes our military dependent on questionable international alliances, and far less operationally efficient than green energy. Also, if it truly helps us avert environmental disasters that will require future military involvement (national environmental emergencies, mass exodus from other countries, etc.) than that's money well spent from a military perspective.

I never really got the pushback against a Green New Deal. It's a jobs program, a sound business investment, strategic defense initiative, and possibly saves the planet. What's the argument for oil? An emotional attachment to pumping gas?
posted by xammerboy at 1:02 PM on February 7 [18 favorites]


Holy hell—I just watched that AOC CSPAN clip and got massive chills. Such bravery! Maybe the young people will save us after all!!
posted by eggkeeper at 1:07 PM on February 7 [25 favorites]


Thirded on that AOC CPAN clip. A simple favoriting of that post won't do. Any time you read an article about how she's overhyped or needs to act like the freshman rep she is, watch that clip and realize this woman is representing right. now. Screw the hot takes, she's using the platform she was elected to have with fantastic effect.
posted by mcstayinskool at 1:11 PM on February 7 [50 favorites]


In other corrupt system news, from WaPo: The Mueller investigation has sprouted. Therein lies the jeopardy for Trump.
To open a new investigation, prosecutors need a credible predicate to believe that a crime has been committed. They must develop probable cause to believe they will uncover evidence or the fruit of a crime to persuade a federal judge to issue a search warrant. None of this suggests the witch hunt Trump often claims it is. [...]

It’s this threat of multiple ongoing investigations spanning the foreseeable future that should frighten the president the most. Whatever his personal criminal liability, it’s now proven that the organizations he has run — business, political and governmental — have been populated with actual criminals. Six of his associates, including his longtime friend and political adviser, his lawyer, his campaign chairman, his deputy campaign chairman and a foreign policy adviser have been indicted or pleaded guilty. It would be naive at this point to believe that more such charges are not coming.
posted by Little Dawn at 1:16 PM on February 7 [13 favorites]


Trump’s Attack on Socialism Is a Colossal Blunder:
Today, Trump is not only embracing the “rigged” system, but further owning his own unpopular economic policies, notably the $1.5 trillion tax cut he signed into law in December of 2017, which largely benefitted corporations and rich Americans. In the State of the Union, Trump boasted that “we are considered far and away the hottest economy anywhere in the world.” But many Americans still aren’t feeling that heat, just as they weren’t in 2016. Most of the economic gains have gone to the top 20 percent, and wage growth, while ticking upward over the past six months, has been largely flat throughout most of the economic recovery. This, much more than Sanders, is why more Americans have warmed to socialism. “The prime mover of millions of Americans into the socialist column has been the near complete dysfunctionality of contemporary American capitalism,” argued Harold Meyerson in The Guardian.
posted by Ouverture at 1:26 PM on February 7 [22 favorites]


Trump as President has done wonders to puncture the idea that wealth requires some base level of competence. I think a lot of people generally believed that most rich people were at least good at doing... high-powered business stuff, whatever that is. Even people who aren't down with the wealth inequality, there's a sort of base just-world fallacy that, well, they're rich, so they must be good at it.

Socialism starts to look better when it turns out that obscenely rich people are just... embarrassing. It's one thing when your model of a rich person is Warren Buffett or Steve Jobs and quite another when you're forced to realize how many Jareds and Donalds there are.
posted by BungaDunga at 1:33 PM on February 7 [82 favorites]


Also, more than 60 senators are signing on to the resolution. Y'all, if the Democratic Party puts its whole weight behind this idea they will DOMINATE elections.

The Democratic Party pushes a ton of policy that has broad public support. The Republican Party pushes a ton of policy that has broad public opposition. This would, and should, add to the pile but it would in no way lead to Democratic domination.

Policy mostly doesn't win elections!
posted by Justinian at 1:34 PM on February 7 [7 favorites]


It's not just policy, it's a utopian vision with a plan to get there. Tell me the last time the Democratic Party has really pushed something like that, cuz the ACA wasn't it.
posted by One Second Before Awakening at 1:40 PM on February 7 [15 favorites]


Trump as President has done wonders to puncture the idea that wealth requires some base level of competence. I think a lot of people generally believed that most rich people were at least good at doing... high-powered business stuff, whatever that is. Even people who aren't down with the wealth inequality, there's a sort of base just-world fallacy that, well, they're rich, so they must be good at it.

Socialism starts to look better when it turns out that obscenely rich people are just... embarrassing. It's one thing when your model of a rich person is Warren Buffett or Steve Jobs and quite another when you're forced to realize how many Jareds and Donalds there are.


I think this is a very good point -- looking back at the great revolutions in history, people were not only reacting to the lack of basics, like food, but also to the perception that the people who were supposed to lead their nations were idiots and/or out of touch with reality.
posted by mumimor at 1:41 PM on February 7 [23 favorites]






From the "A Swamp Divided" article linked above:

[Re: protesters outside Tucker Carlson's house] “It was bewildering to be told to leave a city I’ve spent my life in by rich kids in black bandannas who just moved here from Kansas City,” Carlson told me in mid-December, on a day when he was battling an advertiser boycott after saying on air that immigrants create a “dirtier” America. “But mostly it was depressing. Washington has never been like that, not in the thirty-five years I’ve been here. Political disputes were never personal after-­hours. Even at the height of the Clinton impeachment drama, people didn’t yell at each other at dinner parties. You didn’t choose your friends by partisan affiliation. Now you do. It’s awful.”

Sometimes the Trump-smash-destroy function accidentally does good.
posted by petebest at 1:57 PM on February 7 [24 favorites]


Godammit, if we'd had the votes for single payer in 2008 we'd have single payer. Don't tell me the ACA didn't push as hard as it possibly could at the time, because it took every drop of political capital Obama had at the time. He basically got nothing else done, and it was a Frankenstein-esque compromise at best, but it has saved a lot of lives and made countless lives better. We're only getting closer to single payer because as the GOP destroys bits of the ACA piece by piece and the healthcare companies continue to make money hand over fist, it becomes increasingly clear that there's no other way to accomplish what we need to accomplish.
posted by rikschell at 2:01 PM on February 7 [62 favorites]


About the socialism. In my European ears, the American use of "socialism" is always weird, though I'm getting less startled over time because of following these endless US politics threads. The way I understand it, socialism is about the workers taking over the means of production. And I'm actually against that, because I grew up seeing the poverty in the East Block. It wasn't working. (I'm not going to reply in any arguments about why it didn't work in this thread, because that is not where I am heading). Taxing the rich in order to provide welfare for everyone is social democracy. In that world view, the rich can do all the business they like, but they have to hand over a fair share of their earnings (like 70%) to society. The only reason I'm saying this -- obviously I can't police the American use of language -- is that maybe it would be helpful to frame it more like in Europe if you want to convince all those temporally embarrassed millionaires in the USA.
BTW I often vote for Socialists here, when I feel the Social Democrats are too third wayish.
posted by mumimor at 2:02 PM on February 7 [36 favorites]


Trump as President has done wonders to puncture the idea that wealth requires some base level of competence. I think a lot of people generally believed that most rich people were at least good at doing... high-powered business stuff, whatever that is. Even people who aren't down with the wealth inequality, there's a sort of base just-world fallacy that, well, they're rich, so they must be good at it.

Socialism starts to look better when it turns out that obscenely rich people are just... embarrassing. It's one thing when your model of a rich person is Warren Buffett or Steve Jobs and quite another when you're forced to realize how many Jareds and Donalds there are.
posted by BungaDunga at 5:33 AM on February 8 [13 favorites −] Favorite added! [!]


I think, for the greater American psyche, the wound cuts deeper than that. People watched and enjoyed The Apprentice. People laughed when Trump took up the charge on Obama's birth certificate. A lot of the things people believed about money, power, competence, and acceptable foibles are being questioned right now. And yes, socialism starts to look at lot better in comparison.
posted by saysthis at 2:03 PM on February 7 [6 favorites]


Godammit, if we'd had the votes for single payer in 2008 we'd have single payer. Don't tell me the ACA didn't push as hard as it possibly could at the time, because it took every drop of political capital Obama had at the time.

If the Democratic Party had fully come out in support of single payer, we would have single payer and they'd be a lot better off. Instead, a bunch of Democrats were afraid that single payer was too radical, and we got the half-measure of the ACA, and they still suffered massive electoral losses. If they'd just passed single payer at the time, we'd all be better off, and I'll bet their electoral chances would have been much better since then.

Anyway, this is all immaterial to the question of the Green New Deal, because it is a far more radical and all-encompassing vision for a better society. Hell, it contains universal healthcare within it as a small part of the whole package! My entire point is: nobody in American politics has offered a grand overarching vision for a better future in many decades, and I truly believe that this is a moment where a vision like that could succeed, and propel its proponents to electoral victory.
posted by One Second Before Awakening at 2:12 PM on February 7 [9 favorites]




If the Democratic Party fully came out in support of single payer, we would have single payer

Uhh, what?
posted by Justinian at 2:13 PM on February 7 [9 favorites]


About the socialism. In my European ears, the American use of "socialism" is always weird, though I'm getting less startled over time because of following these endless US politics threads. The way I understand it, socialism is about the workers taking over the means of production. And I'm actually against that, because I grew up seeing the poverty in the East Block. It wasn't working. (I'm not going to reply in any arguments about why it didn't work in this thread, because that is not where I am heading). Taxing the rich in order to provide welfare for everyone is social democracy. In that world view, the rich can do all the business they like, but they have to hand over a fair share of their earnings (like 70%) to society. The only reason I'm saying this -- obviously I can't police the American use of language -- is that maybe it would be helpful to frame it more like in Europe if you want to convince all those temporally embarrassed millionaires in the USA.
BTW I often vote for Socialists here, when I feel the Social Democrats are too third wayish.


The problem with social democracy is that without workers taking over those very means, even the most well-intentioned social democracies inevitably degrade back down to neoliberal shitholes.

Soaking the rich is incredibly important, but if workers are still beholden to the scraps that the rich deign to provide them, what sort of freedom is that really?
posted by Ouverture at 2:14 PM on February 7 [11 favorites]




If the Democratic Party had fully come out in support of single payer, we would have single payer and they'd be a lot better off. Instead, a bunch of Democrats were afraid that single payer was too radical, and we got the half-measure of the ACA, and they still suffered massive electoral losses.

If I remember correctly, it was just one Democrat (Joe Lieberman) , not "a bunch", and that person has since left the party.
posted by Jpfed at 2:23 PM on February 7 [7 favorites]


OK, I regret bringing up the ACA, let's please not have an argument about the particulars of a 9 year old bill's passage. I'm just saying that the Green New Deal is basically unprecedented in recent politics and I think it has serious potential from an electoral perspective.
posted by One Second Before Awakening at 2:29 PM on February 7 [7 favorites]


There's a really great thread on the Green New Deal where we can discuss how wonderful and unprecedented it is.
posted by the man of twists and turns at 2:31 PM on February 7 [20 favorites]


From Politico: A federal health official testified Thursday he warned three Trump appointees about the potential health risks of separating migrant children from their parents more than a year before the administration announced the controversial policy.

Jonathan White, a career civil servant who helped lead efforts to reunify thousands of separated families, told a congressional oversight panel he first learned in February 2017 the administration was considering separating migrant families.

He said he quickly encouraged the Department of Health and Human Services officials to intervene to stop the policy, but he said they told him the administration would not implement the policy — though it would later be formally announced in May 2018 before being scrapped amid public uproar about six weeks later.

posted by Bella Donna at 2:32 PM on February 7 [14 favorites]


Kenneth Vogel (@kenvogel) with some pretty damning russia news.

KONSTANTIN KILIMNIK, the Russia intelligence-linked PAUL MANAFORT deputy, was in DC for TRUMP's inauguration, & met with Manafort about a Russia-Ukraine peace plan that we know envisioned a role for Russia-aligned former Ukrainian president YANUKOVYCH.

Actual filing (its an image):
The Office of Special Counsel contends that Mr Manafort lied about the number of times they discussed it, that he and Mr Kilimnik had not just discussed it once on August 2nd, 2016, but also in December of 2016; in January 2017, in person, in Washington DC, when Kilimnik was there for the inauguration; in February of 2017, including in person on [REDACTED] and even in the winter of 2018.

[emphasis mine]
posted by Exceptional_Hubris at 2:39 PM on February 7 [32 favorites]


Thank you Doktor Zed for posting the transcript of Monday’s sealed hearing for Paul Manafort. It's a fascinating (very long) document and far less redacted than anticipated.
posted by speug at 2:44 PM on February 7 [5 favorites]


Uh, so Jeff Bezos is now explicitly accusing AMI and David Pecker of extortion related to the evidence of Bezos' affair that they have threatened to publish. And Bezos is explicitly tying this to AMI's fawning coverage of the Saudi prince. AMI is already taking heat for the Cohen scandals, why are they still acting as Trump's muscle?
posted by aiglet at 3:35 PM on February 7 [30 favorites]


Jeff Bezos's accusation of "extortion and blackmail" is incredible. Bezos says an AMI leader advised him and his P.I. Gavin de Becker that publisher David Pecker was “apoplectic” about their investigation of the Enquirer's revelations about Bezos's extramarital affair—and Pecker's new cozy relationship with Saudi Arabia. AMI then allegedly told them that the tabloid was in possession of more of Bezos's private text messages and some nude photos and that they would publish them unless Bezos called of the investigation—and killed any news stories about the National Enquirer that the Washington Post was working on.

Bezos told them, "Publish and be damned." He then published their e-mails, which are damning.

AMI is already taking heat for the Cohen scandals, why are they still acting as Trump's muscle?

The implication is that Trump fixed up Pecker with the KSA, so he owes Trump, big league.
posted by Doktor Zed at 3:44 PM on February 7 [52 favorites]


Thank you Doktor Zed for posting the transcript of Monday’s sealed hearing for Paul Manafort. It's a fascinating (very long) document and far less redacted than anticipated.

And BRUTAL.... paraphrasing "Manafort's a lying liar, who lied to this detailed list of people, but that didn't mean he COULDN'T have cooperated in good faith. But he didn't."
posted by mikelieman at 3:53 PM on February 7 [5 favorites]


NYT, Mark Mazzetti, Year Before Killing, Saudi Prince Told Aide He Would Use ‘a Bullet’ on Khashoggi
In the conversation, Prince Mohammed said that if Mr. Khashoggi could not be enticed back to Saudi Arabia, then he should be returned by force. If neither of those methods worked, the crown prince said, then he would go after Mr. Khashoggi “with a bullet,” according to the officials familiar with one of the intelligence reports, which was produced in early December.

American intelligence analysts concluded that Prince Mohammed might not have meant the phrase literally — in other words, he did not necessarily mean to have Mr. Khashoggi shot — but more likely he used the phrase as a metaphor to emphasize that he had every intention of killing the journalist if he did not return to Saudi Arabia.
This is an enormous and sensitive intelligence leak of closely-guarded communications intelligence. The timing is really interesting to me too. Sec. Pompeo met today with the Saudi Foreign Minister. Here's what Pompeo said last night on Fox Business (Pompeo did two interviews yesterday, both with Fox networks):
QUESTION: Tell me about that. I was speaking with one senator just last night, and he said to me, “Maria, I’d love to know why the ambassador is still 30 blocks away from the capital when we know Khashoggi called the ambassador to Saudi Arabia and said, ‘I need these wedding papers.’ And he said, ‘Well, go to Istanbul.’” And basically, this senator was suggesting they – he set him up. Why is he still there? Is there any other action that you’re going to take as a result of the Khashoggi murder?

SECRETARY POMPEO: Maria, I’d say three things. First, you should be careful about the facts that are out there. The --

QUESTION: You don’t think Khashoggi called?

SECRETARY POMPEO: There have – lots of facts --

QUESTION: And we know that that’s the crown prince’s brother.

SECRETARY POMPEO: I make it my professional business not to talk about American intelligence. You should be careful about the facts that are out there. Not all of them reflect the American understanding of what took place.

Second, we know that there is an important relationship between the United States and the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. We’re going to do our best to continue to build on that.

Third, with respect to the murder of Jamal Khashoggi, this administration has already taken action, and President Trump himself has said repeatedly to the extent we continue to develop facts that implicate others in the terrible act, the terrible murder of Jamal Khashoggi, we will continue to hold all of the people connected to it accountable. It’s an American commitment; it’s deeply consistent with our value set, and we’ll do it.
And now a day after Pompeo says this weirdly Orwellian thing about facts, here's a leak of some of the most sensitive intelligence undercutting him.
posted by zachlipton at 3:57 PM on February 7 [59 favorites]


(I should note that I'm reading a lot into AMI's lawyers' reference to "defamatory activities", which, emphasis added, seems like an odd way of referring to defamation. In particular, the following section from one of AMI's lawyer's e-mails appears to invite the recipient to read between the lines:
Once again, as I advised you in my February 1 response to your January 31 correspondence, American Media emphatically rejects any assertion that its reporting was instigated, dictated or influenced in any manner by external forces, political or otherwise. Simply put, this was and is a news story. {emphasis added}

Yet, it is our understanding that your client’s representatives, including the Washington Post, continue to pursue and to disseminate these false and spurious allegations in a manner that is injurious to American Media and its executives.

Accordingly, we hereby demand that you cease and desist such defamatory conduct immediately. Any further dissemination of these false, vicious, speculative and unsubstantiated statements is done at your client’s peril.
Bezos says, "For reasons still to be better understood, the Saudi angle seems to hit a particularly sensitive nerve", and in that context, the general legalese employed by AMI's lawyers would cover a multitude of Pecker's sins.)
posted by Doktor Zed at 4:00 PM on February 7 [4 favorites]


Those Enquirer emails - wow, just wow. That's such a clear case of blackmail, why on earth would they put it in email?
posted by stowaway at 4:00 PM on February 7 [15 favorites]


And yet all the lawyer guys on the TV are saying they aren't sure whether it's criminal. I know lawyers are by nature extremely cautious in public pronouncements but they sure sound like they don't know.
posted by Justinian at 4:02 PM on February 7 [3 favorites]


Vanity Fair, Emily Jane Fox, “I Am Disgusted”: Behind the Scenes of Trump’s Increasingly Scrutinized $107 Million Inauguration: Stephanie Winston Wolkoff was the mastermind event producer behind Trump’s inaugural celebration, which has since come under S.D.N.Y. investigation. Now, taped conversations reveal Wolkoff’s concerns with how money was being spent, the general chaos of the process, the involvement of the Trump family, and the people in charge, namely Rick Gates and Tom Barrack.

Wolkoff's taped conversations with Cohen, reportedly hours of recordings that the FBI seized from Cohen's office, led SDNY to investigate the inauguration, and she's accused Tom Barrack of throwing her under the bus. This paints her as more of a whistleblower, which I'm not sure is really justified by her ties to Melania Trump and the expenses that were moving through her company, but it's worth reading.
posted by zachlipton at 4:04 PM on February 7 [12 favorites]


I thought I recognized the name of the investigator hired by Bezos (Gavin de Becker) and I realized that he is the author of The Gift of Fear, a book frequently recommended by Metafiltarians.
posted by Emera Gratia at 4:06 PM on February 7 [23 favorites]


I've been hoping for a while that Bezos would realize Trump and Co. are an existential threat and start treating them as such
posted by benzenedream at 4:09 PM on February 7 [4 favorites]


stowaway: “Those Enquirer emails - wow, just wow. That's such a clear case of blackmail, why on earth would they put it in email?”
There are an awful lot of captains of industry and people in high office who are acting like they never expect to face any consequences for their prima facie criminal misdeeds. It's unnerving.
posted by ob1quixote at 4:11 PM on February 7 [50 favorites]


This potential crime would have occured after the immunity agreement and so would not only not be covered but would explode the agreement in the same way that Manafort's was exploded. If he's right about this being a crime, Bezos exposed Pecker to a lot of potential problems.
posted by Justinian at 4:23 PM on February 7 [14 favorites]




Lauren Sanchez's brother is a Trumpist with connections to Roger Stone. Maybe she's been in on this thing all along.
posted by fluttering hellfire at 4:36 PM on February 7 [2 favorites]


Wolkoff's taped conversations with Cohen, reportedly hours of recordings that the FBI seized from Cohen's office...

1. Those Cohen recordings could, potentially, depending on when he started making them, turn up evidence of crimes going back to the mid-oughts, when Trump hired him.

2. None of this happens without Stormy Daniels wrestling with that NDA and Cohen trying to enforce it. “For want of a nail the kingdom was lost.”
posted by notyou at 5:03 PM on February 7 [30 favorites]


Rep. Nadler: My response to Acting AG Whitaker regarding the use of a subpoena for tomorrow's @HouseJudiciary hearing. (w/pic)

"If you appear before the Committee tomorrow morning and if you are prepared to respond to questions from our Members, then I assure you that there will be no need for the Committee to issue a subpoena on or before February 8. To the extent that you believe you are unable to fully respond to any specific question, we pare prepared to handle your concerns on a case-by-case basis, both during and after tomorrow's hearings."

Translation: It is on.
posted by Doktor Zed at 5:12 PM on February 7 [43 favorites]


Lauren Sanchez's brother is a Trumpist with connections to Roger Stone. Maybe she's been in on this thing all along.

It would be so cool if we didn't trash a woman's character and motives sans evidence. Especially when we're talking about a situation in which the current president fucking HAAATES Bezos and conveniently has AMI in his pocket. Occam's Razor, y'all.
posted by palomar at 5:19 PM on February 7 [18 favorites]


Rep. Nadler: My response to Acting AG Whitaker regarding the use of a subpoena for tomorrow's @HouseJudiciary hearing. (w/pic)

UPDATE: CONFIRMED: Acting Attorney General Whitaker will appear tomorrow morning at 9:30am.
posted by Doktor Zed at 5:20 PM on February 7 [22 favorites]


Again proving the Pelosi Principle: these bullies are all bluster and no bite, stand up to them and they'll back down.
posted by tivalasvegas at 5:37 PM on February 7 [24 favorites]


The Advocate, Louisiana law requiring admitting privileges for abortion providers takes effect Friday, unless Supreme Court acts
A law that critics say could cripple access to abortion in Louisiana is set to take effect Friday, unless the U.S. Supreme Court acts to put off its implementation as it's challenged in court.

The high court last week temporarily delayed the law, which would require abortion providers to have admitting privileges at nearby hospitals, on an administrative order.


That stay expires effective tomorrow and the law will go into effect unless the Supreme Court acts, which it doesn't look like they're going to do because it's getting late and nothing has happened yet. If this goes into effect, it could very quickly lead to a whole new wave of abortion restrictions across red states.
posted by zachlipton at 5:54 PM on February 7 [9 favorites]


[A few comments removed. I'm not sure a speculative "she probably did!" "she probably didn't!" argument about Bezos' divorce needs to happen anywhere but there is a thread about the Bezos/AMI thing and let's keep related stuff there.]
posted by cortex (staff) at 6:21 PM on February 7 [9 favorites]




That stay expires effective tomorrow and the law will go into effect unless the Supreme Court acts, which it doesn't look like they're going to do

Update: the Supreme Court acted, granting a stay of Lousiana's anti-abortion law, with Chief Justice Roberts joining the four liberal justices "to apply a 2016 precedent from which he had dissented."
posted by zachlipton at 6:37 PM on February 7 [46 favorites]


Oh, that’s too bad. From everything I ever ever heard from people, he was a heck of a nice guy.
posted by SecretAgentSockpuppet at 6:37 PM on February 7 [5 favorites]


Oh, that’s too bad. From everything I ever ever heard from people, he was a heck of a nice guy.

He was also the longest serving Congressperson in US History. Nearly 60 years. (He was also my congressperson for about a decade before the redistricting.)

John Dingell will be sorely missed.

.
posted by Barack Spinoza at 6:41 PM on February 7 [16 favorites]


Also tonight, the Supreme Court voted 5-4 to let Alabama execute Domineque Ray, who sued after being informed that a Christian chaplain would be present in the room during the execution, not the imam he he requested. The case:
Ray’s attorneys filed a federal lawsuit last week claiming Ray’s religious freedom was being violated because the Alabama Department of Corrections would not allow his Muslim spiritual adviser, or imam, to be in the execution chamber. Officials told Ray he would be allowed to meet with his imam up until being prepared for execution, the lawsuit claims, but the imam would have to watch the execution in a witness room with two-way glass. The ADOC also said they wouldn’t remove the Christian chaplain who is typically in the execution chamber.
Justice Kagen's dissent.

Not a word so far from the usual defenders of "religious freedom."
posted by zachlipton at 6:55 PM on February 7 [71 favorites]


Steve Bannon and Erik Prince among right-wing crew plotting privatized border wall (Andrea Germanos / Common Dreams & Alternet)

MAGA all-stars visit border to plot private wall project (Ben Schreckinger, Politico)
It could have been an outtake from a hard-right reboot of “Ocean’s 11” for the Trump era: a gathering of some of President Donald Trump’s most notorious and outspoken supporters, who descended last week on the southern border town of McAllen, Texas.

In what amounted to a kind of #MAGA field trip, former Trump strategist Steve Bannon, former Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach, former Colorado Rep. Tom Tancredo, baseball legend Curt Schilling, and former Sheriff David Clarke convened to plan construction of a wall along the southern border. Blackwater founder Erik Prince phoned in from South Africa.

With Congress refusing to pony up the $5.7 billion Trump has demanded for the project, his allies are now plotting to kick off construction with private money and private land.
Calling them "The Maleficent Seven" seems more appropriate.
posted by ZeusHumms at 7:03 PM on February 7 [13 favorites]




@cameron_easley [Morning Consult]:
Trump numbers that should concern the @NRSC
ahead of 2020.

#COSEN: 39/57
#IASEN: 41/55
#MESEN: 43/54
#AZSEN: 44/52
Notably, the Morning Consult Trump approvals have tended to be on the high side, so yoiks!
posted by Chrysostom at 9:59 PM on February 7 [9 favorites]




tonight, the Supreme Court voted 5-4 to let Alabama execute Domineque Ray, who sued after being informed that a Christian chaplain would be present in the room during the execution, not the imam he he requested. The case:

I refreshed the latter page to see it change to read,
The U.S. Supreme Court lifted the stay about 8 p.m., and the execution began at 9:44 p.m.

The curtains to the viewing room closed at 10:05 p.m, and the official time of death was 10:12 p.m.
posted by XMLicious at 12:06 AM on February 8 [6 favorites]


How Congressional Democrats Could Screw Up Their Trump Investigations (Amelia Thomson-DeVeaux, 538)
Investigators need to avoid getting lost in the details

Congressional investigations are inherently theatrical. But political science experts told me that Democrats shouldn’t expect to win over the public by simply producing new facts — instead, they need to contextualize whatever information they find within a simple, compelling story.

“If the narrative were corruption, let’s say, they could try to draw in a lot of different Cabinet officials, make it bigger than the president, but still keep it cohesive,” said Josh Chafetz, who is a law professor at Cornell University and studies the relationship between Congress and the president. “The danger is that if you make it sound like it’s 40 disconnected issues, people lose track and tune out.”

This means that if Democrats begin questioning Whitaker on Friday, they may have more success if they can use their questions to hammer broad, overarching themes, rather than to focus on details. For instance, Democrats may be tempted to pepper Whitaker with queries about his past business dealings, but they might be better off sticking to questions that will keep the public’s attention on potential attempts by Trump to interfere with the Mueller investigation — a line of inquiry that Mueller himself seems to be following.
posted by ZeusHumms at 4:33 AM on February 8 [5 favorites]


Julie k. brown @jkbjournalist (Miami Herald investigative reporter)

New: Washington Post reporter just said that Bezos’ investigator suspects that “a government agency” intercepted Bezos’ text messages.

11:17 PM - 7 Feb 2019 from Hollywood, FL
posted by bluesky43 at 5:31 AM on February 8 [10 favorites]


I and at least one other prominent journalist involved in breaking stories about the National Enquirer’s arrangement with Trump fielded similar “stop digging or we’ll ruin you” blackmail efforts from AMI. (I did not engage as I don’t cut deals with subjects of ongoing reporting.) https://t.co/kHQdWIkVjV

— Ronan Farrow (@RonanFarrow) February 8, 2019
posted by bluesky43 at 5:33 AM on February 8 [38 favorites]


IIRC, the narrative that finally swept the Republicans out of Congress the last time was the “Republican Culture of Corruption.” Gingrich, Tom Delay, Duke Cunningham, Mark Foley, etc.

With all the people associated with I-1 that have already been indicted, plead guilty, or had to quit because of scandal and abuse of their position, it’s long past time that phrase was revived and applied to the Trump admin.
posted by darkstar at 5:39 AM on February 8 [10 favorites]


Nogales may be in the midst of a phase 1 push by the Trump Verwaltung to get their race war started. "Customs officer shoots, kills driver at port of entry on U.S.-Mexico border" (CBS News) APnews footage at scene
posted by Harry Caul at 5:42 AM on February 8 [1 favorite]


Republicans Got Us Into This Mess, and They Have to Get Us Out of It (Jonathan Rauch and Peter Wehner, NYT)
What, then, might flip Mr. Trump’s removal from impossible to inevitable? The most likely possibility is also the most obvious: the collapse of his support among center-right Republicans who so far have wavered but not completely turned against him.

Whether this happens depends on future events, the most ominous of which would be the discovery of clear criminality by the president or those closest to him (including family members). Another inflection point might be an economic recession. A third might be Mr. Trump’s mismanagement of a crisis. A fourth would be the continued deterioration of the president’s behavior. (By most accounts the president feels less constrained than ever.) And yet another might be the prospect that he will lead his party to comprehensive defeat in 2020, especially if he is weakened by a primary challenge. We would be surprised if one or more of these developments did not occur, and a combination is easily within the bounds of probability.

[...] The most troubling — and from our point of view the most disappointing — development of the Trump era is not the president’s own election and subsequent behavior; it is the institutional corruption, weakness and self-betrayal of the Republican Party. The party has abandoned its core commitments to constitutional norms, to conservative principles and even to basic decency. It has allowed itself to be hijacked by a reality television star who is a pathological liar, emotionally unsteady and accountable only to himself. And it has embraced presidential conduct that, if engaged in by a Democrat, it would have been denounced as corrupt, incompetent and even treasonous.
posted by Little Dawn at 5:44 AM on February 8 [9 favorites]




Cool, more "Surely Republicans will turn on Trump if he just does any of the bad things he's already doing" fanfic.

Whether this happens depends on future events, the most ominous of which would be the discovery of clear criminality by the president or those closest to him (including family members).

Like his campaign chairman or national security adviser?

A third might be Mr. Trump’s mismanagement of a crisis.

Puerto Fucking Rico, you asshats.

A fourth would be the continued deterioration of the president’s behavior.

How would we tell?
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 5:58 AM on February 8 [86 favorites]


Politico: Trump cornered on border wall
Inside the White House, the Trump team is increasingly aware that the president is trapped.

Facing a Republican Party unwilling to back another government shutdown or a national emergency declaration to build his border wall, President Donald Trump is in an unfamiliar position, according to multiple White House officials and lawmakers: prepared, potentially, to accept a compromise foisted on him by Congress. [...]

Though the White House has worked to prepare an emergency declaration invoking the president’s sweeping executive powers, several West Wing aides have warned that invoking it would alienate some conservatives who have otherwise been loyal to the White House. [...]

Trump has stopped musing as much about a national emergency, both publicly and privately. Asked whether he’d been given marching orders or an ultimatum on a unilateral move by the president, Shelby said that didn't happen.
posted by Little Dawn at 6:02 AM on February 8 [4 favorites]


jedicus: ...one of the great opportunities of the Green New Deal: either by redirecting the military to do a lot of the work...

That reminds me of Thomas P. M. Barnett's "sysadmin force" notion from about ten years ago.

And you know, I still like the idea that DoD doesn't spend all of its time in shooting wars to defend our territory, but it could be spending more of its time improving the world -- and our place in it -- by bridging the gaps between richer/more-stable nations and poorer/less-stable nations.
posted by wenestvedt at 6:04 AM on February 8 [6 favorites]


Ronan Farrow's tweet, quoted by bluesky43: (I did not engage as I don’t cut deals with subjects of ongoing reporting.)

I'm trying to unpack this. The point of any threat, such as blackmail, is that you can't really "choose" whether to engage. So if he just didn't respond to AMI, presumably they went ahead and published whatever they thought he wouldn't want him to? Or were they all bark and no bite? Does blackmail in general often operate that way? ("Well, we didn't get the money/stuff we wanted, so there's no actual point to puling the trigger now.")
posted by InTheYear2017 at 6:09 AM on February 8 [1 favorite]


They didn't claim to specifically have anything on Farrow, as far as we know, they just threatened to dig.
posted by odinsdream at 6:13 AM on February 8 [5 favorites]


Ronan Farrow says he also received ‘blackmail’ threat over reporting on the National Enquirer and Trump (Allyson Chiu, WaPo)
Farrow’s allegation came just hours after Amazon chief executive Jeffrey P. Bezos published a remarkable public post accusing the National Enquirer of attempting to extort and blackmail him by threatening to publish intimate photos unless he stopped investigating the publication. Bezos owns The Washington Post.

In a tweet Thursday night, Farrow wrote that he and the unnamed journalist “fielded similar ‘stop digging or we’ll ruin you’ blackmail efforts from AMI.” Last April, Farrow published a story in the New Yorker about the Enquirer’s “catch and kill” practice — in which stories are buried by paying off sources — that benefited Trump during the 2016 presidential campaign.[...]

In response to Farrow, former Associated Press editor Ted Bridis tweeted, “We were warned explicitly by insiders that AMI had hired private investigators to dig into backgrounds of @AP journalists looking into the tabloid’s efforts on behalf of Trump.” Bridis spent 11 years as the editor of the AP’s Washington investigative team.
There's still a whole lot to unpack here, given the latest reports that Bezos' team think a government source leaked the messages. However, Individual-1 and his goons may have done something exceedingly foolish going after a (real) billionaire whose willing to fight back. Once the gates open on the NDAs and/or blackmail and extortion attempts by AMI, they could be in a world of hurt.
posted by Excommunicated Cardinal at 6:16 AM on February 8 [39 favorites]


Lawfare: Livestream: Whitaker Testimony Before House Judiciary Committee
The House Committee on the Judiciary will hold a hearing on oversight of the Justice Department at 9:30 a.m. on Friday, featuring testimony from Acting Attorney General Matthew Whitaker. A livestream is available below.
posted by Little Dawn at 6:19 AM on February 8 [4 favorites]


Once the gates open on the NDAs and/or blackmail and extortion attempts by AMI, they could be in a world of hurt.

Right? One of the takeaways from the Bezos story is that these idiots are so cocksure that they were willing to put their blackmail attempts into email; I wonder what else they were stupid enough to write down. Discovery in one of these cases could topple the presidency, if he's foolish enough to try to enforce the NDAs.
posted by Mayor West at 6:20 AM on February 8 [7 favorites]


"Stop digging or we’ll ruin you" really packs a punch when it's implied that the ruining will be assisted by the United States security apparatus.
posted by diogenes at 6:23 AM on February 8 [12 favorites]




Republicans Got Us Into This Mess, and They Have to Get Us Out of It (Jonathan Rauch and Peter Wehner, NYT)

We do have to get out of this mess; I'm not sure the Republicans are the right people to do so.
posted by ZeusHumms at 6:24 AM on February 8 [11 favorites]


Julie k. brown @jkbjournalist (Miami Herald investigative reporter)

New: Washington Post reporter just said that Bezos’ investigator suspects that “a government agency” intercepted Bezos’ text messages.


Crooked Media's Brian Beutler thinks it's just as likely this is a domestic intelligence agency as a foreign one:
I overheard this on @Lawrence, too, and assumed that Bezos must suspect a foreign government intelligence agency–most likely Saudi Arabia.

Then I remembered the horrifying, but somehow forgotten story of Jeffrey Rambo.
NYT: How an Affair Between a Reporter and a Security Aide Has Rattled Washington Media
(We had an FPP about this very article about the ancillary extramarital scandal of SSCI aide James Wolfe, in which reporter Ali Watkins was threatened by a Trumpist CBP agent named Jeffrey Rambo, who somehow had obtained intelligence records about her travel itineraries with Wolfe.)
In other words, the Trump administration, or perhaps Trump-loyal rogue security service guys, have already committed wild privacy abuses on the order of what Bezos apparently suspects, and used the information to blackmail a reporter.

Because Trump is an unceasing crook, and because Washington media got wrapped around the axle by the gossipy aspect and professional implications of the Watkins-Wolfe, this scandal got flushed down the memory hole almost immediately. But it happened.

On that basis alone, I think Bezos would not be crazy to suspect something similar happened here–if in fact that's what he suspects.
Also, something to keep in mind about AMI's immunity deal with the SDNY over their involvement with Cohen's hush-money payments during the 2016 campaign: Trump's been campaigning for re-election practically since taking office, so if AMI's attempted extortion of Bezos and the WaPo can be tied to Trump, that's a massive violation of campaign finance laws.
posted by Doktor Zed at 6:33 AM on February 8 [17 favorites]


We do have to get out of this mess; I'm not sure the Republicans are the right people to do so.

I think our system of checks and balances essentially requires the GOP to actively participate in protecting our democratic institutions, which is why I try to follow reporting on Republican opinions and actions - it's like a weather report for the future of the Trump administration.
posted by Little Dawn at 6:39 AM on February 8 [9 favorites]


Lawfare: Livestream: Whitaker Testimony Before House Judiciary Committee

Marcy Wheeler's also live-tweeting the hearings.

In Whitaker's prepared statement, Bloomberg reports, he says he won't talk about his conversations with Trump: "I will continue the longstanding executive branch policy and practice of not disclosing information that may be subject to executive privilege, such as the contents of deliberations or conversations with the president."

So that already violated Nadler's request for a heads-up about invoking executive privilege. Let the subpoena'ing begin!
posted by Doktor Zed at 6:50 AM on February 8 [13 favorites]


[Folks, there's an active thread on Bezos/AMI.]
posted by goodnewsfortheinsane (staff) at 6:54 AM on February 8 [7 favorites]


Whitaker alternates between choking, stumbling and delaying from the get go. Nadler will be subpoena-ing him by the end of this day I bet.
posted by Harry Caul at 7:09 AM on February 8 [3 favorites]


Republicans Got Us Into This Mess, and They Have to Get Us Out of It (Jonathan Rauch and Peter Wehner, NYT)

NYT, is this from late 2016? Because that ship has sailed so far it's not even visible.
Seriously I don't know what they're thinking. Why not headline "Jeebus Save Us!" or fire up a batsignal or something equally relevant to the situation on the ground. This reporting angle is like hearing an impersonation of the MovieTone News guy, "Breaking! Republicans On the March! How many currently existing scandals and obvious crimes will it take before they Really Do Something?! Here's Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell speaking drily before something unscrupulous happens! Go get 'em Mitch!" /patriotic_horns_and_glockenspiel

New York Times. Sad.
posted by petebest at 7:17 AM on February 8 [14 favorites]


Whitaker is off to quite the start.

@woodruffbets: !!! Nadler asks Whitaker if he's been asked to approve any of Mueller's moves.
Whitaker: “Mr Chairman, I see that your five minutes is up I’m here voluntarily I agreed to five-minute rounds” Gasps in the room

Here's video. Nadler is outright laughing at him.

Nadler is the chair and can talk as much as he wants. Witnesses don't, you know, do that.

@brianbeutler: Nadler says no subpoena today, but he will depose Whitaker under oath after Barr is confirmed and at that proceeding Whitaker will either have to answer or assert executive privilege.
posted by zachlipton at 7:20 AM on February 8 [48 favorites]


This reporting angle...
The piece cited is an op-ed by a couple of think tank guys, not NYT reporting.
posted by neroli at 7:27 AM on February 8 [7 favorites]


Guardian: Rosenstein did not want to write memo justifying Comey firing – new book
Andrew McCabe writes in a new book that Rosenstein, who has publicly defended the memo, lamented that the president had directed him to rationalise Comey’s dismissal, which is now the subject of inquiries into whether Trump obstructed justice.

Rosenstein made his remarks in a private meeting at the justice department on 12 May 2017, according to McCabe’s memoir, which also accuses Trump of operating like a criminal mob boss and of unleashing a “strain of insanity” in American public life.

McCabe recalls Rosenstein being “glassy-eyed”, visibly upset and sounding emotional.

“He said it wasn’t his idea. The president had ordered him to write the memo justifying the firing,” McCabe writes. Rosenstein said he was having trouble sleeping, McCabe writes. “There’s no one here that I can trust,” he is quoted as saying.
posted by Little Dawn at 7:36 AM on February 8 [9 favorites]


WaPo, Joshua Partlow ,Nick Miroff, and David A. Fahrenthold, ‘My whole town practically lived there’: From Costa Rica to New Jersey, a pipeline of illegal workers for Trump goes back years
The Washington Post spoke with 16 men and women from Costa Rica and other Latin American countries, including six in Santa Teresa de Cajon, who said they were employed at the Trump National Golf Club Bedminster. All of them said they worked for Trump without legal status — and that their managers knew.

The former employees who still live in New Jersey provided pay slips documenting their work at the Bedminster club. They identified friends and relatives in Costa Rica who also were employed at the course. In Costa Rica, The Post located former workers in two regions who provided detailed accounts of their time at the Bedminster property and shared memorabilia they had kept, such as Trump-branded golf tees, as well as photos of themselves at the club.

The brightly painted homes that line the road in Santa Teresa de Cajon, many paid for by wages earned 4,000 miles away, are the fruits of a long-running pipeline of illegal workers to the president’s course, one that carried far more than a few unauthorized employees who slipped through the cracks.
...
Their descriptions of Bedminster’s long reliance on illegal workers are bolstered by a newly obtained police report showing that the club’s head of security was told in 2011 about an employee suspected of using false identification papers — the first known documentation of a warning to the Trump Organization about the legal status of a worker.

Other supervisors received similar flags over the years, including Bedminster’s general manager, who was told by a worker from Ecuador several years ago that she entered the country illegally, the employee said.
Read on for more on how these workers were treated and the boss who no commented with a Trump gif.
posted by zachlipton at 7:38 AM on February 8 [34 favorites]


he will depose Whitaker under oath after Barr is confirmed and at that proceeding Whitaker will either have to answer or assert executive privilege.

So what happens if privilege is asserted, besides Whitaker doesn't have to answer? What are the ramifications? Seems like that's what Whitaker would just do right now, if there were no downside to it (but I don't understand these matters, so).
posted by Rykey at 7:48 AM on February 8 [1 favorite]


So what happens if privilege is asserted, besides Whitaker doesn't have to answer? What are the ramifications?

NYT: Matthew Whitaker Testifies Before House Panel: Live Updates
Democrats had told Mr. Whitaker that they would ask him to describe his conversations with Mr. Trump about the Russia inquiry, and had warned him that they would not accept his refusal to answer on the grounds that Mr. Trump might want to later invoke executive privilege to shield that information from Congress.

(A valid assertion of executive privilege by Mr. Trump would give Mr. Whitaker a lawful basis to refuse to answer such questions, but Mr. Trump must formally take that step.)

The Justice Department, noting that such disputes are usually resolved through negotiation and accommodation, has said that Mr. Nadler promised on Thursday not to subpoena Mr. Whitaker — who is appearing voluntarily before the panel — on Friday.

A subpoena would be the first step toward citing him for contempt of Congress for refusing to answer questions.
posted by Little Dawn at 7:55 AM on February 8 [7 favorites]


The first step toward citing him for contempt of congress already happened.

@JakeSherman
“Mr. Chairman, i see that your five minutes is up,” Matt Whitaker says to Jerry Nadler, who controls the committee and can decide to talk as long as he’d like, essentially.
posted by Xyanthilous P. Harrierstick at 8:05 AM on February 8 [19 favorites]


Whitaker is performing for an audience of one and a White House job once Barr's confirmed.

I wouldn't be surprised if Nadler held the committee in recess until 12.15, when I-1 is scheduled to leave for his "physical".

So what happens if privilege is asserted, besides Whitaker doesn't have to answer?

Whitaker can assert executive privilege all he wants, but it doesn't have to be taken seriously unless the White House formally invokes it. For the past couple of years, the congressional GOP let witnesses get away with a kind of "Schroedinger's executive privilege", where it wasn't formally invoked but everyone pretended it applied. The House Dems aren't going to let that happen: they want the White House on record invoking privilege, with the alternative being a contempt citation. (But that can't compel Whitaker to answer questions.)
posted by holgate at 8:25 AM on February 8 [18 favorites]


The House Dems aren't going to let that happen: they want the White House on record invoking privilege, with the alternative being a contempt citation. (But that can't compel Whitaker to answer questions.)

Contempt isn't the only reason, they also want a formal invocation of executive privilege so they can sue, and have the courts rule on whether the Trump administration has a valid privilege claim.
posted by T.D. Strange at 8:35 AM on February 8 [27 favorites]


Joe Lieberman is a huge part of why single payer never happened. Sure there were some DINOs that would have had to have been pressured really hard but the seeming Democratic majority never really was because of Joe Lieberman. I still shudder to think he was a Democratic VP candidate.

Elections, consequences, etc. - and while the Presidency is the focus for almost everyone, Congress is equally important. See how "Democrats in Disarray!" turned into "Democrats in Array! With Spines!" once the House turned blue. A heavily Democratic House also provides cover for members from more conservative districts (Conor Lamb for example) to not vote with the majority and no harm or foul.

The Senate back in 2010 was so narrowly Democratic that one stubborn, entitled member like Lieberman could threaten to take his toys and go home and blow up the whole ACA. I think John Dingell (RIP) has a point that the Senate needs a re-think at the least. But elections do have consequences, and I hope that seeing the Peleesi and her House in action keeps Democrats energized and gaining seats.
posted by Rosie M. Banks at 8:40 AM on February 8 [16 favorites]


Update: the Supreme Court acted, granting a stay of Lousiana's anti-abortion law, with Chief Justice Roberts joining the four liberal justices "to apply a 2016 precedent from which he had dissented."

I wonder if everything going on is pushing Roberts to the Max Boot side of the house?
posted by corb at 8:51 AM on February 8 [5 favorites]


I wonder if everything going on is pushing Roberts to the Max Boot side of the house?

Why, has Roberts recently been encouraging us to stay in Afghanistan for literally centuries (positively comparing it to the genocide of native americans) and admiring the Wehrmacht?
posted by Rust Moranis at 9:03 AM on February 8 [7 favorites]


My impression is that Roberts isn't so different from Kavanaugh and company on where he ends up. He just knows that if you do it softly, softly, by chipping away at precedents, taking things in small bites, it's a lot easier to get away with it without people noticing so much.
posted by Chrysostom at 9:06 AM on February 8 [26 favorites]


USAT: Trump handing out jobs to Mar-A-Lago members.
posted by Chrysostom at 9:07 AM on February 8 [12 favorites]


Why, has Roberts recently been encouraging us to stay in Afghanistan for literally centuries (positively comparing it to the genocide of native americans)

If you want to be furious for hours, read the Max Boot stuff linked above. The least offensive thing he says is it's okay to keep people deployed forever because it's a volunteer force. He really does advocate the "Indian Wars" as a model.

The enemy of our enemy is not our friend. For any number of examples, look to American history, but you can also look at "Never Trump" Republicans to see just how little they have learned and how little they have changed.
posted by scaryblackdeath at 9:19 AM on February 8 [12 favorites]


My impression is that Roberts isn't so different from Kavanaugh and company on where he ends up. He just knows that if you do it softly, softly, by chipping away at precedents, taking things in small bites, it's a lot easier to get away with it without people noticing so much.

That, yes: when he's voted with the more liberal justices -- like not striking down the ACA -- he's often charted a course that tries to preserve the appearance of apolitical jurisprudence and maintains the power of the Court so that there is time for slow and measured changes. The Court striking down the ACA would undoubtedly have led to a lot of calls for changes to the Court -- and would have helped Democrats campaign. Leaving it, but damaging it, lessened the positive impact the ACA could have while leaving it as a target of attack from the right.

In light of that, it's interesting to note that granting the stay means it won't go into effect immediately, but the case is still going to be considered --
What happens next? The law will probably remain blocked until the spring of 2020, when the justices are likely to issue a full decision on its constitutionality following briefing and oral argument.
If you wanted to make abortion an election issue, punting a major Supreme Court abortion case a few months farther into election season will certainly do that. Roberts is not apolitical; he's highly partisan, he just hides it better than Kavanaugh.
posted by cjelli at 9:19 AM on February 8 [20 favorites]




Roberts is highly partisan but expresses frequent public concern that the court as an institution should not be perceived as a partisan, political entity. He's the only one of the conservatives who still cares about saying the quiet part quiet.
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 9:25 AM on February 8 [15 favorites]


The discomfort Trump provokes ought to prompt international relations experts to reflect on the failings of their discipline to reckon with the relationship between U.S. imperialism, U.S. foreign policy, and the constellation of xenophobia, militarism, racism, and nationalism that haunts our days. Trump’s Foreign Policy Isn’t the Problem
It reflects, like a funhouse mirror, a twisted image of U.S. imperialism.

posted by infini at 9:39 AM on February 8 [6 favorites]


Carter was already a member of the National Rifle Association when he murdered Casiano, and he remained a high-ranking officer with the organization through his years with the border patrol. Then, in 1977, after his retirement from the patrol, he led what observers called an extremist coup against the (relatively) moderate NRA leadership, transforming the organization into a key institution of the New Right, a bastion of individual-rights absolutism. In a remarkable echo of this history, it was a border patrol agent who in 2015 invited Donald Trump to tour Laredo’s port of entry, just a few days after Trump announced his presidential candidacy. American Extremism Has Always Flowed from the Border
Donald Trump says there is “a crisis of the soul” at the border. He is right, though not in the way he thinks.
posted by infini at 9:43 AM on February 8 [11 favorites]


My impression is that Roberts isn't so different from Kavanaugh and company on where he ends up. He just knows that if you do it softly, softly, by chipping away at precedents, taking things in small bites, it's a lot easier to get away with it without people noticing so much.

My own "Not A Lawyer" suspicion is that Roberts may be looking for cases (on abortion and other conservative causes) where he can provide a more sweeping definitive ruling that will end discussion about it for decades if not forever. This Louisiana case may not be it, it may be too limited in scope of ruling or interpretation. (IANAL, I dunno.)

IOW, while the rest of the conservative Justices are willing to leap on any chance to push their agenda, Roberts is biding his time until just the right case comes along, at which point he can kill Roe vs. Wade nationwide (or push other conservative positions) while still claiming non-partisan judgement because look at all those other related cases that the SC refused to consider or where Roberts voted against the rest of the conservative wing of the Court.
posted by soundguy99 at 9:46 AM on February 8 [8 favorites]


That's exactly my read, Roberts is much, much better at playing the long game than the rest of the 5 horsemen, who would rule whatever way Hannity told them to in every case.

Roberts wants a definite, unquestionable win that also preserves the Court's standing and legitimacy. He's willing to wait for the perfect case to get that, and if it never comes along, he's also willing to kill Roe by 10,000 cuts rather than risk an overtly partisan ruling and having it widely ignored and tarnishing the Court's authority.
posted by T.D. Strange at 10:04 AM on February 8 [17 favorites]


There's also always the possibility that Roberts is among the not-negligible number of folks in the Republican party who care about abortion exactly as far as it gets them the things they really want re: binding the out-group and protecting the in-group. I'd wager that if you gave every republican a magic wish where they could have either the tax cut or the abortion ban the majority wouldn't even have to think about it before going tax cut. They won't break the orthodoxy because it keeps the rubes in line and is part of The Identity but it's not their top priority.
posted by phearlez at 10:13 AM on February 8 [15 favorites]


For the past couple of years, the congressional GOP let witnesses get away with a kind of "Schroedinger's executive privilege"

Jefferson Beauregard Sessions III, OG. In the middle of the You've-Got-To-Be-Shitting-Me '017s he showed his tuchas to the Senate Intelligence Committee, leading the New York Times to wonder aloud "Do officials have a legal right to avoid providing potentially privileged information?" before answering "No".

WASHINGTON — Attorney General Jeff Sessions repeatedly refused to answer senators’ questions on Tuesday about his conversations with President Trump, even though Mr. Trump had not asserted executive privilege to keep them secret. That raises questions about whether Mr. Sessions had any legal basis to stonewall Congress.

It sure does, New York Times. Which is why it was so nice to have it promptly answered a few sentences later with "No". Next time you could answer those questions before composing the article to save time.

I'll also mention in passing that Crystal Mason was sentenced to five years in prison for voting. 61-year-old Desiree Fairooz was convicted of laughing at Sessions.

Congressional perjury advocate Sessions, meanwhile, went on to great fame and fortune by being a racist shitbag "human" and rolling in lobbying money. Can Matthew Whitaker's career be as fortunate? Let's watch!
posted by petebest at 11:30 AM on February 8 [25 favorites]


Ivanka Says She and Jared Got No Special Treatment

Said Trump: “There were anonymous leaks about there being issues. But the president had no involvement pertaining to my clearance or my husband’s clearance, zero.”

There you have it, all you people who bet that she wasn't the liberal feminist voice of reason we all know her to be. Pay up.
posted by petebest at 11:38 AM on February 8 [6 favorites]


Laurence Tribe -
Are Trump and Prince bin Salman co-conspirators with David Pecker and AMI in a failed criminal plot to blackmail and extort Jeff Bezos? Asking for a friend in the Southern District of New York
posted by growabrain at 11:43 AM on February 8 [11 favorites]


What Trump Has in Common With Venezuela’s Maduro (Nancy LeTourneau, Washington Monthly)
It is clear that he doesn’t know the first thing about Venezuela, but chose to use the unrest in that country as an attack on his opponents in this country. Based on what we’ve been hearing from the president and his enablers lately, those attacks won’t be limited to those who identify as Democratic Socialists. They plan to paint any member of the Democratic Party as a socialist, while pointing to Venezuela as the end product of their policies.
She makes a comparison between Bolivia and Venezuela, noting that Bolivia too is governed by socialists, but hasn't seen the same turmoil that Venezuela has.
I would simply add that making sound decisions is grounded in the fact that Evo Morales [President of Bolivia] is neither incompetent nor a narcissist.

That is why, when we look at what is happening in Venezuela, the chaos there has nothing to do with socialism and everything to do with incompetent narcissists who resort to autocracy when their failure becomes obvious. Sound familiar?
posted by ZeusHumms at 11:47 AM on February 8 [20 favorites]


Everything is for sale, Justice Department decision to issue legal opinion long sought by casino magnate Sheldon Adelson draws criticism (WaPo).

Vox's Aaron Rupar has the video from today's AAG hearings in which Rep. Jamie Raskin (MD-D) asks if Adelson could have been an anonymous donor to Whitaker's one-man Foundation for Accountability and Civic Trust (FACT), setting him up for a quid pro quo:
RASKIN: Tell us who was behind the $1.3 million that you were paid before you came to the DOJ

WHITAKER: I don't know
And here's Rep. Pramila Jaypal (WA-D) making Whitaker look like an idiot:
@RepJayapal: What was your involvement in Trump's family separation policy

WHITAKER: "There was no family separation policy."

JAYAPAL: There was a DOJ memo about it!

WHITAKER: I wasn't aware of it
And Rep. Ted Lieu (CA-D) just makes him look like a fool and a hack.
posted by Doktor Zed at 12:05 PM on February 8 [50 favorites]


ProPublica, Justin Elliott and Ilya Marriitz, New Evidence Emerges of Possible Wrongdoing by Trump Inaugural Committee: The Trump inaugural appears to have overpaid for space at Trump’s Washington hotel, a possible violation of the law. Federal prosecutors are probing the festivities.
A spokesman confirmed that the nonprofit 58th Presidential Inaugural Committee paid the Trump International Hotel a rate of $175,000 per day for event space — in spite of internal objections at the time that the rate was far too high. If the committee is deemed by auditors or prosecutors to have paid an above-market rate, that could violate tax laws prohibiting self-dealing, according to experts.

Tax law prohibits nonprofits from paying inflated prices to entities that are owned by people who also control or influence the nonprofit’s activities.
...
The inaugural committee also spent at least $1.5 million at a hotel in which the investment firm of the committee’s chairman, Tom Barrack, held a small stake.

In addition, the inaugural nonprofit appears not to have disclosed multiple gifts to the committee on its tax return, as required by law.
There are emails, naturally. It seems like Stephanie Winston Wolkoff is talking to all sorts of reporters, with the Vanity Fair story yesterday and this today.

----

@adam_wola [see attached graph]: CBP January data show that "metering" continues in full force at US-Mexico border ports of entry. It's very hard to seek asylum the "right" way, which creates a huge incentive to climb a fence, cross in the desert, or raft across the Rio Grande.
posted by zachlipton at 12:05 PM on February 8 [29 favorites]


Rep. Jamie Raskin (MD-D) asks if Adelson could have been an anonymous donor to Whitaker's one-man Foundation for Accountability and Civic Trust (FACT), setting him up for a quid pro quo:

RASKIN: Tell us who was behind the $1.3 million that you were paid before you came to the DOJ

WHITAKER: I don't know


This was some FIRE questioning - at the end of Rep Raskin's 5 minutes he was getting around to why it would be that multiple lobbying firms would be making mid 200k donations to his senate campaign funds FOUR YEARS AFTER HE LOST HIS ELECTION
posted by Exceptional_Hubris at 12:08 PM on February 8 [56 favorites]


Whitaker's one-man Foundation for Accountability and Civic Trust (FACT)

I'm repeatedly struck by the right wing's penchant for ironic titling.
posted by Mental Wimp at 12:37 PM on February 8 [10 favorites]


BuzzFeed, Molly Hensley-Clancy, Staffers, Documents Show Amy Klobuchar’s Wrath Towards Her Aides

This article is particularly notable in that it tries to grapple with whether these charges are sexist, putting that question to several women who worked for the Senator.
posted by zachlipton at 12:43 PM on February 8 [13 favorites]


Wow that Whitaker faceplant was painful. For Whitaker's part, that's what I'd imagine future civilizations in 2388 would do when trying to re-enact what a "Congressional Committee Hearing Testimony" would be like. It's like he was coached by Trump University course materials on How to Do Obstruction - TU-O101.

A true transcript would be full of ellipses and false-starts.

LIEU: There's no sentence in the Constitution that says the President's children can't be indicted, correct?

WHITAKER: Congressman, eh eh ... y'know, y-you can give me the whole list, I mean, y'know sort of, ... y'know i- th- the - it's

LIEU: No, I'll give you three more

WHITAKER: *bugs eyes, shrugs* wm'Okay
posted by petebest at 12:56 PM on February 8 [6 favorites]


This article is particularly notable in that it tries to grapple with whether these charges are sexist, putting that question to several women who worked for the Senator.

I think it can be possible for it to be true that she's really unpleasant to work for and for it to be sexist. One of the things I am always ambivalent about is when people point out circumstances where a woman is judged more harshly than identical behavior would be from a man - unquestionably a thing that happens a lot - but said behavior is stuff I find massively unacceptable when men do it too.

The so-called "demanding" boss is surely one of these situations. A woman who yells at her employees will surely get called gendered things and irrational when a man would be a "perfectionist" and other various soft-pedal horseshit that we say about abusive managers. How do I decry judging her more harshly than him while at the same time thinking that what really should be happening is judging the men just as negatively? Obviously when you toss on 'bitch' and 'irrational' etc you've crossed into never okay, but for fuck's sake - surely the equality of the future could involve not just dragging everyone down?
posted by phearlez at 1:05 PM on February 8 [39 favorites]


John Dingell: My last words for America

John D. Dingell, a Michigan Democrat who served in the U.S. House from 1955 to 2015, was the longest-serving member of Congress in American history. He dictated these reflections to his wife, Rep. Debbie Dingell (D-Mich.), at their home in Dearborn, on Feb. 7, the day he died.

In my life and career I have often heard it said that so-and-so has real power — as in, “the powerful Wile E. Coyote, chairman of the Capture the Road Runner Committee.”

It’s an expression that has always grated on me. In democratic government, elected officials do not have power. They hold power — in trust for the people who elected them. If they misuse or abuse that public trust, it is quite properly revoked (the quicker the better).

I never forgot the people who gave me the privilege of representing them. It was a lesson learned at home from my father and mother, and one I have tried to impart to the people I’ve served with and employed over the years.

As I prepare to leave this all behind, I now leave you in control of the greatest nation of mankind and pray God gives you the wisdom to understand the responsibility you hold in your hands.

May God bless you all, and may God bless America.
Ah yeah, there come the tears.
posted by zachlipton at 1:09 PM on February 8 [111 favorites]


I think it can be possible for it to be true that she's really unpleasant to work for and for it to be sexist

I think a good way to judge will be whether this story gets more, less, or the same amount of play as a similar story about a well known male candidate.
"As a supervisor, he was unbelievably abusive," says one former campaign staffer, who claims to have endured frequent verbal assaults. The double standard was clear: "He did things that, if he found out that another supervisor was doing in a workplace, he would go after them. You can't treat employees that way."
I'm gonna take the "over" on whether the Klobuchar thing gets more or less play.
posted by Justinian at 1:10 PM on February 8 [34 favorites]


I'm disappointed to hear this about Klobuchar, because we can already see right now what happens when someone is totally mismanaging and screaming and firing employees or making them quit left and right in the WH, and I don't think anyone wants more of that shit.
posted by jenfullmoon at 1:14 PM on February 8 [7 favorites]


The first former staffer said ... “The reason it matters is when I hear the descriptors of our current president and how he lacks responsibility and everyone is to blame, and there’s erratic behavior, name-calling,” she said. “It’s unfortunate, but you’re also describing her.”

Ouch.
posted by petebest at 1:15 PM on February 8 [4 favorites]


John Dingell tweeted his way into my heart two years ago and I am so sad to have him leave us. I do hope some representatives take his words to heart.
posted by Sophie1 at 1:16 PM on February 8 [9 favorites]


Oh, I think plenty of people want more of that shit; just not from a woman. Look at the way notoriously awful Steve Jobs gets lionized. People wouldn't want to deal with it themselves but from a distance they'll look at men doing this and nod approvingly about how they Get Shit Done. It's insane and there's such better ways to get good work from people but that doesn't get stories written about you.
posted by phearlez at 1:17 PM on February 8 [15 favorites]


Justinian, that's exactly what I've been thinking about. I've read more than one damning article on that topic, all from Vermont publications - I never noticed it penetrating the national media.

I'm not exactly thrilled that what we have now are two articles where no one will put a name on their accusations against Klobuchar, although I can understand why they wouldn't.
posted by Emmy Rae at 1:18 PM on February 8 [8 favorites]


I've known lots of people who work on the Hill, and let me tell you to that a first approximation, all Senators are assholes. Some less so that others, but they all eat up that "world's greatest deliberative body" shit.
posted by Chrysostom at 1:23 PM on February 8 [13 favorites]


Oh, I think plenty of people want more of that shit; just not from a woman. Look at the way notoriously awful Steve Jobs gets lionized. People wouldn't want to deal with it themselves but from a distance they'll look at men doing this and nod approvingly about how they Get Shit Done.

See also, all the tech bros on Hacker News who actively wish that Linus Torvalds still insulted Linux contributors, yet never manage to provide any personal experience for how being abused by your manager makes for an effective work environment.
posted by J.K. Seazer at 1:27 PM on February 8 [6 favorites]


Georgia voters suing for paper ballots win appeal to 11th Circuit

“Now we can get past the defendants’ delays and move forward with the case on the merits and get the relief Judge Totenberg already ruled we’re entitled to,” said David Cross, an attorney for Georgia voters who sued. “This appeal was meritless from the start.”

A spokeswoman for Georgia Secretary of
[Republican] State Brad Raffensperger said the ruling “simply means that the case will continue.”

Gosh, that *is* simple!
posted by petebest at 1:29 PM on February 8 [13 favorites]


Note that there is an active Virginia thread.
posted by Chrysostom at 1:37 PM on February 8 [2 favorites]


So Klobuchar is literally Minnesota Nice?
posted by Ray Walston, Luck Dragon at 1:39 PM on February 8 [6 favorites]


To shed more light on Amy Klobuchar:

The Time Amy Klobuchar Went After a Baseball Hall of Famer for Sexual Assault (Pema Levy, Mother Jones)
In 2002, Amy Klobuchar found herself in the unenviable position of deciding whether to prosecute a sports star for an alleged sexual assault. At the time Klobuchar, now a US senator from Minnesota and a likely Democratic candidate for president in 2020, was the chief prosecutor for [Hennepin County, Minnesota’s largest], and the star in question was Kirby Puckett, a baseball Hall of Famer and one of Minnesota’s most beloved sports figures.

The case was a risk in the courtroom. The facts boiled down to a “he said, she said” case in which juries are often loath to convict, especially when the alleged perpetrator is a hometown hero. Most aspiring politicians would have likely preferred to campaign with Puckett than prosecute him. But Klobuchar, who was weeks from reelection as county attorney, took a gamble and charged the retired Minnesota Twins center fielder. Puckett, who died in 2006 at the age of 45, was ultimately acquitted.

Though it was nearly 20 years ago, the episode encapsulates two dominant themes that have emerged in Democratic politics and are likely to play a significant role in the 2020 primaries. Democrats have embraced the #MeToo movement, which ultimately seeks to empower survivors and hold perpetrators—especially powerful men—accountable for harassment and assault. This movement has sprung up alongside the issue of criminal justice reform, in which progressives have grown critical of hard-nosed prosecutors as drivers of mass incarceration and unethical prosecutions.
posted by ZeusHumms at 1:45 PM on February 8 [4 favorites]


If they've saved emails showing Klobuchar is abusive, why not publish them?
posted by asteria at 1:56 PM on February 8 [2 favorites]


I didn't know Klobuchar used to be a prosecutor. That's unfortunate.
posted by One Second Before Awakening at 1:56 PM on February 8 [2 favorites]


I hate that sexism is what will get this information about Klobuchar the wide disapproval that it should in regards to any candidate. But, if accurate, it’s still decisive information for me in terms of my willingness to consider her for President. There’s one simple reason for that: people who are afraid of their bosses don’t want to bring those bosses bad news. The next President has got to be someone who is reasonably even-tempered and doesn’t shoot messengers because the world is only going to fill up with more bad news.
posted by Countess Elena at 1:59 PM on February 8 [22 favorites]


I hate that sexism is what will get this information about Klobuchar the wide disapproval that it should in regards to any candidate.

It's not just that sexism will garner her the wide disapproval. It's also that sexism means other candidates will never get the same disapproval because the same behavior is characterized as being a lovable old grump.
posted by schroedinger at 2:01 PM on February 8 [22 favorites]


imho the story about Klobuchar throwing stuff (and hitting people, even if by accident) pushes it over the line from "asshole manager" stuff to actual abuse.
posted by BungaDunga at 2:03 PM on February 8 [10 favorites]


Let's check in on the press pool as Trump departs from his physical: In town pool report #4 - Walter Reed departure
Hogan Gidley came into the hold room briefly. He didn't have a explanation for how President Trump was tweeting during his physical.
The tweets from the last few hours seem to my eye to be Scavino tweets.
posted by zachlipton at 2:03 PM on February 8 [6 favorites]


Justinian, that's exactly what I've been thinking about. I've read more than one damning article on that topic, all from Vermont publications - I never noticed it penetrating the national media.

Vermont journalists have been the only one to cover a number of issues with him: the FBI investigation into his wife and his possible influence on her bank dealings, her involvement in the tanking of Burlington College, the deal engineered between Burlington College and their daughter's woodworking school . . . the media gets its own idea of who a candidate is and then it pursues stories that follow that narrative. And frequently that narrative is far more positive with male candidates than it is with women.
posted by schroedinger at 2:06 PM on February 8 [23 favorites]


At the risk of mentioning 2016: I distinctly remember an article late in the primary cycle talking about Sanders being an awful boss. Plenty of quotes from former staffers. It hardly registered a blip.

I feel like being a bad boss is a significant issue for a presidential candidate, and I am also really frustrated at seeing how much more people care about it depending on whether said bad boss is a man or a woman.
posted by scaryblackdeath at 2:10 PM on February 8 [33 favorites]


Rep. Veronica Escobar (D-TX) spent a good deal of time trying to pry information from acting Attorney General Matthew Whitaker [•••] At the very end of her time, she asked this very simple question: “Did you ever create, direct the creation of, see, or become aware of the existence of any documents relating to pardoning of any individual?”

Whitaker looked down in a listening pose during the question, and paused for a small amount of time before answering the question: “I'm aware of documents relating to pardoning of individuals, yes.”
posted by tilde at 2:17 PM on February 8 [32 favorites]


OMG. Stacey Abrams watched Doctor Who before State of the Union response (Clark Collis, Entertainment Weekly)
Is there anything Time Lords can’t do? Democrat Stacey Abrams received widespread acclaim for her televised response to Donald Trump’s State of the Union speech Tuesday night and it turns out she calmed herself by watching several episodes of Doctor Who prior to going in front of the camera.

“I watched about three episodes of Doctor Who and just kind of chilled out,” Abrams told the hosts of Buzzfeed’s AM to DM show, detailing her pre-speech prep.
posted by ZeusHumms at 2:18 PM on February 8 [77 favorites]


Defying Trump, Calif. National Guard Won't Discharge Trans Troops

One of the highest-ranking officers in the California National Guard told lawmakers on Tuesday that the state will not discharge transgender soldiers from its ranks — even as President Trump’s administration makes strides in doing so.

“As long as you fight, we don’t care what gender you identify as,” said Maj. Gen. Matthew Beevers, who serves as assistant adjutant general for the California National Guard. "Nobody's going to kick you out.” he said.

The official's remarks to the Assembly Veterans Affairs Committee come only a month after the Supreme Court ruled in a 5-4 decision that Trump’s ban on transgender service members can proceed while lower courts weigh its legality.
posted by bluesky43 at 2:26 PM on February 8 [68 favorites]


I didn't know Klobuchar used to be a prosecutor. That's unfortunate.

This comes up with Kamala Harris, too. I don't have a problem with someone being a prosecutor - it could be a huge plus. Just depends on what they did with the position.

Any if anyone thinks this is going to lose a candidate votes, just for being a prosecutor? No. Not even in the most liberal district in the US, in the primary. Besides, right now arguably the most successful leftist change is coming from progressive big city reformer prosecutors.
posted by msalt at 2:45 PM on February 8 [17 favorites]


For what it’s worth, I’ve heard similar things about Kamala Harris yelling/blowing up at her employees or campaign workers often, though it seems milder (and has gotten much less media play) than the Klobuchar stuff. I feel like this awful boss stuff is just something we’ll have to evaluate throughout the primary, especially for the women.
posted by BeginAgain at 3:01 PM on February 8 [3 favorites]


Besides, right now arguably the most successful leftist change is coming from progressive big city reformer prosecutors.

Definitely, except there is a lot more that separates someone like Philadelphia's Larry Krasner from Kamala Harris or Amy Klobuchar than geographic distance:
Harris’s progressive centrism, if you want to try to give it a name, is also less persuasive when held up against recent examples of what aggressive reform in the prosecutor’s office can look like in 2019. Take Philadelphia’s newly-elected District Attorney Larry Krasner. In his first months in office, Krasner, who campaigned on ending mass incarceration, made waves by firing a slew of prosecutors that he believed would resist his agenda and sent out a memo with a set of progressive directives for his entire staff, which included not prosecuting for marijuana possession without an intent to sell and not charging prostitution cases against sex workers for the first and second offense. (Even here, we see there is still a long way to go.) The memo also directed attorneys to state the projected cost of any prison sentence that they asked for in court. Krasner is new and still testing the limits of his job, but he’s presented a much more robust vision of what a progressive prosecutor should be.

In contrast, Harris’s chapters on her prosecutorial record try to signal her progressivism, while carefully making sure not to alienate liberal and centrist voters—the type who feel might feel more comfortable when Harris describes her Back on Track program as a “boot camp,” noting that it was “not a social welfare program; it was a law enforcement program.”
posted by Ouverture at 3:02 PM on February 8 [6 favorites]


Under Trump, EPA inspections fall to a 10-year low (WaPo). The agency’s inspection rate last year is half of what it was in 2010, while the civil penalties levied against polluters is the lowest since 1994.
posted by peeedro at 3:11 PM on February 8 [11 favorites]


I'm not disagreeing with the broader points of criminal justice reform, but it is really interesting to watch leftist critics transition from calling mainstream Dems neoliberals, then centrists, and now progrssive-centrists.

Don't get me wrong, I love a leftward moving party, but damn
posted by Think_Long at 3:19 PM on February 8 [5 favorites]


At the very end of her time, she asked this very simple question: “Did you ever create, direct the creation of, see, or become aware of the existence of any documents relating to pardoning of any individual?”

Whitaker looked down in a listening pose during the question, and paused for a small amount of time before answering the question: “I'm aware of documents relating to pardoning of individuals, yes.”


That's a simple question? Sheesh. Whitaker must have had a good laugh about that compound and vague question that allowed him to give such a direct and totally useless answer. Somebody ought to offer a weekend training camp where good litigators teach members of congress and their staffs how to craft a decent question.
posted by The World Famous at 3:28 PM on February 8 [13 favorites]


I'm not disagreeing with the broader points of criminal justice reform, but it is really interesting to watch leftist critics transition from calling mainstream Dems neoliberals, then centrists, and now progrssive-centrists.


As the Overton window shifts, so does the language people use. Although I'd say "neoliberal" is nowhere near exclusive to centrists or even "progressive centrists".

We can all thank Sanders, Warren, and AOC for that leftward shift.
posted by Ouverture at 3:43 PM on February 8 [5 favorites]


Whitaker must have had a good laugh about that compound and vague question that allowed him to give such a direct and totally useless answer.

I'm no lawologist but that question and affirmative reply would almost seem to cover him hearing that they found an old crumpled up pardon sheet behind the office copier which mentioned some guy that was considered for a pardon in 1952.
posted by Justinian at 3:45 PM on February 8 [5 favorites]


From the Vanity Fair article by Emily Jane "Michael Cohen Whisperer" Fox on the Inaguration criming:

Nearly $24 million was paid for projects related to the work of a subcontractor, Inaugural Productions, an independent organization affiliated with television producer Mark Burnett, which was responsible for staging several events.

That's a lotta millions to a "liberal" Hollywood producer who in no way supports Turmp.

On December 10, 2016, a Trump Organization employee sent an estimate for a ballroom rental and food and beverage minimum to use the Trump Hotel space for eight days. The price she quoted was $3.6 million

3.6 Meeellion was the minimum y'all. That's a pricey shrimp yo.

According to the two people familiar with the matter, [Rick "Conspiracy against the United States"] Gates approached a couple individuals working on the inauguration and asked if they would be willing to be paid directly for their work by a donor, rather than by the inaugural committee. They had received more donations than they’d initially anticipated, Gates told these people. Skirting the usual payment route could allow the inaugural committee to avoid reporting the full amount raised from donors.

Sounds legit. Overall the piece reads like damage control for Wolkoff who (in the article's picture) looks exactly like Melania. I encourage the writers to consider this addition to the Dignity Wraith™ metamorphosis: in the end, they all end up looking like a Trump. Picture: Romney, Christie, Kelly, Graham: all with Trump's wiggy hair.
posted by petebest at 3:47 PM on February 8 [5 favorites]


GOP Warns That Releasing Trump’s Taxes Could Lead to More Transparency

Not an Onion headline. It genuinely feels like the media is getting sassier, and I'm rather liking it.
posted by los pantalones del muerte at 3:52 PM on February 8 [75 favorites]


I'm no lawologist but that question and affirmative reply would almost seem to cover him hearing that they found an old crumpled up pardon sheet behind the office copier which mentioned some guy that was considered for a pardon in 1952.

Yeah, it would cover him ever, at any time in his life, being aware that anyone in the history of the world had ever written anything at all about pardons of any kind, even if he never read it. If he heard a rumor about the existence of the New Testament when he was 5 years old, the answer to the question is "yes."
posted by The World Famous at 4:10 PM on February 8 [3 favorites]


Jim Acosta reports on the letter (pic) from Trump's doctor, following today's medical exam: "WH Physician: Trump “in very good health... will remain so for the duration of his Presidency, and beyond.”"

NYT Jennifer Gunter responds, "Fellow doctors of twitter, have you ever written a letter stating your patient will be healthy for more than 2 years? And where can I take a Predictive Medicine fellowship?"
posted by Doktor Zed at 4:25 PM on February 8 [68 favorites]


Harry Reid Rebuked Amy Klobuchar For Mistreatment Of Staff (Molly Redden and Amanda Terkel, Huffington Post)
A leaked campaign document shows how staff tried to manage her anger.
posted by ZeusHumms at 5:18 PM on February 8 [2 favorites]


"WH Physician: Trump “in very good health... will remain so for the duration of his Presidency, and beyond.”"

WH Physician: "He never sleeps, the Trump. He is dancing, dancing. He says that he will never die."

Incidentally this also happened last year, when Ronny Jackson said his genes are so good that with a better diet he could live to 200. Either his doctors are explicitly required to at least imply his immortality, or else or the physical point of contact between the government and his literal body is just where our latent Kim-dynasty-esque Imperial deification cult seeps through.
posted by Rust Moranis at 5:23 PM on February 8 [38 favorites]


As was pointed out in the twitter thread Doktor Zed linked, Trump has had a history of securing the sycophancy of compliant physicians ever since his “bone spurs” deferment, and probably before.

It’s practically a requirement that you have no moral compass if you want to do business with the Trumps.
posted by darkstar at 5:46 PM on February 8 [5 favorites]


Rewinding a bit to yoga's comment yesterday:
WOW. AOC on CSPAN demonstrating the corrupt system. In an easily understandable way I might add.
As a fan of watching the local-equivalent committee sittings here in Aus, I'm curious: Who do the people appearing before the committee in that clip represent? My Google-fu's failing me.
posted by Pinback at 5:49 PM on February 8 [3 favorites]


The NYT has a solid summary of the Whitaker hearings—Nadler closed saying he fully intends to call Whitaker back to respond to unanswered questions, “under subpoena if necessary.”

The AP has the Trump White House’s verdict on Whitaker’s hearings: “White House officials kept an eye on Whitaker’s performance and, while they appreciated his combative tone and aggressive defense of the administration, there was a sense from aides that his performance, at times, appeared halting and ill-prepared. The president himself kept an eye on the proceedings before leaving the White House for his annual physical.”

Whitaker was playing to an audience of one today, but he couldn’t pull off a Brett Kavanaugh performance.
posted by Doktor Zed at 5:59 PM on February 8 [5 favorites]


In 2018, voters in Durham & Raleigh rejected sheriffs who were cooperating with ICE, and elected new sheriffs who refused to help enforce immigration laws. ((link: https://www.appealpolitics.org/2018/north-carolina-287g/) appealpolitics.org/2018/north-car…)

Now ICE is retaliating thru raids & arrests. Scary situation in NC:


ICE Blames Its “More Visible Presence” in NC on New Sheriffs Not Cooperating With the Agency
“I would say the new normal is you will see more visible ICE presence out in the communities,” Gallagher said. “Two hundred cases a week, probably not—but you will see an increase in enforcement.”
...
“I think the uptick you’ve seen is the direct result of some of the dangerous policies that some of our county sheriffs have put into place, and it really forces my officers to go out on the street and conduct more operations out in the community, at courthouses, at residences, doing traffic stops,” he said. “This is a direct correlation between the sheriffs’ dangerous policies of not cooperating with ICE and the fact that we have to continue executing our important law enforcement mission.”
Literally "if you don't help us, we will target attacks against your people". This is a domestic terror force.
posted by T.D. Strange at 6:12 PM on February 8 [85 favorites]


Whitaker was playing to an audience of one today, but he couldn’t pull off a Brett Kavanaugh performance.

I fully expect him to pull the ripcord on a full-on cry-yelling Kavanaugh outburst in one of these hearings, but more pathetic and with less prompting.
posted by jason_steakums at 6:38 PM on February 8 [2 favorites]


> Pinback on the clip of AOC on CSPAN demonstrating the corrupt system:

As a fan of watching the local-equivalent committee sittings here in Aus, I'm curious: Who do the people appearing before the committee in that clip represent?

Thanks for asking - it reminded me to go find a transcript of Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez's part of the hearing.

Per that page:
The witnesses Ocasio-Cortez questioned included Walter Shaub, former director of the U.S. Office of Government Ethics during the Obama era; Karen Hobert Flynn, president of the progressive watchdog organization Common Cause; Bradley Smith, who was the chairman of the Federal Election Commission under George W. Bush; and former Obama cabinet adviser Rudy Mehrbani.
(Thanks so much to yoga for posting that in the first place. AWESOME clip. AOC is FANTASTIC.)
posted by kristi at 6:40 PM on February 8 [15 favorites]


CNN: White House refuses to meet Congress' deadline on Khashoggi killing
The White House refusal to meet the legal requirement by Friday's deadline is likely to heighten anger on both sides of the aisle in Congress, where Khashoggi's killing has galvanized lawmakers who are increasingly intent on pushing back against Trump's defense of the Kingdom.

Indeed, the immediate reaction from Congress was unequivocal.

"The law is clear," said Juan Pachon, spokesman for the Democratic side of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. "The President has no discretion here. He's either complying with the law or breaking it."

The Global Magnitsky Act gives the President 120 days to determine whether a foreign individual is responsible for extrajudicial killings and report the findings to Congress as well as whether the President intends to impose sanctions on that person.

A National Security Council source insisted that the administration is under "no legal obligation" to respond, but added that the State Department would send a letter to Congress today. The source did not disclose the contents of that letter.
Earlier today, Saudi Minister of State for Foreign Affairs, Adel al-Jubeir, held a press conference, telling reporters, "You have had so many journalists murdered in the last year. Are they going to legislate sanctions against all countries where these journalists have been killed? […] Mistakes happen."
posted by Doktor Zed at 6:44 PM on February 8 [17 favorites]


The sooner we tell Saudi Arabia to fuck off, fully and completely, the better.
posted by reductiondesign at 6:54 PM on February 8 [42 favorites]


I fully expect him to pull the ripcord on a full-on cry-yelling Kavanaugh outburst in one of these hearings, but more pathetic and with less prompting.

If you haven't seen the interaction with Rep. Raskin (D-MD), it's a kind of hoot. Raskin reads his rap sheet, Whitaker indignantly puts on teensy-tiny Roger Stone-brand glasses, and tries to windup into a big huff and puff before getting kicked in the toilet plunger by Raskin. The Tysonesque interaction was just-as-swiftly gaveled down by Nadler.

All of which is to say; steroids ain't courage. Not that ShutdownBaby gives a rat's ass about courage, but that Whitaker couldn't fake it enough to pass on TV. Fail. Sad. Pack yer box, Moose.
posted by petebest at 7:32 PM on February 8 [10 favorites]



Candace Owens: Hitler was just trying to make Germany Great Again. It only became a problem when he went global. Of course, she'll be appearing as the keynote speaker at a fundraiser for the Boulder County Republican Party in Colorado tomorrow, and then again at CPAC, and a ton of other conservative parties. Because, if there's one thing Republicans love, it's making Germany, er America Great Again. Well, and Hitler, obviously. I mean, that's a given.

(Candace previously)
posted by SecretAgentSockpuppet at 7:48 PM on February 8 [14 favorites]


ICE is pushing awfully close to the edge of their 100 mile border exception if they're performing traffic stops in fucking Raleigh now. That's straight up thuggery. If a police officer sees them say anything other than "are you a US Citizen" to some random driver they've stopped and they don't instantly fuck right off when answered in the affirmative, they ought to arrest the Nazi for false arrest/imprisonment.
posted by wierdo at 7:56 PM on February 8 [13 favorites]


Candace Owens: Hitler was just trying to make Germany Great Again

Jack Dorsey: "Hi Candace. I want to apologize for our labeling you “far right.” Team completed a full review of how this was published and why we corrected far too late (12 hrs after). There was a clear break in our curation process and understanding, and we’re fixing. Thanks for calling out."

Her linking Hitler and MAGA sloganeering together is either leakage of cognitive linking or epic trolling, or both.
posted by meehawl at 7:57 PM on February 8 [8 favorites]


I guess when you combine Owens and Trump, you get "the only good socialist is a national socialist".
posted by Slothrup at 7:57 PM on February 8 [3 favorites]


@maggieNYT: Spotted at the Trump Hotel earlier tonight - Matt Whitaker, post-testimony.

@matthewamiller: Pretty galling move on the day he refused to answer q’s from Congress about the emoluments clause by citing litigation over this exact hotel.
posted by zachlipton at 8:01 PM on February 8 [41 favorites]


ICE is pushing awfully close to the edge of their 100 mile border exception if they're performing traffic stops in fucking Raleigh now. That's straight up thuggery.

It's Border Patrol that has the 100-mile Constitution Free Zone. ICE gets to terrorize anywhere and everywhere, as it has for the 16 years it's existed.
posted by Rust Moranis at 8:04 PM on February 8 [18 favorites]


Pretty galling move on the day he refused to answer q’s from Congress about the emoluments clause by citing litigation over this exact hotel.

As Sarah Kendzior always points out, the flaunting is actually the message: by acting as if the law doesn’t apply to them they create the conditions whereby people accept that the law doesn’t apply to them.
posted by Rumple at 8:07 PM on February 8 [39 favorites]


Speaking of ICE in NC: Feds arrest at least a dozen undocumented immigrants in Charlotte, advocates say

(Including arresting people as they left sanctuary churches to meet with Immigration officials.)

In videos posted to Facebook by Comunidad Colectiva, Arteaga said that undercover officers in bulletproof vests were stopping people at checkpoints near the intersection of Sharon Amity Road and Central Avenue, and on Old Statesville Road in north Charlotte, among other locations.

“It seems like they’re pretending to be CMPD and using traffic stops, when in reality they’re faking that to try and get people to disclose their immigration information,” Arteaga told the Observer.


See, Charlotte police quit cooperating with ICE, so now ICE is impersonating the Charlotte Police, and stopping traffic in case a brown person happens to be in the car. Because, America!
posted by SecretAgentSockpuppet at 8:08 PM on February 8 [19 favorites]


Apparently I need to go read some statutes, because I was under the impression that ICE does not have general law enforcement powers and therefore should not be detaining people without reasonable suspicion they are not legally present in the country outside of the free fire zone where everyone is presumed to be unlawfully present and can have their things searched at any time.
posted by wierdo at 8:09 PM on February 8 [3 favorites]


“It seems like they’re pretending to be CMPD and using traffic stops, when in reality they’re faking that to try and get people to disclose their immigration information,” Arteaga told the Observer.

See, Charlotte police quit cooperating with ICE, so now ICE is impersonating the Charlotte Police, and stopping traffic in case a brown person happens to be in the car. Because, America!


The next step is for blue cities and states to start arresting and prosecuting ICE officers for impersonating police. And it needs to start happening, now.
posted by T.D. Strange at 8:21 PM on February 8 [99 favorites]


The ONLY reason Trump is so positive about North Korea is because he wants to build the first foreign-owned hotel there.
From https://www.abc.net.au/news/2019-02-09/donald-trump-praises-north-korea-with-summit-announcement/10796690 - "US President Donald Trump says North Korea will someday become "a great Economic Powerhouse" under leader Kim Jong-un, heaping praise on the dictator while announcing the location of the pair's next summit."

That's code for Trump not giving a shit about nuclear weapons, and definitely wanting to get in the ground floor of any move from state-owned autocracy to state-owned kleptocracy.
posted by awfurby at 12:25 AM on February 9 [3 favorites]


I have a kind of technical question to MeFi physicians: how does such a thing as the president's "physical" even happen? I mean, it's pretty obvious that he writes them himself, last year it was the "good genes" he loves to talk about, this year it is predictive medicine, neither are things I've ever heard from real doctors. How can a whole team of doctors and nurses who are military staff let that happen? Can they be threatened? Or bribed? I don't get it.
I do know that physicians have lied about presidents' health before (JFK, FDR), so maybe it's a tradition?
It just looks really weird from the outside.
posted by mumimor at 1:35 AM on February 9 [15 favorites]


Like all Trumpiness, there is no relation between this document and what a normal medical professional would do. This is entirely consistent with the warped norms as you approach the event horizon of Trumpland.
posted by chiquitita at 3:20 AM on February 9 [3 favorites]


Politico: White House Hunts for 'Executive Time' Schedule Leaker
West Wing officials managing the hunt have enlisted the help of the White House IT office, and believe they are making progress in narrowing the search for potential suspects. One Trump official said the culprit is likely a career government employee who works in the White House, not a person appointed by Trump himself, but did not offer specific evidence.

The search has been approved by the office of acting chief of staff Mick Mulvaney, and Trump himself — who has been infuriated by leaks from within his White House — is aware of the mole hunt and supports the effort, according to one of the officials.
They’d better cast their nets wide, because Vanity Fair reports ‘Trump is hated by everyone in the White House’.
Morale inside the White House, never high to begin with, has turned particularly bleak, according to interviews with 10 former West Wing officials and Republicans close to the president. The issue is that many see Trump himself as the problem. “Trump is hated by everyone inside the White House,” a former West Wing official told me. His shambolic management style, paranoia, and pattern of blaming staff for problems of his own making have left senior White House officials burned out and resentful, sources said. “It’s total misery. People feel trapped,” a former official said. “Trump always needs someone to blame,” a second former official said. Sources said the leak of Trump’s private schedules to Axios—which revealed how little work Trump actually does—was a signal of how disaffected his staff has become.
Bill Shine, Larry Kudlow, and Mick Mulvaney are all supposedly growing tired of Trump’s criticism, especially when Jared and Ivanka make up his trusted inner circle. (“This is a family affair, and if you’re not in the family, you’ve got problems,” a former official said.)
posted by Doktor Zed at 3:26 AM on February 9 [9 favorites]


I have a kind of technical question to MeFi physicians: how does such a thing as the president's "physical" even happen?

It’s done by a military official. In these not-normal times, Trump uses his authority to order that person to declare him medically infallible, then he offers a promotion as a reward, e.g. Ronny “Trump will live to 200” Jackson’s pending 2nd star.
posted by SakuraK at 4:55 AM on February 9 [14 favorites]


This is entirely consistent with the warped norms as you approach the event horizon of Trumpland.

And it sounds like another example of "what his former communications director, Anthony Scaramucci, himself an author of a tell-all, once called Mr. Trump’s “reality distortion field” where he “curves facts toward himself.”"
posted by Little Dawn at 5:08 AM on February 9 [4 favorites]


Kaiser Health News: “Trump Administration Salutes Parade Of Generic Drug Approvals, But Hundreds Aren’t For Sale”
The approved generics that haven’t made it to American medicine cabinets include generic versions of expensive medicines like the blood thinner Brilinta and HIV medication Truvada. They also include six different generic versions of Nitropress, a heart failure drug, whose price spiked 310 percent in 2015.
posted by XMLicious at 5:40 AM on February 9 [5 favorites]


Then they came for the Journalists...
Journalists, Lawyers, And Activists Working On The Border Face Coordinated Harassment From U.S. And Mexican Authorities.
posted by adamvasco at 5:43 AM on February 9 [25 favorites]


Why Trump’s Inauguration Was So Sleazy, Even For Washington (Allegra Kirkland and Josh Kovensky, TPM)
Former high-level inauguration staffers and ethics experts told TPM that Trump’s team stretched the boundaries of acceptability, potentially opening the door to the kind of self-dealing and illegal foreign donations that prosecutors are reportedly probing.

“It’s become fairly common for these events to be an influence-buying free-for-all, but it seems like Trump took this to another level,” Brendan Fischer, director for federal reform at the Campaign Legal Center, told TPM.
Inauguration committees seem to be mostly self-policing, with some being more ethical than others.
posted by ZeusHumms at 6:37 AM on February 9 [5 favorites]


Guardian: Do New York prosecutors pose the greatest threat to Donald Trump?
In interviews with the Guardian, former SDNY prosecutors spelled out why investigations run out of New York of Trump-linked interests could dog the president, his family and his associates for years, including after his departure from office.

Unlike Mueller, Trump cannot as a practical matter fire the entire southern district, which comprises about 150 career prosecutors, as distinguishable from political appointees. Unlike Mueller, the southern district is not constrained in what it might investigate by a narrow authorization. And unlike Mueller, the southern district does not report, on most matters, directly to the attorney general, who is appointed by the president and who might act at the president’s bidding, though norms of justice department independence proscribe that.

[...] in a sign of how extensively prosecutors have penetrated Trump’s network – and of how saturated that network is with alleged criminal conduct – the inaugural committee investigation may have a different primary source: the testimony of the former Trump aide Rick Gates, who is cooperating with prosecutors after pleading guilty last year to conspiracy and lying to the FBI. Gates was deputy chairman of Trump’s inaugural committee.
posted by Little Dawn at 7:59 AM on February 9 [14 favorites]


Wasn't SDNY suspected of leaking to Giuliani during the Comey Letter affair?
posted by Johnny Wallflower at 8:42 AM on February 9




Mother Jones delves into other areas of Maria Butina's foreign intrigue: The NRA Welcomed Maria Butina – Even As She Worked to Arm Anti-American Thugs Abroad—While NRA leaders embraced her, Butina denounced US sanctions and advised a militia group helping Putin seize Crimea.
Mother Jones has uncovered a trail of activity showing that during the same period when top NRA leaders welcomed Butina into the fold—meeting with her extensively in Moscow and the United States—Butina actively supported Russian President Vladimir Putin’s military takeover of Crimea. In the immediate aftermath of the invasion and annexation in March 2014, Butina denounced retaliatory sanctions by the Obama administration and traveled to Crimea to promote the arming of pro-Russian separatists. Her efforts there included pledging support to a leader of a militia group that violently seized a Crimean news outlet it deemed “pro-American” and swiftly repurposed for a Kremlin propaganda operation.

As multiple congressional probes of NRA ties with Russia intensify, the NRA now says it had no official connection to a trip NRA leaders took to Moscow to meet with Butina’s gun group and Kremlin officials—a claim that Democratic Sen. Ron Wyden, who is leading one of the probes, calls “not credible.” Butina’s role in Crimea raises additional questions about why the NRA—known historically for its hawkish “freedom loving” image—spent years getting close with a Russian national who was doing work hostile to US national security interests.
Bloomberg has an update on her current situation: Maria Butina Isn't Done Cooperating With U.S. Prosecutors. Since Butina's still cooperating with US authorities, a judge has granted a request from both the feds and her defense team to move her sentencing hearing back a couple of weeks to February 26th.
posted by Doktor Zed at 9:50 AM on February 9 [29 favorites]


Candace Owens

I just feel like two years is awfully fast to go from "I'm a young woman who wants to start an anti-bullying campaign" to "Hitler did nothing wrong." Those YouTube algorithms are very powerful, I guess.
posted by Scattercat at 12:47 PM on February 9 [21 favorites]


Cassandra Fairbanks started out (tmk) as a enthusiastic participant in and proponent of the Ferguson protests and is now a MAGA Chud.
posted by rhizome at 2:37 PM on February 9 [2 favorites]


Cassandra Fairbanks started out (tmk) as a enthusiastic participant in and proponent of the Ferguson protests and is now a MAGA Chud.

Tim Pool started as an Occupy Wall Street citizen journalist and yesterday, after less than a year of transformation, he was on Joe Rogan talking about how the only real problem with racism comes from the left. Dave Rubin was a youtube progressive and is now funded by the Koch brothers and getting paid to appear in pro-Bolsonaro propaganda.

There's no easy money on the left but there's an enormous pile of it to be made on the right the minute you decide to put grift over ideology.
posted by Rust Moranis at 2:46 PM on February 9 [64 favorites]


Exclusive: Thousands of Black Votes in Georgia Disappeared and No One Can Explain It. Since the election, a watchdog group has been quietly gathering data about Georgia’s 2018 election. The nonprofit group, Coalition for Good Governance, discovered that approximately 127,000 Georgia voters simply did not have a recorded vote for lieutenant governor. Officials claimed that most of these voters simply left that part of their ballot blank. And for some reason, the “drop-off” (the difference between people who voted and people who skipped one race) was disproportionately Democrat. ...

According to the report from Coalition for Good Governance (CGG) and the experts who spoke with The Root, the undervote wasn’t concentrated in Democratic areas. It seemed to specifically happen in black neighborhoods. Even stranger, the black voters’ absentee mail ballots didn’t reflect the drop-off, only the people who voted on election day and people who voted on machines in early voting. ...

The CGG’s report notes: The extreme undervote issue occurred at statistically significant levels in 101 of Georgia’s 159 counties. However, the undervotes on voting machines are concentrated in precincts where African American voters make up the majority of the precincts’ registered voters. The rates of touchscreen machine–reported undervotes in such precincts in the Lt. Governor contest are far greater than the undervote rates in non–African American neighborhoods regardless of whether those neighborhoods lean Democratic or Republican.


How can things just keep getting weirder?
posted by Bella Donna at 3:42 PM on February 9 [59 favorites]




I'm not gonna link to the asshole but unless I'm seriously misreading it, and I don't think I am, Trump tweeted a Trail of Tears joke in response to Warren's official announcement today. In case we thought he couldn't go any lower.

He can always go lower.
posted by Justinian at 4:14 PM on February 9 [21 favorites]


Yeah no it's a a Native American genocide "joke" by the President of the United States, if you'd like to know where we are as a country. Both a right-wing pundit and Trump's own son knew exactly what it was, so we can just skip right over the forthcoming "but what did he really mean?" newscycle where Sarah Sanders gaslights us over it.
posted by zachlipton at 4:17 PM on February 9 [37 favorites]


It's a follow-up to a Wounded Knee "joke" he made earlier this year, and it's very deliberate.

These folks are so, so thrilled at the paper-thin "she started it" excuse to pile on this specific flavor of incredibly gross bigotry. It results from an odd confluence of somewhat increasing liberal sensitivity about Native issues such as appropriation, plus continued-or-perhaps-increasing conservative conviction that "Indian stuff" barely even matters or hardly involves "real" racism.

Hence "Warren exaggerating her heritage means we can make genocide jokes, because that's not racist by our team's standards, but her behavior is racist by her team's standards." It's a polarization that's definitely happening in many areas, but on Native issues, especially so.
posted by InTheYear2017 at 4:27 PM on February 9 [44 favorites]


I just finished reading Killers of the Flower Moon and this "joking" about native genocide hit me like a punch to the gut. Surely even the most right-wing xenophobe has to understand what we (white people) did to native Americans is wrong and so wrong that you can't make jokes in that space. Right? But apparently the Trump family will go there. Wow.
posted by JimInLoganSquare at 4:34 PM on February 9 [7 favorites]


Surely even the most right-wing xenophobe has to understand what we (white people) did to native Americans is wrong and so wrong that you can't make jokes in that space. Right?

No. The far right does not believe that its enemies are equally human. To them the genocide was either good, or it was a fair fight and they lost and we won and that's that, now stop complaining. It's difficult for people who believe in the essential goodness of humanity to wrap their heads around this fact but it's necessary to avoid suicide-by-civility.
posted by Rust Moranis at 4:38 PM on February 9 [41 favorites]


Now House Veterans Affairs Committee Chairman Mark Takano (D-Calif.) opened a probe into Mar-a-Lago influence at VA
posted by growabrain at 4:51 PM on February 9 [32 favorites]


From the Sheldon Whitehouse link:

Whitaker did political hit work for a front group called FACT that does not reveal its donors.

Today he admitted that its donor was Donors Trust, an entity that hides the identity of right-wing donors.


I was watching that exchange. Whitaker was so pleased with himself when he was able to answer "Who put the cash into your money laundering vehicle?" with "It was another money laundering vehicle."
posted by diogenes at 4:55 PM on February 9 [12 favorites]


JimInLoganSquare: Surely even the most right-wing xenophobe has to understand what we (white people) did to native Americans is wrong and so wrong that you can't make jokes in that space. Right?

Anti-Native-American racism overlaps plenty with other racisms, yet in some ways it's just on another planet. There's a widespread white-people belief that Native people are in some sense no longer "around"... or even that they were never quite "real", like somehow mythical.

Plus, a distinction from, say, anti-black racism (which is still just as prevalent and vile, to be clear) is that the latter experienced enough of a progressive backlash that at least a certain expressions of it actually became off-limits. Those limits are still broken all the time, of course, but in the form of white people grumbling about not being "allowed" to use the N-word, whereas they don't merely grumble about the R-word, they apply to it a damn football team. (I think even Trump would probably not be so bold as to, say, make an Atlantic-slave-trade joke when talking about Ralph Northam, even though most whites would regard Northam's behavior as worse than Warren's and thus grant Trump even more "you started it and I'm just continuing it" logic. I'm not about to place any bets on this, except insofar as the Virginia story may be hitting the airwaves less.)
posted by InTheYear2017 at 5:05 PM on February 9 [6 favorites]


There's a widespread white-people belief that Native people are in some sense no longer "around"... or even that they were never quite "real", like somehow mythical.

In formerly multiethnic ethnostates, in which a large minority population that had once been a visible and important presence was practically exterminated, a specific and peculiar mystical romanticization develops. Our cigar store indian is the Lucky Jew phenomenon in Poland. And when living examples of these people show up and say "hey, we're real and we're not long-dead creatures from folklore akin to elves," then majority-culture people in those countries get angry.
posted by Rust Moranis at 5:21 PM on February 9 [64 favorites]


David Leonhardt and Ian Prasad Philbrick chronicle Donald Trump’s Racism: The Definitive List in an NYT Op-Ed:
Donald Trump has been obsessed with race for the entire time he has been a public figure. He had a history of making racist comments as a New York real-estate developer in the 1970s and ‘80s. More recently, his political rise was built on promulgating the lie that the nation’s first black president was born in Kenya. He then launched his campaign with a speech describing Mexicans as rapists.

The media often falls back on euphemisms when describing Trump’s comments about race: racially loaded, racially charged, racially tinged, racially sensitive. And Trump himself has claimed that he is “the least racist person.” But here’s the truth: Donald Trump is a racist. He talks about and treats people differently based on their race. He has done so for years, and he is still doing so.
posted by Little Dawn at 5:25 PM on February 9 [21 favorites]


My wife deals cards for the Oneida Nation, and they give us a platinum level Blue Cross health insurance policy, so they are very much real to us (they are also our neighbors) and very much appreciated in a real fashion. In fact, the Oneida and other folks here in Central New York at least appear to be getting along.
posted by JimInLoganSquare at 5:27 PM on February 9 [15 favorites]


It's so discouraging to me that the Virginia scandals have gotten wall to wall coverage for a week (and they are important!) but the President making a blatant racist joke about literal genocide will probably just disappear down the memory hole with barely a mention. Not a single news organization has picked up the story so far as I can tell.

Maybe they're too busy doing weekend things to acknowledge the President of the United States racistly mocking the attempted extermination of an entire people but it seems like they could manage to fit in a minor below the fold mention in passing.
posted by Justinian at 5:40 PM on February 9 [18 favorites]


Texas Tribune reports on another Trumpist's hearing this week: Texas Secretary of State David Whitley Defends Releasing Flawed Data About Voter Citizenship Review—At his confirmation hearing, Whitley faced tough questioning from Democrats over his decision to erroneously question the citizenship status of tens of thousands of voters.
Almost two weeks after calling into question the citizenship status of almost 100,000 registered voters, Texas' new chief elections officer, David Whitley, defended his office's decision to hand over those voters' names to law enforcement even though he knew the list could contain mistakes.

At a Senate hearing to consider his confirmation as secretary of state, Whitley vacillated between telling lawmakers he referred the list of voters to the attorney general’s office because his office had no power to investigate them for illegal voting and describing the citizenship review efforts as an ongoing process based on a list that still needed to be reviewed by local officials. But he made clear is that his office knew from the start that the data could be faulty.

He stated that in response to a question from state Sen. Lois Kolkhorst, a Brenham Republican, who asked whether the secretary of state’s office had “cautioned the counties that there may be mistakes on the data.”

“Yes,” Whitley responded.
Another of the exchanges went even worse:
In one awkward exchange, state Sen. Royce West, a Dallas Democrat, asked Whitley to define voter suppression.

“I think it’s irrelevant,” Whitley responded.

“You’re the secretary of state, sir,” West shot back. “It is relevant to me if I’m going to vote for your confirmation.”
Previously: Texas quietly informs counties that some of the 95,000 voters flagged for citizenship review don't belong on the list.
posted by Doktor Zed at 5:55 PM on February 9 [19 favorites]


There's a widespread white-people belief that Native people are in some sense no longer "around"... or even that they were never quite "real", like somehow mythical.

It's also good to remember that one of the earliest (the Boston Tea Party) events leading to the American revolution was performed in the Native American equivalent of blackface.
posted by Harry Caul at 6:03 PM on February 9 [22 favorites]


emptywheel, Paul Manafort Sold Out Donald Trump — and His Anonymous Leakers Are Lying about It Publicly, a detailed look at how Manafort's leakers (and his lawyers) are playing games with their descriptions of the polling data Manafort gave to Kilimnik.

@normative: What goes for online platforms is also true of Paul Manafort: If you’re not paying for it, you’re not the customer; you’re the product.
posted by zachlipton at 6:08 PM on February 9 [17 favorites]


emptywheel, Paul Manafort Sold Out Donald Trump — and His Anonymous Leakers Are Lying about It Publicly

As usual, Marcy Wheeler spells out what mainstream reporters—like the NYT's—can't/won't:
Manafort knows well what he did in August 2016. But he — and his lawyers, and whoever lied anonymously to the NYT — continue to lie about it in hopes that, by refusing to confirm that he conspired with Russia to get Trump elected, Trump will pay him off with a pardon.

The truth appears to be that Manafort walked Konstantin Kilimnik through recent, highly detailed polling data at a clandestine meeting in NYC on August 2, 2016, in part because even if it didn’t help Trump, it might help his own fortunes down the way. And he’s willing to bet that lying about that fact is his best chance for a pardon.
And Whitaker did admit yesterday that he is "aware of documents relating to pardoning of individuals" at the DoJ.
posted by Doktor Zed at 6:28 PM on February 9 [13 favorites]


As usual, Marcy Wheeler spells out what mainstream reporters—like the NYT's—can't/won't

We've reached a strange phase. We can see in the publicly available information that there's smoking gun evidence of collusion by the Trump campaign. But the media seems to be waiting for the courts or congress to officially acknowledge it.
posted by diogenes at 6:36 PM on February 9 [17 favorites]


We can see in the publicly available information that there's smoking gun evidence of collusion by the Trump campaign. But the media seems to be waiting for the courts or congress to officially acknowledge it.

Because in modern journalism "objectivity" doesn't mean telling readers what the truth is, it means telling readers what one side says the truth is and then what the other side says the truth is. So they don't see it as their job to report that the Trump campaign colluded, only to report that Democrats say that Trump colluded and Republicans say that Trump didn't collude (or in some cases that collusion is awesome.)
posted by Justinian at 6:38 PM on February 9 [32 favorites]


I want to at least try to be fair, though, and say that they do see it as their job to report the facts that could lead a reasonable person to conclude that the Trump campaign concluded, only they don't draw the obvious conclusion from those facts. They trust that the public is smart and knowledgeable enough to reach the conclusion themselves.

This strikes me as implausible given the last 40 years of evidence.
posted by Justinian at 6:47 PM on February 9 [13 favorites]


In the case of access journalists, though, they have a further incentive to write up a version of the news that favors their sources' views beyond simply presenting a "both sides" false objectivity.

For instance, Maggie Haberman has a six-figure book deal for her account of the Trump administration that's riding on staying on the good side of her inside sources within Trumpworld (notably Jared and Ivanka, even Trump himself). Her reporting for the Gray Lady is essential reading because of her connections, but that doesn't obviate the enormous "caveat lector" that comes with this. Her sharing a byline on the NYT's story "Manafort Accused of Sharing Trump Polling Data With Russian Associate" definitely rates that, as Wheeler's anaylsis shows.
posted by Doktor Zed at 7:54 PM on February 9 [6 favorites]


NBC, Elizabeth Warren launches 2020 bid with call to ignore 'cowards' and go big
"It won’t be enough to just undo the terrible acts of this administration," Warren continued. "We can’t afford to just tinker around the edges — a tax credit here, a regulation there. Our fight is for big, structural change."
...
But instead, she chose Lawrence, a distressed mill town about 30 miles outside Boston, with a more obscure, but very telling history: Just over 100 years ago in the factory buildings that served as a backdrop for Warren’s speech, women textile workers defied bosses and bayonets to start a strike, that as Warren said, “changed America.”
...
Today, Warren said, a new uprising is needed to confront the 21st century equivalent of mill owners and the politicians who defend them, which she made a point of saying include members of both parties.

“When I talk about this, some rich guys scream ‘class warfare!’” Warren said. “Well, let me tell you something, these same rich guys have been waging class warfare against hard-working people for decades — I say it’s time to fight back!"
She had a particularly noteworthy line that ties together economic justice and criminal justice reform:
“It’s not equal justice when a kid with an ounce of pot can get thrown in jail while a bank executive who launders money for a drug cartel can get a bonus,” Warren said.
posted by zachlipton at 7:54 PM on February 9 [70 favorites]


I hope she can keep her edge and not soften it as time goes on. Maybe she can do more onsite events without speeches than ones with them so she doesn't feel she has to mix things up so people don't get message fatigue.
posted by rhizome at 8:41 PM on February 9


there is a lot more that separates someone like Philadelphia's Larry Krasner from Kamala Harris or Amy Klobuchar than geographic distance

One thing that separates them is decades of history. Harris became a (deputy) DA in 1990; Klobuchar was elected Hennepin County Attorney in 1998.

IMHO a huge problem for Democrats is activists with recency bias and no understanding of history. What is possible changes over time, on issues from marijuana legalization to gay marriage to mass incarceration. It's not smart to veto any politician who adapts, especially since these attacks seem only to be directed at women.

EG Bernie Sanderse opposed gay marriage in 2006 and didn't support it until 2009. But he never gets criticized for that. Ditto Joe Biden, etc.
posted by msalt at 9:37 PM on February 9 [63 favorites]


In other news, Republicans are clapping louder but it just seems absurd. EG The New York post has a headline now reading "The Democrats' disastrous week highlights Trump's sanity." (not going to link)
posted by msalt at 9:38 PM on February 9


@Rosie [who is performing at The Music Man at the Kennedy Center]: i have 2 tickets tomorrow for the 2 brave gay men who screamed fuck you at mike pence tonight at the music man in dc - thank u - come back tomorrow and be my guests #GAYisOK

This guy really needs to find something to do that doesn't involve going to musicals. Also, it's a little on the nose that he went to a musical about a con man that cons an entire town but the townspeople are all happy and he gets away with it, thanks to a woman.
posted by zachlipton at 9:48 PM on February 9 [40 favorites]


The problem with the NYT interpretation of objectivity is that it demands we adopt their definition of center. They ran 60+ front page stories about butterymales in 2016 and 0 about Trump’s rapes and money laundering for various mobs. That’s not a centrist midpoint. That’s a hard-right pro-Republican midpoint.
posted by SakuraK at 10:29 PM on February 9 [59 favorites]


The problem with the NYT interpretation of objectivity is that it demands we adopt their definition of center.

This is true of literally anyone who calls themselves a centrist.
posted by OverlappingElvis at 11:26 PM on February 9 [14 favorites]


They trust that the public is smart and knowledgeable enough to reach the conclusion themselves.

At a certain point though it's like they have a corner fire and are saying that 'Democrats say it's a corner fire' while 'Republicans say there is no corner fire' as the journalists themselves are crawling around on the floor to avoid the smoke and then when the curtains catch fire we're still stuck on agreeing whether there's a corner fire or not. "Some people say the ceiling will collapse soon. Others say there is no fire. Surrounded by flames, this is Jane The Reporter for Reporting Reporters." '

Like they report a collection of symptoms and depend entirely on the public to determine whether it's food poisoning or stomach cancer (sorry, tore a muscle on the previous paragraph's metaphor).

The game of 'let's let the public draw their own conclusions' is especially a drag because the number of really careful followers of our current governmental trainwreck is small, percentage-wise. I bet there is a relatively small percent of the population who are like, 'yeah, dude totally colluded'. Probably everyone in this thread. But I bet across the country there's a lot of 'well, jury's still out!' or 'We'll see what Mueller says.'

Letting the public draw their own conclusions is something news organizations often seem to do when it suits them but less so in cases where many people really do need to a timeline, a crazy wall with string attached, a person to walk them through the entire thing, etc. Is Semion Mogilevich a commonly known name? I don't think it is. It should be.

I think it's quite literally crazy for someone at this point to not know the president is a Russian asset. Possibly he is so in part because he's always been too stupid to realize what that means. But the idea that we're on the fence about it is nuts and in general the conclusions that should be drawn should be provided more forcefully by journalists.
posted by A Terrible Llama at 3:47 AM on February 10 [44 favorites]


I just wanted to add: it's *normal* for most of the population to not be able to keep up with with a story about an enormously complicated international conspiracy. People have lives, professions, relationships, children, private dramas. They need information distilled and clear, not to be thrown 70 pieces of 1000 piece puzzle one at a time and 'draw your own conclusions'.

Maybe I'm wrong, maybe the general understanding is better than I'm assuming. But I kind of feel like a lot of people think there's maybe or maybe not some Russian involvement and have kind of a shaky grasp of the whole thing and are waiting to be told the implications.
posted by A Terrible Llama at 3:50 AM on February 10 [81 favorites]


"The president personally colluding with Russia" has managed to become the nationally-agreed consensus for a fault line. Sometimes there's yet another revelation of not-directly-Russia-related crimes or corruption involving Trump, and the conservative response is "Where's the collusion, libs?" as though that's the only possible zone of misconduct. (Cleverly, they've also prepared a lot of "collusion is good anyway" rhetoric as a backup.) Even obstructing justice is sort of "baked in" as "Trump being Trump".

That makes "collusion", specifically, a third rail for news outlets, because using those words as the dirct, surface-level headline (not "A says B did C" but "B did C" full stop) is tantamount to "The president really is illegitimate and has got to go", which is in turn a subjective claim (subjective in the sense that maybe you, the reader, think he should stay regardless of whatever deals he has with Putin).

It's the same as their hesitation to say "racist" instead of "racially charged" -- the former, for better or worse, carries the implication of moral judgement, and thus never gets deployed, because everyone agrees "racist" means "bad" even before they reach any agreement on any one thing possibly being racist. That's why people were impressed by Gillum saying of DeSantis "He might not be racist, but the racists think he is", in that it sidestepped the issue of "calling anyone racist means immense, infinite moral judgement and do you think you're God or something".

In these and similar cases, the larger implication is not just that the media is taking sides, which people often don't mind at all (indeed, they want media to tell them what the heck is the right reaction to have, much of the time), but that it's taking a side in the big question of liberal-versus-conservative, Democrats-versus-Republicans. A "Tump Colluded" headline is a "Republicans are the Bad Party" headline. Maybe more news outlets should dip toes in the water of "This might not be collusion per se, but it did break the law regardless", sort of like Gillum's approach, because, oddly enough, the public might actually more readily accept that as not overstepping the unwritten "don't take sides" rule.
posted by InTheYear2017 at 6:45 AM on February 10 [19 favorites]


the number of really careful followers of our current governmental trainwreck is small, percentage-wise

This is so true. We need to remember what kind of bubbles we are in. Not only is MetaFiler a liberal bubble, it’s an informed bubble. That level of information and interest is uncommon. Recall that in the “real world”, there are a significant number of people who can’t even name a single cabinet member or probably even the vice President.
posted by CheeseDigestsAll at 6:45 AM on February 10 [44 favorites]


It's going to be funny if the thing that ultimately does in Trump is not that he's running a corrupt, borderline-treasonous administration, but that a lot of people thought they were getting a tax cut and are just now realizing that they just forgot to adjust their withholding and actually owe the IRS a lot of money. Because I'm hearing a lot more "holy fuck, my tax bill is bonkers" on my Facebook feed than anything about the Mueller investigation, and I assume that my Republican Senators, who were super enthusiastic about this "middle class tax cut", are going to be hearing about it.
posted by ArbitraryAndCapricious at 7:13 AM on February 10 [35 favorites]


I'm a centrist. I'm willing to negotiate whether the rich should pay 60% or 80% tax and I'm willing to meet in the middle.
This sounds jokey but this is how it's done. This is how conservatives do it.
posted by dances_with_sneetches at 7:55 AM on February 10 [65 favorites]


"The president personally colluding with Russia" has managed to become the nationally-agreed consensus for a fault line.

Thanks to its vigorous promotion by Trump, his legal team, and his enablers in the GOP and rightwing media.

For instance, earlier this week Senate Select Committee on Intelligence Chairman Bill Burr—who was a national security adviser to the Trump campaign—gave an unusually lengthy interview to CBS about the committee's ongoing work and its ever-lengthening timeline ("If I can finish tomorrow, I would finish tomorrow," he told . "We know we're getting to the bottom of the barrel because there're not new questions that we're searching for answers to."). Naturally he was pressed on the collusion question, to which he responded, "If we write a report based upon the facts that we have, then we don't have anything that would suggest there was collusion by the Trump campaign and Russia."

Those quotes have been bouncing around the rightwing noise machine ever since, and now this morning @realDonaldTrump blasted: "Senator Richard Burr, The Chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, just announced that after almost two years, more than two hundred interviews, and thousands of documents, they have found NO COLLUSION BETWEEN TRUMP AND RUSSIA! Is anybody really surprised by this?" Such is message Trump and his partisans are pushing, as they try to pressure a rush to judgement, but as long as the mainstream media continues "both sides" reporting, it will affect public opinion.
posted by Doktor Zed at 8:02 AM on February 10 [10 favorites]


I'm a centrist. I'm willing to negotiate whether the rich should pay 60% or 80% tax and I'm willing to meet in the middle.

This actually IS a centrist position, since we did just fine on 90% top rates in the mid 20th century and since the harder ideological left thinks there needs to be a 100% rate past a certain level (which FDR in fact proposed before settling on 94%). The way conservatives would do it would be to start at demanding 90%, and if that fails, to then demand 100%.
posted by Rust Moranis at 8:02 AM on February 10 [28 favorites]


> This is so true. We need to remember what kind of bubbles we are in. Not only is MetaFiler a liberal bubble, it’s an informed bubble. That level of information and interest is uncommon. Recall that in the “real world”, there are a significant number of people who can’t even name a single cabinet member or probably even the vice President.

I follow this thread pretty religiously, and have 50+ news feeds that cover politics including at least a half a dozen specifically devoted to documenting POTUS45's malfeasance. I read nearly every explainer type piece that comes across them, from sources ranging from Vox (which skews toward higher-level explainers) to Emptywheel, who digs into every nuance of every legal filing. I've pored over dozens of different articles / sites that try to visualize all of the players, their motivations, and their participation in the various crimes and conspiracies.

And after all that, I feel like I have barely a bar napkin sketch idea of what we know so far, with perhaps a few faint glimpses of the dotted lines that would represent possible/unproven connections between various parties / motives to commit wrongdoing. I don't think I have a wall big enough in my home or office that could hold a whiteboard large enough to draw this to a level of detail where I thought I had a handle on it. It's just too massive to wrap your head around once you zoom in on any level of detail beyond the broad strokes.

All of which makes me admire the hard work that Mueller's team, SDNY, and friends have done to get us to the point we're at. It's frustrating that we don't have a lot of the answers we need, especially with so many people being harmed by the perpetrators every day, but that has to be weighed against the potential for things to unravel if there are any factual errors in the charging documents.

Maybe some day Ken Burns can do a 30 episode documentary covering all of this in sufficient detail to understand most of it. Until then, I think only the most motivated among us will have more than a surface understanding of Stupid Watergate.
posted by tonycpsu at 8:03 AM on February 10 [57 favorites]


Maybe some day Ken Burns can do a 30 episode documentary covering all of this in sufficient detail to understand most of it. Until then, I think only the most motivated among us will have more than a surface understanding of Stupid Watergate.

I think that when it comes time for academic analysis, people are going to build careers publishing papers about our non-stop analysis of the situation in real-time.
posted by mikelieman at 8:34 AM on February 10 [14 favorites]


I'm a centrist. I'm willing to negotiate whether the rich should pay 60% or 80% tax and I'm willing to meet in the middle.

that's a brave thing these things -- admitting to being a centrist, in certain circles anyway. I know I'm not. If you averaged out my positions on various issues, you might find me somewhere in the middle, but that would only be because my various extremes are balancing each other. Speaking of which, the notion of middle ground is coming to be what bothers me, I suppose because it necessarily shifts from issue to issue, conflict to conflict. Or as somebody else put it over on Facebook a while back:

"Forget middle ground. That's become just another word for battleground these days, certainly between me and pretty much every Trump supporter I've come across. Because these people are WRONG about pretty much EVERYTHING. But then, I've definitely been wrong about some things, too. So what we now have is common ground. Maybe that's the kind of broad discussion we could start having. All the stuff we've been wrong about. Maybe this is how we loosen some of the tension."

(or words to that effect)
posted by philip-random at 8:37 AM on February 10


Maybe some day Ken Burns can do a 30 episode documentary covering all of this in sufficient detail to understand most of it. Until then, I think only the most motivated among us will have more than a surface understanding of Stupid Watergate.

Yes, I also am completely out of red yarn and thumbtacks. The worst is that none of it means anything if the people who can act, don't act. And almost all of them are either full-on white nationalists (or theocrats waiting in the wings), or enablers, or ostriches. I still don't see a "surely this" in sight.
posted by tivalasvegas at 8:40 AM on February 10 [10 favorites]


Stupid Watergate.

I sincerely hope this becomes the historically acceptable term for this dumb phase we're currently stumbling through.
posted by philip-random at 8:49 AM on February 10 [7 favorites]


Stupid Watergate.

I sincerely hope this becomes the historically acceptable term for this dumb phase we're currently stumbling through.


According to Politico this morning, it sounds like we're well beyond Watergate:
Negotiations reached an impasse Saturday, primarily over detention beds, the source said. Democratic negotiators offered a deal to their Republican counterparts, but Republicans are refusing to negotiate until Democrats take back their demand for a cap on the number of beds, the source added
The NYT reports on January 30, 2019:
Democrats also insisted on their own priorities beyond homeland security. They proposed new funding to improve Customs and Border Protection’s care for migrants in the agency’s custody, expanding an “alternatives to detention” program at Immigration and Customs Enforcement to keep families together while reducing the number of ICE detention beds and requiring more frequent detention-facility inspections.
According to the Associated Press on February 1, 2019:
Despite identifying more than 14,000 violations of detention standards at more than 100 facilities, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement imposed financial penalties on just two of them, the Homeland Security inspector general said in a review that covered three years of records. [...]

The audit comes at a time when ICE is already facing fierce criticism from Democrats on Capitol Hill who say the detention system for illegal immigrants is cruel and out of control.
On January 6, 2019, an NBC News analysis "of dozens of government reports, death reviews and audits of ICE detention centers reveals a system long riddled with problems," including:
In the late 2000s, a series of exposes led the agency to overhaul detention standards and set up more rigorous oversight.

Dora Schriro helped put those in place as the founding director of ICE's Office of Detention Policy and Planning, formed under Obama. The standards focused on increasing transparency and oversight and ensuring that only those who presented an immediate risk were detained. She said the changes lowered the risk of harm in detention, too. It was "good policy and good practice," she said.

The Trump administration has sought to curtail and even shutter the office she founded as it pushed for a quick expansion of detention, which Schriro highlights as a pattern within the agency.
posted by Little Dawn at 9:22 AM on February 10 [12 favorites]


Some commentary on the recent YouTube algorithm changes by someone who used to work on them. Technology may not save us but it could nevertheless do less harm.
posted by ropeladder at 9:32 AM on February 10 [12 favorites]


Democrats are dumb dumb dumb if they don't hammer Republicans over border separations resulting in lost migrant children. It's such an easy angle, stolen children. Say they did it on purpose, they don't know what they're doing, and they don't care. Don't even get me started on the trafficking and sex abuse implications.
posted by rhizome at 9:42 AM on February 10 [27 favorites]


The New Yorker's Adam Davidson posted a thread in response to Ivanka Trump's recent ABC interview:
Ivanka claimed that she isn't worried about Mueller because the family never did business with Iran:
ABC: Ivanka Trump Has 'Zero Concern' About Special Counsel Robert Mueller's Investigation—Ivanka Trump says she 'barely knew' about potential Moscow deal.

“It’s not like it's a strange thing, as a hospitality company or a development company, to have a hotel or a property in Russia. We're not talking about Iran. It was Russia. And we weren't even advanced enough that anyone had even visited the prospective project site. So it really was just a non-factor in our minds. I'm not sure that anyone would have thought of it," she added.
Let me explain how they did, in fact, almost certainly do business with Iran. Everything I write here is acknowledged by the Trump Org.

Ivanka oversaw the Trump Tower building in Baku, Azerbaijan, funded by the Mammadov family. The Mammadovs, led by Ziya, then Transportation Minister, were in business with a front company for Iran's Revolutionary Guard. That front company, Azarpassillo, is owned by the sanctioned Khatam Al-Anbia, the construction arm of the IRGC. The IRGC famously used these fronts to launder money and to purchase components for WMD. The folks at Azarpassillo were, specifically, part of the IRGC air force division tasked with illegally acquiring missile guidance systems.

The Trump Org admitted that they learned by mid-2015 that the Mammadovs were likely part of this WMD/money laundering front. They continued to work with them through the entire election. When I asked why they didn't drop the Mammadovs as clients, they said they couldn't because they had a contract.

Pro tip: you can't knowingly work with sanctions violating $ launderers b/c you have a contract.

Not one word of this stream is contested by anybody.

I will never understand how this isn't bigger news.

The President of the United States knowingly participated in a likely money-laundering/WMD-acquiring scheme with the worst part of Iran's Revolutionary Guard.
Something to bear in mind the next time the NYT publishes a puff piece on Ivanka like White House to Unveil a Global Women’s Empowerment Initiative, Led by Ivanka Trump or passes along her excuses like Ivanka Trump Denies President Was Involved in Granting Security Clearance.
posted by Doktor Zed at 10:55 AM on February 10 [80 favorites]


We honestly deserve something like the 9/11 Commission Report, an actual document that's responsible for covering what the fuck happened here.
posted by odinsdream at 11:18 AM on February 10 [44 favorites]


Washington Examiner, 'Show of force': 100 vehicles line one mile of Texas border to deter caravan on other side
More than 100 U.S. police vehicles lined a one-mile stretch of the Rio Grande River in Eagle Pass, Texas, Saturday afternoon. Sixty sat together in one section of the river on a local golf course.
Here are pictures of whatever the hell this is supposed to be.

@Anna_Giaritelli: Law enforcement have been moved to Eagle Pass from other parts of Texas to help here. Senior officials told me they have no idea when the relocated forces will go home. A local sheriff said it could be weeks or months.

@ReichlinMelnick: Again, CBP’s willingness to spend untold amounts of taxpayer $$$ on an unprecedented “show of force,” while simultaneously refusing to increase funding to process asylum seekers more efficiently, is extraordinarily telling. According to the article, over 500 Texas state officers, at least 250 members of the National Guard, and an untold number of Border Patrol officers have been deployed to Eagle Pass... to deal with 2,000 people, inc. kids, who just want to request asylum.
posted by zachlipton at 11:34 AM on February 10 [34 favorites]


Amy Klobuchar is making her announcement right now. I'm watching it on Facebook.
posted by Autumnheart at 11:37 AM on February 10 [2 favorites]


She's giving a woman-focused recap of the Old Testament right now. ?!?!
posted by Autumnheart at 11:40 AM on February 10 [2 favorites]


Jesus, that's the laziest show of force in human history. Like could they at least get out of their SUVs and gaze vaguely in the general direction of the border?
posted by tivalasvegas at 11:41 AM on February 10 [2 favorites]




WaPo: Trump ‘may not even be a free person’ in 2020, Elizabeth Warren says
“By the time we get to 2020, Donald Trump may not be president,” Warren told an audience here. “In fact, he may not even be a free person.”

Warren had not previously hinted that the scandals surrounding the president could keep him from seeking a second term. In her previous trip to Iowa, she rarely mentioned Trump by name.

But her campaign, which has faced more direct attacks from Trump than other Democratic candidates, appears to see the question about Trump’s own viability as way to stop engaging with everything the president says.
posted by Little Dawn at 12:09 PM on February 10 [47 favorites]


So far, Twitter is already talking about how Klobuchar must be an asshole for "making" people stand out in a "snowstorm" in 14-degree weather.
posted by Autumnheart at 12:12 PM on February 10 [1 favorite]


Well, I mean...I saw the snow coming down hard and was shocked to learn how MN has a tragic shortage of indoor meeting spaces. It's weird optics, but you can also point to the hardcore support purportedly engendered as a strength?
posted by Burhanistan at 12:17 PM on February 10 [1 favorite]


There were warming shelters with fireplaces, on which the campaign set wood fires. They handed out hot chocolate. Minnesotans aren't that scared of snow.
posted by OnceUponATime at 12:20 PM on February 10 [13 favorites]


As a Minnesotan, 14 deg is not bad and the snow is kind of pleasant- big pretty flakes falling without wind.
posted by localhuman at 12:22 PM on February 10 [15 favorites]


The weather probably limited the crowd size a bit but you couldn't pay for the optics of Klobuchar standing in the snow like a Real Americantm
posted by Justinian at 12:32 PM on February 10 [8 favorites]


Nate Silver on the threshold for scandals among female politicians:
The allegations (of mistreatment of staff) are certainly newsworthy; they're also a long way from a Richter magnitude 8 type of scandal. So I'm also a little wary of the framing that Klobuchar's launch has been sidetracked or overshadowed. [...] I dunno. I guess you could study this systematically and someone probably should. It does seem like when women are running, the threshold is lower for controversies that are deemed to overshadow a campaign, e.g. Warren/DNA, Gillibrand/Franken, Klobuchar/staff (or Hillary/email).
About where I'm at.
posted by Justinian at 12:46 PM on February 10 [46 favorites]


It does seem like when women are running, the threshold is lower for controversies that are deemed to overshadow a campaign
Yea, maybe they deserve a 3000+ year spot on horrible behavior just like men got?, just to try to even things out before anyone goes all Frankenstein villagers on them.
posted by Harry Caul at 12:56 PM on February 10 [10 favorites]


Gillibrand/Franken

...is the implied argument here that she was in the wrong for being one of the first to demand Franken's resignation? (Am I misremembering?)
posted by reductiondesign at 1:22 PM on February 10 [4 favorites]


I think the knock on Gillibrand is that she's "opportunistic" (unlike, apparently, any other politician ever). I've seen this even in liberal circles on FB where it's basically the complaints against Hillary-as-Senator: "she's just saying things to gain popularity!"
posted by TwoStride at 1:27 PM on February 10 [5 favorites]


14F here in Minnesota right now is absolutely balmy. It was -15F on Friday. I had tons of friends at the announcement and no one complained about the cold. Personally I went skiing to take advantage of the nice weather. Roads are deteriorating now as the snow is coming down harder now.
posted by misterpatrick at 1:28 PM on February 10 [8 favorites]


is the implied argument here that she was in the wrong for being one of the first

It's not an implied argument, it's a literal one. The misogynistic hit on Gillibrand is that she is a pure opportunist that threw Progressive Hero And Groping Enthusiast Al Franken under the bus in order to further her presidential ambitions. Gillibrand calling on Franken to step down: crass and disqualifying opportunism. The other candidates calling on Franken to step down literally within hours of Gillibrand: the right thing to do!

No it doesn't make sense. But it is common; you see it in the comments of every Gillibrand thing online whether it's someone tweeting about her, the comments to a news story, a reddit thread, a politico thing, whatever. It's the standard brogressive position.
posted by Justinian at 1:30 PM on February 10 [39 favorites]


Oh you probably meant the argument implied by Nate Silver, in which case... yes that's what he's referring to!
posted by Justinian at 1:34 PM on February 10 [1 favorite]


WaPo: Trump ‘may not even be a free person’ in 2020, Elizabeth Warren says

Man, I like this new Democratic party!  She's coming out swinging; this is a Boomer I can get behind.  One can't help but wonder how long before Democratic rallies have people chanting "Lock Him Up!"  Only this time, it looks like the chant would be justified—literally.  Trump's Mirror strikes yet again.

It genuinely cheers me to note that multiple people on the left are clearly aware of how to get under his skin, and I feel we're seeing only the barest beginning of the needling little Donny Two-Scoops is going to have to endure.  He and the right have fucked up—the left has realized their constant, uncontrollable ranting can be weaponized against them. The Republicans thought they had a tiger by the tail, only it turns out he's no tiger—only colored like one—and is instead a demented old lech, so dirty it's rubbing off on them wholesale.

Herr Twitler's so corrupt that as it's coming out into the news, he may take the entire Republican establishment down with him merely by association.  I feel the Democrats realize this, and that's partly why we're seeing them so obviously egging him on.  I eagerly await the tweets when the Democratic candidates all start answering questions about the race with variation of "I'm not sure I expect to even be running against Trump in 2020. Next question, please."
posted by los pantalones del muerte at 1:36 PM on February 10 [23 favorites]


Justinian: Gillibrand calling on Franken to step down: crass and disqualifying opportunism. The other candidates calling on Franken to step down literally within hours of Gillibrand: the right thing to do!

Or even "The wrong thing to do, but forgivable because Gillibrand forced their hand". It's basically like permanently holding the world's biggest grudge against the kid who called the emperor naked (while insisting that a proper investigation could somehow have shown he was clothed) because that's how the avalanche started (to mix metaphors a bit), and if that one specific kid had kept his mouth shut then surely the emporer's reign would have continued gloriously to this day.
posted by InTheYear2017 at 1:48 PM on February 10 [4 favorites]


But it is common; you see it in the comments of every Gillibrand thing online whether it's someone tweeting about her, the comments to a news story, a reddit thread, a politico thing, whatever. It's the standard brogressive position.

It's not just brogressive. You see it a lot from moderate, usually older Democrats who were fans of Franken. In fact, in my experience I've heard it most often from older white female Democrats, but that may just be a bias due to the fact that the older male Democrats may feel more reluctant to utter something that could be (correctly) construed as sexist.
posted by chortly at 1:58 PM on February 10 [4 favorites]


RE: Lock him up!

I have yet to try it out at a protest, but I prefer the chant "Due Process!" It manages to affirm the importance of an independent, law-based judiciary, while still (I think) making the threat perfectly clear. The symmetry of just yelling "No you should go to jail!" plays right into us-vs-them, both-sides-do-it narratives too much.
posted by ropeladder at 2:04 PM on February 10 [36 favorites]


NYT, Talks Over Border Security Break Down, Imperiling Effort to Prevent Shutdown
To stave off a court challenge, one proposal circulating among some White House officials, including those close to Stephen Miller, the president’s top domestic policy adviser, is to claim that the wall would be built to protect the more than 5,000 active-duty troops now operating near the southwestern border or deploying there soon.
So we're sending the military to the border so we can argue that the wall is necessary to protect the military that we sent to the border so we can argue that the wall is necessary to protect the—you know, I can just picture the smirk on Miller's face now.
posted by zachlipton at 2:11 PM on February 10 [40 favorites]


Warren: Trump 'may not even be a free person' by 2020
By QUINT FORGEY 02/10/2019 04:02 PM (vox)


“Every day there is a racist tweet, a hateful tweet — something really dark and ugly,” Warren said during a campaign event in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. “What are we as candidates, as activists, as the press going to do about it? We’re going to chase after those every day?”

She added: “Here’s what bothers me. By the time we get to 2020, Donald Trump may not even be president. In fact, he may not even be a free person.”
posted by bluesky43 at 2:47 PM on February 10 [12 favorites]


WaPo: Trump ‘may not even be a free person’ in 2020, Elizabeth Warren says

CNN's MJ Lee: “In a gaggle after Iowa City event, Warren is asked about her earlier comments about Trump not being a "free" person by 2020 Election Day: "Come on, how many investigations are there now, into him? It's no longer just the Mueller investigation... These are serious investigations."”

Warren's not letting up on this line of attack, even though the odds of Trump not being a "free person" by December 31, 2020 still look remote from this vantage point. It's more likely she's pushing Trump's buttons, knowing Trump's feeling vulnerable and, of coruse, isolated.

Meanwhile @realDonaldTrump's been on a Twitter tear all day today. Just now he attempted to mock Klobuchar for announcing her candidacy during a snowstorm and talking about global warming. He also commented snidely on the Border Committee negotiations ("I can't believe they want a Shutdown!") and quoted Rep. Tom McClintock (CA-R) who appeared on Fox today to support a presidential National Emergency decree. The best, though, was when Trump claimed "I probably work longer hours than almost any past President" and made excuses about how he had to "work very long hours" when he took office because "our Country was a mess." He's low-energy and anxious today.
posted by Doktor Zed at 2:59 PM on February 10 [22 favorites]


I feel like Klobuchar already scored a win because he referred to her as a woman (as opposed to a “dog” or anything else), and couldn’t come up with anything worse to say than “snow”.
posted by Autumnheart at 4:13 PM on February 10 [6 favorites]


I have yet to try it out at a protest, but I prefer the chant "Due Process!"

“Rule of Law” seems stronger, rhythmically, and better for chanting.
posted by thelonius at 4:33 PM on February 10 [55 favorites]


Axios: Scoop: New leaks amid leak probe
The president’s secretary Madeleine Westerhout tweeted that the leak was "a disgraceful breach of trust." Then Politico scooped (and we confirmed) that the White House has launched an internal hunt to find the leaker.

This crackdown has not stopped the leaking. Axios' Alexi McCammond obtained four of the president's private schedules from last week. You can view them here, retyped in their original format for source protection.
posted by Little Dawn at 4:59 PM on February 10 [10 favorites]


“Rule of Law” seems stronger, rhythmically, and better for chanting.

I think I just had a vision of the future. More of a sound though. One side chanting "Rule-of-Law", the other "U-S-A", and if you stand right in the middle, you can hear ... the ocean, I guess.
posted by philip-random at 5:04 PM on February 10 [4 favorites]


What are the "31 ongoing national emergencies" McClintock supposedly referred to?
posted by Johnny Wallflower at 5:04 PM on February 10


Here's a list of the 31 national emergencies that have been in effect for years.

Note that these aren't simply relics people have forgotten, they have to be renewed annually. Some highlights-

* Nov 14, 1979: The National Emergency With Respect to Iran, in response to the Iran hostage crisis.

* October 21, 1995: The National Emergency With Respect to Blocking Assets and Prohibiting Transactions with Significant Narcotics Traffickers Centered in Colombia was declared after increased reports of drug cartels laundering money through American companies.

* November 3, 1997: The National Emergency With Respect to Blocking Sudanese Government Property and Prohibiting Transactions with Sudan implemented economic and trade sanctions.

*June 26, 2001: The National Emergency With Respect to Blocking Property of Persons Who Threaten International Stabilization Efforts in the Western Balkans imposed sanctions on those aiding Albanian insurgents in Macedonia

*February 25, 2011: The National Emergency With Respect to Blocking Property and Prohibiting Certain Transactions Related to Libya froze the assets of Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi.

And so on. There are a ton of "national emergencies". They are, mostly, not in fact national emergencies. They may be very important. They may be actual things unlike Trump's racist bs. But it's hard to argue that they are national emergencies as most of us would understand the term.
posted by Justinian at 5:10 PM on February 10 [21 favorites]


I mean I sure feel safer knowing we are in a state of national emergency in order to freeze the assets of the busy-being-a-corpse Muammar Gaddafi.
posted by Justinian at 5:11 PM on February 10 [13 favorites]


Seems like the most normal thing about this timeline.
posted by Barack Spinoza at 5:14 PM on February 10 [8 favorites]


Walter Jones, ‘freedom fries’ congressman who became Iraq War critic, dies at 76 (WaPo). His story of seeking redemption after voting for Iraq is pretty sad in that it only took attending one marine's funeral to realize that he had fucked up, but at least he realized it.
posted by peeedro at 5:20 PM on February 10 [19 favorites]


I'm a centrist. I'm willing to negotiate whether the rich should pay 60% or 80% tax and I'm willing to meet in the middle.

Remember when they call you a radical leftist that Nixon wanted universal healthcare and a 70% marginal tax rate on the rich. A generation ago, today's leftist radical proposals were mainstream conservative positions. Today, they are mainstream conservative positions in almost every industrialized country except this one.
posted by xammerboy at 5:41 PM on February 10 [75 favorites]


I'm willing to negotiate whether the rich should pay 60% or 80% tax and I'm willing to meet in the middle.

Let's start with seizing their assets above a certain level and walk it back from there. See, centrism!
posted by odinsdream at 5:52 PM on February 10 [18 favorites]


We're very likely to get a more doctrinaire Republican than Jones in NC-03; aside from his turn against Iraq/Afghanistan, he was sometimes idiosyncratic on other issues. District went Romney 59-41 Romney, Trump 61-37.
posted by Chrysostom at 6:58 PM on February 10 [4 favorites]


I dunno. I guess you could study this systematically and someone probably should. It does seem like when women are running, the threshold is lower for controversies that are deemed to overshadow a campaign, e.g. Warren/DNA, Gillibrand/Franken, Klobuchar/staff (or Hillary/email).

Prof. Mirya Holman has an excellent thread summarizing just some of the research of the scholars who have, in fact, systematically studied how women candidates are perceived and treated. There's at least a great FPP to be made out of this thread too.
posted by zachlipton at 7:29 PM on February 10 [20 favorites]


The NYT is catching up to the obvious about the Ukrainian quid pro quo between Manafort/Trump and Deripaska/Putin: In Closed Hearing, a Clue About ‘the Heart’ of Mueller’s Russia Inquiry
Pressed by the judge at Monday’s hearing to say why Mr. Manafort’s alleged lies mattered, Mr. Weissmann gave a broad hint about the thrust of the investigation.

“This goes to the larger view of what we think is going on, and what we think is the motive here,” Mr. Weissmann said. “This goes, I think, very much to the heart of what the special counsel’s office is investigating.”

Mr. Weissmann did not elaborate. […] Yet Mr. Weissmann’s cryptic comments suggest that the special counsel’s investigation — which Mr. Trump has sought to dismiss as a witch hunt and which the acting attorney general, Matthew G. Whitaker, has said will wrap up soon — is still pursuing the central question of whether there was some kind of deal between Russia and the Trump campaign.
Marcy Wheeler proceeds to drag them:
Three reporters, 2 extra days than me, and the NYT STILL doesn't correct clear errors abt when and what polling data got shared.

This is where NYT repeats their error from last month. Even Westling argues this data was not comprehensible to a lay person.
The transcript suggests that Mr. Manafort claims that he wanted only public data transferred. But Mr. Weissmann told the judge that the question of whether any American, wittingly or unwittingly, engaged with Russians who were interfering in the election relates to “the core” of the special counsel’s inquiry.
And this quote, which NYT attributes to Kilimnik generally, actually pertains specifically to the polling data they still haven't corrected their error on.
But Judge Amy Berman Jackson seemed to agree with prosecutors that whether Mr. Manafort lied about his contacts with Mr. Kilimnik was important, saying at one point, “I am, actually, particularly concerned about this particular alleged false statement.”
Anyway, in honor of NYT writing a 2000 word article substantially about the August 2, 2016 Kilimnik meeting, reupping on their uncorrected error abt what polling data got shared and when (hint: at that August 2 meeting!).
Paul Manafort Sold Out Donald Trump — and His Anonymous Leakers Are Lying about It Publicly
posted by Doktor Zed at 7:51 PM on February 10 [25 favorites]


A rare occasion where the ignorance and apathy of the average taxpayer works against Republicans, for a change...

WaPo: Millions of Americans could be stunned as their tax refunds shrink
Millions of Americans filling out their 2018 taxes will probably be surprised to learn that their refunds will be less than expected or that they owe money to the Internal Revenue Service after years of receiving refunds.

People have already taken to social media, using the hashtag #GOPTaxScam, to vent their anger. Many blame President Trump and the Republicans for shrinking refunds. Some on Twitter even said they wouldn’t vote for Trump again after seeing their refunds slashed.

While the vast majority of Americans received a tax cut in 2018, refunds are a different matter. Some refunds have decreased because of
[eliminated deductions or changes in witholding]
Meanwhile, a headline for the annals of good government: "File your taxes soon — in case there’s another government shutdown".
posted by RedOrGreen at 8:22 PM on February 10 [16 favorites]


That Marcy Wheeler explainer is huge. If it's true that Manafort directly and explicitly worked with Russia to get Trump elected during the campaign, and the only reason he's continuing to lie about it is to fish for a pardon, well. Wow, cause they clearly have pretty much all the evidence to make that case with just the physical evidence and that's what ultimately did Gates in too. The wiser move for Trump in that case would be to try and distance himself from Manafort and try to make him the fall guy. Which won't work. Of course.
posted by odinsdream at 8:51 PM on February 10 [6 favorites]


The wiser move for Trump in that case would be to try and distance himself from Manafort and try to make him the fall guy.

Or, as always, to just keep court-packing and power-consolidating full steam until no amount of evidence will result in a conviction in a court of law or meaningful public opinion.
posted by contraption at 9:06 PM on February 10 [6 favorites]




So, I fell down a rabbit hole reading #gopTaxScam and #gopTaxScamStories. I’m not a tax preparer, but I wanted to remind everyone that if you have not reconfigured your withholding form, you are likely in for a terrible surprise. Check with your hr department, and make sure it matches the new tax code, or you may be subject to underpayment penalties. Penalties are theoretically waved for 2018, but the form to file for the exemption wasn’t ready when I checked a few days ago.

Deductions for state and local taxes are capped at 10k. The standard deduction has been raised, and it is increasingly hard to file deductions above the default. The irs estimates that only 8% of taxpayers will be able to deduct more than the default. Those 8% get to write off their private jets though, so that’s nice.

This tax season may be what kills the GOP. People really hate writing checks to the government.
posted by SecretAgentSockpuppet at 10:14 PM on February 10 [43 favorites]


This tax season may be what kills the GOP. People really hate writing checks to the government.

If the GOP base's desire to punish its enemies outweighs a habitable planet for its grandchildren then it can also take the hit and write the check. They're ride-or-die.
posted by Rust Moranis at 10:30 PM on February 10 [12 favorites]


No. Oh, no... the only thing that could have preserved the base is more money in the pocket. Not happening for the majority of middle-class racist households, quite the opposite. If you get to put money back in your pocket, folks will be suddenly in reverence of MLK day, if their kids get to go to college and they still keep their house... well, perhaps a Big Tent party is the way to go? Also AOC is much more charming and plain-folksy than The Turtle, and who doesn't want to back an underdog winner?
posted by Slap*Happy at 12:31 AM on February 11 [4 favorites]


Whenever we correctly observe on-the-ground Republicans as voting against their own interests, and their motivation as spite (that they would let your burn their house if they knew the fire would hurt Those People more), I think we ignore how abstract the issues in question can be to them. In many cases they can be fooled that every kind of deprivation of government assistance or harm caused by deregulation was really the fault of Those People, or in some way inevitable. Rarely are they being asked to make the sacrifice in stark terms, on a conscious level.

It's easy to commit to opposing a government-run health system when you either don't grasp what that means, or you can carve out exceptions as "not counting", or when you do comprehend the notion but can assure yourself it sucks because you've never experienced it. Climate change is even more like this -- a certain "we'll all drown together, libs" attitude may be there subconsciously, but the dominant right-wing narrative is that it simply doesn't exist at all, it's still snowing in Minneapolis, etc. And we've discussed here how even scratching the surface of Stupid Watergate requires a dedicated politics nerdery, and most Americans don't have the time or interest.

But this tax bill's effects are easily quantifiable, it has a clear before-and-after inflection point, it's beyond question which party is responsible, and that party was lying to everyone about it. On the whole I think real repercussions are afoot.

That happens to contradict my own blinkered assumptions before reading these stories -- I always take the standard deduction and figured most people did (hence I can expect the same or lower tax bill). But it looks like I was wrong (and might even be wrong about myself), or at least that the set of households that itemize has some non-trivial voting power.
posted by InTheYear2017 at 4:33 AM on February 11 [12 favorites]


By the end of this month Fox News will be airing coverage blaming the loss of refunds on Democrats. I guarantee it.
posted by Horace Rumpole at 4:39 AM on February 11 [45 favorites]


Axios: Scoop: New leaks amid leak probe

“The schedules show the president spent 50% of the four days last week in non-structured "Executive Time."”

Politico: "Mick Mulvaney, the acting White House chief of staff, Sunday said the administration was close to identifying the source of leaks that revealed President Donald Trump's private schedules, but suggested any potential recourse may be limited."

@realDonaldTrump, 20 minutes ago: "No president ever worked harder than me (cleaning up the mess I inherited)!"
posted by Doktor Zed at 5:05 AM on February 11 [2 favorites]


WaPo: Millions of Americans could be stunned as their tax refunds shrink


Guess I'm glad I recalculated my withholdings. Also, I already did my taxes and this is the fastest I've ever received my refund. Less than a week from the time I filed.

“The schedules show the president spent 50% of the four days last week in non-structured "Executive Time."”

He spends the first three hours of the morning in "executive time". As a person who also wishes they could spend the hours from 8-11 am in executive time (aka sleeping) I'm upset that I have anything in common with Trump.
posted by runcibleshaw at 5:24 AM on February 11 [6 favorites]


My wife and I both proactively increased our withholding to the maximum standard amount, zero exemptions, and yet we *still* owe. I'm legitimately surprised since we always take the standard deduction, so theoretically we should be better off. I hope the zeitgeist puts the blame where it belongs. I'm doing my part on social media, anyway.
posted by dbx at 5:58 AM on February 11 [14 favorites]


I wish I were better at searching the news; I swear I remember articles last spring that said, basically, no one could predict what withholding should be given all the uncertainty and changes. And the IRS had like, weeks to come up with something. So the new tables the IRS put out were just stabs in the dark. People were advised to change withholding, but - given all the verbiage about TAX CUT!!! and the shrugs from the IRS .... this was a likely outcome.
posted by Dashy at 6:07 AM on February 11 [13 favorites]


In addition, there was surely motivation and pressure to under-withhold, because people immediately saw bigger paychecks 'thanks to Dump'. In a recession this can be good strategy, but see: now.
posted by Dashy at 6:11 AM on February 11 [5 favorites]


Robert Reich: “Trump offers socialism for the rich, capitalism for everyone else”
America is on the cusp of the largest inter-generational wealth transfer in history. As rich boomers expire over the next three decades, an estimated $30tn will go to their children.

Those children will be able to live off of the income these assets generate, and then leave the bulk of them to their own heirs, tax-free. (Capital gains taxes don’t apply to the soaring values of stocks, bonds, mansions, and other assets of wealthy people who die before they’re sold.)

After a few generations of this, almost all of the nation’s wealth will be in the hands of a few thousand non-working families. To the conservative mind, the specter of socialism conjures up a society in which no one is held accountable, and no one has to work for what they receive. Yet that’s exactly the society Trump and the Republicans are promoting for the rich.
posted by XMLicious at 6:17 AM on February 11 [62 favorites]


What Dashy said.

I'm all for piling on the dumpster fire of this stupid, ridiculous tax "cut", but the size of your refund/bill at filing time is not a measurement of what you paid in taxes, it only tells you whether you overpaid or underpaid via withholding.

The tax withholding tables changed as the result of the tax code being markedly changed. They didn't do a great job with it, and likely erred on the side of making people feel like their paychecks were bigger. Glad that's biting them in their sorry butts, but a smaller refund does not mean you paid more in taxes.
posted by mcstayinskool at 6:23 AM on February 11 [6 favorites]




I'm fascinated that CNN thinks dozens of humans doing anything for a moment is news.
posted by Harry Caul at 6:27 AM on February 11 [27 favorites]


I've got a pretty poshly paid gig as a contractor to a contractor, no days off for vacation or sick leave, also third shift which is literally killing me as a family man, but. My wife, I found out after involuntarily leaving the previous gig*, ascended the ranks as she is a complete bad-ass, and making damn near what I was making before hopping jobs. She took over the mortgage, and as a result, I have enough saved up since then for our "Tax Break" surprise to take it in stride. A lot of families are not in the same place.

Republicans are literally taxing American families into oblivion. They're doing it here and now and everyone can see it. Democratic Party: Fair Taxes. That's a line that will ring true for a long time after this April.

*I have three senior managers and a veep from there as references, I feel bad for leaving one of them out to go back to another veep at the super prestigious previous-previous gig when job hunting. Pro-tip: dye the beard, downplay any experience beyond 5 years. Tech sector sucks and is shrinking.
posted by Slap*Happy at 6:37 AM on February 11 [14 favorites]


When and if it's clear to the GOP that this tax return thing is backfiring on them, they'll deploy another variation of the "That guy is trying to steal your cookie!" messaging strategy. Whether that works the way it always has remains to be seen.
posted by The Card Cheat at 6:42 AM on February 11 [4 favorites]


Robert Mueller has spent two years investigating Trump and he hasn't said a word. It's possible he never will. (Kevin Johnson and Bart Jansen, USA TODAY)
"A public narrative has built an expectation that the special counsel will explain his conclusions, but I think that expectation may be seriously misplaced," said John Pistole, who served as Mueller's longtime top deputy at the FBI. "That's not what the rules provide, and I really don't see him straying from the mission. That's not who he is."

The Justice Department's special counsel rules don't call for Mueller to make any public statements about his work, let alone deliver a report of what he has found. Instead, his confidential report must explain why he filed the charges he did, and why he might have declined to bring charges against others. It would be up to the attorney general to decide whether that becomes public.
Is Mueller one to break the rules? The rest of the article suggests that he is not.
posted by ZeusHumms at 6:46 AM on February 11 [4 favorites]


The tax withholding tables changed as the result of the tax code being markedly changed. They didn't do a great job with it, and likely erred on the side of making people feel like their paychecks were bigger.

Yeah, that's part of the problem. The GOP cries of "LOWER TAXES!" and "BIGGER PAYCHECKS!" were always just half-assed guesses by people who truly, obviously, patently did not give a warm shit about whether Joe Q. Taxpayer made more money or less money or the same amount of money. The important thing -- the only important thing -- was that billionaires paid less, because the only change for those billionaires is that it took their teams of accountants a few days to figure out how to play the game under the new rules.
posted by Etrigan at 6:47 AM on February 11 [12 favorites]


Just Security: EXCLUSIVE: FBI’s War Crimes Unit on the Chopping Block
A special unit within the Federal Bureau of Investigation that handles war crimes may be shut down imminently, according to officials familiar with the administration’s decision-making process. The FBI’s International Human Rights Unit takes the lead on investigating individuals within the United States who have been accused of committing international crimes, including war crimes, torture, genocide, female genital mutilation, and the recruitment of child soldiers. It also investigates international crimes committed against or by U.S. citizens abroad and enforces immigration statutes that can be invoked against abusers who cannot be prosecuted for their underlying crimes for whatever reason.

The rationale for suddenly scaling back the United States’ commitment to investigating and prosecuting war criminals is unclear. […] If the FBI’s International Human Rights Unit is disbanded, its portfolio (but not the majority of the staff) will apparently shift to other Civil Rights Unit staff. The Civil Rights Unit is already fully engaged in their day jobs, pursuing violations of the federal civil rights statutes, particularly on behalf of vulnerable members of American communities. Saddling it with this additional responsibility threatens to jeopardize its core civil rights mission and deemphasize new war crimes cases. In addition, removing expertise from within the Bureau will undermine operations in the field when it comes to these most specialized of cases.
posted by Doktor Zed at 6:47 AM on February 11 [46 favorites]


Action alert: Remind *all* Dem. Senators, Schumer cannot even consider cutting deals on these 44 judicial nominees. It should not be on the table for any reason. Thread from @Celeste_pewter via Threadapp about the 44 judicial nominees who made it out of committee last week and how we need to call our Senators and forcefully push them and Schumer for no votes. The way Trump and his cronies are reshaping the judiciary is a clusterfuck that just keeps giving. These new nominees are not unlike climate change: They suck already, and yet can also make things much worse. So start making calls, folks. Please do not sit this one out.
posted by Bella Donna at 6:57 AM on February 11 [31 favorites]


NYT: El Paso’s Message for Trump Before Rally: Don’t Speak for Us
Ahead of President Trump’s scheduled rally in this West Texas city aimed at building support for his proposed wall on the border with Mexico, people from across the ideological spectrum in El Paso had a message for him on Sunday: Don’t speak for us. [...]

El Paso, where Hispanics account for about 80 percent of the population, was already hostile ground for Mr. Trump. In the 2016 election, he took only about 26 percent of the vote in El Paso County. [...]

Governor Abbott and United States Senator Ted Cruz, the Republican who narrowly defeated Mr. O’Rourke to hold on to his seat in November, are among the Republican officials from around the state who are expected to attend the rally on Monday in support of Mr. Trump.

But elsewhere along the border, there has been rising opposition among state and local officials to the president’s security strategies.

New Mexico’s governor, Michelle Lujan Grisham, announced last week that she had ordered a partial withdrawal of National Guard troops from her state. “New Mexico will not take part in the president’s charade of border fear-mongering by misusing our diligent National Guard troops,” Ms. Grisham, a Democrat, said in a statement.

Early Monday, Gov. Gavin Newsom of California announced that his state, too, would withdraw National Guard troops sent earlier to help the federal government boost security at the border.
posted by Little Dawn at 7:03 AM on February 11 [16 favorites]


Is Mueller one to break the rules? The rest of the article suggests that he is not.

Mueller has already issued most of his report, one indictment at a time
...Mueller has already been submitting his report, piece by piece, in indictments and other charging documents. He has hidden it in plain sight in the court dockets of individuals and organizations he has prosecuted. Many of those court papers have included far more detail than necessary to prove the culpability of defendants who have agreed to plead guilty. This isn’t just legal overkill on Mueller’s part — it’s the outlines of a sweeping narrative about the 2016 election.
posted by kirkaracha at 8:47 AM on February 11 [23 favorites]


WaPo article on tax: “I am really frustrated with my refund this year. I was expecting good chunk of change. I was going to put it toward buying a car,” said Sal Ramirez"

There's a large chunk of the economy that is kind of keyed to the refund infusions each April. Automotive sales, vacation deposits, etc. Wonder how that's going to go.
posted by JoeZydeco at 9:01 AM on February 11 [26 favorites]


On the question of a report:

What an Old Watergate Document Can Teach the House Judiciary Committee:
But what if the Mueller report is not factually rich? What if it is not designed to deliver to Congress information to help Congress do its job? What if it is designed, in accord with the text of the reporting requirement, merely to explain “the prosecution or declination decisions reached by the Special Counsel”?

If Nadler wants a referral from Mueller of information that, in the language of the old statute, may be grounds for impeachment, he should ask for it. He should write both Mueller and Barr a letter explaining—as Rodino explained—that it would be unthinkable if material relevant to the House of Representatives in the discharge of its most awesome constitutional responsibility were not made available to the Judiciary Committee. He should express the unacceptability of the House either acting in impeachment or failing to act in impeachment without having had the opportunity to take material in the hands of the special counsel into account. And he should request, notwithstanding the lapse in the independent counsel law, that Mueller—at the appropriate time and if such material exists—refers to the House judiciary committee “any substantial and credible information which [he] receive[d] . . . that may constitute grounds for an impeachment.”
posted by BungaDunga at 9:01 AM on February 11 [6 favorites]


Steve Schmidt Storms Off Own Podcast When Asked About Advising Howard Schultz

Charlie Pierce: NeverTrumpers Care About Damage to the Republican Brand, Not the Republic
More than a few people have been bothered by my consistent skepticism about the good faith of most Never Trump conservatives. If any of them had abjured 40 years of insane Republican economics, and 40 years of weaponized bigotry, and 40 years of vote-tampering under the color of law, and if any of them had evinced a desire to change American conservatism from a profitable poisonous grift to an actual governing philosophy that didn't require a Thorazine the size of a manhole cover, I'd have felt differently.

(To be fair, Max Boot came as close as anyone to fulfilling this checklist, and people like John Weaver tried gamely to hold onto the party's sanity for it.)

But, through it all, I had the sense that most of them were more concerned with damage to the brand than with the damage to the republic. This was a revelatory weekend for people who believed as I did.
[...]
Those deeply afflicted with the prion disease that has eaten away the higher functions of the Republican Party thought they'd found a way to stop it, but Never Trumpism has proven to be the ideological equivalent of anti-vaxxers. The disease rages on.
posted by zombieflanders at 9:01 AM on February 11 [28 favorites]


If the Republicans really wanted political credit for the tax cut, they should have directed the IRS to artificially inflate the withholding tables so nobody's take-home pay increased with the tax cut, and instead everyone got their tax cut as a lump sum at refund time. It would be a purely cynical move, but it would have worked way better, image-wise, than giving people a couple extra dollars per week.

Instead, the totally rational move of updating the withholding has managed to just confuse people.
posted by BungaDunga at 9:06 AM on February 11 [4 favorites]


To be fair, Max Boot came as close as anyone to fulfilling this checklist, and people like John Weaver tried gamely to hold onto the party's sanity for it.

If Maximum "we must stay in Afghanistan for 300 more years because it's like the Native American genocide, which was good" Boot is the greatest NeverTrump success story then, well.
posted by Rust Moranis at 9:25 AM on February 11 [10 favorites]


Kamala Harris tests out her power at controlling the narrative on a national level. I think she thinks big, and that that is a good sign.
posted by Harry Caul at 9:36 AM on February 11 [11 favorites]


And speaking of NeverTrump: remember when Erick Erickson was the early leader of the "movement?" From today:

I will vote for Donald Trump and Mike Pence. And, to be clear, it will not be just because of what the other side offers, but also because of what the Trump-Pence team has done. They’ve earned my vote.

Every single last one of them has proven less than worthless. Props to those here who asserted this in 2016/7, wish I'd been realistically pessimistic enough to fully believe you then.
posted by Rust Moranis at 9:37 AM on February 11 [45 favorites]


Amy Klobuchar enters 2020 ready to take on big tech:
Most Democratic contenders have entered the race attempting to outflank one another from the left on big progressive ideals like universal health care and criminal justice reform, but Klobuchar, a third-term senator, is sidestepping that progressive fight to carve out a space on consumer protection.

“We need to put some digital rules into law when it comes to people’s privacy. For too long the big tech companies have been telling you ‘Don’t worry! We’ve got your back!’ while your identities are being stolen and your data is mined,” she said during her launch on Sunday. “Our laws need to be as sophisticated as the people who are breaking them.”
As someone who is incredibly critical of big tech, this still seems like a strange thing to prioritize for a presidential election. I will be curious to see how it affects her polling.
posted by Ouverture at 9:47 AM on February 11 [12 favorites]


Koch-funded group sending ‘DREAMers’ to lobby Congress

By the way, the tag line on the Koch-funded Libre's website is "limited government - unlimited opportunities." Ugh.

Can somebody explain to me why dreamers would actually do this?
posted by SteveInMaine at 10:00 AM on February 11


From Harry Caul’s link above:
Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA) has backed the legalization of marijuana, saying: “I think it gives a lot of people joy. And we need more joy in the world.” Harris, who announced her presidential run last month, was appearing on The Breakfast Club radio show in New York City when it was suggested to her that she's against legalization. “That’s not true,” she responded, going on to joke: “Half my family is from Jamaica. Are you kidding me?”
Refreshingly unapologetic on the weed issue.
posted by Barack Spinoza at 10:04 AM on February 11 [43 favorites]


Freedom of movement is something that is pretty fundamental to libertarian ideologies and is one of the few things I agree with my dad about (don't take this away from me!). I am none surprised by the "limited government - unlimited opportunities" tag line. If I was a Dreamer and my actual life was on the line? I'd take any port in that storm. If it gets them in front of a MOC that would otherwise not take a lobbying meeting with someone being sponsored by a left-wing organization? Why not. They're not signing on to be spokespeople for Galt's Gulch.
posted by soren_lorensen at 10:08 AM on February 11 [6 favorites]


CNN: Trump Foundation says NY AG's comments show lawsuit is political. NY has a new AG, and the Trump Foundation has hired a new attorney, Marc L. Mukasey, coincidentally a Giuliani crony.
"Newly elected New York Attorney General Letitia James ran on an anti-Trump campaign where she expressed grave antipathy and animus toward Mr. Trump," attorneys for the foundation, as well as President Donald Trump and his three eldest children, wrote in the filing Friday.

"Attorney General James has referred to President Trump as an 'illegitimate President,'" the filing states, "and has vowed to 'use every area of the law to investigate President Trump and his business transactions and that of his family as well.'"
Then again, Trump and his lawyers were saying this was a politically biased investigation back when Eric Schneiderman was investigating it.
posted by Doktor Zed at 10:12 AM on February 11 [2 favorites]


A bit more context of the Koch brothers' stance on immigration, as compared to the Trump administration's stance (and therefore, what the majority of the GOP are saying out loud): Breaking With Trump's GOP, Koch Brothers Praise Democrats On Immigration (NPR, May 17, 2018)
For the first time, the LIBRE Initiative — the Hispanic outreach arm of the Koch network — is putting money behind efforts to praise Democrats on the federal level, and doing so with control of Congress on the line in the midterm elections.

"This stands out. People when they talk about the Koch network ... they point at areas like tax reform, where we've worked very closely with Republican members," said Wadi Gaitan, a spokesman for the LIBRE Initiative. "Here on this issue, we have Democrats where we want to make sure that their constituents are aware that they are working on a permanent solution for DREAMers and on border security. So it certainly is a unique effort."

It's a novel approach for a network that has made a name for itself for funding causes on the right — and has only very sparsely praised anyone in the Democratic Party.

But the Republican Party under the Trump administration has not moved closer to the libertarian philosophy favored by the Kochs: The White House has pursued foreign tariffs, taken a hard line on immigration, and approved a massive spending bill that would increase the deficit.

As the Republican Party moves further away from the Kochs' ideals, it appears that their network has begun investing in bipartisan efforts that unite members of both parties.
But that doesn't mean they were shifting more heavily Democratic in their support.
Republicans still make up more than half of the beneficiaries of this ad blitz — six GOP House members and three GOP Senate lawmakers will get kudos from the Koch network. They have already pledged to spend nearly $400 million in 2017-2018 to back the Koch Network's policy goals in various states and the federal level, including the free market policy gains achieved by the Republican-controlled Congress.
The Koch brothers also co-sponsored a study that supported the fact that climate change is human-driven (previously on MetaFilter, back in 2012). They have enough money to support a range of topics and viewpoints, sometimes counter to the GOP party line, but always in support of the brothers' libertarian worldview.
posted by filthy light thief at 10:15 AM on February 11 [5 favorites]


Another name in the Democratic candidate for president hat for 2020: Pete Buttigieg’s Quiet Rebellion (Benjamin Wallace-Wells for The New Yorker, February 9, 2019)
John Dickerson pointed out that other Democratic candidates were proposing very big ideas—Medicare for All, the abolition of private health insurance—and asked, “What is your idea that is so big that nobody would mistake it for nibbling around the edges?” Buttigieg answered, “Well, first of all, we’ve got to repair our democracy. The Electoral College needs to go, because it’s made our society less and less democratic.” He went on in this vein, suggesting that electoral reform was essential, and promising that other policies, on security and health care, would follow.
...
“The View” had gone much better. The hosts were intrigued by the idea that Buttigieg, who came out three and a half years ago, could be the first gay President, and by his campaign’s main theme, which he calls intergenerational justice—he believes that millennials are suffering from their elders’ short-term thinking on climate change, economics, and other issues. Whoopi Goldberg wondered whether such a case could be made without alienating older Americans, and Buttigieg watched her intently, absorbing the criticism. “I think we really hit on something with this idea of intergenerational justice,” Buttigieg told me. “I think the trick for us—and this was a big part of what Whoopi Goldberg was asking about—is there should be a way to make a generational case without this all being about generational conflict. And I think there’s a way to do it.”
Interesting ideas, and maybe one to open discussions on these topics, but I won't bet on his chances to advance past the primaries.
posted by filthy light thief at 10:19 AM on February 11 [13 favorites]


Trump tweets: The Democrats are so self righteous and ANGRY! Loosen up and have some fun

Ted Lieu responds
posted by growabrain at 10:26 AM on February 11 [14 favorites]


The only thing the "never trump" crowd has ever cared about is that he says things out loud you're only supposed to say quietly among like-minded bigots. Their disagreement is 100% about approach and 0% about policy. No shit they support him now -- he's doing the things they want, and he's also proving that he can get away with a level of not giving a fuck about decorum previously believed untenable. He's a goddamn trailblazer as far as they're concerned.
posted by tocts at 10:27 AM on February 11 [15 favorites]


Jamelle Bouie, Trump’s Trail of Fears
When Trump jabs at Warren with “Pocahontas,” he’s using the name as an anti-Native caricature. But when he uses Wounded Knee or the Trail of Tears in his attacks, he’s grossly trivializing this nation’s history of genocidal violence against Native Americans, as if there aren’t still millions of indigenous people living in the United States facing continued discrimination and disadvantage.

Like his attacks on prominent African-Americans or his xenophobic smears of Hispanic immigrants, the president’s jokes about these shameful moments in American history are both a performance of racial contempt and an atavistic expression of white supremacist ideology. It’s those comments — more so than his election night promise to represent “the forgotten man” — that forge whatever resemblance Trump has to Andrew Jackson.

It was Jackson who first championed reactionary white majoritarianism, Jackson who shepherded this country toward a mass democracy so tied to chattel slavery, settler colonialism and white supremacy that we still struggle to disentangle ourselves from their legacies.
posted by zachlipton at 10:58 AM on February 11 [46 favorites]


[Folks, AIPAC is way too big and contentious an issue to fit in the catchsll. Pease make a new thread and don’t continue that conversation here, or we won’t be able to fit in anything else. ]
posted by restless_nomad (staff) at 11:30 AM on February 11 [13 favorites]


Quinta Jurecic writes in the Atlantic about how Roger Stone, Jerome Corsi, and George Papadopoulos are making bank off their infamy: A Confederacy of Grift—The subjects of Robert Mueller’s investigation are cashing in.
Crucial to Papadopoulos’s success is his apparent grasp of a foundational principle of the pro-Trump media universe: “The only rule seems to be not to let yourself disappear,” Warzel told me, describing the playbook he views as popularized by [Alex] Jones. “All press is good press, and scandal is the best possible.” In this view, the ultimate aim of these grifts may be not only money but also attention. Whatever the immediate financial rewards they’ve achieved, Stone and Corsi have succeeded in keeping themselves on television.
It's possible that future historians will write the history of the Trump administration as the nadir of the attention economy.
posted by Doktor Zed at 11:34 AM on February 11 [12 favorites]


Basically it's right up there as debate legitimacy as Klobuchar being unfit for the presidency because she stood outside yesterday without a hat.
posted by Autumnheart at 11:41 AM on February 11 [1 favorite]


Meanwhile, Kamala Harris answers questions about being black

Why does the media have to entertain every yahoo that opens his mouth?
posted by Autumnheart at 12:33 PM on February 11 [4 favorites]


(By which I mean the outpouring of racist and other -ist bullshit being directed at candidates, not Harris.)
posted by Autumnheart at 12:34 PM on February 11 [3 favorites]


Adam Entous and Ronan Farrow have a long and fascinating read at the New Yorker on Psy-Group, which pitched the Trump campaign, George Nader, and Erik Prince in 2016 on proposals to run a social media influence campaign for Trump: Private Mossad for Hire, focusing on their efforts to expand to state and local elections. The article focuses, rather unexpectedly, on a Tulare Hospital Board election (yep, that is in Devin Nunes' district), along with other madness. The entire thing really needs to be read in full, but these three mysterious paragraphs featuring unreliable narrators with motives to both minimize and exaggrate are the most relevant to Trump:
Burstien said that his talks with the Trump campaign went nowhere; a representative for Zamel denied that his client engaged in any activity having to do with the election. But, according to the Nader representative, shortly after the election Zamel bragged to Nader that he had conducted a secret campaign that had been influential in Trump’s victory. Zamel agreed to brief Nader on how the operation had worked. During that conversation, Zamel showed Nader several analytical reports, including one that described the role of avatars, bots, fake news, and unattributed Web sites in assisting Trump. Zamel told Nader, “Here’s the work that we did to help get Trump elected,” according to the Nader representative. Nader paid Zamel more than two million dollars, but never received copies of the reports, that person said.

A representative for Zamel denied that he told Nader that he or any of his operatives had intervened to help Trump during the 2016 election. If Nader came away with that impression, the representative said, he was mistaken. “Nader may have paid Zamel not knowing when, how, or why the report was created, but he wanted to use it to gain access and new business,” the representative said. “In fact, it used publicly available material to show how social media—in general—was used in connection with the campaign.”
...
To capitalize on this newfound interest, Burstien started making the rounds in Washington with a new PowerPoint presentation, which some Psy-Group employees called the “If we had done it” slide deck, and which appeared similar to the one that Nader saw. Titled “Donald Trump’s 2016 Presidential Campaign—Analysis,” the presentation outlined the role of Web sites, avatars, and bots in influencing the outcome of the election. In one case highlighted in the slide deck, pro-Trump avatars joined a Facebook page for Bernie Sanders supporters and then flooded it with links to anti-Hillary Clinton articles from Web sites that posted fake news, creating a hostile environment for real members of the group. “Bernie supporters had left our page in droves, depressed and disgusted by the venom,” the group’s administrator was quoted as saying. As part of the presentation, Burstien pointed out that Russian operatives had been caught meddling in the U.S.; Psy-Group, he told clients, was “more careful.”
There's a broader narrative behind the piece, which is the extent to which creating fake avatars and stirring up nonsense online in elections isn't particularly illegal because nobody has even contemplated laws for this stuff
posted by zachlipton at 12:38 PM on February 11 [19 favorites]


[Folks, AIPAC is way too big and contentious an issue to fit in the catchsll. Pease make a new thread and don’t continue that conversation here, or we won’t be able to fit in anything else. ]

I hope this one will prove to be serviceable.
posted by box at 12:50 PM on February 11 [11 favorites]


News You May Have Missed for 10 Feb
posted by joannemerriam at 12:54 PM on February 11 [3 favorites]


Autumnheart The thing is, while the yahoo in question was indeed a bad actor, there are valid questions about Harris and her record as AG. She advances the argument that there is a need for progressive attorneys general and other prosecutors to oppose the problems in the criminal justice system and I'm inclined to agree.

However, her record as AG doesn't really point to her being one of those hypothetical attorneys general. She was relentlessly pro-cop and anti-defendant during her time in that office and acted in a way that was largely consistent with maintaining the white supremacist and pro-police brutality system as it currently exists. She wasn't entirely awful, there were definitely things she did that I strongly approve of.

But her record is, at the absolute most generous, spotty and she needs to talk about it and make amends for her many wrong and unjust actions. She wrote that the American justice system has a long and ugly history of white supremacy and, sadly, while she was most able to change that she not only failed to try, but often actively worked to make the problem worse.

I'm not even anti-Harris, TBH she's my favorite of the candidates right now. But there are valid, important, questions to be asked about her time working on behalf of white supremacy both in her time as a prosecutor and as California's Attorney General.
posted by sotonohito at 12:54 PM on February 11 [13 favorites]


But there are valid, important, questions to be asked about her time working on behalf of white supremacy both in her time as a prosecutor and as California's Attorney General.

Okay. But "are you really black" is not one of those questions. I think that is what Autumnheart was getting at.
posted by Emmy Rae at 12:58 PM on February 11 [41 favorites]


After the day I've had, I'm ready to give serious consideration to any candidate, regardless of party or policy, who promises to do something very harsh about call spoofing and telemarketing.
posted by Faint of Butt at 1:08 PM on February 11 [23 favorites]


From the Kamala Harris article: "There are some people who are just going to say, 'we don't want prosecutors.' And I don't know that I'm going to be able to convince them," she said.

If there is ever a year when a being a former prosecutor is an asset, 2020 is it. While she would not actually be prosecuting Trumpworld, I would expect her to understand the nuances that Justice might want to discuss with her. Also, though running for president, she could end up as AG.
posted by M-x shell at 1:16 PM on February 11 [15 favorites]


But her record is, at the absolute most generous, spotty and she needs to talk about it and make amends for her many wrong and unjust actions.

This is pinging a lot of the same alarm bells the anti-Hillary crusades pinged, for me. There is an uncomfortable, nuanced conversation that needs to be had about how the double standards and systems of oppression placed on women (particularly women of color) in executive roles have constrained the paths that are available to them while in office, and I don't trust this country to have that conversation at all.

Instead there are going to be a bunch of people who gleefully latch on to a reason that this woman is not the right woman, yet again, and a bunch more who uncritically accept their arguments.
posted by schadenfrau at 1:30 PM on February 11 [85 favorites]


Like, "she didn't do enough" is such a context dependent argument that it's absurd to make it without reference to the context, and I really don't trust the opinions of anyone who wasn't deep in California politics at the time, and even then, if they're not a woman of color...side eye.
posted by schadenfrau at 1:32 PM on February 11 [11 favorites]


That article also includes Harris's response to people who have questioned her decision to marry a white man. Ugh, my heart hurts.
posted by sunset in snow country at 1:33 PM on February 11 [11 favorites]


If there is ever a year when a being a former prosecutor is an asset, 2020 is it.

Shes not going to prosecute anyone herself, as president. Thats a bit like saying a company should have a plumber as CEO because its toilets are leaky . . . except in my analogy most plumbers just walk around shooting black people and ignoring white collar toilets, erm i mean crimes.

We need a culture-wide reconsideration of our relationship with laws and power, going back to this countrys founding through the subjugation of Native Americans and African slaves. Folks who think prosecutors arent well position to make laws or lead those who wont be swayed by this empty logic.
posted by Exceptional_Hubris at 1:35 PM on February 11 [7 favorites]


except in my analogy most plumbers just walk around shooting black people and ignoring white collar toilets

In what universe do lawyers shoot people?
posted by asteria at 1:42 PM on February 11 [2 favorites]


@Exceptional_Hubris: The very next thing I wrote after your quote was "While she would not actually be prosecuting Trumpworld..."

And I agree there are huge problems with law enforcement and prosecution, but I wasn't trying to solve them in the three sentences I wrote.
posted by M-x shell at 1:43 PM on February 11 [3 favorites]


We need a culture-wide reconsideration of our relationship with laws and power

Well, yeah. We need to reconsider both the ways in which they have bound people of color and the poor and the ways in which they have NOT bound wealthy white men.

I'm all in favor of prosecutors who want to go after white collar crime, campaign finance violations, and sexual assault, for instance. A black woman prosecutor may be the perfect person to reconsider that part of our relationship with laws and power.

(Though I am also partial to "daughter of a newspaperman and a unionized teacher" former prosecutor Amy Klobuchar. I like the hard questions she asked in Kavanaugh's confirmation hearing and in Senate Judiciary committee hearings related to the Russia investigation. I like the way she goes after Zuckerberg and Jack Dorsey. I like the way she goes after pharmaceutical companies. Etc)
posted by OnceUponATime at 1:47 PM on February 11 [16 favorites]


I like the hard questions she asked in Kavanaugh's confirmation hearing and in Senate Judiciary committee hearings related to the Russia investigation. I like the way she goes after Zuckerberg and Jack Dorsey. I like the way she goes after pharmaceutical companies. Etc

I mean, that's the thing, right? Where do they stick their neck out?

The campaign industry is overgrown with these weeds of entrenched conservatism that waits for the right time to do everything, and not much beyond platform talk until then. The silent voice of donors feels like a factor in this lack of boat-rocking, like a band that starts out by releasing its second album.
posted by rhizome at 2:01 PM on February 11 [3 favorites]


Ivanka Trump is touting her ambitious new program to lift 50 million women from poverty using $50 meeelion dollars of USAID money.

Let's see -- aught from aught, carry the one -- uh, that works out to just under 2 cents a week per woman. "Don't spend it all in one place."

Trump sure raised some awful offspring.
posted by JackFlash at 2:34 PM on February 11 [28 favorites]


NYT, Cliff Sims, White House Tell-All Author, Sues Trump for Going After Him Over Book
Cliff Sims, the former White House communications aide who wrote an insider account of life working for President Trump, is suing the president in his official capacity, alleging that he used his campaign organization as a “cutout” to improperly seek retribution against former employees and keep them from invoking their First Amendment rights.

Mr. Sims was a White House aide from the beginning of the administration. But it was the campaign organization that filed an arbitration claim against him last week, accusing him of violating the nondisclosure agreement he signed with it during the 2016 presidential race with the publication of his book, “Team of Vipers,” last month.
Here's a copy of the complaint (PDF). He's represented by Mark Zaid.
posted by zachlipton at 3:01 PM on February 11 [16 favorites]


WaPo, Devastated by one shutdown, dreading the next
The federal government had finally called her back to work after 35 days, but now Vicki Ibarra wondered how she could afford to get there. Her used sedan had been repossessed by the bank a few days earlier. The family minivan had a faulty engine and barely any gas. Her Internet had been cut off a month into the longest government shutdown in U.S. history, so she used a friend’s wireless password to log into her bank account. There was $0.38 left in checking and $7.80 in savings, the sum total of 16 years at the IRS.

“This is like disappearing into quicksand,” she said to her friend, Ernie Delgado. “Even once I get back at work, how am I supposed to dig out?”
16 years at the IRS making $35,000, already stretched thin, and the shutdown had her selling her mattress and realizing that the backpay she eventually got wouldn't begin to cover the late fees she'd amassed.
posted by zachlipton at 3:46 PM on February 11 [69 favorites]


Ivanka Trump is touting her ambitious new program to lift 50 million women from poverty using $50 meeelion dollars of USAID money.

Um, isn't that one dollar per woman? What the fuck difference will that make?
posted by kirkaracha at 4:11 PM on February 11 [21 favorites]


Serious question, what happens if someone under a binding arbitration agreement just ignores the summons to arbitration and whatever fine the arbitrator levies agaibst them? Surely arbitrators dont have the power to garnish wages or seize assets? So eventually theyd have to go to a real court to try and collect, right?
posted by sotonohito at 4:17 PM on February 11 [4 favorites]


Um, isn't that one dollar per woman? What the fuck difference will that make?

Yeah I think its because its 50 million per year for 50 million women, so close to 2 cents per woman, per week....but don't worry if that sounds like too little to make a difference. According to the WaPo, White House Deputy Director of Communications Jessica Ditto responded in an email that the $50 million figure for 50 million people mischaracterized the initiative. Apparently agencies would “seek to collectively attribute no less than $300 million per fiscal year".

So really it may be 12 cents per woman, per week, for 50 million women annually. A quick google suggests you can buy V for Vandetta masks for 1 cent each on Amazon (excl delivery). So I guess that'll work for year one for helping dress the revolution.
posted by inflatablekiwi at 4:53 PM on February 11 [15 favorites]


If the media does to Harris, or any of the women candidates, what the media did to the woman candidate in the last election, I will be so incredibly sad and angry. The first question to Kirsten Gillebrand was about her likability, the comments about Harris being black enough, the ethnicity of her husband, the focus on the native american 'thing' (I refuse to call it an issue) and Warren (she addressed this a bunch), and Klobuchar being 'mean'. It's such a condescension of the American electorate that these issues are front and center instead of policy and there is nothing - no.thing. that any of these candidates could possibly say that will put these things out of the headlines.
posted by bluesky43 at 4:54 PM on February 11 [34 favorites]


Surely arbitrators dont have the power to garnish wages or seize assets? So eventually theyd have to go to a real court to try and collect, right?

Well, that's exactly what happens in non-arbitration situation as well. You first get a judgement against you, you ignore it, and then the aggrieved party goes to court to force you a pay via seized assets or garnishments or whatever.
posted by sideshow at 5:05 PM on February 11


@Phil_Mattingly: Senator Richard Shelby says negotiators have an agreement in principle on the border security talks

It apparently is a deal on all seven remaining appropriations bills to fund the government through September, but no details yet on the border or exactly what's in this agreement. Or whether Trump will ruin it with a tweet.

Meanwhile, Politico reports that the White House is trying to come up with a way to shuffle around money to build a wall without declaring an emergency by taking it from, er, actual needs: ‘It will create a firestorm’: Mulvaney’s border wall cash grab sparks dissent in White House
The emerging consensus among acting chief of staff Mick Mulvaney and top budget officials is to shift money from two Army Corps of Engineers’ flood control projects in Northern California, as well as from disaster relief funds intended for California and Puerto Rico. The plan will also tap unspent Department of Defense funds for military construction, like family housing or infrastructure for military bases, according to three sources familiar with the negotiations.
...
But the strategy is far from a cure-all for a president with no good options, and it has already sparked debate within the White House. Moving funds by executive order is virtually certain to draw instant court challenges, with opponents, including some powerful members of Congress, arguing the president is encroaching on the legislative branch’s constitutional power to appropriate funds.

Some Trump officials, including those aligned with senior adviser Stephen Miller, have argued internally that the gambit might be even more vulnerable to court challenges than a national emergency declaration. And in a sign of the political fallout, the top Republican on the House Armed Services Committee has argued that tapping military construction money would hurt the armed forces’ potential readiness.
posted by zachlipton at 5:37 PM on February 11 [8 favorites]


Governors Are Pulling Their Troops From The Border, Saying There Is No “Crisis”

California Governor Gavin Newsom joined New Mexico's Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham in removing troops from the border. Said Newsom:
"How many hundreds of millions of dollars are being wasted for political gain?"  Newsom said at a press conference Monday.  "This whole thing is the theatre of the absurd and California has had enough and we will not perpetuate it."
That's gonna stick in Comrade Trumpski's craw, no doubt.  One has to assume other republicans will soon complain as well, since states' rights generally only apply to conservative ones.  It was good to see Buzzfeed pointing out how dramatically far border arrests have declined in the past 15 years or so.  I'd like to see that brought up in every article.
posted by los pantalones del muerte at 5:40 PM on February 11 [21 favorites]


Here's a super indepth assessment of Klobuchar's strengths as a candidate (vox Nate Silver)

1. Electability
2. Potential strength in Iowa, and in the debates
3.The beer track … without the baggage? Klobuchar’s campaign is likely to emphasize her working-class Midwestern roots,
4. A reasonably clear contrast to Trump (/this latter point focuses on some policy but also refers to her being "scrappier" on the campaign trail that might be unexpected, as if that is a weakness).
posted by bluesky43 at 5:46 PM on February 11 [1 favorite]


@matthewjdowd
If i were Senators Klobuchar, Warren, Harris, and Gillebrand I would soon do an event together where they stand side by side and say they stand as one even while they run against each other, and say any petty attack on one is an attack on all.

/IMHO this is a brilliant idea.
posted by bluesky43 at 5:48 PM on February 11 [97 favorites]


‘A Woman, Just Not That Woman’: How Sexism Plays Out on the Trail NYT

In the words of her detractors during the 2016 presidential race, Hillary Clinton was abrasive and shrill. She was aloof. She was unlikable.

It’s not a coincidence that some of these adjectives are now bubbling up in discussions of Senators Elizabeth Warren, Kirsten Gillibrand and Kamala Harris as they campaign for the 2020 Democratic nomination.

Few Americans acknowledge they would hesitate to vote for a woman for president — but they don’t have to, according to researchers and experts on politics and women and extensive research on double standards in campaigns. Reluctance to support female candidates is apparent in the language that voters frequently use to describe men and women running for office; in the qualities that voters say they seek; and in the perceived flaws that voters say they are willing or unwilling to overlook in candidates.

“For 20 years, we’ve heard participants in our focus groups say they would vote for a woman, just not that woman,” said Amanda Hunter, research and communications director at the Barbara Lee Family Foundation, which supports women in politics. “That promise will be put to the test in some cases, because folks may not be able to hide their bias behind that excuse when there’s multiple women on the debate stage.” (emphasis mine)
posted by bluesky43 at 5:54 PM on February 11 [38 favorites]


WaPo reporter Erica Werner:
The agreement reached tonight would include:
-$1.375b for border barriers (55 new miles of bollard fencing)
-Dems drop call for new cap on ICE beds for detentions in interior
-Overall cap on detention beds drops from 49,057 to 40,520

Per congressional official.
Seems like mostly a Democratic victory to me.
posted by Justinian at 6:20 PM on February 11 [17 favorites]


Just reflecting on how Schumer once offered Rump $25 billion for The Wall with no strings attached, but he decided to be petulant and killed the deal.

Then the Dems get elected, so now he gets about 95% less (and that, with imposed conditions).


The Art of the Deal, y’all!
posted by darkstar at 6:26 PM on February 11 [49 favorites]


If the media does to Harris, or any of the women candidates, what the media did to the woman candidate in the last election, I will be so incredibly sad and angry. The first question to Kirsten Gillebrand was about her likability, the comments about Harris being black enough, the ethnicity of her husband, the focus on the native american 'thing' (I refuse to call it an issue) and Warren (she addressed this a bunch), and Klobuchar being 'mean'. It's such a condescension of the American electorate that these issues are front and center instead of policy and there is nothing - no.thing. that any of these candidates could possibly say that will put these things out of the headlines.

They will. What the media does is tear down Democratic candidates, and particularly Democratic women. Anything to keep the focus of America on "likeability" or personal traits, rather than the actual existential issues facing the country. Covering Elizabeth Warren's tax plan is hard, and their corporate owners really hate it. Running the same "she marked Native-American on another test another time!" story for 600 straight days is easy, and fits their goal to reelect Trump. This is going to keep happening, every time, to every Democrat that takes the lead, and to every woman that enters the race. It's what they do.
posted by T.D. Strange at 6:29 PM on February 11 [21 favorites]


Here's a super indepth assessment of Klobuchar's strengths as a candidate
One of them is simply the overall electoral importance of the Midwest — particularly the Upper Midwestern states of Minnesota (which Trump came within 1.5 percentage points of winning), Wisconsin and Michigan (which Trump won). Winning those three states plus Pennsylvania (or Ohio, or Florida, or North Carolina) would have given Hillary Clinton the presidency.
I like Klobuchar (she's currently my 2nd choice after Harris) but I think this runs a danger of overreacting to the 2016 results in the Midwest. Trump won the upper Midwest states by a football stadium full of people spread out over three states. I'd bet many of those people have buyer's remorse. Consequently I don't think the Democratic nominee necessarily needs to be from the Midwest.
posted by kirkaracha at 6:34 PM on February 11 [14 favorites]


Remember before getting mad about the 1.375b that 1.375b is what Democrats offered in the original deal that Trump exploded. Uh, I guess the second deal that Trump exploded, not the original original 25b one.

So this deal is the same amount of money that the Democrats were going to offer months ago... and with a 20% reduction in funding for detention.
posted by Justinian at 6:37 PM on February 11 [38 favorites]


I like Klobuchar (she's currently my 2nd choice after Harris) but I think this runs a danger of overreacting to the 2016 results in the Midwest. Trump won the upper Midwest states by a football stadium full of people spread out over three states. I'd bet many of those people have buyer's remorse. Consequently I don't think the Democratic nominee necessarily needs to be from the Midwest.

I see what you mean but I think a midwesterner has appeal beyond the midwest. One of the (totally unsubstantiated things) I have always thought about Obama's appeal overall was based on a quote from him about campaigning. What he said was that he could connect to many of the people he met - and they to him presumably- because they were like his midwestern grandparents. This was super important early on in the primaries. I always thought there was truth in that.
posted by bluesky43 at 6:49 PM on February 11 [6 favorites]


Glenn Thrush (didn't this guy get canned for #MeToo or something?) has some more on the details. According to him the 20% reduction in beds is purely symbolic because ICE will just declare an emergency and ignore it. So I dunno why Democrats fought so hard for it unless it's the symbolism of Republicans agreeing they wanted? And with regard to the 1.375b there is authorization for 55 miles of new "bollard fencing" using existing tech and a specific ban on things like Trump's concrete prototypes. But, importantly, the 55 miles is less than the 65 miles in the deal from last June that Trump scuttled.

So it sounds like this is a hodgepodge of stuff from both of the last two "deals" but on a much smaller scale.
posted by Justinian at 7:01 PM on February 11 [2 favorites]


Guardian: 'Inexplicable cruelty': US government sued over family separations at border
Lawyers for eight immigrant families separated under Trump administration policy have filed claims against the US government, demanding $6m each in damages for what they describe as “inexplicable cruelty” and lasting trauma. [...]

Stanton Jones, an attorney representing some of the plaintiffs, warned the Trump administration that other families caught up in the government’s policy of “zero tolerance” for unlawful border crossings, which resulted in parents being forcibly divided from their children and held in detention separately, are getting ready to sue.

“Today is just the beginning,” he told the Guardian on Monday evening. [...]

The government has admitted to separating 2,600 children from their families, though a recent government review says that the Trump administration divided thousands of other families before the policy was publicly known.
posted by Little Dawn at 7:06 PM on February 11 [20 favorites]


Yeah, I worry that the bed/funding reductions will just make conditions worse.
posted by Windopaene at 7:09 PM on February 11 [6 favorites]


If you promote and implement a policy of stripping refugee children away from their refugee parents, detaining the children in cages, and then letting third parties adoptfiscate the children, to later claim that it’s impractical to reunite the families, well, I just don’t see how anyone could argue that’s not a Crime Against Humanity.

I mean, not kidnapping children would seem to be a basic principle of humanity, wouldn’t you think?
posted by darkstar at 7:44 PM on February 11 [36 favorites]


well, I just don’t see how anyone could argue that’s not a Crime Against Humanity.

Precedent says it's a crime against humanity, punishable by life imprisonment
posted by Rust Moranis at 7:57 PM on February 11 [31 favorites]


Daniel Dale’s been live-tweeting/fact-checking Trump’s El Paso rally, which has been nuts, naturally. Some highlights:
—Trump complains that people complain about progress with North Korea even though he left the Singapore summit a mere "15 months ago." It was in June 2018.
—Trump says he's "1 for 1" in elections, and now he's going to be "2 for 0."
—Trump adds some more to his usual line about a protester going home to mommy, this time saying the protester will be "punished" by mommy.
—Trump lies that "the real collusion" was with Hillary Clinton. This is, as always, simple nonsense. There is a Lock Her Up chant. Trump adds that "there's also collusion between the Democrats and the fake news right here." There is a CNN Sucks chant.
—Trump: "Where are the fact-checkers? You know, some of the most dishonest people in media are the so-called fact-checkers."
—Trump falsely: "Our unemployment rate: real unemployment, 3.6, 3.7, and going down." He then says, "It went up to 4...you know how low 4 is?...It went up from 3.7 to 4 just quickly." He says it's because of "a little blip" with the shutdown.
—Ah, the "three women tied up in the backseat of a car" have returned. Trump this time says the traffickers "make a left" to get into the country with the gagged women, a departure from the frequent "make a right."
—"Almost 40,000 people were murdered in Mexico," Trump says. He first tweeted the correct number, 33,341, then made it "38,000" in his remarks at the White House, then tonight made it "almost 40,000."
—!!! Trump: "Certain types of dogs. You do love your dogs, don't you? I wouldn't mind having one, honestly, but I don't have any time. How would I look walking a dog on the White House lawn?...Feels a little phony to me...That's not the relationship I have with my people."
—Trump says he's been advised to get a dog because it's good politically, but "that's not the relationship I have with my people," his base.
—Sir Alert/Tears Alert! Trump says a crying guy so big "he's like a monster, like this monster football player, big strong guy," said to him, as he was coming out, "Thank you very much...you've saved our country."
However tiresome it is to report on this, Dale underscores how abnormal these rallies are and how unwell Trump clearly is (covering Rob Ford prepared him for this in ways that many American journalists still haven’t learned).
posted by Doktor Zed at 7:58 PM on February 11 [55 favorites]


Newsweek: Largest Newspaper In State Won By Trump Compares Child Separation Policy To War Crimes
The editorial board of The Salt Lake Tribune, the newspaper with the largest weekday circulation in Utah, published a searing editorial Tuesday that called the U.S.'s treatment of refugee children “a national disgrace.”

“It can be hard for normal people to grasp that their own government—and it’s individual agents, officers and attorneys—is involved in a heartless and brainless effort to visit so much deliberate cruelty upon asylum-seeking families,” the editorial said.

“All this at a time when the president of the United States stirs up public mistrust, if not downright hatred, of the news organizations that are struggling daily to find out the truth about these children and what is happening to them,” the piece went on. “This is the kind of behavior that, when carried out by non-superpowers, gets people hauled before the International Criminal Court of some special war crimes tribunal.”
posted by Little Dawn at 8:01 PM on February 11 [72 favorites]


Trump this time says the traffickers "make a left" to get into the country with the gagged women, a departure from the frequent "make a right."

What's the explanation for this bit of his? Why the detail about directions?
posted by InTheYear2017 at 8:08 PM on February 11


@GOP [image]: "We're only getting stronger / TOGETHER"

@molly_knight: “Stronger Together” was literally Hillary’s slogan I’m so embarrassed for you.
posted by zachlipton at 8:09 PM on February 11 [68 favorites]


What's the explanation for this bit of his? Why the detail about directions?

I think it's because he found out (prob after he became POTUS) that the US/MEX border already has a bunch of fencing (or Wall™, if you will), so he had to pivot to more of "fill in the holes in existing fence/wall system" kinda deal. So, the imaginary bad guys drive north, hit the existing fences, make a right (but they made a left in this last rally for some reason) until they get to the end of fence, then cross into the US/leave their prayer blankets in the desert/catapult their bales of weed onto unsuspecting Americans/tie up women in blue tape/whatever.
posted by sideshow at 8:26 PM on February 11 [6 favorites]


I’d just like to note that in recent years, Republicans in power have gone on the record supporting — without exaggeration — the following:

1. Waterboarding prisoners

2. Tear-gassing refugees

3. Building a border wall

4. Detaining refugees in concentration camps

5. Stealing children from their parents to place them in “more desirable” households

6. Investigating and incarcerating political opponents

7. Assaulting protesters and dissident journalists

8. Rank authoritarianism

9. White supremacy

10. Overt nationalism

11. Nepotism at the highest levels of government

12. Obstruction of Justice and Undermining the Rule of Law

13. Race/ethnicity-based rejection of travel and immigration

...and so on.


At what point do they begin to ask themselves “Are we the baddies?”
posted by darkstar at 8:37 PM on February 11 [107 favorites]


@GOP [image]: "We're only getting stronger / TOGETHER"

@molly_knight: “Stronger Together” was literally Hillary’s slogan I’m so embarrassed for you.


The GOP: We’re only getting stronger to get her.
posted by Barack Spinoza at 8:38 PM on February 11 [30 favorites]


They don't ask themselves that.

They are right, and have no self-reflection/doubt about this at all...
posted by Windopaene at 8:38 PM on February 11 [5 favorites]


[One deleted. Pre-empting this: let's not go down a rabbit hole of general always-applicable "these fuckers, don't they see"/"no they're terrible" stuff.]
posted by LobsterMitten (staff) at 8:45 PM on February 11 [8 favorites]


@GOP [image]: "We're only getting stronger / TOGETHER"

The phrase also recently showed up in a BuzzFeed profile of Tommy Hicks, buddy of DJT Jr and now co-chair of the RNC:
“We've had some people move out who weren't on the side of the president,” he said, adding with a smirk, “We're stronger together,” a nod to Hillary Clinton’s 2016 campaign slogan.
So it's no accident, it's a concerted effort to troll.
posted by peeedro at 9:44 PM on February 11 [6 favorites]


Losing political campaigns are often accused of "fighting the last battle", but seldom is it this literal.

It's 3 years later and his biggest applause line is still "lock her up".
posted by T.D. Strange at 9:57 PM on February 11 [13 favorites]


Countdown to him pointing it at Kamala Harris.
posted by rhizome at 11:01 PM on February 11 [9 favorites]


I realize that it’s intended to get under my skin, but the "blue tape" thing really gets under my skin. Blue tape is the kind of masking tape you use for painting walls. It's a 3M product that's not vey sticky at all so it doesn't rip the paint off the wall. It doesn't even stick to skin...it would be terrible for gagging anyone. Also: while electrical tape comes in a bunch of colors, including blue, black is by far the most common (followed by white), and it's way too skinny to gag someone with. DUCT tape is what you want to be using. #pedanticaboutabductionmaterials,sorry
posted by sexyrobot at 4:04 AM on February 12 [56 favorites]


True but blue tape sounds like blue wave, in the mind of a 5 year old orange giant.
posted by Harry Caul at 4:08 AM on February 12 [4 favorites]


I realize that it’s intended to get under my skin, but the "blue tape" thing really gets under my skin.

In a way it's a very important point as it clearly shows how much of a fabulist he is, and how little it matters to his supporters. The idea anyone would choose electrical tape to gag someone is ridiculous, and his working class supporters must realise that. But then, ditto needing an ID to buy groceries, etc. His supporters have ceased to believe their lyin' eyes if what he tells contradicts them.

As Voltaire said
Once your faith, sir, persuades you to believe what your intelligence declares to be absurd, beware lest you likewise sacrifice your reason in the conduct of your life. In days gone by, there were people who said to us: "You believe in incomprehensible, contradictory and impossible things because we have commanded you to; now then, commit unjust acts because we likewise order you to do so." Nothing could be more convincing. Certainly anyone who has the power to make you believe absurdities has the power to make you commit injustices. If you do not use the intelligence with which God endowed your mind to resist believing impossibilities, you will not be able to use the sense of injustice which God planted in your heart to resist a command to do evil. Once a single faculty of your soul has been tyrannized, all the other faculties will submit to the same fate
Or as it's often paraphrased: "Those who can make you believe absurdities, can make you commit atrocities."

Trump is successfully redefining reality and the rules of the game (probably by accident, most power accumulates due to luck and psychopathy), which is why he may quite possibly win.


That said, fairly sure blue duct tape exists, the seat on my poor old Transalp is 75% Duck brand actual rainbow coloured duct tape...
posted by Buntix at 4:28 AM on February 12 [32 favorites]


WaPo: Americans view Mueller as more credible than Trump, but views of his probe are scattered
As the special counsel investigation seems to be nearing its final stage, Americans view Robert S. Mueller III as far more credible than President Trump, but the public has scattered and partisan perceptions of Mueller’s motives and what he has found so far, according to a new Washington Post-Schar School poll.

Fifty-six percent to 33 percent, more say they trust Mueller’s version of the facts than Trump’s. And by nearly as wide a margin, more believe Mueller is mainly interested in “finding out the truth” than trying to “hurt Trump politically.” [...]

More than 6 in 10 say that if Mueller concludes Trump obstructed justice or authorized his campaign to coordinate with Russians in an effort to win the 2016 election, Congress should begin impeachment hearings to remove him from office.
posted by Little Dawn at 4:42 AM on February 12 [11 favorites]


sideshow: I think it's because he found out (prob after he became POTUS) that the US/MEX border already has a bunch of fencing (or Wall™, if you will), so he had to pivot to more of "fill in the holes in existing fence/wall system" kinda deal.

Ah, that makes sense. Of course, one issue is that in his rambling to reporters announcing the shutdown's end, he said existing physical barriers are adequate just like advisors are presumably telling him -- that we don't literally need to build a wall "from sea to shining sea".

It's one of the better examples of his habit of telling different groups different things, which works when what you say is siloed to different smoke-filled rooms rather than accessible to the entire American public.
posted by InTheYear2017 at 4:45 AM on February 12 [2 favorites]


"Those who can make you believe absurdities, can make you commit atrocities."

Guardian: BBC cameraman shoved and abused at Trump rally in El Paso
The BBC’s Washington correspondent Gary O’Donoghue said his colleague Ron Skeans was “fine” despite the “incredibly violent attack”.

Footage from Skeans’ camera, tweeted by O’Donoghue, suggested he and his equipment were knocked off balance for around 10 seconds, as he was filming Trump’s speech. Skeans recovered to film a man in a red Make America Great Again cap being restrained and shouting: “Fuck the media.” [...]

In August last year United Nations experts warned that Trump’s anti-media invective increased the risk of journalists being targeted with violence.
posted by Little Dawn at 5:01 AM on February 12 [46 favorites]


Seth Abramson -
My 2019 would be officially made if one of the Democratic candidates spent their whole primary campaign campaigning against Mike Pence on the assumption Trump will not be in office in November 2020
It would be the ultimate troll, as Trump has no idea what to do when 100% ignored
posted by growabrain at 5:41 AM on February 12 [91 favorites]


According to him the 20% reduction in beds is purely symbolic because ICE will just declare an emergency and ignore it. So I dunno why Democrats fought so hard for it unless it's the symbolism of Republicans agreeing they wanted?

Yeah that's my take. It was just a bargaining chip from the outset. There was no way the Democrats were going to take the heat for another shutdown over fighting for detention beds for supposed criminals. They gave a performance of fighting the good fight til the bitter end, the Republicans gave a performance of forcing the Dems to surrender a core demand, "both sides" gave a performance for the benefit of so-called independent voters of making a reasonable compromise. In the end, everybody's happy, crisis averted, back to three martini lunches and being feted by lobbyists. We're all winners!! (except the legions of unfairly detained undocumented people and their loved ones but, that's politics for ya.)
posted by xigxag at 5:56 AM on February 12 [2 favorites]


As much hoped for, Mark Kelly, NASA astronaut and husband of former Congresswoman Gabby Giffords, launches his Arizona Senate campaign to unseat Republican Martha McSally.

McSally lost to Democrat Sinema last November, in the race to replace the retiring Flake. After her loss, McSally was appointed by the Governor to fill McCain’s seat for the two years remaining in McCain’s term.
posted by darkstar at 5:58 AM on February 12 [59 favorites]


Daniel Dale follows up on Trump's lying about crowd sizes last night:
As almost always, Trump was lying about his crowd size...
El Paso Times Editor Zahira Torres:
El Paso Fire Department just told us that Trump's statement about them allowing 10,000 people inside is incorrect. Spokesman says coliseum holds 6,500 and that is how many were allowed in building. #TrumpElPaso
...Trump was also lying about the O'Rourke event, which he pegged at a maximum of 300 people...
Bloomberg's Jennifer Epstein:
El Paso police estimate a crowd of 10,000 to 15,000 for the anti-Trump, anti-wall, pro-O’Rourke march and rally tonight.
...and Trump was lying about the number of people watching the rally on screens outside. That is a crowd size liefecta.
WaPo's Bob Moore:
El Paso County Coliseum officials tell me about 6,000 people watched the @realDonaldTrump rally on screens outside, on top of the 7,000 inside. So total of about 13,000.
posted by Doktor Zed at 6:03 AM on February 12 [25 favorites]


Or as it's often paraphrased: "Those who can make you believe absurdities, can make you commit atrocities."
"The great masses of the people ... will more easily fall victim to a big lie than to a small one."
—Adolf Hitler, Mein Kampf
Notably, that sentence, in the passage where it occurs, is an example both of the big lie and of the technique of projection, since, in the course of telling the lie, he is attributing that same habit to the Jews.

But, yeah, that psychological principle is a fundamental strategy of all manner of abusers, con artists, cult leaders, and totalitarians. It functions as a "buy-in," demanding a kind of libidinal investment by the believers, one which, at the risk of feeling like a mark, they may be increasingly unwilling to abandon and which, at the same time, they can wear as a badge of pride.
posted by octobersurprise at 6:39 AM on February 12 [17 favorites]


Scarborough: “Most older men in retirement homes live far more active lives than does Donald Trump" (Travis Gettys, RawStory via Salon)
MSNBC's Joe Scarborough ridicules Trump for spending most of his time watching TV and griping like a retiree
posted by ZeusHumms at 7:07 AM on February 12 [15 favorites]


TechDirt: Report Shows ICE Almost Never Punishes Contractors Housing Detainees No Matter How Many Violations They Rack Up
ICE only imposed financial penalties twice, despite observing a jaw-dropping 14,003 deficiencies over the course of three years.

...

ICE is handing out waivers for private companies to violate Constitutional protections afforded to detainees. These waivers are almost always indefinite. Each waiver is supposed to be followed up on to ensure the "deficiency" has been eliminated by the contractor. ICE has performed zero reviews or reassessments of these waivers.
Original Office of Inspector General Report
posted by M-x shell at 7:23 AM on February 12 [50 favorites]


Trump this time says the traffickers "make a left" to get into the country with the gagged women, a departure from the frequent "make a right."

What's the explanation for this bit of his? Why the detail about directions?


If you're coming up from Mexico, to the Left is California and to the Right is Texas which works on a shit ton of levels if Steven Miller is writing this fuckery.
posted by Sophie1 at 7:33 AM on February 12 [8 favorites]


Bait & switch lede: The Least Pro-Life President Ever (William Saletan, Slate)
"From war crimes to executions to murdering dissidents, Trump treats human life with contempt."
...

Other presidents have started or fought bloodier wars. What sets Trump apart is his malicious intent. For him, violence against civilians isn’t just a tragic consequence. It’s often the objective. As a presidential candidate, he encouraged crowds to “punch,” “rough up,” and “knock the crap out of” protesters.
...

Some pro-lifers, despite their revulsion at the president’s advocacy of violence, support him because he appoints judges who are sympathetic to legislation against abortion. But everyone knows Trump is a fake pro-lifer. He has extramarital affairs, doesn’t use condoms, and expects his partners not to give birth. Twenty years ago, when he was asked about “partial-birth abortion,” he defended it. “I am pro-choice in every respect,” he said.

Trump is an opportunist. He was pro-choice when he thought it would help him as a Democrat. Now that he’s a Republican, he calls himself pro-life. To him, it’s all marketing. He doesn’t stand for a culture of life. He stands for depraved indifference.
posted by ZeusHumms at 7:37 AM on February 12 [35 favorites]


House GOP leader Kevin McCarthy: Pelosi and Democrats caved on Trump's border barrier demand
In response, Pelosi's deputy chief of staff Drew Hammill told CNBC that "there is no wall money in this agreement" and that "Democrats have supported physical barriers in the past."

"This agreement has the same amount of funding for physical barriers that last year's omnibus had," he added.
Caved, indeed.
posted by zakur at 7:41 AM on February 12 [4 favorites]


If Trump wasn't in campaign mode before, he surely is now: 'Socialism' Vs. 'Greatness': For Trump, That's 2020 In A Nutshell (NPR, Feb. 12, 2019)
"The Democrat Party has never been more outside of the mainstream," Trump said in El Paso, Texas, Monday night in what was his first campaign rally of 2019. "They're becoming the party of socialism, late-term abortion, open borders and crime."

It's a message he began trying out a week ago during his State of the Union address. He tied the unrest in Venezuela to domestic U.S. politics.

"Here in the United States, we are alarmed by the new calls to adopt socialism in our country," he said. "America was founded on liberty and independence and not government coercion, domination, and control. We are born free, and we will stay free. Tonight, we renew our resolve that America will never be a socialist country."

The denunciation of socialism and the attempt to tie the philosophy to Democrats is President Trump's and his campaign's attempt to invert the argument that he is an extremist. The president's sluggish approval rating means he is going to have to try and pull Democrats down with him — and given that surveys also show he would lose at this point to a generic Democrat, Trump also needs to show their candidates to be unelectable and out of step with the rest of America.
Good luck with that, Donny.

Freedom and liberty if you're white and straight. Most freedom and liberty for white, straight men, who make up the vast majority of GOP congressional representation.

Also, it sounds like Trump is still his usual conman self, promising vagueness, in contrast to things that would actually benefit a huge swath of Americans. It's hard to buy Greatness from a guy who is considered the worst president in a Presidential Greatness survey of 170 political science experts (Independent [UK], 19 February 2018).
posted by filthy light thief at 7:46 AM on February 12 [3 favorites]


It is weird how Pelosi has almost total power over whether Trump (and his party by extension) accepts a deal based on her labeling something a "wall" or "fence". It's about symbols more than anything; if she called it a wall, the budget would be signed and the whole party (sans Ann Coulter) would agree with McCarthy that she and the Democrats "caved". Her not doing so means instead that the consensus for most people is that the Democrats are holding firm (and I would agree; it's good for them to do so and it's also good if the narrative is that they're doing so). But it's the same thing regardless. Philosophers of language, eat your heart out.

(Also, Trump understand this himself pretty well, to the point of publicly spilling the contents of his great brain by saying "call it peaches, I don't care". He's used to a world where all sides can just tell their people what they want to hear, but he's lost the finesse of not additionally telling people that it's all about telling them what they want to hear.)
posted by InTheYear2017 at 7:52 AM on February 12 [2 favorites]


[Couple deleted; if folks want to talk about the pros and cons of mobile throttling, better to make a separate post.]
posted by LobsterMitten (staff) at 8:04 AM on February 12


Vox's Aaron Rupar found the nadir of Trump's rally yesterday, which may be the worst sadistic fabulation he's ever uttered (w/video):
Holy shit -- Trump falsely accuses Ralph Northam of saying he supports "a newborn baby [coming] out into the world, and wrap the baby, make the baby comfortable, & then talk to the mother & talk to the father and then execute the baby. Execute the baby!"

Huge, angry boos.
Anti-abortion extremists were already taking Northam's comments out of context, but Trump has, as usual, escalated that beyond the pale.

Guardian: BBC cameraman shoved and abused at Trump rally in El Paso

Rupar also posted a video excerpt of Trump's reaction to this.

It's worthwhile considering that even as Trump throws red meat to his extremist base, he's riding a tiger. In the short term, he's about to be handed a huge political setback as Congress prepares to send him a spending bill without any money for his precious Wall, so he puts on a show for his zealots in a flashpoint region. In the long term, though, he's facing multiple investigations into his business and his presidency, and only by ensuring his core base of partisans stays loyal—and angry—can he hang on to political leverage.
posted by Doktor Zed at 8:04 AM on February 12 [22 favorites]


Tyger Tyger, burning bright, In the forests of the night; What immortal hand or eye, Could frame thy fearful symmetry?

Politico: GOP livid with Trump over ignored Khashoggi report
Senate Republicans are fuming at President Donald Trump for telling lawmakers he would disregard a law requiring a report to Congress determining who is responsible for the murder of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi. [...]

“It’s not a good way to start the new Congress in its relationship with the Foreign Relations Committee,” said Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida, a Republican on that panel, in an interview. “It violates the law. And the law is clear about those timelines. I’m urging them and I expect them to comply with the law.”

Sen. Cory Gardner of Colorado, a vulnerable Republican who faces re-election in 2020, said “the administration needs to submit the report,” adding: “There’s no excuse. They must submit it.” [...]

“They were supposed to make a report on Friday and they didn’t do it,” Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) said. “And the only thing I can say now is they better have a good excuse for not issuing it.”

“They owe us a report,” Sen. Rob Portman (R-Ohio) said. “We can make a fuss about it.” [...]

Despite those calls from the rank and file, the committee’s chairman, Sen. Jim Risch (R-Idaho), hasn’t shown discomfort with the administration’s Friday letter. He wouldn’t commit to further action to compel compliance with the Magnitsky Act, a marked contrast to Corker’s time as chairman.

“We asked for the information. They sent it. And I put out a press release,” Risch told reporters.
posted by Little Dawn at 8:14 AM on February 12 [11 favorites]


“We can make a fuss about it.”

A fuss? Watch out, guys, we're dealing with a badass over here.

Meanwhile, Reuters's Top News Twitter account posted: "Exclusive: Qatar is attempting to keep tighter control of its investments abroad after finding out it may have unwittingly helped bail out a Manhattan skyscraper owned by the family of Jared Kushner, sources tell @Reuters"

Reuters : Qatar Revamps Investment Strategy After Kushner Building Bailout
The bailout, in which Doha played no part and first learned about in the media, has prompted a rethink of how the gas-rich kingdom invests money abroad via its giant sovereign wealth fund, two sources with knowledge of the matter told Reuters.

The country has decided that the Qatar Investment Authority (QIA) will aim to avoid putting money in funds or other investment vehicles it does not have full control over, according to the sources, who are familiar with the QIA’s strategy.

“Qatar started looking into how its name got involved into the deal and found out it was because of a fund it co-owned,” said one of the sources. “So QIA ultimately triggered a strategy revamp.”

The QIA declined to comment.
It seems like a bit of a coincidence that Qatar is throwing Kushner under a bus at the same time that the Saudis' ties to him are coming up because of their potential involvement with the AMI-Bezos showdown.
posted by Doktor Zed at 8:25 AM on February 12 [7 favorites]


It seems like a bit of a coincidence that Qatar is throwing Kushner under a bus at the same time that the Saudis' ties to him are coming up because of their potential involvement with the AMI-Bezos showdown.

Isn’t there also a growing consensus that the QIA is the unnamed government-owned group in sealed filings at the supreme court?
posted by C'est la D.C. at 8:28 AM on February 12 [5 favorites]


"In August last year United Nations experts warned that Trump’s anti-media invective increased the risk of journalists being targeted with violence."

Recently, A.J. Sulzberger, publisher of the NYT, attended an interview of Trump by Maggie Haberman and Peter Baker. He remained quiet until the end, and then had this exchange with Trump.

The NYT's podcast, The Daily, has more context for all this.

tl;dr even when confronted directly, DJT feigns(?) surprise/ignorance.
posted by exlotuseater at 8:34 AM on February 12 [2 favorites]


darkstar: "As much hoped for, Mark Kelly, NASA astronaut and husband of former Congresswoman Gabby Giffords, launches his Arizona Senate campaign to unseat Republican Martha McSally."

Kelly seems like a pretty strong candidate. It's likely that Rep Ruben Gallego will also jump in as a more progressive option.
posted by Chrysostom at 8:38 AM on February 12 [3 favorites]


A very frustrating headline on this Ken Dilanian article on NBC news:

Senate has uncovered no direct evidence of conspiracy between Trump campaign and Russia

I guess it's technically true depending on how you define "direct," "evidence," "conspiracy," and "Trump campaign."
posted by diogenes at 8:38 AM on February 12 [4 favorites]


The Atlantic's Natasha Bertrand on that Dilanian piece:
Senate Intelligence Committee aide tells me, re: NBC story, that right now there is "a common set of facts" that the panel is working with, "and a disagreement about what those facts mean."

They add: "We are closer to the end than the beginning, but we're not wrapping up."

Re: the headline, "Senate has uncovered no direct evidence of conspiracy between Trump campaign and Russia," same aide says: "the word 'direct' is doing a lot of work here."
posted by Doktor Zed at 8:44 AM on February 12 [24 favorites]


I'm thrilled that Trump, the most hated man in America, capitalism personified, the vile embodiment of unjust human hierarchy, is full-throatedly denouncing socialism. Socialist ideology is already on the rise, and this seems like it'll only increase its popularity.

Only thing is this: in 2020, we need a nominee who's not going to cringe at the "socialist" label. If Trump calls the Democratic candidate a socialist and they run away screaming, then we're screwed.
posted by One Second Before Awakening at 8:45 AM on February 12 [30 favorites]


A very frustrating headline on this Ken Dilanian article on NBC news:

Fun Fact: Disgraced anchor Matt Lauer hosted the "first ever" "Commander in Chief" debate in 2016 which was a giant f**kyou to common sense and decency on behalf of NBC news.

Yeah you thought we forgot about that didn't you NBC news? Nah.
posted by petebest at 8:49 AM on February 12 [18 favorites]


I'm suspicious of who exactly Dilanian is using as his Democratic sources.

Democratic Senate investigators who spoke to NBC News on condition of anonymity did not dispute Burr's characterizations, but said they lacked context.

"We were never going find a contract signed in blood saying, 'Hey Vlad, we're going to collude,'" one Democratic aide said.


"Democratic Senate investigators" is fishy. It implies that he's talking about Senators on the committee. But it could also describe the same Democratic aide quoted in the next sentence.
posted by diogenes at 8:53 AM on February 12 [2 favorites]


Warner needs to speak up if the Democrats on the SSCI don't endorse the conclusion in that headline.
posted by diogenes at 9:01 AM on February 12 [1 favorite]


Only thing is this: in 2020, we need a nominee who's not going to cringe at the "socialist" label.

The candidates need MSG, which is to say, Madison Square Garden Address
We had to struggle with the old enemies of peace—business and financial monopoly, speculation, reckless banking, class antagonism, sectionalism, war profiteering.

They had begun to consider the Government of the United States as a mere appendage to their own affairs. We know now that Government by organized money is just as dangerous as Government by organized mob.

Never before in all our history have these forces been so united against one candidate as they stand today. They are unanimous in their hate for me—and I welcome their hatred.
Senate has uncovered no direct evidence of conspiracy between Trump campaign and Russia

This is also a "Who writes this shit?" moment. It's very clear how the Senate could fail to find direct evidence of a conspiracy; it's much less clear how they could uncover an absence.
posted by octobersurprise at 9:08 AM on February 12 [8 favorites]


[RatFucking 2.0]
Meet Jacob Engels, Roger Stone’s Mini-Me
posted by growabrain at 9:21 AM on February 12 [1 favorite]


Rand Paul says he's a NO on Barr AG confirmation.
posted by Chrysostom at 9:24 AM on February 12 [14 favorites]


In other frustrating headline news, currently bannering the Drudge Report in all-red all-caps as LAWYER: MUELLER WILL SAY NOTHING! 'WILL NOT ISSUE REPORT':

ABC News: Former Trump lawyer slams Mueller probe, maintains president will be cleared: 'Knock it off and get it done'
Dowd’s overall view of the investigation -- he called it "one of the greatest frauds this country's ever seen" -- echoes Trump's claim that it is a hoax or a witch hunt.

That differs sharply from Justice Department officials, who have had a window into the probe, which, to date, has pried guilty pleas out of five former Trump advisers, and indicted 26 Russian nationals, three Russian companies, a California man (for assisting Russians in faking their identities), another Trump adviser, and a London-based lawyer.

In appearances on Capitol Hill, a series of senior administration officials have disputed President Trump’s repeated dismissals of the probe.

"I do not believe special counsel Mueller is on a witch hunt," FBI Director Christopher Wray told Congress in June, a sentiment shared by Rosenstein -- and more recently -- by the man appointed to take over the Justice Department, William Barr. Even acting attorney general Matthew Whitaker defended Mueller’s work in an appearance before the House Judiciary Committee last week.

“I do believe he's honest," Whitaker said of Mueller. "I have been on the record about my respect for Bob Mueller and his ability to conduct this investigation."
posted by Little Dawn at 9:27 AM on February 12 [2 favorites]


The Washington Post has brought back the Shutdown Countdown, which is now ticking at 3 days 11 hours and 25 minutes, because we have this hot garbage:
“I can’t say I’m happy. I can’t say I’m thrilled,” Trump told reporters ... a day after the deal was struck giving Trump a fraction of the money he’s sought for his U.S.-Mexico border wall.

At the same time, Trump said he did not think there would be another government shutdown. “If you did have it it’s the Democrats fault,” he added.

“I would hope that there won’t be a shutdown,” Trump said. “I am extremely unhappy with what the Democrats have given us.”
Basically, the administration is being led by a passive bystander / petulant toddler who can only hope that things will magically happen. Art of the Deal, y'all.
posted by RedOrGreen at 9:34 AM on February 12 [14 favorites]


"In the short term, he's about to be handed a huge political setback as Congress prepares to send him a spending bill without any money for his precious Wall, so he puts on a show for his zealots in a flashpoint region."

I wouldn't be so quick to say that. Trump has already pivoted the message into "finish the wall", and even corrected last night's crowd when they started chanting "build the wall". He's claiming entire sections are done for chrissakes.

He could certainly declare victory in getting a partial chunk of money for border security and declare that will be enough to "finish" the wall.
posted by JoeZydeco at 9:39 AM on February 12


NBC: House Judiciary Committee hires two new outside counsels -- The new attorneys will be tasked with reviewing issues that could be at the heart of an impeachment case against President Trump.
posted by Chrysostom at 9:56 AM on February 12 [29 favorites]


Can't they pass conditional funding for the wall based on the discovery of the existence of the five illegal alien voters who voted for Hillary?

(Trump said 3-5 million. No reason to go with the lowball number.)

I'm serious about this. Shouldn't the Democrats being using Trump's lies against him. We'll give you a billion if you come up with that 16 year old female who was stabbed in the stomach by MS-13 gang members that you mentioned in your nationwide address. Otherwise, we'd be funding lies.
posted by dances_with_sneetches at 10:07 AM on February 12 [6 favorites]


Senate has uncovered no direct evidence of conspiracy between Trump campaign and Russia

I guess it's technically true depending on how you define "direct," "evidence," "conspiracy," and "Trump campaign."
posted by diogenes at 8:38 AM on February 12 [3 favorites +] [!]


When I read something like this, it immediately jumps to my mind that Trump never wants to write anything down and it's exactly so headlines like this one can be fostered. Direct evidence, I assume, would be uncovering written communications from Trump saying, "Do this crime," which ain't gonna happen. My conclusion is that Trump isn't going down for collusion. However, crime bosses like Trump can't stand to not have the money documented, so I assume he will go down for financial crimes. That seems to be the pattern. My dismay is that I want his goober followers to know that he sold them out, but this ensures they'll deny it, saying "all" they could get him for was a little paperwork, and hey, who hasn't cheated on their taxes?
posted by Mental Wimp at 10:11 AM on February 12 [3 favorites]


In other frustrating headline news, currently bannering the Drudge Report in all-red all-caps as LAWYER: MUELLER WILL SAY NOTHING! 'WILL NOT ISSUE REPORT':

The mainstream article that was based off of had a partially similar title along the lines of Mueller will say nothing. It did not say he will not issue report (he is in fact required to issue a report). The point of the article is that Muelller does not talk to the press. He indicts and he reports. He doesn't blab. This was based on both recent Trump stuff and his history.

Also not amusing but Jesse Jackson Jr. is doing a bit a media attack on Mueller right now joining the trumpist in the witch hunt chant as part of his current prison letters from mom book tour. Which is funny given that he pled guilty.
posted by srboisvert at 10:12 AM on February 12 [2 favorites]


Rand Paul says he's a NO on Barr AG confirmation.

This means Barr's confirmation is assured (not that there was much question). Paul only takes libertarian protest type votes when he is 1000% sure it will not affect the outcome Republicans want. He will never be the 51st no vote.
posted by T.D. Strange at 10:24 AM on February 12 [57 favorites]


This is what Zuckerberg and the other platform chiefs still haven’t grappled with: Their tools are great at helping you find content but not truth. (Even YouTube’s app for kids, as business insider discovered, recommended conspiracy videos about our world being ruled by reptile-human hybrids.)

Facebook et al. became the primary sources of news and the primary destroyers of news. And they refuse to deal with it because their business is predicated on the fallacy that technology is neutral – Silicon Valley’s version of “guns don’t kill people.”

... It’s also become clear that Zuckerberg doesn’t fundamentally grasp of the difference between journalism and propaganda. Last May, he explained to her room full of journalists that “a lot of what you all do is have an opinion.” Facebook, he said, is just providing space for many opinions.
Great long read from Mother Jones on some of the effects of social media on journalism. Includes charts and numbers like actual reporting.
posted by Bella Donna at 10:48 AM on February 12 [11 favorites]


I'm serious about this. Shouldn't the Democrats being using Trump's lies against him. We'll give you a billion if you come up with that 16 year old female who was stabbed in the stomach by MS-13 gang members that you mentioned in your nationwide address. Otherwise, we'd be funding lies.

They'd be saying that the wall would be justified if those lies were true, which it wouldn't be. MS-13 members could be committing a murder a day (they aren't) and the wall would still make no sense and be a waste of money.
posted by BungaDunga at 10:48 AM on February 12 [15 favorites]


Cover of the new issue of Esquire tackles the great struggle of our age: being a middle-class white boy from wisconsin

Their defense of it is...lacking.

We disagree as a country on every possible cultural and political point except, perhaps, one: that private life, as a result, has also become its own fresh hell. This has made the very social fabric of modern democratic civilization—watercooler BS, chats with cabbies and total strangers, dinner parties, large family gatherings—sometimes feel like a Kafkaesque thought-police nightmare of paranoia and nausea, in which you might accidentally say what you really believe and get burned at the stake.

Cool choice for Black History Month.
posted by Rust Moranis at 10:49 AM on February 12 [49 favorites]


To make it clearer, the Mother Jones articles gives examples involving national politics.
posted by Bella Donna at 10:49 AM on February 12


Racist Congressman Steve King Would Very Much Like to Be Un-Shunned Please:
It hasn’t even been a month since the GOP reluctantly forced Iowa Rep. Steve King out of his committee assignments and sent him wandering into the congressional wastelands, where he busied himself by fundraising off the fact that he’s a racist. But now, King is back and asking ever-so-nicely to be reinstated to the appointments he feels were so unfairly taken away from him after his long history of being awful.

In a letter shared by King on Tuesday, 200 hundred “pro-family leaders” have requested Republican minority leader Kevin McCarthy reinstate King to the House committees he’d been ignominiously—if very, very belatedly—dropped from in January, after publicly musing about how weird it is that phrases like “White nationalist, white supremacist, Western civilization” are suddenly considered “offensive.”
There needs to be a more specific word than "schadenfreude" to describe the joy I feel when a gigantic racist is sad because he is shunned for abhorrent views. But I would ultimately rather want the gigantic racist to have no political power whatsoever.
posted by Ouverture at 10:58 AM on February 12 [19 favorites]


"As much hoped for, Mark Kelly, NASA astronaut and husband of former Congresswoman Gabby Giffords, launches his Arizona Senate campaign to unseat Republican Martha McSally."

There is something really amazing about how Kelly is positioned in the launch video. His personal accomplishments are certainly mentioned, but in a very understated way. Front and center is his role as Gabby Giffords' husband. They're presented as a package deal (she's in more than 60% of the video, even in the scenes where he's shaking hands in the bar), and then you add to that the sole family story he tells is about his mother becoming a police officer. He's even shown helping Giffords with things she is unable to do for herself.

It is really an astonishing way for a fighter pilot and astronaut to present himself for public office - as, first and foremost, a nurturing husband in a partnership where his wife has taught him his most important qualifications.
posted by anastasiav at 11:05 AM on February 12 [94 favorites]


Cover of the new issue of Esquire tackles the great struggle of our age ...

With additional cover stories, 'Power & Sex: A Shocking Story,' by TC Boyle and 'Inside The Defense Of Harvey Weinstein,' by Eric Sullivan. Cool, cool. Anyway, I read that piece and came away impressed by just how thin is the line between deadpan satire, utter, utter obliviousness, and malice aforethought.
posted by octobersurprise at 11:21 AM on February 12 [14 favorites]


ABC News: Former Trump lawyer slams Mueller probe, maintains president will be cleared: 'Knock it off and get it done'

Reminder: John Dowd is still in regular contact with Trump and his legal team. This is absolutely part of Team Trump’s campaign in the media to undermine public support for the Mueller investigation, and ABC shouldn’t be uncritically giving him a platform to do so.
posted by Doktor Zed at 11:22 AM on February 12 [15 favorites]


Pair of NPR articles from today (Feb. 12, 2019):

Soul-Searching After Parkland, Dick's CEO Embraces Tougher Stance On Guns (spoiler: it also makes financial sense, because the company's profit margin improved slightly when it stopped selling guns to anyone under 21, and stopped selling semiautomatic rifle used in the Parkland shooting, which is sometimes called assault-style or military-style. This profit margin improvement was because guns and ammunition "tend to be very, very low margin," said Wedbush analyst Christopher Svezia. This was part of Walmart's justification when it stopped selling modern sporting rifles in 2015. Still, Dick's is was also coupled with a small lobbying effort to make these standards the new national norm, which isn't a terrible idea, but it's convenient that it would level the playing field for other fire arms retailers.)

'Church Of Safe Injection' Offers Needles, Naloxone To Prevent Opioid Overdoses
On a bitter cold afternoon in front of the central bus stop in Bangor, Maine, about a half-dozen people recently surrounded a folding table covered with handmade signs offering free clean syringes, coffee and naloxone, the drug also known as Narcan that can reverse an opioid overdose.

They're with a group called the Church of Safe Injection that is handing out clean drug-using supplies in cities around the U.S.

Even though they could be arrested for doing so, volunteers say they have to step up because of the staggering number of opioid overdose deaths and because the public health system has failed.

"There are all these barriers to people getting well — like insurance and treatment rules," said one of the Bangor volunteers who goes by the name Dave Carvagio, though it's not his real name. "It's to the point where, for some people, the only treatment options are in institutions like prison."
It's almost like the current administration sees that as a benefit to force drug users into (private, for-profit) prisons, instead of actually trying to address the opioid epidemic.
posted by filthy light thief at 11:23 AM on February 12 [14 favorites]


Laurence Tribe twitts:

1. This rare moment of clarity reveals Trump’s real agenda: KEEP LATIN AMERICANS OUT OF THE U.S. It’s White Supremacy pure & simple.

2. Pathetic, porcine, stupid, sinister, obscene, obese, cruel, corrupt, deceitful, dictatorial, evasive, evil: who among us would’ve imagined that the person all those adjectives would simultaneously bring to mind for half the earth’s population would be the U.S. president?
posted by growabrain at 11:30 AM on February 12 [14 favorites]


A couple of recent developments make what appears to my eye to be a trend:

@cam_joseph: .@realDonaldTrump lays out his 2020 case against the Dems: “They’re becoming the party of socialism, late-term abortions, open borders and crime."

Trump last night: "I really don't like their policy of taking away your car, of taking away your airplane rights, of 'let's hop a train to California,' of you're not allowed to own cows anymore!"

[yes, let's take away Trump's "airplane rights" please]

Politico, Republicans can’t wait to debate 'Medicare for all'

And just now, the gotcha vote, @kasie: NEWS: Mitch McConnell says the Senate will be voting on the Green New Deal

All the better to generate non-stop attacks of Democratic proposals as delusional and extreme.

This isn't new, of course; as Dave Weigel put it, is really more laying out his 2020 campaign theme as a bunch of Fox News chyrons. And after years of Republicans crying "socialism" at everything, plenty of voters are rolling their eyes.

But I do think Democrats need to think about how to confront this. The answer certainly isn't to put up our most milquetoast centrists, but I don't think ignoring the attacks and pretending there isn't a corrosive effect from year after year of this stuff from Republicans is the answer either. Because they're starting to zero in on the only way to get Trump re-elected: convince the weakest parts of his 2016 coalition that they have to vote for him because the Democrat is too extreme. And untethered by reality, they can just make things up: banning cows, "execute the baby," Venezuela, etc... We'll get tons of earnest "sure, if they only nominated Joe Biden, that I could get behind, but now I have to vote for the racist over the [possibly not a white man] socialist" op-eds. It will be in bad faith, sure, but the groundwork for that campaign is getting laid right now, and I'm not seeing a message to counter it.

There is one: Democratic Party proposals are extremely popular, practical, and work all over the world. But I hear "Venezuela!" and "ban cows!" a lot more than that.
posted by zachlipton at 11:42 AM on February 12 [23 favorites]


In 2016, Bernie Sanders ran on a "yeah, I'm a socialist, so what?" approach and polling soon after the midterms showed him to be the most popular politician in the US. Democrats don't need to fight accusations of socialism or extremism. The typical stereotype of the party is that they're too feckless and milquetoast to get anything done. Accusations of extremism will probably help them.

The real counterpunch to Trump's politics of corrupt, venal, dead-end stagnation is this: a sincere, strong push for a radical, positive, easily-understood vision for a better future. Luckily, policies pushed by the DSA like Medicare for All and the Green New Deal fit the bill perfectly.
posted by One Second Before Awakening at 11:59 AM on February 12 [28 favorites]


What's Trump referring to with the "hop a train to CA" and the "can't own cows" things?
posted by odinsdream at 12:07 PM on February 12 [7 favorites]


"can't own cows"

Methane restrictions, I assume
posted by Nonsteroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drug at 12:10 PM on February 12 [2 favorites]


"hop a train to CA" came from AOC's press release on the Green New Deal saying that they would build rail infrastructure so robust it would make air travel unnecessary (its not in the bill and they've - i would say successfully - defended it as a stretch goal in the sense that people would choose to fly less if real trains were a viable alternative)

no clue on the fucking cows.
posted by Exceptional_Hubris at 12:10 PM on February 12 [5 favorites]


There's a conservative meme going around where people are sharing fake screencaps of the Green New Deal proposal where they've inserted text about how farming cows will be banned and all men are going to have to drink their own piss to save water. I am not joking, this is a popular conservative talking point right now.
posted by One Second Before Awakening at 12:12 PM on February 12 [26 favorites]


So we should be able to trace what places online Trump is looking at to find this info, then, yeah? I remain convinced he's actually a reddit member or on some even worse conservative forums.
posted by odinsdream at 12:16 PM on February 12 [3 favorites]


Lawmakers pay tribute to John Dingell at 30,000 feet as funeral-bound flight is turned back because of bad weather (WaPo)
Former colleagues including Rep. John Lewis (D-Ga.), Rep. Fred Upton (R-Mich.) and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) paid tribute to John D. Dingell at 30,000 feet on Tuesday as their flight to Michigan for the lawmaker’s funeral was turned back because of wintry weather.

The funeral for Dingell, the longest-serving member of Congress in U.S. history, went ahead with former vice president Joe Biden eulogizing the Michigan Democrat.
posted by Barack Spinoza at 12:25 PM on February 12 [7 favorites]


So we should be able to trace what places online Trump is looking at to find this info, then, yeah? I remain convinced he's actually a reddit member or on some even worse conservative forums.

Trump doesn't use a computer, his staff prints out his twitter mentions and articles for him, and it's a certainty that Don Jr. and Stephen Miller are 4chan regulars. Jr. probably prints off a stack of Gab replies for him every day, and that's the shit he's reading in "executive time".
posted by T.D. Strange at 12:26 PM on February 12 [17 favorites]


Scandal double standard: Dems pay the price for every misdeed, while the GOP skates (Bob Cesca, Salon)
"Elizabeth Warren's ancestry, or the Virginia mess, are huge stories — but we can't even keep track of GOP crimes"

The fact that Warren's ancestry is still a thing after all this time is another staggering example of the double standard we’ve observed since the 2016 election. As long as Trump continues to flood the zone with crazy-bombs, preventing any individual scandal from occupying headlines, he’s able to continue serving as president with an incomprehensibly not-awful approval poll average of around 42 percent. Contrastingly, Warren is all but written off because of one thing, and it’s not even a real thing.
...

We could sit here for days listing all the horrifying and fraudulent deeds of Trump and his people. Once again, however, Trump’s firehose of news disintegrates into white noise (pun intended) while relatively minor Democratic scandals are amplified -- because there are so few by comparison and therefore each thing is easier to remember individually.

The takeaway for future presidential hopefuls is to flood the zone, as Trump has, whether by design or accident. More is definitely less, in Trump’s case, while less is more for everyone else. This is not only mind-blowingly offensive, it’s morally wrong given that it only serves to reward the worst of the worst -- hence the rise of Trump and his Putin-supported copycats. As a bonus, Republican scandals ... slide under the radar, hidden from sight on Trump’s baggy coattails. If you want to know how the president might avoid impeachment and get re-elected in 2020 despite all the ignominy surrounding him, this is it.
posted by ZeusHumms at 12:31 PM on February 12 [29 favorites]


Democrats don't need to fight accusations of socialism or extremism.

It will be interesting to see how this plays out; Gallup's polling on socialism specifically, rather than Sanders personally, has shown that Democrats mostly don't strongly endorse capitalism or socialism nor strongly disapprove of either, with Democratic voters trending towards approving of socialism more than capitalism (in 2018, positive view of capitalism: 47%, positive view of socialism, 57%, vs basically even around 56/58 in 2016 -- in other words, approval of socialism dropped by a bit that might be within the margin of error, but approval of capitalism dropped by more.)

Whereas Republicans (and republican leaners; and most voters lean one way or the other) really, really love capitalism (71% in 2018) and really, really don't like socialism (16% in 2018). As a top-level concept, it is extremely polarizing for Republicans and also not particularly polarizing for Democrats (although this might be changing).

When you ask about specific projects or policies or proposals, you get different answers -- ie, some versions of medicare for all -- but, at a baseline, this is part of why Republicans keep hammering the 'socialism' button: it's language that maters to most Republican voters but that does not matter nearly as much to Democratic voters, in general.

It is possible that a Democratic presidential candidate is going to have a rough climb running on capital-s pro-Socialism platform in a way that a Democratic presidential candidate running on a bunch of obviously and thoroughly socialist polices and proposals may not, because voters are people and people vote based on the weirdest and most inconsistent things.

As Gallup puts it:
A majority of Democrats have viewed socialism positively each time Gallup has measured the concept since 2010, and -- despite the increased visibility given to the concept this year -- those views have not changed substantively. But the drop in Democrats' positive views of capitalism this year has for the first time left Democrats more positive about socialism as a concept than about capitalism.
...
The talk about the Democratic Party moving more toward socialist policies in its platforms in this year's midterm elections was muted with the failure of several socialist candidates to capture their party's nomination in recent primary voting. And, although a majority -- even if not an overwhelming one -- of Democrats nationwide react positively to the word "socialism," the strong antipathy toward socialism among Republicans and Republican-leaning independents suggests a political campaign favorable to socialism would not play well in a general election.
It's not clear that Democrats need to fight accusations of socialism (particularly in state and congressional races, depending on areas, versus for presidential candidates) but there might be some weirdness in the new election cycle where some Democrats try to avoid being labeled as socialist, to avoid energizing Republican voters, while also pushing socialist policies to energize Democratic voters.

To a degree, I think you can already see this playing out: Alexandra Ocasio-Cortez has been very active in talking up the need for a Green New Deal while Fox News has been very active in talking up how she's a socialist. Bernie Sanders, as much as he's nonchalant about his broader views, has pushed for Medicare For All while Fox News...has been very active in talking up how he's a socialist. Fox News was also pretty active in calling Obama a socialist, which, well.

Language is as weird as politics, and when the two intersect they both get weirder.
posted by cjelli at 12:31 PM on February 12 [18 favorites]


The typical stereotype of the party is that they're too feckless and milquetoast to get anything done.

A perception I hope Nancy Pelosi right now is doing much to counter, by the way.
posted by Gelatin at 12:50 PM on February 12 [5 favorites]


Kamala Harris Once Supported Handing Over Undocumented Minors to ICE:
While San Francisco had been a self-declared sanctuary city since the late 1980s, Harris came out publicly to support then-mayor Gavin Newsom’s 2008 policy in which undocumented minors would be handed over from police to ICE if they were arrested—even if those arrests never resulted in a conviction.

“[San Francisco’s sanctuary status] was never intended to shield anyone from being held accountable for a crime,” Harris said at the time. “It’s intended to encourage immigrant victims and witnesses to report crimes without fear of reprisal so we can hold offenders accountable.”

After just one year in place, according to CNN, the policy resulted in over 100 undocumented minors being turned over to ICE for deportation—some for arrests as minor as showing off a BB gun to a friend, or getting into a fight and stealing 46 cents. A year after the policy went into effect, the city’s board of supervisors passed a law which allowed police to hand over minors only if the juvenile in question had been convicted of a felony. Newsom—with Harris’ support—vetoed the new rule, but his veto was overturned.

[...]

This, however, gets to the heart of why so many on the left have been frustrated with Harris and her run for the White House—one which has brought her past as a hard-nosed prosecutor into direct conflict with a progressive base for whom cooperation with ICE is seen as anathema. Harris has already struggled to reconcile her “good cop” persona with a growing wing of the party leftists who see—among other things—abolishing ICE as an attainable goal, not just an aspirational slogan.
Yet another flashpoint in the seemingly eternal discursive war between liberals and leftists.
posted by Ouverture at 12:53 PM on February 12 [9 favorites]


In re: cows - it's because cow flatulence generates a ton of methane, which is a highly potent greenhouse gas.
posted by Chrysostom at 12:53 PM on February 12 [6 favorites]


no clue on the fucking cows.

Update: still not sure where it came from, but its now spread to the Senate. via Aaron Rupar's diligent video threads:

@SenJohnBarrasso: "There's another victim of the Green New Deal - it's ice cream! Livestock will be banned. Say goodbye to dairy, beef... American favorites like cheeseburgers & a milkshake would become a thing of the past. Living this green dream is actually a natl nightmare."

Crying into my coffee trying to decide what is more pathetic, that theyre making these arguments or that people will/are buy(ing) them. Also i love that Barasso represents like 250k people to Kamala Harris' 20 Million.
posted by Exceptional_Hubris at 12:57 PM on February 12 [14 favorites]


There's a conservative meme going around where people are sharing fake screencaps of the Green New Deal proposal where they've inserted text about how farming cows will be banned and all men are going to have to drink their own piss to save water. I am not joking, this is a popular conservative talking point right now.
The funniest thing about this is that there is someone in politics who has dumped millions of dollars into research about urine.

...But it's a conservative billionaire (who was also the primary funder behind Milo Yiannopoulos and many conservative initiatives).
posted by Ouverture at 1:00 PM on February 12 [3 favorites]


The cows thing is also a quasi-dogwhistle to conservative rural ranchers who demand to be able to let their livestock tramp all over hill and dale with zero consequences. (Remember that the Bundy nonsense in rural Oregon started over their desire to let their cows loose on federal land.)

I live in rural central Oregon and let me tell you those assholes are whiny enough about water rights that it makes a fella want to give up beef forever just to spite them
posted by The demon that lives in the air at 1:05 PM on February 12 [48 favorites]


It's not just about the Bundys' grazing rights – the idea that USDA or the EPA is going to start regulating cow farts (which are, no joke, a major contributor of methane on a global scale) is a persistent bugaboo on the right, and there's a perennial rider in EPA's appropriations to exempt “livestock emissions” from monitoring and regulation.
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 1:12 PM on February 12 [7 favorites]


Well, if we can have multitudes of open-air lagoons of fermenting pig shit that seem impervious to legislation and regulation, what's the big deal about a few cow farts here and there?

(This is where the sane person says "well, maybe we should regulate both" and the other person yells BUILD THAT WALL)
posted by delfin at 1:22 PM on February 12 [8 favorites]


Senator Angus King to vote no on Barr nomination - link to tweet with image of statement
posted by mikepop at 1:23 PM on February 12 [8 favorites]


"Elizabeth Warren's ancestry, or the Virginia mess, are huge stories — but we can't even keep track of GOP crimes"
Kinda like how plane crashes are rare enough that we hear about every one of them and people are afraid to fly, but car accidents kill zillions every day and it's normal.
posted by bink at 1:32 PM on February 12 [35 favorites]


AOC recently tweeted a list of things we could all do to save the planet, and one was eat less meat. I tried to find the tweet, but I think it was last week.

Farmers are not happy about that, especially farmers in her own state, where farms are being lost after generations and farmers are committing suicide because they can't bear to sell out.

The Upstate New York farmers whose Twitter responses to that tweet I read are not by any means right wing.
posted by jgirl at 1:34 PM on February 12 [1 favorite]


The peecake is real.
posted by emelenjr at 1:35 PM on February 12 [4 favorites]


I'm sure it genuinely sucks to be one of those farmers. At the same time, current levels of meat consumption are not compatible with getting global warming under control.
posted by Chrysostom at 1:44 PM on February 12 [53 favorites]


CNN: Sen. Mark Warner, the top Democrat on the Senate Intelligence Committee, rejected Republican Chairman Richard Burr's recent statements that the committee has not found evidence of collusion, saying the investigation is still ongoing and the committee still had to interview key witnesses.
posted by Chrysostom at 1:45 PM on February 12 [19 favorites]


Farmers are not happy about that, especially farmers in her own state, where farms are being lost after generations and farmers are committing suicide because they can't bear to sell out.

People should eat less meat. There should be fewer cows. Farmers wouldn't have to sell out if we had a functioning social welfare system and programs to support small-scale non-commodity agriculture. Those who are committing suicide are being killed by capitalism.
posted by Rust Moranis at 1:48 PM on February 12 [72 favorites]


Here is a related tweet from @NYFarmer. She's also a lawyer who acts on struggling fellow farmers' behalf and generally likes the change AOC represents. Her response to that effect is in the thread.
posted by jgirl at 1:48 PM on February 12 [7 favorites]


WaPo, Lisa Rein, This grievance board for federal workers has one person left — and he’s about to leave
Mark Robbins soon will pack up his belongings from his sixth-floor corner office, ride the elevator to the lobby on M Street in downtown Washington for the last time, and leave behind 240 employees and a federal agency that could be leaderless.

His departure as acting chairman of the Merit Systems Protection Board, which serves as a personnel court for federal employees, raises an existential question: Can the board still live and function with no one at the top? The answer could determine whether thousands of federal workers will have their grievances heard.

Two of the board’s three seats have been vacant for the entire Trump administration. President Trump didn’t nominate a new board for more than a year — and then a Senate committee deadlocked last year on his picks. Now, the third seat could be empty, too, unless the Senate can confirm the same three people.

Experts say they’ve never heard of a similar case. At midnight on Feb. 28 — when a one-year extension of Robbins’s seven-year term expires — the board could enter uncertain legal territory. Justice Department attorneys have told Robbins that once he leaves, the office could be operating illegally.
...
With two of the three seats vacant for more than two years, the board has been unable to render decisions. During his lonely tenure, Robbins dutifully has written his opinion on 1,900 cases and filed them in cardboard boxes; those decisions will land in the trash if no other board members join him before he departs, he says.

His board of one already has created legal predicaments. Congress passed a special statute last year giving just one member the authority to order agencies to grant relief in cases involving whistleblowers. “We joked that it’s the Mark Robbins Home Alone Act of 2018,” said Jim Eisenmann, who was executive director until last fall.
The Senate is trying to fix it, but it's complicated if they can't manage to confirm new board members. Robbins has also been appointed acting general counsel for the Office of Personnel Management, which takes positions in cases he'd hear himself, so a proposed backup plan that would extend his term would create an even bigger mess.

It's amazing how just generally non-functional large portions of the government are and how little attention that gets.
posted by zachlipton at 1:53 PM on February 12 [24 favorites]


We certainly need to eat a lot less beef and also use a lot less dairy products. And some people will be angry about this. There is no way to not deal with it. Last year I spent some time living in an area with a lot of cattle farmers, who have collectively dealt with this change beginning 20+ years ago. The thing is, they get better prices for their sustainable, organic produce. And while it was really tough back when they began, now they are at an advantage when dealing with the Chinese market, because Chinese consumers are particularly worried about food contamination and otherwise bad produce. So once upon a time, organic, sustainable food was a problem for farmers. Now it's a feature. And I can still buy their products in my local supermarket, at very nearly the same price as industrial produce.
For consumers in a broader sense, there's a different story. While the sustainable burger meat at my local COOP is not much more expensive than the industrial stuff, there is no way a sustainable cheeseburger can meet the price of the current fastfood offers, which depend on horrendous feedlots and industrial processing.
I don't really know how to deal with this problem.
posted by mumimor at 1:53 PM on February 12 [27 favorites]


Sen. Mark Warner, the top Democrat on the Senate Intelligence Committee, rejected Republican Chairman Richard Burr's recent statements that the committee has not found evidence of collusion, saying the investigation is still ongoing and the committee still had to interview key witnesses.

Good. That means he also rejects NBC's bogus summary of what Democrats on the SSCI are thinking. I wonder if Dilanian will update his article and the misleading headline accordingly? (That's a rhetorical question.)
posted by diogenes at 1:55 PM on February 12 [4 favorites]


[If folks want to talk meat-eating, farming, climate change etc, that should get its own thread.]
posted by LobsterMitten (staff) at 1:56 PM on February 12 [9 favorites]


WaPo: The Senate just passed the most sweeping conservation legislation in a decade, protecting millions of acres of land.

Does anybody know what this is referring to? I had no clue something like this was on the table, let alone able to pass the Republican-controlled Senate? What's the horrible catch that I'm missing?
posted by schmod at 2:05 PM on February 12 [2 favorites]


Does anybody know what this is referring to?

Senate passes public lands package, including permanent authorization for Land and Water Conservation Fund, Denver Post
A package of more than 100 bills that would increase conservation and access to the outdoors nationwide passed the U.S. Senate Tuesday 92 to 8.

Senate Bill 47, which now heads to the U.S. House of Representatives, is the culmination of years of negotiations in the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, which includes Colorado’s Republican Sen. Cory Gardner.

The package includes nine Colorado-specific bills and the Land and Water Conservation Fund. The LWCF collects money from offshore oil and gas drilling and spends it on projects that improve outdoor recreation. Its authorization expired in September.

“After four years of working on this issue, the Senate was finally able to permanently reauthorize the crown jewel of conservation programs …,” Gardner said in a statement. “The program has a direct impact on public lands in Colorado and will be used to protect our state’s natural beauty for future generations.”

One of the big things LWCF has done for Colorado is buy private lands that abut or block access to public lands. Gardner said during a floor speech before Tuesday’s vote that Colorado has about 250,000 acres of public lands that people still can’t access.
Here’s what the massive public-lands bill means for conservation, climate change in Washington state
Going forward
If the Senate approves the bill, the U.S. House of Representatives is expected to take up a version of it soon after, beginning in the House Natural Resources Committee.

“We support the bill as it currently stands and we intend to move it,” said Adam Sarvana, communications director for the committee’s Democrats, who have the majority. Provided there were no unexpected amendments to the bill, “we’re going to hold a vote soon,” he added.

Even if the public-lands bill runs into trouble, the Yakima project, which has been on Cantwell’s agenda for years, still has legs.

Congressional members Dan Newhouse, R-Sunnyside, and Kim Schrier, D-Issaquah, last week introduced a separate House bill specific to the issue that used language identical to the Senate’s.

“I feel like we’re reaching a turning point,” Tebb said. “This is the closest we’ve ever felt.”
"The Land and Water Conservation Fund is America's most important program to conserve irreplaceable lands and improve outdoor recreation opportunities throughout the nation."

S.47 - Natural Resources Management Act
posted by the man of twists and turns at 2:10 PM on February 12 [22 favorites]


Also i love that Barasso represents like 250k people to Kamala Harris' 20 Million.

I'd really like to start seeing Democrats throw these numbers around as snarky rejoinders. Folks need to be reminded how lopsided representation really is.
posted by duoshao at 2:14 PM on February 12 [35 favorites]


More details here, from Outside: What's in the Natural Resources Management Act.

Lisa Murkowski sponsored. Haven't noticed anything in it yet re: drilling in the ANR, elsewhere.
posted by notyou at 2:16 PM on February 12 [4 favorites]


If folks want to talk climate change etc., I invite them to amble over to the existing FPP on The Liberal Argument For a Green New Deal.
posted by Bella Donna at 2:27 PM on February 12 [3 favorites]


In other news, from HuffPost:

Last month, CNN hosted its first town hall of the 2020 presidential cycle. In the hot seat was Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.), who had announced her run for president days before. The show proved to be a ratings success ― “the most watched cable news single candidate election town hall ever,” according to a CNN press release ― and many Democrats are rankled that the next one has gone to Schultz.

“It’s odd that they are giving a stage to someone who is not even an announced candidate yet, before they’ve given a stage to all of the top-tier Democratic candidates in a Democratic primary,” said one Democratic strategist.

The Daily Beast reported Monday that at least three Democrats who have officially announced their candidacy for president have not received formal invitations to participate in a CNN town hall ― South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg, former Housing and Urban Development Secretary Julian Castro and Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (D-Hawaii).

“Once again,” the strategist said, “you’re going to see a presidential race that is going to be treated as entertainment.”

posted by Bella Donna at 2:50 PM on February 12 [10 favorites]


Rand Paul says he's a NO on Barr AG confirmation.

What’s more significant are the Dem senators who are voting to confirm Barr.

From CQ’s Todd Ruger: “Senate moves closer to confirming William Barr as attorney general, in 55-44 vote on procedural motion on the floor. Sets up final confirmation vote, likely Thursday. Dems voting yes: @Sen_JoeManchin @DougJones and @kyrstensinema.”
posted by Doktor Zed at 3:20 PM on February 12 [4 favorites]


Rand Paul voting against the Republican indicates only that the Republican leadership has already determined that it has enough votes to pass or approve whatever they’re looking to do, and Rand has been given permission to be push whatever insane angle that he’s nominally behind. You can count on one hand all the times his defections have cost mainstream republicans anything, and still have plenty of fingers to spare.
posted by skewed at 3:43 PM on February 12 [5 favorites]


Excellent thread about the crimes Don Jr. has committed and the legal consequences he faces.

Tldr: "Junior is deep in the borscht-flavored shit."
posted by orange swan at 3:45 PM on February 12 [30 favorites]


The thing is that people have been saying stuff like that for over a year and Don Jr is still out there doing his Don Jr thing. If it was so blatantly obvious he were a criminal why hasn't he been arrested? I'm not saying it can't or won't happen only that it sure is taking its sweet time.
posted by Justinian at 3:53 PM on February 12 [19 favorites]


Rand Paul voting against the Republican indicates only that the Republican leadership has already determined that it has enough votes to pass or approve whatever they’re looking to do...


The Rand defection is the same reasoning for why those three Dem senators were released to vote for confirmation. Schumer already knows they are going to lose the vote, so why not let Dems in conservative states vote in favor, and avoid spending political capital in a lost battle.
posted by darkstar at 3:57 PM on February 12 [3 favorites]


The thing is that people have been saying stuff like that for over a year and Don Jr is still out there doing his Don Jr thing. If it was so blatantly obvious he were a criminal why hasn't he been arrested?

Mutato junior...
posted by uosuaq at 3:59 PM on February 12


If it was so blatantly obvious he were a criminal why hasn't he been arrested?

Because his father has both the power to pardon and the power to shut down the investigation?

For a number of key players, any indictments on the case-in-chief would inevitably move things from the legal domain into the political domain. The strategy of the investigation is akin to a mob roll-up, starting either from the outside (IRA / Guccifer) or with charges that are at a distance from the campaign. Mueller has one shot. (And yes, this sounds eerily similar to the QAnon doctrine, but there are a bunch of court filings to back it up.)
posted by holgate at 4:01 PM on February 12 [12 favorites]


In a case this high-profile and high-stake, the prosecutors and investigators need to make sure their case is air-tight and rock solid, and to work their way up the food chain. From what I've been reading Steve Bannon will be the next arrest, and then finally we'll see arrests of members of the Trump family: the three oldest kids and Jared.
posted by orange swan at 4:01 PM on February 12 [7 favorites]


Mueller has one shot.

Sure, that's one of the two possibilities for why Don Jr hasn't been arrested. The other is that he isn't going to be arrested. I'm just super tired of sitting around waiting to find out which is the case while he and his buddies tear down everything the country has built over the last 50 years and stuff the loot in their pockets.
posted by Justinian at 4:03 PM on February 12 [72 favorites]


Latest version of the DKE House Vulnerability Index, which identifies which seats are most vulnerable to flipping. It's proved pretty accurate over the past couple of cycles.
posted by Chrysostom at 4:25 PM on February 12 [4 favorites]


"Elizabeth Warren's ancestry, or the Virginia mess, are huge stories — but we can't even keep track of GOP crimes"
Kinda like how plane crashes are rare enough that we hear about every one of them and people are afraid to fly, but car accidents kill zillions every day and it's normal.


The real number is about 100 people a day in the United States. With another 1000 being injured badly enough to need medical care.

That's still a lot of people inside the wicker man every single day.
posted by srboisvert at 4:32 PM on February 12 [8 favorites]


The Trump collusion case is like a drug case that has stalled, because all you have is a recording of a buyer saying he wants to exchange some "cabbage" for some "salts". Your case is barely circumstantial, but you don't like your chances with the cartel sympathizers that will likely make up the jury. You decide the only way you'll remove any chance of reasonable doubt for this jury is by first convicting everyone else at the meeting for drug running.
posted by xammerboy at 5:31 PM on February 12 [2 favorites]


HuffPost, Only About A Tenth Of Americans Think Both Parties Are Too Extreme
Just over a tenth of Americans think that both the Democratic and Republican parties are too extreme, a new HuffPost/YouGov survey finds.

Overall, Americans say, 50 percent to 33 percent, that President Donald Trump is too extreme. They say the same of the Democratic Party, 42 percent to 34 percent, and of the Republican Party, 40 percent to 36 percent.
...
Just 11 percent of Americans, the poll finds, call both Democrats and the GOP too extreme. Of the rest, a 53 percent majority finds only one party to be too extreme (for 28 percent, just the Democrats, and for 25 percent just the Republicans), and another 7 percent say that neither party is outside bounds. The remainder isn’t sure about one or both parties.
Howard Schultz, we found your ceiling here if you'd like to come collect it.
posted by zachlipton at 6:09 PM on February 12 [11 favorites]


and for 25 percent just the Republicans

The Correct Threat Identification Factor is smaller than the Crazification Factor.
posted by Rust Moranis at 6:23 PM on February 12 [17 favorites]


jgirl, I also follow @NYFarmer on Twitter, and I was disappointed by her mischaracterization of AOC’s post. Ocasio-Cortez was offering advice to kids about actions they can take in their own lives, she wasn’t claiming that dairying is ruining the environment. Children generally don’t have much control over things like transportation and manufacturing, but they can control what they eat to some extent. As someone working in the dairy industry myself, I don’t think it helps to unfairly represent what people say. There’s an important role for animal protein in human diets, not least because cows can eat things we humans can’t, but we’re all going to have to make a lot of changes in the near future.

There’s a lot to say about GHG and livestock, but the mods have asked us to keep it to a minimum, so all I’ll say is that more intensive production systems are also more efficient systems.
posted by wintermind at 6:35 PM on February 12 [6 favorites]


....Christie was once an insider favorite to succeed Barack Obama as president. He was the Beltway’s idea of a “crossover” political star, i.e. mean enough to parallel park over a homeless person, but maybe able to name three good movies...

- Matt Taibbi's review of Chris Christie's memoir, Let Me Finish
posted by growabrain at 6:38 PM on February 12 [17 favorites]


AOC's (posted-and-retracted? think i saw a documentcloud copy described as sourced by npr) FAQ did indeed note that the phase-out of bovine flatulence is not among the express goals of the green new deal resolution. if the mind can leap from ~until air travel is not necessary~ to ~highspeed transoceanic maglev trains~ then such a mind might plausibly leap from noting that bovine emissions are excluded from present emission-banishing goals to calling for the eradication of ranchers. i don't mean to suggest such a mind could plausibly be operating in good faith.

it was chasing down that sea train leap (glide on the sea train, ay-ah-oh-ee-ah-oh, glide on the sea train), from drud*e/ze*ohedge, where officemate saw and joined in the ridicule without looking closer or evaluating plausibility, that gave me the opportunity to scan the flatulence lamentation.
posted by 20 year lurk at 7:02 PM on February 12 [2 favorites]


Cow burps are the source of methane emissions, not flatulence. 🐄
posted by wintermind at 7:05 PM on February 12 [19 favorites]




I just watched the Mark Kelly campaign announcement and as an ex-Tucsonan, I really think he has a chance in Arizona. Running as an astronaut and navy pilot, pushing the Desert Storm stuff, reaches out to the McCain voters. Showing how much he is inspired by, and dedicated to, the women in his life is the right tone for the Democratic party right now, I think. And while I personally roll my eyes at the whole "oh we're too partisan now" thing, it's probably the right call for that state. And if it gives him credibility to talk to people across the aisle about climate change, so much the better. I suppose I'll wait for the polls to get my hopes up, but at the moment I'm pretty optimistic about that seat.
posted by Joey Buttafoucault at 7:22 PM on February 12 [17 favorites]


Howard Schultz is basically bland Trump
posted by Ray Walston, Luck Dragon at 8:03 PM on February 12 [11 favorites]


CNN, Trump floats new 'tradition:' 4th of July parade that already exists. Washington already hosts a large 4th of July parade, but Trump wants a parade, and that turned out to be hard, so why not co-opt the one that already exists?
"We're thinking about doing, on the 4th of July or thereabouts, a parade, a 'Salute to America' parade. I guess it'd be really more of a gathering than a parade. Perhaps at the Lincoln Memorial. We're looking at sites. But we're thinking about doing something that would, perhaps, become a tradition," Trump said.

Unlike the hefty price tag the administration rejected for the planned but never executed Veterans Day parade, Trump said this time the fireworks would be free.

"The fireworks (are) there anyway, so we just saved on fireworks. We get free fireworks because it's already being done. So, that's very good," Trump said, referring to the stash launched annually on Independence Day in downtown Washington.
One awful thing about this is that it instantly turns the existing parade into a partisan event where the crowd size becomes a referendum on Trump.
posted by zachlipton at 8:06 PM on February 12 [43 favorites]


Is it seriously possible Trump doesn't understand we already have a "salute to America day" and it's called 4th of July? And everyone has parades on it? Is it somehow actually possible he has missed this fact his entire life?
posted by odinsdream at 8:42 PM on February 12 [12 favorites]


Is it seriously possible Trump doesn't understand we already have a "salute to America day" and it's called 4th of July? And everyone has parades on it?

Or he just wants a Trump-branded "salute to America day" so he has an excuse to conflate national pride with love of him. Isn't putting his name all over stuff and trying to take all the credit for it his shtick? The brave tradition of American independence *brought to you by Donald Trump*
posted by Avelwood at 9:00 PM on February 12 [24 favorites]


Cause, like, unless there's some seriously compelling reason to think he somehow just missed hearing about 4th of July in his entire life, this is edging really close to the kind of talking that anyone would be able to recognize as cognitively impaired. Everyone's got relatives who lose the ability to form cohesive thoughts and every family has stories about these people (good and bad) but, if they're watching TV and seeing that coming from the President you'd think that's enough to bust through partisan thinking, right?

Like. The US populace has mostly been shielded from seeing their political representatives in public instances of being cognitively impaired, by staff working hard to keep it out of view, or from natural pressures of decency causing their retirement before it gets too bad.

But this is Trump's White House we're talking about. For various reasons I don't think they could or would do anything to prevent this. So what happens when we have a steady increase in this kind of public display? It's only going to get worse. One can look at Trump's style of speaking in videos from only a few years ago to see how very far he's already declined, so it's going to get much, much worse. What happens then? Will most of America be shocked enough into action?
posted by odinsdream at 9:01 PM on February 12 [4 favorites]


I think the answer is 'no': the mad king is still a king and receives the deference of a king. The discourse becomes shaped around the behaviour as it does with every incumbent, except in this case the court correspondents will try to contort themselves around "many people are saying July 4th isn't enough of a holiday" instead of, say, a tan suit.
posted by holgate at 10:08 PM on February 12 [1 favorite]


Washington already hosts a large 4th of July parade, but Trump wants a parade, and that turned out to be hard, so why not co-opt the one that already exists?

I'm on board with this because I've actually been in DC for the 4th of July parade and... it was a bit of a let down. I was expecting Bastille Day pomp (not on that level of course) but it was mainly high school bands, a recreation of the planting of the flag at Iwo Jima and a float sponsored by Falun Gong.
posted by PenDevil at 10:15 PM on February 12 [2 favorites]


Cause, like, unless there's some seriously compelling reason to think he somehow just missed hearing about 4th of July in his entire life, this is edging really close to the kind of talking that anyone would be able to recognize as cognitively impaired.

I also vote 'no,' because I think Quinta Jurecic's prescient essay On Bullshit and the Oath of Office: The “LOL Nothing Matters” Presidency offers a more compelling explanation:
I am not the first person to make this observation about Donald Trump, who gives every appearance of proudly moving through the world without ever bothering to consider how concepts of truth or falsehood might potentially shape his behavior. Trump just says things, some of which coincidentally happen to be true, many of which turn out not to be. [...]

But Trump’s victory forces us to consider what it means for the president himself to be, as it were, full of bullshit. How will his incessant bullshitting affect his ability to carry out the duties of his office? What does it mean to have a bullshit artist as President of the United States—a leader both responsible for and constrained by the rule of law? And more specifically, what does it mean to have a bullshit artist swear the Oath of Office and promise to “faithfully execute the Office of President of the United States,” when the notion of hewing “faithfully” to any commitment is so fundamentally antithetical to the character of bullshit?
posted by Little Dawn at 10:19 PM on February 12 [39 favorites]


Trump probably could get his own holiday if his administration wasn't so stupid and incompetent. Flag Day has already been proposed as a national holiday and also happens to be Trump's birthday.
posted by ryanrs at 11:44 PM on February 12 [3 favorites]


I would kind of like to see holidays celebrating "american exceptionalism" die, so if this hastens it, so be it.
posted by maxwelton at 1:17 AM on February 13 [16 favorites]


Flag Day has already been proposed as a national holiday and also happens to be Trump's birthday.

Quiet, you! He probably doesn't know that!
posted by loquacious at 2:24 AM on February 13 [13 favorites]


I was just reading a Vox explainer on Howard Schultz's CNN town hall.

Ugh.

Inspired by that, I propose a progressive registration fee for presidential candidates:

* Fee is calculated as 2% of the candidate's net worth

* Net worth is based on the higher of:
(1) Total as documented by candidate and/or tax records, recent loan applications, etc.
(2) The highest net worth claimed by the candidate on the campaign trail or in speeches/statements/other public claims made in the 2 years prior to registering

* Fee must be paid from candidate's personal funds -- not from campaign or donors. Candidate may not I'm any way be compensated or recompensed for fee.

* Fee will be refunded to candidate upon winning a major party primary or the general election

* For non-winning candidates, after the election, fee will be donated to a charity chosen by the candidate out of a list of 10 preselected charities

* Fee is not tax deductible under any circumstances
posted by duoshao at 4:39 AM on February 13 [22 favorites]


Correction: "major party primary" should be changed to "major party nomination".
posted by duoshao at 4:52 AM on February 13 [1 favorite]


I realize the newly Blue House just got sat a few weeks ago, and this is par for the course for right now but
Mueller Is Just the Beginning (Axios, via)

“House Democrats plan a vast probe of President Trump and Russia — with a heavy focus on money laundering — that will include multiple committees and dramatic public hearings, and could last into 2020.”

“The aggressive plans were outlined yesterday by a Democratic member of Congress at a roundtable for Washington reporters. The member said Congress plans interviews with new witnesses, and may go back to earlier witnesses who ‘stonewalled’ under the Republican majority.”

“The reporters, many of them steeped in the special counsel’s investigation, came away realizing that House Dems don’t plan to depend on Robert Mueller for the last word on interference in the 2016 election.”


Heavy! Dramatic! Aggressive! Steeped! Great. Seriously, great news. 100% A+ would vote again. But at the same time just letting it play out is super weak tea for this surrealistic affront to Everything We Hold Dear. I mean - as Americans we want it now and some bunting around it declaring our unbeatable sale prices wouldn't be amiss either. Whatever - just fix the kid situation, restore the environment, tax the superrich, build the roads, let justice be done though the heavens fall and never let this happen again.
Then cake.
posted by petebest at 5:25 AM on February 13 [31 favorites]


BBC North American editor Jon Sopel goes into grim detail about the attack on his colleague at Trump's el Paso rally and assesses its significance: Why the Attack On Our Cameraman Was No Surprise
If you've never been to a Trump rally let me describe what it's like.

At some rallies at the end of the election campaign there were police officers posted on the access points to each press riser (the platforms where our cameras are mounted towards the back of the venue); even if there were no police they were confined areas.

There was no security last night, and the attack on Ron was stopped by a Trump-supporting blogger. Law enforcement were slow to get involved.

At some point in the president's remarks he will point a finger to where we are filming and you know then the fun is about to begin. "Have you seen a group of more dishonest people? They are fake news; they are the enemies of the people."[…]

All of my colleagues have stories of occasions when they've been jostled; some have been spat at. Last night Ron heard the words 'CNN sucks' and '[expletive] the media' before he was taken down.

President Trump interrupted his speech and checked that Ron was OK. But there was no condemnation. No statement that this was unacceptable. The Trump campaign issued a two-line statement on the incident, but equally did not condemn what happened. What conclusion should we draw from that? What message does it send to people who feel hostile towards the media?
And as a reminder, a Penn study showed an increase in violence in cities hosting Trump rallies during the 2016 campaign.
posted by Doktor Zed at 6:45 AM on February 13 [60 favorites]


Despite Trump’s torrential dishonesty—nearly 8,500 false or misleading statements, at last count—close to half of his supporters say he has never lied...Nineteen percent of U.S. adults said he had never lied.

"Never lied." I doubt there's anything anyone can do to counteract this level of ignorance (willful or not) or collective insanity or cultish worship or whatever it is. I can't imagine trusting anyone more than my wife, and I don't trust her as much as these people apparently trust Trump. It's literally incredible.
posted by The Card Cheat at 7:25 AM on February 13 [55 favorites]


Inspired by that, I propose a progressive registration fee for presidential candidates:

* Fee is calculated as 2% of the candidate's net worth


Who do you think will more sharply feel the loss of 2% of their net worth? A billionaire or someone who has to decide whether to buy their insulin or pay their rent? Also, in the typical terminology of taxes, what you propose is a flat tax, not a progressive one: it is the same percentage for everyone.

I get what you're driving at but this ain't it.
posted by phearlez at 7:25 AM on February 13 [19 favorites]


A reminder that Trump doesn't really care about American jobs, he just cares about optics and messaging: Since Trump tariffs, solar jobs have atrophied -- Solar jobs slip for the second year in a row, says The Solar Foundation annual report. (Megan Geuss for Ars Technica, Feb. 12, 2019)
This week, an advocacy group called The Solar Foundation released its ninth annual solar jobs report. In 2018 the industry contracted, shedding 8,000 solar jobs, or a loss of about 3.2 percent from 2017. The solar industry employed 242,343 people in 2018, the report said.

The solar industry is the largest renewable energy employer in the US and the second largest energy employer behind the oil and gas industry. Wind and coal trail far behind solar in terms of the number of people employed. (For comparison, coal mining lost 2,000 jobs between 2016 and 2017 [Ars Technica], although that industry employs only slightly more than 50,000 people.)
Emphasis mine, because to do a damned thing about coal other than speed up its demise, safely shuttering mines, while providing education and skill training for those remaining in the industry.
posted by filthy light thief at 7:37 AM on February 13 [16 favorites]


Inside The Largest And Most Controversial Shelter For Migrant Children In The U.S. (NPR, February 13, 2019)
Thousands of migrant children continue to arrive at the Southern border every month, without their parents, to ask for asylum. The government sends many of them to an emergency intake shelter in South Florida. That facility has come under intense scrutiny because it's the only child shelter for immigrants that's run by a for-profit corporation and the only one that isn't overseen by state regulators.

The Homestead "temporary influx facility" is the biggest and most controversial shelter for migrant children in the country. Critics say the government is warehousing kids in a makeshift prison camp. But on a recent tour, the shelter director took pains to show a different perspective.

The kids, ages 13 to 17, live in sand-colored dormitories, amid palm trees and bougainvillea, inside a fenced campus next to Homestead Air Reserve Base, south of Miami. The tour guide showed off the soccer field, the phone-home room, the medical clinic and the school classrooms. She described holiday parties, talent shows and pizza and ice cream for good behavior.

The young immigrants, mostly from Central America, receive health and dental checkups, new clothes and hygiene kits. They're assigned a case manager with whom they work to get released to an adult sponsor.

Discipline is strict. The teenagers walk single file in groups of 12, escorted by a youth-care worker. They smile at a visitor and call out "hola" when greeted.

But that's all a reporter ever hears.

On these stage-managed visits, journalists are not permitted to record anything, take photographs, or speak to the children. It's for the minors' privacy and protection, officials say.
Emphasis mine -- because if you want to say "this isn't a prison for children whose 'crime' is seeking refuge in the United States," saying the kids get pizza parties for "good behavior" is not the way to do it.
posted by filthy light thief at 7:42 AM on February 13 [28 favorites]


The Much-Heralded End of the Mueller Investigation (Mikhaila Fogel & Benjamin Wittes, The Atlantic)
"No one knows when it will actually “wrap up”—or what it will mean when it does."


But there’s actually a bigger problem than the possibility that all this eager Mueller-is-wrapping-up chatter may be wrong, just the latest instance of overly hasty anticipation of the Muellerpocalypse: No one knows what Mueller’s “wrapping up” actually means.

Consider your own reaction to the news: When you learned that Mueller was wrapping up, did you immediately assume that meant things were coming to a confrontation, or did you assume it meant the president was getting away with everything? Did you assume it meant that Mueller’s investigation was petering out and that he would file some kind of report? That he would “clear” the president? That he would produce a dramatic spree of final indictments? Or did you assume it meant that Mueller was getting ready to issue some kind of devastating written work product that ends up driving an impeachment? All of these are consistent with “wrapping up,” but they are radically different outcomes.

It seems a bit weird to speculate breathlessly that we are careening toward some kind of finality without actually knowing either whether the endpoint is near or what we mean when we say that we are reaching it.
posted by ZeusHumms at 7:49 AM on February 13 [6 favorites]


Who do you think will more sharply feel the loss of 2% of their net worth? A billionaire or someone who has to decide whether to buy their insulin or pay their rent?

Phearlez, this fee is only paid by someone who wants to run for US President.

My assumption is that anyone who is routinely choosing between paying rent or buying insulin is probably not in a position to run for president.
posted by duoshao at 7:58 AM on February 13 [3 favorites]


My assumption is that anyone who is routinely choosing between paying rent or buying insulin is probably not in a position to run for president.

But why shouldn't they be? This is America, where anyone can run for president. Sure, there's a de facto financial barrier in place now, but we should strive to tear it down rather than entrench it. I'm confident that if I selected one random American who has to choose between rent and insulin, that person would have a better understanding of this country's problems and challenges than any randomly selected billionaire.
posted by Faint of Butt at 8:05 AM on February 13 [49 favorites]


Public financing of elections, and not vast pools of anonymous cash, would sure help this.
posted by wenestvedt at 8:10 AM on February 13 [24 favorites]


Offload it onto that campaign rather than the individual, in that case. A promising working-class candidate is going to have an easier time raising 2% of their net worth to cover this fee than your average billionaire.
posted by a box and a stick and a string and a bear at 8:11 AM on February 13 [3 favorites]


Ignoring the recommendations of the Tennessee Valley Authority, President* And Allies Push To Save A Very Specific Coal Plant. Outside of the obvious environmental reasons, there's not even an economic argument for keeping this plant open, except the economics of giving money to Murray Energy Corp.
posted by mcstayinskool at 8:17 AM on February 13 [12 favorites]


Inside The Largest And Most Controversial Shelter For Migrant Children In The U.S. (NPR, February 13, 2019)

Arrrrrgh.OK, I was ready to launch into another "another NPR fail" rant. But... the reporter, John Burnett, is really good at his job.

And this story structure -- open with the color, the tangible, we-were-there anecdote -- is pretty much a journalism staple. But... in this case it really doesn't work.

The point of the story is that this facility is a travesty, a money-making kiddie prison with a pretty face. But it spends so much time on the pretty face, right from the outset, that casual readers will absorb just the first impression, miss the main points, or give up before they get there.

You want to open with an anecdote? Fine. Take the attorney's account of the kids prohibited from touching each other, even giving a hug goodbye, lest they get "written up and it could affect their immigration case."

And while I give them tons of credit for digging into the finances, something my former colleagues don't do enough, the story sadly, infuriatingly, succumbs to the drumbeat that this is somehow normal and acceptable, instead of hammering the heart of all this: It is evil to separate children from their parents.

Sigh. There was some good reporting there, NPR, but you ddn't stick the landing.
posted by martin q blank at 8:21 AM on February 13 [40 favorites]


[One deleted; if we want to pursue alternative campaign-finance stuff, probably better to make a separate thread where there's room for a deeper dive on that and working through pros and cons.]
posted by LobsterMitten (staff) at 8:30 AM on February 13 [10 favorites]


David Fahrenthold / WaPo -

Two of Trump’s biggest hotel guests look to get major business deals approved by government:

T-Mobile CEO John Legere and Murray Energy Corporation CEO Bob Murray have been seeking government approval for key deals at their respective businesses — and they’ve both been frequent guests at Trump’s Washington, D.C. hotel
posted by growabrain at 8:32 AM on February 13 [22 favorites]


President Trump installed a room-sized golf simulator at the White House (David Fahrenthold and Josh Dawsey, WaPo)
Players can play on a digital copy of the famous St. Andrews course in Scotland, or on fictional courses made up just for the game. One offers the chance to play nine holes among “temples, volcanoes and dinosaur skeletons” in a South American jungle.
posted by box at 9:00 AM on February 13 [18 favorites]


President Trump installed a room-sized golf simulator at the White House (David Fahrenthold and Josh Dawsey, WaPo)

Also from that:
Trump’s system cost about $50,000, and was put in during the last few weeks in a room in his personal quarters, a White House official said.
...
The White House official said Trump has not used his new golf simulator during executive time — or at all since it was put in.
If it's true that Trump has never used it, that's a weird thing to spend $50,000 on; but it's also possible -- hear me out on this -- that 'a White House official' was lying about Trump not using it during 'executive time' in order to strengthen the lie that Trump is working for the country during 'executive time,' and then realized in the course of saying that that there's not a lot of other time during his schedule to play golf, so they doubled down on 'never used it.'

Obama (the article notes) also had a golf simulator installed, and used it; there's no real intrinsic problem with a President having a hobby room, or relaxing occasionally, but as ever the Trump administration remains dedicated to secrecy -- remember that the White House has also refused to answer questions or evaded questions about the President's golfing habits on actual courses:
The White House rarely confirms that Trump is playing golf during these sojourns to his clubs, but, given the fact he tends to spend around five hours at them -- roughly the time it takes to complete 18 holes -- it's not much of a stretch to assume he played golf the vast majority of times he visited his golf properties.
posted by cjelli at 9:13 AM on February 13 [9 favorites]


Also, given the actual millions of dollars we have paid to send Trump and his security team golfing over the last two years, $50,000 is a fucking steal.
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 9:17 AM on February 13 [40 favorites]


Trump’s system cost about $50,000, and was put in during the last few weeks

It was put in during the shutdown when he couldn't fly to Mar a Lago.
posted by Sophie1 at 9:31 AM on February 13 [36 favorites]


Richard Burr (R-NC) repeatedly denied evidence of Russian meddling on behalf of Trump even after briefings from the intelligence community. As a member of the Gang of Eight and the Gang of Twelve, Burr was repeatedly presented with evidence showing that Russian agents had hacked the Democratic National Committee, were working to help Trump win, and were targeting state-level voting systems. Nevertheless, on Oct. 3, 2016, he said that “I have yet to see anything that would lead me to believe” that Russia was meddling in the election to help Trump. Burr was also the only person who joined the Trump campaign who was privy to intelligence showing that members of the Trump campaign may have been colluding with Russia.

Who is Richard Burr?
posted by growabrain at 9:31 AM on February 13 [22 favorites]


The best way to resist Trump? Beto and El Paso show us how it's done (Amanda Marcotte, Salon)
"Thanks to Beto O'Rourke and the people of El Paso, Trump's first big rally of 2019 was a bust. Resistance, learn!"


Trump's trolling can create a seemingly impossible conundrum for progressives. No one wants Trump to hold his rallies without the community standing up to reject his hate and show that his bigotry will not go unanswered. But how does the resistance speak its mind forcefully, without inadvertently creating photos that will be used to whip up racial resentment?

Well, on Monday night, former Rep. Beto O'Rourke and the fine people of El Paso created an elegant solution that allows progressives to speak out without feeding the Trump propaganda machine: Instead of a protest, hold a counter-rally.

Dubbed the "March for Truth" and organized by more than 50 local groups, the counter-rally did much more than protest the hate fest being held by Trump a few blocks away. It uplifted the city with heartening images showcasing the community of El Paso, and rejecting Trump's efforts to demean border residents with racist stereotypes.


The rally, held outdoors with the lovely desert sky of West Texas as a backdrop, created a compelling counterpoint to the ugliness inside the arena where Trump held his rally. Photos of the handsome, charismatic O'Rourke standing with a diverse crowd of cheerful, determined progressives competed successfully in the news cycle with photos of the Trump rally.


Even though many outlets, especially Politico, tried to cram the story into their horse-race model — "Beto O’Rourke finally looks like a 2020 candidate" read the headline — the framing still makes clear that the counter-rally successfully hijacked the media narrative. Trump isn't used to that, and undoubtedly hates it.
posted by ZeusHumms at 9:42 AM on February 13 [40 favorites]


Politico: Michael Bloomberg’s $500 million anti-Trump moonshot

There are two pieces of news in this: first, that Bloomberg has definitively ruled out running in 2020 as an independent -- but that he's contemplating running as a Democrat. Second, that if he doesn't run, or if he loses the primary, he's planning on spending upwards of $500 million "to help the otherwise-outgunned Democratic Party nominee to end Trump’s presidency." It's not clear that the Democratic Party nominee will necessarily be outspent by Trump -- the downside to constant grifting is that you don't always spend money as effectively as a non-grifting campaign would -- but $500 million is $500 million. By contrast, Trump's campaign spent around $400 million in 2016 (primary + general), which ignores party committees, outside spending, and free media coverage.

Personally, I'd be happier if he was pledging $500 million to down-ballot races (particularly in the Senate) rather than towards anyone's individual presidential run, whether his own or someone else's, but.
posted by cjelli at 10:12 AM on February 13 [19 favorites]


Guardian: Trump administration still separating families at border, advocates say
The Trump administration is still tearing young children away from their parents when they cross the US-Mexico border unlawfully, despite formally ending the policy of family separations last summer, according to immigration advocates in Texas. [...]

Taylor Levy, legal coordinator for Annunciation House, [...] said Annunciation House receives one or two calls a week about new cases of family separations – and that is just cases their agency knows about in the El Paso area. [...]

Trump officially ended the policy in June amid growing uproar over scenes of distress as families were torn apart, adults harried through criminal courts and children, including babies and toddlers, kept in often harsh detention facilities.

Trump said at the time that he made the executive order to end the policy because: “I didn’t like the sight or the feeling of families being separated.”

But there is plenty of evidence, including from a government report, that families had been separated months before the official implementation of the policy in May 2018, and that families have continued to be separated since, all while the government has had difficulty reuniting children they had removed.
posted by Little Dawn at 10:19 AM on February 13 [20 favorites]


It's not clear that the Democratic Party nominee will necessarily be outspent by Trump -- the downside to constant grifting is that you don't always spend money as effectively as a non-grifting campaign would -- but $500 million is $500 million.

They also have free advertising in the form of every second of Fox News and whatever repeats of the Comey letter/empty podium idiocy we get from the rest of the news media in 2020.
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 10:27 AM on February 13 [9 favorites]


Henry Giroux, the author of “American Nightmare: Facing the Challenge of Fascism”, in another passionate conversation with Ian Masters -
The US Not Immune to a Fascist Takeover By a Demagogue
posted by growabrain at 10:30 AM on February 13 [8 favorites]


Reuters: Banks Weigh Whether to Embrace or Avoid Progressive Firebrand Ocasio-Cortez "The Democratic Socialist and Wall Street critic joined the 60-member House Financial Services Committee in mid-January and more than a dozen lobbyists interviewed by Reuters say the 29-year-old activist and former bartender is too high-profile to ignore."

The money quote, so to speak: “The fear is, it’s like going in to talk to the FBI, anything you do or say can be used against you,” said one lobbyist for a major bank.
posted by Doktor Zed at 10:33 AM on February 13 [33 favorites]


Bill de Blasio heads to New Hampshire as he stokes 2020 speculation (Erin Durkin, The Guardian)
“He wants to make sure ideas like Pre-K for All, paid personal time and mental health are on the table as Democrats debate the party’s vision for the future,” said [his communications director Michael] Casca, who joined De Blasio’s team after working on Bernie Sanders’ 2016 presidential race.

De Blasio has said he won’t rule out jumping into the already crowded Democratic primary field. “I never rule things out, because you never know what life brings,” he said during an appearance on CNN’s State of the Union last month.

The trip, first reported by Politico, is the latest foray into national politics for a mayor who has tried to establish a profile as a national progressive champion throughout his two terms in office, to sometimes frustrating results.
posted by ZeusHumms at 10:35 AM on February 13


How about Bloomberg create a superpac with 100MM that is run by people who are nothing like him (disabled, POC and/or queer), then he volunteers at a soup kitchen until 2021.
posted by rhizome at 10:35 AM on February 13 [52 favorites]


Vox: Dems pushing to get back pay for federal contractors included in budget deal.
posted by Chrysostom at 11:28 AM on February 13 [28 favorites]


Vox: Dems pushing to get back pay for federal contractors included in budget deal.


Good, but that's still not enough. Government employees and contractors incurred all kinds of costs because of the Republicans once again throwing a tantrum, from payday loan interest to late fees on bills to selling possessions to pulling money from savings and/or retirement funds, and they deserve, every one, to be made completely whole.

Belatedly paying what they would have cost anyway isn't enough. If the Republicans cut off government workers, the act should come with a very real cost that falls on them, not their preferred mode of other people. Bonuses and compensation for workers is a start. (I'd say make it mandatory, but the Democrats should really be engineering laws so that shutdowns simply never happen -- automatic CR plus inflation plus 5%, for example.)
posted by Gelatin at 11:38 AM on February 13 [10 favorites]


They are? Here's Mark Warner's bill. "This bill would keep the government running in the case of a lapse in funding by automatically renewing government funding at the same levels as the previous fiscal year, with adjustments for inflation."
posted by Chrysostom at 12:03 PM on February 13 [10 favorites]


A record number of US workers went on strike in 2018 (Alexia Fernández Campbell, Vox)
Last year’s labor unrest started with a teachers strike in West Virginia and ended with Marriott workers picketing across four states.

A record number of US workers went on strike or stopped working in 2018 because of labor disputes with employers, according to new data released Tuesday by the US Bureau of Labor Statistics. A total of 485,000 employees were involved in major work stoppages last year — the highest number since 1986, when flight attendants, garbage collectors, and steelworkers walked off the job.

The increasing number of workers involved in labor strikes suggests that average Americans are not experiencing the “economic miracle” that President Donald Trump has described. They see the economy expanding and profits growing, but this doesn’t extend to their paychecks.

Frustrated public school teachers were behind the year’s largest walkouts, but hotel housekeepers and steelworkers also organized strikes that lasted for days. Working-class Americans haven’t been this fed up with their employers since the 1980s, as this chart shows:
posted by Barack Spinoza at 12:08 PM on February 13 [22 favorites]


Ilhan Omar Drags Elliott Abrams to Hell for Being a War Criminal:
First, Omar pointedly noted that Abrams was deeply involved in the Iran-Contra scandal (he was pardoned by George H.W. Bush), adding, “I fail to understand why members of this committee or the American people should find any testimony that you give today to be truthful.”

When Abrams tried to respond, Omar cut him off, saying, “That was not a question.”

She then raised his dismissal of the 1981 El Mozote massacre, in which U.S.-trained Salvadoran soldiers murdered more than 800 civilians—part of a civil war Abrams described later as a “fabulous achievement.”

“Yes or no,” Omar pointedly asked Abrams. “Do you think that massacre was a fabulous achievement, that happened under our watch?”

Calling it a “ridiculous question,” Abrams insisted, “I’m not going to respond to that kind of personal attack, which is not a question.”

“Yes or no,” Omar, undeterred, continued. “Would you support an armed faction within Venezuela that engages in war crimes, crimes against humanity, or genocide, if you believe they were serving U.S. interests, as you did in Guatemala, El Salvador, and Nicaragua?”

Smirking, Abrams responded that, “I don’t think this entire line of questioning is meant to be real questions, and so I will not reply.”

Elliot Abrams should almost certainly be in jail for the crimes he helped facilitate. But it gives some measure of comfort to see him so brutally uncomfortable while getting chewed out by at least one woman who’s sick of his bullshit.
She is amazing.
posted by Ouverture at 12:13 PM on February 13 [132 favorites]


>> the Democrats should really be engineering laws so that shutdowns simply never happen -- automatic CR plus inflation plus 5%, for example.

> ... Mark Warner's bill: ... automatically renewing government funding at the same levels as the previous fiscal year, with adjustments for inflation.


And that's a bad idea for Democrats, because it doesn't account for population growth, for example. If Republicans wanted to slowly but surely strangle good governance, they could do worse than endorsing any such bill, even one indexed to inflation. Without the terrible optics of a shutdown, there wouldn't even be any pressure on them to ever allow another budget to be passed.

Are you on board with e.g. the National Science Foundation and the National Institutes of Health funded at the exact c