1. says

    erik @492

    I was just watching CNN report on the bombings and civilian deaths and there seems to be some confusion about who bombed who and given we can’t believe a word that either the Putin or the Trump says, they now can point to each other for plausible deniability, which is very convenient for both of them.

    Read more:

    Russia had a habit of denying bombing targets already. They even bombed aid trucks, and then denied it. Now, with Trump in charge (nominally) of U.S. forces, my bet is that Russia is certain that there will be more confusion about who bombed what. They know they can get away with denials more easily.

    In the meantime, yes, we do see team Trump loosening the engagement rules so that U.S. forces are more likely to bomb targets where civilian casualties will be higher.

    This is hellish.

  2. blf says

    SC@497(previous page), I am not all convinced we are reading the same language. When I read that Masha Gessen column, Don’t Fight Their Lies With Lies of Your Own, I read an argument that is just what it said on the tin, namely: The resistance must not use the Trumpian tactic of lying, distortion (exaggeration), and distraction.

    In that column, that argument is constructed (as I read it) as follows:

    (1) A student asking if lying should be used in discussing an important topic.
    (2) A segue to the historical example of exaggeration by survivors of Stalin’s terror.
    (3) Comparing that unhelpful exaggeration to what is happening in the States today.
    (4) Advising the student “to try to stick to verifiable facts and to avoid exaggeration”.
    (5) A segue to Trump & teh daleks, with multiple examples of where the known (verified) facts are, without any exaggeration, extremely damning of hair furor and the dalekocracy. (This is the bulk of the column.)
    (6) The conclusion (my added emboldening):

    […] Mr Trump is waging an open and public war on journalism. His lies, his insults and his use of Twitter to communicate falsehoods are the truly important issue: They are the force destroying the public sphere.

    The bad news is that Mr Trump is succeeding. Fraudulent news stories, which used to be largely a right-wing phenomenon, are becoming increasingly popular among those who oppose the president. […] Each story dangles the promise of a secret that can explain the unimaginable. Each story comes with the ready justification that desperate times call for outrageous claims. But each story deals yet another blow to our fact-based reality, destroying the very fabric of politics that Mr Trump so clearly disdains.

    Therefore, as I read that column, it is trying to argue “don’t lie” — which is what it’s title says it’s arguing — albeit the conclusion could perhaps be more clearly stated.

    But as I read @497, I read that that column of Gessen’s is arguing something about Putin, something about Trump’s history, and something about having to deny Trump’s history. I suspect each point — each “something” — is alluding to the various examples Gessen cites (item 5 above), where, as Gessen keeps pointing out, the verified facts are so damning that any lying and/or exaggeration(distortion) and/or distraction by the resistance is counterproductive.

    What I do not read in @497 is anything, no “something”, about Gessen’s point, made in the title, in the body, and (as shown above) in the conclusion: The resistance must not do what Trump does, it must not lie, it must not exaggerate (distort), and distract.

  3. blf says

    This is a fairly short and well-written essay, The showdown that exposed the rift between Republican ideology and reality, from which I excerpt only the synopsis and conclusion:

    Republicans calling for a return to the pro-business government of the 1920s never reflected political reality — and now the party can never be the same


    The showdown over Obamacare finally brought into the open the fundamental rift between Republican ideology and reality. Speaker Ryan and President Trump tried to skirt that gulf by forcing the bill through in an astonishing 17 days. When that failed, Trump tried to bluster it out with the old Republican narrative, blaming Democrats, who are in the minority, for this epic failure. Neither worked. Since 1980, the Republican party has won power by hiding its unpopular ideology under a winning narrative, and reality has finally intruded.

    By “pro-business government of the 1920s”, Heather Richardson (professor of history at Boston College) is refing to “the draconian goal of dismantling the New Deal […] policies to regulate business and finance, protect workers, and provide a basic social safety net”. Whilst an aside to his essay, he has a point there. It seems many people (myself included) glibly say teh thugs want a rewind to an imaginary 1950s. Perhaps so from a military (and similar) view, but the economic and civil society fantasy is a rewind to an imaginary pre–New Deal, such as the 1920s (some would argue pre–War to End Slavery, such as the 1820s (BCE in the case some!)).

  4. blf says

    A bit more related to the bans on electronic devices on certain flights (see previous comments page), Laptop ban on planes came after plot to put explosives in iPad:

    The security source said both [the US and UK] bans were not the result of a single specific incident but a combination of factors.

    One of those, according to the source, was the discovery of a plot to bring down a plane with explosives hidden in a fake iPad that appeared as good as the real thing. Other details of the plot, such as the date, the country involved and the group behind it, remain secret.

    As the article notes, this could indeed be a main reason behind the UK’s ban, which is not as weirdly-specific as the US’s ban. The States’s ban applies only to certain foreign-owned airlines, even when operating from airports with pre-positioned US screening. A common factor in the US ban is affected airlines are all successfully competing with US-based airlines.

    The UK ban, in contrast, includes UK-based airlines, has a differing list of countries, and other differences. The UK’s ban, in contrast to the US’s ban, looks more like something based on actual “security” considerations.

    The article speculates the timing of the US’s ban is due to Wacko House wanting a diversion after the second attempt at a Muslim ban was stopped. As such, the States’s ban MAY have its early origins in actual “security” considerations, but (speculation!) was implemented prematurely due to the Wacko House, but (speculation!) possibly not until Wacko House or the daleks had first mucked with it for the previously-speculated commercial reasons.

  5. blf says

    Here in France, many of the presidential candidates are not only becoming quite adapt at own-goals (that is, shooting themselves in the foot), but are also resorting to vile allusions. Two recent incidents are discussed, Accusations of anti-Semitism taint French presidential race:

    [… François] Fillon’s Les Républicains party was accused of attacking the independent centrist Emmanuel Macron on anti-Semitic grounds on Friday, the same day a leftist rival drew an awkward parallel between Macron’s campaign and Nazi gas chambers.

    The two incidents are a watershed of poor taste in a remarkably tumultuous campaign. The lead-up to April 23’s first presidential election round has already been punctuated by the constant drumbeat of scandals affecting key players, namely Fillon and far-right leader Marine Le Pen.

    On Friday, the conservative Les Républicains party tweeted a caricature that appeared to borrow heavily from anti-Semitic 1930s iconography depicting Macron encircled by allies. The former French economy minister was drawn with a long hooked nose and a top hat, using a sickle to cut a conspicuous cigar.


    Alain Jakubowicz, president of the International League Against Racism and Anti-Semitism (LICRA) had expressed his consternation Friday on France Info radio. “It’s absolutely terrifying. I don’t know if I want to scream, cry or give up,” he said.

    There is also a video at the link explaining the incident. The video is slightly at odds with the article as to how rapidly burnt baguette Fillon disavowed the incident, with the article noting it took him more than a day to do so but the video implying his disavowal was more rapid.

    The other incident was a truly clumsy (“muddled”, as the article puts it) attempt to smear Macron’s campaign / advisors as holocaust-deniers by an advisor(?) to Benoît Hamon (currently in-power Socialist Party), Vincent Peillon, a former education minister. Macron’s campaign was, of coursed, enraged (France 24 edits in {curly braces}):

    The reaction from Macron’s party to Peillon’s remarks was again swift, calling the “comparison between En Marche! and Nazi gas chambers” a “point of no return” and calling for Hamon to dismiss Peillon from his campaign team. The En Marche! spokesman also said in a statement posted on Facebook, “So things are clear: to reach their goals, {Macron’s rivals} consider that anything goes, including now borrowing the worst tricks of the Le Pen family. The remarks this morning are as good as those held by the leadership of the National Front [teh le penazis –blf].”

    Peillon then enlarged his hole: I refuse this controversy. It is dishonest and irresponsible to have people believe I was making a comparison between this political movement, En Marche!, and a tragic episode of history.

    (I redacted Peillon’s actual comment because it requires additional French politics background to decipher, which is provided in the linked-to article.)

  6. says

    (3) Comparing that unhelpful exaggeration to what is happening in the States today.

    This is where I have a problem with her oped (and her previous similar articles and comments on Chris Hayes – she’s been beating this drum for several weeks now, annoyingly). She presents a string of misrepresentations and straw men, and then proceeds to scold them. She has it in her head that people in the US find it “unimaginable” that the country elected a corrupt, dishonest authoritarian and need to cling to the Russia story as a secret explanation for everything that’s happening. But that’s not true. We know what he’s about; we know he’s a domestic product, and that we don’t have to look to Putin to explain it. But this and possible collaboration with Putin aren’t mutually exclusive. In fact, Trump’s and his associates’ dishonesty, corruption, and authoritarianism make such collaboration all the more plausible.

    Further, Putin did interfere in the US election. That’s not something the resistance has imagined to account for Trump’s otherwise “unimaginable” popularity. It’s a fact. And Gessen’s continuing to pump out these articles as more evidence of possible coordination with Trump associates emerges almost daily is bizarre.

    The back and forth has been underway for months. Mr. Trump attacked his opponent, Hillary Clinton, for her ostensible “crookedness.” She accused him of being a puppet of President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia.

    This equivalence is pretty outrageous.

    This past Monday, Adam Schiff, the ranking Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee, opened a hearing on Russian interference in the election with a speech that seamlessly mixed verified information with rumor and exaggeration.

    Bullshit. She doesn’t bother to specify or even hint at which parts are “rumor and exaggeration.”

    To be sure, the 2016 election was unimaginable, and the particulars of Russian meddling deserve further scrutiny.

    Indeed they do, regardless of whether the election was “unimaginable.”

    But we seem to have fallen into a trap: The unimaginable, happening out in the open day after day, not only continues to dull our defenses but also creates a need to see a conspiracy big enough, a secret terrible enough to explain how this can be happening to our country.

    Again, there’s no such need. She’s just trying to use people’s interest in the Russian active measures and the Trump campaign as evidence that such a need exists.

    Out in the open are the Trump budget and the Trump cabinet, both constituted on the premise that government as we know it must be dismantled, replaced with a military-and-police headquarters. The secret behind this state of affairs is rumored to be the White House chief strategist, Stephen K. Bannon. Mr. Bannon, it is said, has nursed a secret plot to destroy the American state. There is something paradoxically reassuring in this theory, which centers on a sinister intellectual with a well-laid plan. The reality of a flailing, uninformed president who is indeed destroying the federal government before our very eyes with his own incompetence is unimaginable.

    This is tiresome. Bannon’s extremist views and plans and his advisory role and influence can be recognized without claiming that they’re “the secret” behind the entire state of affairs.

    Out in the open is a secretary of state who came to his job with no relevant experience and now sits at the helm of a decimated State Department. The secret behind Rex Tillerson, it is often said, is his close relationship with Russia, and in particular with the K.G.B. veteran now Russian government oil tycoon Igor Sechin. The publicly available evidence, however, indicates something more devastating: The United States has a secretary of state who lacks a basic understanding of his duties and who may or may not have bungled his first important trip to Asia.

    This is just weird. It doesn’t even make sense. That Tillerson isn’t qualified to be SoS is entirely compatible with the notion that he was chosen in order to get oil deals, especially with/for Russia. There’s in fact no other reasonable explanation for why he was selected, and his relationship with Putin isn’t a secret – it’s public knowledge.

    Out in the open is Mr. Trump’s disregard for the laws and norms governing financial and ethical conflicts. The secret, it is said, hides in his tax returns and his debts to Russia. But one need not speculate about the contents of his tax returns — it’s their secrecy that counts. Mr. Trump’s refusal to release his tax returns, or to divest from his businesses, or to subject his cabinet picks to the normal vetting process requires no further proof or explanation to garner outrage. This is a president who blithely embraces the appearance of corruption — and this is unimaginable.

    Ugh. Once again, this is a total straw man. No one thinks this is unimaginable. We know he’s fucking corrupt as hell. Understanding his “disregard for the laws and norms governing financial and ethical conflicts” doesn’t require any specific relationship with Russia, and people aren’t suggesting that it does.

    Out in the open is Mr. Trump’s contempt for the news media. The secret, it is said, is that the president is always hiding something, using Twitter to distract us from whatever the truly important issue is — as though, if we could only regain our focus long enough to locate that important issue, reality would feel solid again. In fact, Mr. Trump is waging an open and public war on journalism. His lies, his insults and his use of Twitter to communicate falsehoods are the truly important issue: They are the force destroying the public sphere.

    Another straw man. Both are true: he’s an authoritarian (and pathologically needy) and seeks to control and attack the media and the intelligence community and constantly lies to the public and he has a lot to hide. The latter isn’t necessary to explaining the former, but it’s independently of importance.

    The bad news is that Mr. Trump is succeeding. Fraudulent news stories, which used to be largely a right-wing phenomenon, are becoming increasingly popular among those who oppose the president. (I prefer not to add to the appeal of such stories by citing them, but an example is the string of widely shared items that purported to link every death of a more-or-less prominent Russian man to Russian interference in the election.)

    Gessen opens her own book with the story of Putin murdering a close friend of hers. She proceeds to discuss his other murders and crimes. Over the past few weeks, there have been killings or attempted killings of several of his opponents (some of them protesting or testifying about his having murdered their friends). Sure, there are some shared tweets wildly speculating about the recent deaths of some prominent Russians (sometimes including false claims that they were mentioned in the Steele memos when they weren’t), but speculating about the causes of deaths of prominent Russians isn’t entirely unreasonable. Nor is it evidence that “fraudulent news stories” are “becoming increasingly popular” on the Left.

    Each story dangles the promise of a secret that can explain the unimaginable.

    Again with this “unimaginable” trope. This is just nonsense.

    Each story comes with the ready justification that desperate times call for outrageous claims.

    Again, nonsense. And she nowhere shows that anyone – even in the conspiracy fever swamps – is intentionally making claims they know to be false.

    But each story deals yet another blow to our fact-based reality, destroying the very fabric of politics that Mr. Trump so clearly disdains.

    Good grief. And she says nothing about the wave of legitimate stories about Trump associates that have come out over the past several days and weeks, or the confirmation that there’s an ongoing FBI counter-intelligence investigation that includes looking into possible coordination with the Russian regime. Or the grassroots resistance to the parts of the Trumpublican agenda that aren’t related to Russia – a resistance that this week successfully blocked their attempt to take healthcare from tens of millions of people.

    Gessen (and Julia Ioffe) seems unable to accept that people can recognize that the Kremlin’s interference and attack on our system; the possibility of coordination with the Trump campaign; the domestic causes of Trump’s rise; Trump’s and his administration’s corruption, lying, incompetence, vindictiveness, and authoritarianism; and the Trump and Republican domestic and international agenda are all independently important and also sometimes related. She’s wrong, and she’s misrepresenting what’s going on.

  7. says

    People on TV this morning are talking about Trump’s tweet telling people to watch Jeanine Pirro last night and her opening her show with a call for Paul Ryan to resign as Speaker, but I think they’re misunderstanding what happened. This is my guess: As I mentioned yesterday, Fox was teasing some big “wiretapping” revelations during the day yesterday. This is what I suspect Trump was behind, and why he was telling people to watch. In the wake of the Napolitano fiasco, the Fox lawyers got wind of it, thought it might be classified information, potential slander, obstruction of justice, or some combination thereof, and nixed the report. Her diatribe about Ryan was coincidental.

  8. says

    I don’t like seeing the President of the United States encouraging people to watch garbage on Fox News, no matter what type of garbage it turns out to be. I appreciated SC’s take on Trump’s push for people to watch Jeanine Pirro’s show. I think SC is probably correct. (See comment 9.)

    Now that I’ve seen excerpts for Pirro’s show aired and discussed on “AM Joy” by Joy Reid, I am doubly glad that I don’t waste my time watching that show. What a pile of garbage.

    One aspect of the Pirro rant is interesting: she blamed Paul Ryan for the failure of the Republican health care bill. That sounds like a Steve Bannon-backed campaign to shift all the blame to Ryan. I think the blame game will continue and that Ryan will feel more heat as this goes on. It’s just too easy to blame him. And no one wants to blame Hair Furor, who should be the buck-stops-here guy.

    In other news, Boris Epshteyn has jumped off the Trump ship.

    Boris Epshteyn, an official in the White House press office…is leaving his job, according to three people with knowledge of the move.

    The departure was treated with some mystery. Sean Spicer, the White House press secretary, would not comment on the reason…(New York Times 3/25/17)

    And there’s this from the Huffington Post (August, 12, 2016):

    The Russia-born investment banker and attorney moderated a panel at an October 2013 conference in New York City called “Invest in Moscow!” The panel was mainly comprised of Moscow city government officials, like Sergey Cheremin, a city minister who heads Moscow’s foreign economic and international relations department.

    Was Epshteyn a source in the Steele dossier?

    …page two of the Dossier (link) asserts that Source E “provided an introduction” at a Moscow hotel which appears to have led to the Russian prostitutes ending up in Donald Trump’s room.

    Two months ago Joseph Cannon published a blog post in which he claimed that “An anonymous informant tells me that Source E is Boris Epshteyn, the man who is running Trump’s inauguration.” Cannon went on to make a lengthy case as to why his source’s claim fit with the publicly available evidence… Palmer Report 3/25/17

    Epshteyn defends Putin frequently. He also quotes lies Putin tells as if those lies were true:

    “Again, Russia did not seize Crimea,” Epshteyn said in an appearance on CNN on July 31. “We could talk about the conflict that happened between Ukraine and the Crimea, it’s an ongoing conflict, but there was no seizure by Russia. That is an incorrect statement, characterization, of what happened.” Huffington Post 8/12/16

    If Epshteyn is jumping ship, he may be giving evidence to the FBI. Or is team Trump belatedly trying to purge the team of Russian fanboys?

  9. says

    SC @10, Trump can tweet that blame-game stuff all he wants (and the Freedom Caucus did stick together to stop him), but the underlying truth is that the healthcare bill was so bad that nobody wanted it to pass, (except Paul Ryan). I suspect that Jared Kushner left town to go skiing so that he wouldn’t be there to fight a losing battle. I suspect that Trump and Bannon are relieved that such a bad bill did not pass on their watch.

    Trump is so hurt by being seen as a loser, that he will lash out at everyone. I think we’re going to get very tired of his “not my fault” tirades.

    He’s the president. Repealing Obamacare was a signature issue for him. Providing great health care at a reduced cost was a signature issue for him. But Trump is so incompetent that he could not write his own repeal-and-replace bill, nor was he capable of directing others to do so. He also is incapable of understanding health care issues in general. Trump is a loser.

  10. says

    SC, thanks for the updates on the protests in Russia. We can expect more draconian shut-it-down tactics from Putin. He is already murdering people right and left. These recent arrests include so many young people who are posting on Twitter that the crackdown may backfire.

    In other news, Office of Management and Budget Director Mick Mulvaney wants us to know that he is completely clueless.

    […] “I have no idea,” Mulvaney said on NBC News’ “Meet the Press” when asked why Republicans were unable to secure enough support from the House Freedom Caucus for their long-promised repeal bill.

    He denied that President Donald Trump blames House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) for the bill’s failure.

    “Never once have I seen him blame Paul Ryan,” Mulvaney said. “The people who are to blame are the people who would not vote yes.” […]

    “We haven’t been able to change Washington in the first 65 days,” Mulvaney said. “I know the Freedom Caucus. I helped found it. I never thought it would come to this.” […]

    “The one thing we learned this week was that Washington was a lot more broken than President Trump thought that it was,” he said. “Is the Republican Party capable of governing? I know the man in the White House is capable of governing.”

    Mulvaney said that Trump “absolutely no stone left unturned” while seeking support for the bill but is moving on to other areas of policy.

    “There’s a lot to be done,” he said. “The President wants to do a lot of things.”

    Talking Points Memo link

  11. says

    Here’s another awful thing Trump did, so undiplomatic and stupid that it makes the meeting with German Chancellor Angela Merkel even more cringeworthy:

    […] the Times of London is reporting that Trump went a step further at the Washington meeting, and printed out an invoice for what Germany “owes” and handed it to the Chancellor. […]

    In 2016, the U.S. spent 3.6 percent of GDP on the military, well above NATO’s guideline.

    That doesn’t mean, however, that countries that fall short owe the United States anything, or that the U.S. pays more because [other countries] pay less — the U.S. decides on its own how much money it wants to spend on the military.

    And, the military spending doesn’t all go directly to NATO — that is, the U.S.’s 600 billion plus military budget is not directly handed over to NATO.

    “This is not a financial transaction, where NATO countries pay the US to defend them. It is part of our treaty commitment,” Ivo Daalder, the former U.S. ambassador to NATO, tweeted in response to Trump’s claims.

    “All NATO countries, including Germany, have committed to spend 2% of GDP on defense by 2024. So far 5 of 28 NATO countries do. Those who currently don’t spend 2% of their GDP on defense are now increasing their defense budgets. That’s a good thing. But no funds will be paid to the US. They are meant to increase NATO’s overall defense capabilities, given the growing Russian threat.”

    The core of NATO is an agreement for common defense — not a quid-pro-quo banking transaction. […]

    According to the Times’ report, however, Trump’s officials took the 2 percent guideline and, starting in 2002, calculated by how much German defense spending fell short of the target each year. Then they added interest.

    And while sources didn’t reveal the actual number, the Times estimates that Trump likely presented Merkel with a bill for 300 billion euros. According to their report, Trump had his staff prepare similar calculations for all other NATO members below the 2 percent target.

    “The concept behind putting out such demands is to intimidate the other side, but the chancellor took it calmly and will not respond to such provocations,” a German minister told the Times, calling the bill “outrageous.” […]

    Think Progress link

    The Times of London link

  12. says

    Trump continues to promote his brand:

    […] on Saturday, Trump headed to a golf course for the 12th time during the nine weeks he’s been president. And by visiting the Trump National Golf Club in suburban Virginia, Trump — who repeatedly ripped President Obama for his much less-frequent golf outings and promised he “would rarely leave the White House because there’s so much work to be done” during the campaign — has now visited a Trump-branded property for eight straight weekends. That covers all but the very first weekend of his presidency. […]

    Trump’s latest trip to one of his properties comes a day after Forbes broke news that Eric Trump plans to give his father quarterly updates about how Trump’s sprawling business empire is doing financially. Trump has refused to divest from his business, putting him in a unique position to profit off the presidency. […]

    For dinner, Trump visited his second Trump-branded property of the day — the Trump International Hotel in downtown Washington, D.C. […]

    Trump is back at the Trump National Golf Club on Sunday morning. It’s the third time he’s visited a Trump-branded property this weekend. […]

    Think Progress link

  13. says

    SC @18, Stone just wants a national platform from which he can tell lies.

    News that Nunes’ attended at least one meeting with Turkish officials and General Flynn is just the latest detail to add to an already convincing case that Nunes should be removed from his chairmanship of a committee that is supposed to be conducting an investigation of all things Trump/Russian. Schiff was right when he said that Nunes was just trying to keep more damaging info on Trump getting to the public — that’s why he canceled that hearing. More and more, Nunes seems to be dancing to a tune played by someone else (Trump? Bannon?).

  14. says

    SC @18, Stone just wants a national platform from which he can tell lies.

    Absolutely. And he tells a lot of lies.

    News that Nunes’ attended at least one meeting with Turkish officials and General Flynn

    I’ve read more recently that it was a large breakfast event with like 30 or 40 ambassadors, so not as suspicious as it first seemed. Still ridiculous for him to be heading that investigation.

  15. militantagnostic says

    Some background on the goofy pizzagate protest that SC mentioned @457 on the previous iteration of this thread. Am I only one who noticed the “End the (Canadian) Indian Act” sign held by someone standing behind the woman dressed as a domino? WTF does that have to do with the “protest”? The whole thing appears to be a self promotional publicity stunt.

  16. snuffcurry says

    Nice work at 8, SC. You’ve pinpointed precisely why that species of handwaving from the ostensible left is so frustrating: it starts from a false premise, fails to engage with the known facts, relies on silly multi-dimensional chess tropes (while projecting such tropes on others), and is counterproductive (if it seeks to be productive at all), like much contrarian fluff we’ve seen of late.

    Somewhere along the line, while accusing others of conspiracy theories, Gessen has lost the plot and is weirdly reluctant, given her background, to recognize how strongmen historically function and strategize, forming lopsided alliances that later can be used as leverage to exploit one another (and one another’s mutual enemies) while consolidating their own power and enlarging their friends’s coffers closer to home; as you say, this is not an either/or situation, particularly when you’ve got a number of powermad American rasputins yearning to replicate plays from the book of incremental authoritarianism.

    Thanks for that.

  17. snuffcurry says

    @militantagnostic, 28

    So Seaman is trying to turn a quick profit (and create a personal brand) on Ethics in Pizza Making, and even the alien-fixated true believers have cottoned on to what he’s up to (but in true conspiracy theorist fashion, Wolfe and other believers are deeming this a false flag operation — so close, yet so far). Well, I’d wish him best luck but he could very well get someone killed, so he’s a cretin.

  18. says

    “Senate Committee to Question Jared Kushner Over Meetings With Russians”:

    Senate investigators plan to question Jared Kushner, President Trump’s son-in-law and a close adviser, as part of their broad inquiry into ties between Trump associates and Russian officials or others linked to the Kremlin, according to administration and congressional officials.

    The White House Counsel’s Office was informed this month that the Senate Intelligence Committee, which is investigating Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election, wanted to question Mr. Kushner about meetings he arranged with the Russian ambassador, Sergey I. Kislyak, according to the government officials. The meetings included a previously unreported sit-down with the head of Russia’s state-owned development bank.

    Until now, the White House had acknowledged only an early December meeting between Mr. Kislyak and Mr. Kushner, which occurred at Trump Tower and was also attended by Michael T. Flynn, who would briefly serve as the national security adviser.

    Later that month, though, Mr. Kislyak requested a second meeting, which Mr. Kushner asked a deputy to attend in his stead, officials said. At Mr. Kislyak’s request, Mr. Kushner later met with Sergey N. Gorkov, the chief of Vnesheconombank, which drew sanctions from the Obama administration after President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia annexed Crimea and began meddling in Ukraine.

    The meetings Mr. Kushner arranged with Mr. Kislyak all took place in December, during the transition, Ms. Hicks said. Mr. Kushner attended the initial meeting with Mr. Kislyak to explore whether a channel could be set up between the Russian government and the incoming administration to improve relations between the United States and Russia, Ms. Hicks said. They also discussed how the United States and Russia could cooperate on issues in the Middle East, an area Mr. Kushner has been deputized to take the lead on, she said.

    Mr. Kislyak asked for a second meeting to “deliver a message,” Ms. Hicks said. Mr. Kushner sent Avrahm Berkowitz, a White House aide and longtime associate. At that session, Mr. Kislyak told Mr. Berkowitz that he wanted Mr. Kushner to meet Mr. Gorkov, the Russian banker, Ms. Hicks said.

    As the head of Vnesheconombank, Mr. Gorkov presides over a bank whose supervisory board is controlled by members of Mr. Putin’s government, including Prime Minister Dimitri A. Medvedev. It has been used to bail out oligarchs favored by Mr. Putin, as well as to help fund pet projects like the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi.

    Mr. Kushner had not yet stepped aside as chief executive of Kushner Companies, his family’s real estate empire, and was trying to attract investment for the company’s crown jewel, an overleveraged Manhattan office tower on Fifth Avenue. He was in the midst of negotiations to redevelop the building with Anbang Insurance Group, a Chinese company with ties to the Beijing government.

    Senate investigators plan to ask Mr. Kushner if he discussed ways to secure additional financing for the building during his meeting with the Russian banker, a government official said….

    (I don’t know why all of these stories have to include the obvious falsehood: “Mr. Flynn was fired for misleading Vice President Mike Pence about the nature of the conversations he had with the Russian envoy,…” Rachel Maddow seems as bothered by it as I am.)

  19. says

    The article also notes:

    The extent of Mr. Kushner’s interactions with Mr. Kislyak caught some senior members of Mr. Trump’s White House team off guard, in part because he did not mention them last month during a debate then consuming the White House: how to handle the disclosures about Mr. Flynn’s interactions with the Russian ambassador.

    Hope Hicks, who has no credibility, claims that the meetings were so :inconsequential” that it didn’t “occur to him” to mention them.

  20. says

    In his first bizarre press conference, Nunes said the information he’d been shown showed that intelligence agencies knew what the transition team was “up to” (interesting choice of words), and it was later hinted that some of it involved foreign people talking about Trump family members. I have to wonder if some of it had to do with Kislyak, Gorkov, etc., talking about Kushner…

  21. says

    New news about 439 from the previous page. Manu Raju is reporting that Nunes was “On whitehouse grounds” The day before his first presser. 439 referred to Nunes “Midnight run” during which his whereabouts were unknown.

  22. says

    A good description of Paul Ryan from The New Republic’s Jeet Heer:

    Paul Krugman called him a “flimflam man,” pointing out that the numbers Ryan touted in his imaginary budget didn’t add up, with the proposed tax cuts creating much bigger deficits than Ryan acknowledges. The AHCA fiasco vindicates Krugman’s harsh judgment. The “reform” was hated not just by Democrats but by actual Republican policy wonks — people who were critical of Obamacare, but saw the AHCA as doing nothing to make it better. […]

    Ryan has been a scammer all along. He’s not a more serious Republican who offers a welcome relief from the frothing of the Tea Party. He’s an Ayn Rand acolyte who fully shares the agenda of the hard right on economic matters. And his long con is now obvious for all the world to see. “Never give a sucker an even break,” W.C. Fields used to say. Anyone who continues to think of Paul Ryan as a legislative wizard or a serious policy thinker richly deserves to be called “sucker.”

    SC @ 32, that statement from Hope Hicks was so ridiculous is made me laugh.

  23. says

    Finally. At least one Freedom Caucus member has seen a little bit of light … sort of, maybe. Representative Ted Poe (from Texas) is resigning from the House Freedom Caucus, and he is citing the way the caucus failed to work well with others during the health care debacle as the reason:

    In order to deliver on the conservative agenda we have promised the American people for eight years, we must come together to find solutions to move this country forward. Saying no is easy, leading is hard, but that is what we were elected to do. Leaving this caucus will allow me to be a more effective member of Congress and advocate for the people of Texas. It is time to lead.

    However, we before celebrate someone defecting from the hard right wing, consider that Poe does not want the Freedom Caucus to oppose Trump, and that Poe may be reacting to a tweet in which Trump blamed the Freedom Caucus for saving Obamacare.

    “I got the opinion that there’s some members of the Freedom Caucus, they’d vote no against the Ten Commandments if it came up for a vote,” Poe added.

  24. says

    Re comments 36 and 37, Nunes has access to a SCIF on the hill. His staffers work there frequently in order to review sensitive compartmented information. Nunes does not have to go to the White House for that.

  25. says

    Trump is setting his son-in-law Jared Kushner up to do more damage.

    President Donald Trump is set to announce on Monday that his son-in-law Jared Kushner will lead a new White House office focused on reforming the federal government with ideas from the business world.

    The Washington Post first reported that Kushner would lead the new White House Office of American Innovation, and CBS News and CNN confirmed that Trump is expected to announce the new office on Monday.

    “All Americans, regardless of their political views, can recognize that government stagnation has hindered our ability to properly function, often creating widespread congestion and leading to cost overruns and delays,” the President said in a statement to the Washington Post. “I promised the American people I would produce results, and apply my ‘ahead of schedule, under budget’ mentality to the government.” […]

    “We should have excellence in government,” Kushner told the Post on Sunday. “The government should be run like a great American company. Our hope is that we can achieve successes and efficiencies for our customers, who are the citizens.”

    Kushner will have the right to walk into any agency or department and start looking for ways to reorganize it, and for ways to change the digital equipment and environment.

  26. Alex the Pretty Good says

    “I got the opinion that there’s some members of the Freedom Caucus, they’d vote no against the Ten Commandments if it came up for a vote,” Poe added.

    Well, seeing that the first half of those commandments are purely religious, and most others are thoughtcrime rather than actual crime (and the two actual crimes are already known as such) … Such a “no” vote would be entirely appropriate.
    So with this hypothetical situation, for once in their life those freedom caucussers would be right for the right reasons.

  27. says“>Writing for Vox, Matt Yglesias discussed Jared Kushner’s new “sweeping authority to overhaul the federal bureaucracy.”

    […] Heading this new shop is a 35-year-old man with no experience in government, politics, or public policy — Ivanka Trump’s husband, Jared Kushner. […]

    To understand Kushner’s prominence in the administration, think of Trump’s staffing as a three-legged stool. There’s the establishment represented in former Republican National Committee Chair Reince Priebus, there’s the “alt-right” in former senior counselor Steve Bannon, and then there’s a third, crucial support: the Trump leg.

    That third leg includes the entire extended Trump family, but it’s not led by any of his natural children. Instead, the head of the Trump faction of the Trump movement is a true kindred spirit, Kushner.

    Kushner was a crucial behind-the-scenes player in Trump’s campaign. He successfully purged Chris Christie and all of his allies from the Trump transition. After the inauguration, he became a senior adviser with authority over some of the biggest and most controversial issues in foreign policy, including the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. He’ll lead the charge to overhaul the federal government, an attempt the White House says, to make good on Trump’s key campaign promises.

    [Kushner] is a high-ranking official in the emerging regime hierarchy who has no conceivable reason to be there other than personal loyalty to the Trump family. […]

    What’s more, like Trump himself, Kushner is a rich kid with a chip on his shoulder. A hyperprivileged member of the New York overclass who never quite managed to win or buy the respect of his peers. But now Kushner has the last laugh — a direct line to a White House controlled by a father-in-law who obtained the most powerful office on the planet in part because of the very taste and persona that excluded him in the past. Now he’ll have a chance to turn the tables, and humiliate the culture and intellectual elites who’ve humiliated him for years. […]

    Kushner’s first truly noteworthy political moment, however, came back in March 2016 when he played a leading role in drafting Trump’s address to the America Israel Public Affairs Committee.

    The speech was not particularly good or particularly interesting, but that was why it was important.

    […] What Kushner did, basically, was write a very dull, very conventional pro-Israel speech for Trump that checked all the boxes. And Trump delivered the speech very faithfully, […]

    It was also Kushner who played a key role in persuading Trump to eschew longtime Trump loyalists and select Mike Pence as his VP nominee instead. This was, arguably, the single best decision that Trump made throughout the entire campaign — giving Republican elected officials throughout the country reason to believe that, however uneasy they were with the way the primary shook out, Trump was clearly on their team and preferable to Hillary Clinton. […]

  28. says

    Kushner’s past includes people mocking him. Kushner and Trump have that in common:

    […] People have made fun of Jared Kushner a lot.

    Kushner and I were both in Harvard’s class of 2003, a group of mostly very smart, hard-working people that also included a large minority of legacies, development cases, athletes, and others. There was nothing particularly noteworthy about being the son of a rich donor and also in the bottom third of the class in terms of academic ability.

    […] [Author, Daniel Golden] Golden then goes after Jared’s qualifications in a very direct and personal way:

    There was no way anybody in the administrative office of the school thought he would on the merits get into Harvard. His GPA did not warrant it, his SAT scores did not warrant it. We thought for sure, there was no way this was going to happen. Then, lo and behold, Jared was accepted. […]

    Golden quotes, by name, Margot Krebs, who was the director of the college preparatory program at Kushner’s high school, saying, “Jared was certainly not anywhere near the top of his class. … It was an unusual choice for Harvard to make.”

    That particular tidbit about Kushner made it into the Boston Globe’s review of the book. And the Crimson’s. And the New York Times’s. […]

    The timing of this whole thing was particularly unfortunate for Kushner, because Golden’s book was released shortly after he bought the New York Observer, a weekly newspaper that’s beloved by the New York City media crowd and that’s frequently served as a launching pad for young journalists. The Observer was a purchase with low financial value but reasonably high cultural cachet. […]

    More of what Kushner has in common with Trump:

    […] Kushner, by the same token, took all the appropriate steps to become a pillar of Northeastern society — get a Harvard degree, own a small but beloved media outlet, […] marry a society wife — but ended up being a laughingstock, with his intelligence publicly mocked and his dad in jail and humiliated for a particularly sleazy crime.

    […] But he [Trump] and Kushner — rich bridge-and-tunnel kids who tried to make it in Manhattan — are two peas in a pod.

    I get the idea that Kushner wants to be the CEO of a big company called “The United States Federal Government” because, like Trump, he is too intellectually stunted to realize that running a business and running the government are two different things.

  29. says

    From the Washington Post, we get some details about Jared Kushner’s new job in which the planned changes sound okay on the surface:

    […] Kushner’s ambitions for what the new office can achieve are grand. At least to start, the team plans to focus its attention on reimagining Veterans Affairs; modernizing the technology and data infrastructure of every federal department and agency; remodeling workforce-training programs; and developing “transformative projects” under the banner of Trump’s $1 trillion infrastructure plan, such as providing broadband Internet service to every American. […]

    I expect Trump and Kushner to turn even the good goals into a chaotic mess, but we’ll see.

    Other parts of the Kushner focus are alarming:

    […] In some cases, the office could direct that government functions be privatized, or that existing contracts be awarded to new bidders. […]

    And then there’s this: Kushner thinks that political inexperience is a good thing:

    Kushner proudly notes that most of the members of his team have little-to-no political experience, hailing instead from the world of business. They include Gary Cohn, director of the National Economic Council; Chris Liddell, assistant to the president for strategic initiatives; Reed Cordish, assistant to the president for intergovernmental and technology initiatives; Dina Powell, senior counselor to the president for economic initiatives and deputy national security adviser; and Andrew Bremberg, director of the Domestic Policy Council.

    Ivanka Trump, the president’s elder daughter and Kushner’s wife, who now does her advocacy work from a West Wing office, will collaborate with the innovation office on issues such as workforce development but will not have an official role, aides said. […]

  30. says

    I still want to know what Nigel Farage was meeting with Assange about a couple weeks ago.

    I have to wonder if some of it had to do with Kislyak, Gorkov, etc., talking about Kushner…

    I was forgetting that Nunes claimed this had nothing to do with Russia.

    This new Kushner position is beyond ridiculous, an insult to career government workers, and truly shameful for the country. He’s nowhere near qualified for any of the jobs he’s been given, which at this point appear to include brokering peace in the Middle East, relations with Mexico and multiple other foreign governments, and now this government-overhaul foolishness. This “administration” is a complete shitshow, hundreds of positions remain unfilled, and their response is to put this schmuck – on the very same day it’s announced that he secretly met with the head of a Russian bank that hosted a spy ring and is being called to testify before the Senate Intelligence Committee – in charge of another initiative with a great potential for cronyism and corruption. And Kushner, like every other member of this stupid family, lacks even the sense to recognize that he’s not up to any of these tasks.

  31. says

    SC @49, when Nunes claimed, “nothing to do with Russia,” I didn’t believe him. That statement sounded like a last-minute add-on. He also looked weird when he said it, (but he often looks like he is lying.)

    Spicer spent a lot of time today talking about “obstructionism” from the Democrats. Really, dude?

    In other news, and in reference to comment 52, David Kurtz at Talking Points Memo made some interesting points about the timing of the Sessions’ announcement:

    Perhaps the White House had planned all along for Attorney General Jeff Sessions to make an appearance at today’s press briefing to rail against sanctuary cities. But the timing is consistent with what I’ve long feared will be the impulse for the Trump administration: When the going gets rough (failed Obamacare repeal, low poll numbers, etc), it will fall back on appeals to racism and xenophobia to regain political footing.

    With so much incompetence taking root, it’s not difficult to envision a scenario where those base appeals must become more amped up, extreme, and scurrilous to be “effective.” It threatens to turn into a vicious cycle the likes of which we’ve never seen in this country.

  32. says

    Trump is killing civilians in Iraq, Libya and Syria:

    […] Reports have shown a dramatic uptick in the number of civilian casualties due to airstrikes since Trump took office. Airwars, a British-based NGO that monitors strikes in Iraq, Libya, and Syria, found that over 1,200 people were allegedly killed this month alone. […]

    Equally important, as The Intercept noted, Airwars data shows that while the number of civilian deaths has increased, the number of airstrikes has been lower so far this month, “strongly suggesting that the U.S. military has become even more reckless about civilian deaths under Trump than it was under Obama,” according to The Intercept’s Glenn Greenwald. […]

    Think Progress link

  33. says

    From Paul Krugman:

    […] Obamacare has turned out to be remarkably cheap; the Congressional Budget Office now projects its cost to be about a third lower than it originally expected, around 0.7 percent of G.D.P. In fact, it’s probably too cheap. A report from the nonpartisan Urban Institute argues that the A.C.A. is “essentially underfunded,” and would work much better — in particular, it could offer policies with much lower deductibles — if it provided somewhat more generous subsidies. The report’s recommendations would cost around 0.2 percent of G.D.P.; or to put it another way, would be around half as expensive as the tax cuts for the wealthy Republicans just tried and failed to ram through as part of Trumpcare. […]

    New York Times link

    From Ezra Klein at Vox:

    […] in health care, the cheapest, highest-performing systems all do the same thing — they let government set prices centrally. That’s true in the UK’s absurdly inexpensive, and fully socialized, health care system; but it’s also true in the Singaporean system, which conservatives often hold up as a model.

    Hell, it’s even true in the American system! Medicare and Medicaid pay much less for health services than private insurers. That’s one reason Obamacare relied so heavily on the Medicaid expansion — Democrats couldn’t afford to subsidize private insurance for everyone who needed it, and so they turned to the cheaper insurance Medicaid offered. Even now, the part of Obamacare that needs more money is the part based on conservative ideas — the regulated marketplaces where people buy private insurance. […]

    We ration care, too — we just do so by letting individuals who can’t afford it go without it. This rationing by price is a particularly brutal form of rationing, and it’s one reason there’s such persistent political pressure to have the US government ensure access to medical care. It turns out that being free to not be able to afford lifesaving treatments is not a freedom Americans value very highly. […]

    This is the problem Republicans face. America can build a free market health system, or it can build a cheap health system, but it can’t build both.

  34. says

    Elizabeth Spiers used to work for Jared Kushner at the New York Observer. She was an editor. Here is her take on Jared’s new job:

    In my experience: Jared will give people who have experience in an industry he’s never worked in advice re: how to do their jobs.

    And i appreciate the value of “fresh eyes” but you generally don’t assign a layman heart surgery bc you need a fresh perspective.

  35. says

    SC @49, when Nunes claimed, “nothing to do with Russia,” I didn’t believe him. That statement sounded like a last-minute add-on. He also looked weird when he said it, (but he often looks like he is lying.)

    I know – it was an odd statement. I think he might have thought that it could provide some sort of justification for his not having shown it to Schiff or the rest of the committee, and also that the Russia connection would look bad for Trump. He does look like he’s lying most of the time. I can’t tell if this is because he’s lying enough of the time that it’s hard for him when speaking to keep the dishonest parts straight and avoid potholes even when he’s not lying, he is actually mostly telling lies, or he’s just a very nervous and excitable speaker.

    At this point, I lean toward the first. Matt Yglesias warned a while back that it was unwise for these people to participate in a cover-up when they don’t even know what they’re covering up. I think Nunes started down that road and has already taken actions before working out any coherent narrative to explain or defend them. I don’t think he’s a naturally devious person, and so when he’s put on the spot by reporters about statements or actions that make little sense, contradict one other, or raise new questions, he blurts out something he thinks might put off the questions in the moment. So that would make me think the claim about these documents not being related to Russia could be a lie.

    When the hell is Schiff going to see the documents?

  36. says

    SC @65, Grassely is so worried about the impact of the Steele dossier that he is trying to discredit steele and/or his company preemptively.

    Regarding the protests in Russia, of course Putin tried to discredit the protests by claiming that the protestors were paid. Of course he said that. He sounds so Trumpian. If that were true, that would be a hell of a bill to pay. Hundreds of thousands of protestors turned out. Protestors were, according to Putin’s spokesperson, shipped or bussed in, and they were paid. Yeah, right.

  37. says

    Trump is still claiming that he never said he would repeal and replace Obamacare right away.

    Trump said on January 24, 2015:

    “Somebody has to repeal and replace Obamacare. And they have to do it fast and not just talk about it.”

    Trump said on February 9, 2016:

    We will immediately repeal and replace ObamaCare – and nobody can do that like me. We will save $’s and have much better healthcare!

    Trump said on February 22, 2016:

    Obamacare is going to be repealed and replaced. … You’re going to end up with great health care for a fraction of the price and that’s gonna take place immediately after we go in. Okay? Immediately. Fast. Quick.

    It just goes on and on like that. Somebody counted the instances of that particular Trump lie, and it adds up to more than sixty.

  38. says

    Ivanka Trump promoted her clothing line. Kellyanne Conway promoted Ivanka Trump’s clothing line. Trump promotes his golf courses, his hotels, his company in general.

    Now Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin is getting in on the act. He is promoting his film “LEGO Batman.”

    The top Democrat on the Senate Finance Committee is accusing Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin of violating federal ethics law by publicly promoting the film LEGO Batman, which his own company produced.

    In a live interview with the news site Axios on Friday, Mnuchin was asked by an audience member to recommend a movie, to which he replied: “I am not promoting any product, but you should send all your kids to see LEGO Batman.” Mnuchin added that Avatar, another film his company produced, is his “favorite movie.” […]

    When Mnuchin’s was nominated to run the Treasury Department in January, he signed an ethics agreement promising the following: “Within 120 days of my confirmation, I will divest my interests in Ratpac-Dune Entertainment Holdings LLC.” He was confirmed in February, making it possible that he continues to profit from the company’s films today. […]

    “Secretary Mnuchin has provided the [Senate Finance] Committee no evidence that he has divested his interests in Ratpac-Dune Entertainment Holdings LLC, and I assume he still holds this interest,” said Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR), who wrote a letter Monday to the Office of Government Ethics to complain about Mnuchin’s LEGO Batman plug.

    Noting that federal ethics laws forbid every government employee from making “use of his Government position or title or any authority associated with his public office to endorse any product, service or enterprise,” Wyden said Mnuchin’s comments “signal a blatant disregard and disrespect to the office he serves and the power it holds.”

    The Treasury Department issued a statement defending Mnuchin on Friday, saying: “He was not promoting a movie, but answering a question he was asked directly.”


  39. says

    You know that “back channel” contact that Roger Stone claimed he had with Wikileaks? Well, Wikileaks says no, that’s not true.

    “No communications, no channel,” a Wikileaks representative told CNN’s KFILE by email.


  40. says

    Trump signed a measure that will make it easier for federal contractors to abuse workers:

    The government contracts out hundreds of billions of dollars’ worth of business to private entities, who in turn employ a huge share of American workers.

    But on Monday, President Trump signed a measure that will make it easier for those same firms to get a slice of that business even if they abuse their employees.

    The measure rolls back an order signed by President Obama, known as the Fair Pay and Safe Workplaces Executive Order, that required any company bidding on a contract of $500,00 or more to disclose labor law violations over the last three years. Those disclosures then had to be taken into account during the bidding process.

    […] earlier this month, Republicans in the Senate used the Congressional Review Act and voted along party lines to undo the order. They sent it to Trump, who signed it on Monday.

    “The signal Donald Trump is sending today…is it’s okay to break the law, you will continue to get taxpayer dollars,” said Geevarghese. “There is no consequence for violating the rights of American workers.”

    This affects not just employees who work directly on government contracts, but all of a company’s workers, given that the company is held responsible for all of its violations. As a result, the executive order had a large reach — federal contractors are estimated to employ over 18 percent of the American workforce. […]

    According to research by Demos, a New York-based think tank, approximately 40 percent of the money the government spent on federal contracts between 1999 and 2013 went to companies with records of violating health and safety or wage and hour laws. Contractors were fined nearly $722 million for these violations, or 12 percent of all fines paid by U.S. businesses.

    Nearly 12,000 companies that receive federal contracts have violated wage and hour laws, illegally underpaying more than 300,000 people, according to a report prepared by the staff of Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), a supporter of Obama’s measure. Nearly 700 are repeat offenders but still receive government work. Among the 100 largest government contractors—which combined received $240 billion for their work—two-thirds of them have violated labor laws. […]

    Trump himself has a lengthy track record of failing to pay what was owed to those who worked as contractors for his companies, as well as 24 violations of wage and hour laws at Trump companies since 2005.


  41. says

    Devin Nunes is incredibly annoying. He keeps saying this is something everyone should be concerned about, but he hasn’t shown anyone else the documents! He just keeps saying it “bothered” him or made him “uncomfortable.” That’s not a fucking legal standard, and he appears to have no information about the reasons for unmasking (if there were even names unmasked, which he won’t come out and say explicitly – when people ask him, he just talks about how it was clear to him who this was about). He doesn’t appear to be doing anything related to the Russia investigation other than obstruct it.

  42. says

    Say what, now? Sean Spicer really did liken the Republican health care bill to a “bad deal.”

    The president also recognizes that when there’s not a deal to be made, when to walk away. […] It’s not just about making deals. It’s knowing when to walk away from deals and knowing [that] when there’s a bad deal, that’s the only solution. […]

    I think the president understood that where we were, that while you can get a deal at the time, that sometimes a bad deal is worse than getting a deal. And I think he smartly recognized that what was on the table was not going to be in keeping with the vision that he had, and so he decided that this was not the time and that a deal was not at hand.

    Well that’s one excuse.

    This raises questions: Why didn’t Trump and his team write their own bill?

    Or, why didn’t Trump fix Paul Ryan’s bill?

    And, why did Trump walk away so quickly, spending not even 1/10th the amount of time President Obama dedicated to getting Obamacare passed?

    Trump is still a loser, even though Spicer tried to make him look like a man with lot of business acumen.

  43. says

    This whole mess is proof that the founding fathers were not genius, and the constitution is not some some infallible or immortal document. It is a glaring oversight that there was no mechanism put in place to prevent the party in power from obstructing and blocking an investigation into itself at every turn.

    While the legislative branch has oversight in to the executive branch, that oversight means nothing if they refuse to do the work. The judicial branch should have oversight as the only non-political branch of the government.

  44. tomh says

    Meanwhile, amidst all noise, Trump (no doubt at Bannon’s bidding) keeps rolling back every Obama era regulation he can. Several today had to do with education, and another nullified a requirement that federal land managers consider climate change and other long-term effects of proposed development on public lands. “We have a lot more coming,” said Trump. The damage this administration is causing will not be easily undone, no matter who gains office.

  45. says


    Meanwhile, amidst all noise, Trump (no doubt at Bannon’s bidding) keeps rolling back every Obama era regulation he can.

    I read one order cancels a regulation preventing people from killing hibernating animals. I hope that’s wrong, but it sounds plausible.

  46. says

    “U.S. government watchdog to review Mar-a-Lago trips, Trump hotel profits”:

    A U.S. government watchdog has agreed to review how classified information is kept secure at President Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago resort in Florida, the agency said on Monday, after Democratic lawmakers raised concerns about the issue last month.

    The Government Accountability Office’s review will examine whether Secret Service agents subject Mar-a-Lago guests to any security screening, and evaluate the expenses incurred by government employees who travel with Trump to Mar-a-Lago, according to a letter the agency sent the lawmakers on Friday.

    The GAO will also check whether Trump has made any payments to the U.S. Treasury from profits at his hotels, the letter said. Trump’s lawyer pledged at a Jan. 11 news conference to donate Trump Hotel profits from foreign governments to the Treasury.

    In a Feb. 16 letter, Cummings and Democratic Senators Tom Udall, Elizabeth Warren and Sheldon Whitehouse asked the GAO to assess whether Trump and his staff had violated security protocol when hosting foreign dignitaries and handling classified information at the Florida resort.

    The GAO is expected to begin the review in a few months.

  47. tomh says

    @ #91

    That was actually the House of Representative’s work. In February they voted 225-193 in favor of H.J. Resolution 69, authored by Alaska’s Rep. Don Young, which overturned a federal rule (crafted over years by wildlife managers) which had stopped killing hibernating bears, denning of wolf pups, spotting grizzly bears from aircraft and then shooting them after landing, and trapping grizzly bears and black bears with steel-jawed leghold traps and snares, on 16 national wildlife refuges covering 76 million acres, all in the state of Alaska. One of the cruellest bills ever passed. It was a Republican gift to the NRA and hunting guides and outfitters.

    On March 21st, the bill passed the Senate on a party line vote and awaits Trump’s signature (which is certain.)

  48. says

    Maddow really dug deep in order to present coverage of Jared Kushner meeting with Sergey N. Gorkov, the chief of Vnesheconombank (VEB). I hadn’t realized that Gorkov’s background actually included graduation from Russian spy college (FSB). (I remembered him only as having FSB connections.)

    I was glad that Maddow emphasized the fact that VEB was on the United States’ sanction list (a fairly recent development: the bank was put on the sanctions list after Putin annexed Crimea and proceeded to cause more trouble in other parts of Ukraine).

    Equally telling: Kushner’s failure to tell anyone that he met with Gorkov. All the furor over team Trump’s connections to Russia and Kushner doesn’t think to come clean about meeting with an FSB-trained banker who works at a bank controlled by Putin, a bank that is under sanction?

    The video is 17:09 minutes long.

  49. says

    Follow-up to comment 100.

    Maddow also presented a list of the many jobs Trump has given Kushner, and she went over the amazing scope of Kushner’s new powers.

  50. says

    More details regarding Kushner’s meeting with VEB.

    A Russian bank under Western economic sanctions over Russia’s incursion into Ukraine disclosed on Monday that its executives had met Jared Kushner, President Donald Trump’s son-in-law and a top White House adviser, in December. […]

    Kushner previously acknowledged meeting the Russian ambassador to Washington last December and only on Monday did it emerge that executives of Russian state development bank Vnesheconombank (VEB) had talks with Kushner during a bank roadshow last year.

    The bank said in an emailed statement that as part of its preparing a new strategy, its executives met representatives of financial institutes in Europe, Asia and America.

    It said roadshow meetings took place “with a number of representatives of the largest banks and business establishments of the United States, including Jared Kushner, the head of Kushner Companies.” VEB declined to say where the meetings took place or the dates.

    Kushner’s company does not meet the standard of “largest business establishments of the United States.”

    […] there has been no doubt that the Russian ambassador to the United States, Sergei Kislyak, developed contacts among the Trump team. […]

    U.S. officials said that after meeting with Russian Kislyak at Trump Tower last December, a meeting also attended by Flynn, Kushner met later in December with Sergei Gorkov, chairman of Vnesheconombank. […]

    Gorkov was appointed head of VEB in early 2016 by Russian President Vladimir Putin. He graduated from the Federal Security Service, or FSB, Russia’s internal security agency. […]

    Simply meeting with representatives of a U.S.-sanctioned entity is not a violation of sanctions or against the law.

    Evgeny Buryakov, 41, a Russian citizen who worked at Vnesheconombank and whom U.S. authorities accused of posing as a banker while participating in a New York spy ring, pleaded guilty to a criminal conspiracy charge in March 2016. Buryakov admitted in federal court in Manhattan to acting as an agent for the Russian government without notifying U.S. authorities.

    He was prosecuted by the office of the U.S. attorney in Manhattan under Preet Bharara, who was among several chief prosecutors fired or asked to resign earlier this month by the new administration. […]

  51. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    SC#105, I liked the the that neither Lawrence O’Donnell or David Corn tried to do anything other than show the pitiful attempt by Trump to deflect people from looking into his bad behavior.
    They didn’t take the Clinton bait, and just ignored it, and got to the real point.

  52. says

    “Paul Manafort’s Puzzling New York Real Estate Purchases”:

    Paul J. Manafort, the former Trump campaign manager facing multiple investigations for his political and financial ties to Russia, has engaged in a series of puzzling real estate deals in New York City over the past 11 years.

    Real estate and law enforcement experts say some of these transactions fit a pattern used in money laundering; together, they raise questions about Manafort’s activities in the New York City property market while he also was consulting for business and political leaders in the former Soviet Union.

    Between 2006 and 2013, Manafort bought three homes in New York City, paying the full amount each time, so there was no mortgage.

    Then, between April 2015 and January 2017 – a time span that included his service with the Trump campaign – Manafort borrowed about $12 million against those three New York City homes: one in Trump Tower, one in Soho, and one in Carroll Gardens, Brooklyn.

    Manafort’s New York City transactions follow a pattern: Using shell companies, he purchased the homes in all-cash deals, then transferred the properties into his own name for no money and then took out hefty mortgages against them, according to property records….

  53. says

    Interesting short profile of Adam Schiff. Particularly relevant to current events:

    In the mid-1980s, fresh out of Harvard Law School and working as an assistant U.S. attorney in Los Angeles, Schiff prosecuted the first-ever FBI agent to be indicted for espionage in a bizarre sex-and-cash-for-secrets case. Richard Miller was accused of scheming with Soviet agents — one of whom, “Svetlana,” was his lover — to share U.S. national security secrets in return for $65,000 in cash and gold.

    “I learned a lot of the tradecraft of the Russians — back then, the Soviets — how they recruited people, what they were interested in obtaining in terms of U.S. classified information, how the KGB worked with assets in the United States,” Schiff told Yahoo News by telephone on Friday.

  54. says

    “Trump administration sought to block Sally Yates from testifying to Congress on Russia”:

    The Trump administration sought to block former acting attorney general Sally Yates from testifying to Congress in the House investigation of links between Russian officials and Donald Trump’s presidential campaign, The Washington Post has learned, a position that is likely to further anger Democrats who have accused Republicans of trying to damage the inquiry.

    According to letters The Post reviewed, the Justice Department notified Yates earlier this month that the administration considers a great deal of her possible testimony to be barred from discussion in a congressional hearing because the topics are covered by the presidential communication privilege….

  55. quotetheunquote says

    @SC #92.

    *retching noises*

    I read some of the replies … somewhere down the list, someone claims that the Daily Mail is “just a National Enquirer wannabe.” This is a vile slander; the NE is nowhere near as reptilian and sexist as the DM.

    (I know, I know, that’s an insult to reptiles…)

  56. says

    Nerd @106 and SC @105, Unfortunately, rightwing media does take the Clinton bait.

    Still, the main story is that our petulant and childish president is still whining about Hillary Clinton. That in itself is alarming.

    The other part of this story is that Trump’s complaint about a “Bill & Hillary deal that allowed big Uranium to go to Russia” is wrong. Trump is ignorant, stubbornly ignorant.

    Here’s the bullshit that started the conspiracy theory:

    At the heart of the tale are several men, leaders of the Canadian mining industry, who have been major donors to the charitable endeavors of former President Bill Clinton and his family. Members of that group built, financed and eventually sold off to the Russians a company that would become known as Uranium One.

    The State Department reviewed the Canadian mining company deal with Russian during Hillary Clinton’s tenure as Secretary of State. Trump and other rightwing conspiracy theorists claim that donations to the Clinton Foundation influenced the mining deal.

    That’s wrong.

    1. Hillary Clinton did not review the deal. She had nothing to do with it at all. Nine U.S. agencies were involved. (Treasury, Justice, Commerce, and others were involved.) Even if the State Department signed off on the review, it would have been the assistant secretary of state for economic, energy, and business affairs who made the call, not Hillary Clinton.

    2. The big donors gave money to the Clinton Foundation in early 2008, before Clinton was asked by Obama to be Secretary of State (a job she did not see coming, nor did anyone else).

    3. The biggest donor was Frank Giustra, who by 2007 had sold his stake in the mining industry, so he would not have benefitted from any deal with the Russians.

    4. The deal was for potential mineral extraction, and not for actual produced uranium. From Politifact:

    Russia’s nuclear energy agency, which also builds nuclear weapons, bought a controlling stake in Uranium One. The [Canadian] company has mines, mills and tracts of land in Wyoming, Utah and other U.S. states equal to about 20 percent of U.S. uranium production capacity.

    So, to be clear, the 20 percent is capacity, not uranium that has been produced.

    Given that Russia doesn’t have the licenses to export uranium outside the United States, it was likely more interested in Uranium One’s assets in Kazakhstan, the world’s largest uranium producer, our colleagues said. […]

    5. Although nine U.S. agencies were involved in reviewing the deal, none of them could have unilaterally approved the deal, nor could they have rejected it. Only President Obama had power to veto it.

    In other words, Trump is whining about something that didn’t happen. And he desperately wants Congress to investigate Hillary Clinton instead of him and his cronies.

    Trump’s feelings are hurt. Almost nothing is going his way. Furthermore, Sally Yates is waiting in the wings. (I don’t think team Trump will be able to keep her from testifying for long.)

  57. says

    In his home state of New York, Trump’s approval rating is just 26%. Link

    It looks like the Sally Yates story may have been an instance of miscommunication. Her lawyer notified the WH that she would be testifying. The WH did not assert executive privilege to stop her. We’ll hear more details soon. NBC’s Pete Williams is on the case.

  58. says

    Pete Williams was just explaining the letters in more detail on MSNBC. So…I think their argument is that they didn’t try to block Yates’s testimony since they had nothing to do with the Justice Dept.’s letter to Yates’s attorney and had not and didn’t plan to assert executive privilege. But then why did Nunes suddenly cancel the hearing at which Yates was scheduled to testify on the day the WH was supposed to respond to Yates’s lawyer? Nunes this morning didn’t deny to reporters that the WH had something to do with his decision to cancel the hearing.

  59. says

    Now Nunes is saying he didn’t communicate with the WH about Yates’s testimony. So what is his explanation for canceling the meeting? And after the closed hearing with Comey and Rogers was canceled why wasn’t the one with Yates back on? Why wasn’t a new date set for her testimony?

  60. says

    Tell me if anybody else finds this disturbing… I build quotes for IT equipment for a living, mostly security related, like firewalls. I work for a large distributor so we’re quoting to resellers or “VARs”.

    I just had a call to build a quote for an extremely high end firewall, the type I maybe quote once or twice a year. The total value on the quote was over a half million dollars.

    What’s disturbing is that the quote was for a bid for a “small charter school with about 200 hundred students”. They would have absolutely no need or use for a firewall this powerful. They could spend about $10,000 and get something that would more than meet their needs.

    Why is a “small charter school” spending $500k for absolutely no reason? Are the federal coffers being raided at the expense of funding for public schools? You could hire 8 teachers for that kind of money. I’ve been here for 2 years, in the industry for many more than that. I’ve been around government and educational bidding and IT for a long time, I’ve never seen anything like this.

    Have I seen some wasteful spending? Sure, but this just reeks of crookery.

  61. says

    Here’s the DOJ letter to Yates’s lawyer. It says the communications about which she’ll testify are “likely” covered by executive privilege and that she would need Trump’s consent to testify about them, not the consent of the DOJ. Her lawyer then wrote to WH counsel to say that they didn’t believe the communications were in fact covered by executive or other privilege and that she planned to testify unless the WH exerted that privilege by Monday morning. On Monday morning, Nunes unilaterally canceled the hearing, and it hasn’t been rescheduled.

  62. says

    I just had a call to build a quote for an extremely high end firewall, the type I maybe quote once or twice a year. The total value on the quote was over a half million dollars.

    What’s disturbing is that the quote was for a bid for a “small charter school with about 200 hundred students”.


  63. says

    @123 – ikr? I’m tempted to send an anonymous tip to a reporter in the area, but it’s a publicly available bid. I’d rather not risk my job, I just have to hope someone picks up on it.

  64. says

    More on the meeting of Jared Kushner and Sergey Gorkov:

    […] Shortly after his meeting with Kushner, Gorkov —who graduated from Russia’s Federal Security Service security agency, the successor agency to the Soviet-era KGB — went on a Russian state-owned television station and said he was hopeful the financial constraints placed on Russian banks like his by the American sanctions “would change for the better,” the Times reports.

    Hmmm. Interesting.

    According to the Times, the meeting between Kushner and Gorkov was arranged by Russian ambassador Sergey Kislyak, who had previously met in Trump Tower with Kushner and Michael Flynn. […]

    After that meeting, Kislyak arranged the meeting between Kushner and Gorkov.

    The Senate Intelligence Committee isn’t sold on the White House’s story, however, and plans to interview Kushner about “if he discussed ways to secure additional financing for [the Manhattan] building during his meeting with the Russian banker, a government official said,” according to the Times.

    In anticipation of working in the White House, Kushner sold his ownership stakes in Kushner companies, but government ethics experts “argue that the Kushner family and business are so close-knit that the steps Jared Kushner has taken do not go far enough” to mitigate conflicts of interest, Bloomberg reported earlier this month.

    Like father-in-law, like son-in-law.

    A lawyer told the New York Times that Kushner is involved in a “shell game” since he can reacquire his assets as soon as his government work ends. And in the meantime, he’ll still have an interest in deals that benefit his family.

    In the aforementioned report, Bloomberg broke news that Kushner’s family business struck a $4 billion deal with Anbang, a Chinese company with murky links to the country’s power structure, that will result in the Kushner family receiving more than $400 million. The deal “includes terms that some real estate experts consider unusually favorable for the Kushners.” […]

    Think Progress link

  65. says

    This seems more accurate than the CBS tweet. The DOJ letter does say “to the extent” that she would need to seek permission, not that she must seek permission. (It does say “likely” covered under executive privilege, however.) Trump evidently hasn’t expressly exerted privilege but hasn’t waived it either, and the meeting was suspiciously canceled and hasn’t been rescheduled.

  66. says

    erik @120, send that information to Rachel Maddow. See instructions here:


    Messenger apps:

    SIGNAL: 646-419-0218* (What is Signal?)
    WHATSAPP: 646-419-0218* (What is WhatsApp?)
    TELEGRAM: 646-419-0218* (What is Telegram?)
    *This number does not receive phone calls.


    TWEET US: The TRMS Twitter army looks roughly like this:

    @Maddow is Rachel’s personal account.
    @MaddowBlog tweets links and other blog content.
    @SteveBenen – blogger extraordinaire
    @CoryGn – executive producer Cory Gnazzo
    @Oleta – senior producer Laura Conaway
    @TriciaMcKinney – senior planning producer you recognize from the News Dump prize segments
    @WillAtWork helps maintain the site

    You might also try David Corn at Mother Jones, or Brian Barrett at WIRED.

  67. says

    erik @124, can you alert the press anonymously, or at least give someone a heads up so that someone else will be prompted to look into the issue?

  68. tomh says

    Interesting op-ed in the NYT by jill Filipovic, The All-Male Photo Op Isn’t a Gaffe. It’s a Strategy. She cites several other instances of groups of men sitting around while signing or plotting anti-abortion regulations. Maybe these aren’t tone-deaf mistakes at all, but intentional messages to right-wing supporters.

    “Mr. Trump promised he would make America great again, a slogan that included the implicit pledge to return white men to their place of historic supremacy. And that is precisely what these photos show.”

    The whole piece is worth reading.

  69. says

    SC, concerning all the back-and-forth about Sally Yates, why on earth would a statement coming from the White House be unsigned? This is official and important business, and they issue an unsigned statement?

    The Washington Post story is entirely false. The white House has taken no action to prevent Sally Yates from testifying and the Department of Justice specifically told her that it would not stop her and to suggest otherwise is completely irresponsible.

    A run-on sentence, but you get the idea.

    The WH may have stopped her by having Nunes act instead (as SC noted).

  70. says

    Spicer is now saying they hope Yates testifies, have done nothing to stop it. OK – that pushes Nunes to reschedule the hearing with Yates, Brennan, and Clapper as soon as possible, and to explain why it was canceled.

  71. says

    Trump is still looking for money to build his wall, and to increase military spending:

    In the document sent to Capitol Hill on Friday, the Senate’s Labor-HHS-Education subcommittee, which oversees the largest individual spending bill, would see the steepest cut. Its budget would drop by $7.26 billion, largely by slashing grant funding — ranging from the NIH to mental health programs — and by eliminating programs like Americorps. NIH alone would see a $1.23 billion cut.

    The State and Foreign Operations subcommittee would see the next-largest cut, to the tune of $2.88 billion. The White House wants to cut about equally from the State Department’s core functions, like peacekeeping, and its foreign aid programs at USAID.

    Other programs on the chopping block include HUD, with a $1.68 billion cutback, and the EPA with a $247 million cut.

  72. says

    addon to 134 – I’ll have to do some digging, the reseller refused to provide the name of the end user, which we always ask for, especially on deals that big because they need to be registered with the vendor (manufacturer).

    Resellers occasionally decline to provide the info if they are the paranoid sort thinking we might steal the business and give it to another reseller, which of course, we would never do.

  73. microraptor says

    erikthebassist @120:

    Wasteful spending? Sounds more like someone else is using that school as front to get their server.

  74. says

    Trump is still looking for money to build his wall, and to increase military spending:

    Maybe he’s buying high end IT equipment with charter school funding and reselling it to the Russians? lol

  75. says

    Trevor Noah commented on the “The Fail and the Furious” news surrounding the Republican health care bill, and he watched Jeanine Pirro. Good satire.

    Scroll down for the video, which is 6:20 minutes long.

  76. says

    Unbelievable – “The White House says it’s ‘not familiar’ with the economic impacts of climate change.”:

    Think about this for a second. The Trump administration is unraveling the best chance we have at slowing human-caused climate change, solely because he says it will improve the economy. But Trump’s advisers have apparently not considered how climate change’s impacts on agricultural productivity, human health, and property value will hurt the economy. Hell, they’re not even “familiar” with the idea that it might.

  77. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    Nunes also says he’ll never share his sources even with the other members of the committee.

    I’d like to see Nunes subpoenaed by the Senate Intelligence committee, and be required to testify under oath with members of the House Intelligence committee present, invited by the Senate Intelligence committee as a courtesy.

  78. says

    Man, oh man. When Paul LePage, Governor of Maine, thinks you’re being stupid you really have hit rock bottom.

    Lepage is the guy that claimed African American drug dealers were coming to Maine where they were impregnating white girls — so, no, not usually a good source of information. This time, however, he got something right:

    Maine’s Republican governor said Tuesday that those who suggest Republicans should let Obamacare fail before offering a replacement bill may as well “jump off a bridge.”

    Gov. Paul LePage (R) never mentioned President Donald Trump by name, but the President has forcefully made the argument that letting Obamacare fail would be to Republicans’ political advantage.

    “If the ACA is unsustainable, as some fear, I’ve heard some politicians say, that are Republicans, ‘Let it fail, and let the Democrats own it,” WVOM’s Ric Tyler told the governor during an interview.

    “Oh yeah, yeah, so let’s keep hurting the American people,” LePage responded. “That’s about as sensible as ‘Go jump off a bridge.’ That makes no sense. You’re telling people, ‘Let it fail so the American people can get hurt more and when they get hurt more maybe we’ll do something.’ Why don’t you go jump off a bridge? That’s just about as sensible.”

    After Republicans’ bill to replace Obamacare failed Friday, Trump remarked to reporters: “I think the losers are Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer, because now they own Obamacare. They own it, 100 percent own it.” […]

    LePage said Tuesday that he was considering advocating for a new, state-wide private health exchange in Maine, because “[t]he federal government obviously is broken so they are not going to stand in the way. They can’t get anything done.” […]


  79. says

    Bad news:

    House Republicans voted overwhelmingly Tuesday, by a margin of 215-205, to repeal a set of landmark privacy protections for Web users, issuing a sweeping rebuke of Internet policies enacted under the Obama administration. It also marks a sharp, partisan pivot toward letting Internet providers collect and sell their customers’ Web browsing history, location information, health data and other personal details.

    The measure, which was approved by a 50-48 margin in the Senate last week, now heads to the White House, where President Trump is expected to sign it.

    Congress’s joint resolution empowers Internet providers to enter the $83 billion market for online advertising now dominated by Google and Facebook. It is likely to lend momentum to a broader GOP rollback of Obama-era technology policies, and calls into question the fate of other tech regulations such as net neutrality, which was approved in 2015 over strident Republican objections and bans Internet providers from discriminating against websites. And it is a sign that companies such as AT&T, Comcast and Verizon will be treated more permissively at a time when conservatives control all three branches of government.

    Washington Post link.

    I was wondering how that vote would go.

  80. says

    Also from the link in comment 155, here is a mostly bullshit comment from providers; and a completely bullshit comment rom Republican Chairman of the FCC, Ajit Pai:

    “Our providers care very deeply and have a strong track record of operating in ways that protect and safeguard the privacy of their customers’ data,” said James Assey, executive vice president of NCTA — The Internet & Television Association, a top cable trade association. “These are program features that are built in by design; they existed long before the FCC rules were adopted, and they will exist long after the FCC rules are withdrawn.”

    The FCC’s new Republican chairman, Ajit Pai, called the legislation “appropriate” and blamed his predecessor for executive overreach. He also said that responsibility for regulating Internet providers should fall to the Federal Trade Commission, despite the fact that the agency currently lacks the legal authority to do so. […]

  81. says

    @155, 157 and 158 – I hate to be that guy but if you think you had internet privacy prior to today you were sorely mistaken. This changes nothing.

    Get a VPN, they are cheap, and keep prying eyes out.

  82. says

    Also @ 155 – On Net neutrality, again, Obama’s FCC paid lip service to it but ISP’s constantly violated the rules and nothing was ever done about it. I have absolute proof, mounds of it that TWC was throttling P2P traffic, I sent it all to the FCC. They never did anything about it, never even replied.

    While many people’s concern is that startups who rely heavily on streaming media will not be able to compete unless they can afford to pay the ISP’s for higher priority on their networks, the truth is, ISP’s have been traffic shaping since the very early days. They have to in order to keep over subscribing their networks like they do.

    The cable companies though are typically doing it to keep bandwidth hogs (like P2P traffic) from swamping their network, and also to limit what they call “Over the Top” data streaming that competes directly with their other services like phone and TV, which is anti-competitive, but again, they’ve already been doing it.

    The good news is though that even the cable companies now recognize that they need to start scaling back on digital TV delivered via QAM and start dedicating more RF in their plant to data, which means higher data rates, more bandwidth, and less of a need to do all of the above.

    This will become less of an issue as fiber continues to grow too, but unfortunately that’s a painfully slow and expensive process at the moment.

  83. says

    @155, 157 and 158 – I hate to be that guy but if you think you had internet privacy prior to today you were sorely mistaken. This changes nothing.

    My baseline assumption has always been that corporations don’t spend years lobbying for laws that change nothing.

    Get a VPN, they are cheap, and keep prying eyes out.

    I still don’t know what that stands for, and I’ve already seen several articles in the past 30 minutes about how it’s not an easy answer. More important – these things are policy questions, not individual concerns.

    I recognize your expertise in this area, but think you’re missing some more elemental points about major policy changes and also what they mean about corporate power going forward.

  84. says

    My baseline assumption has always been that corporations don’t spend years lobbying for laws that change nothing.

    Oh it changes plenty for them, just not for you or I. Your search history and browsing history has already been sold a million times over by Google, Facebook, Microsoft and Yahoo, among others. Why do you think ads start showing up for things in your FB feed after you’ve searched something on Google?

    It is and always has been on the individual to protect their own privacy. For me, I don’t really care who knows where I browse or what I do on the internet, so I let google have the info. I get plenty of free stuff in return, gmail, google voice, google docs, google drive. It’s more than a fair trade.

    ISP’s can now profit just like a bazillion other companies off your browsing habits, so what? If anything, the prior restrictions were unfair to the ISP. I know there’s a counter argument that you can choose not use FB or Google but not so in many cases with your ISP, but that’s an argument about competition between ISP’s, not about privacy.

    ftr VPN stands for “Virtual Private Network.” Briefly, it creates an encrypted tunnel between you and some other destination. As long as your traffic is encrypted, nothing between you and the destination can view that encrypted data to see what it contains.

    You can pay various VPN companies (I use Private Internet Access or “PIA”) to be that destination for you, so that nothing between you and them is viewable by any carriers in between. They can see there’s traffic to that destination, but they don’t know anything about it’s content. From there you go out to the internet and browse knowing your ISP has no idea what you are up to.

    Of course you have to trust your VPN provider to also not sell your data, but most of them have explicit policies against doing that.

    It’s not hard at all to set up, but it does come with some inconveniences.

  85. says

    Here’s one of the articles I’ve seen. Agrees with all of us.

    Funny… it also agrees with everything I’ve said with the exception of making a value judgement about whether the government should be involved in (or even has the ability to enforce) privacy laws on the internet.

    The “protection” the republicans repealed wasn’t even a law yet, so it’s never existed prior to now, and will continue not to exist in the future. So as I said, nothing really changes for you or I. We’ve been fine without these “protections” from the government for 30 years and will be fine without them for 30 more.

    These privacy concerns are largely overblown, and the government has a pretty piss poor history of understanding the first damned thing about the internet or how it works. I’d rather they keep their hands off of it, unless of course they want to finally step in and pay for the infrastructure upgrades we so poorly need, like bringing multiple fiber based ISP’s to every household, because the private sector has proven they can’t do it.

    You all know I’m no fan of republicans but the knee jerk reaction to this particular move of theirs is blinded by bias and has little to do with the reality or history of the internet and big data. The author of the article you linked to is just as guilty of that knee jerk reaction as a million other people on the internet, doesn’t mean they (or you) are right.

    None of this is to say that I don’t think there are appropriate areas for the government to step in when it comes to various issues regarding the internet, but this isn’t one of them. This is about big data and marketing, nothing more. Marketing is the engine that runs our economy, and I don’t consider the ISP’s desire to take part in that engine to be nefarious or something that needs to be arbitrarily blocked.

    HIPPA laws still exist. Identity theft laws and a million other laws still exist that protect us to a certain extent, but this particular law was not useful or necessary, and if this move by the republicans leads to ISP’s having another revenue stream, I don’t see the problem with it.

    If you do, then you should think through what making the value judgement that your internet clicks should be private data that the government rigorously shields from being used by advertisers to target you with would mean. If the ISP’s can’t do it, then neither should Google, or FB or Twitter or Netflix or any other platform or content provider be able to, and if they can’t do it, the economy of the internet would be crippled, rather quickly.

  86. says

    None of this is to say that I don’t think there are appropriate areas for the government to step in when it comes to various issues regarding the internet, but this isn’t one of them. This is about big data and marketing, nothing more. Marketing is the engine that runs our economy, and I don’t consider the ISP’s desire to take part in that engine to be nefarious or something that needs to be arbitrarily blocked.

    Ah, I understand now what your stance is. Enough said. We’re not going to agree on this. I take the same position on this as I do on food, drugs, and any other “economic engines” you might imagine. Cheers.

  87. says

    We’re not going to agree on this.

    But… but SIWOTI !!!!! lol, you’re right we aren’t. In another thread I might push back but this isn’t the place for an extended debate about it. Cheers to you as well.

  88. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    Lawrence O’Donnell of the Last Word is having Bill Nye, the Science Guy, on to talk to about Der Trump’s executive order to bring back coal *snicker, to local peaking plant went to natural gas*. I’ll post a link it if it appears in the morning.

  89. says

    “With Trump Struggling, Wealthy Backers Rush in to Shore Him Up”:

    With President Donald Trump trying to find his footing after his failed effort to repeal the Affordable Care Act, a group of wealthy backers is launching a 10-state media blitz to pressure Democratic senators to support him — or at least think twice about piling on.

    Making America Great, a nonprofit run by Rebekah Mercer, one of Trump’s most influential donors, will begin airing $1 million in television ads on Wednesday, coupled with a $300,000 digital advertising campaign. The TV ads will run in the District of Columbia, along with ten states Trump carried in the presidential election where a Democratic senator is up for re-election in 2018: West Virginia, Wisconsin, Missouri, Michigan, North Dakota, Florida, Ohio, Indiana, Montana and Pennsylvania. The digital campaign also will focus on voters in those states.

    “Over the last couple weeks, we’ve aggressively tried to launch Making America Great,” says David Bossie, the group’s chief strategist. “We have the full support of the White House, and our effort is proud to be stepping up to help President Trump move his agenda forward.”

    The White House did not respond to requests for comment….

    Here‘s the propaganda ad.

  90. says

    “Activists who secretly filmed Planned Parenthood face 15 felony charges”:

    California prosecutors on Tuesday charged two anti-abortion activists who made undercover videos of themselves trying to buy fetal tissue from Planned Parenthood with 15 felonies, saying they invaded the privacy of medical providers by filming without consent.

    The charges against David Daleiden and Sandra Merritt of the Center for Medical Progress come eight months after similar charges were dropped in Texas.*

    State Attorney General Xavier Becerra, a longtime Congressional Democrat who took over the investigation in January, said in a statement that the state “will not tolerate the criminal recording of conversations.”

    Prosecutors say Daleiden, of Davis, Calif., and Merritt, of San Jose, filmed 14 people without permission between October 2013 and July 2015 in Los Angeles, San Francisco and El Dorado counties. One felony count was filed for each person. The 15th was for criminal conspiracy to invade privacy….

    * This is why they were dropped in TX: “Daleiden and Merritt had previously been indicted in Texas on similar charges in January of 2016, but all of the charges were eventually dropped by July as prosecutors said a grand jury had overstepped its authority. The grand jury had originally been convened to investigate Planned Parenthood, but after finding no wrongdoing turned around and indicted Daleiden and Merritt instead.” In Texas.

  91. says

    “Ex-Writer: Breitbart Broke the Law”:

    A former Breitbart News writer alleged the site was acting as an illegal influence operation for its Washington, D.C. landlord, an obscure Egyptian politician cited this week by a Capitol Hill media association that denied Breitbart press credentials.

    Two sources with direct knowledge, including one former Breitbart writer, say a reporter for the pro-Trump news organization was behind a complaint to the Department of Justice implicating then-chairman Steve Bannon and Moustafa El-Gindy, an Egyptian businessman and former legislator and the owner of Breitbart’s Washington office.

    Concerns about about that office, nicknamed the Embassy, dogged the organization Monday as it unsuccessfully sought permanent congressional press credentials. Breitbart faced conflict-of-interest questions regarding Bannon’s new role as one of President Donald Trump’s top advisers, a probe into its investors and corporate structure, and questions about El-Gindy and his property.

    A complaint filed with the Justice Department’s National Security Division as the 2016 presidential campaign kicked into gear alleged that Breitbart was acting as a de facto foreign agent for El-Gindy by providing him with friendly coverage. The Daily Beast obtained a copy of the complaint through a Freedom of Information Act request.

    A Breitbart spokesman did not respond to questions about the FARA complaint and the embassy more generally, including its apparent flouting of DC zoning rules….

  92. says

    Cecile Richards: “Thanks to Planned Parenthood docs & clinicians who continued thru it all to provide care, no matter what.”

    (Looking at the responses, I wouldn’t be surprised if they start claiming PP is selling fetal tissue to Comet Ping Pong for pizza toppings.)

  93. says

    What Trump declared:

    Big announcement by Ford today. Major investment to be made in three Michigan plants. Car companies coming back to U.S. JOBS! JOBS! JOBS!

    Kellyanne Conway followed up by pointing out that Ford’s announcement came “two weeks after” Trump met with several auto-industry executives.

    Here are the facts that prove both Trump and Conway to be wildly and ridiculously misleading the American public:

    The White House on Tuesday promoted a Ford investment in American plants, most of which was part of a plan the automaker first announced in 2015.

    The U.S. auto giant on Tuesday outlined new details of its planned $9 billion in U.S. facility investments through 2019. The company said it planned to create or retain 8,500 jobs as part of its 2015 contract with the United Auto Workers.

    CNBC link

    From the Washington Post:

    Trump’s bravado on these jobs announcements is becoming a bad joke.

    If credit goes to anyone, it goes to the union (United Auto Workers), to President Obama, and to Steven Rattner who worked with Obama to rescue the auto industry eight years ago.

  94. says

    Here is an update on just one Trump’s many legal woes. First, the backstory:

    Summer Zervos, a former contestant from The Apprentice, sued Trump in New York on Jan. 17, just days before the inauguration. She came forward in October and accused Trump of kissing and groping her in a Beverly Hills hotel room in 2007. Trump denied the accusation, including a series of tweets calling the sexual misconduct allegations “100% fabricated and made-up charges,” “totally false” and “totally made up nonsense.”

    Zervos’ attorney, Gloria Allred, demanded a retraction, to no avail. So, she sued. Zervos’ lawsuit claims the alleged defamation was “detrimental to Ms. Zervos’s reputation, honor and dignity.”

    USA Today link

    Trump’s lawyers (private, not White House counsel) are making the argument that Trump can’t be sued because the lawsuit would “distract a President from his public duties to the detriment of not only the President and his office but also the Nation.” They actually told the court that.

    The Zervos lawsuit was filed before Trump was inaugurated.

    From the Washington Post:

    A ruling that Trump cannot be sued in state courts would have implications far beyond the case of the former “Apprentice” contestant. Even if a judge rules against Trump, the legal wrangling could delay the defamation case, which is still in its early stages. [Trump attorney Marc Kasowitz] argued that all discovery in the case should be put on hold until the issue is resolved.

  95. says

    Rachel Maddow discussed the many investigations that were either directly or indirectly tied to Donald Trump, and which were being investigated by the office overseen by Preet Bharara. This was, in part, a preface to a discussion of why Bharara was fired.

    The video is 14:16 minutes long.

  96. says

    SC @186, regarding Nunes’ ridiculous, supposedly ethical stance that he “will never reveal sources,” it has been noted by many that his fellow committee members have the same security clearance he has. There is no reason to hide a source from them.

  97. says

    One of Trump’s white supremacist supporters, Corey Stewart, is running a pro-Confederate flag campaign for governor in Virginia. During the presidential campaign, Stewart was Trump’s chairman for Virginia.

    Folks, this is a symbol of heritage. It is not a symbol of racism. It is not a symbol of slavery. I’m proud to be here with this flag.

    Richmond Times-Dispatch link

  98. says

    Associated Press link

    […]For laughs, Trump will sometimes recount a tense exchange with [Reince] Priebus at one of the campaign’s lowest moments: the release of a video in which Trump is heard making predatory comments about women. During an emergency campaign meeting, Priebus told Trump he should either drop out of the race or risk dragging down Republican candidates across the country. […]

    For laughs? For laughs? Trump thinks that’s funny?

  99. says

    Yay. Josh Marshall is back from a brief vacation and he is posting his analysis of the Nunes debacle.

    One of the most consistent things about the Trump/Russia story is the way that what we might call “the evidence” is so frequently outstripped by the explanations for it and reactions to it in driving a fair-minded person’s suspicion that something just ain’t right. This isn’t to say “the evidence” doesn’t hold its own weight; it does just fine. But the inability to give even remotely straight answers, the need for deflections and subterfuges that are demonstrably preposterous (Manafort was a marginal figure in the campaign) keeps coming up again and again.

    The other persistent feature is what we’re seeing now unfold with Devin Nunes, […] “People who don’t even appear to be that close to the action keep getting pulled under for what seem like needless deceptions.” When we see this kind of pattern, “the answer is usually that the stuff at the center of the scandal is so big that it requires concealment, even about things distant from the main action, things that it would seem much better and less damaging simply to admit.”

    I’ve been on vacation abroad. So I’ve intentionally kept a distance from the news. But the progression of events with Nunes, from the slavering fealty to the President, serial rapidly debunked denials of new Trump revelations, […] the chain of events is so wild and far-fetched that under normal circumstances official Washington might be considering whether Nunes was having some kind of psychological breakdown.

    […] What is being hidden here that drives such erratic and inexplicable behavior from close to everyone who gets into what I earlier called the ‘event horizon’ of this scandal? What at the center of it has such a profound gravitational pull? […]

    Rather than searching for the single unifying piece of evidence, the smoking gun, as it were, it is better for us to start with the story we already know and simply keep pulling on the numerous dangling threads that story puts in front of us.

    […] Trump built his ‘second act’, starting in the first years of this century, on a free flow of money from the former Soviet Union. Numerous Trump business ventures partnered with people tied to the Russian or post-Soviet criminal underworld. This pattern is so widespread and consistent that it is a hugely important story in itself, though it tends to get overshadowed by the hunt for ties to President Vladimir Putin.

    Many of these ventures bear key hallmarks of money laundering. The most straightforward explanation is that Trump needed capital but had ruined his access to legitimate lenders and scared off most sensible investors. […]

    Step back and consider this. The Director of the FBI has now confirmed publicly that there is an on-going counter-intelligence investigation probing whether close advisors and associates of the President colluded with a hostile foreign power to help elect the President. […]

    The key point in my mind is that for the reasons I explained here, the FBI and likely the CIA knew quite a lot about Trump’s ties to the post-Soviet criminal underworld and reliance on Russian, Ukrainian and Kazakhstani money of dubious origins years before he ran for President. […]

    Most all of what we know comes from marginal details from public records and the occasional lawsuit where a lot of beans get spilled. I’d figure we know 5% or maybe 10% of the story. The rest remains hidden. Criminal prosecutions and counter-intelligence secrets are important. But nothing is more important than allowing the public to know who the President is, what he’s done and what’s driving his actions.

    […] Like the violent gravitational forces around a black hole, the force of this story will just tear a hapless goober like Nunes to pieces.

    Much more, including details related to Felix Sater and his relationship to the FBI, at the link.

  100. says

    Oh, FFS. Judge Andrew Napolitano is back on Fox News. And the dunderhead is sticking by his false claim that the British intelligence service GCHQ “wiretapped” Trump during the presidential campaign because Obama asked them to do so.

    I suppose Trump will feel “vindicated” again. Napolitano said:

    “Yes I do” stand by the story, Napolitano told Fox News’ Bill Hemmer on Wednesday. “And the sources stand by it.”

    “The American public needs to know more about this rather than less, because a lot of the government surveillance authorities will expire in the fall and there will be a great debate about how much authority we want the government to have to surveil us,” he continued. “And the more the American public knows about this, the more informed their and Congress’s decisions will be.”

    “I think a lot more’s going to come.” […]

    As a reminder, here is the earlier response from GCHQ:

    Recent allegations made by media commentator Judge Andrew Napolitano about GCHQ being asked to conduct ‘wire tapping’ against the then President Elect are nonsense. They are utterly ridiculous and should be ignored.

  101. says

    April Ryan has responded to Spicer’s recent attack:

    ALISYN CAMEROTA (CO-HOST of CNN’s “New Day”): What was going through that head of yours when Sean Spicer was wagging his finger and shaking his head?

    APRIL RYAN: Disbelief. I was just asking a question, trying to get an answer, and I found myself trying to defend myself. But I’m a reporter just trying to get answers, and it was a simple question. It was a legitimate question. And I just wanted an answer. And I dropped my head. I didn’t shake my head at first, and I reviewed the tape. I did shake my head towards the end in disbelief. But at the end of the day, I’m a reporter, he’s a press secretary. We both have jobs to do. I’m going back today to do my job, and he’s going to do his job, and I take it for what it is. And as an administration is calling us the enemy of the people, I guess we saw some of that thought process yesterday.

    CHRIS CUOMO (CO-HOST): […]. I think you are allowed to shake your head whenever you want, especially when Spicer is doing what he does most often right now, which was giving a bogus response to your question. […] Do you believe what he did to you, April, is different than what he does to other reporters?

    RYAN: Well let me say this. There was a young lady from Politico over the weekend, a white woman, who was called an idiot by Sean. It made headlines. We are the press who’s under attack. We are under attack by this administration. It is about discrediting credible media. And, at this point, I happen to be a black woman, but I’m part of the press. […]

    RYAN: […] It is getting personal, but it should never get personal in that room. It should be about the issues. I have no agenda, […] This is the White House. This is the home, the workspace of the president of the United States, the leader of the free world. People want to know what he’s thinking, what he’s doing. I cover all things presidential. It’s not about me, but if it becomes about me, it’s a sad day. […]

    CUOMO: […] and the kind of personal attacks that you, the Politico reporter, our Jim Acosta that we see on a regular basis that have a feel of viciousness to them.

    RYAN: Jim is a great reporter. I love Jim Acosta. First of all, there is a lot of credibility issues when it comes to this administration. […] In that room that I have been sitting in for 20 years and to see it recently, you just wonder about some of the people that are coming into the room now. Are they really journalists or are they spectators posing as journalists? […] credible, credentialed journalists who come there every day — are doing their jobs, and I’m telling you, it’s a fight. And it should not be this way. But they — I’m telling you. I stand by the First Amendment and those journalists who are in there covering this president and other presidents.

    Media Matters link

  102. says

    Trump takes another swipe at the New York Times … and misses. Trump tweeted today:

    Remember when the failing @nytimes apologized to its subscribers, right after the election, because their coverage was so wrong. Now worse!

    The New York Times responded:

    .@realdonaldtrump False, we did not apologize. We stand by our coverage & thank our millions of subscribers for supporting our journalism.

    Trump’s false claim that the NY Times “apologized” has been repeated by right-wing media outlets.

  103. says

    Writing for Vox, Emily Hammond took Trump’s executive order on “energy independence” apart:

    This executive order is designed to do two key things: first, to undo the Obama administration’s significant achievements in climate policy […] And second, to prop up the oil, gas, and coal industries at the expense of not only climate change mitigation but also clean air, water, and land, and wildlife and natural resources.

    […] • Instructing all agencies to initiate the process of identifying and rescinding any rules or policies implementing the climate action plan

    • Instructing the Environmental Protection Agency to begin the process of unraveling the Clean Power Plan […]

    • Instructing the Department of Interior to begin the process of unraveling commonsense rules for oil and gas extraction on federal land, including national parks

    • Lifting a moratorium on new coal leasing on federal lands […]

    Notably missing from the order is any mention of the United States’ commitment under the Paris climate agreement to reduce emissions by 26 to 28 percent below 2005 levels by 2025. […]

    Also missing from the order is any connection to job creation, beyond the rhetorical. Well before the Obama climate action plan, market forces had already dealt a serious blow to coal’s economic prospects. Natural gas’s low prices enabled it to become a direct competitor of coal in the electric sector, and the two now directly compete. To the extent that Trump’s executive order eases regulation on the extraction of natural gas, he has only pressed these market forces harder against coal.

    […] in implementing those policy changes, agencies must provide reasonable explanations for the changes that are consistent with their “enabling statutes” and missions. […] Expect this executive order to be a rallying cry for the upcoming Earth Day and March for Science protests, and count on numerous legal challenges.

  104. says

    Oh, FFS. A lot of Republicans, 74% of them, think that it is “somewhat likely” that Trump Tower was wiretapped.

    Here’s a startling and depressing statistic: 74 percent of Republican voters think it’s at least “somewhat likely” that Donald Trump’s offices were wiretapped during the campaign — a conspiracy theory that has been conclusively shot down by the leaders of Trump’s own party and by the heads of both the FBI and the National Security Agency.

    That suggests the Trump administration’s strategy of refusing to back away from the unfounded assertion may be paying off, at least with his GOP base, and at least for the moment. It also suggests House Intelligence Committee Chair Devin Nunes’s efforts to deflect attention away from Trump by making unfounded allegations of his own could be working politically, despite what they’re doing to the lawmaker’s own credibility.

    […] just 13 percent of Republicans accept the US intelligence community’s findings that Russia interfered in the 2016 election to help Donald Trump […]


  105. says

    Follow-up to comment 196.

    Wonkette covered the reappearance of Napolitano on his favorite platform for lying to the nation, Fox News:

    […] Quick fact check: Andrew Napolitano is not “highly respected.” He is a 9/11 Truther who used to be a failed TV judge, just like Donald Trump is a conspiracy theorist who used to be a shitty, untalented reality TV star. Napolitano parlayed that into a career […] on Fox News, and literally NOBODY who does that for a living is “highly respected” by any well-educated person who matters.

    Unfortunately, Donald Trump is an extremely poor judge of character, aptitude and intelligence, just like he’s a poor businessman who has trouble communicating in his own native language. Napolitano is a lying bridge and tunnel blowhard with what appears to be a paralyzed ferret on his head, and so is Trump, therefore Trump thinks he’s pretty great.

    Jesus fuck, America, how did we get here?

  106. says

    Tucker Carlson seems to have interviewed Latino Victory Project’s Cristóbal Alex without doing any research. Carlson’s preconceptions about sanctuary cities were clearly wrong.


    “I’ve heard this before, and, just to be clear, there’s no social science to support your position on that,” Carlson said. “There are no actual studies that show a sanctuary city is safer. Sorry.”

    Alex did not let that comment go unchallenged.

    “I disagree with you, Tucker,” Alex responded.

    Tucker tried to have the last word.

    “There’s no disagreement — there haven’t been studies done on that that show it,” Tucker said.

    Alex did not cower as he responded. More importantly, in addition to pointing out the increased safety of these cities, he included some economic realities.

    “Let me just correct you there,” Alex said. “I can talk about it right now. The most comprehensive study to date is the University of California study done by Ted Wong. It basically looked at sanctuary cities across the country, and it said that there are 35.5 fewer crimes committed per 10,000 in sanctuary cities than non-sanctuary cities. It also said it’s even better in smaller municipalities. And, importantly, sanctuary cities have stronger economies, lower poverty rates, lower uninsured rates –”

    Tucker had no comeback, so he had to resort to the connection, causation, and speculation argument. Of course, Republicans usually depend on much less as corroboration of their ill-advised policies.

    I don’t want to waste either one of our time here. That’s not causation,” said Tucker Carlson. “There’s no established connection between those two. It’s merely speculative –”

    “I don’t know that it is,” Alex responded.

  107. says

    I think Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price plans to sabotage Obamacare:

    […] Democratic lawmakers asked Price again and again whether he will simply “follow the policies” of Obamacare, as he promised in his confirmation hearing, or if he will use the powers of his office to take apart the law. Price, dodging many of the questions aimed his way, gave few assurances he will administer all of Obamacare’s regulations and programs going forward.

    […] As Health and Human Services Secretary, Price controls many levers of the nation’s health care system, and his answers before the committee will do little to assuage the fears of administrative sabotage. […]

    Individual Mandate

    The top Democrat on the House subcommittee, Rep. Rosa DeLauro (D-CT), asked Price Wednesday if he would enforce Obamacare’s individual mandate, the law that eligible Americans must buy health insurance or pay a penalty.

    Asked for a simple yes-or-no answer Price said: “So long as the law is on the books, we at the department are obliged to uphold the law.”
    […] An executive order Trump signed in January suggested the administration may opt not to enforce the tax penalty on people who don’t purchase health insurance, […] A full refusal to enforce the individual mandate would essentially gut the ACA, creating the very “death spiral” Republicans claim is already happening.

    Essential Health Benefits

    Several Democrats on this committee grilled Price about his commitment to upholding Obamacare’s provision that all insurance plans cover 10 essential health benefits, […] Price repeatedly dodged questions Wednesday about future enforcement of the law. […] “Individuals ought to be able to select the kind of coverage they want, not that the government forces them to buy.” […]

    “What I believe and what we believe is that every single American needs access to the kind of coverage that they want for themselves,” answered Price, suggesting that he supports gutting the Essential Health Benefits rule […]


    One way the Trump administration has already impeded the functioning of the ACA is by scrapping planned advertisements and outreach during the last open enrollment period.

    “We aren’t going to continue spending millions of taxpayers’ dollars promoting a failed government program,” HHS told TPM in January. The move made a difference: signups were down significantly compared to the same time in 2016.

    On Wednesday, under intense questioning by DeLauro, Price refused to commit to funding these ads and outreach in the future. […]

    Talking Points Memo link

  108. says

    From Alexis Okeowo, writing for The New Yorker:

    The Trump Administration’s budget proposal for next year includes drastic cuts to a myriad of social services and programs, […]. But there is something else buried under all of those line items: a call to completely eliminate the African Development Foundation, a government agency that gives grants worth thousands of dollars, in the form of seed capital and technical support, to community enterprises and small businesses on the African continent.

    The A.D.F. […] was designed to encourage self-sufficiency and entrepreneurship, and it focusses on ventures by farmers, women, and young people, particularly those in post-conflict communities. Last year, it invested just more than fifty million dollars in five hundred active businesses, including agriculture co-operatives and solar-energy enterprises, which in turn reportedly generated new economic activity worth eighty million dollars. ([…]

    The A.D.F.’s reach has been meaningful, though modest. But its proposed termination reflects a deeper apathy, and even belligerence, about Africa from President Trump’s Administration, whose members have publicly wondered what the United States is doing on the continent, and why it is interested in parts of it at all.

    […] The University of Southern California hosts an annual summit on trade in Africa, meant to bring together representatives of business and government interests on the continent and in the United States. This year, there were no Africans present, because the State Department did not grant visas to any of the roughly sixty African delegates who were invited. […]

    But if questions posed earlier this year by the Trump transition team to the State Department regarding Africa are any indication, ignorance may be just as harmful as blustery tweets and threats […]

    As the Times, which got a copy of the questions, summed it up, the incoming President’s team wondered why the United States was “even bothering to fight the Boko Haram insurgency in Nigeria,” and why it hadn’t yet defeated al-Shabaab.

    It asked about doing away with assistance for Uganda’s hunt of the vicious, Joseph Kony-led Lord’s Resistance Army, which is still rampaging through central Africa, since the “LRA has never attacked U.S. interests.” […]

    The questions revealed a stunning lack of knowledge about the humanitarian impulses behind the most important operations and programs on the continent, including the most successful, like PEPFAR [President’s Emergency Plan for aids Relief ], […]

    There were legitimate points of inquiry, such as whether the aid given to some African countries disappears into corrupt pockets—a question that could, in theory, lead to a serious discussion about whether it is more efficient to focus on investment than on assistance. But there was no sign that this Administration will capitalize on that insight. The tone of the questions, judging from press reports, appears to have been overwhelmingly confrontational and dismissive, and even flippant. […]

  109. says

    There were legitimate points of inquiry, such as whether the aid given to some African countries disappears into corrupt pockets

    That is a concern – if money’s going to be disappearing into corrupt pockets, they better be Trump’s.

  110. says

    Ok… I’m going to float a thought experiment here, and I don’t want anyone to attack me based on the idea that I believe this, because I don’t, but I have to ask a basic question here, in a very scientific way. I want to float an alternative hypothesis, one that also fits all of the facts in evidence about #kremlingate, because I think it’s a valuable exercise and needs to be considered, and see if the “null hypothesis” can be falsified.

    Consider the possibility that DJT and his team are pulling off a very clever rope-a-dope on the media. What if… there was no collusion between Trump and Putin? What if… DJT isn’t guilty of money laundering, or anything really that would justify the perp walk we all so desperately want to see?

    What if… he’s been stoking the conspiracy by making it look like there’s a major cover up, and that Nunes and others are in on this strategy, and that Bannon and he are absolutely loving the fact that the media at large and the left in general are absolutely obsessed with the idea to the point that it’s allowing them to pursue their legitimate agenda with little to no attention paid to it?

    We here in this forum do a good job of not overlooking the important things this asshole is doing, but that’s not true of the general population, even on the left.

    What if, when these investigations are said and done, he’s going to come out squeaky clean on treason charges and will regain his popularity and will have spewed so much egg on the faces of the dems for going after that angle so hard that he manages to squelch the ground swell of opposition to his truly fascist agenda?

    IOW, is he giving the left enough rope to hang themselves? Please discuss.

  111. says

    The Senate Intelligence Committee public hearings about the Kremlin operation will be at 10 (Eastern) this morning and 2 (Eastern) this afternoon. I’m not sure if they’ll be aired in full on CNN and/or MSNBC, but they can be watched on the C-SPAN3 live feed (which presumably means you can watch them live on C-SPAN3 on TV).

  112. says

    North Carolina Republicans have reportedly reached a deal to repeal their sick little bathroom bill, which recent figures suggested would cost the state $3.76 billion over the next 12 years (you can be sure the cost backlash is all they care about).

  113. says

    erik @217, Trump doesn’t have the attention span required to do that. He also just can’t think straight.

    In a recent meeting about problems with substance abuse and addiction, everybody in the room told him that their loved one’s addiction began with prescription pain pills that are made in the USA. Trump just replied with a statement about stopping the drugs flowing into the country over the souther border. He said something about “drug cartels” and nothing about prescription drug companies, etc.

    Trump is stupid. Bannon is destructive but narrow minded. I don’t see anyone on team Trump that can think about the big picture and the details at the same time.

    If you want a different explanation, I would advise looking at what Trump has to gain monetarily by aligning himself with Putin (or what he has to lose by not doing so). No ideology needed.

    There’s also the chance that willfully ignorant narcissistic people all tend to harbor the same prejudices and the same tendencies to think in well-worn ruts — the appearance of working together towards a goal is incidental.

    There’s also the “are we winning (dominating) and everyone else losing” strategy. No empathy or long-term planning needed.

  114. says

    Just one of Trump’s stupid, bullying, whining tweets for today:

    The failing @nytimes has disgraced the media world. Gotten me wrong for two solid years. Change libel laws?

  115. says

    Oh, no. I admit to having my hopes up when it came to Medicaid expansion for Kansas.

    Governor Sam Brownback vetoed legislation that had passed both houses.

    Most grievously, this legislation funnels more taxpayer dollars to Planned Parenthood and the abortion industry. From its infancy, the state of Kansas has affirmed the dignity and equality of each human life. I will not support this legislation that continues to fund organizations that undermine a culture of life.

  116. says

    @222 – Lynna- I agree, but I was having a conversation with a friend who thinks we should approach with caution because of the possibility that this is a farce.

    Personally, I think there’s already way too many “coincidences” for #kremlingate to be anything but true, and that in fact, we have probably only seen the tip of the iceberg thus far.

    However, just as Ken Starr wasn’t looking for a blue dress, I’m starting to think that Trump laundering Russian money might and obstructing justice be what takes him down as opposed to proof of any collusion.

    By the way, was anyone here aware the letter sent to David Kay Johnston with DJT’s 2005 1040 was sent from Westchester NY, where Trump happened to be that very weekend it was sent? that It’s old news but I don’t remember anyone posting about it.

  117. tomh says

    Meanwhile, the damage goes on, everywhere you look. Scott Pruitt, head of EPA, rejected the scientific conclusion of the agency’s own chemical safety experts, and reversed the Obama administration recommendation that the widely used pesticide chlorpyrifos be banned. E.P.A. scientists had concluded that exposure to the chemical was potentially causing significant health consequences, includeding learning and memory declines, particularly among farm workers and young children. This is one of Pruitt’s first formal actions, you can be sure there are plenty more to come.

  118. says

    On Tuesday, Nunes claimed that he had invited Director Comey to come to testify again before the House Intelligence committee.

    Nunes is now claiming that because some Democrats didn’t sign the invitation letter, the Dems are the ones holding up the investigation. The Dems thought Nunes was trying to set a trap and that Nunes was scheduling a Comey visit to interfere with other hearings.

    Comey had already declared that he wouldn’t appear before the committee until Nunes cleaned up his act, and by making moving forward dependent on an appearance by the FBI Director, Nunes was attempting to put progress on indefinite ice.

    Nunes continues to cite the letter to Comey as his excuse and as his way to blame Dems. There’s one big problem, though, Nunes never sent the invitation letter to Comey. He could have done so, but he did not.

    House Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes and FBI Director James Comey can’t seem to agree on whether the former invited the latter to testify before House Russia investigators, in a dispute that has now popped up twice in less than a week. … a source at the FBI said the reason Comey couldn’t make the hearing was because he was never invited.

    CNN link

    Comey said he wouldn’t come to testify again without a formal invitation. Nunes won’t send the invitation.

  119. says

    Looks like this attack on Planned Parenthood worked.

    Vice President Mike Pence and a GOP senator recovering from surgery were dramatically summoned to the Senate on Thursday to advance a measure that would allow states to block federal family-planning funds to Planned Parenthood.

    After the vote had been held open for more than an hour, Pence cast the tie-breaker shortly after Sen. Johnny Isakson (R-Ga.) walked onto the Senate floor to vote. Isakson, who is recovering from back surgery, was using a walker.

    Republican Sens. Susan Collins of Maine and Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, two GOP lawmakers who have long resisted efforts to bar federal funding for the women’s health organization, voted with Democrats against advancing the measure. […]

    “This is an opportunity to return to the people the right to prioritize how taxpayer dollars are spent,” said Mallory Quigley, a spokeswoman for the anti-abortion Susan B. Anthony List. […]

    Politico link

  120. says

    Samantha Bee celebrated the “winning” when Trumpcare failed. Scroll down for he video.

    […] “Closing deals is the one thing President Big Boy Truck was supposed to know how to do!” […]

    “Well, hey, when it’s a matter of life and death for millions of people, the important thing is that you learned a lot,” Bee said to Trump. “Good try, buddy! Grab an orange slice and a participation ribbon.” […]

  121. says

    Trevor Noah mocked Trump’s promises to the coal industry.

    Scroll down for the video.


    “I know what you are thinking: This is going to be bad for the environment and the air quality, more carbon emissions,” Noah said. “And you know what, you are right, you are right. But what you are not considering is that this is going to be great for the country. Just not the country you are thinking of.” […]

    “That’s right, President Trump’s deregulation is actually going to help China, or as he calls them, ‘Gina,’” […]

    “If Trump was genuinely trying to keep hard-working Americans employed, I would understand that,” Noah added. “You know, he made the promise. But it feels like he’s just using these coal miners as political pawns. And the only reason I say that is because everyone seems to agree that coal jobs won’t ever come back.”

    Noah’s right. Experts say that both automation and the availability of the much cheaper natural gas mean that Trump can’t bring back coal jobs just by eliminating climate-change protections. […]

    The funniest bit was a spot-on comment that Trump didn’t really want to be president, he just wanted to play president. (Trump wearing a hard hat and miming digging coal. Trump miming driving a big truck. Trump playing with a Fischer Price be president set.)

  122. says

    From Wonkette’s coverage of the Senate Intelligence Committee hearing on Russian interference in the 2016 election:

    11:45: BOOM! Clint Watts says outright that part of the reason Russian active measures worked in this election is that THE TRUMP REGIME, and also the campaign before that, specifically use/d fake news-style active measures to spread disinformation to the American public. […]

    11:49: Clint Watts says he already knows he’ll be targeted by Russians in efforts to discredit him, and part of the problem these days is we literally don’t know what America’s position on all that is. He’s saying basically that Trump is gay for Putin, so none of us are safe. Hooray!

    12:04: Russia hacked “three to four thousand” people, on both sides of the aisle, according to Clint Watts. He says Russia is sitting on “information nukes,” so that’s comforting.

    House of Representatives, you look like a dumb idiot right now.

    12:09: IMPORTANT POINT JUST MADE: Russia would have succeeded with its meddling, even if Hillary Clinton had been elected, because the part of the aim was to smear her as much as possible regardless of the outcome. […]

    12:25: Here is a fun detail! Russian bots actually target Donald Trump on Twitter with active measures fake news when they can tell he’s online. Why? Because he’s stupid and falls for it. U-S-A! U-S-A! […]

  123. says

    Okay, now we’ve got Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner installed in the White House. We need more Trump family members, right?

    Who’s left? Lara Trump is married to Eric Trump. Yes, Lara is next. She is being added to the team as a senior consultant for Trump’s campaign team. Looks like she’ll work from Trump Tower in Manhattan.

    Associated Press link.

    The digital vendor for President Donald Trump’s political campaign has hired a new senior consultant: the president’s daughter-in-law, Lara Trump.

    The New Yorker, Eric Trump’s wife, will serve as a liaison for San Antonio, Texas-based Giles-Parscale to Trump’s ongoing campaign, based at Trump Tower in Manhattan. […]

  124. says

    From the New York Times:

    A pair of White House officials played a role in providing Representative Devin Nunes of California, the Republican chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, with the intelligence reports that showed President Trump and his associates were incidentally swept up in foreign surveillance by American spy agencies.

    The revelation that White House officials assisted in the disclosure of the intelligence reports — which Mr. Nunes then discussed with President Trump — is likely to fuel criticism that the intelligence chairman has been too eager to do the bidding of the Trump administration while his committee is supposed to be conducting an independent investigation of Russia’s meddling in the last presidential election. […]

    He first disclosed the existence of the intelligence reports on March 22, and in his public comments he has described his sources as whistle-blowers trying to expose wrongdoing at great risk to themselves.

    Several current American officials identified the White House officials as Ezra Cohen-Watnick, the senior director for intelligence at the National Security Council, and Michael Ellis, a lawyer who works on national security issues at the White House Counsel’s Office and formerly worked on the staff of the House Intelligence Committee. […]

    Mr. Cohen-Watnick is a former Defense Intelligence Agency official who was originally brought to the White House by Michael T. Flynn, the former national security adviser. The officials said that earlier this month, shortly after Mr. Trump wrote on Twitter about being wiretapped on the orders of President Barack Obama, Mr. Cohen-Watnick began reviewing highly classified reports detailing the intercepted communications of foreign officials. […]


    What? Another connection to Michael Flynn?

  125. What a Maroon, living up to the 'nym says

    Well, this should be fun. Il Douchebag declares civil war within the gop.

    President[*] Trump declared war on the conservatives of the House Freedom Caucus on Thursday, suggesting Republicans should “fight them” in the 2018 midterm elections if they do not back his agenda.

    The Freedom Caucus will hurt the entire Republican agenda if they don’t get on the team, & fast, Mr. Trump said Thursday morning on Twitter, escalating a fight that began when the conservatives from the caucus blocked his Affordable Care Act repeal last Friday.


    Minutes after Mr. Trump’s post, his Republican critics took to Twitter to respond, in Trump-ese: It’s a swamp not a hot tub. We both came here to drain it. #SwampCare polls 17%. Sad! wrote Representative Thomas Massie, a Kentucky Republican who often sides with the caucus on votes.

    It didn’t take long for the swamp to drain @realDonaldTrump, said Representative Justin Amash of Michigan, a member of the Freedom Caucus who has emerged as one of Mr. Trump’s most caustic Republican critics. No shame, Mr. President[*]. Almost everyone succumbs to the D.C. Establishment.

    Michael Flynn Jr., a conservative activist — and son of Michael T. Flynn, Mr. Trump’s former national security adviser — went even further. Why is @realDonaldTrump siding w/ estab Repubs (which we know r closet Dems) and looney Dems like Pelosi and Schumer? NOT WHAT WE VOTED FOR, he said on Twitter.

    This would be a good time to invest in popcorn futures.

  126. says

    In February, Utah’s representative to Congress, Jason Chaffetz, sponsored a bill that would make it easier for Republicans to sell off public lands. Negative feedback hit him hard. He reacted to the negative feedback, and he claimed he was withdrawing the bill.

    He lied.

    From Matthew Koehler:

    9 days after @jasoninthehouse “withdrew” bill to sell off our #publiclands it was referred to a subcommittee. #KeepItPublic #MTPol #resist

    Chaffetz is sponsoring a bill directing “the Secretary of the Interior to sell certain Federal lands in Arizona, Colorado, Idaho, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Mexico, Oregon, Utah, and Wyoming, previously identified as suitable for disposal, and for other purposes.”

    Spin in the title: “(a) Short Title.—This Act may be cited as the ‘Disposal of Excess Federal Lands Act of 2017’.”

    Chaffetz is being excessively sneaky.

  127. says

    Six groups have joined together to sue the Trump administration over Trump’s approval of permits to build the Keystone XL pipeline.

    […] In a lawsuit filed Thursday in federal court in Montana, the groups contend Trump’s State Department used out-of-date environmental information to approve the pipeline.

    When Trump issued a presidential permit last week allowing Keystone to cross the U.S.-Canada border, opponents said the project needed to go through a new environmental review before it could actually move forward.

    The Hill link

    The six groups are:
    Sierra Club
    Center for Biological Diversity
    Friends of the Earth
    Natural Resources Defense Council
    Bold Alliance
    North Plains Resource Council

  128. says

    @235 – That ties directly into my Trump could be pulling a rope-a-dope conversation. This friend of mine pointed out that after the fall of the USSR, public lands and resources were bought up by the oligarchs in waiting, which is why we now have Russian oligarchs and why their economy still hasn’t recovered some 30 years later as all of the wealth has been privatized and coalesced at the top among very few people.

    Most people won’t understand how very nefarious the selling off of federal assets to private individuals is. It could lead to the direct collapse of our economy as those federal assets are what bolsters the dollar and allows us to carry the debt we do. We already have a wealth inequality problem, this just further solidifies it.

  129. says

    SC @236: Yeah, looks like McMaster was right to try to remove Cohen-Watnick. Bannon, Kushner and Trump want unethical dunderheads to remain on the team. Truly a dispiriting state of affairs.

    More news that is likely bad: Trump is giving the Pentagon more authority to carry out airstrikes in Somalia:

    […] “The president has approved a Department of Defense proposal to provide additional precision fires in support of African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) and Somali security forces operations to defeat al-Shabaab in Somalia,” Pentagon spokesman Capt. Jeff Davis confirmed in a statement Thursday.

    The statement comes after several news outlets reported earlier in the day that Trump had relaxed rules meant to safeguard against civilian casualties to allow for increased operations in the Horn of Africa country.

    The new rules in Somalia could renew questions that have dogged the Trump administration about mission creep and civilian casualties. […]


  130. says

    Purveyors of fake news are busy, busy, busy.

    Now that the Senate investigation is underway, disseminators of fake news are putting out stories, tweets, and other “news” that dismisses the idea that there is any connection between Russia and team Trump. The buzzwords (or phrases) they are using include “zero evidence,” “slanderous,” and “Hillary Clinton sold uranium to the Russians.”

    From Mad World News:

    Shocking new evidence shows Barack Obama and FBI Director James Comey are in cahoots to impeach President Donald Trump, proving the hacking of the Democratic National Committee by Russians to sway the election is entirely fabricated and Trump colluding with the Russians is completely fake too, all planted by ruthless cyber spies hired by Obama and the Democrats, with help from Comey. This hardcore proof will blow your mind. […]

    Yet, we know there is absolutely nothing connecting Trump to colluding with the Russians, and now, we know that the FBI’s “evidence” comes from the discredited cyber firm, Crowdstrike. That was Comey’s “smoking gun,” this Crowdstrike report. He used it to make allegations that the FBI has an ongoing investigation into Trump and the Russians; it’s preposterous! [Mad World News, 3/29/17]

    From TruthFeed:

    Yesterday evening, President Trump decided he has had enough of the media’s fake Trump Russia conspiracy theories and decided to expose the truth about who TRULY has the “Russian” issue. […]

    The Uranium One story is among the incidents detailed in Peter Schweizer’s Clinton Cash. […]

    According to Clinton Cash, the total donations from Uranium One shareholders to the Clinton Foundation exceeded $145 million, in the run-up to Hillary Clinton’s State Department approving the Rosatom deal, which gave Russia control over about 20 percent of U.S. uranium. [TruthFeed, 3/28/17]

    From Before It’s News:

    The whole Trump-Russian conspiracy angle that the dishonest media keeps foisting on us, despite there being zero evidence to that effect, is getting tired by now. Conveniently ignoring the fact that there is plenty of evidence of dealings with the Russian; just not on the Trump side. […]

    […] Hillary Clinton allowed 20% of our uranium to go to Russia, and John McCain attempting to solicit campaign funds from the Russians. Then there’s the issue of John Podesta’s own Russian connections. But that’s just scratching the surface; the rabbit hole that is the Clinton uranium deal goes deep, far deeper than you can imagine. Will the public ever realize the full extent of the Clintons’ corruption? [Before It’s News, 3/29/17]

    For a debunking of uranium story, see comment 115.

  131. says

    Related to 240 – I didn’t catch the guy’s name but this morning when I was getting ready for work some douchewaffle caused 7 other talking heads to simply stare in disbelief for several seconds when he looked straight into the camera and made the claim that the Russian interference in the campaign was clearly on the side of Hillary Clinton and against Trump. After being directly refuted by two of the panelists he went on to defend his assertion, so he didn’t just misspeak.

    The strategy is clear, there are two claims about the truth, theirs and ours, which do you believe?

  132. says

    They’re not exactly influential, but The Globe tabloid does have a readership, and even if you don’t read it you can still be exposed to the headlines just by passing a magazine rack. They were regular publishers of anti-Obama nonsense during his Presidency, and even now they’re still at it. The latest issue to turn up in my neck of the woods claims that Obama’s US birth certificate has been proven fake, and that he was actually born in Kenya. And Donald Trump complains about false news.

  133. says

    Thomas Rid seems to be under the impression that you can speak to a Senate committee using subtle and allusive language and they’ll totally get the point. I doubt it.

  134. says

    I have a huge pet peeve: People recording events for C-SPAN (including book talks), YT videos, or whatever often begin and end the recording, including audio, minutes before and/or after the event itself. So you can hear people – not just the people involved with the event but just people in the audience – chatting near the microphone, and if you wanted to could listen in on their conversations. This is an invasion of privacy.

  135. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    Michaell Flynn has offered to testify in exchange for immunity.

    The cynic says “how do you spell ‘guilty'”?

  136. microraptor says

    The cynic says “how do you spell ‘guilty’”?

    As if that was ever in doubt.

  137. says

    As if that was ever in doubt.

    Flynn has been the clear favorite* in the “who will flip first” race. Manafort and Stone are corrupt to the bone.

    * And Page, but he’s always been a more minor player.

  138. says

    Eli Lake (see #105 above):

    Last week, the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, Representative Devin Nunes, announced dozens of intelligence reports that inappropriately included details on President Donald Trump’s transition. This week, he told me that his source for that information was an intelligence official, not a White House staffer.

    It turns out, he misled me. The New York Times reported Thursday that Nunes had two sources, and both worked for the White House. This distinction is important because it raises questions about the independence of the congressional investigation Nunes is leading, which may lead to officials at the White House….

  139. says

    and holy shit… Woolsey is now caught up in a money laundering scheme in Saipan with a former Trump associate:

    Woolsey, who went after Flynn just days ago, accusing him publicly of scheming to kidnap Erdogan’s biggest political enemy residing in the US.

    I feel like I’m so far down the rabbit hole at the point that I no longer know which way is up.

  140. says

    Adam Schiff (responding to Trump’s nonsense):

    “The public should learn a lot more about WHY General Flynn wants immunity when Sally Yates testifies before the House Intelligence Committee.”

    “The question for you, Mr. President, is why you waited so long to act after you learned Flynn (through your VP) had misled the country?”

  141. says

    McKay Coppins’ new piece on Chaffetz is quite good:

    …On a recent afternoon in his Capitol Hill office, I read through a litany of headlines detailing potential entanglements between President Trump’s business and his administration with the congressman…. One of the stories I flagged reported that online sales had skyrocketed for the First Daughter’s clothing line after Kellyanne Conway went on TV and urged Americans to “buy Ivanka’s stuff.” I asked Chaffetz if he was concerned about Trump reaping financial rewards from his presidency, but he just shrugged.

    “He’s already rich,” Chaffetz said. “He’s very rich. I don’t think that he ran for this office to line his pockets even more. I just don’t see it like that.”

    What about the recent New York Times story about Jared Kushner’s family exploring a $400 million deal with a Chinese company while he serves as a foreign policy adviser to the president—was that worthy of investigation?

    “I don’t see how that affects the average American and their taxpayer dollars,” Chaffetz said. “Just the fact that a staff person’s family is making money? It’s not enough.”

    He promised that Trump won’t get an entirely free ride under his watch. “Somebody’ll do something stupid at some point, and we’ll be all over it.” But, he added, “I think the people who voted for Donald Trump went into it with eyes wide open. Everybody knew he was rich, everybody knew he had lots of different entanglements … These other little intrigues about a wealthy family making money is a bit of a sideshow.”

    If this is not quite the attitude you’re hoping to see in a designated Washington watchdog, you aren’t alone….

  142. Ogvorbis: A bear of very little brains. says

    SC @272:

    I wonder if Chaffetz’ attitude would be the same if Hillary Clinton were in the White House? She (and her administration) would be pulling none of this shit but I can guaranfuckingtee that there would be more investigations going on then there are committees in congress. And Chaffetz would be cheering them all.

  143. says

    SC @276, President Obama clearly saw what was coming down the pike. Smart man.

    Meanwhile, Trump is adding to the load on Jared Kushner’s shoulders:

    Jared Kushner, son-in-law and senior adviser to President Donald Trump, has been dispatched by the White House to discuss criminal justice reform issues with key senators, BuzzFeed News has learned. Kushner met with Sens. Chuck Grassley and Dick Durbin on Capitol Hill Thursday.

    Kushner was spotted entering Grassley’s office on Thursday morning. An aide familiar with the meeting confirmed that Kushner is speaking with the senators about the reform legislation, which stalled last Congress despite early optimism that it could pass.

    BuzzFeed link

    From Rachel Maddow’s previous presentation on Jared:

    […] we already knew that he [Jared] was the White House point person on Middle East peace and China and Canada and Mexico, including building the wall. We’re also told he was in charge of trade deals in the White House, which is kind of a big responsibility on its own. […]

    In addition to reimagining the V.A., he will also be in charge of the $1 trillion infrastructure plan that his father-in-law is planning, and he will be in charge of installing brand-new technology and data infrastructure for every single department and agency of the federal government, and he will be in charge of broadband policy for the nation, and he will be in charge of getting rid of the opioid crisis.

    That’s all Jared; that’s all Jared’s portfolio now.

  144. says

    Trump is still on the warpath with members of the Freedom Caucus:

    If @RepMarkMeadows, @Jim_Jordan and @Raul_Labrador would get on board we would have both great healthcare and massive tax cuts & reform.

    Where are @RepMarkMeadows, @Jim_Jordan and @Raul_Labrador?
    #RepealANDReplace #Obamacare

    So far, Trump’ bullying tactics are backfiring. Meadows, Labrador, etc. are not taking the threats seriously. In fact, they are stiffening their opposition.

    .@RealDonaldTrump We are where we’ve always been: committed to keeping our promise.

    .@realDonaldTrump .@RealDonaldTrump Repeal includes eliminating the costly Obamacare regs that are driving up Americans’ premiums.

    .@realDonaldTrump .@RealDonaldTrump We can do better than a plan that only 17% of Americans support.

    Both factions are dead wrong on health care. Kind of a schadenfreude moment though to see them fighting each other.

  145. says

    From Josh Marshall:

    […] there’s a very tight timeline or chain of events tying Trump’s claims of Obama wire-tapping and the various doings of Ezra Cohen-Watnick. Let’s walk through it.

    On March 4th, President Trump went on his twitter tirade against President Obama.

    On March 10th, National Security Advisor McMaster told Cohen-Watnick he was out.

    On March 14th, Trump overruled McMaster and decreed that Cohen Watnick would stay.

    Then on the 21st, House Intelligence Committee Chair Devin Nunes got that late night call to come over to the White House and get debriefed on the information Cohen-Watnick et al. had come up with.

    So far so good. But let’s add this. On March 15th, Fox aired Tucker Carlson’s interview with President Trump in which Carlson asked about his wiretapping claims. Here’s how the President responded: “But wiretapped, it covers a lot of different things. I think you’re going to find some very interesting items coming to the forefront in the next two weeks.”

    So at the risk of needless repetition.

    March 4th: Obama wiretap claims tweeted.

    March 10th: Cohen-Watnick canned.

    March 13th or 14th: Trump overrules McMaster; Cohen-Watnick keeps job.

    March 15th: Trump says new info coming.

    March 21st: Nunes called to White House to review “new info.”

    I think this speaks for itself.

  146. says

    Here’s a handy list of Jared Kushner’s jobs:

    1. Jared Kushner is responsible for negotiating peace in the Middle East.

    2. Jared Kushner is responsible for solving America’s opioid epidemic.

    3. Jared Kushner is responsible for diplomacy with Mexico.

    4. Jared Kushner is responsible for diplomacy with China.

    5. Jared Kushner is responsible for reforming care for veterans.

    6. Jared Kushner is responsible for reforming the criminal justice system.

    7. Jared Kushner is responsible for reinventing the entire government and making it work like a business.

    8. Jared has to stay married to Ivanka.

    9. Jared has to fluff the ego of Donald Trump.

    Meanwhile, Trump has failed to even nominate a candidate for 491 of the 553 key administration positions that require Senate approval.

    The list above is my summary of info provided by Judd Legum of Think Progress. I added to the job list.

    From Legum:

    Jared Kushner is a seemingly healthy 36-year-old man with outstanding grooming habits. He seems to otherwise have no particular qualifications for any position in government. Prior to Donald Trump’s campaign, Kushner had no experience working in policy or politics. […]

  147. says

    I was disappointed that CNN and MSNBC didn’t air the full Senate Intelligence Committee hearings yesterday. People were working and probably not watching C-SPAN, but deserve to hear some of the information presented, especially by Watts (see #s 231 and 249 above) and Rid (see #255). They have 24 hours a day, and waste most of it with useless talk. They should each have a special report over the weekend devoted to the relevant information gleaned at the hearings.

  148. says

    SC @283, I noticed that. They aired excerpts later. I am hoping Joy Reid provides better coverage over the weekend.

    Regarding the farce involving Nunes, Sean Spicer knew more than he was letting on:

    […] “To comment on that story would be to validate certain things that I am not at liberty to do,” White House press secretary Sean Spicer told reporters [today]. But previous Spicer comments suggest that he may have known how many sources were providing surveillance information to Nunes. Asked about Nunes’s sources on Tuesday, the spokesman alluded to “two individuals who were properly cleared” before adding “or three, or whoever he met with.” […]

    And during his initial foray with the press, Nunes explained that he needed to brief the president because “the administration isn’t aware of this, so I need to make sure I go over there and tell them what I know. Because it involves them.”

    […] Nunes was misleading the public. […]

    Daily Beast link.

    Spicer is also misleading the public.

    Trump is depending on his 20 million-plus Twitter followers to retweet his message that the entire Russia probe is a “witch hunt.”

  149. microraptor says

    Does Trump actually realizes that if Flynn gets immunity he’s going to be testifying against him?

  150. Ogvorbis: A bear of very little brains. says

    Microraptor @285:

    Well, his followers (both in tweet and in person (yeah, same volunteer I have mentioned before)) are convinced that Flynn will use his immunity to dump a whole bunch of information about all the crimes of the Clinton family and Ben Gazhi, and every other right-wing “crime” of the past 30 years.

    I think Trump assumes that if Flynn gets immunity he will fall on his sword and take all the blame for everything. Sort of a real life Duncan Done It.

  151. says

    I’m honestly not sure what if anything is going on here, but Trump signed a second EO changing the order of succession within the DOJ. Here’s some background. The February 9th EO made it:

    (a) United States Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia; [Dana Boente]
    (b) United States Attorney for the Northern District of Illinois; and
    (c) United States Attorney for the Western District of Missouri.

    The new one makes it:

    (a) United States Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia; [Dana Boente]
    (b) United States Attorney for the Eastern District of North Carolina [John Stuart Bruce – acting until new one appointed]
    (c) United States Attorney for the Northern District of Texas [John R. Parker – interim since 2014]

  152. says

    @285 and 286 – There’s a lot of lawyers out there tweeting that his asking for immunity doesn’t mean he has the goods on anybody, and may just be an Ollie North type ploy to protect himself for crimes he may have committed even though he offers nothing of substance. His lawyers may not expect the Justice Dept to offer it but one or both of the intel committees may.

  153. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    EPA scientific integrity office reviewing Pruitt’s comments on carbon.

    The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s scientific integrity watchdog is reviewing whether EPA chief Scott Pruitt violated the agency’s policies when he said in a television interview he does not believe carbon dioxide is driving global climate change, according to an email seen by Reuters on Friday.
    Lawyers for environmental group the Sierra Club had asked the EPA’s Office of Inspector General to check whether Pruitt violated policy when he told a CNBC interviewer on March 9, “I would not agree that it’s a primary contributor to the global warming that we see.”
    The EPA Inspector General’s office responded to the Sierra Club on Thursday in an email, saying it had referred the matter to the EPA’s Scientific Integrity Officer, Francesca Grifo, for review.
    “If after the SIO review, she concludes there is some aspect of the letter itself, or her findings or conclusions that she believes are appropriate for further consideration by the OIG, she will so notify the OIG,” the email stated.
    A spokesman for the EPA did not immediately respond to a request for comment, and efforts to reach Grifo were not immediately successful.
    The EPA website says its scientific integrity policy requires EPA officials and staff to ensure the agency’s work respects the findings of the broader scientific community.

  154. says

    erik @289, I think that Flynn is asking for immunity because he thinks the total dunderhead in charge of the House Intelligence Committee, Nunes, will fall for that ploy. He thinks Nunes will grant him immunity, and that will make it much harder for anyone to prosecute him for anything he has done.

  155. says

    This useful segment of The Rachel Maddow Show includes an interview with Clinton Watts, the former FBI special agent. Watts clearly testified to the fact that Donald Trump and members of Trump’s team amplified Russian fake news and propaganda by parroting the Russian crap.

    The video is 6:18 minutes long.

    Watts pointed out that the rapidity with which team Trump spread Russian fake news is in itself suspicious. Team Trump may have been unwitting dupes, but their actions looked like they were synchronized with the Russian dissemination of fake news.

  156. says

    Yep, everyone in the Trump family continues to profit financially from the fact that Hair Furor is the president.

    […] Trump’s son-in-law and daughter are holding onto scores of real estate investments — part of a portfolio of at least $240 million in assets — while they serve in White House jobs, according to new financial disclosures.

    The revelations about Jared Kushner and Ivanka Trump were part of a massive White House release of financial disclosure forms Friday night for dozens of its top administration officials.

    Kushner, Trump’s senior adviser, resigned from some 260 entities and sold off 58 businesses or investments that lawyers identified as posing potential conflicts of interest, the documents show.

    But lawyers for Kushner and in the Office of the White House Counsel, in consultation with the Office of Government Ethics, determined that his real estate assets, many of them in New York City, are unlikely to pose the kinds of conflicts that would trigger a need to divest. […]

    For example, Kushner sold his stake in a Manhattan skyscraper to a trust his mother oversees. Jared Kushner, Ivanka Trump and their three minor children have no financial interest in that trust, his lawyer said. The Kushner Companies, now run by Jared Kushner’s relatives, are seeking investment partners for a massive redevelopment of the building. [Sounds like a financial interest to me.]

    Top officials in the Trump White House tend to be far wealthier — and therefore more entangled in businesses that could conflict with their government duties — than people in previous administrations. […]


  157. says

    Oh, FFS.

    Nearly six months after tapes were released of him bragging about sexually assaulting women, Donald Trump declared on Friday that April is officially National Sexual Assault Awareness and Prevention Month.

    […] The bulk of his proclamation is a series of platitudes rather than a substantive plan to address rampant sexual violence and rape culture. Attorney General Jeff Sessions has reportedly been told to establish a crime reduction and public safety task force to “develop strategies to reduce crime and propose new legislation to fill gaps in existing laws.”

    Trump also noted the importance of speaking out against sexual violence among peers, “mobilizing men and boys as allies in preventing sexual and relationship violence,” and showing women and children more respect. […]

  158. says

    Another reason to shout, “Oh, FFS!”

    Trump tweeted:

    When will Sleepy Eyes Chuck Todd and @NBCNews start talking about the Obama SURVEILLANCE SCANDAL and stop with the Fake Trump/Russia story.

    t is the same Fake News Media that said there is “no path to victory for Trump” that is now pushing the phony Russia story. A total scam!

    Here’s part of what Chuck Todd said on “Meet the Press”:

    I think the biggest problem here is you have the president not wanting to accept the conclusion that Russia tried to interfere in the election and that there is going to be an investigation in this, whether he likes it or not. The source of all of the current problems for this West Wing right now, for this presidency right now, all stems from that tweet where the president accused President Obama of wiretapping him.

    This has all been self-inflicted. The Russia cloud is dark enough. This sort of Nunes Keystone Cop situation has made it that much worse. And again, it all stems from the fact that the president himself will not accept the idea that there is going to be a Russian investigation.

  159. says

    Representative Adam Schiff’s statements after viewing the documents Devin Nunes viewed (supposedly the same documents) really dissed both the White House and Nunes:

    It was represented to me that these are precisely the same materials that were provided to the Chairman [Nunes] over a week ago. Nothing I could see today warranted a departure from the normal review procedures, and these materials should now be provided to the full membership of both committees.

    The White House has yet to explain why senior White House staff apparently shared these materials with but one member of either committee, only for their contents to be briefed back to the White House.

  160. says

    Worth reading, “The Political Walls Are Closing In On Donald Trump” by Joy Reid, writing for The Daily Beast.

    While Trump is flailing, Nancy Pelosi is trying to do something useful. She is working to unify the Democrats on ObamaCare fixes.

    […] Pelosi has told members to bring any suggestions to leadership before making them public, a stance intended to prevent Republicans from putting a target on them and avoid freelancing by her own members.

    The strategy also seeks to unify the party on healthcare ahead of 2018, when Democrats are growing more confident that they could have a real chance of winning the House. […]


    In rightwing news, Trump’s most rabid supporters are claiming that the House of Representatives is deliberately sabotaging Trump. Hair Furor must love that. It plays right into his sense of persecution.

    “I suspect there’s a sabotage,” Drudge said on Michael Savage’s radio show.

    “Do you know Obama had the stimulus package on his desk before Inauguration Day? What did this Congress give this great man. Nothing.”

  161. says

    “Bill O’Reilly Thrives at Fox News, Even as Harassment Settlements Add Up”:

    …An investigation by The New York Times has found a total of five women who have received payouts from either Mr. O’Reilly or the company in exchange for agreeing to not pursue litigation or speak about their accusations against him. The agreements totaled about $13 million.

    Two settlements came after the network’s former chairman, Roger Ailes, was dismissed last summer in the wake of a sexual harassment scandal, when the company said it did not tolerate behavior that “disrespects women or contributes to an uncomfortable work environment.”

    The women who made allegations against Mr. O’Reilly either worked for him or appeared on his show. They have complained about a wide range of behavior, including verbal abuse, lewd comments, unwanted advances and phone calls in which it sounded as if Mr. O’Reilly was masturbating, according to documents and interviews.

    Details on the allegations against Mr. O’Reilly and the company’s handling of them are based on more than five dozen interviews with current and former employees of Fox News and its former and current parent companies, News Corporation and 21st Century Fox; representatives for the network; and people close to Mr. O’Reilly and the women. Most spoke on the condition of anonymity, citing confidentiality agreements and fear of retaliation. The Times also examined more than 100 pages of documents and court filings related to the complaints.

    Fox News and Mr. O’Reilly adopted an aggressive strategy that served as a stark warning of what could happen to women if they came forward with complaints, current and former employees told The Times.

    Mr. O’Reilly was an early defender of Mr. Ailes and Fox News during that sexual harassment scandal last summer. His support remained resolute into the fall, after the company had reached agreements to settle the harassment claims from Ms. Huddy and Ms. Dhue. In November, he chided Megyn Kelly, his colleague at the time, after she described being sexually harassed by Mr. Ailes in her memoir.

    “If somebody is paying you a wage, you owe that person or company allegiance,” he said on his nightly show, without mentioning Ms. Kelly by name. “You don’t like what’s happening in the workplace, go to human resources or leave.”

  162. says

    “Michael Flynn Failed to Disclose Payments From Russian Propaganda Network”:

    Former National Security Advisor Mike Flynn initially failed to inform federal ethics officials of payments from a state-sponsored Russian propaganda outfit, according to newly released documents.

    Flynn, who left his White House post after less than a month, submitted a financial disclosure form in February that made no mention of a reported $45,000 payment from Russia Today, or RT, for a speech that Flynn gave at the network’s 10th anniversary gala.

    In an amended disclosure statement filed with the White House counsel’s office on Friday, Flynn disclosed receiving more than $5,000 (the threshold for reporting) from RT.

    In addition to RT, Flynn’s amended disclosure statement reveals payments for speeches to [sic] two additional Russian companies, cybersecurity firm Kaspersky and Volga Dnepr Airlines. Neither of those payments was disclosed in Flynn’s initial ethics filing….

  163. says

    SC @299. Yuck, yuck and barf.

    SC @301, Trump is never going to learn that he needs to rely on better sources of information, nor is he capable of learning that he should not aid and abet the faux journalism propagated by Fox News.

    SC @303, so no there’s proof, documentation for that part of Flynn’s crimes. That’s progress.

    In other news, team Trump is refusing to disclose how many U.S. troops are in Iraq and Syria.

  164. says

    In comment 304, I meant to say “now there is proof” concerning some of Flynn’s failures to report money payed to him by Russians.

  165. says

    Wallace Global Fund has divorced itself from the legal firm that helped Trump establish his kleptocracy.

    Every once in a while, amid the legal and ethical sham of the Trump presidency, the grown-ups do show up to assert themselves. And each time they do, the world briefly makes sense again. This week, the grown-up is H. Scott Wallace, co-chair of the Wallace Global Fund, which promotes sustainable investments and until very recently, received legal counsel from the same firm that helped Donald Trump “separate” from his business interests before assuming the presidency.

    In a letter explaining his decision to fire that law firm, Morgan Lewis & Bockius, Wallace leaves no doubt that the “the ethical carnage” sanctioned by the firm’s lawyers is not tolerable, or normal, or even minimally defensible.

    […] calls out the firm’s representation of Donald Trump and the legal advice given by Morgan Lewis partner Sherri Dillon. […]

    Wallace, who appeals to McKeon as “a fellow Villanova Law grad,” does not mince his words:

    We believe that the legal advice given to him by your partner is not just simplistic and ill-founded, but that it empowers and even encourages impeachable offenses and undetectable financial conflicts of interest by America’s highest official, and thus is an unprecedented invitation to corruption and assault on our democracy.

    Yes! Strong words. Calling it like it is.

    […] The letter then catalogs in detail the myriad ways in which Trump’s continuing conflicts of interest and self-dealing violate the Constitution’s Emoluments Clause and characterizes Dillon’s solution as “an illusion of protection against the President using his office for personal gain.” It goes on to detail corruption-related developments since that January press conference, ranging from the granting of 38 trademarks to Trump by China, his D.C. hotels courting foreign business away from other venues, and the doubling of initiation fees at Mar-a-Lago.

    […] As Wallace concludes, “it is painfully obvious that Trump is using his office for financial gain. And Morgan Lewis is enabling and legitimizing this.”

    […] This simple letter reminds us how dramatically our conception of what is normal has been redefined in recent months.

    Slate link. The writer is Dahlia Lithwick.

  166. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    Nerd’s been bad. A lot of places in IL are having local elections 4/4/17. Where I live, that means a mayoral race, and some school-board races. In our Mayoral race, two alder(wo)men are fighting it out. One is a democrat who has a pie-in-the-sky attitude toward the Lake (Michigan) waterfront, and a potential gambling casino, while the other, an independent who (called a rethug by the democrat, but when was the last time you heard a rethug calling for higher taxes to balance the budet), to quote some of Trump’s critics, sounds like the adult in the room.
    I’m voting for the adult in the room.
    Got a call from the democrats. Yes, I will vote. No, I don’t need a ride (twenty minute walk there and back is the days exercise). They presumed I would vote for their loser of a candidate. Nope, the true fiscal conservative, somebody who realizes that income must match outgo at the local level, and we must support the promises made to local workers that their retirement benefits will be honored, and not destroyed like in rethug states.
    Nope, not voting for your candidate. Just didn’t say it to them. Bad Nerd.

  167. says

    Good piece by Julia Ioffe about the protests in Russia last weekend:

    …The fact that thousands and thousands in areas outside of Moscow and St. Petersburg came out despite this tremendous risk, to participate in rallies that were, with few exceptions, not permitted by the authorities, means a few things, and none of them are good for Putin.

    First and foremost, it was a tremendous show of power by Navalny, who has declared that he is running for president of Russia in 2018….

    Second, it indicated that despite the government’s total control of television and creeping control of the web, technology and social media are still powerful tools….

    Third, it indicated that, despite the slight easing of the economic crisis in Russia and the conventional wisdom that Russians have adjusted to the slow sagging of their economy, an economic, populist message resonated enough to bring out what in Russia counts as a massive showing. Because the economy may not be at rock bottom anymore, but it is still bad….

    Fourth, despite the government’s efforts to provide a “patriotic”—that is, pro-government—education to young people, to sponsor various Kremlin youth groups, and to intimidate students in schools and universities into not attending such events, a huge number of those who came out Sunday were very, very young…. Some were as young as 15, and, though they don’t remember the 2011 protests, they are old enough to have ideas about how they want to live….

    The Kremlin is already fighting back….

    But intimidation and jail sentences are a short-term fix. And Sunday showed that they have a very limited effect. Monday, as Moscow courts rushed to process the hundreds and hundreds of arrests, the Moscow opposition struggled to process what had happened. Like the protests that exploded on their streets five years ago, these were an unexpected breach in the façade of indifference and acceptance that the Kremlin had worked so hard to erect. Behind it, though, something had clearly changed.

  168. says

    “Chechen Authorities Arresting and Killing Gay Men, Russian Paper Says”

    Of special note:

    A spokesman for Chechnya’s leader, Ramzan Kadyrov, denied the report in a statement to Interfax on Saturday, calling the article “absolute lies and disinformation.”

    “You cannot arrest or repress people who just don’t exist in the republic,” the spokesman, Alvi Karimov, told the news agency.

    “If such people existed in Chechnya, law enforcement would not have to worry about them, as their own relatives would have sent them to where they could never return,” Mr. Karimov said.

    In the restive Muslim regions, Mr. Putin has empowered local leaders to press agendas of traditional Muslim values, to co-opt an Islamist underground. The gay pride parade applications became a galvanizing issue.

  169. says

    From SC’s Yahoo News link in comment 315:

    […] Torshin’s trip to Washington illustrates what some U.S. intelligence sources say appears to be an aggressive Kremlin effort to forge alliances with conservative Republican Party leaders and activists, including figures close to the White House. […]

    Torshin, once a leader of Putin’s United Russia Party and a senator in the Duma before being named deputy governor of the Bank of Russia in 2015, is a key figure in the Kremlin’s outreach to the conservative movement in the United States. In addition to his appearance at the Prayer Breakfast — an event he has been attending for the past several years — Torshin is also a “life member” of the National Rifle Association […] While attending last year’s NRA convention in Louisville, Ky., Torshin was introduced to Donald Trump Jr. at a private dinner at a Louisville restaurant, according to three sources familiar with the encounter. […]

    It’s all of a piece.

  170. says

    Representative Adam Schiff gets it right again:

    […] On Friday, Schiff, the ranking member of the House Intelligence Committee, went to the White House to review documents purportedly related to Trump’s unsubstantiated claim that President Barack Obama’s administration “wire tapped” his phones at Trump Tower before the election. […]

    Schiff called the circuitous route of those documents “an attempt to distract and to hide the origin of the materials, to hide the White House’s hand, and the question is of course why.”

    “I think the answer to the question is this effort to point the Congress in other directions. Basically say, don’t look at me, don’t look at Russia, there’s nothing to see here,” Schiff said. “I would tell people, whenever they see the President use the word ‘fake,’ it ought to set off alarm bells.” […]

  171. says

    Another Trump tweet worthy of a good laugh:

    Anybody (especially Fake News media) who thinks that Repeal & Replace of ObamaCare is dead does not know the love and strength in R Party!

  172. says

    Bad idea. Bad news. I think this was mentioned earlier, up-thread, but I want to emphasize how dangerous it would be for team Trump to dig around in raw intelligence, and for Trump to be looking for ways to sideline the intelligence community:

    […] Officials have expressed an interest in having more raw intelligence sent to the president for his daily briefings instead of an analysis of information compiled by the agencies, according to current and former U.S. officials. The change would have given his White House advisers more control about the assessments given to him and [sideline] some of the conclusions made by intelligence professionals. […]

    Stephen Slick, who served in the CIA and NSC for three decades, said intelligence agencies go to “extraordinary lengths” to safeguard the privacy of Americans. He said officials “have no incentive to see intelligence reports they gather and distribute for national security purposes become fodder in domestic political disputes.” […]


    The writers of the much-longer piece from which the quoted text was excerpted are Julie Pace, Eileen Sullivan and Vivian Salama.

  173. says

    Followup to comment 320.

    More from Adam Schiff:

    But the most important thing people need to know about these documents is not classified and it’s a couple of thing. First, the deputy assistant to the white house informed me when I went to see them that these are exactly the same materials that were shown to the chairman. Now this is a very interesting point. How does the white house know that these are the same materials that were shown to the chairman if the white house wasn’t aware what the chairman was being shown?

    […] underscored by Sean spicer and that is that it was told me by the deputy assistant the materials were produced during the ordinary course of business. The question for the white house and Mr. Spicer is the ordinary course of whose business? Because if these were produced either for or by the white house, then why all of the subterfuge?

    […] “whatever you do, under no circumstances look here at me [Trump] or at Russia.” I think that is really what is going on.


  174. tomh says

    An op-ed in the NYT by Emily Bazelon and Eric Posner that’s well worth reading, details how SC nominee Neil Gorsuch, who came across as bland and non-threatening in his hearing, is actually much more in line with Steve Bannon, and would seek to undermine the basic structure of of modern government. In particular, the agencies that keep our water clean, regulate the financial markets, and protect workers and consumers would, in Gorsuch’s world, be stripped of power. All part of Bannon’s plan to “deconstruct” the administrative state, which, for all of Trumps travails, seems to be on track.

  175. says

    Trump is facing another lawsuit. This time it’s about him inciting violence at his rallies.

    A federal judge in Kentucky dismissed President Donald Trump’s free speech defense in a lawsuit brought by three protesters who accused Trump of inciting some of his supporters to violence against them at a rally last March.

    The individuals claimed they were punched and shoved by Trump supporters at the rally, and Trump said “get them out.”

    The ruling by Judge David J. Hale means that the lawsuit can proceed. Hale said there is evidence to suggest that the scuffle was a “direct and proximate result” of Trump’s actions. “It is plausible that Trump’s direction to ‘get ’em out of here’ advocated the use of force. It was an order, an instruction, a command,” Hale added.


  176. says

    China is wooing and putting pressure on Jared Kushner in order to influence Trump. China is not going through the State Department, as would bee normal.

    […] Jared Kushner has been working with Chinese Ambassador Cui Tiankai to plan next week’s meeting between Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping, according to a Sunday New York Times report.

    Kushner and Tiankai’s new relationship comes ahead of the meeting at the president’s resort in Palm Beach, Fla., as Trump prepares to meet the leader of a country he repeatedly criticized on the campaign trail. More recently, he tweeted it would “very difficult” to meet with Xi.

    The Times reports that Kushner and Tiankai worked closely together on the logistics of the meeting, with Tiankai sending Kushner a joint statement for the two governments to issue following their diplomatic dinner on Thursday. […]

    The Chinese government prefers courting Kushner, the Times reports, rather than working with the State Department because it “reflects a Chinese comfort with dynastic links,” noting that Xi is the son of a Chinese leader. Kushner, a trusted senior adviser to the president as well as husband to the president’s daughter Ivanka, is seen as having a powerful influence in the White House. […]

    The Trump administration is still deciding how intensely it plans to push Xi on North Korea and trade, the paper added.


  177. says

    @325 – Probably because he is “Source E” from the Steele dossier.

    I certainly have my suspicions. Wonder if he’s been interviewed by any of the investigations…

  178. says

    The Chinese government prefers courting Kushner, the Times reports, rather than working with the State Department because it “reflects a Chinese comfort with dynastic links,” noting that Xi is the son of a Chinese leader. Kushner, a trusted senior adviser to the president as well as husband to the president’s daughter Ivanka, is seen as having a powerful influence in the White House. […]


  179. says

    I don’t find this thread from Adrian Chen a “useful corrective.” Chen’s report was very good, eye-opening. But it was several months ago, and much has been learned since about the operation. This is not true: “Every article I’ve read about this stuff goes: 1) something weird happens on the internet 2) Russian trolls are a thing 3) Russia did it??” The McElrath article I cited @ #317 specifically refers – including in the headline – to this week’s testimony before the Senate Intelligence Committee. Watts was also on MTP this morning, and again specifically referred to the Russian involvement with pro-Sanders efforts. He and his colleagues have followed this over the past two years. McElrath also notes, as she and others did at the time, that hundreds of these accounts disappeared immediately after the election; and obviously ordinary people can’t be expected to be able to trace them back to the Kremlin. Finally, a recent article I linked to here showed that people who ran Sanders forums and sites noticed this problem and tried to address it during the campaign – the article reproduced their communications from that time. This idea that if Adrian Chen didn’t see it with his own eyes at one particular site it’s bullshit just doesn’t hold water.

  180. says

    From SC’s link in comment 330:

    40,000 forms, received without proof of citizenship attached, were left to sit in a box by county’s GOP Recorder: […]

    That really raises my ire. Such an action (or inaction in this case) should be prosecutable.

  181. says

    SC @333, I think some (certainly not all) Bernie supporters do not want to admit that they were fooled to some extent by trolls and bots (mostly Russian) pushing fake news. I was surprised at the time (during the campaign) at the highly flammable emotional content of some of the hatred directed at Hillary Clinton.

    No, ordinary people can’t be expected to trace accounts back to the Kremlin. Watts has really done everyone a service by being so clear about what was was going on. He makes a good interview subject. Too bad all of this was not a bigger news story in, say, August of 2016.

    In some cases, Bernie Bros received a tidal wave of anti-Hillary posts on their social media accounts. Some of the flood came from bots paid for by the Kremlin.

  182. says

    Trump is overly fond of delivering ultimatums. Here’s his latest regarding North Korea:

    If China is not going to solve North Korea, we will. That is all I am telling you.

    Trump is scheduled to meet with Chinese President Xi Jinping later this week.

  183. says

    Also from that interview (which I haven’t read in full yet) – Trump said about Le Pen’s chances in the French election: “Some outside things have happened that maybe will change the course of that race.”

    I fear this could have something to do with Farage meeting with Assange a few weeks ago, but who knows.

  184. says

    SC @333, I think some (certainly not all) Bernie supporters do not want to admit that they were fooled to some extent by trolls and bots (mostly Russian) pushing fake news.

    Yes, I had the same issues at the time of the Prop or Not arguments. I wasn’t fooled in the same way, but I suspect there were some ways my opinions might have been pushed in a certain direction (for example, I believed some claims by Tulsi Gabbard which in light of later events I find much more suspect). I don’t think it does anyone any good to refuse to consider that our arguments and interactions could have been manipulated, especially since the operation continues.

  185. says

    McElrath follow-up:

    “The point here is NOT that Sanders didn’t have a lot of human supporters. Of course he did.”

    “The point here is NOT that misogyny, sexism, and racism don’t exist among the left. Of course they do.”

    “The point here is simply that we are not as divided as we have been led to believe by the impact of the Russian psy-ops.”

  186. tomh says

    The LA Times had best be prepared for the wrath of our president. Part one of a four part op-ed (continued the next 3 days) titled “Our Dishonest President” begins:

    “It was no secret during the campaign that Donald Trump was a narcissist and a demagogue who used fear and dishonesty to appeal to the worst in American voters. The Times called him unprepared and unsuited for the job he was seeking, and said his election would be a “catastrophe.” Still, nothing prepared us for the magnitude of this train wreck.”

    After that, they let loose with what they really think.

  187. says

    A bit more re #333: I’ve studied many twentieth-century intellectuals – extremely intelligent, knowledgeable, often with a good deal of political experience. Almost all were manipulated in one way or another by psychological operations. I’ve also written a good deal about these operations – no one is immune. Failing to acknowledge that is counter-productive arrogance and willful ignorance.

  188. logicalcat says


    I’m just not convinced it was a russian operation. Its not un heard of for people to spiral into a realm of misimformation and conspiracy talk followed by memes. 9/11 truthers come to mind. I do find it suspicious that a lot of these accounts disapeared.

  189. says

    I’m just not convinced it was a russian operation.

    Could you be more specific concerning “it”? I worry that many people think the argument is that every bad or bigoted argument among Bernie supporters can be traced back to Russian active measures. I don’t think anyone is arguing that. But there was Kremlin interference in the form of bots and paid trolls. Some of that exploited divisions on the Left. I don’t understand why that’s even a question.

  190. says

    There’s been an explosion in a metro station in St. Petersburg (Russia), with CNN reporting 10 people killed and possibly another explosion at a second station.

  191. says

    @347 – It’s scary that my first thought is, as it should be because it’s entirely plausible, that this is a false flag by Putin in response to the protests so he can initiate a state of emergency.

    It’s cynical and conspiracy minded, but that’s what the current state or world politics has reduced me to.

  192. says

    In other fucked up news, the alt right trolls have #susanrice trending on Twitter, based on one sole report, by Mike Cernovich of all people, that she was responsible for the unmasking of Flynn and others in the intel reports Nunes received. These idiots buy it wholesale, one asswipe with a website says something and it becomes instant gospel truth. These people have no brains. In a zombie apocalypse, the zombies would starve.

    Of course Cernovich’s “report” offers no evidence to back this up, and no reason to believe the unmasking was done illegally. There are legal reasons to unmask a US person caught up in foreign surveillance. I think Flynn discussing US sanctions against Russia with a Russian ambassador before he holds any government office qualifies.

    I don’t watch Fox and Friends but I can only assume this is what they “reported” on this morning that led to Trumputin’s latest tweet storm.

  193. says

    @347 – It’s scary that my first thought is, as it should be because it’s entirely plausible, that this is a false flag by Putin in response to the protests so he can initiate a state of emergency.

    It is entirely plausible. It’s probably ISIS or AQ, but a false flag is entirely plausible.

  194. says

    There are legal reasons to unmask a US person caught up in foreign surveillance.

    I’m still laughing at this passage:

    Under the intelligence community’s “minimization” rules, names of American citizens and green card holders are normally removed and replaced with some variation of “[MINIMIZED U.S. PERSON].” The rules allow for somewhat more specificity. Nunes said he could easily guess the names, even when minimized. That would be true, for example, if a report mentioned a “[MINIMIZED U.S. CAMPAIGN OFFICIAL]” who did business in Ukraine. That may look like a joke, but it’s not. I have seen references in NSA reports to “[MINIMIZED U.S. PRESIDENT].”

  195. says

    I haven’t said much about Gorsuch, primarily because I’m furious about it and have been since the Republicans broke the process last year and showed so much disrespect for Garland, Obama, and their constitutional responsibilities. There is no way Gorsuch should be confirmed.

    1) As the Republicans well know, it’s a stolen seat. They have no right to be appointing someone in the first place. Dahlia Lithwick basically expressed that she’s heartbroken over this, and that they’ve ruined so much by their actions. I feel the same way.

    2) Trump and his team are under an active criminal/counter-terrorism investigation by the FBI, and new shoes drop almost hourly. There are also investigations ongoing in the House and Senate. No lifetime appointments should be made under these circumstances.

    3) There’s a lot of dark money behind Gorsuch, which he claims to know nothing about. That should be of great concern.

    4) If Gorsuch truly respected the institution (and Garland), he wouldn’t go along with this (especially since Trump has consistently trashed and sought to undermine the independent judiciary). That he is tells us a lot about him. Additionally, he’s arrogant and defensive. (I also, as I’ve mentioned before, get a creepy vibe from Gorsuch. His public interactions with his wife strike me as off in some way.)

    5) Unlike Garland, Gorsuch isn’t “mainstream.” As the article tomh links to @ #326 above points out, he favors destroying the administrative state which checks corporate power. He’s consistently sided with corporations against people, with the strong against the weak (which is the opposite of what law should do).

    6) Gorsuch isn’t a particularly sharp legal mind. His legal philosophy leaves much to be desired (and that’s setting aside the gaping holes in his speciesist “inviolability of human life” claim which allows for non-human animals to be killed for sport – I guessed before I even googled it that he’s a hunter; he also receives the highest praise from the NRA*).

    * Which perhaps now stands for the National Russia Association…

  196. says

    Eric Levitz:

    …But the strange thing about the right’s narrative on this whole surveillance story is that, even if its core allegations are true, it’s far from clear that they would flatter Trump or his associates. Fox’s report does not allege that illegal surveillance took place. So, if Trump aides were incidentally surveilled starting in early 2016, then that means they were in contact with targets of foreign surveillance from the early days of the mogul’s campaign. Which is a bit odd.

    What’s more, if the degree of unmasking was “unprecedented,” this may have merely reflected the unprecedented fact that the FBI had cause to suspect a major presidential campaign was colluding with a foreign power. After all, if the goal was, instead, to use the surveillance state to undermine Trump’s campaign — as the president implicitly alleges — why would Barack Obama have withheld public disclosure of the FBI’s investigation until after Election Day?

    Finally, many former Obama administration officials have admitted that they sought to spread intelligence on the Trump campaign throughout the government before his inauguration, because they were concerned that the new president might try to meddle with an ongoing investigation into his associates.

    To view such a measure as unreasonable on its face, one would need to forget that the FBI’s investigation of the Trump campaign is now a publicly known fact. But then, of course, encouraging such amnesia may be the whole point.

  197. says

    From SC’s link @352:

    […] “For tax purposes, it’s as if the trust doesn’t exist at all,” said Steven Rosenthal, a senior fellow at the Urban-Brookings Tax Policy Center. “It’s just an entity on paper, nothing more.” […]

    Yep. Just like Jared Kushner’s supposed divestiture, which included putting things in a trust his mother runs.

    It’s all smoke and mirrors.

    Noting the change to Trump’s “entity on paper,” he really does not want to be separated from his money in any way! Visions of Scrooge McDuck again.

  198. says

    “don’t understand why intelligent people are indulging the conceit that unmasking the name of the *National Security Advisor* is some scandal”

    “US person names are unmasked when they’re necessary to understand the intelligence”

    “You can’t understand the Flynn-Kislyak call, discussion of sanctions, etc without knowing that Flynn was on one end of the line.”

    “Minimization isn’t for Flynn. It’s for the baltimore dentist who happened to be in the bar when the Chinese trade minister met his mistress.”

  199. says

    Mitch McConnell, holding a lit fuse and a match, says Democrats are making him blow up the Senate.

    Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is trying to play his favorite game—Democrats made me do it—on the nomination of Neil Gorsuch to the Supreme Court. He’s already decided he’s going to end the use of the filibuster on nominees to the high court, and the Democrats will make him do it. […]

    Make no mistake—if McConnell goes nuclear, it’s because he’s chosen to do so, continuing on a path that he forged both in the minority under President Obama, and then in the majority, when he led the total blockade of Obama’s nominee, Merrick Garland.

    Adam Jentleson, a former deputy chief of staff to Senator Harry Reid, points out in a New York Times op-ed that McConnell’s relentless opposition to everything Obama attempted to accomplish led to Reid’s decision to end the filibuster on lower court nominees. “By the time Democrats exercised the nuclear option, Senator McConnell had unleashed nearly 500 filibusters and spent years twisting Republicans’ arms to prevent them from working with Democrats, regardless of the substance of a given issue, in pursuit of his goal of denying President Obama a second term.” […]

    McConnell is the embodiment of the party before country philosophy that resulted in the Trump presidency. He’s the one who will be responsible for allowing a dangerous ideologue nominated by a president who might have committed treason have a lifetime appointment on the Supreme Court. And he’s the one holding the sledgehammer to destroy what’s left of the Senate as an institution.

  200. says

    After all, if the goal was, instead, to use the surveillance state to undermine Trump’s campaign — as the president implicitly alleges — why would Barack Obama have withheld public disclosure of the FBI’s investigation until after Election Day?

    QFT – This is what blows my mind, the lack of logic the Trumpkins / Russian Bots / Whatever the flock they are* on twitter and reddit exhibit is staggering, way worse than any godbot I’ve encountered.

    The only argument I can imagine is that the plan was to undermine Trump once he’s in office… but that makes absolutely no sense, none whatsoever.

    #susanrice is still trending strong and the trolls are convinced, beyond any reasonable doubt, that the Cernovich / Lake “reporting” means Rice, Obama and Hillary are all going to jail.

    *We need a new word that encompasses alt-right, Trump supporters of a more generic nature, russian bot and bernie bro, because they all spew the same nonsense but are three distinct groups. Something short and sweet… BroskiBots? We used to just call them slyme pitters around here.

  201. says

    ughhh, sometimes the delay between my work computer and home computer is maddening, in 365 that was supposed to read:

    *We need a new word, of a more generic nature, that encompasses alt-right, Trump supporters, russian bots and bernie bros…

  202. says

    Writing for Mother Jones, Andy Kroll took a closer look at White House counsel Don McGahn:

    […] Above all, the White House counsel’s role is to keep the president out of trouble, legal or otherwise. With Trump, that’s a Herculean task. […] McGahn represents the most conflict-ridden commander in chief in the nation’s history. He has spent his short time in the White House constantly rushing to put out fires. […]

    The administration’s deregulatory agenda—the “deconstruction of the administrative state,” as chief strategist Stephen Bannon put it—is perfectly in sync with McGahn’s libertarian views. To carry out that mission, he has put together a team of nearly 30 lawyers, many of whom are experts in federal law and how to unravel it.

    McGahn has plenty of experience dismantling the bureaucracy from within: That was precisely the program he pursued for five years while serving on the Federal Election Commission. “He didn’t care about the institution, and he seemed mostly interested in grinding its work to a halt,” says David Kolker, a former associate general counsel at the FEC who worked alongside McGahn. “Don had a blow-it-up mentality.”

    Oh, FFS. Not another one. This guy is Steve Bannon, but with more legal skills.

    […] The way he saw it, he was reining in an overzealous bureaucracy that trampled the rights of ordinary Americans. No commissioner has done more to change the agency. […]

    McGahn was seen as a domineering force on the commission. “There is no nice way to say it: At some point, McGahn will be an asshole,” conservative lawyer Steve Hoersting warned newly confirmed Commissioner Petersen in a 2008 email. “He’ll insist he knows the better course on an issue and will insist you go along. Don likes to employ the ‘trust me’ method of persuasion.” […]

    To his critics, McGahn was on a one-man crusade to destroy the FEC from within. An analysis by the good-government organization Public Citizen found that the number of deadlocked enforcement votes spiked after his arrival, from an average of 1 or 2 percent in the early and mid-2000s to 15 percent in 2011.

    McGahn had no qualms about undermining the FEC’s nonpartisan lawyers—in one case, he posted a memo to the agency’s website contradicting the commission’s attorneys in an ongoing lawsuit. He bragged about disregarding parts of the law he disputed or saw as out of sync with court rulings.

    “I’m not enforcing the law as Congress passed it,” he told a group of law students in 2011, referring to the McCain-Feingold Act of 2002, which was partially invalidated by the 2010 Citizens United ruling. “I plead guilty as charged.” […]

    Sounds like a perfect match for team Trump. Unfortunately.

  203. says

    Interesting – 2015 piece by Maria Butina (see #315 above) about why the Kremlin should court Republicans:

    …A second point of shared interest revolves around the global oil market. As long as America maintains its ban on selling its oil reserves to foreign markets, American oil companies seeking international markets will need international sources of oil. Russia has them. Huge proven reserves in the Arctic and huge proven reserves of oil shale within the Russian mainland. But Russian oil companies lack the technology to exploit these reserves. And the current economic sanctions have frozen cooperative agreements like that between Russian Rosneft and American ExxonMobil like an Arctic drilling rig.

    But Derek Norberg, President of the Council of U.S. – Russia Relations and Executive Director of the Russian American Pacific Partnership (RAPP), believes that a cooperative agreement over tapping Arctic oil reserves could thaw U.S. – Russia relations. (Some geological estimates predict as much as one-fourth of global oil reserves lie trapped beneath the floor of the Arctic Ocean.) Such agreements do not alleviate the tensions over Crimea and Ukraine. But they might provide progress as other diplomatic issues are resolved.

    Finally, many Russians have taken note of recent Pew Research Center data that shows that the American Republican Party derives much of its support from social conservatives, businessmen and those that support an aggressive approach to the war against Islamic terrorism. These are values espoused by United Russia, the current ruling political party in Moscow. At the very least, it would appear that modern Russia has more to talk about with American Republicans than American Democrats….

  204. says

    More on the absolute perfidy and stupidity of Mike Cernovich is summarized here.

    Also, Kellyanne Conway is delighted with Mike Cernovich, a fact which is also covered at the link above.

    Background info:

    […] Cernovich’s allegiance to the “alt-right,” a self-descriptor for a faction of the white nationalist movement, has been repeatedly documented. In 2015 he explained, “I went from libertarian to alt-right after realizing tolerance only went one way and diversity is code for white genocide.” Additionally, in a series of since-deleted tweets, Cernovich declared that “white genocide is real” and “white genocide will sweep up the [social justice warriors].”

    Cernovich also traffics in sexist rhetoric, having claimed that “date rape does not exist” and “misogyny gets you laid” and said that people who “love black women” should “slut shame them” to keep them from getting AIDS.

    Cernovich has also helped popularize numerous conspiracy theories, including the “Pizzagate” story that claimed an underground child sex trafficking ring was run out of a Washington, D.C., pizza parlor and involved top Democratic officials. Despite widespread debunking, Cernovich recently claimed that the restaurant was a place “where a lot of pedophiles meet.”

    He often uses conspiracy theories to weaponize his social media following against his critics, such as when he baseless claimed satirical video editor Vic Berger was a pedophile after Berger published videos mocking Cernovich. […]

  205. says

    Evan McMullin on Lake’s bogus scoop and attempts to shoehorn the planted disinformation into a larger story about surveillance. He concludes: “History will not look kindly upon politicians & reporters who-for personal interest-knowingly promote the diversions of this administration.”

  206. says

    You know, I thought Rand Paul seemed a bit shaken after his golf game with Trump yesterday. I’m so suspicious at this point that I could almost believe Trump hinted at some kompromat. In any event, he’s now joined the propaganda campaign. I hope his association with Trump proves as poisonous to his future as it has to others’.

  207. says

    SC @373, I keeping thanking god for Evan McMullin, even though I don’t believe in god (or gods). I think the gratefulness in that expression is more a sigh of relief, and maybe an acknowledgement that McMullin does believe in a Mormon version of god.

    Anyway, I am so happy to see his reasonableness standing out in the midst of all the Republican dunderheadedness.

    As McMullin notes:

    There are plenty of valid reasons why Trump team members’ names could have been unmasked.

    Fox News is making a huge deal out of this unmasking story, and Trump is advising the FBI (via Twitter) to watch Fox News.

    Every time Fox and Trump do something like this, they make manifest their ignorance.

  208. says

    I agree with this. Lake was doing a lot of insinuating in that interview with Katy Tur. He’s way out on a limb at this point, doing the bidding of people who outright lied to him as recently as last week. There was a lot of parroting Nunes’ language about how everyone should be concerned about “this” when he doesn’t know what “this” is and while acknowledging that whatever might have been done could well have been legal and above board.

  209. says

    With everything going on, I completely forgot to mention that Lenin Moreno eked out a victory in the election in Ecuador yesterday, which is good news.

    (That presumably does mean that Assange can remain in the London embassy, but I’m honestly not sure why he’s still there. Trump’s “election” removed any remaining rationale for his being holed up there.)

  210. says

    “Blackwater founder held secret Seychelles meeting to establish Trump-Putin back channel”:

    The United Arab Emirates arranged a secret meeting in January between Blackwater founder Erik Prince and a Russian close to President Vladi­mir Putin as part of an apparent effort to establish a back-channel line of communication between Moscow and President-elect Donald Trump, according to U.S., European and Arab officials.

    The meeting took place around Jan. 11 — nine days before Trump’s inauguration — in the Seychelles islands in the Indian Ocean, officials said. Though the full agenda remains unclear, the UAE agreed to broker the meeting in part to explore whether Russia could be persuaded to curtail its relationship with Iran, including in Syria, a Trump administration objective that would likely require major concessions to Moscow on U.S. sanctions.

    Though Prince had no formal role with the Trump campaign or transition team, he presented himself as an unofficial envoy for Trump to high-ranking Emiratis involved in setting up his meeting with the Putin confidant, according to the officials, who did not identify the Russian.

    U.S. officials said the FBI has been scrutinizing the Seychelles meeting as part of a broader probe of Russian interference in the 2016 U.S. election and alleged contacts between associates of Putin and Trump. The FBI declined to comment.

    The Seychelles encounter, which one official said spanned two days, adds to an expanding web of connections between Russia and Americans with ties to Trump — contacts that the White House has been reluctant to acknowledge or explain until they have been exposed by news organizations.

    The Seychelles meeting came after private discussions in New York involving high-ranking representatives of Trump, Moscow and the Emirates.

    The White House has acknowledged that Michael T. Flynn, Trump’s original national security adviser, and Trump adviser and son-in-law Jared Kushner met with the Russian ambassador to the United States, Sergey Kislyak, in late November or early December in New York.

    Flynn and Kushner were joined by Bannon for a separate meeting with the crown prince of Abu Dhabi, Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed al-Nahyan, who made an undisclosed visit to New York later in December, according to the U.S., European and Arab officials who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss sensitive matters.

    In an unusual breach of protocol, the UAE did not notify the Obama administration in advance of the visit, though officials found out because Zayed’s name appeared on a flight manifest.

    Officials said Zayed and his brother, the UAE’s national security adviser, coordinated the Seychelles meeting with Russian government officials with the goal of establishing an unofficial back channel between Trump and Putin.

    Officials said Zayed wanted to be helpful to both leaders who had talked about working more closely together, a policy objective long advocated by the crown prince….

  211. says

    SC @383, oh, no. That’s really bad. 50,000 or more people left off the Medicaid roles in Kansas because Brownback is a doofus.

    SC @380, Josh Marshall does not suffer fools lightly. Also, he has a highly functional bullshit detector. I hope he posts his thoughts in a more coherent article on Talking Points Memo soon.

  212. says

    SC @384, Blackwater also has a connection to Betsy Devos. All of the swamp creatures are in the same swamp.

    From SC’s link in comment 384:

    […] Prince was an avid supporter of Trump. After the Republican convention, he contributed $250,000 to Trump’s campaign, the national party and a pro-Trump super PAC led by GOP mega-donor Rebekah Mercer, records show. He has ties to people in Trump’s circle, including Stephen K. Bannon, now serving as the president’s chief strategist and senior counselor. Prince’s sister Betsy DeVos serves as education secretary in the Trump administration. And Prince was seen in the Trump transition offices in New York in December. […]

  213. says

    “A Former Trump Adviser Met With A Russian Spy”:

    A former campaign adviser for Donald Trump met with and passed documents to a Russian intelligence operative in New York City in 2013.

    The adviser, Carter Page, met with a Russian intelligence operative named Victor Podobnyy, who was later charged by the US government alongside two others for acting as unregistered agents of a foreign government. The charges, filed in January 2015, came after federal investigators busted a Russian spy ring that was seeking information on US sanctions as well as efforts to develop alternative energy. Page is an energy consultant.

    A court filing by the US government contains a transcript of a recorded conversation in which Podobnyy speaks with one of the other men busted in the spy ring, Igor Sporyshev, about trying to recruit someone identified as “Male-1.” BuzzFeed News has confirmed that “Male-1” is Page.

    The revelation of Page’s connection to Russian intelligence — which occurred more than three years before his association with Trump — is the most clearly documented contact to date between Russian intelligence and someone in Trump’s orbit. It comes as federal investigators probe whether Trump’s campaign-era associates — including Page — had any inappropriate contact with Russian officials or intelligence operatives during the court of the election. Page has volunteered to help Senate investigators in their inquiry….

    This was the spy ring run out of the bank whose head Kushner met with. Unsurprisingly, they thought Page was “an idiot.”

  214. says

    “We now have a better idea who’s behind ‘unmasking’ Trump officials’ contact with foreign agents — and why”

    This from Lake’s silly piece (see #357 above) hasn’t drawn attention:

    In February Cohen-Watnick discovered Rice’s multiple requests to unmask U.S. persons in intelligence reports that related to Trump transition activities. He brought this to the attention of the White House General Counsel’s office, who reviewed more of Rice’s requests and instructed him to end his own research into the unmasking policy.

    So McGahn told him to knock off his little “investigation” back in February. WTF was this guy doing in this position? How did he stay on after Flynn left and when McMaster tried to remove him in March? How has he not been fired? Isn’t this sort of political use of clearances to view classified materials against all kinds of rules? I’ve read many experts saying it is.

  215. KG says


    Moreno’s opponents are alleging electoral fraud – three exit polls gave Lasso the win, and Lasso is demanding a recount and calling for his supporters to take to the streets. Final results have not yet been declared, according to the BBC.

  216. says

    Moreno’s opponents are alleging electoral fraud – three exit polls gave Lasso the win, and Lasso is demanding a recount and calling for his supporters to take to the streets. Final results have not yet been declared, according to the BBC.

    True. I didn’t mention that because the main US outlets seems to be accepting the results,* which I take as a sign the US government won’t support an effort to overturn them (even the WSJ is reporting that the OAS didn’t find evidence of electoral fraud). The Russian propaganda outfits and Breitbart are also taking a pro-Moreno line (to further weaken US influence in the region, presumably), suggesting Trump’s regime will accept the results. I could be reading things totally wrong, but I imagine after some protests Lasso will eventually concede this week.

    * I won’t link to them because the obnoxious tropes in their reporting on Venezuela, Honduras, Bolivia, Ecuador,…make my blood boil.

  217. says

    Ha! When I posted about it yesterday, I was going to add about Moreno “(soon to be known by US papers as ‘Correa’s handpicked successor’),” and right on cue, from WaPo this morning: “Ecuadorans narrowly chose outgoing President Rafael Correa’s handpicked candidate.” If they stay true to form, this will quickly morph into “handpicked successor,” erasing the election altogether.

  218. says

    “Trump Administration Considers Far-Reaching Steps for ‘Extreme Vetting’”:

    Foreigners who want to visit the U.S., even for a short trip, could be forced to disclose contacts on their mobile phones, social-media passwords and financial records, and to answer probing questions about their ideology, according to Trump administration officials conducting a review of vetting procedures.

    The administration also wants to subject more visa applicants to intense security reviews and have embassies spend more time interviewing each applicant. The changes could apply to people from all over the world, including allies like France and Germany.

    The measures—whose full scope haven’t yet been publicly discussed—would together represent the “extreme vetting” President Donald Trump has promised. The changes would be sure to generate significant controversy, both at home, from civil libertarians and others who see the questions as overly intrusive, and abroad, with experts warning that other nations could impose similar requirements on Americans seeking visas….

  219. says

    Here is Rachel Maddow’s segment discussing Carter Page and his contact with Russian spies in 2013. Along with Walid Phares [spit], Trump mentioned “Carter Page, PhD.” as a foreign policy advisor on March 21, 2016.

    The video is 5:47 minutes long.

  220. says

    Follow-up to comment 412.

    There were actually two segments on Maddow’s show in which she discussed Carter Page. Here is the first segment. Sorry about that, I messed up comment 412. I should have included both links.

    This first segment actually begins with a discussion of Jared Kushner visiting Baghdad. Foreign policy issues in general, and Rex Tillerson’s absence, are discussed as part of the prologue to the story of Trump getting advice from Carter Page, whom the Russians called “an idiot.”

  221. says

    Carter Page, still looking and sounding loony, was interviewed on ABC News.

    Scroll down for the video.

    In the interview we hear Page blame Hillary Clinton for spreading false tales about him.

    “I didn’t want to be a spy,” Carter Page told ABC News. “I’m not a spy.”

  222. says

    SC @409, about that gas attack in Syria, it was only a few days ago that team Trump said they weren’t going to try to push the regime of Bashar Assad out of power.

    The Trump administration declared Friday that it wasn’t pursuing a strategy to push Syrian President Bashar Assad out of power, making clear its focus is on defeating the Islamic State group.

    White House press secretary Sean Spicer said the U.S. approach was being driven by a new “reality” and that Assad’s future had to be a decision for the Syrian people. Similar statements were made earlier by U.S. Cabinet members speaking in Ankara, London and at the United Nations. […]

    Military Times link

    So, yeah, Assad thinks he can get away with anything. He has the backing of the Russians, and he has the assurances of the Trump administration that the U.S. will leave him alone. Assad then gassed a bunch of his own people.

    […] The attack is seen as a test to the Trump regime. With Rex Tillerson missing in action, the State Department intentionally gutted, and a series of signals that the United States no longer puts the least value on human rights, authoritarian rulers every where are reading the signals that they are free to use whatever means they want to hold onto power.

    Right now, hundreds of people in Syria are choking on an unknown chemical agent as part of Trump’s test. And as a bonus question, there’s now been an strike on the hospital where the gassing victims are being treated.


    BBC link

  223. says

    Oh, FFS.

    This is a follow-up to erik @349 and 365; to SC @357 and 358; and to comment 370. Donald Trump Jr. thinks Cernovich deserves a Pulitzer:

    Congrats to @Cernovich for breaking the #SusanRice story. In a long gone time of unbiased journalism he’d win the Pulitzer, but not today!

    That’s what the incredibly arrogant and ignorant Donald Trump Jr. tweeted.

    Background info on Cernovich, and current info on the rightwing spread of the Susan Rice conspiracy theory:

    […] Cernovich was one of the leaders behind the Pizzagate conspiracy, writing fake news stories linking Hillary Clinton to pedophilia. Even after a gunman came to Washington, D.C. and fired shots outside the pizza place implicated in the conspiracy, Cernovich claimed that his reports were true. [Cernovich later issued a not-apology that blamed others.]

    He also led the conspiracy during the final months of the election that Clinton’s health was failing, a theory that took off across the conservative internet.

    The New Yorker recently profiled Cernovich and highlighted his white nationalist proclivities:

    On his blog, Cernovich developed a theory of white-male identity politics: men were oppressed by feminism, and political correctness prevented the discussion of obvious truths, such as the criminal proclivities of certain ethnic groups. His opponents were beta males, losers, or “cucks” — alt-right slang for “cuckolds.” “To beat a person, you lower his or her social status,” he wrote on Danger and Play. “Logic is pointless.”

    Like the rumors about Clinton’s health, the Rice story has also developed legs beyond Cernovich’s corner of the internet. On Monday, Bloomberg’s Eli Lake published a similar report alleging that Rice’s actions highlight problems with U.S. surveillance.

    That report was picked up by conservative websites including Breitbart News, the Daily Caller, the Washington Times, the Washington Examiner, the New York Post, and Gateway Pundit. Cernovich responded by claiming that Lake and others plagiarized his report. […]

    Think Progress link

  224. says

    Today is the day. If you are a woman working in the USA, it is likely that today is the day when you have earned enough money to match what your male counterparts made last year. What male workers earn in a year, you have to work one year plus three more months (approximately) to close the gap.

    […] There is almost no job a woman can take and expect to be paid more than a man, according to a new analysis from the Institute for Women’s Policy Research. Of 120 occupations, just four pay women slightly higher than men, on average: counselors, food preparers and servers, sewing machine operators, and teacher assistants. By contrast, 107 have a wage gap of at least 5 percent, with one as wide as 44.4 percent.

    […] women of color experience much larger gender wage gaps overall. Across all occupations, median weekly earnings for black women are just 62.5 percent of white men’s, while Hispanic women make 57.2 percent. White women earn 79.5 percent of white men’s pay. […]

    Think Progress link

  225. David Marjanović says

    News over here saying the “unknown chemical” is good old chlorine gas, which was exempted from the deal to destroy all chemical weapons because it can be used for other things.

    The foreign ministers of the EU countries presented their Syria strategy yesterday. It involves rebuilding the country and “does not contain a future for Assad”.

    Of course Assad knows where he belongs: in a cell in the Hague. That’s why he’s fighting so desperately. He will not grow a sense of shame, and he won’t become reasonable either; he’ll murder at least as many people as it takes to stay in power, for however long Putin lets him. Maybe all plans should start with that Russian naval base on the Syrian coast.

  226. says

    David @418:

    Of course Assad knows where he belongs: in a cell in the Hague. That’s why he’s fighting so desperately. He will not grow a sense of shame, and he won’t become reasonable either; he’ll murder at least as many people as it takes to stay in power, for however long Putin lets him. Maybe all plans should start with that Russian naval base on the Syrian coast.

    Good points. Yes, Putin is enabling Assad.

    The whole situation in Syria is just heartbreaking and horrifying. As is usual in war, innocent civilians are suffering. Those photos of children that had been gassed are stuck in my head. I just can’t imagine what that would be like. Evil. Hell on earth. The pain that comes with helplessness.

    In other news, Donald Trump Jr. just dismissed the interview with Susan Rice as “fake news.” Like father, like son. Talking Points Memo covered the interview with Rice.

    […] “Did you seek the names of people involved, to unmask the names of people involved in the Trump transition, the people surrounding the President-elect in order to spy on them and expose them?” she was asked by MSNBC’s Andrea Mitchell.

    “Not for any political purposes,” Rice replied.

    “Did you leak the name of Mike Flynn?” Trump’s ousted national security adviser, Mitchell asked.

    “I leaked nothing to nobody and never have and never would,” Rice said. […]

    Rice told Mitchell there was “not anything political” going on. She said unmasking requests, which must be approved by intelligence officials, were sometimes necessary to get the proper “context” for intercepted conversations in the intelligence reports provided to her.

    “Sometimes in that context, in order to understand the importance of the report, and assess its significance, it was necessary to find out, or request the information as to who the U.S. official was,” Rice said.

    National security experts who have worked on foreign surveillance cases backed up this explanation, saying it was within Rice’s purview as national security adviser to monitor what foreign governments and actors are doing.

    The names of unmasked individuals are provided only to the individual that requested them, Rice said, denying reports from the Daily Caller and Breitbart News that she ordered the production of “spreadsheets” containing the names of all the Trump staffers caught up in incidental collection.

    Yeah. Daily Caller and Breitbart put out fake news. That’s fake news, Donald Jr.

    “When the intelligence community would respond to a request from a senior national security official for the identity of an American, that would come back only to the person requested it, brought back to them directly,” she said. “To me, or to whoever might have requested it, on occasion, and this is important. It was not then typically broadly disseminated throughout the national security meeting or the government.”

    “So the notion which some people are trying to suggest that by asking for the identity of an American person is the same thing as leaking it, that’s completely false,” Rice continued. “There’s no equivalence between so called unmasking and leaking.”

  227. says

    From Josh Marshall:

    […] I would say the buried lede in this interview is that during the transition period the Intelligence Community was sending top national security intelligence consumers an increasing volume of reports of surveillance of foreign persons in which top Trump advisors kept coming up, either as the subjects of discussion or actually talking to the people in question. It’s quite unlikely that courtesy calls or general discussions of policy priorities would be included in those reports.

    Let’s say this is not helpful news for the Trump team.

  228. says

    Back in March of 2016, Trump announced in a Washington Post interview that he had five foreign policy advisors, including Carter Page. Josh Marshall called the advisors “[…] five guys, half with sordid pasts and others no one had ever heard of. One of them actually had Model UN work listed as one of his job qualifications!”

    What I’d like to point out is that one of the guys that Trump listed has a connection to Erik Prince, the Blackwater guy:

    One of the five advisors was Joseph E. Schmitz, the son of a notorious GOP Congressman who was an anti-Semite and member of the John Birch Society. The younger Schmitz served in the Bush administration but eventually got bounced in part because of charges of anti-Semitism against him.

    It turns out that after Schmitz got bounced from the Pentagon, he went to work as an executive at Blackwater. In other words, he got hired by Erik Prince. […]

  229. says

    New comments from Representative Adam Schiff:

    […] The documents I reviewed at the White House last Friday will soon be available to the full House and Senate Intelligence Committees. This action is long overdue and follows an inexplicable series of events in which the White House played a role in selectively and surreptitiously providing the documents to our Chairman.

    If the White House had any concerns over these documents, or any other documents, they should have provided them to our committee weeks ago. Additionally, the White House has yet to explain why it attempted to conceal its role in the compilation of these materials. The White House is not a whistleblower and nothing that I was shown justifies such duplicitous conduct. […]


    Schiff’s complete statement is also available at the link.

  230. says

    Today, in a speech to a roomful of CEOs, Trump claimed once again that he has won environmental awards.

    […] “And we want safety,” he said. “And we want environmental – we want environmental protection. I mean, I have won awards on environmental protection. I’m a big believer, believe it or not.”

    Trump made a similar claim days into his administration, telling business leaders on Jan. 23 that “I’m a very big person when it comes to the environment. I have received awards on the environment.” In 2011, the Washington Post further noted, he told “Fox and Friends” that he had received “many, many environmental awards.”

    The Post subsequently found little evidence to support Trump’s claims in media reports over the past 10 years. Several large environmental groups similarly found no evidence of Trump’s multiple environmental awards, according to the same report.

    Readers of the Post, after the article was published, submitted one: The Friends of Westchester County Parks, Inc. awarded Trump a “Green Space Award” in 2007 for his gift of 436 acres of land to establish Donald J. Trump State Park – land that the Post reported was originally intended for a golf course project that Trump eventually abandoned. Lacking maintenance funds, Atlas Obscura reported, the park shut down in 2010.

    And Chelsea Henderson, formerly a policy adviser to three Republican senators now a consultant on conservation issues, wrote in an August 2016 op-ed in the Post that she had found evidence of just one environmental prize, awarded to Trump National Golf Club in Bedminster, New Jersey, from the Metropolitan Golf Association Foundation.

    “Four years later,” she noted, “the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection cited the course for environmental violations.” […]


    Trump is misleading the public, again. He has told so many lies, and made so many misleading statements that I think cleanup is needed. Trump requires cleanup so massive that he should be declared a Superfund Site.

  231. says

    What’s up with this decision, Judge Neil Gorsuch? Why did you cancel meetings with women of color in the Senate?

    At first, the story seemed grossly hyperbolic: Two Democratic women of color in the Senate were claiming that Judge Neil Gorsuch had rebuffed their efforts to meet with him,[…].

    Sen. Tammy Duckworth of Illinois and Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto of Nevada—Democrats who will vote on Gorsuch’s appointment to the Supreme Court this week—stated that Judge Gorsuch’s handlers had declined to honor meetings they had been attempting to schedule since February, despite multiple efforts. Really? […]

    It is, of course, particularly disturbing that in this case, the clumsiness of this invented urgency has created a situation in which Judge Gorsuch, in his failure to meet with more than 20 U.S. senators, has snubbed most of the women of color. That the perception of such a slight is not reason enough for Republicans to pause and fix the problem is indicative of how dire things are, in their view, or else how little they care about such optics. Either explanation is alarming.

    Slate link

  232. says

    This story was already noted up-thread, but I wanted to post more details. Sean Spicer dissed ProPublica during a press briefing. ProPublica responded:

    “Do not come for ProPublica unless you are ready for ProPublica to come for you” is a lesson Sean Spicer had to learn Monday after calling the investigative corporation a “left-wing blog.”

    It all started when ProPublica released a report Monday morning that claimed a change had been made to President Donald Trump’s trust and that he could “draw money from his more than 400 businesses, at any time, without disclosing it.” […]

    When Spicer opened up the press room for questions, it took just two minutes before a reporter cited the ProPublica investigation and asked for answers.

    Spicer responded that although he was unsure if Trump had withdrawn from the trust, he was “somewhat surprised in the sense that anyone would find it shocking. A blind trust, or any kind of trust, rather, the whole entire point of setting it up is that somebody can withdraw money.” he said.

    Spicer was also unaware if a change to the trust had been made at all. “Just because a left-wing blog makes the point of something changing doesn’t mean it actually happened,” he said.

    Well, ProPublica wasn’t too fond of Spicer’s incorrect and demeaning categorization. So they decided to drop some facts, since reporting is the cornerstone of their existence and all. […]

    Excerpt from ProPublica’s response:

    […] @seanspicer was trying to knock our story that Trump’s trust doc was revised to say he can take $ frm biz anytime […]

    The Trump trust doc was revised & signed Feb. 10. Here you go, @seanspicer:

    We do no-surprises journalism. We told the Trump Org & WH what we knew and gave them time to explain.They didn’t. […]

    Documentation provided on the ProPublica Twitter feed proves that Spicer was both ignorant, and then wrong.

  233. says

    Trump made a big deal out of donating the money from his quarterly paycheck to the National Park Service. The check was for about $73,000.

    Team Trump brought out a National Park Service officer to receive the check during a press briefing.

    A few facts to demonstrate how ridiculous this donation was/is, and how petty flimflam man, Trump really runs things:

    In order for the president to make up for his proposed $1.6 billion budget cuts to the Interior Department, which will almost certainly hinder the everyday “maintenance of national parks and historic sites,” he would need to donate roughly his next 20,425 paychecks, which would mean he would need to reside in the Oval Office for the next 5,100 years or so.

    […] cuts to the Interior Department stand to eliminate funding for 49 National Heritage Areas. It would also substantially decrease funding for public land acquisition offices.

    […] Trump has spent seven of his weekends at the resort in Florida since being sworn in. It has cost taxpayers roughly $3 million per trip.

    “This is a day the president just donated a significant amount of money of his salary to the federal government. So respectfully, it’s  —  at what point does he do enough?” Spicer asked during Monday’s briefing. “I think to be able to say  —  he isn’t taking a salary, he’s stepped down from his business, he’s walked away from a lot. I think — at some point he’s done quite a bit in terms of making a donation to the government,” Spicer said. […]

    Salon link to coverage of the publicity stunt.

  234. says

    Follow-up to comment 417.

    Today is “Equal Pay Day.” What has Trump done lately to assure that women get equal pay for equal work? He signed an executive order that pretty much guarantees the opposite:

    In an attempt to keep the worst violators from receiving taxpayer dollars, the Fair Pay order [signed by President Obama] included two rules that impacted women workers: paycheck transparency and a ban on forced arbitration clauses for sexual harassment, sexual assault or discrimination claims. […]

    By overturning the Fair Pay order, Trump made it possible for businesses with federal contracts to continue forcing sexual harassment cases like [Fox New’s anchor Gretchen Carlson’s sexual harassment suit against former Fox CEO Roger Ailes] into secret proceedings — where the public, and other employees, may never find out about rampant sex discrimination claims at a company. […]

    The other result of Trump’s executive order on federal contractors was lifting a mandate on paycheck transparency, or requiring employers to detail earnings, pay scales, salaries, and other details. The Fair Pay order Trump overturned was one of the few ways to ensure companies were paying women workers equally to their male colleagues. […]


  235. says

    Take that, Mike Pence. At least one of your anti-abortion actions has been blocked by a judge.

    A federal judge has blocked an Indiana law signed by Mike Pence in 2016 when he was still governor to force women to obtain an ultrasound at least 18 hours before getting an abortion. Judge Tanya Walton Pratt, the first African American ever appointed to the federal court in Indiana, ruled in the case that the state made no compelling argument that requiring an ultrasound “makes it any more likely that a woman will choose not to have an abortion.”

    As in many cases where new restrictions are placed on abortion, the defenders of this law claim it protects women’s health. Foes argue that this is bunk and that this law, like others, places an “undue burden” on woman seeking to terminate their pregnancies. That’s language from the Supreme Court ruling in (Pennsylvania) Planned Parenthood v. Casey (1992) and elaborated upon in Whole Woman’s Health v. Hellerstedt (2016).

    […] Like many forced-birther laws, this one engages in class warfare. One of Planned Parenthood’s complaints is that the law would make it harder on low-income women, many of whom would have to travel 100 or more miles from home, and either make the trip twice or stay overnight in the city where they have an appointment to obtain an abortion. […]


  236. says

    More advertisers are running away from Fox News’ “The O’Reilly Factor” show. Bill O’Reilly is the factor driving them away.

    At least eleven companies have announced they are ending advertising on The O’Reilly Factor. The news comes in the wake of a New York Times story which reveals that O’Reilly and Fox News have paid five women who accused the top-rated cable host of sexual harassment. […]

    Constant Contact
    T. Rowe Price,

    […] The show, which has the highest ratings in cable news, brought in $178 million in 2015. […]


  237. says

    The Trump administration blamed President Obama for the chemical attack on people in Syria:

    […] “Today’s chemical attacks in Syria against innocent people including women and children is reprehensible and cannot be ignored by the civilized world,” Spicer told reporters on Tuesday. “These heinous actions by the Bashar al-Assad regime are a consequence of the past administration’s weakness and irresolution.” […]


  238. says

    Far rightwing candidates for governor in Virginia are competing to see who is the most obnoxious when it comes to a woman’s right to reproductive choice.

    From the front-runner, Ed Gillespie: “I would like to see abortion banned because I think it is the taking of an innocent human life.”

    From candidate Corey Stewart: I am against abortion, period, no exceptions. I will not compromise on this issue.”


  239. says

    Joaquin Castro (who’s on the House Intelligence Committee) just told Wolf Blitzer that he believes Putin’s regime achieved a “deep infiltration of the Trump team and a deep infiltration of the US government.” He also volunteered that “when all of this is said and done, I wouldn’t be surprised if some people go to jail,” later appearing to clarify that he was talking about Trump associates. His belief, he said, is that this will happen. (Quotes probably not exact – I don’t type fast enough.)

  240. says

    New York Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman has filed a lawsuit against the Trump Administration:

    […] Lawsuit And Other Legal Action Against Trump Administration For Illegally Blocking Cost-Saving, Pollution-Cutting Energy Efficiency Standards

    Coalition Takes Action Against Trump DOE For Violating Federal Law By Obstructing Implementation Of Energy Efficiency Standards For Common Consumer And Commercial Products […]

    The six standards being blocked by the Trump Administration offer dramatic air pollution reductions, as well as energy- and cost-savings to consumers and businesses. According to federal Department of Energy (“DOE”) estimates, the standards would combine to eliminate emissions of 292 million tons of the greenhouse gas carbon dioxide, 734 thousand tons of the pollution that creates soot and smog, 1.2 million tons of the potent climate change pollutant methane, and over 1,000 pounds of highly-toxic mercury, over a 30 year period.

    […] The DOE itself estimates that the six standards would provide net savings to consumers and businesses of approximately $23.8 billion.

    […] “By blocking these common sense standards, the administration is reversing progress in cleaning the air we breathe and fighting climate change – and denying consumers and businesses some $24 billion in savings. I will continue to use the full force of my office to compel the Trump administration to live up to its obligations to the law and the people of New York.”

    Attorney General Schneiderman and the coalition charge that the Trump DOE is violating both the federal Energy Policy and Conservation Act (“EPCA”) and Administrative Procedures Act (“APA”) in the following ways […]

    Attorney General Schneiderman and the coalition charge that these delays are illegal, violating EPCA’s “anti-backsliding” provisions by effectively weakening the final standards published in January, and violating the APA by being undertaken without the public notice and comment required by law when substantive changes are made to published final rules. […]

    In accordance with requirements of EPCA, the coalition is sending a 60-day notice today to the DOE of its intention to sue the Department over these violations. If the Department fails to publish the five energy efficiency standards as final rules within 60 days, the coalition intends to file a lawsuit in U.S. District Court asking the court to declare that the DOE has failed to perform mandatory legal obligations, and require the Department to immediately publish the final rules. […]

    The full text of the A.G.’s statement can be read here.

  241. says

    Follow-up to SC’s comment 432.

    […] REP JOAQUIN CASTRO (D-TX): I guess I would say this, that my impression is after all of this is said and done that some people end up in jail.

    WOLF BLITZER: Really? And how high does that go and in your suspicion? That’s all we can call it right now.

    CASTRO: Well, that’s yet to be determined.

    BLITZER: But you think some people are going to wind up in jail, not just one individual, but people plural.
    CASTRO: That’s my impression.

    BLITZER: You want to elaborate on that give us more? Because that is obviously a very intriguing statement.

    CASTRO: I wish I could, but I can’t at this time.

    BLITZER: You’re confident that some Trump associates will end up in jail.

    CASTRO: If I were betting, yes.

    BLITZER: Including some working in the new administration or people who worked or advised the president during the campaign or maybe during the transition?

    CASTRO: As you can imagine, Wolf, I will have to comment on that later. But my impression is that people will probably be charged and probably go to jail.

    BLITZER: Without sharing the evidence because I know it’s classified but do you believe there is enough evidence already, evidence that you’ve seen that would justify someone going to jail or some people going to jail?

    CASTRO: If the claims hold up, most likely.

  242. says

    @430 – It’s almost like they know that their base is completely ignorant and cater exclusively to them, because anyone with a brain knows that that gas attack fell immediately on the heels of the announcement that regime change in Syria was no longer the goal of American foreign policy.

    I think the mistake they make is in assuming that they won this election by simply having a larger base, or they are assured that the despicable tactics they used in 2016 are virtually guaranteed to work again in 2018 and 2020.

    They are wrong. They won because too many dems stayed home out of spite over Bernie or because of “her emails”. That won’t happen again, the dem base is energized like never before. Whatever happens with #kremlingate, even if Trump is still in office in 18 months, he’s going to be castrated by a house and senate that will be firmly in the hands of the left, and every insane bullshit narrative they keep trying to put over on us only makes that prediction that much more concrete.

  243. says

    This starts tomorrow: “On Wednesday, students at Harvard start the first day of Resistance School — a 4-week course in anti-Trump activism created by progressive students at the university’s Kennedy School of Government. The course is open to people across the country and the world.”

  244. KG says

    The Ecuadorian Electoral Commission has now declared Moreno the winner, and as SC@407 says, the OAS, which monitored the election, says it has seen no evidence of electoral fraud. Thus far, the opposition’s claims that there was fraud are devoid of evidence.

  245. says

    Update to #407 – official result called in Ecuador:

    El Consejo Nacional Electoral de Ecuador (CNE) declaró este martes al candidato oficialista de Alianza País, Lenín Moreno, como el ganador de la segunda vuelta de las elecciones presidenciales en Ecuador.

    Estos resultados son “oficiales e irreversibles”, sostuvo el presidente del CNE, Juan Pablo Pozo, en cadena nacional….

    Lasso still plans to appeal the results tomorrow morning, but other leaders are already congratulating Moreno.

  246. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    *program interruption*
    I can tell activism at the local level is increasing. We have having local elections today here in IL, and my city is having a tightly contested mayoral race. I’ve had reps from both candidates knock on my door in the last couple of hours to make sure I was getting out to vote. I did this morning before anybody arrived. One rep was happy, and the other wasn’t as to my vote. This is the first time in the 28 years I’ve lived here that something like this has happened.
    *back to your regular programming*

  247. says

    Eric Swalwell, also on the House Intelligence Committee, just told Wolf Blitzer that there’s open-source evidence of collusion and classified evidence of collusion.

  248. says

    Fox News is currently featuring eleven articles about Susan Rice on the homepage of their website.

    They are desperately manufacturing outrage based on nothing … well, nothing but their own ignorance and their worship of Trump.

  249. says

    SC @440, Rand Paul is definitely carrying water for Trump now:

    […] I believe Susan Rice abused the system and she did it for political purposes. She needs to be brought in and questioned under oath. This was a witch hunt that began with the Obama administration, sour grapes on the way out the door. They were going to use the intelligence apparatus to attack Trump, and I think they did.

    And this is one of Rand Paul’s tweets:

    DIRECTIVE FROM OBAMA? Paul [he refers to himself in his tweet] calls on Rice to testify over reports of unmasking request

  250. says

    I’m furious about this campaign to smear Rice. There’s no evidence she did anything other than her job, and the allegations don’t even make sense given how it works. There’s growing evidence that Cohen-Watnick and Ellis – at Trump’s direction, it appears – did misuse intelligence for political purposes, and that they and Nunes leaked classified information to “journalists” and the public to create a bullshit narrative. I suppose they’re just hoping to muddy the waters and raise suspicions about the intelligence, but the full House and Senate committees are going to see what Nunes and Schiff have seen probably by Friday and the narrative is going to fall apart, so it’s a pretty pointless exercise that will only hurt them going forward.

  251. says

    “Federal appeals court: Civil rights law covers LGBT workplace bias”:

    A federal appeals court in Chicago ruled Tuesday that a 1964 law barring sex discrimination extends to sexual orientation, marking a major workplace victory for gays and lesbians.

    The 8-3 decision by the full U.S. Court of Appeals for the 7th Circuit, which overturned a three-judge panel’s ruling, represents another step in the effort by gay rights groups to extend their 2015 nationwide victory on same-sex marriage to other areas, including jobs, housing and public accommodations….

  252. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    Whoa, please excuse me if I don’t supply a link until morning, but Rachael Maddow is interviewing Andrea Mitchell about Susan Rice that Andrea had interviewed this morning. Context is being given.
    Sorry about needing sleep. Mea culpa.

  253. says

    @452 – your comment is so out of context I don’t know what to make of it, so I can only ask, wtf? How is that appropriate and who the fuck are you and what is your comment even about?

  254. says

    @454 – Ok then I’m assuming English is not your native language. But I still can’t parse if this was a bid posted by someone you know, or if it was just a silly bid placed by some other unknown person and the person you know was simply bringing this ridiculous idea to light?

    Generally in this thread we are sticking to actual news about the reality of the world we find ourselves in and not side tracking into the bizarre fantasies of random strangers from the internet.

  255. says

    Another major Gorsuch issue – “Gorsuch’s writings borrow from other authors”:

    Supreme Court nominee Neil Gorsuch copied the structure and language used by several authors and failed to cite source material in his book and an academic article, according to documents provided to POLITICO.

    The documents show that several passages from the tenth chapter of his 2006 book, “The Future of Assisted Suicide and Euthanasia,”* read nearly verbatim to a 1984 article in the Indiana Law Journal. In several other instances in that book and an academic article published in 2000, Gorsuch borrowed from the ideas, quotes and structures of scholarly and legal works without citing them.

    The findings come as Republicans are on the brink of changing Senate rules to confirm Gorsuch over the vehement objections of Democrats. The documents could raise questions about the rigor of Gorsuch’s scholarship, which Republicans have portrayed during the confirmation process as unimpeachable.

    The White House on Tuesday pushed back against any suggestion of impropriety….

    This aspect is also interesting.

    * More in links @ #356.

  256. says


    “What Gorsuch did was steal the law review author’s research–the source set she assembled–and descriptive writing w/o acknowledging her”*

    “fitting for a man who seeks to occupy a stolen seat.”

    * (The White House prefers “alternative citation.”)

  257. says

    @458 – A couple of things about that stick in my craw.

    1. For one thing, Ivanka isn’t saying in that interview that she doesn’t know the definition of the word ‘complicit’. She’s saying that she views her actions with regard to her father as supportive instead. But that’s not stopping people from moving words around and quoting her as saying “I don’t know what complicit means” for one example. I think it’s sexist, and attributes her complicitness to abject stupidity, because women are stupid and can’t be smart, yet evil. We’ve all seen the “airhead” or “bimbo” narrative used over and over again with regard to women in the media, and just because it’s being used against an enemy in this case, I don’t think it’s any more acceptable.

    Ivanka is not an idiot. She is in fact, quite bright, she’s just sheltered and evil like the rest of the family.

    2. While the nepotism of this administration is unprecedented due to the number of cases, it’s not unprecedented in history, not by a long shot. I find the left’s fixation on it to be rather hypocritical when you consider JFK appointed his brother as AG, who had no prior legal experience, and who was also his closest advisor.

    Hillary was never elected to public office when Bill won, yet she was tasked with healthcare reform and was also a close advisor.

    There are many other examples, and in a vacuum, there is nothing completely unethical about relying on those closest to you for advice when faced with difficult decisions and presidents have done this throughout history. You trust who you trust. There is nothing wrong with that.

    Obviously, for a billion other reasons, Trump and his entire circle are incompetent buffoons but it really bothers me when “my side” descends into intellectual dishonesty and I’m going to call it out when they do.

  258. says

    Adam Schiff: “The scheme: WH only wanted to show Chairman docs then made accusations to distract. I want full Intel Committee to see docs. WH is resisting.”

    This is what I was talking about in #446. It seems inevitable that the full committees are going to see the documents, and then not only will their false narrative collapse but more attention will be turned to their lies, efforts at deflection, motives, and possible rule violations in carrying out this scheme. Trump doesn’t seem to realize he’s no longer doing resort cons where he could just take the money and run.

  259. says

    Jesus fuck, erik. Nothing about that tweet itself says what you’re reading into it. I saw the interview with Ivanka, which was disingenuous at best. And no, she’s not particularly bright, other than in the grifter sense. The point is that she’s fully complicit, and operating a PR campaign that paints her as a voice for women and human rights when she’s done fuck all for women or human rights while her father has made policy after policy that are harmful to these causes. She openly supports his agenda and perpetuates his lies.

    While the nepotism of this administration is unprecedented due to the number of cases, it’s not unprecedented in history, not by a long shot. I find the left’s fixation on it to be rather hypocritical when you consider JFK appointed his brother as AG, who had no prior legal experience, and who was also his closest advisor.

    Not unprecedented in history is not the same as an acceptable aspect of presidential politics, as he implied. And no one said it was unprecedented in history. The Kennedy example was in the fucking 1960s, and nepotism rules were put into place immediately afterwards. The Clinton example was questionable, but the fact remains that she was plainly qualified for the job (which, despite her qualifications, would have been hard for her to get as a woman then), unlike anyone in Trump’s clan. Nepotism of the sort Trump’s engaging in is not a “factor of life” (which isn’t the expression he needed there) or remotely acceptable.

    Obviously, for a billion other reasons, Trump and his entire circle are incompetent buffoons but it really bothers me when “my side” descends into intellectual dishonesty and I’m going to call it out when they do.

    Oh, you’re so brave. That tweet wasn’t intellectually dishonest. The point is that they’re arrogant people who say and do and try to justify shitty things just like their father, and their own words demonstrating this appeared on a single day.

    I’ll let you have the last word, because you’re annoying me and I am not in the mood.

  260. says

    Josh Marshall:

    …As Rep. Adam Schiff put it yesterday on Twitter, Mitch McConnell’s historically unprecedented and constitutionally illegitimate decision to block President Obama from nominating anyone a year before he left office was the real nuclear option. The rest is simply fallout. Senate Republicans had the power to do this. But that doesn’t make it legitimate. The seat was stolen. Therefore Gorsuch’s nomination is itself illegitimate since it is the fruit of the poisoned tree.

    Democrats likely have no power to finally prevent this corrupt transaction. It is nonetheless important that they not partake in the corruption. Treating this as a normal nomination would do just that. There are now various good arguments to vote against Gorsuch’s nomination on the merits. But to me that’s not even the point. Democrats should filibuster the nomination because it is not a legitimate nomination. Filibustering the nomination is the right course of action. If Republicans react by abolishing the Supreme Court filibuster, so be it. It didn’t really exist anyway. Again, they should filibuster this nomination because it is the right thing to do.

  261. says

    More on the NSC shake-up:

    President Donald Trump reorganized his National Security Council on Wednesday, removing his chief strategist, Stephen Bannon, and downgrading the role of his Homeland Security Adviser, Tom Bossert, according to a person familiar with the decision and a regulatory filing.

    National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster was given responsibility for setting the agenda for meetings of the NSC or the Homeland Security Council, and was authorized to delegate that authority to Bossert, at his discretion, according to the filing.

    Under the move, the national intelligence director, Dan Coats, and the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Marine Corps General Joseph Dunford, are again “regular attendees” of the NSC’s principals committee….

    The article claims Bannon had been put there to keep an eye on Flynn; Robert Costa is also reporting an official claiming Bannon’s (successful) aim was to “de-operationalize” the NSC. (Like so many others, this article repeats the silly tale about why Flynn had to resign, adding the totally unfounded claim that he lied to Trump.)

    I’d wager more will be revealed.

  262. says

    SC @449, Josh Marshall’s conclusion was good:

    […] Ezra Cohen-Watnick is a Flynn protege and loyalist. Flynn’s replacement, H.R. McMaster tried to fire him as close to his first order of business but was prevented from doing so by President Trump, after the intervention of Bannon and Kushner on Cohen-Watnick’s behalf.

    The ‘review’ appears to have begun while Flynn was still in place. Which is more likely: Flynn ordered his lieutenant to find out how his calls with the Russian Ambassador had ended up in press reports? or Flynn or his deputy hit the ground running with a review of possible inefficiencies in the ‘un-masking’ process?

    You don’t have to answer.

  263. says

    Chris Murphy just asked Andrea Mitchell why Kushner should have anything to do with foreign policy – “This isn’t something you can just pick up on the fly. It’s not skateboarding.”

  264. says

    Trump is headed to Mar-a-Lago soon to meet with the president of China. This is Trump’s sixth trip to his resort in Florida (and he’s only been in office for about 12 weeks). Norm Eisen, the chief ethics czar under President Obama, made some appropriate comments:

    We’ve had a lot of presidents who hosted foreign leaders away from the White House. But we’ve never in history had one do it in a place where he’s selling memberships for hundreds of thousands of dollars a pop. Trump just could not resist the opportunity to make an infomercial for his property. He’s worked hard all his life to generate free media. Now he’s hit the mother lode, and he’s not going to stop.

  265. says

    Rachel Maddow covered the way that Trump makes a big show out of signing executive orders … most of the time. That flimflam-man showboating includes the signing of executive orders that actually have little or no effect on anyone (supporting women entrepreneurs, for example). However, the orders that Trump and his team should be ashamed of are signed behind closed doors.

    Team Trump also takes other actions that they don’t advertise. One of the actions Trump took behind closed doors was the decision to send more U.S. troops to Syria.

    This opening segment begins with coverage of the chemical weapons attack in Syria.

    The video is 17:13 minutes long.

  266. says

    NYT – Trump spews more slanderous bullshit about the Obama administration, at the same time they try to prevent the Intelligence Committee from seeing documents:

    President Trump said on Wednesday that he thought that the former national security adviser Susan E. Rice may have committed a crime by seeking the identities of Trump associates who were mentioned on intercepted communications and that other Obama administration officials may also have been involved.

    “I think it’s going to be the biggest story,” Mr. Trump said in an interview in the Oval Office, declining repeated requests for evidence for his allegations or the names of other Obama administration officials. “It’s such an important story for our country and the world. It is one of the big stories of our time.”

    He declined to say if he had personally reviewed new intelligence to bolster his claim but pledged to explain himself “at the right time.”

    …The president then went on to defend Mr. O’Reilly, who has hosted him frequently over the years….

  267. says

    Bannon’s view of his ouster from the National Security Council is weird:

    “Susan Rice operationalized the NSC during the last administration,” Bannon said in a statement obtained by the Wall Street Journal. “I was put on to ensure that it was de-operationalized. General McMaster has returned the NSC to its proper function.”

    He is also throwing shade at Rice, for no factual reason. The rest of that statement is a WTF moment.

    If anybody “operationalized” the NSC, is was Mike Flynn and Cohen-Watnick, apparently with the blessing of Bannon and Kushner.

  268. says

    NBC oped on Gorsuch:

    …His record on the bench and his testimony at the confirmation hearings bely a judicial mentality that will only spell trouble and is clearly adversarial to the rights of women and their demands for reproductive justice.

    There is not a woman in the United States whose life will not be impacted in some way if Gorsuch would become a member of the Supreme Court. He has clearly staked out positions that are opposed to equal rights for women in a number of issues. The legislative effort to seek confirmation of his appointment in the Senate must be thwarted, or we, the women of America, will undoubtedly suffer.

    Do more moderate Republicans in the Senate (especially the few women) really want to go nuclear to rush to give this guy a lifetime appointment? Do they really want that on their record or their conscience?

  269. says

    Followup to comment 475.

    Although Bannon has been removed from the national security council, he has not been stripped of his security clearance. According to several reports, Bannon still has the highest security clearance.

  270. says

    SC @477, yeah, it figures that Trump thinks Bill O’Reilly is a “good person” who didn’t do anything wrong. Sheesh.

    Wonkette covered Bannon’s ouster:

    Big doin’s at the White Supremacy House today as Donald Trump reorganized the National Security Council, removing Steve Bannon from the NSC where he never belonged in the first place. Trump also restored the Director of National Intelligence, Dan Coates, and chair of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Gen. Joseph Dunford, to their full places on the NSC after ham-handedly placing them on a vague sort of standby status back in January. […]

    In February, reports surfaced that Trump had signed an executive order elevating Bannon and sending Coates and Dunford away without really knowing what was in the order, then later griped that he hadn’t been fully briefed on what was in the copy-pasted executive order before he signed it. […]

    […] The talking heads on MSNBC are calling it a victory for Trump’s second, smarter national security adviser, H.R. McMaster, but that doesn’t fit so well with the fact that Bannon and Deputy President Jared Kushner wouldn’t let McMaster fire that one dumb aide who was Mike Flynn’s lickspittle. (And who was kind enough to leak documents to Devin Nunes so he could take them right back over to the White House from whence they came.) […]

    […] “de-operationalize” is precisely the kind of pseudointellectual postmodern bafflegab Bannon loves, and also he’s no doubt happy to claim the real reason he’s off the NSC is that His Work Here Is Done. As to what the hell “de-operationalizing” the NSC even means, other than generally wrecking it, we won’t even guess. […]

  271. says

    I am not in the mood

    I’m sorry to hear that. Maybe you should take a break from the news and the intertubes until you feel better. I’ve had to do the same many times over the past 6 months.

    However, I was not attacking you, or that particular tweet. I was referring to how she is being portrayed because of that comment on social media at large, that’s what is annoying me about it. People on the left are trying to portray it as if she literally does not know the meaning of the word ‘complicit’, because she’s just that stupid.

    This annoys me because:

    a) It’s not true if you watch the interview.

    b) It feeds the ‘elitist’ claim that those on the right make about those on the left.

    c) I think it plays into the sexist trope that women are feeble minded.

    d) It serves to cause her opponents to underestimate her ability to be conniving and nefarious. Part of me believes that the left vastly underestimated Trump’s marketing prowess which is one reason among many that a lot of dems stayed home. They figured Hillary would win in a landslide, we all did.

    e) Stupid ends up being an excuse in the long run. Take GW Bush as an example. The media now portrays his antics as cute in a way. Aww, look at the dumb old man making really bad paintings… people almost feel sorry for him. Meanwhile he lied to start an illegal war that killed hundreds of thousands of innocents people.

    I was in no sense defending her. You are correct, she is a Trump, and every bit the grifter that they all are, but that does not make her stupid.

    On the nepotism thing… we can agree to disagree. I’m much more concerned with the intentions and qualifications of the people he’s surrounding himself with than their relationship to him. In the future I can imagine a democrat in the white house who happens to have a family member that is highly qualified that she confides in and maybe even appoints to an official position in the white house, and I don’t think I’d have a problem with it. To that end, I do not think that Ivanka or her husband are in anyway qualified to be in the whitehouse, but neither is Trump himself.

    In other situations, like in a private business or lower levels of government, yes, I have a BIG problem with nepotism, it shouldn’t happen, but when you are talking about the CEO or leader of an organization, or country, I think it’s fair for that person to form the best team they think they can. At lower levels, it presents an unequal playing field and builds resentment among coworkers.

    IOW I don’t think nepotism is necessarily always unethical, but it can be. I think it’s based on the context. Family run and owned business? Of course, that’s fine. A supervisor hiring their unqualified nephew over a more qualified candidate? Not going to end well.

    A president thinks their own daughter and son in law are the people he can trust and trusts their judgement? Fine with me. What’s not fine is that Kushner and Ivanka have no business being anywhere near the foreign policy decisions of the most powerful nation in the world.

  272. says

    Team Trump is ready to hand out more goodies to rich people:

    […] His Most Intelligent Of Leaders has made all my dreams possible now! It is a time for joy! There will be no aviation taxes on private and business aircraft in the new aviation infrastructure plan! This is obviously because we have finally elected a government that knows that people who can afford private planes would be put off by any new 1% surcharges. It’s like that South Park episode where Britney can only afford a Gulfstream 3 instead of a Gulfstream 4 and these are the things that try men’s souls! Haha, we do not have souls actually, we sold them to get the money to buy the planes! […]

    But wait, there’s more! September is the deadline for passing a new aviation bill, and our infrastructure is woefully out of date, according to the people who would like the contract to update it. It uses radar and not GPS, which Gary Cohn who is the director of the National Economic Council says is just embarrassing given that we have all the techbros here in this very country and all the OTHER countries got to get GPS like AGES ago and anyway why not turn over airspace to the major airlines and their trade groups? […]

    the point is that Nick Calio, who is President/CEO of Airlines Of America which is a lovely trade group of airline execs says this will make everything much faster and safer and if we put the airlines in charge of everything there will be no cost to customers!

    Now, I personally do not believe that last because I trust executives to know what’s best and we all know that “best” is nearly synonymous with most profitable, but fuck it, they will get better cheese.

    […] I do not mind paying triple for my plane as long as there are NO NEW TAXES. […]

    Wonkette link

  273. says

    I’m sorry to hear that. Maybe you should take a break from the news and the intertubes until you feel better. I’ve had to do the same many times over the past 6 months.

    I’m not in the mood for your aggressive responses to comments over the past several hours or your reading things into that tweet that weren’t implied in it and then “calling them out.” It’s not a more general thing, but thanks for the unsolicited advice.

    However, I was not attacking you, or that particular tweet. I was referring to how she is being portrayed because of that comment on social media at large, that’s what is annoying me about it. People on the left are trying to portray it as if she literally does not know the meaning of the word ‘complicit’, because she’s just that stupid.

    Then you should have said that, and made clear that you weren’t responding specifically to the tweet, which included the CBS tweet linking to the actual interview. Instead, I linked to that tweet, and your reply began: “A couple of things about that stick in my craw.” This implied that you were responding to Itzkoff and by extension me because I linked to it. His point re Ivanka, judging from the context, was the opposite of what you were complaining about: that she knows very well that she’s complicit and is furiously bullshitting and trying to convince herself and others that she’s a righteous intervener.

    OK, now I’m done. I won’t bother to address the rest of your response, with which I also disagree.

  274. says

    Talking Points Memo provided more details regarding the fact that some of the border wall designs have become public.

    Bids for prototypes of [the] proposed border wall were due to the Department of Homeland Security on Tuesday, and it appears that many pitches hewed closely to the department’s amended request that wall designs “meet requirements for aesthetics” (at least on the U.S.-facing side).

    […] a handful of design and construction firms have shared their ideas with news organizations.

    Manatts, Inc. […] has proposed offering engraving opportunities as part of a public-private partnership to pay for the wall. (Conan O’Brien proposed as much to the citizens of Mexico last month.) The result would, in effect be, a 2,000-mile engraved memorial to the newly sealed border […]

    The Chicago Tribune reported on the proposal of Illinois-based Michael Hari, whose wall would feature a Great Wall-style pedestrian walkway atop a 26-foot concrete barrier. Importantly, the paper noted, Hari proposed making the wall 1,500 miles long, not 2,000, and leaving a significant number of U.S. cities to the south of the wall. […]

    Another design collective, MADE, also submitted a solar-energy-powered mass transit system to both the Mexican and United States’ governments, […]

    With the group’s “Otra Nation” proposal, it pitched a hyperloop train system to connect a “regenerative open co-nation” made up of parts of the United States and Mexico.

    “As an unincorporated organized territory of Mexico and the United States, citizens of both countries have the right to live and work in the nation of Otra,” their proposal reads. “The nation is built on the principles of sharing and dignity.”[…]

  275. tomh says

    I can’t believe Dan Coats has re-surfaced, at the age of 74, as Director of National Intelligence. An ultra right-wing senator from Indiana for 16 years, he once argued on the Senate floor, when a faith healing exemption was being debated, that parents had a First Amendment right to withhold medical care from their children. I guess he fits right in with the current administration.

  276. says

    Trump held a press conference with King Abdullah II of Jordan. The King spoke about several coherent policy proposals, and about the need to work together. Trump said this:

    I inherited a mess! A MESS! The world is a MESS!

  277. says

    I don’t understand why people are trying to offer rational, strategic reasons for Trump’s “I’m not going to tell you what I’ll do nyah.” He doesn’t understand anything about military operations, he has no clue what he’s doing now or will be doing tomorrow and irrational optimism about what he’ll accomplish, and he knows that concealing information better allows him to conceal failures and disasters and hide from accountability.

  278. says

    From Amy Davidson, writing for The New Yorker:

    In a sense, there was nothing surprising about the surprise trip to Iraq that Jared Kushner […] made this week. It can’t come as a shock, at this point, that anyone in the Trump Administration thought it was a good idea to send a neophyte to a war zone, or to bypass normal diplomatic procedures, or to turn a fight in which American troops are at risk and Iraqi civilians are being killed by errant air strikes into a venue for familial posturing.

    The trip wasn’t even technically a surprise, since White House officials, in a flouting of security procedures, confirmed the visit before Kushner had landed in Baghdad. The Trump team, with its acute sense of victimhood, surely ought to have realized that a member of the President’s immediate family would be a tempting target in a war zone; […]

    Indeed, the only real puzzle of the Kushner trip is which particular Trumpian political vice it best illustrates: deluded self-aggrandizement or a callous indifference to other people’s lives; conflicts of interest or a lack of any interest in the consequences of the use of power.

    Is the question whether Trump really thinks that Kushner has the competence and the ability to manage the portfolio he has dreamed up for him—bringing peace to the Middle East; monitoring the fight against isis; overhauling the federal government; serving as an intermediary with China, Saudi Arabia, Mexico, and even Canada—or whether he even thinks that competence matters? […]

    Kushner had gone to Iraq, Spicer said, at the invitation of the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, who “believed it was an opportunity” for the President’s son-in-law. […] The repeated use of the word “opportunity” is jarring, and not only because it turns American troops into tourist attractions. The word also echoes the explanation that Hope Hicks, the White House’s director of strategic communications, gave the Times last week for Ivanka Trump’s decision to disregard concerns about nepotism and profiteering and become an official White House employee: it would afford her “increased opportunities to lead initiatives driving real policy benefits for the American public that would not have been available to her previously.” […]

    it’s not clear why the chance for personal growth that turning government agencies into playthings affords the Kushners is being presented as a matter of public welfare. […]

    Kushner’s portfolio is either a sham of one variety or the other—a sop to his ego, a cover for business contacts, a label for things that Trump has no intention of dealing with at all—or the President has put matters critical to national security into his son-in-law’s hands with the expectation that he will act on them. […]

  279. says

    SC – I was not aggressive with you in anyway, and I did make my point clear:

    But that’s not stopping people from moving words around and quoting her as saying “I don’t know what complicit means” for one example.

    I WAS aggressive towards what looked to me to be some trolling with the nonsensical post about nuclear waste in trenches between walls and fences, because I have no patience for trolls. The way it read to me was “someone I know thinks this is a good idea”. Whether that person agreed or not was left for us to guess, and I didn’t recognize the name as a regular around here.

    In either event it wasn’t “news” or even interesting. It was some strange person’s border wall death fantasy on imgur.

    In any event, I’m not any more interested in arguing with you than you are me, so let’s stick a fork in it. I made my point, I don’t necessarily care if you agree.

  280. militantagnostic says

    SC @476

    Do more moderate Republicans in the Senate (especially the few women) really want to go nuclear to rush to give this guy a lifetime appointment? Do they really want that on their record or their conscience?

    Assumes entities not in evidence.