Discuss: Political Madness All the Time


Lynna is your curator. I don’t think this thread will run dry for a long time.

gop-2016-trump

(Previous thread)

Comments

  1. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    Finally watching AM Joy from the morning (recorded). A rethug is lying his his ass off on coverage versus cost to me.
    Did the asshole ask me if the cost, in taxes, of medicaid, was worth it? NO! Fuck him and his idiotology. I am facing this problem, where my father, at 88 years old, is facing having to be on medicaid to pay his bills for nursing home costs, after what SSA and Medicare pays, after his savings run out.
    What fucking assholes they are for even thinking they they have a plan….

  2. KG says

    In a 13-point list — presented to the Qataris by Kuwait, which is helping mediate the crisis — the countries [Saudi Arabia, Egypt, the United Arab Emirates (UAE), and Bahrain] demand [Qatar close al-Jazeera, cut back diplomatic ties to Iran, sever all ties with the Muslim Brotherhood, and end] Turkey’s military presence in Qatar. = blf@555 quoting The Grauniad.

    Dealing with a serious falling-out between important allies is surely one of the most difficult parts of diplomacy. On a scale of 0 to 100, how prepared is President Donald J. Trump to handle such a situation? (Turkey backing Qatar makes things even more difficult. without that, the USA would probably be best off siding with the blockaders, and even removing Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani, the Emir, as quietly as possible.)

  3. KG says

    Re #2: Sorry: the current Emir of Qatar is Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani, son of Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani. And@555 should be @455.

  4. says

    Trump is still mouthing off about the Democratic Party primary:

    Hillary Clinton colluded with the Democratic Party in order to beat Crazy Bernie Sanders. Is she allowed to so collude? Unfair to Bernie!

    He sent that tweet at 6:00 AM today.

  5. says

    A poll showed that just 38% of U.S. voters know that TrumpCare cuts Medicaid. Part of the reason for this lack of knowledge is that Trump’s advisors are on TV constantly repeating the lie that TrumpCare does not cut Medicaid:

    The Senate health care bill makes massive cuts to Medicaid. But you wouldn’t know that just from listening to Trump administration officials on the Sunday shows.

    “These are not cuts to Medicaid, George,” Kellyanne Conway told ABC’s George Stephanopoulos.

    “It just wouldn’t happen,” Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price told CNN’s Dana Bash when asked about Republican concerns over Medicaid cuts.

    “Nobody will fall through the cracks,” Price said on Fox News Sunday when asked about the Medicaid coverage gap. […]

    […] most Americans don’t know the House-passed bill would make significant cuts to Medicaid. […]Those cuts are even deeper in the Senate version, experts say, and media appearances like these make it less surprising that the public isn’t aware of the drastic changes the legislation would introduce.

    The Senate bill’s main advocate and author, Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-KY), actually tried to argue that the bill will strengthen Medicaid when he introduced it last Thursday on the Senate floor. Sen. Pat Toomey (R-PA) argued on CBS’ Face the Nation that the bill would “make permanent” Medicaid expansion and also said “no one loses coverage.”

    The bill would in fact massively cut Medicaid, threatening to completely phase out the program as we currently know it. The legislation would roll back Obamacare’s Medicaid expansion, starting in four short years. It would also make deeper cuts to Medicaid by placing “per capita caps” on the program such that states will receive only a set amount of money for each recipient, no matter how much their care actually costs.

    Andy Slavitt, who ran Medicaid in the Obama administration, said on Twitter that “the main event in the Senate bill is the destruction of Medicaid,” characterizing it as “far, far worse than even the House bill.” And the House bill, as scored by the Congressional Budget Office, would leave 23 million more people without coverage. […]

    “This bill has even more Medicaid cuts than the House bill,” said ABC’s George Stephanopoulos in an interview with White House counselor Kellyanne Conway. “Why is the president going back on his promise?”

    “These are not cuts to Medicaid, George,” she replied. “It slows the rate for the future, and it allows governors more flexibility with Medicaid dollars, because they’re closest to the people in need. Medicaid’s imperative. Its founding was meant to help the poor, the sick, the needy, disabled, children, some elderly, women, particularly pregnant women. We are trying to get Medicaid back to its original mores.” […]

    Not only does this show a fundamental misunderstanding of how people get health insurance, but Conway says that the White House does not see the cuts they wish to make as cuts. […]

    https://thinkprogress.org/trump-advisers-deny-cuts-medicaid-trumpcare-bill-47a74eae952e

  6. says

    Gerrymandering is a way to cheat when it comes to electing officials to serve in government. The Associated Press published an analysis today that confirms that gerrymandering gave Republicans an advantage in House elections and in state-level elections.

    https://www.apnews.com/fa6478e10cda4e9cbd75380e705bd380

    […] The AP scrutinized the outcomes of all 435 U.S. House races and about 4,700 state House and Assembly seats up for election last year using a new statistical method of calculating partisan advantage. It’s designed to detect cases in which one party may have won, widened or retained its grip on power through political gerrymandering.

    The analysis found four times as many states with Republican-skewed state House or Assembly districts than Democratic ones. Among the two dozen most populated states that determine the vast majority of Congress, there were nearly three times as many with Republican-tilted U.S. House districts.

    Traditional battlegrounds such as Michigan, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, Florida and Virginia were among those with significant Republican advantages in their U.S. or state House races. All had districts drawn by Republicans after the last Census in 2010.

    The AP analysis also found that Republicans won as many as 22 additional U.S. House seats over what would have been expected based on the average vote share in congressional districts across the country. That helped provide the GOP with a comfortable majority over Democrats instead of a narrow one. […]

    […] the data suggest that even if Democrats had turned out in larger numbers, their chances of substantial legislative gains were limited by gerrymandering. […]

    If partisan gerrymandering “goes unchecked, it’s going to be worse — no matter who’s in charge,” said Sam Wang, director of the Princeton Gerrymandering Project. […]

  7. says

    Trump spouted some more bullshit on Fox and Friends this morning. some of the bullshit contradicted some of the other bullshit. Some of the bullshit was blatantly hypocritical.

    […] Trump decried “the level of hostility” Democrats show him and suggested their new theme should be “let’s get together.” […]

    [Then he proceeded to insult Elizabeth Warren.] “I call her Pocahontas,” Trump said, “and that’s an insult to Pocahontas.” […]

    Trump went on to describe himself in laudatory terms and to decry the “hostility” coming from the Democratic Party.

    I’m open arms, but I don’t see that happening [a reference to his advise that Democrats resist fake news media, resist deep state leaks, and get together with Republicans].

    They fight each other. The level of hostility. […] It’s been like this for years. You’ve been doing this for a long time. It’s been like that for a long time. But the level of hostility — as an example, the health care bill that you are reporting on and that everybody’s reporting on, it would be so great if the Democrats and Republicans could get together, wrap their arms around it, and come up with something that everybody’s happy with. It’s so easy, but we won’t get one Democrat vote. Not one. If we had the greatest bill ever proposed in mankind, we wouldn’t get a vote. And that’s a terrible thing. Their theme is resist. I’ve never heard of anything like this.

  8. says

    From Hunter, writing for Daily Kos:

    […] There may be an argument to be had in how much government ought to do to ensure health coverage for citizens; we aren’t having it. There may be a number of deaths that may be considered acceptable in order to give an “economy-boosting” tax cut; no such number has been presented.

    There has been no debate on what happens to poor Americans with diabetes or cancer. There has been no debate on how Americans almost but not yet at Medicare age are supposed to cope with rate increases that could range up to tens of thousands of dollars per year.

    There is no argument being made, period. The public is told that there are no cuts, there will be no loss of services, there will be no price increases, there will be no harm to those with preexisting conditions, or those that lose their jobs and cannot afford continued coverage, […]

    And you cannot blame that on Trump, or on the public, or even on the media. The Republican Party as a whole has adopted intentional misinformation—that is, propaganda—as their prime vehicle for selling policies that directly damage the public. It was their choice.

  9. says

    A lot of people on the right were upset with Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren when they pointed out that if the Republican health care plan passes, people will die. Sanders said, “Let us be clear and this is not trying to be overly dramatic: Thousands of people will die if the Republican health care bill becomes law.”

    As noted earlier on this thread, Hillary Clinton tweeted, “Forget death panels. If Republicans pass this bill, they’re the death party.”

    Senator Orrin Hatch, a Republican from Utah, snarked, “The brief time when we were not accusing those we disagree with of murder was nice while it lasted.” Hatch was referring to the camaraderie that was evident after Steve Scalise was shot.

    The problem for Republicans is that Sanders, Clinton, and other democrats are right. A lot of health care professionals are backing them up:

    “There has never been a rollback of basic services to Americans like this ever in U.S. history,” said Bruce Siegel, president of America’s Essential Hospitals, a coalition of about 300 hospitals that treat a large share of low-income patients. “Let’s not mince words. This bill will close hospitals. It will hammer rural hospitals, it will close nursing homes. It will lead to disabled children not getting services…. People will die.”

    Quoted text is from the Washington Post.

    Atul Gawande said, “The bottom line is that if you’re passing a bill that cuts $1.2 trillion in taxes that have paid for health care coverage, there’s almost no way that does not end up terminating insurance for large numbers of people. If you are doing that, then there’s clear evidence that you will be harming people. You will be hurting their access to care. You will be harming their health — their physical health and mental health. There will be deaths. As a doctor, I find this unconscionable.”

    Surprisingly, some Republicans, Trump included, think that these and other protests against the Republican health care bill should not carry that much weight because they are coming from people who did not vote for Republicans. First of all, that’s wrong. A lot of Republican voters are critical of the bill. And, fundamentally, it is wrong for the President and for elected officials to presume that they only represent the people who voted for them.

    Vox’s Sarah Kliff attended an event last week and heard a candid remark from an unnamed Republican member of Congress.

    “The way I look at is there is no question we’re getting inundated with calls and emails and protests. There is all this energy and anger on the left. The people who lost are the ones who are angry. We won the entire elected government. So I remind my staff after a long day of hostile calls, it was less than six months we got more votes than a person on the other side in [my state]. The people who voted for me are still out there.” […]

    At a White House press conference in March, the president acknowledged the progressive activists who’ve taken to the streets to condemn his agenda, but Trump dismissed their relevance.

    “I mean, they fill up our rallies with people that you wonder how they get there,” Trump said, referring to GOP lawmakers who received earfuls at town-hall events, “but they’re not the Republican people that our representatives are representing.”

    In other words, “Republican people” count, and others don’t. “Republican people” deserve to be represented on Capitol Hill, and everyone else deserves to be disregarded. […]

    Link

  10. says

    Another display of ignorance from Trump:

    Well I just heard today for the first time that Obama knew about Russia a long time before the election, and he did nothing about it. But nobody wants to talk about that. The CIA gave him information on Russia a long time before they even — before the election…. It’s an amazing thing. To me — in other words, the question is, if he had the information, why didn’t he do something about it? He should have done something about it. But you don’t read that. It’s quite sad.

    The quote if from an interview on Fox News.

    The Obama administration did something. They imposed new sanctions on Russia and they kicked some Russians out of the country. Also, Obama spoke personally to Putin asking him to stop the intrusions in the election process.

    Last week, Trump again denied that Russian intervention in the election even existed. As he has done before, Trump dismissed the allegations as a “hoax” perpetrated by Democrats. Now he says Russia did interfere and that Obama did nothing. Incoherent much?

    Also, did Trump forget that he was briefed on the Russian interference even before he took office?

    From Steve Benen:

    […] Trump used to argue that Russia didn’t interfere in the election; then he argued that Russia may have interfered, but it didn’t matter; then he argued that it may have mattered, but the Trump campaign didn’t cooperate with the Russian crimes; then he went back to saying Russia didn’t intervene at all, only to say a few days later that Russia did intervene, and Obama deserves the blame.

    […] if Trump is going to blame Obama and his team for not responding aggressively enough, he might also want to have a chat with congressional Republican leaders – who were notified and who refused to take the matter seriously.

    […] why in the world has Trump taken no action in response to the intervention he now admits happened?

    And finally, for all the love of all that is good in the world, why is Trump saying he “just heard today” about this “for the first time”? Sure, the amateur president has a steep learning curve, and he appears to struggle to keep up with current events. But Americans have known for a while about the Obama White House’s challenges in responding to the Russian attack last year. Unless he daydreamed through every intelligence briefing he’s received, Trump has been notified about the details more than once, and didn’t need the Washington Post’s reporting to shed light on the subject.

    I’ve lost count of how many times I’ve heard Trump say he’s “just” learned something the rest of us have known for months. Not to put too fine a point on this, but when the president resembles a low-information voter, there’s a problem.

    Link

  11. says

    More of Trump’s childish blame-Obama tweets:

    The reason that President Obama did NOTHING about Russia after being notified by the CIA of meddling is that he expected Clinton would win

    …and did not want to “rock the boat.” He didn’t “choke,” he colluded or obstructed, and it did the Dems and Crooked Hillary no good.

    The real story is that President Obama did NOTHING after being informed in August about Russian meddling. With 4 months looking at Russia…

    ..under a magnifying glass, they have zero “tapes” of T people colluding. There is no collusion & no obstruction. I should be given apology!

  12. says

    On the Sunday ABC show “This Week” Kellyanne Conway was interviewed. You know this is going to be bad, right?

    Obamacare took Medicaid, which was designed to help the poor, the needy, the sick, disabled, also children and pregnant women, it took it and went way above the poverty line to many able-bodied Americans. [They] should probably find other — at least see if there are other options for them.

    If they are able-bodied and they want to work, then they’ll have employer-sponsored benefits like you and I do.

    Umm, dear Kellyanne, the majority of people on Medicaid who can work do work. They work in jobs that pay low salaries and offer no healthcare benefit packages.

    Research from the Kaiser Family Foundation bears that out: “Among Medicaid adults (including parents and childless adults — the group targeted by the Medicaid expansion) nearly 8 in 10 live in working families, and a majority are working themselves.” Fifty-nine percent of them work either part or full time. Their jobs, however, do not offer health insurance.

    Those people do not get paid a six-figure salary to lie and to refuse to learn the facts … unlike Kellyanne Conway.

  13. says

    The Supreme Court is sort-of, kind-of, a-little-bit letting Trump’s Muslim ban take effect.

    The ban on people entering the U.S. from six mostly Muslim countries can apply for now to everyone except people who have a “credible claim of a bona fide relationship with a person or entity in the United States,” the justices said in an unsigned opinion.

    That includes people visiting a close family member, students who have been admitted to a university or workers who have accepted an employment offer, the court said. But the court said people can’t avoid the travel ban by entering into a relationship solely to enter the U.S.

    The stays put in place by two appeals courts have been partially lifted. The Supreme Court will hear arguments in the case this fall.

    In the meantime, Justices Thomas, Alito, and Gorsuch are on record as recommending that the stay be lifted completely.

    The parts of the ban that have been allowed to proceed will take effect in 72 hours.

    https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2017-06-26/supreme-court-partially-revives-travel-ban-will-hear-appeal

    https://twitter.com/StevenTDennis/status/879351459720155137

  14. KG says

    The Tories and DUP have signed an agreement aimed at keeping the May regime in power. I think they’ve spent the time haggling about the size of the pork barrel, settling on £1bn. The DUP promise to support the Government in all Brexit and security legislation as well as votes of confidence and supply (tax raising). The promise on Brexit is interesting – I wonder if there have been some private assurances to the DUP about the priority that will be given to keeping an open border with the Republic of Ireland. The promise on “Security” is ominous: both May and the DUP are instinctive authoritarians, and they’ve just had a nice cluster of terrorist attacks* to motivate new surveillance powers.

    *To give credit where it’s due, the attack on Muslims leaving a the Finsbury Park Mosque (in which one man died and several people were injured) was quickly labelled a terrorist attack by police and government spokespeople. On the other hnd, we have been informed that the attacker on that occasion was “not racist”. Well OK, he had just been sounding off about Muslims, and he did follow far right tweeters linked to “Britain Frist”, but he wasn’t racist!

  15. KG says

    Further to #15, i should make clear that it’s the family of the Finsbury Park attacker who assure us he’s “not racist”, but this claim has been reported uncritically in the media.

  16. says

    Justice Neil Gorsuch is showing his true colors when it comes to LGBTQ rights … he’s against them, or at least he places the right of Christians to discriminate against LGBTQ people at the top of his priority list. Mike Pence must be so happy.

    […] The Supreme Court took two actions Monday morning that provide a fairly clear window into how Gorsuch will handle claims alleging discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation.

    First, the Court announced that it will hear Masterpiece Cakeshop v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission, a case brought by a baker who claims that religion gives anti-LGBTQ business owners the right to ignore civil rights laws.

    We cannot know for sure whether Gorsuch voted to take up this case — but it is notable that the Court decided not to consider this issue when Justice Antonin Scalia was still alive. Gorsuch now occupies Scalia’s seat.

    Second, the Court reversed an Arkansas Supreme Court decision permitting the state to engage in a subtle form of discrimination against same-sex couples. [Good] Gorsuch criticized the majority’s decision striking down Arkansas’s practice, relying on a narrow interpretation of the Supreme Court’s landmark marriage equality decision in Obergefell v. Hodges. [Bad, very bad.]

    Pavan v. Smith involved an unusual Arkansas law providing that, when a child is born to woman married to a man, “[i]f the mother was married at the time of either conception or birth . . . the name of [her] husband shall be entered on the certificate as the father of the child.” But under this law, when a child is born to someone in a same-sex marriage, the state does not automatically list the mother’s spouse as a co-parent.

    For example, if a woman in an opposite-sex couple is artificially inseminated, her husband will be listed as the child’s parent. But if a lesbian woman is artificially inseminated, her wife will not automatically be listed as the child’s parent. […]

    Gorsuch’s dissent […] suggests that the Arkansas regime can be justified because it “establishes a set of rules designed to ensure that the biological parents of a child are listed on the child’s birth certificate.”

    However, the Arkansas rule applies even to married opposite-sex couples even if the couple is fully aware that the mother’s husband is not the child’s biological father.

    Notably, even Chief Justice John Roberts, who dissented in Obergefell, joined the majority in Pavan.

    Taken together, these two cases suggest Gorsuch will join the Court’s rightmost faction in matters relating to LGBTQ rights.

    https://thinkprogress.org/neil-gorsuch-anti-gay-bb343eaff08

  17. says

    This is kind of, sort of good news. It’s bad that rightwing doofuses are still holding rallies in Washington DC, but it is very good news that almost no one showed up.

    From Wonkette’s coverage:

    Two different bunches of far-right morons had competing rallies in Washington DC to protest how white people and wingnuts have it so rough these days, and maybe a hundred people showed up. In total, at both, combined, by Newsweek’s estimate. […]

    Why two rallies? Well, you got your “Freedom of Speech Rally” at the Lincoln Memorial, where your open white-supremacist morons showed up, […] plus a bunch of assorted creeps who warned of Jewish control of the media and how diversity is another word for anti-white. […]

    The other rally, in Lafayette Park, near the White House, was organized by Pizzagate True Believer Jack Posobiec, who was very, very offended that the openly racist “alt-right” loons were making decent, upstanding “alt-right” loons like him look bad.

    The supposed purpose of the Lafayette Park rally was to decry all the violence from the Left, like how the actors in Julius Caesar shot Steve Scalise. […] at that rally was failed Virginia Republican candidate for governor Corey Stewart, who ran on a platform of protecting Confederate flags and monuments, which is clearly a high priority for any governor. […]

    Posobiec thought his rally, which also featured one-man conspiracy-theory factory Mike Cernovich and a reporter from the Gateway Pundit, was a huge success […]

    The split between the hardcore racists and the schmucks who prefer weirdass conspiracy theories with no Hitler salutes is an outgrowth of their fuck-tussle shortly before Trump’s inauguration, when Cernovich wouldn’t let Tim Gionet (“Baked Alaska”) attend the “DeploraBall” because of all that Nazi stuff. So Gionet and the other overt white supremacists at the Lincoln Memorial gathering were really glad the fakers and cucks went off and had their own rally. Spencer derided the competing event as the “Alt Lite,” called the organizers “these fairly repulsive and creepy” rightwing media guys, and complained those other guys were dumb:

    “I think a lot of those people are really against intelligent people,” Spencer said […] “If you’re a total goofball or someone who has no connection with the facts and reality, it’s like ‘ok you’re fucking based.’ They’re all just bad human beings. So many of them are just physically ugly people.”

    He claimed that the divergent events on Sunday were actually helpful for the alt-right because it helped determine who to essentially weed out from the movement. […]

  18. says

    Josh Voorhees a closer look at the revelations surrounding Jared Kushner’s shady financial deals:

    […] a $285 million loan Jared Kushner’s family business, Kushner Companies, received from Deutsche Bank the month before the 2016 election. […]

    The loan came as the German bank was in the midst of negotiating settlements with the U.S. Justice Department over a mortgage fraud case, and with New York state regulators on charges related to an apparent Russian money-laundering scheme. (The bank agreed to pay a $7.2 billion federal penalty in December to settle the former, and a $425 million state fine the next month tied to the latter. The feds, however, are reportedly not done investigating the money-laundering case.)

    Kushner did not list the Deutsche corporate loan—or his own personal guarantee of it—on the financial disclosure form he filed with the Office of Government Ethics after joining the Trump administration as a senior adviser.

    The loan was part of a refinancing package for Kushner-owned retail space in the former New York Times building in Manhattan. Kushner Companies purchased said space in 2015 from a company called Africa-Israel Investments, the chairman of which was/is Lev Leviev, an Uzbek-born Israeli citizen […]

    Leviev told the New York Times in 2007, shortly after his company bought the property from its previous owner, that he was a “true friend” of Vladimir Putin. […]

    Leviev invited Trump in 2008 to a meeting at one of his New York properties, an invitation he says Trump accepted. The Russian press reported at the time that Leviev hoped to work with Trump on real estate deals in Moscow. […]

    It’s pretty easy to make the case that the Deutsche Bank loan presents a conflict of interest. Kushner, the first son-in-law and powerful White House adviser, has an existing financial relationship with one of the world’s largest banks (as does Trump), which is said to be under investigation by Trump’s DOJ and which generally operates in a marketplace where U.S. regulations can dictate its bottom line. […]

    The timing of the Deutsche loan certainly looks sketchy—but it’s not automatically damning. […] The fact Trump looked like such a long shot when the deal was finalized makes the case that the loan was politically motivated by either party considerably more difficult to prove without further evidence.

    […] Kushner’s lawyers told the Post that the agency’s own guidance didn’t technically require their client to disclose a loan like this one. Keeping it off his filing likely violated the spirit of the law, as one former OGE lawyer suggested it did to the Post, but Kushner appears to have an argument that he followed the letter of it. […]

    […] this story illustrates just how Herculean of a task Mueller has been given. He’s said to be currently looking into Kushner and his financial history as a part of a broader investigation into Russian meddling in the general election. […]

    Ultimately, Mueller reports to Trump’s DOJ, which means that if he does find the goods on Trump or one of his associates, he’ll almost certainly need the backing of Congress to take action. But as long as Republicans control the legislative branch, they won’t feel pressure to break with their president until their constituents turn on him first. […]

    Slate link

  19. tomh says

    From a survey at Detox.net, tracking what people would give up alcohol for, over 73 percent of Democrats and 17 percent of Republicans would give up alcohol forever if it meant President Trump would be impeached tomorrow.

    On the other hand, nearly 31 percent of Republicans would give up drinking if it meant the media stopped writing negative things about the president.

  20. blf says

    Three-quarters of world has little or no confidence in Trump, Pew study finds:

    ● Support for US president [sic] now below that of George Bush following Iraq invasion
    ● Israel and Russia have faith in Trump — not so European allies

    More than three-quarters of the world has little or no confidence in Donald Trump’s global leadership [sic] and his signature policies, with support for the American presidency [sic] collapsing fastest among America’s traditional allies in Europe, according to new polling by the Pew Research Center.

    In many countries, support for the US president [sic] is now below that of George Bush in 2004, following the Iraq invasion. Globally, two-thirds of respondents describe Trump as “arrogant and dangerous”.

    The research conducted across 37 countries shows a median of 22% have some or a great deal of confidence in Trump to do the right thing when it comes to international affairs. Almost three-quarters (74%) have little to no confidence in the Republican leader.

    By contrast, in the final years of Barack Obama’s presidency, a median of 64% expressed confidence in Trump’s predecessor to direct America’s role in the world.

    […]

    For the first time in Pew research history, most Canadians no longer regard America as a force for good in the world.

    Just 43% of Canadians have a positive view of their neighbour.

    […]

    [… J]ust 6% of Germans said they believed Trump was qualified to be president; 13% believe he cares about ordinary people; and 91% regard him as arrogant, 81% as intolerant, and 76% as dangerous.

    In the UK, 89% see him as arrogant, 77% as intolerant and 69% as dangerous. Globally, 65% think Trump is intolerant and 62% that he is dangerous.

    […]

  21. says

    This statement from the White House makes it sound like Trump is getting ready to fire more cruise missiles into Syria:

    The United States has identified potential preparations for another chemical weapons attack by the Assad regime that would likely result in the mass murder of civilians, including innocent children. The activities are similar to preparations the regime made before its April 4, 2017 chemical weapons attack.

    As we have previously stated, the United States is in Syria to eliminate the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria. If, however, Mr. Assad conducts another mass murder attack using chemical weapons, he and his military will pay a heavy price.

    Several Pentagon sources, when questioned by reporters, said they didn’t know what the White House was referring to. Other sources also had no idea:

    […] NBC News had a similar report, citing defense, military, and intelligence officials who were “caught off guard by the White House statement.” One responded, “I don’t know what the [White House] statement is.”

    Often these kinds of statements are accompanied by some kind of press briefing, in which supporting information is presented to reporters, but there was no such effort last night.

    At least so far this morning, Donald Trump published a variety of tweets, nearly all of which promoted Fox News, and none of which referenced his White House’s warning to Syria about chemical weapons. […]

    This is the challenge of Americans having a president whose word isn’t reliable. Trump’s track record of brazenly lying, about matters large and small, is well documented, and the result is a dangerous crisis of credibility.

    We shouldn’t have conditions in which a White House issues a public warning about a possible chemical-weapons attack, and Americans have no idea whether to believe the warning or not. And yet, here we are.

    Link

  22. says

    The Congressional Budget Office report on the Senate’s Republican health care plan presents some really brutal facts:

    The Senate health care bill would insure 22 million fewer people after a decade than current law, according to an analysis by the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office.

    It would save $321 billion in the same period overall by spending $1 trillion less on health care and using the savings to repeal the Affordable Care Act’s taxes, which primarily affect wealthy individuals and medical companies.

    Link

    From Steve Benen:

    […] Note that the impact imposed on the nation would be felt almost immediately – there would be 15 million more uninsured Americans next year, which happens to be an election year, according to the non-partisan office’s estimate – before getting worse in the years that follow.

    Complicating matters, the CBO score added, “By 2026, among people under age 65, enrollment in Medicaid would fall by about 16 percent and an estimated 49 million people would be uninsured, compared with 28 million who would lack insurance that year under current law.”

    I should concede that this report is quite a bit worse than I thought it’d be. Senate Republican leaders worked fairly closely with CBO officials while writing their secret legislation, getting periodic updates. Indeed, it’s one of the reasons the CBO score, which would ordinarily take two weeks, was turned around so quickly.

    With this in mind, I figured Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s (R-Ky.) office would carefully game the system, and tweak his blueprint in such a way that the numbers would look less awful. But if that was the plan, it failed spectacularly: the CBO’s findings are, or at least should be, a punch to the gut of proponents of Senate Republicans’ legislation.

    Donald Trump has gone out of his way lately to say he wants to see a health care bill “with heart.” By any sensible standard, it’s now painfully obvious that the GOP legislation fails this simple test.

    Republicans like to pretend their bill wouldn’t cut Medicaid, but the CBO report discredits the argument. Republicans like to argue that the Affordable Care Act doesn’t cover enough Americans, and the CBO report shows that the GOP’s alternative would make matters vastly worse. Republicans like to argue that the consumer costs are too high under the ACA, and the CBO report points to much higher costs for the poor, who’ll be left with worse coverage. […]

  23. says

    More details from the CBO report on the Republican health care bill:

    […] a person at 75 percent of the poverty line (making $11,400 in 2026) would pay only $300 in annual premiums but face a deductible more than half their annual income, the CBO predicted. […]

    “Some sparsely populated areas might have no nongroup insurance offered because the reductions in subsidies would lead fewer people to decide to purchase insurance—and markets with few purchasers are less profitable for insurers. Insurance covering certain services would become more expensive—in some cases, extremely expensive—in some areas because the scope of the EHBs would be narrowed through waivers affecting close to half the population, CBO and JCT expect.” […]

    The $321 billion in net government savings the CBO found the legislation would result in means that Republican leaders have $200 billion or so to play with and still hit the $119 billion savings target of the House bill that makes their legislation eligible for reconciliation.

    That may provide the opportunity for leadership to figuratively buy off the votes from skeptical moderates, by funneling the extra savings into substance abuse programs or other requests moderates have made to blunt the effects of the Medicaid cuts.

    http://talkingpointsmemo.com/fivepoints/senate-repeal-bill-cbo-score-politics

  24. says

    Starting tomorrow, I will be involved in several days of intensive work that will, for the most part, prevent me from posting on this thread. Carry on, my friends.

    In other news, yesterday Republican Representative Devin Nunes added more comments to his already huge portfolio of stupid comments:

    I can do whatever I want, I’m the chairman of the committee [House Intelligence Committee]. I voluntarily, temporarily stepped aside from leading the investigation.

    When I temporarily stepped aside from leading the investigation, that’s exactly what it means: It doesn’t mean I wasn’t going to be involved, it doesn’t mean I wasn’t going to be fully read in.

    Every decision I make is my own. I can go back right after this conversation and take the investigation over. Although I think everybody’s learning there’s not really much there because there’s no collusion — which is what I had said several months ago, I hadn’t seen any evidence.

    I temporarily stepped aside, just to make sure there was no issue at all, just to give everybody assurance there was no ethical issues at all. That is not withdrawing, that is not recusing myself from an investigation.

    The quotes are from an interview on CNN.

  25. says

    Starting tomorrow, I will be involved in several days of intensive work that will, for the most part, prevent me from posting on this thread. Carry on, my friends.

    In other news, yesterday Republican Representative Devin Nunes added more comments to his already huge portfolio of stupid comments:

    I can do whatever I want, I’m the chairman of the committee [House Intelligence Committee]. I voluntarily, temporarily stepped aside from leading the investigation.

    When I temporarily stepped aside from leading the investigation, that’s exactly what it means: It doesn’t mean I wasn’t going to be involved, it doesn’t mean I wasn’t going to be fully read in.

    Every decision I make is my own. I can go back right after this conversation and take the investigation over. Although I think everybody’s learning there’s not really much there because there’s no collusion — which is what I had said several months ago, I hadn’t seen any evidence.

    I temporarily stepped aside, just to make sure there was no issue at all, just to give everybody assurance there was no ethical issues at all. That is not withdrawing, that is not recusing myself from an investigation.

    The quotes are from an interview on CNN.

    In Trump Twitter Land, we have this from early this morning:

    So they caught Fake News CNN cold, but what about NBC, CBS & ABC? What about the failing @nytimes & @washingtonpost? They are all Fake News!

  26. blf says

    Dozens dead in ‘US-led strike’ in Syria’s al-Mayadeen (Al Jazeera edits in {curly braces}):

    Monitor says suspected US-led raid killed dozens of people, mostly civilian inmates, at an ISIL [daesh]-run jail in Deir Az Zor.

    A suspected US-led coalition air raid on an ISIL-run prison in eastern Syria has killed at least 57 people, according to a monitoring group.

    The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said on Tuesday that most of the fatalities in the town of al-Mayadeen in Deir Az Zor province were civilian inmates.

    At least 15 ISIL fighters were also killed in the raid, the UK-based monitor, which tracks developments in Syria’s long-running conflict via a network of contacts on the ground, said.

    Al-Ikhbariya, a Syrian state-run TV station, also cited its Deir Az Zor correspondent as saying coalition fighter jets had destroyed a building in al-Mayadeen used as a prison by ISIL to hold a “large number of civilians”.

    An activist-run media outlet in Deir Az Zor also reported the hit, which it said took place at dawn on Monday.

    The US Central Command [CENTCOM] confirmed to the Associated Press news agency on Tuesday that it struck ISIL facilities in al-Mayadeen on June 25 and 26, but made no direct reference to the alleged ISIL prison.

    CENTCOM said it will assess the allegations that civilian prisoners were killed, and it would publish the results of its assessment in its monthly civilian casualty report.

    It said the Mayadeen mission was meticulously planned and executed to reduce the risk{…} to non-combatants.

    […]

    Should the military admit a prison was bombed — a rather big if — I wonder if they’ll use excuse the Israelis are fond of, there was a ‘legitimate’ target nearby / inside / on the roof… so it’s Ok or try something slightly more plausible? I note they’ve already rolled out the carefully planed, small numbers blown up, and (redacted from the above excerpt) we blew up a suspiciously large number of whom we claim are the bad guys disclaimers.

  27. says

    Steve Benen posted an amusing, yet horrifying exposé of the incoherent rhetoric Republicans use to describe people who are uninsured:

    […] of all the arguments GOP officials are pushing aggressively, I think we’ve identified the worst.

    Yesterday afternoon, for example, Donald Trump’s White House published a curious tweet: “FACT: when #Obamacare was signed, CBO estimated that 23M would be covered in 2017. They were off by 100%. Only 10.3M people are covered.”

    […] someone over there probably should’ve read this before publishing it. If the Congressional Budget Office projected that the ACA would cover 23 million Americans, and the CBO was “off by 100%,” that means it would’ve been off by 23 million – because 100% of 23 million is 23 million. According to the White House’s own message, that’s not what happened.

    Worse, by claiming that “only” 10.3 million Americans have gained coverage through the ACA, Trump World has cut the actual number roughly in half (though it is a nice change of pace for Republicans to acknowledge that the ACA has brought coverage to millions, even if the White House’s numbers are all wrong). The figure only includes consumers who’ve bought insurance through exchange marketplaces, and ignores others who’ve gained coverage through the law.

    But the underlying point of the tweet is that coverage levels matter. If you want to evaluate a health care blueprint, the argument goes, then take seriously how many Americans are insured under that system.

    Senate Majority Whip John Cornyn (R-Texas), in a message apparently intended to serve as criticism of the ACA, added yesterday, “28 million uninsured under Obamacare.” The White House has been pushing this data point, too.

    It’s baffling to see Republicans push this argument because it makes their own side look so much worse.

    Yes, in reality, the Congressional Budget Office has found that under the Affordable Care Act, there are still 28 million uninsured Americans. […]

    Of course, that number would be much lower if Republican governors had adopted Medicaid expansion through the ACA – in other words, the 28 million figure is partly a failure of GOP governance, not “Obamacare” as a model […]

    The Congressional Budget Office also found, however, that the Republican alternative to the ACA would make this problem vastly worse, forcing 22 million Americans into the ranks of the uninsured. […]

    The number of uninsured does matter, they’ve decided. […]

    There is no sensible explanation for such an approach. Leading Republican officials have decided to argue, in all seriousness, that they see 28 million uninsured as a problem that they’re desperate to make worse. […]

    The Republican line isn’t just wrong; it’s gibberish. The party should be genuinely embarrassed by their own nonsense.

  28. says

    Ha! Mitch McConnell has been forced to retreat. He does not have the votes to pass the Republican health care bill. Schadenfreude moment.

    In a bruising setback, Senate Republican leaders are delaying a vote on their prized health care bill until after the July 4 recess, forced to retreat by a GOP rebellion that left them lacking enough votes to even begin debating the legislation, two sources said Tuesday.

    Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., delivered the message to GOP senators at a private lunch also attended by Vice President Mike Pence and White House chief of staff Reince Priebus. The decision was described by a Republican aide and another informed person who spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak publicly about the closed-door decision. […]

    http://talkingpointsmemo.com/news/senate-gop-delays-obamacare-repeal-vote

  29. says

    The net loss of health insurance for 22 million people, (as reported by the CBO), has been broken down by state. For example, 480,500 in Alabama.

    You can view the compete chart here or here.

  30. says

    Yesterday, Republican senators got on buses and went to the White House to have a meeting with Trump about health care. From the New York Times:

    A senator who supports the bill left the meeting at the White House with a sense that the president did not have a grasp of some basic elements of the Senate plan — and seemed especially confused when a moderate Republican complained that opponents of the bill would cast it as a massive tax break for the wealthy, according to an aide who received a detailed readout of the exchange.

    Mr. Trump said he planned to tackle tax reform later, ignoring the repeal’s tax implications, the staff member added.

    Trump tweeted this morning:

    Some of the Fake News Media likes to say that I am not totally engaged in healthcare. Wrong, I know the subject well & want victory for U.S.

    From Steve Benen:

    […] the president has literally never demonstrated any real familiarity with the details of the debate, and accounts of his private interactions with lawmakers bolster concerns that Trump simply has no idea what he’s talking about.

    Either he’s ignorant about the substance of health care or he’s doing a remarkable imitation of someone who’s ignorant about the substance of health care.

    Eight years ago this week, then-President Barack Obama hosted a 90-minute public forum exclusively on health care policy, fielding questions from doctors, reporters, and the public at large. Can anyone imagine Donald J. Trump doing something similar? Does anyone seriously believe he’d want to try? […]

    Link

  31. says

    “Trump Campaign Chief’s Firm Got $17 Million From Pro-Russia Party”:

    Paul Manafort, who was forced out as President Trump’s campaign chairman last summer after five months of infighting and criticism about his business dealings with pro-Russian interests, disclosed Tuesday that his consulting firm had received more than $17 million over two years from a Ukrainian political party with links to the Kremlin.

    The filing serves as a retroactive admission that Mr. Manafort performed work in the United States on behalf of a foreign power — Ukraine’s Party of Regions — without disclosing it at the time, as required by law. The Party of Regions is the political base of former President Viktor F. Yanukovych, who fled to Russia during a popular uprising in 2014.

    Tuesday’s filing acknowledges one contact with an American official in the United States: a March 2013 meeting with Representative Dana Rohrabacher, Republican of California, who is known for his pro-Russian views.

    The filing also contains details about various contractors, both from the United States and from Ukraine, whom Mr. Manafort employed for the Party of Regions. Mr. Manafort paid hundreds of thousands of dollars to a firm co-owned by a Republican pollster, Tony Fabrizio, who would later work on Mr. Trump’s presidential campaign. Over a two-year period, the firm billed the Party of Regions for more than $2 million in travel and living expenses.

    Mr. Manafort’s work in Ukraine coincided with large real estate investments he made in the United States, some of which are being scrutinized by federal investigators….

  32. says

    Rachel Maddow last night interviewed Deborah Swackhamer, the chairwoman of the EPA’s Board of Scientific Counselors. The board has been cut from 68 to 11 members, and their upcoming meetings have been canceled. EPA officials recently tried to intimidate Swackhamer into changing her testimony before Congress, which she refused to do.

  33. says

    “House Russia probe eyes longtime Trump bodyguard turned White House aide Keith Schiller”:

    Congressional investigators want to interview Keith Schiller, President Donald Trump’s longtime bodyguard turned White House aide, as part of their investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election, sources familiar with the investigation told ABC News.

    Schiller, the former head of security for the Trump Organization who now serves as the White House director of Oval Office operations, is one of several Trump associates on the House Intelligence Committee’s witness list in its investigation into Russian interference….

  34. says

    Chris Murphy:

    “Many Republicans will condemn this tweet in strong moral terms.

    Then they will spend rest of day trying end insurance for 22m Americans.”

    Trumpcare has been denounced as evil, heartless, and cruel, which of course it is. But it’s also a definitive neoliberal assault on society. It’s an attempt to destroy a fundamental plank of a civil and caring society – the right to health care – and to institutionalize the privatization of health. It would literally rob tens of millions of people of health care – and the well-being, dignity, security, and independence that come with it – to give a windfall to the very rich and corporations. It would give power over people’s very lives to bosses, and send the message to people not only that they’re on their own but that they and their families are unworthy of care or basic protections. It would weaken movements for social and economic justice by making their participants sicker and compelling them to devote more time, energy, and resources to caring for themselves and their families. The secretive, undemocratic, dishonest process by which they’re attempting to pass it (in collusion with corporations and megadonors) is the essence of authoritarian neoliberalism. It’s about a lot more than health care, and if they can force it through they’ll feel further empowered to destroy all vestiges of democracy and social welfare and give more riches and power to the super-rich and corporations.

  35. se habla espol says

    BBC is reporting that

    A clear majority of German MPs have voted to legalise same-sex marriage, days after Chancellor Angela Merkel dropped her opposition to a vote.

    Norbert Lammert, president of the parliament, said 393 lawmakers voted to approve the amendment, while 226 voted against and four abstained.

    The German legal code will now read: “Marriage is entered into for life by two people of different or the same sex”, AFP news agency reported.

  36. Alex the Pretty Good says

    @SC, 58.
    To paraphrase Ross: “Every day is Heterosexual Pride Day!”
    That does indeed sound like the most useless “call to attention” ever. Almost as sad as the 1 percenters complaining that due to “outrageous taxes” they are forced to choose between buying either another mansion or another yacht.

  37. Rowan vet-tech says

    @Alex the Pretty Good, 64-
    The article linked at least was fabulous satire.
    This was my favorite bit:

    Their intense, passionate making out sessions—the kind without a care in the world for what passersby might have to witness, in various states of disgust—previously relegated to shadowy safe havens such as “on park benches,” “in the middle of the bar,” “wherever they want,” and “in plain sight” are now taking place out in the open without a care for being judged or disapproved of.

  38. says

    How is this not a major news story?: Scarborough and Brzezinski are saying the National Enquirer and people in the Trump would-be regime threatened them with a damaging story if they didn’t publicly apologize to Trump for their coverage. The head of the National Enquirer has long been one of Trump’s operators. If this is true, it looks like conspiracy to blackmail and abuse of power. I don’t know if it could become part of Mueller’s investigation, but if not a separate investigation is needed.

  39. blf says

    After getting pregnant, you are done: no more school for Tanzania’s mums-to-be says Tanzania’s president (the Grauniad’s edits in {curly braces}):

    Furious campaigners say President John Magufuli is out of touch with public opinion after he endorses law allowing state schools to expel young mothers

    A coalition of human rights groups has condemned as unconstitutional the Tanzanian president’s comments that pregnant girls should be banned from school.

    President John Magufuli was widely criticised by campaigners after he told a rally last week: As long as I am president{…} no pregnant student will be allowed to return to school{…} After getting pregnant, you are done.

    A law dating back to the 1960s allows all state schools in Tanzania to ban young mothers from attending. Over the past decade more than 55,000 Tanzanian pregnant schoolgirls have been expelled from school, according to a 2013 report by the Center for Reproductive Rights.

    Women’s groups said the ban is out of touch with public opinion and breaks international human rights conventions. It also contradicts a promise set out in the ruling party’s 2015 election manifesto, which pledged to allow pregnant school girls to continue with their studies.

    […]

    Speaking in Chalinze town, Magufuli said that girls would be too distracted to concentrate on their studies if they had a child, and their presence would be a bad influence on other girls.

    After calculating some few mathematics, she’d be asking the teacher in the classroom ‘Let me go out and breastfeed my crying baby,’ he said.

    Following his comments, the hashtag #StopMagufuli trended for days, while an online petition opposing the ban and calling for better sex education attracted almost 2,500 signatures.

    […]

    About 21% of Tanzanian girls aged 15 to 19 have given birth, according to the Tanzania Bureau of Statistics. Women’s campaigners say high numbers of girls become pregnant as a result of rape, sexual violence and coercion.

    Instead of blaming girls, the state should tackle the causes of teenage pregnancies, said Jama Mohamed [director of Equality Now’s Africa office]. “They need to deal with sexual violence in schools, and with what happens to girls in between schools and home.”

    There is also a need to improve the quality of reproductive and health education for both boys and girls, she said. “Mostly the reproductive health issues are not clear to students and nobody even tells them what will happen if they have sex, for example,” she added.

    […]

  40. says

    “GOP Operative Sought Clinton Emails From Hackers, Implied a Connection to Flynn”:

    Before the 2016 presidential election, a longtime Republican opposition researcher mounted an independent campaign to obtain emails he believed were stolen from Hillary Clinton’s private server, likely by Russian hackers.

    In conversations with members of his circle and with others he tried to recruit to help him, the GOP operative, Peter W. Smith, implied he was working with retired Lt. Gen. Mike Flynn, at the time a senior adviser to then-candidate Donald Trump.

    “He said, ‘I’m talking to Michael Flynn about this—if you find anything, can you let me know?’” said Eric York, a computer-security expert from Atlanta who searched hacker forums on Mr. Smith’s behalf for people who might have access to the emails.

    Emails written by Mr. Smith and one of his associates show that his small group considered Mr. Flynn and his consulting company, Flynn Intel Group, to be allies in their quest.

    What role, if any, Mr. Flynn may have played in Mr. Smith’s project is unclear. In an interview with The Wall Street Journal, Mr. Smith said he knew Mr. Flynn, but he never stated that Mr. Flynn was involved.

    A Trump campaign official said that Mr. Smith didn’t work for the campaign, and that if Mr. Flynn coordinated with him in any way, it would have been in his capacity as a private individual. The White House declined to comment.

    Mr. Smith died at age 81 on May 14, which was about 10 days after the Journal interviewed him. His account of the email search is believed to be his only public comment on it.

    The operation Mr. Smith described is consistent with information that has been examined by U.S. investigators probing Russian interference in the elections.

    Those investigators have examined reports from intelligence agencies that describe Russian hackers discussing how to obtain emails from Mrs. Clinton’s server and then transmit them to Mr. Flynn via an intermediary, according to U.S. officials with knowledge of the intelligence….

  41. blf says

    Donald Trump threatened with subpoena over Comey ‘tapes’:

    […]
    Bipartisan leaders on the House intelligence committee are threatening a subpoena if the White House does not clarify whether any recordings, memoranda or other documents exist of Donald Trump’s meetings with fired FBI director James Comey.

    The panel had previously set a 23 June deadline for the White House to respond to the panel’s request. The day before, Trump said in a series of tweets that he did not make, and do not have, any such recordings but also said he has no idea if tapes or recordings of his conversations with Comey exist.

    With all of the recently reported electronic surveillance, intercepts, unmasking and illegal leaking of information, I have no idea{…} whether there are ‘tapes’ or recordings of my conversations with James Comey, but I did not make, and do not have, any such recordings, the president [sic] wrote on Twitter.

    In a 23 June letter, the White House responded to the committee request by referring to Trump’s tweets.

    […]

    A letter Thursday from Republican congressman Mike Conaway of Texas, who is leading the Russia investigation, and Democratic congressman Adam Schiff of California says Trump’s Twitter statement “stops short of clarifying” whether the White House has any tapes or documents.

    […]

    Also Thursday, Democrats on two House committees asked the justice department’s inspector general to investigate whether attorney general Jeff Sessions violated his recusal from the Russia investigation by taking part in Comey’s May firing.

    […]

  42. says

    “White House could offer to roll back sanctions in first Trump-Putin meeting”:

    Donald Trump has told White House aides to come up with possible concessions to offer as bargaining chips in his planned meeting next week with Vladimir Putin, according to two former officials familiar with the preparations.

    National security council staff have been tasked with proposing “deliverables” for the first Trump-Putin encounter, including the return of two diplomatic compounds Russians were ordered to vacate by the Obama administration in response to Moscow’s interference in the 2016 election, the former officials said. It is not clear what Putin would be asked to give in return.

    There is strong resistance in the NSC and state department to one-sided concessions aimed simply at improving the tone of US-Russian relations. There is also opposition within the administration to Trump’s preference for a formal bilateral meeting with Putin at the G20 summit in Germany, as first reported by the Associated Press.

    On 14 June the Senate passed a bill, with a 98-2 vote, that would strengthen sanctions on Russia and require congressional approval for any administration attempt to roll them back. The bill has since been stalled in the House over technicalities amid reports that Trump’s allies are seeking to water it down….

  43. says

    Kobach isn’t even complying with his own demand. (My question is: If what they want is publicly available information, why do they have to ask for it? Why don’t they just gather it?)

  44. blf says

    Attention UK readers ! Hair furor is signaling he is planning to sneak into the UK for a short invasion prior to invading France on Bastille Day; apparently to visit his Scottish abomination, and maybe also London. Protesters vow to take to streets as UK braces for snap Trump visit:

    Downing Street has been warned US president [sic] may visit his Turnberry Scottish golf course — and London

    Anti-Donald Trump protesters are preparing to spring into action at short notice after it emerged that Downing Street is braced for a snap visit from the US president [sic] in the next two weeks.

    […]

    […] Whitehall sources confirmed the government had now been warned that the president [sic] could visit Turnberry, his golf resort in Scotland, during his trip to Europe, between attending the G20 summit in Hamburg next weekend and joining celebrations for Bastille Day in France on 14 July.

    Trump would be expected to come to Downing Street to meet the prime minister for informal talks as part of any such visit, though final confirmation would be likely to be given with just 24 hours’ notice to minimise the risk of disruption. [snickers! –blf]

    […]

    After the latest rumours of a presidential visit, the Stop Trump campaigner and Guardian columnist Owen Jones placed his Twitter followers on high alert, tweeting on Sunday night: “Donald Trump is planning to sneak into Britain to avoid protests. RT if you’re willing to commit to protesting this bigot at short notice.” Thousands responded by retweeting the post.

    Dave Prentis, general secretary of the union Unison, which is a member of the Stop Trump coalition, said: “If Donald Trump thinks he can come here under the radar, then he’s wrong. He’s an intolerant and small-minded individual, who is despised by many.

    “If he comes here, people will take to the streets to protest against his deplorable values, which fuel such hatred and division.”

    Nick Dearden, director of Global Justice Now, also one of the members of the Stop Trump coalition, said: “We know Trump is now scared to come to the UK on the state visit which Theresa May foolishly offered him, because he will face one of the largest protests in history.

    […]

    “We won’t allow Trump’s presidency to be normalised, and we’ll make sure Theresa May pays a political cost for supporting Trump and his politics of hate.”

    [… many more similar quotes / statements …]

    Also see If Trump tries a ‘sneak’ visit to Britain, he’ll see how much he is despised (“Trump is now openly mocked and hated anywhere outside his protected space”).

  45. says

    From SC’s link in comment 80:

    The Republican presidential tactic of crippling agencies you don’t like by putting either the incompetent or the actively hostile in charge of them didn’t begin in 2017. […]

    But this particular president*’s administration may be the apotheosis of the form. You have Betsy DeVos running the Department of Education and preparing to hand every schoolchild in America over to the tender mercies of Creationist cranks and the assembled tramps and thieves of the education “reform” movement. You have energy industry sublet Scott Pruitt making a dog’s breakfast out of the EPA’s mission.

    But the single most malevolent ethical dwarf in this incredible array of boobs and vandals may be Kris Kobach, the godfather of the national movement to suppress the votes of people the GOP would prefer not to exercise the franchise, and author of some of the most extreme anti-immigration strategies since the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882. In Kobach’s mind, of course, these go hand-in-hand in the fight against “voter fraud,” which also exists largely between Kobach’s ears.

    […] the president* has named Kobach as vice-chairman of his Presidential Advisory Commission on Election Integrity, a snipe hunt the only apparent purpose of which is maintaining the fiction that masses of people, many of them brown, are gaming our elections. (As opposed, I guess, to the Russian ratfckers about whom the president* couldn’t care less.) Vice President Mike Pence is the commission’s chairman, which pretty much guarantees Kobach a free hand.

    […] From The Kansas City Star:

    In a Wednesday letter, Kobach asked the Connecticut secretary of state’s office to provide the commission with all publicly available voter roll data, including the full names of all registered voters along with their addresses, dates of birth, the last four digits of their Social Security numbers, voting history and other personal information. Kobach said in a phone call that he sent similar letters to election officials in every state and that as Kansas’ top election official he will be providing the commission with all of the information for Kansas voters.

    […] From his perch in Kansas, Kobach presides over the Interstate Crosscheck System, a fatally—and some would say, deliberately—flawed data-sharing system notable for its ability to knock eligible voters off the rolls without their knowledge.

    That Crosscheck System was used to diminish the votes of African Americans and of Koreans in the Georgia special election between Ossoff and Handel. The Republican won.

    […] Alex Padilla, the Secretary of State for California, a substantial state that has been fingered by Kobach and his acolytes as Ground Zero for the mass voter-fraud that exists in their heads, can see a church by daylight and knows a hawk from a handsaw.

    “California’s participation would only serve to legitimize the false and already debunked claims of massive voter fraud made by the President, the Vice President, and Mr. Kobach. The President’s Commission is a waste of taxpayer money and a distraction from the real threats to the integrity of our elections today: aging voting systems and documented Russian interference in our elections,” Padilla said. […]

    As Vanita Gupta points out in that same K.C. Star report, if someone in the Obama administration had made this request, at the very least, there would be a full week of howler monkeys screaming about federalism from every perch in every conservative think-tank in the jungle.

    At the most, there would be hearing after hearing about the Obama administration’s plan to seed thousands of the president’s fellow Kenyans in every crucial precinct in Ohio and Florida. What’s more important, though, is that the national campaign to roll back voting rights now has reached the highest levels of government, with the blessing of the president* and the president*-in-waiting. This is the final step backwards across the Edmund Pettus Bridge.

    http://www.esquire.com/news-politics/politics/news/a56056/kris-kobach-election-commission/

  46. blf says

    Update to @99, teh Wacko House is now denying hair furor will try to sneak into the UK, White House says Donald Trump will not make snap visit to UK: “US president [sic] will not travel to UK in next two weeks, spokesperson says, after speculation led to threat of protests”. However, these people(hair furor and teh Wacko House dalekocracy) are extreme liars, and I suggest those who are able continue to be on alert (probably c.24 hours notice) for an invasion.

  47. se habla espol says

    The dead-tree version of Smithsonian magazine arrived* today. The cover blurb announces The New American Circus. However, the fine print shows that it’s not about the trump administration after all: it says “Ringling Bros. has folded its tent…”.

    * It’s not clear why. Someone may have bought me a gift subscription without telling me about it.

  48. says

    The circus update reminded me that I was going to make a comment about Keep Quiet: People have to stop talking about human awfulness in bigoted terms involving other animals – “They treated us worse than animals,” “They behaved like animals,”… There are so many problems with it on a factual level, but, equally important, it helps to perpetuate human awfulness against humans and against other animals. It’s a thoughtless attempt to use prejudice to counter prejudice, and helps no one.

  49. blf says

    Court rejects EPA’s attempt to halt Obama-era methane rule:

    Environmental Protection Agency had announced stay in rule that would require oil and gas companies to fix methane leaks in equipment

    […]

    The EPA on 5 June announced a stay in the rule, which would have required drillers and transporters to start reporting and fixing any methane leaks they found in wells and transfer stations, after the agency’s administrator, Scott Pruitt, wrote in an 18 April letter that the agency intended to reconsider imposing it. But the US circuit court of appeals for the District of Columbia said the agency did not have the authority to halt the rule during those deliberations.

    The EPA’s stay “is essentially an order delaying the rule’s effective date, and this court has held that such orders are tantamount to amending or revoking a rule”, judges David Tatel and Robert Wilkins wrote. The third member of the three-judge panel, Janice Rogers Brown, dissented.

    […]

    The reason(s?) for Judge Brown’s dissent does not seem to be given in the article (I have no idea what the Judge’s reason(s?) are).

    Also, Climate scientists just debunked deniers’ favorite argument (“And in the process, illustrated the difference between skepticism and denial”). I’m not going to try and excerpt this, but essentially the (small) discrepancy between actual and modeled atmospheric temperatures for the last c.15 years has been explained. It’s not that the models are defective — the least likely reason but the one deniers claim — insomuch as the inputs are flawed.

  50. blf says

    I have no idea if the questions here are indeed representative of those on the actual exam, but I found them both astonishingly easy† and incredibly not-relevant, Can you pass the US citizenship test?. By “not-relevant” I mean most were either historical factoids, or present-day factoids (e.g., “How many voting members does the House of Representatives have?”). There was nothing about, e.g., separation-of, and checks / controls on, powers; Freedom of expression & speech; and numerous other fundamentals.

      † One question had me stumped, which I ultimately answered by process-of-elimination.‡ Of course, I am a natural-born USAian (albeit a dual-national), and educated in the States, so this probably means I learned & and can remember factoids rather than anything too relevant.

      ‡ I got all ten correct, making me “as American as apple pie!” Yuck! (Apple pie is Ok, it’s being called an “American” which gives pause.)

  51. blf says

    The biggest threat to American democracy isn’t Trump’s uncivil speech:

    A democracy can tolerate some uncivil speech. But it cannot withstand the contempt directed against institutions that keep government honest

    Our Constitution does not demand that our speech be civil. The Constitution protects uncivil speech — hate speech, even. But it does so not because our democracy approves of such speech, but because we believe that truth will expose lies and the evil of government censorship is greater than the perils posed by untoward speakers.

    But what happens when the source of uncivil speech is not some fringe hate group, but the occupant of the Oval Office? And what happens when the lies target the very organs designed to ferret them out? […]

    We have grown accustomed to the president’s lies, as recently inventoried in the New York Times. Yet such a simple enumeration fails to get at the danger. Consider Trump’s workhorse — that the mainstream media trucks in fake news.

    If Trump were simply implying, without substantiation or proof, that the media routinely engages in unreliable reporting, this would be bad enough. But that is not the claim. Rather, it is that CNN, to take one favorite target, willfully fabricates false news to advance a partisan agenda.

    The irony is rich, as the lie shamelessly attributes to CNN the very behavior that Trump himself is guilty of. Having maligned CNN as the enemy and not the vanguard of truth, the president [sic] minces no words about how enemies are to be treated. They are to be body-slammed to the floor and punched in the face.

    Mr Trump’s lies can better be understood as libels — they state falsehoods that malign their targets. […]

    […]

    Civility: we seek to instill it in our children and we expect it from even our most casual acquaintances. While a democracy can afford to tolerate some uncivil speech, it cannot withstand the sweeping cultivation of contempt directed against the institutions designed to keep government honest and elections safe.

    This should be obvious to all public servants. And yet the present occupant of the White House has become the strident mouthpiece of uncivil speech that libels these very institutions.

    One reader(?)’s comment: […] Trump is the most honest and most courageous person in US government today, and he’s demanding that government institutions emulate those traits. And that’s what scares the Trump-haters, who, like the author above, know only how to lie and hate.

  52. blf says

    Although largely unremarked-on by everyone — with the understandable exceptions of those who live there and others on the island — the tantrums of the not-toilet-trained brats who comprise the majority of Stormont members is perhaps worth noting, as one of the two main groups of loons, the DUP, now has effective (albeit not formal) control of the UK “government”. Stormont — the N.Ireland assembly / “government”  — has been suspended for some time now due to a DUP scandal. The wise uncles — the UK’s Northern Ireland Office & the Irish government — have been attempting to glue it back together again (for the fourth(?) time!), to-date without much success.

    Apparently, the sticking point is “government” support for the various traditions; the other main group of loons, Sinn Féin, want support for the Irish Gaelic language (similar to the support for Welsh), and the DUP wants (in addition?) support for Ulster-Scots plus protection for the Orange Order. None of which has anything to do with a functional government, as none of it is. realistically, about ending discrimination of minorities. (To the best of my knowledge, where such demands are important in other places in the world, the driving factor is ending discrimination / (near-)criminalisation of minorities.) And it has bugger-all to do with the reason Stormont broke down this time (the DUP scandal).

    Mature people would, e.g., agree to discuss the issue during the next session of Stormont. The nutters who comprise most of Stromont seem to think “discussion”, “negotiation”, and similar means “they win so I loose”. (Not entirely, of course; yet, it took years and years of patient work to get the nutters-of-the-time to talk at all, and then additional years of very patient talking to reach the Good Friday agreement, and then additional talking to get Dr “No” & and the DUP to agree.)

    Unfortunately, this is July. Orange Order marching (parade) season. Which shouldn’t be problem, except the Orange Orange insists on parading through areas where the parades are viewed as vile. Which means the various hot-heads’s “blood is boiling”, making it even harder for the toddlers comprising Stormont to do anything but shout at each other.

    Upshot is it looks like the negotiations to restart Stormont for the umpteenth time have stalled. (They have already been extended multiple times.) Apparently, they will be put on hold until after the marching season and everybody (including the weather) cools down, restarting sometime in September(?). Which leaves the problem of how to “govern” N.Ireland in the meantime.

    Fortunately, there is some agreement on this point: No-body wants direct rule by the UK (the brats, uncles, seemingly everyone agrees on this), so apparently the plan is a “technocratic government” of experienced N.Irish bureaucrats under the (loose) guidance of the uncles.

    (The above is a broad synopsis of various sources.)

  53. blf says

    Follow-ups to @111 on N.Ireland: First, negotiations have indeed now been suspended. Second, teh DUP is already threatening the UK “government”, Wales and Scotland offer free abortions to women from Northern Ireland:

    […]
    The Welsh and Scottish governments will offer free abortions to Northern Irish women, their leaders have confirmed, after the UK government said last week it would fund the procedures [in England] in order to head off a Commons revolt on the Queen’s speech.

    The confirmation came as the Democratic Unionist [DUP] MP Ian Paisley Jr said his party would not compromise its hardline stance on abortion, even if it meant risking the supply-and-confidence agreement with the Conservatives.

    […]

    Northern Ireland has some of the most restrictive abortion laws in Europe making it near impossible to have the procedure.[] Women who travelled to England, Scotland or Wales faced charges of about £900 to have an abortion on the NHS, despite being UK taxpayers.

    […]

    Abortion rights for Northern Irish women was not a direct topic of negotiations between No 10 and the DUP, but Paisley made it clear in the Commons on Tuesday that his party would oppose any changes.

    I want to make it absolutely clear that the rights of the unborn child in my view and in the views of people from my party and on this bench trump any political agreement that has been put in place, he said.

    I am making that abundantly clear. And if anyone takes a view that we would trade that issue of life and the sanctity of life on a political deal, they don’t understand me and they don’t understand my party and they need to be aware of that. And for it to be characterised in that way I think is grossly unfair and to members of my party.

    […]

    He went on: I say that as a warning to others who may seek to raise it in the House in the weeks and months and hopefully years ahead.

    […]

    In other words, if other parts of the UK make abortions available to N.Irish womenslaves at no-cost,‡ then we will throw a tantrum and allow the UK “government” to fall.

      † From memory, medical personal who perform the procedure in N.Ireland face being put in prison, in some situations, as I recall, for life.

      ‡ Abortions on the NHS is, for N.Irish women, still not precisely no-cost, as they still have to travel to the other island. However, the changes make the situation better than before, where the women would also have to pay for the procedure. (I’m not sure if the £900 — c.1025€ or c.1165$(US) — quoted in the article are just for the procedure itself, or also include typical travel &tc costs.)

  54. blf says

    Merkel’s party no longer considers US a ‘friend’:

    In their campaign programme for the German election, Chancellor Angela Merkel’s conservatives have dropped the term “friend” in describing the relationship with the United States.

    Four years ago, the joint programme of her Christian Democratic Union (CDU) and its Bavarian sister party, the Christian Social Union (CSU), referred to the United States as Germany’s “most important friend” outside of Europe.

    The 2013 programme also described the “friendship” with Washington as a “cornerstone” of Germany’s international relations and talked about strengthening transatlantic economic ties through the removal of trade barriers.

    But the words “friend” and “friendship” are missing from the latest election programme […]

    […]

    During his campaign for the presidency, Trump said that Merkel was ruining Germany with migration policies he described as insane.

    He has repeatedly denounced Germany’s trade surplus with the United States, accused Berlin and other European partners of owing massive amounts of money to NATO [they don’t, Nato doesn’t work that way –blf], and unsettled western partners with his decision last month to pull out of the Paris climate accord.

    A survey by the Pew Research Center last week showed that just 35 percent of Germans have a favourable view of the United States, down from 57 percent at the end of President Barack Obama’s term.

    […]

    The new CDU/CSU election programme also repeats a line that Merkel used in a speech in Munich in late May […] “The times in which we could fully rely on others are, to a certain extent, in the past. We Europeans must take our fate into our own hands more decisively than we have in the past” […].

    While affirming Germany’s commitment to the NATO military alliance, the programme says that the EU must be in a position to defend itself independently if it wants to survive in the long run.

    Damnit, I hate this conflating of Nato and the EU. They were created in response to different reasons, have different memberships, and whilst do have, in a general sense, common goals, the methods, people, and specifics are quite different. This isn’t an “MSM” failing per se — other than not calling-out the people doing the conflating (and in the process uncritically repeating the conflation) — but a nonsense from people who think the EU should have a military function.

    At the moment, the main idea I’ve seen is a “common market” in weapons and the like, to provide cost savings due to scale — not an actual active force of any sort — but it’s still highly questionable. Not to mention Nato’s kit is already supposed to be interchangeable (it is, up to a point) and sourced by any member from any other member (but the bigger members all tend to self-source).

  55. blf says

    Indian women wear cow masks to ask: are sacred cattle safer than us?:

    Kolkata artist Sujatro Ghosh’s latest project points to country’s veneration of cows to highlight rising violence against women

    Indian women are posing in cow masks as part of a provocative photographic series that asks: is it safer to be a sacred animal in India than a woman?

    The gang-rape and murder of a Delhi student in 2012 sparked a national conversation about violence against women but, more than four years later, police statistics show reported rapes and molestations have not significantly fallen in the capital. At least six rapes and 12 molestations were reported daily in 2016.

    The conviction rate for sexual offences has declined, from about 50% in the year of the infamous Delhi attack, to less than one-third last year.

    […]

    Over the same period, there has been a surge in violence against religious minorities and low-caste Hindus[] in the name of protecting cows, an animal revered by many.

    The two trends are juxtaposed in Kolkata artist Sujatro Ghosh’s latest project, which features women wearing cow masks posing outside landmarks, on trains, or lounging about in their homes.

    “The core issue is women’s rights and protection,” he said. “I’m not against protecting cows, I love animals. But I’m concerned about my country’s sociopolitical scenario.”

    […]

    Ghosh has been inundated with offers by women to pose for the project, which has grown in popularity over the last fortnight after several high-profile mob killings of Muslims.

    An analysis last week by the IndiaSpend data journalism website found that 97% of cow-related violence in the past eight years took place after 2014, when India elected a Hindu nationalist government led by prime minister Narendra Modi.

    Modi campaigned on a platform of banning cow slaughter […].

    Punishments for cow smuggling or slaughter have also been toughened since Modi took power.

    There is a selection of Ms Ghosh’s photographs at the link.

      † This is not a mistake by the Grauniad — in addition to Muslims, low-caste Hindus (e.g., dalit), have been targeted and killed by cow “protectors”, as they work in slaughterhouses and similar (‘Cow vigilante’ attack on low-caste workers prompts clashes in India (July 2016)).

  56. KG says

    blf@112,

    The DUP are free to vote against NHS-funded abortions for women from northern Ireland in England, in the knowledge that they will be massivly outvoted, so it won’t threaten the confidence and supply agreement. So they get to keep their forced-birther purity, and keep their access to power.

  57. says

    The number of states refusing to comply with the Trump administration’s request for personal voter data has risen to 41.

    And now, a member of Trump’s “election integrity” panel has resigned.

    […] Maryland’s Republican deputy secretary of state Luis E. Borunda […] was appointed to the controversial panel on June 21.

    […] the Secretary of State’s office in Maryland has nothing to do with registering voters or administering elections. That falls to Maryland’s Attorney General and State Board of Elections, which on Tuesday joined the growing list of states refusing to cooperate with the national voter fraud panel’s demand for a long list of personal voter information, including the Social Security numbers, addresses and party affiliation of millions of citizens.

    Maryland Attorney General Brian Frosh (D) railed against the request on Monday, calling it “repugnant.” […]

    http://talkingpointsmemo.com/dc/gop-official-quits-bogus-voter-fraud-group

    We don’t know why Borunda resigned, but hopefully we’ll get that detail soon.

  58. says

    Trump nominated Eric S. Dreiband to lead the civil rights section of the Justice Department. If the Senate confirms Dreiband, he will oversee voting rights cases; and he’ll also be in charge of cases that involve law enforcement, and cases that involve discrimination.

    Dreiband is almost comically ill-suited for the job.

    […] As a private attorney, Dreiband represented organizations seeking religious exemptions to avoid providing contraceptive coverage for women in the workplace,” [Jesselyn McCurdy, a director in the American Civil Liberties Union Washington office said]. “He also argued on behalf of the University of North Carolina in support of a law that discriminates against trans people. […]

    http://www.politico.com/story/2017/06/29/activists-oppose-trump-civil-rights-pick-240112

    Imagine nominating the lawyer who defended tobacco companies for years to head the agency that will regulate cigarettes. That is sort of what President Donald Trump did on Thursday with the Department of Justice’s Civil Rights Division, when he nominated Eric Dreiband to head the agency.

    Dreiband, if approved by the Senate, will come from the law firm Jones Day, from which several other employees have also left to work in the federal government after Trump took office.

    As an attorney, Dreiband has repeatedly defended companies from discrimination claims. His highest-profile case wound up before the US Supreme Court, where he defended Abercrombie & Fitch when the company refused to hire a 17-year-old Muslim woman because she wore a headscarf. Abercrombie insisted that it didn’t have a reason to know the headscarf was meant for religious purposes. The court didn’t buy it, ruling 8-1 in favor of the Muslim woman.

    He also has defended the tobacco company R.J. Reynolds in an age discrimination case, Bloomberg in a pregnancy discrimination case, and the Washington Post in an age and race discrimination case. […]

    https://www.vox.com/identities/2017/6/30/15895606/eric-dreiband-civil-rights-division

  59. blf says

    KG@115, Yes, that is what would probably happen (should there be vote (I’m not sure there needs to be a vote?)) if the DUP were toilet-trained, but it is not what tantrum-throwing toddler Dr “No” Jr is quoted as saying, e.g.: I want to make it absolutely clear that the rights of the unborn child in my view and in the views of people from my party and on this bench trump any political agreement that has been put in place. He threatened the deal with the nasties if NHS abortions for N.Irish women went ahead. Nonetheless, that could be, as you say, a bout of spittle-flecked spite for their followers in N.Ireland.

    I thought these loons had walked out of Stormont at least once, but upon checking, it was the UUP (a different set of nutters) who walked out; another group of poo-tossing toddlers, Sinn Féin, has also walked out (and indeed are the ones who walked out this time). So priors do suggest the threat is more bluster than real; plus, of course, the claim they don’t want Corbyn in also suggests bluster.

  60. KG says

    blf@118,

    I think your quote is deliberately ambiguous: his supporters can interpret it as a threat to bring down the government, but it’s consistent with just voting against the funding – if, as you rightly query, a vote is needed.

  61. KG says

    BTW, blf, what do you make of Macron’s performance? AFAIK, the words: “L’état, c’est Moi!” have not yet passed his lips, but it would seem to be only a matter of time.

  62. blf says

    Follow-up to @111 on the suspension of the N.Ireland glue-Stormont-back-together-yet-again talks. The Irish Tomes’ N.Ireland editor, Gerry Moriarty, is much more elegant than I am about how stoooopid the situation is, Northern Ireland politicians kick gift horse in the teeth:

    […]
    Northern Ireland’s politicians must be indulged for another few months to determine if at some stage — in their own time, in the autumn perhaps, no pressure, no rush — they might like to exercise what virtually every other politician on the planet wants to exercise: power.

    Last week, the secretary of state for Northern Ireland, James Brokenshire, said the “prize” of a deal to restore the Stormont power-sharing administration was still achievable. […]

    […] Brokenshire was correct: it is a prize — a functioning Northern Ireland Executive and Assembly run mainly by DUP and Sinn Féin ministers administering public services.There would be security and work for 90 Assembly members and their staff. Power would be exercised from Belfast, not London. There would be an extra £1 billion to spend due to the Tory–DUP deal and flexibility on how another £500 million was distributed.

    And all that largesse would chiefly be distributed by the DUP and Sinn Féin, because they would be top dogs at Stormont. It would reflect to the benefit of these parties; and it would be good for Northern Ireland. We wouldn’t have elections for a while and it all might allow people to settle down a bit, to get away from the nasty sectarian and tribal Orange-versus-Green tensions of the past seven months [since Stormont collapsed this time around –blf].

    But not a chance. Give a Northern Ireland politician a gift horse and they won’t just look at it in the mouth they’ll kick it in the teeth.

    It was pitiful, too, to see those victims of sexual and physical abuse at church and state homes in Northern Ireland having to turn up to Stormont to lobby the politicians to strike a deal, so that they could get the badly-needed compensation promised to them […].

    Their intervention didn’t work either. When Northern politicians dig in they dig in hard. “It’s remarkable,” observed one senior official source as it all came crumbling down at Stormont on Tuesday. He said it with a mixture of astonishment, annoyance and fatalistic admiration.

    […]

    In terms of the blame game it’s down to the DUP and Sinn Féin. They blame each other, of course. That has been one of the big problems: there is little trust and not much respect between the parties.

    […]

    Attitude and behaviour also come into the equation. DUP leader Arlene Foster can by times be spiky in negotiation […], but equally Sinn Féin president Gerry Adams has a natural facility to rub up people the wrong way. Couldn’t they have just left it at an honourable draw in the prickly personality stakes?

    […]

    [Ms Foster] has made gestures to the Irish language community in Northern Ireland since her disastrous don’t feed the crocodiles comments when previously rejecting any notion of an Irish [Gaelic] language act. So maybe, with some more governmental indulgence, there will be an opportunity to crack the language problem and finally restore power to Northern politicians in the autumn — presuming they want that power.

    But of course, Assembly members must still be paid, say DUP and Sinn Féin.

  63. blf says

    KG@120, Marcon is still mostly a cipher to me. He’s had some good theatre but also, as you allude to, criticism for his aloof style and bizarre comments about the French revolution and monarchy it torpedoed. He’s moving to(? already has?) incorporate many the extraordinary & illiberal powers of the current state of emergency into French law, which is not at all a sensible idea and clearly open to abuse; that is being heavily criticized.

    He has a majority in Parliament, and half of his mob are political (near-)novices,so there is concern his proposals won’t receive the scrutiny they should. To that I also add that, despite presumed good intentions, they are perhaps highly susceptible to corruption due to inexperience, so I’ve previously suggested there could be a flood of scandals.

    I am aware he recently gave a speech at Versailles which is apparently worth examining, and that his PM has also been saying “interesting” things recently, but I confess to largely ignoring both — and that that very possibly is not a good idea (and is also perhaps part of the reason he is still a cipher). He has kept some of his campaign promises, e.g., half of his ministers are female (albeit few of the main (high-profile) ministries are headed by a female).

    And I am curious what he is up to with his invitation to, and accepted by, hair furor to visit on Bastille day.

    (Apologies if this is mostly waffle…)

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

    Ugly Americans on parade: Republican Congressman from Louisiana videotapes and narrates his visit to Auschwitz.

    A Republican congressman from Louisiana attracted fresh criticism Wednesday for posting a video from inside a former gas chamber at the Auschwitz-Birkenau Memorial and Museum to warn Americans a similar atrocity could happen in the U.S.

    Freshman Rep. Clay Higgins, R-La., posted a five-minute to YouTube over the weekend that drew the attention of the Anti-Defamation League, as well as officials at the museum, who blasted him for making the clip from inside the gas chamber.

    “As a site for reflection, one that often evokes deep personal pain for survivors and their families, Auschwitz should never be politicized or used as a platform for giving personal views,” ADL CEO Jonathan Greenblatt said in a statement to NBC News Digital.

    But at least he took the right lessons from his visit, right? All about shared humanity and the need for eternal vigilance…. Oh, wait, he’s a Republican from Louisiana:

    The world’s a smaller place now than it was in World War II, Higgins says on the video. The United States is more accessible to terror like this, horror like this.

    Cyanide pellets activated when they hit oxygen. After about 20 minutes, everyone was dead and then slave labor would go into the room and drag the bodies of those poor souls out and bring them and incinerate them, Higgins adds at another point. This is why homeland security must be squared away, why our military must be invincible.

    It’s hard to walk away from gas chambers and ovens without a very sober feeling of commitment, unwavering commitment, to make damn sure that the United States of America is protected from the evils of the world, Higgins says at the video’s conclusion, as images of the American and Israeli flags appear.

  65. says

    What a Maroon @126, Clay Higgins has also described members of street gangs as “animals.” He’s the guy who, as a sheriff, posted a video in which he said, “You will be hunted, you will be trapped, and if you raise a weapon to a man like me, we’ll return fire with superior fire.”

    Couple this with his insistence on viewing the former gas chamber at Auschwitz as a reminder that the United States of America must be “protected from the evils of the world,” and what you have is a picture of a volatile and dangerous man who should not be in law enforcement.

    It also struck me as arrogant, as pretentious wankery, for him to film the entire gas chamber episode as an extended selfie.

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

    Lynna,

    What a wonderful specimen.

    Of course, the Nazis were also preoccupied with superior firepower and protecting themselves against perceived evil.

  67. says

    Very few Republican senators are holding town hall events, and most of them did not participate in Fourth of July parades, etc. in their home states. Senator Susan Collins (Maine) was an exception. From the Washington Post:

    For the 15th year, Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) spent July 4 marching through this town of 1,331, a short boat ride away from Canada. She walked and waved, next to marching bands and Shriner-driven lobster boats. Her constituents cheered — and then asked whether she would vote against repealing the Affordable Care Act.

    “There was only one issue. That’s unusual. It’s usually a wide range of issues,” Collins said in an interview after the parade. “I heard, over and over again, encouragement for my stand against the current version of the Senate and House health-care bills. People were thanking me, over and over again. ‘Thank you, Susan!’ ‘Stay strong, Susan!’ ”

    Yes, Collins, took a principled stand against the Republican health care bills (both the House and the Senate versions). Her constituents thanked her for that. Meanwhile, all of the Republicans who voted for the health care bills tax cuts for the rich (with a side of gutted Medicaid) are running scared.

    The Washington Post also noted that more Senate Republicans plan to visit Afghanistan this week than will hold town halls to hear from their constituents.

  68. blf says

    Americans post photos of #GrandparentsNotTerrorists on social media after Trump’s travel ban:

    Americans are posting pictures of their grandparents on social media in response to President Donald Trump’s latest rollout of his travel ban, which will prevent grandparents (and other ‘distant’ family) from six different Muslim-majority countries from coming into the United States.

    […]

    Only nationals from these countries [Syria, Sudan, Yemen, Iran, Somalia, and Libya] who have a parent, child, spouse, sibling, daughter-in-law or son-in-law living in the US are eligible to apply for a visa to come to the US — but grandparents, as well as aunts, uncles, and fiancés are unable to do so. Similarly, family members in this second category who are currently living in the US but are not naturalised Americans are wary about travelling overseas, in case they are barred from returning to the US.

    And so, a new hashtag was born: #GrandparentsNotTerrorists. Americans furious that their family members are being equated with terrorists have adopted the hashtag. An Instagram account, pithily named “Banned Grandmas”, is collating photos of Americans with their grandmothers.

    […]

    There is a sample of the photos at the link.

  69. says

    The Indiana Republican Party wanted to compile horror stories about Obamacare, so they posted this request on Facebook:

    We were promised Obamacare would make healthcare cheaper, better, and more available, but in reality it’s turned out to be the opposite. What’s your Obamacare horror story? Let us know.

    Here are some of the responses they received:

    Thanks to The ACA my mother was able to have insurance after she retired and before she qualified for Medicare. She kept her doctor and had good healthcare. The ACA works.
    —————
    My friend who is disabled and unable to work was able to get treatment for her health issues. Oh, and her three children were able to access healthcare as well. Health care is a human right and ACA was a great start. Thanks Obamacare!
    ———–
    Got covered when I had a heart attack at 58. That’s no horror story.
    —————
    So many horror stories, when will this thread be deleted?
    —————
    I am so thankful that I have the ACA.

    Our current vice president, Mike Pence, used to be governor of Indiana. He recently reiterated his pledge to repeal Obamacare by the end of the summer.

  70. says

    Fake News from Fox News:

    On Fox & Friends, Fox News’ Jillian Mele falsely claimed that sanctuary cities across the United States are allowing undocumented people to become naturalized American citizens.

    According to Mele, “these twenty-one cities [are] teaming up with the Naturalize NOW campaign to rush the process for illegals pouring over our borders.”

    The claim, which originated in the conservative Washington Examiner and was also pushed on Breitbart.com, misrepresented the campaign, which “encourages eligible legal permanent residents to seek out” citizenship.

    According to the Department of Homeland Security Office of Immigration Statistics, there are 8.8 million legal permanent residents in the United States who are currently eligible for naturalization. […]

    Media Matters link

    The false claims noted above were aired today, July 5, on Fox.

  71. says

    John Oliver focused on Sinclair Broadcast Group in one of his longer exposés of news media that pushes conservative propaganda.

    This is a great video from the July 2nd Last Week Tonight with John Oliver. 18:59 minutes long.

    Sinclair is sometimes dictating the content of local news. They are injecting “Fox-worthy content” into the mouths of local news anchors. Unlike Fox News, where you know more or less what to expect when you tune in, Sinclair’s rightwing message is camouflaged.

    Oliver’s segment was prompted, in part by the $4 billion buy of additional media that Sinclair is negotiating. Right-wing politics is getting a bigger megaphone.

  72. says

    Follow-up to comment 134.

    From a Sinclair script sent to local news outlets within the Sinclair group: “Did the FBI have a personal vendetta in pursuing the Russia investigation of President Trump’s former National Security Advisor Michael Flynn?”

  73. says

    Follow-up to comments 134 and 135.

    I should have noted that rightwing content provided by Sinclair to local stations is often not optional. The “must-run” content has to be included in local broadcasts.

  74. says

    From the general on the ground in North Korea:

    Self-restraint, which is a choice, is all that separates armistice and war. As this Alliance missile live fire shows, we are able to change our choice when so ordered by our Alliance national leaders. It would be a grave mistake for anyone to believe anything to the contrary.

    The quote is from a statement General Vincent Brooks released yesterday. Brooks commands the U.S. Forces Korea, Combined Forces Command and the United Nations Command.

    “Restraint” is not a characteristic I attribute to Trump.

    Background:

    […] North Korea launched its first intercontinental ballistic missile Tuesday, […]. North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un vowed on Wednesday that his nation would never surrender its nuclear program, according to an Associated Press report, and urged his nation’s scientists to “frequently send big and small ‘gift packages’ to the Yankees.”

    Based on its flight time and the trajectory of Tuesday’s launch, the range of the missile tested Tuesday by North Korea could extend as far as Alaska, putting U.S. shores within reach […]

    The U.S., Japan and South Korea all requested an emergency meeting of the United Nations Security Council, to be held Wednesday, in response to the missile launch. The U.S. and South Korea also engaged in missile drills — the type of joint exercises to which Pyongyang so often objects — in the wake of North Korea’s missile launch. […]

    Politico link

  75. says

    Right-wingers in Poland are drumming up support for Trump’s visit:

    […] PiS [Law and Justice, the country’s ruling party] asked each of its members of parliament to invite 50 people to Trump’s speech on Thursday in Krasinski Square […]

    The party is hoping the 300 PiS members can help rope together a crowd of several thousand to meet Trump in Warsaw.

    In order to bring in these fans from across the various Polish regions, the party will be financing free transportation for all willing participants. The PiS reportedly used its notorious influence with the Catholic Church as well to ask priests to encourage parishioners to make the trip.

    One of PiS’s members of parliament, Grzegorz Puda, posted the request to his official Facebook page, indicating that the roughly 230-mile bus ride from his constituency is free but seats are limited.

    The move to pad numbers will likely be appreciated by the American president, who lashed out after media reports stated the actual size of his inauguration crowd was far smaller than he’d claimed. […]

    Daily Beast link

  76. blf says

    Lynna@133, How the feck can a city “[allow] undocumented people to become naturalized American citizens”? They have, as far as I know, bugger-all to do with the process (excepting, perhaps, confirming the applicant hasn’t got a significant local police record and similar). The claim seems exceptionally idiotic on its face.

  77. blf says

    In the Trumpian version of the White House female staffers earn 63.2 cents for every dollar earned by male staffers.

    Nah, it’s the full dollar, but the deduced 36.8 cents is the “tax” paid directly to hair furor in lieu of him grabbing…

  78. blf says

    SC@144, Thanks for that link! Somewhere earlier today I read (paraphrasing from memory) “hobby lobby supports daesh but not child care” without any context / explanation / citations. The first part of that claim had me completely baffled. Now it’s much clearer: daesh is known to loot and sell archaeological artifacts, and it cannot be ruled out some of those hobby lobby smuggled into the States were originally looted by, or otherwise have connections to, daesh.

  79. blf says

    Amnesty says Turkey director and activists detained in Istanbul:

    Idil Eser, head of Amnesty International Turkey, taken away during ‘digital security and information management workshop’

    Amnesty International has called for the release of its Turkey director and other activists after they were detained by police.

    Idil Eser, the head of Amnesty International Turkey, was taken away on Wednesday along with activists and trainers during a [workshop] on Büyükada, one of the Princes’ Islands off Istanbul, the human rights organisation said in a statement.

    The daily newspaper Hürriyet said a total of 12 people were arrested in a police raid on a hotel on the island, a popular retreat with Istanbul residents.

    There was no immediate comment from the police or indication of why the rights activists were being held.

    Salil Shetty, Amnesty International’s secretary general, said […] they must be immediately and unconditionally released. The whereabouts of those detained were unknown.

    The detentions come less than a month after Amnesty International’s Turkey chairman, Taner Kiliç, was remanded in custody on what the group described as “baseless charges” of links to Fethullah Gülen […]

    […]

    Amnesty said the seven other activists detained included Ilknur Üstün of the Women’s Coalition, lawyer Günal Kursun and Veli Acu of the Human Rights Agenda Association.

    Two foreign trainers for the workshop — a German and a Swedish national — as well as the hotel owner, were also detained in the raid, it added.

  80. blf says

    Follow-up to @130, Activists cry cowardice as Republican senators shut doors to healthcare town halls:

    […]
    At a town hall in Pennsylvania on Wednesday night, Republican senator Pat Toomey faced an angry protest over his role in the GOP healthcare bill, while Ted Cruz was heckled over his suggested amendment to the legislation at an event in Texas.

    […]

    [… J]ust eight audience members were allowed into [Toomey’s] invite-only event, and their questions had been pre-screened by the news channel.

    […]

    Cruz, meanwhile, was heckled at what in theory should have been a safe event; a ticket-only town hall veterans discussion hosted by Concerned Veterans for America — a rightwing advocacy group financed by the Koch brothers.

    Audience questions for Cruz […] had been screened in advance by the CVA, but two audience members went rogue to quiz and interrupt the Texas senator over his proposed tweak to the Senate bill.

    […] Cruz’s amendment would allow insurance companies to sell plans that do not include the Affordable Care Act (ACA)-mandated “essential health benefits”, in a move he claims would reduce costs.

    At the town hall, however, Cruz’s adversaries repeatedly shouted him down as he attempted to defend his measure.

    [… Cruz incoherently babbled] It’s all fine and good to mandate that everybody get coverage for everything at all times, but what happens in practice is the prices go so high that people are left out in the cold.

    Eejit, it’s for essential coverage, not coverage for everything. Also (as has been pointed out many times below), insurance doesn’t work in the way the thug implied. Instead, the pooling of similar risks underlies much of insurance.

    […]
    The majority of Senate Republicans have so far ducked interactions with the public during recess week — supposedly a time for elected officials to return to their districts and meet with constituents.

    The Washington Post reported that just four GOP senators planned to attend Fourth of July parades, while only three — Cruz, Bill Cassidy from Louisiana and Jerry Moran from Kansas — are scheduled to hold public town halls.

    […]

    So in addition to avoiding the people the thugs claim to represent, when a thug does pretend to meet with them, the interactions are not only scripted (pre-screened) but not intended to have follow-ups. Except that isn’t quite working.

    So, for the next round of farces: Pre-recorded and subsequently-edited “town hall meetings” with actors hired by thugs. Look for glitz, even less substance, and additional lies. The recordings then sold on-line by dodgy outfits in Russia, who mysteriously require you to install their software to download & watch…

    And since it takes longer to plan and produce a professional filmed stunt, Congressional vacations will lengthen. Congressional pay will also go up, because such flimflammery is expensive, albeit the costs will actually be paid by teh Congressional Trvth Office.

  81. blf says

    Britain First supporter calls for Merkel to be shot for refugee policy:

    […]
    A prominent Britain First supporter has advocated gunning down Angela Merkel because of Germany’s policy of allowing Muslim refugees to settle in Europe.

    Marian Lukasik, a far-right activist, said the German chancellor should be shot to pieces after allowing Syrian and Iraqi people to enter Germany.

    Footage of his comments has been uploaded to YouTube as part of an interview which has been viewed thousands of times.

    It comes days after a man, reportedly with rightwing views, was charged with planning to assassinate the French president, Emmanuel Macron, and one year on from the murder of the Labour MP Jo Cox, who was killed by a far-right activist who shouted Britain First before shooting and stabbing her.

    […]

    Rafał Pankowski from the Never Again Association, which monitors far-right activity in Europe, said Lukasik was “the tip of the iceberg”, because of growing radicalisation in the UK Polish community by far-right groups. […]

  82. says

    Trump is in Europe making himself look foolish and ignorant … again. When questioned about Russia’s role in attacking the U.S. elections, Trump said:

    “I think it could very well have been Russia but I think it could well have been other countries, I won’t be specific,” Trump said at a news conference in Warsaw with Polish President Andrzej Duda. […]

    “Nobody really knows,” Trump added. “Nobody really knows for sure.”

    Trump also threw a few insults at President Obama. Speaking for the U.S., in a European setting, Trump disparaged a former American president. Not classy.

    Trump then proceeded to mock and disparage U.S. intelligence agencies:

    I remember when I was sitting back listening about Iraq — weapons of mass destruction. How everybody was 100 percent sure that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction. Guess what? That led to one big mess. They were wrong and it led to a mess.

    Trump also threw doubt on the fact that 17 U.S. intelligence agencies confirmed that Russia interfered in the U.S. election, asking if there are even 17 intelligence agencies, and suggesting that, as it turns out, there were only four or five.

    Trump also used part of his time speaking in Europe to throw shade at CNN:

    I think what CNN did was unfortunate for them. As you know, now they have some pretty serious problems. They have been fake news for a long time. CNN has really taken it too seriously. I think they’ve hurt themselves badly. Very, very badly.

  83. says

    Betsy DeVos is being sued for weakening/destroying protections for student loan borrowers.

    Eighteen states and the District of Columbia on Thursday filed suit against the Department of Education and its secretary, Betsy DeVos, for “abandoning” protections for student loan borrowers established in the Obama administration and originally scheduled to take effect on July 1.

    The so-called Borrower Defense Rule, completed by the Obama administration after years of work, entitled student loan borrowers to pursue loan forgiveness from schools found to have defrauded them. It also limited the ability of for-profit colleges to force students to sign arbitration agreements and class action waivers — thereby preventing them from taking cases against the schools to court.

    “Since day one, Secretary DeVos has sided with for-profit school executives against students and families drowning in unaffordable student loans,” Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey wrote in a statement accompanying the lawsuit. […]

    The rule largely took shape in the shadow of Corinthian Colleges, Inc., a for-profit group that declared collapsed 2015, leaving behind a massive, nationwide trail of defrauded students (and student loan borrowers).

    In June, a similar wave of attorneys general urged DeVos to provide debt relief to students defrauded by Corinthians, signing onto a letter penned by Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan.

    “We urge the Department to discharge these loans, consistent with your statements before a House appropriations subcommittee in May, and to do so swiftly,” the attorneys general wrote. “There are already findings that these student borrowers have been defrauded, and every day that passes causes them further harm. The Department should act immediately to finalize the discharge of these loans.” […]

    http://talkingpointsmemo.com/livewire/attorney-generals-lawsuit-devos-borrower-defense-rule

  84. says

    Follow-up to comment 149.

    The ranking member of the House Intelligence Committee, Representative Adam Schiff, commented on Trump’s stupid remarks:

    The President’s comments today, again casting doubt on whether Russia was behind the blatant interference in our election and suggesting – his own intelligence agencies to the contrary – that nobody really knows, continue to directly undermine U.S. interests. This is not putting America first, but continuing to propagate his own personal fiction at the country’s expense.

    President Trump must have the courage to raise the issue of Russian interference in our elections directly with President Putin, otherwise the Kremlin will conclude he is too weak to stand up to them. That would be a historic mistake, with damaging implications for our foreign policy for years to come.

    He should also confront Russia over its continued destabilization of Ukraine, and the illegal annexation and continued occupation of Crimea and parts of Georgia. He should make it clear that the U.S. is not going to make common cause with Russia in propping up Bashar al-Assad in Syria, nor turn a blind eye to any potential Russian support of the Taliban or increased trade with North Korea.

  85. says

    Exact wording of one of Trump’s stupid statements made during a press conference in Warsaw with Polish President Andrzej Duda:

    I think it was Russia, but I think it was probably other people and/or countries, and I see nothing wrong with that statement. Nobody really knows. Nobody really knows for sure.

  86. says

    More details from Trump’s press conference in Warsaw. This is excerpted from his rant against American media:

    They have been covering me in a very, very dishonest way. Do you have that also, by the way, Mr. President? With CNN and others, I mean, and others. NBC is equally as bad despite the fact that I made them a fortune with The Apprentice, but they forgot that. But, I will say that CNN has really taken it too seriously and I think they’ve hurt themselves very badly, very, very badly. And, what we want to see in the United States is honest, beautiful, free, but honest press. We want to see fair press. I think it’s a very important thing. We don’t want fake news. And, by the way, not everybody is fake news. But we don’t want fake news. Bad thing. Very bad for our country.

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

    Cross posted from the asshole thread:

    This is blackmail:

    But CNN is a journalistic enterprise. Or, at least, it plays one on TV. And so when a politician spews vicious, obvious lies on a near-daily basis — and directs a good portion of that venom at the free press itself — CNN’s anchors and reporters feel compelled to correct and condemn such mendacity. And that makes the president feel “betrayed.”

    So, now, his administration is openly threatening to punish the network by sending the Justice Department after its parent company. As the New York Times reports:

    Mr. Trump’s allies argue that it is CNN’s conduct that is unbecoming. Starting on last year’s campaign trail, the president and his aides have accused the network of bias and arrogance, an offensive that heated up again in January after CNN reported on the existence of a secret dossier detailing a series of lurid accusations against Mr. Trump. The network’s reporters now routinely joust with Mr. Trump’s press aides, and Jim Acosta, a White House correspondent, recently denounced the administration’s use of off-camera briefings as an affront to American values.

    White House advisers have discussed a potential point of leverage over their adversary, a senior administration official said: a pending merger between CNN’s parent company, Time Warner, and AT&T. Mr. Trump’s Justice Department will decide whether to approve the merger, and while analysts say there is little to stop the deal from moving forward, the president’s animus toward CNN remains a wild card. [my emphasis]

    This detail is buried 12 paragraphs into a feature on CNN’s combative relationship with Trump. Which is bizarre, given that it’s an open confession of corruption by a senior White House official. It hardly matters whether the administration follows through on its threat: The White House is extorting a news network in the pages of the New York Times. The fact that this didn’t strike the paper as headline material is a testament to how thoroughly Trump has already succeeded in eroding our expectations for good governance.

  88. says

    Looks like Walter Shaub has had enough. He is quitting.

    Walter Shaub, the director of the U.S. Office of Government Ethics who has been critical of some of President Donald Trump’s ethics arrangements, announced on Thursday that he is resigning, effective July 19.

    Shaub, who was appointed to a five-year term in 2013, is joining the non-profit Campaign Legal Center as the senior director of ethics.

    Link

  89. says

    Sorry to hear that Steve Scalise is back in intensive care:

    “Congressman Steve Scalise has been readmitted to the Intensive Care Unit at MedStar Washington Hospital Center due to new concerns for infection,” read the statement, released by the Louisiana Republican’s office. “His condition is listed as serious. We will provide another update tomorrow, July 6.”

  90. says

    Followup to comments 149, 151 and 152.

    What Trump said about election-related hacking earlier:

    […] “I know a lot about hacking,” Trump told reporters on Dec. 31. “And I also know things that other people don’t know, and so they cannot be sure of the situation.”

    Trump said he would release that secret information within a week. Then he tweeted it would be more like three months.

    “Russia says nothing exists. Probably released by ‘Intelligence’ even knowing there is no proof, and never will be. My people will have a full report on hacking within 90 days!”

    More than 170 days later, there is still no report.

    While Trump’s answers on Russian culpability for hacking have fluctuated (it could’ve been Moscow, it could’ve been China or a “guy sitting on their bed who weighs 400 pounds), they’ve been consistent in never blaming Vladimir Putin and his government.

    In fact, Trump has spoken about Russian hacking in almost verbatim terms as Putin.

    “Russia talk is FAKE NEWS put out by the Dems, and played up by the media, in order to mask the big election defeat and the illegal leaks!” he tweeted in February.

    “There is no specific evidence, no facts, just assumptions, allegations and conclusions based on those allegations, nothing more,” Putin told NBC news in June, adding it’s “internal political bickering.”

    Ironically, Putin suggested that “patriotically minded” Russian hackers not working for Moscow could’ve been behind the hacks — something that Trump hasn’t floated.

    Link

    Then Trump went to Europe and said, “Nobody really knows for sure.”

    Bullshitter in Chief.

  91. says

    Pro-Trump Twitter bots have been linked to bots that disseminated anti-Macron tweets:

    A computer scientist says there are links between Twitter bots that circulated pro-Trump messages ahead of the 2016 election and bots that engaged in a disinformation campaign against French President Emmanuel Macron while he was a candidate.

    Emilio Ferrara, a computer scientist at the University of Southern California, made the discovery when analyzing the Twitter campaign organized ahead of the May French election that involved spreading negative information about Macron connected to a leak of hacked campaign data.

    Ferrara said many of the bots involved in attacking Macron had been created at the beginning of November — just before the U.S. presidential election — and went dormant after the U.S. election.
    Months later, they again began communicating, this time spreading positive messages about French National Front party leader Marine Le Pen or negative information about Macron. […]

    The findings point to the “possible existence of a black-market for reusable political-disinformation bots,” the research concludes. […]

    The scale of the bot operation in the French election, Ferrara observed, was much smaller than that related to the 2016 presidential election. He detected between 400,000 and half a million Twitter bots engaged in the U.S. political discussion, most of them pushing pro-Trump or far-right narratives. […]

    researchers at cyber firm Trend Micro said in April that hackers behind the hack of the Democratic National Committee had also targeted Macron’s campaign.

    Ferrara said he has no evidence that Russia was behind the bot operation against Macron, noting the difficulty of making such an attribution.

    “We don’t have evidence to point to the actors,” Ferrara said. […]

    Link

  92. says

    Follow-up to comment 138.

    From Wonkette’s coverage:

    Donald Trump gave a very nice speech from a teleprompter today in Warsaw’s Krasinski Square, a memorial to a 1944 uprising against the Nazi invasion, and the crowd went wild for him, excitedly chanting “Donald Trump! Donald Trump! Donald Trump!” Which was exactly what they were supposed to do: In arranging Trump’s visit, Poland’s rightwing government promised that Trump would have crowds cheering for him. To make sure of it, the government bused in people from all around the country, a technique borrowed from old-time communist days.

    Much of the crowd was brought in from across the country, and carried signs saying where they had come from – including “Pila” or “Gorzow” in the west. Other banners featured the right-wing, pro-government Gazeta Polska newspaper.

    Wow, if that isn’t a spontaneous demonstration of the Polish people’s deep love of Donald Trump, we don’t know what is. The Law and Justice Party instructed all its members of parliament and other party leaders to bus in at least 50 people each so that Trump could look forward to a warm reception. […] a recent Pew Research Center poll showing that while 73 percent of Poles have a positive view of the USA, only 23 percent said they have confidence in Trump as its leader, compared to 58 percent for Barack Obama. That can’t possibly be an accurate Pole poll.

    The mandatory enthusiasm certainly impressed Trump’s online fans on the Twitter box:

    Huh. Thousands in Poland cheering President Trump. but the world hates him, right? Hmm, you don’t think the MSM got this wrong, do you?
    —————-
    Once again, the WORLD’S people LOVE Trump! Just add Poland to the list. I love watching the media cover the cheering crowds.
    —————
    Crowd is Cheering *Donald Trump* in Poland why? Because everything he says is true .. he his a great Leader..Free Speech must stand

    Now let’s get one thing clear: While the crowd was definitely bused in, there’s no evidence they were paid to be there — maybe they got a nice lunch or something, but let’s not have that “paid crowd” nonsense. They were dragooned into this of their own free will.

    By contrast, nobody needed to bus in audience members when Barack Obama went to Berlin in 2008 — and he wasn’t even President Obama yet. […]

    the Polish neo-Confederates showed up, too. […]

    There’s a photo of people in the crowd holding a Confederate flag.

  93. says

    In the United Nations Security Council, Russia blocked the approval of a statement condemning North Korea for launching an intercontinental ballistic missile:

    The diplomats, speaking on condition of anonymity because discussions have been private, said North Korea’s closest ally, China, had agreed to the text. They said discussions were continuing Thursday to try to find wording that all 15 council members would approve. […]

  94. militantagnostic says

    Lynna @133

    In the minds of the trumpholes illegal is automatically attached to the word immigrant.

  95. says

    militant agnostic @162, true. “Criminal” is also often attached to the word “immigrant.” Trump promotes that view.

    In other news, Chris Hayes recently hosted a segment in which some journalists noted that staffers in the White House admitted feeding false or misleading stories to the press. Now Maine Governor Paul LePage has admitted to pulling the same ridiculous stunt:

    Maine Gov. Paul LePage (R) appeared to suggest on Thursday that he lies to reporters so they will write misleading “stupid stories” about his governorship.

    Asked about reports he planned to leave Maine for a vacation while the state government was shut down, LePage told a local radio station those stories were misleading and that he had to “laugh” about it.

    “I mean, you talk about people who got taken line hook and sinker,” he said. “This is the comment I made. It was Monday. I said, my pen’s on vacation, I have nothing to sign. Next thing you know I’m on my way to Florida.”

    He called the press “so, so vile and inaccurate.”

    “I mean, give me a break, guys. The press is really — I mean, this is when you know that it’s not about the press,” LePage said. “It’s not about reporting. It’s about poking at a certain person in the eye for six and a half years. Shame on them. I’ll tell you this, though, they’re so bad, and you know what we found that works? We go Facebook Live and we ignore them and they get even angrier.”

    LePage said his office uses Facebook Live as a way to “ignore” the press.

    “And they get even angrier,” he said. “I just love to sit in my office and make up wasters so they’ll write these stupid stories. I mean, they are just so stupid, it’s awful.”

    LePage called the press “useless,” and added: “I’m sorry but I tell you, the sooner the print press goes away, the better society will be.” […]

    Link

  96. says

    More people are cooperating with investigators who are looking into the financial aspects of possible team Trump affiliations with foreign governments and with criminals. Felix Slater is in the spotlight again:

    The Financial Times reported Thursday morning that Felix Sater, former business partner of President Donald Trump with deep ties to the Mafia and Russian government, is cooperating in an international investigation into an alleged money-laundering network

    Sater has a history of channeling money from prominent families in the Eastern bloc into Trump properties. This could pose problems for Trump, given Sater’s history of outing former close associates in exchange for immunity.

    According to recent reports from The Washington Post and Bloomberg, these financial connections are also being investigated by special counsel Robert Mueller as part of the investigation into the Trump campaign’s possible collusion with Russia. […]

    Think Progress link

    More details, including background on Slater, are available at the link.

  97. says

    Pam Vogel thinks that Trump is staking his presidency on winning his war with the press.

    […] Trump has been in office for nearly six months, and his major presidential message to the American public is dangerously clear: Only trust information that comes directly from him or the swath of fringe propaganda outlets that do his bidding.

    Trump’s actions are straight out of the authoritarian playbook, and their goal is to denigrate and delegitimize the news media while simultaneously building an alternative media of sycophants. […]

    On and off Twitter, Trump is elevating his own propagandists as he attempts to delegitimize actual journalism. Some of these fringe outlets have even ended up in the White House press briefing room (when the briefing room is used at all). Here, too, Trump’s war against facts has taken a more overtly sinister and violent tone. Some of the most sycophantic members of the pro-Trump media have a history of hateful rhetoric and ties to white nationalism, just like the anonymous Redditor Trump borrowed from this weekend. […]

    And Trump needs it to work. His legislative agenda is stalling, his approval ratings are tanking, and several investigations are tightening around him. In the face of these failures, the Trump administration is borrowing from a despotic playbook to push — more forcefully than ever — a set of “alternative facts” about his accomplishments and views. […]

    In the earliest days of the Trump administration, facts were inconvenient. Now, they are the enemy. And if the press doesn’t stand up to these clear attempts at mimicking the media environment of an authoritarian state, facts will soon become indistinguishable from lies. The White House Correspondents’ Association has repeatedly fallen short in its efforts to protect a fiercely independent free press from this president’s attacks. […]

    Will the war only end when Trump’s dangerous sycophants occupy the entire press briefing room, or when the briefing room no longer exists? And more importantly, will the casualties be a slew of American institutions that preserve and protect a free press, […]

  98. says

    A few telling details about how the factions in the White House are set up to fight over turf and over Trump’s attention:

    […] top advisers have built up personal staffs to support their own agendas instead of using a traditional White House policy and messaging operation.

    Chief strategist Steve Bannon has two special assistants, a deputy assistant, an executive assistant and a body man working in his “war room” — plus his external press hand, something his predecessors under President Barack Obama, David Axelrod and David Plouffe, never had while working in the White House.

    Senior adviser Jared Kushner has two staffers working directly below him, as well as another five in the newly created Office of American Innovation who are focused on his portfolio of White House issues. Included in that mix is a communications adviser, Josh Raffel, a former Hollywood PR exec who previously repped Kushner’s real estate work.

    “It is a new development for a White House staffer to have their own individual PR people,” said Ari Fleischer, who served as White House press secretary during George W. Bush’s first term. […]

    The expansion of staff assigned to individual senior advisers has helped the people closest to Trump build up their own brands and policy portfolios […] The aides help bolster competing camps when they’re squaring off to influence the president on everything from climate change to trade and health care. […]

    Politico link

    The Trump White House is already a chaotic, churning scrum when it comes to getting a message out, or when it comes to developing policy. This setup makes it worse.

  99. says

    WaPo on Shaub’s resignation, featuring a short summary of (some of!) Shaub’s exhausting attempts to deal with this WH. “‘He clearly feels that given this administration’s failings that there is no more that he can do’, [Norm] Eisen said, adding, ‘In his own understated and nonpartisan way, this is a protest resignation’.”

  100. blf says

    Eighteen states sue Betsy DeVos for suspending rules on for-profit colleges:

    Democratic attorneys general target Donald Trump’s education secretary over her plan to rewrite Obama-era measures to protect students

    Democratic attorneys general in 18 states and the District of Columbia on Thursday filed a lawsuit against Betsy DeVos, Donald Trump’s controversial choice for education secretary, over her decision to suspend rules meant to protect students from abuses by for-profit colleges.

    […]

    The rules were created under Barack Obama’s administration and were meant to take effect on 1 July. They aim to make schools financially responsible for fraud and forbid them from forcing students to resolve complaints outside court.

    On 14 June, DeVos announced the rules would be delayed and rewritten, saying they created a muddled process that’s unfair to students and schools and puts taxpayers on the hook for significant costs.

    In a statement on Thursday, [Massachusetts attorney general Maura] Healey said: “Since day one, Secretary DeVos has sided with for-profit school executives against students and families drowning in unaffordable student loans. Her decision to cancel vital protections for students and taxpayers is a betrayal of her office’s responsibility and a violation of federal law.”

    A spokeswoman for DeVos told media the secretary would not immediately comment.

  101. says

    achemm… if you happened to have watched Maddow tonight, and care to go back to my earlier comments, way way back in thread, about Reality Winner, well, if you all won’t pat me on the back, I’m gonna do it myself!

    I knew that story stunk from an IT perspective. Note, Rachel isn’t implying that Reality is innocent of copying the document, but that it really looks like she was set up to do it and there were important players ready to pounce on it when she did.

  102. says

    Rick Perry, who currently heads the Department of Energy for the Trump administration, spoke at a coal-fired power plant in West Virginia yesterday. He responsed to a question about the fact that natural gas is cheaper than coal:

    “Here’s a little economics lesson: supply and demand,” Perry said, according to Taylor Kuykendall of Standard & Poor’s. “You put the supply out there, and demand will follow.”

    In other words, Perry seems to think that if you mine more coal and put it on the market, the demand will follow.

    From Steve Benen:

    Perry could leave the Trump cabinet and open a store selling nothing but dial-up modems, eight-track cassettes, and video-game players that only feature Pong, but even if he “puts the supply out there,” there’s no reason to believe “demand will follow.”

    Postscript: Before you email me, I am aware of Say’s Law. I also know that no one’s taken it seriously in generations because it doesn’t make sense.

  103. says

    Trump said some more stupid and incorrect stuff in Europe this morning.

    After President Donald Trump claimed Friday morning that John Podesta “refused” to give federal investigators a hacked email server and that “everyone” at the G20 summit was talking about it, the former Hillary Clinton campaign chairman hit back with his own tweetstorm.

    Podesta, whose personal emails were hacked during the 2016 election, called Trump a “whack job” and noted that he never ran the Democratic National Committee, which was the victim of a separate cyberattack.
    […]

    On a x-country road trip with my wife. Pulled in for a pit stop in E. Fairmont W. Va. to see that our whack job POTUS @realDonaldTrump is tweeting about me at the G20.

    Get a grip man, the Russians committed a crime when they stole my emails to help get you elected President. Maybe you might try to find a way to mention that to President Putin.

    BTW, I had nothing to do with the DNC.

    God only knows what you’ll be raving about on twitter by the time we get to Utah.

    Dude, get your head in the game. You’re representing the US at the G20.

    Link

  104. says

    Follow-up to comment 179.

    Here’s the blustering, lying, stupid tweet to which Podesta responded. Trump tweeted at 1:40 AM:

    Everyone here is talking about why John Podesta refused to give the DNC server to the FBI and the CIA. Disgraceful!

    Here’s another response to Trump. This comes from Adrienne Watson of the DNC:

    1) Podesta never ran the DNC.

    2) DNC worked with FBI to kick out Russians. Worked with DHS.

    3) Putin make you tweet this before mtg?

    The DNC gave the FBI information on the server hack through a third party. The FBI said it received all the information it needs. There were fuckups and delays, but none of what Trump is blathering on about matches the facts.

    Here are the other tweets Trump sent out before he met with Putin today:

    I look forward to all meetings today with world leaders, including my meeting with Vladimir Putin. Much to discuss.#G20Summit #USA

    I will represent our country well and fight for its interests! Fake News Media will never cover me accurately but who cares! We will #MAGA!

  105. says

    Trump and Putin were scheduled to talk for thirty minutes. They’ve been talking for about two hours. They both skipped a meeting on climate change and energy (a centerpiece of the G20 conference) in order to praise each other. (One assumes the mutual stroking, but we may never know for sure what was said during the meeting.)

  106. says

    Bad, awful, no good news:

    Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents have been instructed to place any undocumented immigrant they encounter in deportation proceedings regardless of their criminal history, according to an internal agency memo obtained by ProPublica.

    Matthew Albence — the executive associate director for the ICE division in charge of deportation proceedings — wrote to the agency’s current staff of 5,700 deportation officers that “effective immediately, ERO [Enforcement and Removal Operations] officers will take enforcement action against all removable aliens encountered in the course of their duties.” […]

    The memo represents an even harsher stance toward undocumented immigrants than President Donald Trump has publicly articulated. […]

    An ICE spokesperson told Propublica that the directive “directly supports the directions handed down in the executive orders and mirrors the language ICE consistently uses to describe its enforcement posture.”

    However Sarah Saldaña, the former head of ICE for the Obama administration, said that the memo directives are different from the guidance was followed under the previous administration.

    Under Obama, who earned the title of “deporter-in-chief” from immigration activists for the record number of deportations that took place under his administration, the majority of the detained undocumented population either had criminal histories or fell into a category where they could be considered a threat to public safety or national security.

    “When you use the word ‘will’ instead of ‘may’ you are taking it a step further,” Saldaña told Propublica. “This is an important directive and people at ERO are bound by this directive unless someone above Matt Albence comes back and says, ‘You went too far.’ I don’t think you are going to find that person in this administration,” Saldaña added. […]

    Think Progress link

  107. says

    The Associated Press is reporting that the U.S. and Russia agreed to a cease-fire in southwest Syria.

    HAMBURG, Germany — The United States and Russia have reached agreement on a cease-fire in southwest Syria, three U.S. officials said Friday as President Donald Trump held his first meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin.

    […] details about the agreement and how it will be implemented weren’t immediately available, the cease-fire is set to take effect Sunday at noon Damascus time, said the officials, who weren’t authorized to discuss the cease-fire publicly and spoke on condition of anonymity.

    Jordan and Israel also are part of the agreement, one of the officials said. The two U.S. allies both share a border with the southern part of Syria and have been concerned about violence from Syria’s civil war spilling over the border.

    The deal is separate from “de-escalation zones” that were to be created under a deal brokered by Russia, Turkey and Iran earlier this year. The U.S. was not a part of that deal. Follow-up talks this week in Kazakhstan to finalize a cease-fire in those zones failed to reach agreement.

    The U.S. and Russia have been backing opposing sides in Syria’s war, with Moscow supporting Syrian President Bashar Assad and Washington supporting rebels who have been fighting Assad. Both the U.S. and Russia oppose the Islamic State group in Syria.

    Link

  108. says

    While in Europe, Trump confirmed to an Associated Press reporter that Mexico should “absolutely” pay for the border wall between the U.S. and Mexico. President Enrique Peña Nieto has said that Mexico will not pay for the wall.

    In other news from Europe, some people seem to still have the optimistic view that Trump can learn:

    European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker took advantage of today’s G20 summit to explain the advantages of free trade agreements to U.S. President Donald Trump.

    “Trade agreements are not only about selling and buying,” Juncker said during a closed-door meeting. “They’re about job creation,” he explained in remarks that were clearly intended for Trump, according to POLITICO’s sources.

    German Chancellor Angela Merkel, who is chairing the summit, opened the first working session, on growth and trade, by giving the floor over to the U.S. president. She then turned to Juncker, who seized his moment to trumpet the EU’s trade accords with Japan and Canada.

    “Yesterday, Shinzō and I came to an agreement in principle on the EU-Japan Economic Partnership Agreement,” he said, referring to Japanese Prime Minister Shinzō Abe. “We are convinced – and committed to demonstrate – that free and open trade, with clear and transparent rules is an important tool to promote prosperity in our societies,” he continued. “This is a win-win, both for Japan and the EU.”

    “Japanese companies already employ more than half a million people in Europe. We estimate that with this agreement our exports to Japan can grow by €20 billion. If each billion in exports supports 14,000 jobs, just do the maths.”

    Juncker then turned to Canada’s Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.

    “I know Justin shares this view too and that is why we concluded last year our bilateral EU-Canada agreement that will soon enter into force.”

    Link

  109. says

    Excerpts from Tillerson’s report of the meeting between Putin and Trump:

    Tillerson, who was present for the more than two-hour meeting, told reporters afterward that Trump opened the conversation by “raising the concerns of the American people regarding Russian interference in the 2016 election.”

    Putin denied Russian involvement, Tillerson said, but Trump “pressed” him on the matter “on more than one occasion.”

    Trump and Putin agreed to explore a “framework” around which they can work to better understand these types of cyberthreats, the U.S. diplomat said.

    “The two leaders agreed that this is a substantial hindrance on the ability of us to move Russian-U.S. relationships forward and agreed to exchange further work 
regarding commitments of noninterference in the affairs of the United States and our democratic process as well as those of other countries,” Tillerson said. “So more work to be done in that regard.”

    “It’s not clear to me that we will ever come to some agreed-upon resolution of that question between the two nations,” he said. “So the question is, what do we do now?”

    Trump and Putin also discussed the ongoing wars in Syria and Ukraine, two global hotspots that have pitted Washington against Moscow.

    The U.S. and Russia, which have been on opposing sides in the Syrian civil war, agreed on Friday to a cease-fire in the southwest corner of the country, news of which emerged during Trump’s meeting with Putin.

    “I think this is our first indication of the U.S. and Russia being able to work together in Syria, and as a result of that, we had a very lengthy discussion regarding other areas in Syria that we can continue to work together on to de-escalate the areas and the violence,” Tillerson said. “Once we defeat ISIS, we will work together toward a political process that will secure the future of the Syrian people.” […]

    The Hill link

    It is worth noting that Lavrov, who was also in the meeting claimed afterward that Trump “accepted” Putin’s denials about Russian interference in U.S. elections.

  110. says

    Follow-up to SC @177.

    There’s a lot of detail, and historical context, in Maddow’s exclusive report from last night, but just in case you don’t have time to watch it, here’s a brief summary.

    Someone or some group sent to Rachel Maddow “carefully forged documents to try to discredit news agencies reporting on the Russian attack on our election, and specifically on the possibility that the Trump campaign coordinated with the Russians in mounting that attack.”

    Maddow made the point that it would be a real coup for the Trump administration if the media was tricked into reporting actual fake news, (and not Trump’s definition of fake news, which is all news he doesn’t like), based on forged documents, only to have the fakery then exposed. The media that reported the fake news would lose credibility, and their ability to continue to report on the Trump/Russia investigation would be damaged.

    From Wonkette’s coverage:

    […] the implications of this are alarming. They didn’t fool Rachel Maddow (because Jesus fuck, what paste-eating moron actually thinks they are smarter than she is?), but we understand why they tried. She’s been on this Russia story since the beginning, and she’s hellbent on finding the truth. We bet, considering how treasonous the Trump-Russia crimes probably are, that knocking Rachel Maddow off the scent and busting her credibility would be at the top of any of these motherfuckers’ bucket lists.

    Maddow ended her segment by noting that in the past few weeks, both CNN and Vice have had to retract Trump stories for being poorly sourced. The CNN story was specifically about the Trump-Russia scandal. Maddow recalled how Dan Rather’s evening news career ended because of a poorly sourced story about George W. Bush’s (lack of) National Guard service. The larger story was true! But because Rather was taken in by some shitty fake documents, the story was relegated to the #FakeNews pile, where it died an untimely death. […]

    Watch out, journalists. These fuckers are playing a dirty game.

  111. says

    From Fred Kaplan’s analysis of the Trump/Putin meeting:

    […] a few observations can be drawn from the reports put out so far. First, Putin emerged as the winner. At a press briefing after the meeting, Tillerson said that Trump did raise—more than once—the charge that Russia interfered in the 2016 election. However, Lavrov told reporters that Trump accepted Putin’s denial. Perhaps Lavrov was exaggerating, but Tillerson did say the two presidents agreed to “move forward” and not “re-litigate the past”—which amounts to the same thing.

    In other words, Putin did not, and apparently will not, pay any price for his information-warfare campaign against American democracy. In fact, Tillerson said that Trump merely “noted” the domestic concerns about the charges, which could prove “a substantial hindrance” to future Russian–American relations. That’s very different from pressuring or even endorsing the accusation against Russia, which has been leveled by the entire U.S. intelligence community. […]

  112. says

    More Russian (possibly Russian, but maybe not) hacking—this time of power plants in the U.S.

    Russia is suspected to be behind recent hacker intrusions at American power plants, including at least one nuclear facility, two U.S. officials told NBC News.

    Investigators cannot definitively pin the new probing attacks, which did not affect plant controls, on Moscow. They haven’t ruled out the possibility some other country’s hackers, mimicking the Russians, are responsible for the breaches, the officials said. […]

    “There is no indication of a threat to public safety, as any potential impact appears to be limited to administrative and business networks,” the statement said. [From a joint bulletin by the Department of Homeland Security and the FBI.]

    A dozen plants were targeted, including the Wolf Creek Nuclear Operating Corporation, which runs a generating station in Burlington, Kansas.

    Senior intelligence and nuclear regulatory officials noted that the overwhelming majority of U.S. reactors operate on analog, not digital systems, making them less vulnerable to hacking attacks. […]

    The hackers used several different techniques to compromise plant computers, including emailing fake resumes that contained malicious code to senior engineers. […]

    NBC News link

  113. says

    Reaction to the Trump/Putin meeting from Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer:

    For Secretary Tillerson to say that this issue will remain unresolved is disgraceful. To give equal credence to the findings of the American Intelligence Community and the assertion by Mr. Putin is a grave dereliction of duty and will only encourage Russia to further interfere in our elections in the future.

    Working to compromise the integrity of our election process cannot and should not be an area where “agree to disagree” is an acceptable conclusion. Congress and Americans of all political persuasions and parties should do all they can to increase sanctions on Russia and prevent the reduction of any sanctions by the executive branch.

  114. says

    Scary segment from Richard Engel, whose reporting was featured during The Maddow Show last night. The American political/religious right is in love with Vladimir Putin, guns, and Evangelical Christianity.

    http://www.msnbc.com/rachel-maddow/watch/russia-makes-inroads-with-american-right-via-guns-religion-986677827557

    Russians are consistently nurturing relationships with groups on the far right in the U.S. Meanwhile, Trump courted the far-right regime in Poland.

  115. says

    You have got to be kidding. Ivanka Trump took her father’s seat at some meetings of world leaders at the G20.

    […] “The official said that when other leaders stepped out, their seats were also briefly filled by others,” AP reported.

    The stand-ins for other heads of state, however, were government ministers or senior officials, not a family member with no previous foreign policy experience. Several U.S. pundits condemned the move as “grotesque” and reminiscent of a “banana republic.”

    http://talkingpointsmemo.com/news/ivanka-g20-trump-seat

  116. says

    Trump is standing on an ice shelf alone.

    German Chancellor Angela Merkel says 19 members of the Group of 20 have reaffirmed the Paris climate accord as “irreversible.” […]

    That leaves the United States as the odd one out after President Donald Trump announced his intent to withdraw the U.S. from the agreement. […]

    Merkel called the U.S. position “regrettable.” […]

    At 2 p.m. local time, President Vladimir Putin said Russia will meet its obligations under the Paris climate agreement.

    Speaking at a meeting with French President Emmanuel Macron on the sidelines of the Group of 20 summit in Hamburg, Putin said that “we honor the Paris agreement.” He added that Russia has made decisions related to the implementation of the deal and intends to implement them. […]

    http://talkingpointsmemo.com/news/trump-against-the-world-g20-paris-climate

  117. says

    When he was in Europe, Trump questioned if “we even have” 17 intelligence agencies. Ali Velshi took the time to give Trump a lesson in U.S. intelligence agencies:

    […] he [Trump] was referencing how the media had reported that all 17 agencies agreed in a January report that Russia interfered but recently corrected that number to only 4. Now he’s only technically right. Since only 4 agencies were directly involved in the Russia report. The CIA, the Department of Justice, Federal Bureau of Investigation, National Security Agency and this one, the Office of the Director of National Intelligence.

    This one complicates things because It’s an umbrella group. So, Mr. President, here is a quick tutorial on how your intelligence community works. Here’s the big 3. Plus the DNI. Then you add others into it. You’ve got the Department of State. This is where a lot of the work gets done in investigative work. You add the Department of Energy to that.

    Let’s keep on moving. You’ve got the Department of Homeland Security which is also an intelligence agency. The DEA, the Drug Enforcement Agency does investigations, the Department of the Treasury does a lot of the stuff having to do with terrorism. The Defense Intelligence Agency does a lot of cyber work. That’s what they do. And then you’ve got these. These are the armed forces intelligence units. Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines and the U.S. Coast Guard. You add that, you add all of these together and you end with the National Geospatial Intelligence Agency. They deal with other sorts of intelligence so that’s how you end up with 17 of these things.

    By the way this one is another one. The National Reconnaissance Office. So that’s why the U.S. ends up with 17 different agencies. And that is the lesson about the fact that there are in fact 17, only 4 of them ended up doing the studying on Russia. They put out a report. The DNI, which is the umbrella to all of them signed off on that report and those are the components that make up the intelligence community.

    Link

  118. says

    Responses from the far rightwing to Trump’s speech in Poland:

    From the Daily Stormer: “Trump has used his speech in Poland to declare the global supremacy of the white race.”
    —————
    From 4chan’s “Politically Incorrect” message board: “Trump’s speech in Poland showed true leadership, and what our allies have been missing for decades. Absolute rejection of multiculturalism.”

    Link

  119. says

    Douglas Brinkley analyzes Trump’s behavior in Europe:

    Extremely juvenile. You know, I did my doctorate at Georgetown in US diplomatic history, and the first thing you learn when you study diplomacy is an American president or senator, congressperson doesn’t diss their own country when they go abroad. That’s what Donald Trump has done on this trip.

    And this whole visit has been embarrassing. I mean, think about president of the United States coming to Europe — Great Britain doesn’t want Trump there. France doesn’t want him. Only Poland took him.

    He now is in Germany, where he — the Germans, only about eight percent of the German people like Donald Trump. You have massive protests, a lot of it aimed not just at the G20, but at Donald Trump himself.

    Our first lady is holed up in a hotel, and she’s not able to go and meet the other wives of the G20.

    And meanwhile, you know Putin is going to be getting benefits out of this meeting with Trump.

    And here we have the president of the United States sending crazy tweets about [John] Podesta.

    It is not a good scenario. We are seeing the shrinking of American prestige in the world before our very eyes.

    Link

  120. blf says

    “To refuse to have your children vaccinated is an attack on society in much the same way as tax evasion is. If a refusal to vaccinate only endangered the children whose parents deliberately put them in harm’s way, it would still be wrong because parents do not have an unlimited right to be irresponsible.” The Grauniad slams the child mass murderers, vaccinations: a matter of public health.

  121. blf says

    CDC cuts likely as Georgia doctor with Republican party ties is named head: “Dr Brenda Fitzgerald, former policy adviser to Newt Gingrich, to lead top federal public health agency that faces funding cut of $1.2bn under Trump budget”. Orac notes Dr Fitzgerald is strongly pro-vaccine, and “She seems to have the qualifications, and I can’t find anything egregiously disqualifying in her background. She is definitely pro-vaccine. She doesn’t seem to have the typical conservative Republican hangups about sex, gays, and evolution.”

  122. says

    blf @199, I think you may have accidentally repeated the link to the vaccination article in your comment highlighting the cartoon.

    In other news, here is a follow-up regarding the Trump/Putin meeting. Putin thinks Trump believed his election-tampering denials. Politico link

  123. says

    Trump met with U.K. Prime Minister Theresa May at the G20 summit. He offered this blather and bullshit as a synopsis of their meeting:

    We have been working on a trade deal which will be a very, very big deal, a very powerful deal, great for both countries and I think we will have that done very, very quickly.

  124. says

    Follow-up to comment 192.

    Responses to seeing Ivanka Trump take her father’s seat at a G20 meeting:

    Having Princess Ivanka represent US at G20 table a slap in face to other G20 leaders, other top admin officials, American people. Grotesque.
    ——————–
    The G20 is not Take Your Daughter to Work day.
    ——————-
    Ivanka, couldn’t you have at least re-admitted us to the Paris Climate Accords during your brief reign? [From George Takei]
    ——————
    Ivanka fills in for her dad beside Xi Jinping. To me, it feels banana-republicky for the US to be represented by an inexperienced daughter. [From Nicholas Kristof]
    ——————-
    Because an unelected, unqualified, unprepared New York socialite is the best person to represent American national interests

  125. says

    New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio gave a speech at the Hamburg Zeigt Haltung rally. Among other things, he objected to Trump’s decision to have the U.S. renege on the Paris climate accords. He said, “American cities are signed on to the Paris Accords. We will do it ourselves.”

    In June, the mayor signed an executive order affirming New York City’s commitment to the Paris accords.

    We here in New York City are shocked at the development this week in Washington, D.C., to see the president of the United States pull out of the Paris accord and literally set this nation, and the whole globe, on the path of denial.

    The Paris climate accord is simply the latest example of Washington entering into an agreement that disadvantages the United States to the exclusive benefit of other countries, leaving American workers — who I love — and taxpayers to absorb the cost in terms of lost jobs, lower wages, shuttered factories, and vastly diminished economic production.

    Link

    It’s interesting to see that U.S. mayors and governors having to go around Trump in order to commit to international agreements. Mayor Bill de Blasio even traveled to Europe to contradict our whackadoodle president.

  126. says

    Excerpt’s from Wonkette’s coverage of the fact that team Trump did not book rooms properly in Germany for the G20 summit, resulting in a hotel-related fiasco:

    Poor Donald Trump! His coterie of dipshits couldn’t get it together to book hotel rooms at the G20, so he had to rely on the kindness of the City of Hamburg and stay at their Senate Guest House. Sad! […]

    Obviously, Trump knows nothing about foreign relations and international diplomacy. But aren’t hotels kind of his thing? […]

    From the Daily Mail,

    The White House is blaming the Obama administration for leaving President Donald Trump without a proper hotel during this week’s G20 summit.

    Every top-shelf lodging was already booked by the time the Trump White House began making inquiries – but that, two White House officials say, is because their predecessors never booked rooms for an American delegation.

    The G20’s northern Germany summit was announced in February 2016, when Obama was still president and Trump was considered a long-shot hope to take the White House.

    ‘Obama’s people left everyone high and dry,’ one current official said on Friday. ‘They didn’t care enough to make sure whoever was president would have a place to stay.’

    THANKS, OBAMA!

    […] All the luxury hotel rooms were booked “by the time the Trump White House began making inquiries.” But you left out one key piece of information here. When did you start making the calls? Was it closer to January 21, or June 21?

    In February, Rex Tillerson had to stay at a health spa in the suburbs of Bonn because he couldn’t get a room […]

  127. says

    An excerpt from Andrew O’Hehir’s article, “Ten thousand years of civilization and we end up with this guy?

    In trying to reckon with Donald Trump’s bizarre speech in Poland on Thursday, which was among the most troubling events of his troubling presidency, I couldn’t help thinking about Mahatma Gandhi’s supposed quip when asked by a British reporter what he thought of Western civilization: He thought it sounded like a good idea. As with so many famous quotations, the story is almost certainly apocryphal: It did not appear anywhere until almost 20 years after Gandhi’s death. But it endures for a reason, because it reflects the profound ambivalence and self-regard that lie at the very heart of the Western intellectual tradition.

    President Trump professes no such ambivalence. He apparently thinks Western civilization is a good idea too, although it’s by no means clear what he thinks he means by that term and he is constitutionally incapable of irony or double meaning. […] the propagandistic mishmash Trump delivered in Warsaw was aimed as usual at his most virulent supporters, and channeled a current of racism and white nationalism so overt it can hardly be called subtext.

    In this context, “Western civilization” presumably means the culture of white people in Europe and North America, […]

    Of course he doesn’t understand anything about the long and complicated legacy of what is conventionally called Western civilization, and if he did he would be against it. Trump’s self-appointed status as defender of the West is primarily about excluding or vilifying Muslims and other immigrant groups, and secondarily about marginalizing those Westerners who believe that pluralism and cultural diversity are in fact central values of our civilization […]

    Trump was elected president precisely because he is an arrogant ignoramus who spews out “politically incorrect” bigotry unsupported by any evidence. Furthermore, he has an unparalleled understanding of our culture’s most central elements: the marketing and branding of fame, the power of mass media, and the extent to which image and rhetoric can reshape or even replace reality. […]

    Trump has never sounded more like Hitler than he did the other day in Warsaw, where the historical irony fell from the sky like a fluke summer snowstorm. Poland was of course the first nation invaded by Hitler’s troops in the opening chapter of World War II, and the home of the worst of Hitler’s death camps devoted to exterminating the Jewish people. Trump was supposedly there to celebrate the Poles’ resistance to Hitler, and the only fair thing to say about that is that some did and some definitely didn’t. Every moment of that peculiar spectacle had at least a double meaning, none of them salutary.

    To be clear, drawing the rhetorical and ideological parallels is not to say that Trump is Hitler, or that he is like Hitler in the most important ways. At worst, Trump is a third-generation photocopy with the background washed out, or a bad actor playing a character he has glimpsed on TV but does not understand. […]

  128. says

    Another embarrassing blunder from team Trump:

    Just before leaving the G20 summit in Hamburg, Germany on Saturday, President Donald Trump held a bilateral meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping. Following that high-level talk, the White House blasted out a transcript of Trump’s public remarks preceding the meeting, a document that called Xi “President Xi of the Republic of China.”

    One problem: the “Republic of China” refers to Taiwan. China is referred to as the “People’s Republic of China.”

    This is not the first time that Trump has blundered into the extremely sensitive question of Taiwan’s sovereignty. […]

    http://talkingpointsmemo.com/livewire/xi-trump-taiwan-china-g20

    Maybe team Trump should not have gutted the State Department after all?

  129. says

    Follow-up to SC’s comments 80, 83, and 85; and to comment 102.

    Kobach is a no-show at a conference he should have attended.

    Background:

    State election officials from across the U.S. are gathering this weekend amid an uproar over a White House commission investigating allegations of voter fraud and heightened concern about Russian attempts to interfere with last fall’s election.

    That’s drawn an unusual spotlight to the gathering of the National Association of Secretaries of State, which kicked-off Friday in Indianapolis and will host officials from 37 states.

    Security of election systems is sure to be a major point of discussion […]

    Election integrity will be another hot button. […]

    Trump’s allegations of election fraud [and Kobach’s request for] voter information from all 50 states [is] drawing blowback from Republicans and Democrats alike. The request seeks dates of birth, partial Social Security numbers, addresses, voting histories, military service and other information about every voter in the country.

    Trump has repeatedly stated without proof that he believes millions of fraudulent ballots were cast in the November election, when he carried the Electoral College but lost the popular vote to Democrat Hillary Clinton.

    The commission was launched to investigate those claims and is being chaired by Vice President Mike Pence and Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach […] Kobach, a Republican, will not attend the weekend conference. […]

    Some Democrats have said the commission is merely trying to provide cover for Trump’s unsubstantiated claims of voter fraud.

    “I hope we get answers to some of this, because I do think that this is an odd time to be forming a national database of some kind if we’re so concerned about security,” Connecticut Secretary of State Denise Merrill, a Democrat, said Friday. […]

    Current News about Kobach’s no-show status:

    California’s chief elections official is puzzled by the absence of Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach from a gathering of elections officials from across the U.S. […]

    California Secretary of State Alex Padilla said Saturday that it’s “awkward, to put it mildly” that Kobach opted against attending the National Association of Secretaries of State conference in Indianapolis this weekend. […]

    Padilla, a Democrat, said that if Kobach was serious about working with states to improve the integrity of U.S. elections, he would have attended the conference. […]

    Link

  130. says

    Oliver Milman, writing for Mother Jones discussed the “jaw-dropping list of all the terrible things Trump has done to Mother Earth.”

    […] Unlike the travel ban or healthcare, Trump has faced few obstacles in sweeping away what he has called “job-killing” environmental rules that address problems such as climate change, water pollution and smoggy air.

    “I’ve been very concerned by what I’ve seen—this is about people’s health,” said Christine Todd Whitman, a Republican who was the EPA administrator under George W Bush, and also served as governor of New Jersey. “They are undermining science and people’s respect for science. They don’t seem to care.” […]

    Pruitt, [Scott Pruitt, the administrator of the EP], who previously sued the EPA more than a dozen times as attorney general of Oklahoma, and has had unusually close ties to the fossil fuel industry, has helped withdraw or postpone a raft of regulations and has steered the EPA away from climate change work.

    While every new administration reviews or even reshapes inherited regulations – especially those enacted in the dying days of a prior presidency—the scale of the current rollback is unprecedented, according to Whitman.

    “We looked at 60 or 70 rules and we upheld them all, whereas this administration seems to think everything done in the last administration was bad,” she said. “This is the president’s agenda. Scott Pruitt absolutely believes in that agenda, but this is coming from the president.” […]

    Timeline of the rollbacks

    14 February Trump signs a bill repealing an anti-corruption rule that required energy companies to disclose payments to foreign governments. […]

    16 February The stream protection rule, which prevented mining companies dumping their waste into streams, is axed […]

    28 February Trump instructs the EPA to rewrite the ‘waters of the United States’ rule […]

    2 March On 1 March, governors and attorneys general from several Republican-led states write to Scott Pruitt to request the EPA stop collecting methane emissions data […]

    15 March Trump announces a review of vehicle fuel efficiency standards […]

    28 March A sweeping executive order penned by Trump orders a rewrite of the EPA’s clean power plan […]

    29 March Pruitt denies a bid to halt the use of chlorpyrifos, a widely used pesticide. […]

    11 April A court grants an EPA request to delay the implementation of ozone pollution standards […]

    13 April The EPA pauses a regulation that curbs the dumping of toxic metals such as arsenic and mercury by power plants into public waterways. […]

    27 April The EPA successfully convinces a US appeals court to halt a challenge by states and industry groups to a […] rule aimed at reducing toxic emissions from power stations. […]

    23 May A three-month pause is put on landfill methane rules […]

    13 June The EPA announces plans for a two-year pause on regulations that would reduce emissions leaks from oil and gas operators. […]

    27 June The EPA, along with the US army, proposes to scrap the clean water rule. […]

  131. says

    A follow-up to the “29 March” entry in the timeline presented in comment 210: Some states are going around the Trump administration to do the right thing.

    […] State attorneys general are pushing to ban chlorpyrifos, a pesticide that has been associated with brain damage in kids. Back in March, the EPA ruled there was insufficient evidence to justify a ban on the stuff—backtracking on its own proposal.

    Now, Reuters reports that state prosecutors in Maryland, Vermont, Washington, Massachusetts, New York, and Washington, DC, filed a lawsuit on Thursday, challenging Environmental Protection Agency chief Scott Pruitt’s decision. […]

    Link

  132. says

    An example of European leaders going around Trump to do the right thing:

    French President Emmanuel Macron on Saturday announced plans to host a climate conference on the two-year anniversary of the Paris Agreement.

    “On December 12, 2017, two years after the adoption of the Paris Agreement, France will hold a new summit on climate mobilization,” Macron tweeted. […]

    Earlier in the day, Macron tweeted that France and China are “united” on defending the Paris deal, adding the hashtag — in English — “#MakeOurPlanetGreatAgain.”

    Link

  133. says

    From midday reporting by the Washington Post yesterday:

    President Trump vowed Sunday to “move forward in working constructively with Russia,” including forming a cybersecurity unit between the two countries, after Russian President Vladimir Putin denied any interference in the 2016 U.S. election.

    Trump’s pledge to partner with Putin on cybersecurity drew swift and stern denunciations from both Democratic and Republican officials, who described the U.S. president as dangerously naive for trusting his Russian counterpart.

    From Trump’s follow-up Twitter statements: Trump said Putin ““vehemently denied” interfering in U.S. elections. Trump also tweeted that it is time to “move forward.” (Translation: I’m letting Putin off the hook entirely for interfering in the election.)

    Trump then went roaring off the tracks and into the abyss with a tweet stating that he is ready to create “an impenetrable Cyber Security unit” with Russia “so that election hacking, & many other negative things, will be guarded.”

    He got so much blowback, and lots of surprised laughter, from that last ridiculous idea that he has now tweeted, “The fact that President Putin and I discussed a Cyber Security unit doesn’t mean I think it can happen. It can’t.”

    Whoops. Trump had Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin making the rounds of the Sunday shows to propagandize the cyber-security unit as “a very significant accomplishment for President Trump.”

    Less than 12 hours later, Trump is backpedaling so fast that none of his spokespeople can keep up.

    Bullshitter in chief.

  134. says

    Follow-up to comment 213.

    Here’s the exact text of one of the Trump tweets mentioned in that comment:

    I strongly pressed President Putin twice about Russian meddling in our election. He vehemently denied it. I’ve already given my opinion.

    His opinion, as stated earlier in his European jaunt:

    Well, I think it was Russia, and I think it could have been other people in other countries. Could have been a lot of people interfered … Nobody really knows for sure. I remember when I was sitting back listening about Iraq. Weapons of mass destruction. How everybody was 100 percent sure that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction. Guess what — that led to one big mess. They were wrong.

    Okay. Let’s translate: Trump said he asked Putin. Putin denied wrongdoing. Trump agreed with Putin. Trump went further and said that Russia not being really responsible for election hacking was “what I’ve said all along.”

    I guess that’s why, when questioned closely on the matter, Mnuchin, McMaster and Tillerson refused to say whether Trump had agreed with Putin or not.

    Trump has been consistently giving us his opinion that the Russia/Trump story is “fake news.” He has told us that the evidence connecting Russia and Putin to election interference is a “made up story” that was concocted by Democrats to explain losing an election “they should have won.” That’s dunderheaded Trump’s opinion.

    At least he received enough flak over the joint Russia/U.S. cybersecurity unit that he won’t go ahead with that part of the farce.

  135. says

    McMaster and Mnuchin danced around the ways in which Trump agreed with Putin during the G20 meeting:

    Question: […] Vladimir Putin and Sergey Lavrov walked out of that bilat yesterday and went out, and they told people that President Trump had accepted their denial of election interference. Is that true?

    SECRETARY MNUCHIN: Let me just say, first of all, I think President Trump handled the meeting brilliantly, okay? It was very clear what started as a 30-minute meeting — and President Trump made it very clear in addressing the issues around the election. After a very substantive discussion on this, they reached an agreement that they would start a cyber unit to make sure that there was absolutely no interference whatsoever, that they would work on cybersecurity together. And President Trump focused the conversation on Syria and the Ukraine and North Korea. […]

    Question: General McMaster, can you address not the question of how President Trump handled it, but the question of how Putin and Lavrov have handled it. What are you going to do about it? I mean, it’s not true, is it, that President Trump accepted Putin’s statement?

    GENERAL MCMASTER: What the President and Secretary Tillerson charged us with as they came out of the meeting is what we’re going to do going forward. Secretary Mnuchin mentioned one of those aspects already, which is a recognition of the importance of cybersecurity and the need to make sure that we protect election systems in the United States and in Europe and elsewhere. So that is one of the things we’re going to focus on going forward. […]

    Link

    There are more details at the link, including more of the dancing-around-the-topic approach by Secretary Mnuchin:

    […] focused on making sure that we have a cyber unit to make sure that Russia and nobody else interferes in any democratic elections. […]

    […] there’s a commitment to move forward, work on issues that we can work on together. And I think the Syria ceasefire is a major, major success. If we can have a ceasefire and focus on how we work on Syria, and build a cyber unit, and be committed to make sure that nobody ever interferes in democratic elections again, that is a major accomplishment that President Trump is focused on. […]

  136. says

    Sometimes I think that Trump forgets things because he is aging, and he is not mentally capable of remembering. Then I see the most recent bull pucky from Donald Junior, and it looks like bullshitting and cluelessness runs in the family

    From Josh Marshall:

    […] yesterday the Times reported that Donald Trump Jr., along with Jared Kushner and Paul Manafort, met last year with a Russian lawyer with close ties to the Kremlin, Natalia Veselnitskaya, about something called the Magnitsky Act. Magnitsky is a sort of mini-sanctions law passed in 2012 which Russia has wanted overturned ever since. […] That in itself was a major story. This afternoon they followed up with additional details that made it a genuine blockbuster: according to the Times, Trump took the meeting because he was promised that he would receive damaging information about Hillary Clinton.

    This is a very big story in that it gets quite close to the first evidence of collusion between the Russian government and the Trump campaign during the 2016 campaign. At a minimum, Trump Jr was open to receiving damaging information about Clinton from Russian nationals who a simple Google search would identify as being closely allied with the Kremlin. […]

    Link

    Donald Junior made this story much worse by tweeting this self-damning explanation:

    I was asked to have a meeting by an acquaintance I knew from the 2013 Miss Universe pageant with an individual who I was told might have information helpful to the campaign. I was not told her name prior to the meeting. [WTF? No name?]

    I asked Jared and Paul to attend, but told them nothing of the substance. [Again, WTF? No agenda? Is he trying to keep Paul Manafort and Jared Kushner out of yet another controversy over previously unreported meetings with Russians?]

    We had a meeting in June 2016. After pleasantries were exchanged, the woman stated that she had information that individuals connected to Russia were funding the Democratic National Committee and supporting Ms. Clinton. Her statements were vague, ambiguous and made no sense. No details or supporting information was provided or even offered. It quickly became clear that she had no meaningful information.

    She then changed subjects and began discussing the adoption of Russian children and mentioned the Magnitsky Act. It became clear to me that this was the true agenda all along and that the claims of potentially helpful information were a pretext for the meeting. I interrupted and advised her that my father was not an elected official, but rather a private citizen, and that her comments and concerns were better addressed if and when he held public office. The meting lasted approximately 20 to 30 minutes. As it ended, my acquaintance apologized for taking up our time. That was the end of it and there was no further contact or follow-up of any king.

    My father knew nothing of the meeting or these events.

  137. says

    Follow-up to comment 216.

    More from Josh Marshall:

    […]While Trump Jr. does not say here that he met with Veselnitskaya to get damaging information about Clinton, he confirms that he was there for information that would help the campaign. Once that didn’t pan out, he concluded the meeting was a bust.

    Veselnitskaya’s claim that Russia was funding the Clinton campaign seems preposterous. Trump Jr. himself seems to suggest as much. But I’m not saying it is a preposterous accusation. I think it’s preposterous as part of Trump Jr.’s story. It’s true that the first Wikileaks email release came roughly six weeks after this meeting, which occurred on June 9th. The first report that Russian government operatives had hacked into the DNC servers came one week later on June 14th. But Trump’s disturbingly close ties to Russia and affinity for Putin was already a topic of active discussion. Meanwhile, Putin was known to be particularly hostile to Hillary Clinton. This whole story just doesn’t add up.

    Again, yesterday Trump Jr. said he met with Veselnitskaya to discuss the Magnitsky Act and Russian adoptions. Today he says he was lured into the meeting on the pretext of getting campaign information and only later had the Magnitsky Act sprung on him. His story changed completely after one day. […]

  138. says

    Latest bombshell, from yesterday: “Trump’s Son Met With Russian Lawyer After Being Promised Damaging Information on Clinton.” Jr.’s story has shifted completely over the past three days, and the versions get increasingly incriminating.

    Benjamin Wittes has dropped the ticking (now deploying the baby cannon), but Yashar Ali appears to have taken it up.

    Okay. Let’s translate: Trump said he asked Putin. Putin denied wrongdoing. Trump agreed with Putin. Trump went further and said that Russia not being really responsible for election hacking was “what I’ve said all along.”

    Preet Bharara’s response.

    Also, tweet o’ the day. (See Lynna’s #s 192 and 203 above.)

  139. says

    The Intercept – “Jared Kushner Tried and Failed to Get a Half-Billion Dollar Bailout From Qatar”:

    Not long before a major crisis ripped through the Middle East, pitting the United States and a bloc of Gulf countries against Qatar, Jared Kushner’s real estate company had unsuccessfully sought a critical half-billion investment from one of the richest and most influential men in the tiny nation, according to three well-placed sources with knowledge of the near transaction.

    Kushner is a senior adviser to President Trump, and also his son-in-law, and also the scion of a New York real estate empire that faces an extreme risk from an investment made by Kushner in the building at 666 Fifth Avenue where the family is now severely underwater.

    Qatar is facing an ongoing blockade led by Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, and joined by Egypt and Bahrain, which President Trump has taken credit for sparking. Kushner, meanwhile, has reportedly played a key behind-the-scenes role in hardening the U.S. posture toward the embattled nation.

    That hardline comes in the wake of the previously unreported half-billion dollar deal that was never consummated. Throughout 2015 and 2016, Jared Kushner and his father, Charles, negotiated directly with a major investor in Qatar, Sheikh Hamad bin Jassim al-Thani, known as HBJ for short, in an effort to refinance the property on Fifth Avenue, the sources said….

    The revelation of the half-billion dollar deal raises thorny and unprecedented ethical questions. If the deal is not entirely dead, that means Jared Kushner is on the one hand pushing to use the power of American diplomacy to pummel a small nation while on the other his firm is hoping to extract an extraordinary amount of capital from there for a failing investment. If, however, the deal is entirely dead, the pummeling may be seen as intimidating to other investors on the end of a Kushner Companies pitch….

  140. says

    SC @218, Preet Bharara cracks me up. His sense of humor in this instance is spot on.

    Also, glad to see that Donald Junior is being so helpful in establishing the Trump/Russia connection.

    In other news: when Trump Senior was out of the country previously, he helped to create a crisis in Qatar. Rex Tillerson is now hot-footing all over (Kuwait, Qatar, Saudi Arabia) trying to put out the fire that Trump ignorantly fed.
    http://talkingpointsmemo.com/news/tillerson-ease-qatar-crisis-shuttle-diplomacy

  141. says

    Follow-up to comments 216, 217 and 218.

    “Did any adviser or anybody in the Trump campaign have any contact with the Russians who were trying to meddle in the election?” CBS’s John Dickerson asked then Vice President-elect Mike Pence on Jan. 15.

    “Of course not,” Pence replied.

    Pence is a more effective bullshit-slinger than Trump, but it’s still bullshit that he is slinging.

    Kellyanne Conway, when asked about communications between Trump’s campaign and Russians, replied, “Absolutely not […] never happened.”

    Trump himself and Sean Spicer have also denied contacts with Russians during the campaign. They piled up the bullshit.

  142. says

    Oh no. Trump’s decision to leave the Paris climate accord may be having a domino effect:

    President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said on Saturday that Turkey will not be ratifying the Paris climate accord, citing President Donald Trump’s decision to abandon the deal.

    “After that step taken by America, the position that we adopt is in the direction of not passing it in parliament,” he told the press Saturday at the end of the G20 summit in Hamburg, Germany. […]

    Think Progress link

  143. says

    Good news from Oregon:

    […] Democrats in the Oregon Senate passed the Reproductive Health Equity Act, a multifaceted measure that requires health insurers to cover a range of reproductive health services—including abortions and contraception, prenatal and postnatal care, and screenings for cancer, sexually transmitting infections, and gestational diabetes—at no cost to patients, no matter their income, citizenship status, or gender identity.

    (The legislation does include an exemption for religious employers that object to providing abortion and contraception coverage.) Should Roe v. Wade be overturned, the measure also prepares to insulate the state from repercussions by codifying a woman’s legal right to an abortion in the state. The bill now heads to the desk of Oregon Gov. Kate Brown, a Democrat with a record of supporting reproductive rights.

    […] the legislation seeks to address long-standing and often overlooked disparities in reproductive health care access by explicitly removing barriers that affect low-income, undocumented, and transgender and gender-nonconforming people’s ability to access coverage. […]

    According to the Guttmacher Institute, the number of proactive reproductive rights measures introduced in statehouses has increased markedly, with more than 400 measures introduced during the first few months of 2017 […]

    Mother Jones link

    We need more state legislatures that are dominated by Democrats.

  144. says

    Follow-up to comments 216, 217, 218 and 223.

    Steve Doocy, co-host of a Fox News show, thinks he can explain what happened regarding the New York Times story about Donald Junior meeting with a Kremlin-connected lawyer:

    […] nobody knew about it until somebody in the deep state leaked these details to The New York Times. […]

    Fox News is also pushing the idea that people criticizing Ivanka Trump’s taking a seat at a G20 meeting are people “reigniting the Democrat’s war on women.” WTF?

    MADISON GESIOTTO: […] I would like to take it a step further and say if another woman was sitting at that same table, say Chelsea Clinton, I think they would be touting her as a future presidential candidate. A figure of female empowerment. […]

    To say someone is qualified because they are elected official is absolutely ridiculous. There are a lot of elected officials who wouldn’t be qualified to be sitting at that table at the G20. And to take away from Ivanka’s incredible accomplishments, and the fact that she is qualified to be sitting at that table I think is disrespectful to her.

    Note that Trump tweeted about Chelsea Clinton:

    If Chelsea Clinton were asked to hold the seat for her mother,as her mother gave our country away, the Fake News would say CHELSEA FOR PRES!

    SC linked to Chelsea’s reply in comment 218.

  145. says

    The ACLU is on the case. They are suing the Trump administration in order to challenge the voter-fraud commission headed by Kris Kobach and Mike Pence.

    […] In a lawsuit filed Monday in the U.S. District Court of the District of Columbia, the ALCU says the Presidential Advisory Commission on Election Integrity violated federal public access requirements by holding its first meeting in private, without public notice. […]

    In its complaint, the ACLU argues that the commission has violated the Federal Advisory Committee Act, which requires all advisory committee meetings to be open to the public and timely noticed in the Federal Register.

    As many as 44 states and the District have so far refused to turn over the documents, and regulatory experts told The Hill that they believed the commission may have violated the law by not first running its request through a federal office that handles information requests for the government.

    Kobach, however, has claimed that only 14 states and the District of Columbia had refused the commission’s request. […]

    The Hill link

  146. says

    [head/desk]

    […] A majority of Republicans and Republican-leaning independents (58%) now say that colleges and universities have a negative effect on the country, up from 45% last year. By contrast, most Democrats and Democratic leaners (72%) say colleges and universities have a positive effect, which is little changed from recent years. […]

    Pew Research Center link

    From Wonkette:

    The survey also found that Republicans who consider themselves conservative have a far more negative view of colleges and universities than other Republicans; 65% of conservatives said they’re having a negative effect while only 43% of “moderate and liberal Republicans” thought so. Pew’s researchers did not indicate where they scraped up any liberal Republicans. […]

  147. says

    “Thousands gather in Istanbul to protest against Turkish President following ‘justice march'”:

    Hundreds of thousands of people joined a rally in Istanbul at the end of a 25-day “march for justice” against the government of the Turkish President, Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

    The opposition Republican People’s Party leader, Kemal Kilicdaroglu, led the 280-mile walk from Ankara to Istanbul after his deputy leader was imprisoned in June.

    “If only there was no need for this march and there was democracy, media freedoms, if civic society groups could freely express their opinions,” Mr Kilicdaroglu said.

    The opposition leader was once seen as weak but has emerged as the voice of many Turks, even prompting comparisons to Mahatma Gandhi, who led peaceful protests against British rule in India.

    Mr Kilicdaroglu told Reuters his three-week march had helped Turks “cast off a shirt of fear” since emergency rule was imposed after the coup attempt.

    The 68-year-old attracted relatively modest support in the early stages of his march, but numbers swelled in the final days, with hundreds of thousands carrying banners and the Turkish flag as they demanded “rights, law, justice”….

    Erdogan’s evil regime has started another round of academic purges.

  148. blf says

    Is Paul Ryan scared of shoulders? The Republican dress code is straight out of The Handmaid’s Tale:

    The party is already making women’s lives miserable with its healthcare bill — now it’s kicking them out of the speaker’s lobby for baring their arms

    [… Y]ou may have thought that the Republicans were doing quite enough to make American women’s lives completely miserable just in their healthcare bill, what with defunding Planned Parenthood […] and potentially making pregnancy a pre-existing condition. […]

    Well, we should never underestimate the Republicans’ multitasking abilities when it comes to treating women like sexualised chattel. So last week, on the very day the House voted on the GOP’s nasty healthcare bill, a female journalist, Haley Byrd, was kicked out of the speaker’s lobby, the area outside the House of Representatives, where journalists often do interviews, because she was wearing a sleeveless dress. Meanwhile, another female was refused entry to the speaker’s lobby because her disgusting, whoreish, irresistibly tempting shoulders were on display. In order to try to do her job, this journalist ripped pages out of her notebook and stuffed them around the armholes of her dress so as to cover her slutty upper arms, but this was still deemed unacceptable. Be gone with you, slattern!

    [… The House dress code says people should dress “appropriately”] What this means is left up to the House speaker [Paul Ryan …]. Indeed, Ryan recently took time out from his busy schedule of being a spineless Trump apologist to remind Congress of the importance of “appropriate business attire”, not bothering to explain (a) what this means, (b) why he’s so scared of shoulders and (c) why it’s totally appropriate for, say, Kellyanne Conway and Ivanka Trump to wear sleeveless dresses — their favourite style, incidentally — and still be, respectively, counselor to the president and apparent president-in-waiting.

    […]

    I should note, as the column makes clear in some of the redacted sections, the House dress code has not changed in many years. What has changed is what is deemed acceptable, for no apparent reason.

  149. says

    By contrast, most Democrats and Democratic leaners (72%) say colleges and universities have a positive effect, which is little changed from recent years. […]

    WTF? Only 72%?

  150. says

    blf @231, Mormons also fear the satanic, deadly seductiveness of female shoulders. They fear them so much that even little girls wear T-shirts with at least short sleeves under their sundresses. Mormon propaganda tells heart-warming (horrifying) stories about these little girls insisting on covering their shoulders even when their infidel grandmothers buy them sundresses with spaghetti straps.
    Link

    Four-year-old Hannah’s eyes popped open. Today was zoo day! She jumped out of bed.

    “I’m ready,” she called.

    “Ready for what?” Mom asked.

    “Ready for the zoo!”

    “Go look in the kitchen first,” Mom said.

    Hannah hurried to the kitchen. There was an empty bowl on the table. Then Hannah remembered. Breakfast came before the zoo.

    After Hannah ate, she handed Mom her bowl. “I’m ready now.”

    “I don’t think so,” Mom said. “Go look in the mirror.”

    Hannah ran to the bathroom and looked in the mirror. Her hair was tangled, and she had a big white milk mustache. Hannah grabbed a cloth and washed her face. Then she brushed her teeth and combed her hair.

    “Now I’m ready,” she called.

    “Not yet,” Mom said. “Look in your bedroom for something Grandma sent you!”

    Hannah ran to her room. A new dress was on her bed. It was white with red cherries on it. Red was her favorite color. But Hannah frowned.

    “It doesn’t have any sleeves,” she said.

    Mom went to Hannah’s closet. She pulled out a bright red T-shirt that matched the bright red cherries.

    “You can wear this under the dress,” Mom said. “Then it will be modest.”

    Hannah quickly put the T-shirt on and then the dress.

    “Now I am ready to go to the zoo!”

    “Yes,” Mom said and smiled. “Now you are ready.”

    Link. Mormons add sleeves to a photo of a seven-year-old girl.

    Link (Search for “shoulder” on this page about proper dress for mormon missionaries.

    Link

    If the House dress code has not changed in many years, I wonder who provided strong input when the dress code was written? There have been a lot of Mormon congress critters (more than the percentage of the U.S. population would lead one to expect).

    From recent history:
    Robert Bishop (R-Utah) since 2003
    Leonard Boswell (D-Iowa) since 1997
    Christopher Cannon (R-Utah) since 1997
    Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah) since 2009, but recently resigned
    John Doolittle (R-California) since 1991
    Eni faleomavaega (D-American Samoa) since 1989
    Jeff Flake (R-Arizona) since 2001
    Dean Heller (R-Nevada) since 2007
    Walter Herger (R-California) since 1987
    Raul Labrador (R-Idaho) since 2011
    James Matheson (D-Utah) since 2001
    Howard McKeon (R-California) since 1993
    Matt Salmon (R-Arizona) since 2013
    Michael Simpson (R-Idaho) since 1999
    Chris Stewart (R-Utah) since 2013
    Thomas Udall (D-New Mexico) since 1999

    The above are (or were) representatives in the House. I don’t know if Senators also provided input for the House dress code, but there are a lot Mormon Senators as well.

  151. says

    Reuters: “EXCLUSIVE: Lawyer Alan Futerfas hired to represent Donald Trump Jr. in connection with Russia probes.”

    Matt Miller: “Maybe should’ve hired him BEFORE he put out a statement admitting to soliciting campaign help from a foreign national?”

  152. says

    SC @235, thanks for that link. That’s a great article. The lawyer with whom Donald Junior met is part of a network of Russian mobsters, Russian officials, and Russian financial criminals.

  153. says

    Follow-up to SC’s link in 235.

    […] Veselnitskaya’s Facebook page paints a picture of a conservative Russian woman eager to defend her government from insults, hawkish on Israel and deeply concerned about American politics.

    “Liberalism is a fucking mental disorder,” she wrote on July 1, 2016—American liberalism.

    She also had derisive remarks for Brooklyn-born Muslim organizer Linda Sarsour and crusading former acting Attorney General Sally Yates, who was ousted by Trump. “The current U.S. Attorney General (Sally Yates) stated that all lawyers working for the government do not have the right to defend the government and trump orders!” Veselnitskaya wrote on Jan. 31. “In such cases, the general should resign.” […]

    Link

    She sounds a little bit like Sarah Palin … and like Trump.

    Birds of a feather …

  154. says

    Rachel Maddow discussed an addition to the New York Times story about Donald Junior and his meeting with a Russian lawyer. Junior was informed via email before the meeting that the supposed dirt on Hillary Clinton that was being offered came from the “Russian government.”

  155. says

    Follow-up to comment 239.

    Donald Trump Jr. was told before his meeting with a Russian lawyer that the damaging information promised about Hillary Clinton was part of the Russian government effort to help then-candidate Donald Trump, according to a New York Times report.

    Rob Goldstone, the publicist who set up the June 2016 meeting between Trump Jr. and the Russian lawyer, told the eldest Trump son in an email that the potential information was coming from the Russian government in an attempt to aid his father, three people with knowledge of the message told The New York Times. [….]

    The Hill link

  156. says

    More details on how our Grifter in Chief makes money off his golf courses:

    Reporting by McClatchy, including nearly 20 interviews and hundreds of pages of documents — some from litigation involving Trump and his businesses — shows that the president put in place unusual policies that allowed him to keep the high one-time fees charged to new members and put language in his club rules that allowed him to spend the money on anything he wanted.

    “It’s definitely unusual,” said Jay Karen, CEO of the National Golf Course Owners Association, who has been in the golf club business for two decades. “It certainly reflects a clever and shrewd way to raise capital.”

    https://www.dailykos.com/stories/2017/7/10/1679327/-Breaking-from-industry-standards-the-Grifter-in-Chief-personally-profits-from-golf-club-memberships

  157. blf says

    Lynna@234, “If the House dress code has not changed in many years, I wonder who provided strong input when the dress code was written?”

    (1) No idea; (2) I’m not too sure what the full code says; and (3) Sleeveless (not sure about strapless) dresses have apparently not been disapproved-of previously (albeit that probably only applies to women, I imagine a sleeveless shirt on a man would be a cause for refusal to admit (having a fairly nice sleeveless shirt (and also an athletic jersey) myself, I don’t really agree, I’m more like to “take up arms” (as it were) about ties and blazers and similar…).

    I should note Paul Ryan — who is being blamed for the new interpretation of the dress code — is not a member of the moronic cult (well, not that moronic cult), apparently being a member of the raping child cult.

  158. blf says

    Of course, the (new) no-sleeveless-dress silliness at Congress is somewhat minor compared to other over-the-top (and usually, probably, male-created and -enforced) clothing requirements, Iranian women spark debate by defying hijab rule in cars:

    Judiciary and police insist a car interior is public space but more women are defying authorities by driving with bad hijab

    A growing number of women in Iran are refusing to wear a hijab while driving, sparking a nationwide debate about whether a car is a private space where they can dress more freely.

    Obligatory wearing of the hijab has been an integral policy of the Islamic republic since the 1979 revolution but it is one the establishment has had a great deal of difficulty enforcing. Many Iranian women are already pushing the boundaries, and observers in Tehran say women who drive with their headscarves resting on their shoulders are becoming a familiar sight.

    Clashes between women and Iran’s morality police particularly increase in the summer when temperatures rise. But even though the police regularly stop these drivers, fining them or even temporarily seizing their vehicle, such acts of resistance have continued, infuriating hardliners over a long-standing policy they have had a great deal of difficulty enforcing.

    Iran’s moderate president, Hassan Rouhani, has argued that people’s private space should be respected and opposes a crackdown on women who don’t wear the hijab. He said explicitly that the police’s job is not to administer Islam. […]

    […]

    The debate is not only among liberal Iranians. Abolfazl Najafi Tehrani, a cleric based in Tehran, tweeted: “People’s cars, like people’s houses, are their property and a private space and infringing upon this space will disturb people’s moral security and will harm women’s trust with the police.”

    Yahya Kamalpour, a member of the Iranian parliament, said: “The space within people’s cars is a private space and the police has no right to enter that space without a judicial order.”

    The debate comes amid a growing rift between the government and the hardline judiciary that acts independently of Rouhani’s government.

    […]

    A few tidbits from the first embedded link in the above excerpt (Influx of morality police to patrol the streets of Tehran, April-2016):

    [… T]he so-called morality police […] target anything from loose-fitting headscarves, tight overcoats, shortened trousers for women and glamorous hairstyles to necklaces for men. Walking dogs has also been added to the long list of activities that upset the authorities.

    […]

    Diplomats and foreign dignitaries are not exempted from the regulations. In a recent incident, the female foreign minister of India, Sushma Swaraj, came under huge attack […] for covering her head during a meeting with the Iranian president, Hassan Rouhani.

    Earlier […], Air France, which recently resumed flights to Tehran after an eight-year hiatus, said its female cabin crew can refuse flights to Iran after protests by a number of the crew members over the compulsory hijab.

    […]

  159. says

    “Russian Dirt on Clinton? ‘I Love It,’ Donald Trump Jr. Said”:

    The June 3, 2016, email sent to Donald Trump Jr. could hardly have been more explicit: One of his father’s former Russian business partners had been contacted by a senior Russian government official and was offering to provide the Trump campaign with dirt on Hillary Clinton.

    The documents “would incriminate Hillary and her dealings with Russia and would be very useful to your father,” read the email, written by a trusted intermediary, who added, “This is obviously very high level and sensitive information but is part of Russia and its government’s support for Mr. Trump.”

    If the future president’s elder son was surprised or disturbed by the provenance of the promised material — or the notion that it was part of an ongoing effort by the Russian government to aid his father’s campaign — he gave no indication.

    He replied within minutes: “If it’s what you say I love it especially later in the summer.”

    Four days later, after a flurry of emails, the intermediary wrote back, proposing a meeting in New York on Thursday with a “Russian government attorney.”

    Donald Trump Jr. agreed, adding that he would likely bring along “Paul Manafort (campaign boss)” and “my brother-in-law,” Jared Kushner, now one of the president’s closest White House advisers….

    Jr. has now released the text of the emails.

  160. blf says

    The Grauniad has a regular(?) daily(?) round-up called “Got a minute?” — I myself don’t particularly like it, finding superficial click-bait — but in yesterday’s edition is a neat synopsis of hair furor jr’s stoooopidity, Trump Jr makes a giant mess on center stage:

    […]
    Donald Trump Jr confirmed a New York Times report that he had met a Russian lawyer a year ago in hopes of getting dirt on Hillary Clinton. He brought Jared Kushner and Paul Manafort to the meeting, he said. Then he stopped talking and hired a lawyer.
    […]

    And today, as per @245, Donald Trump Jr posts emails of Russian offer of material on Clinton: I love it:

    ● President’s [sic] son releases emails apparently to pre-empt NY Times publication
    ● Emails show Rob Goldstone telling of ‘high level and sensitive information’

    Donald Trump Jr has been forced to release damning emails that show he welcomed what he was told was a Russian government attempt to harm Hillary Clinton’s election campaign.

    The emails show music promoter Rob Goldstone telling the future US president’s son that “the crown prosecutor of Russia” had offered “to provide the Trump campaign with some official documents and information that would incriminate Hillary and her dealings with Russia and would be very useful to your father”.

    Goldstone adds: “This is obviously very high level and sensitive information but is part of Russia and its government’s support for Mr Trump.”

    Trump Jr replies 17 minutes later and welcomes the offer. If it’s what you say, I love it, especially later in the summer.

    In a later email, Goldstone describes the Russian lawyer they were due to meet, Natalia Veselnitskaya, as a “Russian government attorney”.

    The formatting of the emails suggests that Trump Jr forwarded the whole chain to Paul Manafort, then Trump’s campaign chairman, and Jared Kushner, Trump Jr’s brother-in-law, before the meeting the three attended with Veselnitskaya.

    Trump Jr released the email exchange on Tuesday apparently to pre-empt their publication by the New York Times, which, this weekend, first broke the news of his meeting with Veselnitskaya in June last year. Veselnitskaya had promised compromising information about Clinton but apparently failed to deliver.

    The president’s eldest son denies any wrongdoing and tweeted on Tuesday: Media and Dems are extremely invested in the Russia story. If this nonsense meeting is all they have after a year, I understand the desperation!

    […]

    There is no such position as crown prosecutor of Russia.

    The Grauniad’s story (second excerpt) is breaking news, so not much more detail (at present) at the link.

  161. says

    Susan Hennessey:

    “[The need to urgently pull Kushner’s security clearance] isn’t politics, it’s a grave security issue. Kushner is simply unfit to hold clearance, have anywhere near the sensitive access he does”

    “There are currently people whose lives depend on Kushner being able to keep a secret from Russia—patriots to whom we owe far more than this.”

    The problem is that Trump would still hold his, so…

  162. blf says

    The Granuiad has a synopsis of jr furor’s e-mails, What is the significance of Trump Jr’s meeting with a Russian lawyer?. It’s worth reading in full. Three fairly short excepts:

    How serious is all this?
    Very. This looks like the first concrete proof of collusion. […]

    What about timing?
    The timing of the meeting — 9 June 2016 — is critical. It took place after two Russian spy agencies had hacked the Democratic National Committee but before this was made public. Later that day Trump[] attacked Clinton over her emails […]

    What does this mean legally?
    Legally, this puts Trump[] in difficulty. If Mueller confirms evidence of active collusion with Moscow, the president could be looking at treason and espionage. If not, there are still mundane campaign law restrictions that preclude accepting assistance from foreigners. […]

      † “Trump” very probably means Sr (the father / alleged president), not Jr (the son) — a point which I suspect will be a continuing source of confusion and obfuscation.

  163. says

    From the quoted text in SC’s comment 245:

    The documents “would incriminate Hillary and her dealings with Russia and would be very useful to your father,” read the email, written by a trusted intermediary, who added, “This is obviously very high level and sensitive information but is part of Russia and its government’s support for Mr. Trump.”

    One of the questions associated with Don Junior’s attempt to collude with the Russians is whether or not Trump Senior knew. Or how much did Trump Daddy know? Don Jr. tried to leave Daddy ought of it by claiming that his father didn’t know anything about the meeting with the Russian lawyer.

    However, we have seen multiple examples of Trump Senior trying to promote an investigation of Hillary Clinton’s interactions with Russia and/or Russian officials. For example, there’s this from April 2017:

    Was the brother of John Podesta paid big money to get the sanctions on Russia lifted? Did Hillary know?

    That sounds all too close to the text quoted in comment 245.

    Trump has also promoted the idea that interactions between President Obama and the Russians should be investigated:

    The reason that President Obama did NOTHING about Russia after being notified by the CIA of meddling is that he expected Clinton would win…..and did not want to “rock the boat.” He didn’t “choke,” he colluded or obstructed, and it did the Dems and Crooked Hillary no good.
    ———
    Just out: The Obama Administration knew far in advance of November 8th about election meddling by Russia. Did nothing about it. WHY?

    There’s a tendency to chalk up Trump Senior’s investigate-somebody-else talk as a way to deflect from the investigation of team Trump, but I think that it is likely Trump Senior bought into the idea that the Russians had information that “would incriminate Hillary and her dealings with Russia.”

    Trump Senior and Junior were probably manipulated by the Russians.

    Trump Junior: “Dear Law Enforcement People, I tried to collude with the Russians but failed to do so. That’s my story. Don’t put me in jail.”

  164. blf says

    Iranian cancer researcher detained at Boston airport despite valid visa (the Grauniad’s edits in {curly braces}):

    Mohsen Dehnavi, along with wife and three children, may be sent home, Boston children’s hospital says, two weeks after Trump’s travel [sic] ban took force

    An Iranian cancer researcher traveling to the US on a valid visa has been detained at Boston’s Logan international airport with his wife and three children, two weeks after Donald Trump’s revised travel [sic] ban came into force.

    Mohsen Dehnavi was traveling to the US to work as a visiting scholar at Boston children’s hospital, which is affiliated with Harvard Medical School. But when he arrived on Monday afternoon, he was not allowed to enter the country and may now be sent home along with his family […]

    […]

    In an emailed statement, Boston children’s hospital said Dehnavi was traveling on a J-1 visa, a non-immigrant visa issued to highly skilled research scholars, professors and exchange visitors.

    “Dr Dehnavi is a visiting research scholar on a J-1 visa coming to Boston Children’s with his wife and three children,” read the statement by Boston Children’s Hospital. “He and his family are being detained at Logan {and} are supposed to be sent back to Iran later today.”

    […]

    Trita Parsi, the president of the National Iranian American Council (NIAC), whose organization has vehemently opposed the ban, expressed dismay at Dehnavi’s detention, posting an image of his visa on Twitter, which shows […] that Dehnavi has already been through administrative processing (essential clearance from security agencies) before the visa was issued. […]

    […]

    Most Iranians who fall victim to Trump’s order are highly educated students and scholars. A number of Iranian scientists, including those studying at Harvard, were affected when the original ban came to force before being blocked by courts.

    […]

  165. says

    Follow-up to comments 80, 83, 85, 102, 116, and 209.

    Trump’s bogus “voter integrity” commission just got worse.

    President Donald Trump announced on Monday night that J. Christian Adams, a conservative attorney who has spearheaded efforts around the country to purge voters from the rolls, would be joining the president’s commission to investigate voter fraud. […]

    After leaving a post in the Voting Section of the Department of Justice, Adams began a quest to purge voter rolls around the country. […] Adams has sent threatening letters and filed several lawsuits against counties that he claims have too many names on the voter rolls. The actions largely target rural counties with large minority populations, although last year he and his former colleagues began targeting areas with large Democratic populations in swing states as well. […]

    Mother Jones link

    In the past, J. Christian Adams proved himself to be a dunderhead by claiming that members of the New Black Panther party were intimidating white voters in Pennsylvania. They weren’t, but Adams’ claim made the rounds of rightwing media, and it was pumped up big time by Fox News.

    We are still dealing with, suffering because of, Trump’s festering wounds from the fact that he lost the popular vote by 3 million votes.

    Other people championing voter suppression (in case anyone wants to dig further into this story):
    Kris Kobach
    Hans von Spakovsky
    Ken Blackwell

    From Rick Hasen, an election-law expert at UC Irvine:

    It is hard to imagine a list of people less credible on the issue of the extent of voter fraud in the United States, and who have done more to raise the scourge of voter fraud as a means to advocate for laws to make it harder for people to register and to vote. This is not a list meant to inspire bipartisan cooperation on fixing election administration. It is assembling a rogues’ gallery of vote suppression.

    Steve Benen noted the temporary halt to the commission gathering data thanks to a series of lawsuits, including this one:

    Monday’s abrupt halt in data collection is a direct response to a lawsuit filed by the Electronic Privacy Information Center […] alleges that the commission is violating the E-Government Act of 2002, which requires federal agencies to establish adequate data protections before collecting personal information using information technology.

    I doubt that they want to protect the data. They want the Russians (and other nefarious characters) to have access to the voter data.

  166. blf says

    Controversial rightwing activist to join Trump’s election integrity commission:

    J Christian Adams has led lawsuits against jurisdictions with large minority populations in an effort to purge voter rolls

    […]

    The panel already contains many of the most vocal advocates for restrictions on voting rights. Adams is a board member of the American Civil Rights Union, a conservative group for which he has led lawsuits against jurisdictions with large minority populations, seeking to force the purging of voter rolls.

    Adams has also advocated against automatic voter registration, calling it a partisan vehicle for fraud and claiming: Voter registration takes forethought and initiative, something lacking in large segments of the Democrat base.

    Adams is best known for his role in promoting the New Black Panther voter intimidation case, after the 2008 election. The case involved two men standing outside a polling place in Philadelphia, one of whom was carrying a night stick. A justice department investigation into whether this constituted voter intimidation became a cause célèbre on the right, largely promoted by Adams.

    […]

  167. militantagnostic says

    blf @231

    And once again the NRA remains silent on this egregious violation of the second amendment right to bare arms.

  168. blf says

    Whilst somewhat Ozland-specific, this First Dog on the Moon (assuming I the link right this time!) is still hilariously understandable, How racist is Australia really? Let’s ask the Xenophobitron 5000!, “The First Dog on the Moon Institute has developed a machine to scientifically quantify Australia’s public displays of racism”:

    ● “First up is Sky News who recently switched to their new More Racism More Often programming […]” — “Poot: it’s a 9.1 [and some asbestos]”.

    ● “Muslims treat women so badly I am going to attack you [a hijab-wearing individual] in the street […]” — “AROOGA!: it’s a 10!”.

    ● “[MP so-and-so] spoke at a racist rally then went on a racist podcast and said he didn’t know they were racist […]” — “Spits: 8 and what appears to be some of hitler’s dandruff”.

  169. says

    From Joy Reid:

    One more round on that Trump Jr. meeting set up by Emin Agalarov via his manager… this idea that it was Jr’s enterprise rings false.
    ————-
    Emin Agalarov is Donald Trump SENIOR’s contact. Not Jr.’s. His relationship is with the father, not the son. How many ways to explain…
    —————-
    We know that Emin Agalarov is the one who wanted the meeting to happen.
    ——————
    We know that both he and his father have close ties to Vladimir Putin.
    —————
    … and that Trump cameo’d in his cheesy music video…
    —————–
    Oh, his dad is called the “Donald Trump of Russia…”
    ——————-
    Emin Agalarov only follows 34 people on Twitter. One of them is Donald Trump. None of them are Don Jr.
    ———————-
    The younger Agalarov proudly proclaims his close ties to Trump Sr. (Full Atlantic story for all these clips here: https://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2017/07/who-is-emin-agalarov/533127/ … pic.twitter.com/M7rbSFT6vU
    —————
    Anyway, what makes more sense: Emin Agalarov has his manager reach out to his claimed friend Trump Sr, and Sr tells Jr.: “handle it…”
    ——————–
    Or Agalarov — son of Oligarch, who father bought him a pop career (and apparently a lot of follow bots… skipped the boss for the son?
    ——————
    … and the son never mentioned to his father that he met with a guy who along with his oligarch father, claims Trump Sr. as a friend?

  170. blf says

    I haven’t been posting much recently on the Saudi-led blockade of Qatar because what’s been happening is fairly predictable: Qatar rejected the ridiculous demands (as did Turkey), diplomats from around the world have said the demands are absurd, lots of support for Al Jazeera (albeit the support from governments is noticeably tepid / low-key), and so on. However, something interesting has now happened, US, Qatar sign deal to combat ‘terrorism financing’:

    US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson praises Qatar’s commitment to help track down and disable sources of terror funding.

    Qatar and the United States have signed an agreement to help combat “terrorism financing” during a visit to Doha by US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson

    Qatar’s Foreign Minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al Thani and Tillerson made the announcement on Tuesday during a joint news conference in the Qatari capital.

    Tillerson is in Doha pushing for dialogue to resolve a dispute between Qatar and its neighbouring Gulf countries.

    Sheikh Mohammed said the signing was “not related to the recent crisis and the blockade imposed against Qatar”.

    Yeah, sure, pull the other one. To be fair, this seems like a diplomatic invitation to the Saudis to start negotiating (which the Saudis have, to-date, said they won’t do) whilst still being able to claim Qatar isn’t being intimidated.

    […]
    Al Jazeera senior political analyst Marwan Bishara said “there is no better timing than now” to sign the agreement.

    “This has been going on for a while. I think it is timely, it is important, it is strategic for them to sign this memorandum of understanding now, because that certainly pulls the rug from under those who still are skeptical of Qatar’s attempt to stop {terror} financing,” he said.

    Exactly. As a reminder, the blockade — and demands — have next-to-nothing to do with “terror(ism)”. Saudi Arabia et al claim the blockade is to get Qatar to change its alleged support and financing for “terrorists”.

    It’s not, for “terrorism” as most people here would understand the term. The blockage is largely about stifling Qatar’s independent foreign policy, including contacts / channels of communication with people, organisations, and countries the Saudis don’t much like; and eliminating independent media in the region (which the Saudis don’t like at all). The Saudis et al see such independence, contacts, and media as a direct threat to their feudal rule — and call it “terrorism”.

    So the agreement presents the Saudis with a dilemma: Qatar has agreed to work on a real problem with a major ally of both — and that real problem is essentially what the Saudis say they want Qatar to work on.

    Shafeeq Gabra, professor of political science at Kuwait University, said Tuesday’s agreement between the US and Qatar would help ease tensions in the Gulf.

    “It will make the US and Qatar closer,” he told Al Jazeera. “It will allow the Americans to clearly say they can see through what Qatar is doing regarding at least one major accusation from the countries that imposed the blockade — terrorism.

    “And that takes a major chunk of the whole story totally out the window.”

    Apparently, Tillerson will next meet with the foreign ministers of Saudi Arabia, UAE, Bahrain, and Egypt.

  171. says

    This is rare: Fox & Friends touted false information (that’s not rare), and then they admitted they were “mistaken” (that’s rare).

    On Monday, Fox News breathlessly reported James Comey’s detailed memos of his conversations with Donald Trump contained “top secret” information. The segment was tweeted from the Fox & Friends account and shortly thereafter, the Tweeter-in-Chief gleefully chimed in:

    James Comey leaked CLASSIFIED INFORMATION to the media. That is so illegal!

    The story fell apart on Tuesday and Fox & Friends host Steve Doocy admitted they were “mistaken”:

    Yesterday on this program we aired and tweeted this story saying former FBI director James Comey leaked memos containing top secret information. We were mistaken in that according to a report half of the memos contain information classified at the secret or confidential level not top secret. […]

    Just wanted to straighten that out.

    Daily Kos link

    Lot’s of people are posting a brief video of James Comey laughing.

    Also, please note that some of the information in the memos was given classified, confidential, etc. headers after the fact. Also, please note that Comey did not give to his friend any of the memos that received some level of secret or confidential classification after the fact. Fox did not quite get their apology right — it is still misleading.

  172. says

    Don Junior’s emails appear to corroborate parts of the Christopher David Steel memos:

    […] One interesting element of the Donald Trump Jr. emails now in the news is that they track with parts of the Steele memos.

    In that first memo, dated June 20, Steele wrote that Trump “and his inner circle have accepted a regular flow of intelligence from the Kremlin, including on his Democratic and other political rivals.”

    The Trump Jr. email chain began on June 3, 2016. This was shortly after Trump had secured the Republican presidential nomination. […]

    This email from Goldstone to Trump Jr. led to a meeting six days later, where a Kremlin-connected Russian attorney spoke to Trump Jr., Kushner, and Manafort about negative information on Clinton. In a statement, Trump Jr. says that what she offered was vague and meaningless, suggesting there was nothing to it. (But Trump Jr. has dissembled repeatedly about this meeting.)

    Let’s turn to Steele’s June 20 memo. It stated:

    Source A confided that the Kremlin had been feeding TRUMP and his team valuable intelligence on his opponents, including Democratic presidential candidate Hillary CLINTON, for several years…This was confirmed by Source D, a close associate of TRUMP who had organized and managed his recent trips to Moscow, and who reported, also in June 2016, that this Russian intelligence had been “very helpful”.

    The memo also reported that there was anti-Clinton information that Putin was sitting on:

    A dossier of compromising material on Hillary CLINTON has been collated by the Russian intelligence services over many years and mainly comprises bugged conversations she had on various visits to Russia and intercepted phone calls rather than any embarrassing conduct. The dossier is controlled by Kremlin spokesman, PESKOV, directly on PUTIN’s orders. However it has not as yet been distributed abroad, including to TRUMP. Russian intentions for its deployment still unclear.

    There has been no confirmation that Putin steadily fed information to Trump’s camp or that a Kremlin-controlled anti-Clinton dossier existed. But one of Steele’s overarching points in this memo was that Putin’s regime was funneling derogatory Clinton material to Trump. The Trump Jr. emails suggest that the Russian government was aiming to do that and that the Trump campaign was willing and eager to receive assistance from Putin. So Donald Trump Jr. has done what Steele could not: produce evidence that the Trump campaign was—or wanted to be—in cahoots with a foreign adversary to win the White House.

    Link

  173. says

    Another example of some Fox News commentators trying to mislead the viewers: When Catherine Herridge reported on the email chain between Trump Jr. and Rob Goldstone, she edited out the part that read, “Russia and its government’s support for Mr. Trump.”

    Later Meghan McCain put that bit about Russian support back into the discussion.

  174. says

    Further to #256: I’m not sure why people are so focused on campaign laws and treason at the moment. We know that what the Kremlin-backed hackers and others involved in the interference did were crimes, so if the Trump campaign coordinated with them they were accomplices (possibly after the fact)/co-conspirators. That would be a serious crime. A number of crimes could be involved.

  175. says

    No one at the White House wants to defend Don Junior.

    […] White House and former campaign officials who were reached by The Daily Beast spoke on the condition of anonymity because they were not cleared to vent about President Trump’s first-born son. Trump, Jr. did not respond to multiple requests for comment on this story and the White House communications office and the president’s outside legal team did not respond either. Manafort’s spokesman Jason Maloni would only tell The Daily Beast that the former campaign chairman had “nothing to add” as of Tuesday noontime.

    Another senior official who appears to have nothing to add for the moment is the president himself who has, in the past, repeatedly stressed that allegations of his collusion with Russian actors were “fabricated by Dems as an excuse for losing the election.”

    On Monday morning, after much of this news had already broken, @realDonaldTrump made sure to tweet about his daughter Ivanka, Clinton’s daughter Chelsea, James Comey, and even some Fox & Friends clips. As of noon on Tuesday, he had yet to tweet out a single defense of his eldest son.

    The president’s legal team hasn’t been keen to defend the first son either. After initial reports on the meeting with Veselnitskaya, Mark Corallo, a spokesman for Trump’s outside counsel, replied: “The President was not aware of and did not attend the meeting.”

    After it was revealed that Trump Jr. was soliciting Clinton oppo from a Kremlin-tied lawyer, Corallo simply copy-and-pasted and blasted out the exact same statement.

    But finally, on Tuesday afternoon during the White House press briefing, Principal Deputy Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders read a conspicuously brief, dispassionate statement from the president on his son’s situation: “My son is a high quality person and I applaud his transparency.”

    http://www.thedailybeast.com/trump-aides-freaking-out-over-don-jrs-russia-email-the-sum-of-all-fears

  176. blf says

    Twitter users sue Donald Trump for blocking them over critical comments:

    Lawsuit argues Trump’s personal account is public forum and barring users is a violation of first amendment, after Sean Spicer called tweets ‘official statements’

    A group of Twitter users has sued Donald Trump and two White House communication aides for violating their constitutional rights by blocking them from Trump’s personal Twitter account after they criticized the president [sic].

    The suit […] argues that Trump’s Twitter account […] constitutes a “public forum for speech by, to, and about the President”. […]

    Since Twitter users who have been blocked cannot read or respond to Trump’s tweets, the suit argues, blocking users for their political beliefs “imposes a viewpoint-based restriction on{…} participation in a public forum” and violates the first amendment.

    […]

    The lawsuit advances novel legal theories about speech and civic participation at a time when Twitter is arguably the primary means of public communication employed by the president [sic] of the United States. […]

    White House press secretary Sean Spicer, who is named as a defendant in the suit along with White House director of social media Dan Scavino, said in June that Trump’s tweets should be considered “official statements”.

    […]

    [… Katie Fallow, a senior attorney at the Knight First Amendment Institute, which is representing the blocked Twitter users,] said that her confidence in the case was bolstered by a 19 June supreme court ruling unanimously striking down a North Carolina law that prohibited registered sex offenders from accessing social media sites. In his opinion, Justice Anthony Kennedy described social media as “the modern public square” and mentioned the usefulness of Twitter for Americans to “petition their elected representatives and otherwise engage with them in a direct manner”.

    […]

  177. says

    From Erin Gloria Ryan:

    […] The no-longer-secret meeting with a Kremlin-connected lawyer last June stands out for a number of reasons.

    First, because of how treason-y it sounds, even with Junior’s new explanation.

    Second, because it makes Junior sound like a real chump.

    Third, because it makes a person wonder how many other people were able to fake out the Trump apparatus, get access, and then yank the football away at the last minute, Lucy-to-Charlie-Brown-style.

    “I was tricked!” has become such a fallback excuse that it practically should be on the Trump family crest. […]
    [Snipped examples of various Trump family members being tricked in the past.]

    Donald Trump Junior would retweet any conspiracy theory that reinforces his world view, would meet with any lawyer that promised to help him further his cause, no matter how illegal. The Trump family is intellectually kneecapped by its own insistent self-regard. […]

    […] their gullibility endangers the entire world. Who knows how many other meetings, how many other compromises these easy marks have made at the expense of American interests? […]

  178. blf says

    A fairly long Al Jazeera article, Threats and attacks: White supremacists target campuses:

    […]
    Between the November 8 election of Trump and April, the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) watchdog documented 1,863 bias incidents, at least 330 of which took place on university campuses. In the 10 days following Trump’s election alone, the monitor recorded an average of 87 hate incidents per day. This is five times the daily average of hate crimes recorded by the FBI in 2015.

    The SPLC noted that the initial increase in the number of bias incidents has since subsided, but it warned of the growing severity of recent incidents.

    […]

    […] Since the start of the 2016 academic school year, the SPLC has documented more than 135 incidents of white supremacist and white nationalist recruitment efforts on US campuses.

    “It’s a definite uptick, and they’ve been making a concerted effort to flyer and paper as many campuses as they possibly can,” Lecia Brooks, the SPLC’s outreach director, tells Al Jazeera. She says the campaigning has notably increased since Trump won the election in November.

    […]

    Identity Evropa [“a white nationalist alt-right[] group”] leader Nathan Damigo, who recently gained national media attention for sucker-punching a female anti-fascist activist during a brawl in Berkeley, California, earlier this year described the campaigning as targeting a false anti-white narrative in academic settings.

    […]

      † I know I’ve whinged about this before: “nazi” is clearer than “alt-right”. Please stop the obfuscation with this “alt-right” malarkey.

  179. blf says

    Follow-up to @271, currently Saudi Arabia et el are venting at Qatar, Rex Tillerson applauds Qatar plan but Gulf rivals refuse to lift sanctions:

    US secretary of state praises agreement on tracking terrorist financing, putting pressure on Saudi Arabia and other Gulf states isolating Qatar

    […]

    [… L]ate on Tuesday, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, the United Arab Emirates and Egypt announced they would maintain economic sanctions on Qatar.

    The UAE foreign minister, Anwar Gargash, said on Twitter: A temporary solution is not a wise one.

    [… Egypt is also sputtering …]

    Seems a lot like hair furorisque empty-headed whatever pops in their minds bellowing, albeit literate.

    […]
    Saudi Arabia is likely to argue that Qatar would not have signed the agreement without the pressure exerted by the other Gulf states. But the Saudi leaders will be angry that Qatar appears to have stolen a march on them, and will now have to sign similar deals. […]

    […]

    The four states are expected to meet tomorrow in the Saudi city of Jeddah and will have to decide whether to use the memorandum to declare victory, or instead irritate the US by maintaining the embargo and insisting on the outstanding demands.

    Tillerson is expected to be present at part of the meeting, but in a sign that he wants Saudi Arabia to rethink its position, the secretary of state said: “I think Qatar has been quite clear in its positions and I think very reasonable.”

    It occurs to me the Saudis will, perhaps, be particularly annoyed at seeming to be bounced into signing a similar deal, since they essentially do do some of the stuff they accuse Qatar of doing — a hypocrisy many commentators have pointed out from the beginning.

  180. says

    So I’ve finally started to post my series on neurotic aggression and authoritarianism (begun more than a year ago!).

    The first installment: “Moving against people: Donald Trump as a case study of Karen Horney’s aggressive neurotic type.”

    I’ll have a couple more posts about Horney’s ideas before moving on to Erich Fromm’s analysis of the authoritarian character (I saw that Birger Johansson asked recently on another thread for a description of authoritarianism for the layperson, so the Fromm series should cover that).

  181. says

    Oh man, I hope this transcript is authentic:

    Raheem Kassam, editor-in-chief of Breitbart London, reacted to the story of Donald Trump Jr.’s newly-released emails in a way that wouldn’t typically be expected from someone at the far-right outfit, which is a reliable supporter of President[*] Trump.

    “So like, this is straight up collusion,” he wrote in the news outlet’s internal Slack, according to a transcript of the conversation obtained by CNN. “Right?”

  182. says

    Words/phrases/arguments/ideas I’d like to see retired:

    – “nothingburger”
    – “drip drip drip”
    – “bad optics”
    – the assertion that “regular people” don’t care about (Trump-)Russia (not true, and even if it were it would hardly be reason to be quiet about or drop it – the public pursuit of the truth and justice, especially with regard to a crime against democracy itself, is necessary regardless of the state of public opinion)
    – related to the previous, the pointless and exasperating prefacing of reporting/commentary/appeals about healthcare, voting rights, deportations, and other urgent and serious issues with phrases like “Meanwhile, while everyone’s distracted by the Russia scandal,…” and “Ignore the Russia nonsense – this is important:…”
    – the notion that whatever scandalous action has just been revealed should be considered in isolation and as though nothing will follow it

    I’m also annoyed that no one seems to be asking McConnell about his role in keeping information about Russian interference from the public during the campaign.

  183. says

    Chris Hayes: “It’s weird to me that people seem to be assuming the meeting went the way Trump Jr or Veselnitskaya said it did. Why would we believe that?”

    It is weird. Same as how many in the media (with the prominent exception of Maddow) only very recently stopped rote-repeating the “Flynn was fired because he lied to Pence” nonsense, and continue to unskeptically report that Trump still “refuses to believe” that the Kremlin interfered.

  184. blf says

    In the UK, Man wins equal pension rights for husband at supreme court:

    Landmark ruling means former cavalry officer’s husband will enjoy the same pension rights as a widow would

    A gay former cavalry officer has won a legal battle to provide his husband with equal pension rights in a landmark discrimination case at the supreme court.

    The unanimous judgment, which could benefit thousands of couples, will ensure that should John Walker die first, his partner will have access to an income of about £45,000 a year for life. It may also impose unexpected liabilities on pension funds.

    Lawyers for the human rights organisation Liberty, which represented Walker, argued that a same-sex husband should enjoy the same pension rights as a widow. Under current law, Walker’s husband would receive only about £1,000 a year.

    Walker, 65, has been with his husband, a former computer executive who is 52, since 1993. The Civil Partnership Act 2004 came into force in December 2005. They entered into a civil partnership in January 2006, which was later converted into marriage.

    Delivering the judgment, Lord Kerr said: “The salary paid to Mr Walker throughout his working life was precisely the same as that which would have been paid to a heterosexual man. There was no reason for the company to anticipate that it would not become liable to pay a survivor’s pension to his lawful spouse.”

    To deny his partner access to the funds would amount to discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation, he added […].

    […]

    Emma Norton, Liberty’s lawyer who acted for Walker, said: “We are delighted the supreme court recognised this pernicious little provision for what it was — discrimination against gay people, pure and simple.

    “But this ruling was made under EU law and is a direct consequence of the rights protection the EU gives us. We now risk losing that protection. The government must promise that there will be no rollback on LGBT rights after Brexit — and commit to fully protecting them in UK law.

    “How else can John be sure he and others like him have achieved lasting justice today?”

    […]

    There’s the usual bleating this will somehow cost pension funds more, a transparently absurd concern since, as the the judge pointed out, the funds are expected to managed to provide contracted pensions to partners.

    And well done to Mr Walker, his partner, and Liberty!

  185. blf says

    Follow-up to @261, Mohsen Dehnavi has been refused admission and returned to Iran, Iranian cancer researcher sent home after being denied entry in Boston:

    US border official says case of Mohsen Dehnavi, who was to work at Boston children’s hospital, is unrelated to Trump’s travel ban

    An Iranian cancer researcher who travelled to the US with his family on a valid visa has been sent back to his home country two weeks after Donald Trump’s revised travel ban came into force.

    Mohsen Dehnavi on Monday was denied entry to the US, along with his wife and three children, and detained at Boston’s Logan international airport after US Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officers deemed him inadmissible to the US. He was put on a return flight shortly after 9pm on Tuesday.

    The researcher […] was traveling to the US to work as a visiting scholar at Boston children’s hospital, which is academically affiliated with Harvard Medical School.

    […]

    Stephanie Malin, a CBP spokeswoman, denied Dehnavi’s case was related to Trump’s executive order.

    This individual was deemed inadmissible to the US based on information discovered during the CBP inspection, Malin said in a statement […].

    An official from Iran’s prestigious Sharif University said students were preparing to give Dehnavi a hero’s welcome upon his arrival in Tehran on Wednesday night. “He had to return to Iran after the aggressive behaviour by the US government. Students and professors from Sharif University will greet him at Tehran’s Imam Khomeini airport upon his arrival,” Amir Basiri of Sharif’s academic elite committee told Tasnim news, describing him as exceptionally talented. “He came first in Sharif University’s PhD entry exam,” he said.

    Dehnavi is yet to comment on the episode […]

    Probably had something that, to the goons, looked like Arabic writing, such as mathematical or chemical formulae, a still-being-coloured children’s colouring book for his children, or photographs / drawings of cancer cells.

  186. says

    Ever since Trump Senior was elected, Don Junior is supposed to be running Daddy’s businesses and steering clear of politics. However, it was White House advisors who wrote the first statement issued by Don Jr. about the meeting with the Russian lawyer.

    According to the New York Times:

    The original statement, drafted aboard Air Force One by advisers and then approved by Mr. Trump, said only that the Russian lawyer had discussed adoption policy during the meeting, without mentioning that the meeting had been offered as a chance to provide information about Mrs. Clinton’s dealings with Russia. Only after The Times followed up in preparation for another article did the younger Mr. Trump issue a second statement acknowledging that.

    Team Trump claims there’s no formal or official relationship between Don Jr. and the White House. And yet, the White House is obviously writing statements for Don Jr.

    As Steve Benen put it:

    […] there is no meaningful distinction between the president’s team and the president’s son. White House aides helped write a statement for Trump Jr., and his father personally approved it – a dynamic that suggests the president and his aides played a direct role in releasing a deceptive statement to the press about a burgeoning political scandal.

  187. says

    From the Washington Post:

    A handful of Republican operatives close to the White House are scrambling to Trump Jr.’s defense and have begun what could be an extensive campaign to try to discredit some of the journalists who have been reporting on the matter.

    Their plan, as one member of the team described it, is to research the reporters’ previous work, in some cases going back years, and to exploit any mistakes or perceived biases. They intend to demand corrections, trumpet errors on social media and feed them to conservative outlets, such as Fox News.

    Yes, that sounds like the Trump way of doing things.

  188. says

    Today, the Bullshitter in Chief tweeted this:

    The W.H. is functioning perfectly, focused on HealthCare, Tax Cuts/Reform & many other things. I have very little time for watching T.V.

    Ten minutes before Trump tweeted that bullshit, CNN’s John Berman and Poppy Harlow had discussed how Republican lawmakers in the Senate and the House seemed to be disconnected from the White House.

    More proof that the Bullshitter in Chief is lying again:

    […] New York Times Magazine reporter Mark Leibovich in early June visited Trump in the West Wing and discovered the President watching a recording of “Fox and Friends” (in a May interview with Time Magazine, Trump called TiVo “one of the great inventions of all time”).

    On Tuesday, unnamed officials gave Politico differing explanations for Trump’s empty schedule, which has been largely blank since the President returned on Saturday from the G20 summit in Hamburg.

    One unnamed White House aide cited Trump’s upcoming trip to France and said it “makes sense” for him to take “a couple days off between the one last week and this one.”

    Another unnamed official, however, told Politico that Trump has spent his increased downtime watching TV and venting about the federal investigation into whether members of his campaign colluded with Russia to influence the election in his favor.

    The quoted text is from Esme Cribb, who writes for Talking Points Memo.

  189. blf says

    Trump’s pick to lead FBI says Russia investigation is not a ‘witch-hunt’:

    At Senate confirmation hearing, Christopher Wray says he sees ‘no reason to doubt’ Russia meddled in the 2016 election

    Donald Trump’s pick to lead the FBI said he did not believe a special counsel investigation into possible coordination between Russia and Trump aides was a “witch-hunt”.

    Christopher Wray also told senators at his confirmation hearing he saw “no reason to doubt” that Russia interfered in the 2016 presidential election, and would never let politics get in the way of the bureau’s mission.

    The FBI’s work will be driven only by “the facts, the law and the impartial pursuit of justice”, the former justice department official said. “My loyalty is to the constitution and the rule of law. They have been my guideposts throughout my career, and I will continue to adhere to them no matter the test.”

    Trump has repeatedly derided as a hoax and a witch-hunt a continuing investigation by the FBI and Robert Mueller […]. The president [sic] also used the term in a Wednesday morning tweet defending the conduct of his son, Donald Trump Jr, in relation to a June 2016 meeting with a Russian lawyer, regarding the presidential campaign.

    Wray, who was selected for the FBI job last month after Trump fired James Comey, made clear that he disagreed with the characterization.

    […]

    Wray also faced questions about his relationships with Comey and Mueller. Trump allies have said Mueller’s closeness to Comey shows he cannot lead an unbiased probe. But Trump nominated Wray despite his having worked with both men.

    […]

  190. says

    Oh, FFS! Scott Pruitt is proposing a really bad idea: a televised debate about climate change.

    Scott Pruitt, the Environmental Protection Agency-hating chief of the EPA, wants to have a televised debate among scientists on climate change. When my colleague Mark Sumner read the news about this, he pictured a climate Thunderdome in which two scientists enter and a hunk of the public leaves still believing that there really is a debate to be had.

    Pruitt obviously believes that the subject is debatable, and he has made clear which side he comes down on. Anyone who has followed his work as attorney general of Oklahoma filing 14 lawsuits against the EPA, […] The oil and gas industry has consequently showered him with campaign contributions and, on official attorney general stationery, he’s been happy to affix his signature to letters that were written by that industry. […]

    It’s quite the tell that Pruitt credits the idea of a debate to his reading of two people—Steve Koonin and Bret Stephens. They both wrote Op-eds in April laying out a piece of their climate science “skepticism” on the opinion pages of The Wall Street Journal and The New York Times. Both of them then and in their other work repeatedly rely on fallacies and debunked claims. Neither is a climate scientist. Indeed, Stephens isn’t a scientist at all.

    “There are lots of questions that have not been asked and answered (about climate change),” EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt told Reuters in an interview late on Monday.

    “Who better to do that than a group of scientists… getting together and having a robust discussion for all the world to see,” he added without explaining how the scientists would be chosen.

    Pruitt is right about one thing. Lots of questions have not been answered about climate change. But that doesn’t mean scientists are avoiding asking those questions or failing to conduct hundreds of studies to get answers. It’s just that Pruitt and other climate science deniers don’t like the answers they’re getting. […]

    Link

  191. Saad says

    Can someone help me understand how Trump gets to pick the FBI director, given the circumstances?

    I must be missing something very basic here, because everybody seems to be just fine with what seems to me to be the most blatant example of conflict of interest.

  192. says

    Jared Kushner is almost as clueless as Donald Junior. From Axios:

    The view in Kushner’s orbit is that the brutal new revelations are more P.R. problems than legal problems. And if he makes progress with his Middle East peace efforts, perceptions would be very different.

    No, you doofuses and dunderheads, this is not a P.R. problem. Well, it may be a bit of a PR problem, but that’s the most trivial aspect of the Trump/Russia scandals.

    As Josh Marshall put it:

    […] even if you grant the nonsensical premise – that grave legal problems can be managed with good PR or even substantive policy successes – this is an inane statement.

    It amounts to “Sure, it looks bad. But if Jared negotiates a final settlement between the Israelis and the Palestinians, it will all be fine.” That’s nuts. […] The idea that a inexperienced and callow rube like Kushner, backed by a thoroughly distracted President, is going to get anywhere, is truly fantastical. And yet, that’s the plan for slipping the noose with his legal problems.

    With Don Jr., if he knew he’d been sitting on this for a year, why didn’t he already have a lawyer, rather than hiring one this weekend? Why did he tweet those emails, even if he knew or thought the Times was about to publish them? And why did he go on Hannity last night? Again, I don’t think there is any real answer beside the hard to figure reality that they just don’t get the scale of trouble they’re in.

    Why is this?

    At a basic level, I think the key players just aren’t that smart and have a lot of hubris. They’re like low level grifters or mob soldiers who are headstrong and stupid and get chewed up when the authorities come after them. But I have a more general theory.

    Back when Trump started becoming our big national story and especially when Kushner moved center stage, I started thinking more about the big New York real estate families. The very rich, of course, play by different rules everywhere. […] But no American city is quite like New York, either in the scale of the city itself or the particular dynamics of the concentrated, finite space and which is tied to the durability of investment value. […]

    But the big thing that stands out to me about this set – a very small social world that Trump, his kids and the Kushners are all part of – is that they are reckless and filled with a sense of invulnerability. And why not? Trump has skidded on the edge of legality for decades. He at least worked with and took money from crooks and organized crime figures for decades. Other than having to settle a few lawsuits, he’s never paid any price. […]

  193. says

    Columnist and longtime Trump supporter, Charles Krauthammer, said this on Fox News yesterday:

    I’d say it’s a hell of a defense to say your collusion was incompetent and that it didn’t work out. The fact is, this is not just opposition research. This is not just somebody coming out of the woodwork in Indiana, with the story about the Clintons — this is a foreign power. Not just any foreign power. … This is our most serious foreign adversary, one could argue, in the world. […]

    There was nothing to show that the Trump administration was aware of or supporting the Russians interfering in our election and this just showed up today in black and white, released by Don Jr. himself. This is not released in the anti-Trump media. So you see it in black and white. This is not to say that collusion is a crime. It never was. But it is to say that the denial of collusion is very weak right now because it looks as if, I don’t know if there’s any other explanation, Don Jr. was receptive to receiving the information.

    If you get a call to go to a certain place in the middle of the night to pick up stolen goods and it turns out the stolen goods don’t show up, but the cops show up, I think you’re going to have a very weak story saying, “Well, I got swindled here.” Look this is incompetence, they got swindled.

    When you get information that the Russians want to dig dirt on your opponent and give it to you and support you in your election, you go to the FBI. You don’t go to the meeting.

    Like SC and others have mentioned, I see no reason to believe Don Jr. when he says he didn’t get anything out of the meeting, and I don’t know why Krauthammer seems to believe him.

    The Russian lawyer is, likewise, a source that cannot be trusted.

  194. says

    Follow-up to comment 295, and to Trump claiming, “I have very little time for watching T.V.”

    Representative Adam Schiff commented:

    There is no evidence, I think, that this White House is functioning normally. All the evidence is quite to the contrary in terms of the tremendous dysfunction in the administration. That is largely the President’s own making. In the national security and foreign policy area that I do so much work in, you constantly have conflicting signals sent out about what the policy of the United States is.

    […] You could come up with any number of examples of this, both in terms of foreign policy as well as domestic policy. […]

    It seems like he doesn’t have time for anything else [other than watching TV], given the constant attacks he’s making against people who are TV hosts, some of the most pernicious attacks. So, really hard to take these most recent tweets and statements very seriously.

    Schiff also characterized Trump’s claim that he doesn’t watch much TV as “comical.”

  195. tomh says

    @ #296
    In other words, Wray lies just as much as all the other Trump appointees.

  196. tomh says

    @ #298
    It wasn’t always so. When the FBI was created within the Justice Dept in 1908, the Attorney General appointed the Director. J. Edgar Hoover, who held the position for over 40 years was appointed by the AG in 1924. However, in 1968, mindful of the fact that the FBI had grown to a powerful, independent force, far beyond what was originally envisioned, Congress moved the appointment power to the President, “with the advice and consent of the Senate.” After all the turmoil of the Nixon years, this was amended to specify a single, ten year term for the Director. Such is the case today.

  197. says

    Some Republicans serving in the House of Congress are threatening to reopen investigations of Hillary Clinton if Democrats don’t stop harping on the Trump/Russia scandal.

    I wonder that they plan to do to Don Jr. and other members of team Trump who are doing a damned good job of expanding the inquiries into the Russian connection without any help from Democrats.

    House judiciary Committee members issued this statement:

    If this continues — this immobilization of the presidency over these kind of things — it’s gonna force Congress to do an investigation, a complete and thorough investigation, and that means go back all the way to the 650,000 emails of Anthony Weiner and look at [former FBI Director James] Comey and his activities.

    Representative Steve King of Iowa said this:

    What I’m saying is this, that the Comey investigation — now him picking the special counsel on top of it — on its face, appears to be collusion.

    Comey didn’t appoint Mueller, Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein did.

    In last night’s show, Rachel Maddow pointed out that trying to refocus investigations on Hillary Clinton was a thing Republicans were trying to do, and that she would expect them to come up with new (illogical and stupid) accusations against Clinton. Yes. That does seem to be happening.

  198. says

    Well, this was to be expected: the White House is back to trashing the Congressional Budget Office. The official WH Twitter account posted this: “The Congressional Budget Office’s math doesn’t add up. Faulty Numbers = Faulty Results.”

    Team Trump is obviously very worried about the new CBO score of TrumpCare.

    In their first attempt to trash the CBO, the WH posted a video in which onscreen spellings of “inaccurately” were not always accurate.

    https://thinkprogress.org/white-house-exceedingly-dishonest-attack-congressional-budget-office-13ec1814be3d

  199. says

    Trump Hotels have been hacked … again.

    A host of personal and financial information has been exposed from 14 of […] Trump’s properties over the course of the last year, the Washington Post reported. It’s the third such breach the hotel chain has faced in the past three years.

    The breach occurred between August 2016 and March 2017 but wasn’t detected until June 5, according to a notice Trump Hotels sent to guests. The data exposed in the months-long breach is extensive and includes credit card data such as card numbers, expiration dates, and security codes, and detailed personal information including emails, addresses, social security numbers, phone numbers, and passport and driver license information. […]

    Trump Hotels […] have a track record of poor cybersecurity. […] Last year, Trump International Hotels Management paid $50,000 in penalties after failing to tell customers of a breach that exposed more credit card numbers and social security numbers, the Post reported. […] Additionally, a Gizmodo investigation found that cybersecurity at Trump’s luxury golf resort in Palm Beach, Mar-A-Lago, was so weak that any “half-decent hacker” could break into open Wi-Fi networks, which could be used to take over mobile devices and computers to record conversations. President Trump himself has made multiple visits to Mar-A-Lago since taking office. […]

    https://thinkprogress.org/trumps-hotels-have-been-getting-hacked-for-months-d22e505664b6

  200. says

    Trump decided to defend his son more vigorously, and to reprise his “Witch Hunt” claims:

    “My son Donald did a good job last night,” Trump tweeted Wednesday morning, praising his son’s Tuesday night interview with Fox News host Sean Hannity. “He was open, transparent and innocent. This is the greatest Witch Hunt in political history. Sad!”
    —————-
    “Look what Hillary Clinton may have gotten away with,” he said. “Disgraceful!”

    Politico link

  201. says

    Trump appeared on the Christian Broadcasting Network today. Pat Robertson interviewed Trump. Here are a few excerpts:

    “We are the most powerful country in the world and we are getting more and more powerful because I’m a big military person,” Trump [said]. “As an example, if Hillary had won, our military would be decimated. Our energy would be much more expensive.”

    That, Trump continued, is what Russian President Vladimir Putin “doesn’t like about me.”

    “And that’s why I say, ‘Why would he want me?’ Because from Day one I wanted a strong military. He doesn’t want to see that,” he added. “So what I keep hearing about that he would have rather had Trump, I think ‘probably not.'”

    […] “Everyone was surprised by the amount of time but that was a good thing and not a bad thing,” Trump said of the meeting. “Yeah, I think we get along very well and I think that’s a good thing. That’s not a bad thing.”

    The president criticized people who say he shouldn’t get along with Putin, asking, “Well, who are the people that are saying that?”

    “I think we get along very, very well,” he added. “We are a tremendously powerful nuclear power, and so are they. It doesn’t make sense not to have some kind of a relationship.”

  202. says

    Religious leaders gathered to lay their supposedly healing hands on Trump, and to pray over him today. This farce took place in the oval office.

    […] The group included megachurch pastors Paula White of Florida, Mark Burns of South Carolina, former Republican Rep. Michelle Bachmann, and three Southern Baptist pastors.

    The laying of hands is a symbol of God’s authority, practiced in many evangelical denominations. Jesus and his apostles used the sign throughout the New Testament to bless and heal people and to commission messengers of the gospel.

    Pastor Rodney Howard-Browne posted photos of the meeting on Facebook, and said he prayed for “supernatural wisdom, guidance and protection” for Trump. “Wow — we are going to see another great spiritual awakening,” he said in the post. […]

    The Hill link

    Mike Pence was also there. He did his well-practiced “I’m praying and being humble” schtick.

  203. says

    “Trump-Russia investigators probe Jared Kushner-run digital operation”:

    Investigators at the House and Senate Intelligence committees and the Justice Department are examining whether the Trump campaign’s digital operation — overseen by Jared Kushner — helped guide Russia’s sophisticated voter targeting and fake news attacks on Hillary Clinton in 2016.

    Congressional and Justice Department investigators are focusing on whether President Donald Trump’s campaign pointed Russian cyber operatives to certain voting jurisdictions in key states — areas where Trump’s digital team and Republican operatives were spotting unexpected weakness in voter support for Hillary Clinton, according to several people familiar with the parallel inquiries.

    Also under scrutiny is the question of whether Trump associates or campaign aides had any role in assisting the Russians in publicly releasing thousands of emails, hacked from the accounts of top Democrats, at turning points in the presidential race, mainly through the London-based transparency website WikiLeaks.

    Rep. Adam Schiff of California, ranking Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee, told McClatchy he wants to know whether Russia’s “fake or damaging news stories” were “coordinated in any way in terms of targeting or in terms of timing or in terms of any other measure … with the (Trump) campaign.”

    Mike Carpenter, who in January left a senior Pentagon post where he worked on Russia matters, also has suspicions about collaboration between the campaign and Russia’s cyber operatives.

    “There appears to have been significant cooperation between Russia’s online propaganda machine and individuals in the United States who were knowledgeable about where to target the disinformation,” he said, without naming any American suspects….

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

    Look at who Trump was hanging out with back in 2013.

    In the video—recoreded in Las Vegas in 2013—Trump can be seen with Emin and Aras Agalarov, the Russians who allegedly asked manager Rod Goldstone to set up a meeting between a Russian lawyer and Turmp Jr.

    “We all think alike,” Emin Agalarov says in the video.

    “These are the most powerful people in Russia, these are the richest people in Russia,” Trump later adds.

  205. says

    As I’ve said before, I’m impressed with Masha Gessen and appreciated her book. But I’m pretty tired of her increasingly grasping attempts to spin the Trump-Russia relationship as something other than appears to be.

    The wording seems to suggest that the Russian prosecutor general was offering to help the Trump campaign to smear Hillary with the Russia brush—something that would tap into Americans’ long-held fear of Russia, which was, coincidentally, the weapon the Clinton campaign would start using against Trump in a couple of months. In late August, the Clinton campaign released a video showing Trump’s then-adviser Mike Flynn sitting at a dinner table with Putin, and later, during a debate, Clinton accused Trump of being a “Putin puppet.” The Goldstone letter seems to dangle the promise of a similar accusation that could have been levied against Hillary Clinton herself.

    The accusations about Trump’s being a puppet and his campaign’s coordinating with the Kremlin are supported by a large and growing pile of evidence, and not based on tapping into USians’ alleged “long-held fear of Russia. This has to stop.

    There is, in other words, an underlying truth to all of Trump’s lies (and occasional non-lies). His statements reveal his understanding of the world. In Trump’s world, President Obama could have had him wiretapped, millions of immigrants could have voted illegally, most of the media could be lying all the time. It’s not that Trump believes that all these things happened—it’s that he finds them conceivable.

    He doesn’t just find them conceivable. He sometimes has a neurotic need to believe them, but more generally – as I argued yesterday – believes this is how everyone in the world behaves. Most importantly, this is how he behaves. The reason this is all plausible to him is because his moral code is to lie, cheat, steal, and exploit to get ahead. Anything it takes to win. This makes it infinitely more plausible – I’ve long argued highly likely – that he conspired with Putin’s regime.

    It’s possible that something got lost in translation or transmission, from Chaika to Agalarov to Goldstone, making the offer sound stranger than it was. It is possible, though extremely unlikely, that Veselnitskaya was coming to the table with the promise of emails obtained as a result of the hacks of the Democratic National Committee (which had already occurred). But this hypothesis raises more questions than it answers, including: How did Trump manage to keep quiet about the hacked trove for months afterward? How did the campaign agree to leave the release of the emails up to Julian Assange? And why hasn’t Trump made any attempt to get rid of the Magnitsky Act?

    These questions are frankly silly. And there are other hypotheses than the two she proposes.

    More likely, Trump Jr. has told a kind of truth: Veselnitskaya had nothing of the sort that she had promised. The whole email exchange had been a con aimed at getting Trump’s top people to take a meeting with a Russian lobbyist. What makes it shocking is that the con worked, quickly and easily, because the conmen and their marks live in a shared world that runs on greed and the thirst for power—and nothing else.

    This is not at all convincing, and far less convincing in light of the preponderance of the evidence and the character and documented history of the people involved. The fact that Trump “runs on greed and the thirst for power” and always has fits just as neatly with a collaboration hypothesis. Waking up to the Trumpian world, indeed.

  206. says

    @306 Lynna – Joon Kim is Preet Bharara’s successor. He’s not a Trump appointee. If Sessions or any Trump appointee pressured him to settle that case, then that needs to be known and will be asked by the Judiciary Committee. That could be a furtherance to obstruction of justice charges.

    If he wasn’t pressured, and since I believe he has the full confidence of Preet Bharara, I suspect it’s also possible this case was settled for reasons related to the Trump Russia investigation.

    It was also noted today by, Senator Lankford, that the Senate Intelligence Committee has known about Jr’s emails since April. The case was settled in early May. The Judiciary committee did nothing, said nothing about that case being settled until today, after Jr’s emails became public.

    So the Senate (presumably including some dems) knew about Jr’s emails in April. Case involving same lawyer and Russian money laundering through Manhattan real estate is unexpectedly settled the day before it was supposed to go to trial.

    There’s no way this is all a coincidence. I think the chances are better that Joon Kim was asked to settle it in order to facilitate other aspects of the investigations, such as lulling some of the actors into a sense of security so they would keep talking / committing crimes. Another possibility is a deal was made to turn state’s evidence with someone involved in that case, maybe even this lawyer Natalia Veselnitskaya.

    I’m not trying to go all #scoobygang and make claims without evidence, truth is I have no idea, but I am fascinated with this small part of the over all picture and really think when the full truth comes out, a lot of it is going to revolve around this woman, this case and the other players involved.

  207. says

    “Democrats Sue Trump Campaign Over Leaked Emails Tied to Russia”:

    Two Democratic Party donors and a former party staff member have filed an invasion of privacy lawsuit against President Trump’s campaign and a longtime informal adviser, Roger J. Stone Jr., accusing them of conspiring in the release of hacked Democratic emails and files that exposed their personal information to the public.

    Mr. Trump and his political advisers, including Mr. Stone, have repeatedly denied colluding with Russia, and the 44-page complaint, filed on Wednesday in the Federal District Court for the District of Columbia, does not contain any hard evidence that his campaign did. But it is seeking to depose witnesses and obtain campaign emails and other documents during the discovery process that is a standard part of lawsuits.

    If a judge permits the case to reach that stage, the lawsuit would become a new and independent fact-finding investigation into the Trump-Russia issue — one that is overseen by a judge rather than by congressional Republicans, like the oversight inquiries conducted by the House and Senate Intelligence Committees, or by the Trump administration, like the criminal inquiry led by the special counsel, Robert S. Mueller III.

    The complaint largely consists of a catalog of publicly known facts that it presents as circumstantial evidence that the defendants had the motive, desire and opportunity to conspire with Russia.

    It noted public statements by the defendants and revelations about meetings and contacts with Russians that various associates of Mr. Trump concealed when applying for security clearances….

  208. says

    Speaking of the character and history of the people involved…

    David Wildstein, who orchestrated Bridgegate but was the first to cooperate with investigators, today received probation. In 2013, when the scandal had come to light and Wildstein had just resigned, Kushner emailed him saying “Just wanted you to know that I am thinking of you and wishing the best. For what it’s worth, I thought the move you pulled was kind of badass.” That’s who Kushner is.

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

    That attorney, Natalia Veselnitskaya, represents the family of Pyotr Katsyv, the former vice governor of the Moscow region, whose son, Denis, owns the real-estate company Prevezon. The DOJ had been investigating whether Prevezon laundered millions of dollars through New York City real estate when the case was unexpectedly settled two days before going to trial in May.

    “Last summer, Donald Trump Jr. met with a Kremlin-connected attorney in an attempt to obtain information ‘that would incriminate Hillary,'” the Democrats wrote, citing the emails he published. “Earlier this year, on May 12, 2017, the Department of Justice made an abrupt decision to settle a money laundering case being handled by that same attorney in the Southern District of New York.

    “We write with some concern that the two events may be connected — and that the Department may have settled the case at a loss for the United States in order to obscure the underlying facts.”

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

    [Apologies for the double post; this site is doing weird things when I try to use Firefox. Below is the full post.]

    So, when Trump goes down, will Sessions go down with him?

    House Democrats want to know why a major Russian money-laundering case was abruptly settled:

    Democratic members of the House Judiciary Committee sent a letter to Attorney General Jeff Sessions on Wednesday asking why the Department of Justice settled a major money-laundering case involving a real-estate company owned by the son of a powerful Russian government official whose lawyer met with Donald Trump Jr. last year.

    […]

    That attorney, Natalia Veselnitskaya, represents the family of Pyotr Katsyv, the former vice governor of the Moscow region, whose son, Denis, owns the real-estate company Prevezon. The DOJ had been investigating whether Prevezon laundered millions of dollars through New York City real estate when the case was unexpectedly settled two days before going to trial in May.

    “Last summer, Donald Trump Jr. met with a Kremlin-connected attorney in an attempt to obtain information ‘that would incriminate Hillary,'” the Democrats wrote, citing the emails he published. “Earlier this year, on May 12, 2017, the Department of Justice made an abrupt decision to settle a money laundering case being handled by that same attorney in the Southern District of New York.

    “We write with some concern that the two events may be connected — and that the Department may have settled the case at a loss for the United States in order to obscure the underlying facts.”

    I don’t know which is more flabbergasting: the level of corruption of this crew, or the utter inability to cover their tracks.

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

    Hey, at least there’s Betsy DeVos. She’s planning to meet tomorrow with victims of rape.

    Oh, wait, did I say victims of rape? What I meant was victims of rape accusation:

    Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos will hear personal accounts on Thursday from two former students and attorneys representing men who allege they were falsely accused of rape, according to a spokesperson for Stop Abusive and Violent Environments (SAVE), a nonprofit that is described by the Southern Policy Law Center (SPLC) as promoting misogyny.

    The ex-students meeting with Secretary DeVos are Joseph Roberts, a retired Navy serviceman who previously lobbied members of Congress about what SAVE describes as the “military’s sexual assault witch hunt,” and Jonathon Andrews, a representative from SAVE who claims he was the victim of multiple false accusations that were meant to punish him after Andrews alleged that he was sexually assaulted by a member of his fraternity.

    Chris Perry, SAVE’s deputy executive director and an attorney who will also attend, said he could not recall whether SAVE or the Department of Education first placed the call to arrange the meeting, but said that SAVE has been “sending them different materials since the [current] administration has taken over.”

    While he didn’t reveal what the contents of those “materials” were, Perry said SAVE’s goal was to open a dialogue with Secretary DeVos about the adjudication of on-campus sexual assault cases.

    Perry said that while rape remains a “serious crime,” one that should be “taken seriously,” both victims and the accused should strive to have cases dealt with in a “respectful manner” and create a “more fundamentally fair system.”

    Yet on its website, SAVE says the organization believes that “intrusive questions about the accuser’s prior sexual history” should be permitted.

    Afterwards she’s meeting with a group of MRAs.

  212. says

    What a Maroon at 320 to 322, and re-pinging myself at 315 and 304…

    I’ve thought a lot about this, I’m fairly convinced that the Prevezon case was settled in order to procure intel and possibly testimony from Natalia Veselnitskaya. Preet Bharara and Joon Kim were both happy to settle the case and have had nothing to say about it since. I have to believe Preet is on the right side here so trust that he knows it was settled for a good reason.

    I don’t think Sessions had anything to do with it.

  213. KG says

    In other news, an iceberg the size of the state of Delaware has broken free from the Antarctic ice shelf. – Lynna, OM@306

    No, no. I am assured by the BBC that it’s a quarter the size of Wales ;-)

  214. blf says

    No, no. I am assured by the BBC that [the iceberg]’s a quarter the size of Wales

    What’s the Wales–London Routemaster double-decker bus conversation factor?

  215. says

    “Russian Officials Overheard Discussing Trump Associates Before Campaign Began”:

    Investigators are re-examining conversations detected by U.S. intelligence agencies in spring 2015 that captured Russian government officials discussing associates of Donald Trump, according to current and former U.S. officials, a move prompted by revelations that the president’s eldest son met with a Russian lawyer last year.

    In some cases, the Russians in the overheard conversations talked about meetings held outside the U.S. involving Russian government officials and Trump business associates or advisers, these people said.

    In 2015, intelligence agencies weren’t sure what to make of the surveillance reports, which they viewed as vague and inconclusive, the current and former officials said. But the volume of the mentions of Trump associates by the Russians did have officials asking each other, “What’s going on?” one former official said.

    Now, in light of the release of emails Tuesday by the president’s eldest son, describing a 2016 meeting with a Russian lawyer, investigators are going back to those early reports….

  216. blf says

    Trump election group backs away from its request for voter data after outcry:

    […]
    The Trump administration is backing away from its extraordinary attempt to gather voters’ personal information, following a barrage of legal challenges, an outcry from state officials, and a rash of voter registration cancellations by people concerned about their privacy.

    Voting rights groups have filed at least six lawsuits in response to a letter sent out on 28 June by Kris Kobach, vice-chair of the presidential advisory commission on election integrity […]

    […]

    Both Kobach and Trump have floated the notion that 3 to 5 million people voted illegally last November — a notion that has angered both Republican and Democratic election officials because there is no shred of evidence to support it.

    […]

    The commission has also abandoned plans to store the information on a temporary Pentagon computer and promised to have a dedicated White House server ready to receive the data by next week.

    Not one state — not even Kansas, where Kobach is secretary of state and in charge of elections — has agreed to comply fully with the request. […]

    […]

    According to the lawsuits filed by the Electronic Privacy Information Center (Epic), the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and others, […] accuse the commission of working at a constitutionally intolerable level of secrecy, and Kobach himself of blurring the legal lines between his position as vice-chair and his candidacy in next year’s Kansas gubernatorial election.

    […]

    Some damage, however, has already been done, as election officials in at least four states — Arizona, Colorado, Florida and North Carolina — report receiving requests from hundreds of voters to cancel their registrations to protect their personal information.

    […]

    The voter response in Arizona appears to have triggered a change in policy. The secretary of state there initially said she would be withholding social security numbers, dates of birth and other identifying details but otherwise complying with the request. By the time she sent her official response, however, the line had changed to a flat no.

    The article isn’t clear on at least one point, namely, whether or not data will still be accepted from the states which have agreed to provide some (though apparently no state has agreed to provide all which was asked). The article hints the data will be accepted, using a system run by teh Wacko House (and therefore immediately shipped to Russia).

  217. blf says

    No other lies have worked so let’s try this one, Donald Trump says Vladimir Putin wanted Hillary Clinton to win presidency:

    […]
    President Donald Trump, battling allegations that Russia helped him win the White House, claimed on Wednesday that Vladimir Putin would have preferred a Hillary Clinton victory — despite US intelligence saying the Russian leader directed a covert effort to help defeat her.

    We are the most powerful country in the world and we are getting more and more powerful because I’m a big military person. As an example, if Hillary had won, our military would be decimated, Trump said.

    That’s why I say, why would he want me? Because from day one I wanted a strong military, he doesn’t want to see that.

    In an interview with Pat Robertson of the Christian Broadcasting Network, Trump said There are many things that I do that are the exact opposite of what he (Putin) would want.

    Trump said he got along “very, very well” with the longtime Russian leader, whom he met in Hamburg last week. So what I keep hearing about that he would have rather had Trump, I think ‘probably not,’ because when I want a strong military he said.

    When I want tremendous energy – we’re opening up coal, we’re opening up natural gas, we’re opening up fracking, all the things that he would hate — but nobody ever mentions that, he said.

    On Saturday, Putin told reporters he had hopes for the bilateral relationship after meeting Trump.

    The Trump that you see on TV is very different than the real Trump, Putin told reporters at the G20 in Germany. He perfectly understands whom he is talking to and answers questions quickly. I think personal relations were established.

    […]

    The article goes on and then concludes with hair furors claims about what was said in the meeting with his controller on election meddling. To try and not endanger the remaining world’s supply of comic sans eejit quotes, I’m refraining from excerpting that bit, except for the very last: “About Putin, [hair furor] added: Somebody did say if he did do it [election meddling], you wouldn’t have found out about it. Which is a very interesting point.

  218. blf says

    Ooopsie, ‘Fontgate’: Microsoft, Wikipedia and the scandal threatening the Pakistani PM:

    Court finds that Nawaz Sharif’s daughter in 2006 disclosed link to firm named in Panama Papers, but disclosure was typed in font not available until 2007

    […]

    Mariam Nawaz Sharif is under supreme court investigation after the 2016 Panama Papers leak tied her to a purchase of high-end London property acquired through offshore companies in the British Virgin Islands.

    […]

    Documents claiming that Mariam Nawaz Sharif was only a trustee of the companies that bought the London flats, are dated February 2006, and appear to be typed in Microsoft Calibri.

    But the font was only made commercially available in 2007, leading to suspicions that the documents are forged.

    […]

    According to Wikipedia […], the Calibri font was developed in 2004 but only reached the general public on 30 January 2007 with the launch of Microsoft Vista and Microsoft Office 2007.

    After users seemingly tried to change the article’s content to say the font was available from 2004, Wikipedia suspended editing on its Calibri page “until July 18 2017, or until editing disputes have been resolved”.

    [… Commentators] praised Wikipedia for its quick response and said it was proof of the company’s integrity.

    Opposition parties have urged prime minister Nawaz Sharif to step down after the investigation found a “significant disparity” between his family’s declared wealth and known sources of income.

    […]

    I suggest Ms Sharif hire the guy who proved Ms Earhart and Mr Noonan were “captured” in the Marshall Islands two years before they flew nowhere near there.

  219. blf says

    Poll reveals 85% of Americans oblivious to hunger in Africa and Middle East:

    Low public awareness of food crisis in South Sudan, Somalia, Nigeria and Yemen gives way to widespread concern among US citizens once informed

    Less than a fifth of Americans are aware that extreme hunger threatens the lives of 20 million people in Africa and the Middle East, yet the overwhelming majority regard it as the most pressing global issue once they have been told, a poll of US voters has revealed.

    Perhaps I’m being overly cynical, but I detect a trace of something similar to the Brady effect (“I’ll vote for Brady” …(in the booth) “I’m not voting for no uppity n——!”): “Starving children is a big problem” …(at the dinner table) “There was fake news to feed terrorist n——s!”

    Yemen, as has been previously noted multiple times in this thread, has a severe cholera problem, ‘Cholera is everywhere’: Yemen epidemic spiralling out of control:

    Red Cross says there are more than 300,000 suspected cases in country where civil war has decimated health facilities

    Ali Muhammad’s entire family are sick. In the months since his home district of Abs in northern Yemen was hit by a cholera outbreak, he has lost both parents and all six of his children have fallen ill.

    “Cholera is everywhere,” he said, according to a testimony provided by Médecins Sans Frontières, who are caring for his eldest daughter at a cholera treatment centre in Abs. “The water is contaminated and I don’t drink it. We have tanks, but we don’t get water regularly. The situation cannot be worse.”

    […]

    The Abs district was the scene of a deadly airstrike by the Saudi-led coalition last August that demolished a hospital supported by MSF, killing 19 people, including one of the aid agency’s staff members, and injuring 24.

    Less than a year later, as the ongoing conflict hits an stalemate, creating the largest humanitarian crisis in the world, the MSF cholera treatment centre in Abs town alone is receiving more than 460 patients daily, which is more than anywhere else in the country.

    The International Committee of the Red Cross warned on Monday that the cholera epidemic in Yemen was spiralling out of control, reaching a milestone of over 300,000 suspected cases. More than 1,600 people have died. Children account for nearly half of all suspected cholera cases in the country, according to the UN’s children agency.

    […]

    […] Only 45% of health facilities in Yemen remain with limited functionality, the UN has said.

  220. blf says

    Aw, cue violins so small and quiet you would need an electron microscope to see them and the tune would be drowned out by Brownian motion, Milo Yiannopoulos labels low sales figures of Dangerous memoir fake news:

    Rightwinger said his book — self-published after he was dropped by Simon & Schuster — had sold 100,000 copies, but data shows fewer than 20,000 sales

    […] Milo Yiannopoulos has branded reported low sales of his new book fake news after official figures revealed the writer has failed to rock the book charts on either side of the Atlantic, despite his claims to the contrary.

    According to Nielsen Bookscan, which monitors book sales through almost all outlets, including Amazon, the [nazi …] has sold only 18,268 copies of his book in the US and 152 in the UK since its launch on 4 July.

    The figure is far below the 100,000 copies, including pre-orders, that his PR team claimed had sold through Amazon alone on the day of the book’s launch. Though ebook sales are excluded from the charts, Andre Breedt, managing director of Nielsen Book Research, said: “As our sales include Amazon sales it is unlikely to be higher.”

    In a statement, Yiannopoulos claimed that his higher figure was not a count of retail sales, but included copies sent to wholesale sellers. By now, you may have heard reports claiming we only sold 18,000 copies of Dangerous and that our 100,000 copies claim is exaggerated. I’m happy to report that this is fake news, he wrote.

    It’s true that the major booksellers only managed to ship out 18,000 copies to retail customers by the list cutoff. But that’s because they didn’t order enough ahead of time, and have been scrambling to play catchup ever since.

    The real news is that we’ve received wholesale orders and direct orders of such magnitude that our entire stock of 105,000 books is already accounted for.

    Books sent to wholesalers are not counted by monitoring agencies like Nieslen, as it is usual practice for wholesalers to return unsold copies to the publisher. On average, a new book makes 80% of its sales in the first 12& weeks of release, with the first six weeks accounting for the bulk of that figure.

    […]

  221. KG says

    What’s the Wales–London Routemaster double-decker bus conversation factor?

    Ah, an interesting and highly technical question! Wales, like Luxembourg (the Grauniad informs me that the iceberg is “twice the size of Luxembourg”) and, aparently, Delaware, is used to make areal measurements comprehensible to the general public journalists, who can’t be expected to deal with actual numbers. The London Routemasterdouble-decker bus measure is only valid when applied to height or depth – so the thickness of the iceberg could be reported in LRDDB terms, but not its extent.

  222. says

    As you know, Trump is in Paris at the invitation of Macron.

    In a press conference, Trump answered a question about Don Junior’s meeting with a Russian Lawyer, and the subsequent email posting. Trump reiterated the main Republican/White House talking points:
    1. Nothing came of the meeting.
    2. Most people in politics would take a meeting if opposition research was on offer.
    3. Don Jr. is a good person.
    4. The media is blowing this out of proportion
    5. Politics is not a nice business.
    6. The meeting was really brief and some people left early.
    7. Russian adoption was discussed.
    8. Loretta Lynch is responsible for letting the Russian lawyer into the country, and the lawyer was also seen in the halls of Congress.

    Trump did not mention at all that the opposition research was offered by a foreign power, or at least by a foreign national. He did not mention that the email from Rob claimed the lawyer represented the Russian government. He did not address the question about whether or not he knew about the meeting.

    #8 above is probably a bold lie. Various journalists are checking on that now.

  223. says

    Trump commented to the French First Lady that she was “in such great shape” and “beautiful.” Video was posted on Macron’s official FB page.

    He’s such a dirtbag.

  224. says

    Follow-up to SC’s comment 339.

    Quoting from Tierney Sneed: <

    Senate Republicans released Thursday a revised version of its Obamacare repeal legislation, the Better Care Reconciliation Act. […] Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) was forced to delay his plans to push the legislation through before the July 4 recess. […]

    GOP senators weren’t expecting major changes to the initial draft, beyond the question of whether they’ll include a proposal from Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) to let insurers sell unregulated plans alongside Obamacare-compliant plans.

    The language in the bill released Thursday allows for Obamacare’s tax credits for individual insurance to be used on “catastrophic plans” that cover at least three primary care visits.

    A section of the revised bill, placed in brackets, sets aside $70 billion for insurers to subsidize high-risk individuals, presumably those would be most likely to see their premiums rise under a proposal being pushed by Sen. Ted Cruz to let insurers sell unregulated plans. To qualify, insurers must sell a gold, silver and benchmark plan, under the new language. If they did, they could also sell policies that do not comply with Obamacare’s essential health benefits, its protections for pre-existing conditions and its ban on waiting periods.

    “The brackets mean that the policy continues to be worked upon as members react to it,” […]

    Health policy experts, the insurance industry and even some Republicans have warned that such a system would destabilize the market as healthy people flock to the stingy plans, leaving sick people in the comprehensives plans where they’d see their premiums skyrocket unless they received additional assistance.

    […] the new version repeals many of Obamacare’s taxes on the health care industry. But the legislation has been revised to keep the ACA taxes on net investments and a Medicare payroll tax for high earners. It also gets rids of a tax break the initial draft had for insurance executives.

    […] he process by which Medicaid expansion would be phased would still begin in 2021, when the enhanced match rate would start being reduced […]The larger program is, again, turned into a capped system in which the limits on the per-enrollee funding from the federal government rises more slowly than the program has typically grown, with a more draconian inflation metric imposed in 2025. […]

    There is new language letting states apply for waivers for community-based care within their Medicaid programs. A provision to allow states to deal with public health emergencies outside of the caps has also been added.

    The revised bill also includes $45 billion in funding for opioid programs, up from $2 billion in the initial draft. […]

    McConnell is considering a proposal that Trump’s Health and Human Services department (headed by Tom Price, an unethical, lying man) should “score” the new Senate bill instead of the Congressional Budget Office.

  225. says

    Follow-up to comment 343.

    Amanda Gomez analyzed the new version of the Senate’s health care bill: “The Senate’s new health care bill is still a mess.”

    The new Senate health bill was released on Thursday, but it still looks set to deprive millions of health care coverage. […]

    The new bill does not change the main issues with Senate Republicans’ earlier health care bill […]. The new bill still ends Obamacare’s expansion of Medicaid to low-income adults and ultimately caps funding to the program. The bill also still restructures tax credits in a way that are less generous and increases premiums and deductibles for moderate-to-low-income adults looking to buy non-group insurance, or insurance not bought through an employer or corporation. And it weakens consumer protections if patients do decide to buy non-group insurance, by granting states leeway to allow insurance companies to opt-out of the Obamacare’s essential benefits rule.

    […] The bill sets up a fund to help cover people with high medical costs […] To access this money, insurance companies need to offer at least one Obamacare-compliant plan and at that point, it can offer non-compliant Obamacare plans,[…]

    […] America’s Health Insurance Plans, the biggest insurance name in the health game, said in a statement that “including both ‘compliant’ and ‘non-compliant’ plans in a single risk pool would be infeasible and not solve the problems of an unlevel playing field.”

    In a scenario like this, sick people would find themselves on expensive insurance plans because healthy people would look to buy cheaper non-Obamacare plans. The imbalance would quickly lead to a death spiral, a loop where healthy people leaving the market drives up premiums to a point where eventually, the entire market collapses.

    […] Under this Republican plan, health experts say the non-group marketplace could collapse and it’ll take Medicaid with it. […]

    Residents could also set up a health savings account (HSA). HSA is a type of financial account that allow people to put aside money tax free for medical expenses. HSA mostly benefit high-income taxpayers, according to the Center on Budget Policy and Priorities. […]

    See the link for charts, graphs, and comparisons that show that high-income taxpayers still claim the biggest share of the spoils.

  226. says

    Saad @344, Trump even employed his signature jerk-and-pull-the-person-closer-or-off-balance move on Macron’s wife. She is petite compared to Trump, but she worked hard to hold her ground.

    That jerk-them-around move of Trump’s was masterfully countered by Justin Trudeau and by President Macron in earlier encounters.

    Trump cannot stop himself. He rudely tries to physically dominate other people.

  227. says

    Ian Millhiser analyzed the “cruelest part of the new Trumpcare bill,” which is the same as the old Trumpcare bill.

    […] Though the new draft version of Trumpcare, which was released on Thursday, does make some tweaks to the previous bill’s approach to Medicaid, it largely leaves in place a plan that would eventually phase out Medicaid in its entirety.

    Medicaid serves nearly 75 million individuals, most of them drawn from very vulnerable populations such as the poor, the aged, and the disabled.

    The new Trumpcare bill, like the one McConnell released last month, imposes caps on Medicaid spending. And the caps effectively lose value with each passing year. […]

    CBO predicted that the previous version of the Senate Trumpcare bill, which also used a similar mechanism to phase out Medicaid, would cut Medicaid by 35 percent by 2036 relative to current law.

    In fairness, there are some new provisions included in the new bill that mitigate the impact of the legislation in the short term. One provision, for example, allows the Medicaid caps to be exceeded in the event of a public health emergency — although this provision sunsets fairly rapidly.

    But the basic structure of the earlier bill, with its Medicaid phase out, remains intact.

  228. says

    Follow-up to comments 257, 305, and 309, in which we see team Trump and conservative media trying to deflect attention away from Don Jr.’s attempted collusion with Russians by blaming the Clinton campaign of various misdeeds.

    A report from The Washington Post debunked a prominent right-wing media claim that former Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton’s campaign worked with the Ukrainian government during the 2016 election cycle.

    […] right-wing media have suggested that Clinton, her campaign, and the Democratic Party colluded with Ukraine […]

    Besides Trump propagandist Sean Hannity, prominent right-wing media outlets and figures, such as The Daily Caller, The Gateway Pundit, The Daily Wire, Fox’s Eric Bolling, and far-right conspiracy theorist Mike Cernovich, pushed the claim. Trump attorney Jay Sekulow and deputy assistant to the president Sebastian Gorka, a former Breitbart editor, also appeared on news outlets and repeated the claim.

    […] the claim that Clinton’s campaign colluded with Ukraine, which originates from a Politico article from January, relies specifically on “one person who was researching [former Trump campaign chairman Paul] Manafort with help from inside the Ukrainian Embassy and who, at some undetermined point, provided info to the Clinton campaign.”

    […] the “Ukrainian plot that’s been revealed” is, in reality, “a weak link to the Ukrainians and a weaker link to the Clinton campaign.”

    By contrast, “U.S. intelligence agencies believe that Russian President Vladimir Putin personally directed his intelligence agencies to hack into and release private information from the Democratic National Committee and the Clinton campaign.” […] “The difference is that there is not clear evidence of the Clinton campaign coordinating with a foreign national or encouraging or accepting their help.” […]

    Media Matters link

    From the Washington Post article:

    […] It centers on a woman named Alexandra Chalupa, who worked as a consultant for the Democratic Party throughout the 2016 cycle through her firm, Chalupa & Associates. Her role with the party was outreach to ethnic communities, but, a Ukrainian American herself, Chalupa had been researching Paul Manafort’s work in that country even before he was tapped to serve as Donald Trump’s campaign chairman in March of last year. Chalupa, Politico said, “occasionally shared her findings with officials from the DNC and [Hillary] Clinton’s campaign” — though the timing on this sharing isn’t clear. […]

    […] what’s missing is evidence of a concerted effort driven by Kiev.

    [Russia] coordinated a widespread campaign to amplifying unflattering stories about Clinton and promote Trump. Russia also repeatedly probed American election systems, prompting an unusual warning to states from the federal government.

    American intelligence agencies saw signs that people allied with Trump’s campaign may have been aiding the Russians in that effort. That’s why this is all being discussed right now, of course, since Trump Jr.’s emails draw the clearest line between the Russians and the campaign we’ve yet seen. […]

    By contrast, Politico’s report details the work of one person who was researching Manafort with help from inside the Ukrainian Embassy and who, at some undetermined point, provided info to the Clinton campaign, though she worked for the DNC as a consultant until shortly before the party conventions. That, coupled with the Manafort ledger revelation, is the full scope of the Ukrainian plot that’s been revealed. A weak link to the Ukrainians and a weaker link to the Clinton campaign. […]

    Lawrence Noble, general counsel of the Campaign Legal Center, [said] “I think the article raises some troubling questions about Ukraine involvement in our elections,” Noble said. “The difference is that there is not clear evidence of the Clinton campaign coordinating with a foreign national or encouraging or accepting their help.” […]

  229. says

    Math is hard, especially for team Trump:

    The Congressional Budget Office on Thursday released its analysis of President Trump’s 2018 budget proposal and, in doing so, refuted his claim that his plan will balance the federal budget in a decade. Although the study found that the Trump plan would reduce the federal deficit relative to current law, it will not balance the budget over a decade as suggested by the president. The Trump administration estimated a $16 billion surplus by 2027, but according to the CBO, it would actually be a $720 billion deficit.

    Daily Beast link

  230. Hj Hornbeck says

    All right, ya twisted my arm people.

    Lynna, OM @352:

    Follow-up to comments 257, 305, and 309, in which we see team Trump and conservative media trying to deflect attention away from Don Jr.’s attempted collusion with Russians by blaming the Clinton campaign of various misdeeds.

    I refer everyone to the Wikipedia entry on “whataboutism:”

    Whataboutism is a propaganda technique formerly used by the Soviet Union in its dealings with the Western world, and subsequently used as a form of propaganda in post-Soviet Russia. When criticisms were levelled at the Soviet Union, the Soviet response would be “What about…” followed by an event in the Western world. It is a case of tu quoque (appeal to hypocrisy), an informal fallacy that attempts to discredit an opponent’s position by charging them with hypocrisy without directly refuting or disproving their argument.

    During the Cold War, Western officials dubbed the Soviet propaganda strategy “whataboutism”. The tactic saw a resurgence in post-Soviet Russia, relating to human rights violations committed by, and criticisms of, the Russian government. The technique received new attention during Russia’s 2014 annexation of Crimea and military intervention in Ukraine. Usage of the tactic extended to Russian President Vladimir Putin and his spokesman, Dmitry Peskov. National Public Radio, USA Today, and Foreign Policy have noted similarities between the tactic’s usage by the Soviet Union and Donald Trump.

    Honestly, I’m shocked the American far-right and the Kremlin have taken this long to hook up. They’ve both been using the same tactics for ages…

  231. says

    SC, @357, FFS. That’s an even bigger problem with math than the one I flagged earlier. Are the Republicans working on this health care bill really that incompetent? Yes.

    From SC’s first link:

    […] “The overall bill adds $70 billion to the stability fund,” he said. “But the Cruz amendment then redirects that same money to make payments to insurers designed to mitigate the problems that the Cruz amendment would create in the ACA-compliant market.”

    “That funding will, of course, not be available to serve the stability fund’s other purposes,” he added.

    Those other purposes include assisting the people booted off of Medicaid due to hundreds of billions of cuts in funding for the federal health care program, easing their transition into the individual health insurance market. It is also meant to provide funding for health savings accounts (HSA) that people could use to pay their insurance premiums.

    Tim Jost, a health care law expert and professor at Washington and Lee University, said he doubts the funding is adequate to meet all of these needs.

    “It gives an additional $70 billion to the states and then the Cruz amendment gives it to insurers that offer compliant plans in addition to noncompliant plans,” he said.

  232. says

    SC @356, I think Kasowitz is melting down. He never was a great lawyer to defend Trump against possible criminal activity, and now he is clearly overwhelmed.

    In other news, Police in Florida pulled over the only black state attorney on a very thin excuse.

    […] Video […] shows State Attorney Aramis Ayala being pulled over by two unidentified officers.

    Ayala had just finished teaching a law class at Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University, a historically black university, when the traffic stop took place.

    An officer is seen exiting an unmarked police vehicle with its lights flashing and approaching a white sedan as the clip begins.

    As the officer approaches the car, he takes a driver license from Ayala, who remains face-forward.

    “What agency are you with?” the officer asks.

    “I’m the state attorney,” Ayala responds.

    The officer then tells Ayala that the license plate on her car did not come back as registered to any vehicle when the plate was run. The officer says he’s never seen a license plate not return a registration before.

    “What was the tag run for?” Ayala asks. The officer tells her that it’s routine to run plates.

    “That’s how we figure out if cars are stolen,” the officer says.

    As he begins to explain that Ayala’s windows are “really dark” as another reason for the traffic stop, the state attorney seems to smile uncomfortably. […]

    NBC News link

  233. says

    From Steve Benen:

    […] “A lot of people don’t know that.” These seven words are Trump’s way of saying, “I just learned something new, and I’m going to assume others are as ignorant as I am.”

    Today, for example, Trump held a joint press conference alongside French President Emmanuel Macron, where the U.S. president declared, “France is America’s first and oldest ally. A lot of people don’t know that.” If you watch the brief clip, you’ll note that the first sentence was part of the prepared text, but the second sentence was ad libbed.

    Trump probably wouldn’t admit this out loud, but I’m reasonably sure he said this because he considers this rather obvious historical detail — already familiar to much of the country — to be an interesting bit of trivia that only recently came to his attention.

    It’s reminiscent of remarks Trump delivered in March when he said, in reference to Abraham Lincoln, “Most people don’t even know he was a Republican. Right? Does anyone know? A lot of people don’t know that.”

    Referring to the president as “Captain Obvious,” the Washington Post’s Dana Milbank noted soon after just how frequently Trump reflects on what he assumes others don’t know.

    That Bill Clinton signed NAFTA: “A lot of people don’t know that.”

    What a value-added tax is: “A lot of people don’t know what that means.”

    That we have a trade deficit with Mexico: “People don’t know that.”

    That Iraq has large oil reserves: “People don’t know this about Iraq.”

    That war is expensive: “People don’t realize it is a very, very expensive process.” […]

    Trump also believes that “a lot of people don’t know” that U.S. taxes are the highest in the world, which would be fascinating, if his point weren’t completely wrong.

    In other words, the president is fascinated by details that are already widely known and details he made up.

  234. militantagnostic says

    SC @358
    Cut Kasowitz some slack. He was probably “tired and emotional”.

  235. says

    The Chicago Tribune is saying that Peter Smith, in failing health and with dwindling money, committed suicide in May after he spoke with Shane Harris of the WSJ. It’s sad that his last major act on earth was a futile, sleazy quest for some emails that would likely have revealed little, for which he was willing to sell out his country.

  236. says

    NBC News is now reporting that there was another person at the meeting with Veselnitskaya – Russian-US lobbyist (US citizen born in Russia) and former Soviet counter-intelligence officer. “NBC News is not naming the lobbyist, who denies any current ties to Russian spy agencies.”

  237. says

    “Sources: Trump lawyers knew of Russia emails three weeks ago”:

    President[*] Trump’s legal team was informed more than three weeks ago about the email chain arranging a June 2016 meeting between his son Donald Jr. and a Kremlin-connected lawyer, two sources familiar with the handling of the matter told Yahoo News.

    Trump told Reuters in an interview on Wednesday that he learned just “a couple of days ago” that Donald Jr. had met with the Russian lawyer, Natalia Veselnitskaya, hoping to receive information that “would incriminate Hillary” and was “part of Russia and its government’s support for Mr. Trump.”…

    Trump repeated that assertion in a talk with reporters on Air Force One on his way to Paris Wednesday night….

    But the sources told Yahoo News that Marc Kasowitz, the president’s chief lawyer in the Russia investigation, and Alan Garten, executive vice president and chief legal officer of the Trump Organization, were both informed about the emails in the third week of June, after they were discovered by lawyers for Kushner, who is now a senior White House official….

  238. blf says

    Having the RNC pay in full for hair furor’s & teh dalekocracy’s lawyers might be sensible — it would add fiscal bankruptcy to the thugs’s other bankruptcies (moral, legal, scientific, ethical, factual, mathematical, …).

  239. says

    No words.

    (I don’t know why so many outlets feel the need to gratuitously bash the Steele memos rather than simply presenting them as what they were. It’s very unfair to Steele, who didn’t produce them for public consumption and is highly regarded.)

  240. says

    From a 2016 article about Akhmetshin:

    More recently, Akhmetshin was caught up in a particularly nasty $1 billion legal fight concerning a potash-mining operation in central Russia. While a Dutch court was the main venue, the dispute spilled into U.S. courts when lawyers for one of the companies accused their counterparts of organizing a scheme to hack their computers and other communications.

    The man who masterminded the scheme was Akhmetshin, according to a suit filed in November in New York state court that also accused him of being a former Soviet military intelligence officer who “developed a special expertise in running negative public-relations campaigns.”

    In a related filing in federal district court in Washington, where lawyers sought to force him to turn over records and e-mails, Akhmetshin confirmed he was helping in an advisory capacity but denied the hacking allegations.

  241. says

    More about Akhmetshin and his activities surrounding the meeting. I find this – mentioned in the article I linked @ #373 above – quite intriguing:

    Akhmetshin’s tradecraft extends to U.S. politics. He is a registered congressional lobbyist who was paid $10,000 by Veselnitskaya’s non-profit group, the Human Rights Accountability Global Initiative Foundation. The group lobbies members of Congress against the Magnitsky Act, a U.S. law designed to punish Russian officials believed to be responsible for the death of a financial investigator.

    After Akhmetshin and Veselnitskaya met the Trump team on June 9, 2016, they traveled to Washington, D.C. On June 13, they attended a screening of an anti-Magnitsky Act movie directed by Andrei Nekrasov. The screening at the Newseum was arranged by Veselnitskaya’s group and was open to members of Congress.

    The following day, Akhmetshin, Veselnitskaya, and Nekrasov attended a House Foreign Affairs Committee hearing on “U.S. Policy Towards Putin’s Russia.” Veselnitskaya was photographed sitting behind former U.S. ambassador to Russia, Michael Mcfaul, who was testifying.* One top congressional aide said she was first in line to attend that hearing.

    Later that night, the group convened at the Capitol Hill Club, an official Republican Party restaurant and meeting place. A top aide to Rep. Dana Rohrabacher, a pro-Russian Republican on the Foreign Affairs Committee who also attended the dinner, confirmed the gathering.

    * See #247 above.

  242. says

    SC @378, regarding the conspiracy theory that the Democrats set up Don Junior, did they also get two more people into the meeting? Did they arrange for Rinat Akhmetshin to be in the room, and for Don Jr. to forget to mention that?

    BTW, the GOP’s spectacularly flubbed rollout of that conspiracy theory was hilarious (comment 378). That was my welcome laugh for this morning, that and the many memes making fun of Kellyanne Conway’s latest inane blather accompanied by rudimentary props. Josh Marshall is so good at flagging the GOP’s ineptitude.

    Regarding the idea of having the Republican National Committee pay Trump’s legal bills: excellent plan! As was noted by blf in comment 369, doing so would bankrupt the RNC.

  243. says

    Follow-up to 386.

    Here’s some of the reporting on Kellyanne Conway’s latest pratfall:

    White House aide Kellyanne Conway accused critics of the Trump administration of moving the goalposts on the ongoing investigations into possible coordination between members of the Trump campaign and Russian nationals.

    “The goalposts have been moved,” Conway told “Fox & Friends” Friday morning. “We were promised systemic — hard evidence of systemic, sustained, furtive collusion that not only interfered with our election process but indeed dictated the electoral outcome.”

    http://talkingpointsmemo.com/livewire/conway-shifting-goalposts-on-russia-meeting

    Uh, nobody but you, Conway, has used the “hard evidence of systemic, sustained, furtive collusion” phrase.

    What we’ve seen so far in terms of an evolving explanations/excuses from team Trump:
    1. Trump and his team denying Russian meddling altogether.
    2. Trump and his team saying, maybe there was meddling, but Russia wasn’t trying to help Trump.
    3. Russia may have been trying to help Trump, but Trump and the RNC didn’t communicate with Russians in order to aid in that effort.
    4. Yes, team Trump did communicate with Russians, but did not cooperate in any way to mess with the election.
    5. Don Jr., Kushner and Manafort tried to cooperate with the Russians, but they were set up by the Democrats.
    6. Yes, Kellyanne, we are getting closer to what you insist we should have as proof of “systemic, sustained, furtive collusion.” We’ll keep working on that.

    What we have so far in terms of evolving explanations for Don Junior’s meeting, and the press reporting of actual facts.:
    1. There was no meeting, there were no meetings, or so team Trump says..
    2. There was a meeting about Russian adoption policy, team Trump says..
    3. The White House drafted the first response from Don Jr., and in that text they offered misleading information.
    4. There was a meeting about giving Trump dirt on Hillary Clinton that had been dug up by the Russians.
    5. Trump’s lawyers were informed about the true nature of the meeting 3 weeks ago.
    6. A former Soviet counter-intelligence official attended the meeting.

  244. says

    SC @385, smearing the people who try to hold them to account may be the only play left to team Trump. They tried to do the same thing to Comey and to Sally Yates.

  245. says

    WaPo: “That brings the total number of people who accompanied Russian attorney Natalia Veselnitskaya to the Trump Tower meeting to three.” Three in addition to her? Why won’t they name the translator (who was there even though everyone identified so far speaks English)? Is the translator also a friend of Agalarov’s, or are these two different people? I remain confused.

  246. says

    Education Secretary Betsy DeVos sounds like a men’s rights activist.

    […] I acknowledge there was a time when women were essentially dismissed [when women made claims of sexual assault]. That is not acceptable. A system without due process protections ultimately serves no one in the end [DeVos said the stories of those claiming to be wrongly accused of campus sexual assault] are not often told.

    From the New York Times:

    […] The letters have come in to her office by the hundreds, heartfelt missives from college students, mostly men, who had been accused of rape or sexual assault. Some had lost scholarships. Some had been expelled. A mother stumbled upon her son trying to take his own life, recalled Candice E. Jackson, the top civil rights official at the Department of Education. […]

    Jackson later apologized for those comments.

    From Think Progress:

    […] Despite the fact that false reports are rare, DeVos met with groups representing the accused, which included the National Coalition for Men Carolinas, SAVE: Stop Abusive and Violent Environments, and Families Advocating for Campus Equality. […]

  247. blf says

    America seems less than thrilled about Trump’s election integrity commission:

    White House releases colorful emails of public feedback on demand for voter information for commission, formed on basis of unfounded claims by Trump

    […]

    The commission has released a tranche of emails [PDF] from the public that includes feedback on its demand that all 50 states submit detailed voter information to the commission.

    […]

    Jerold B Coburn, an air force veteran from South Miami, Florida, wrote: “It is obvious your commission will be using this information, especially voting history, to target people who are likely to vote Democratic and use various well-known techniques to suppress as many of their votes as possible. I am a Teddy Roosevelt Republican. He would never condone such un-American behavior.”

    Several voters suggested simply keeping voter rolls up to date with automatic voter registration […]

    […]

    One emailer suggested that concerns about election integrity would be better focused on examining Russian collusion with pro-Trump websites to produce “fake news” in the 2016 election […]

    […]

  248. Saad says

    SC, #393

    Horrifying in so many ways.

    I’m sure the free speech atheists will be rushing to his defense any minute now.

    Oh wait… he’s Muslim.

  249. says

    About Scott Pruitt, his need for loving/gullible audiences, and his establishment of a rightwing media bubble for the Environmental Protection agency:

    […] Liz Purchia, a Obama-era EPA communications staffer, says the EPA’s attention to right-wing audiences resembles Trump’s tactics at the White House. “They’re tightly controlling [Pruitt’s] public events and interviews, which isolates him from most Americans and instead plays to Trump’s base,” Purchia said in an email. “They’re not trying to use communications tactics to reach a broad audience.”

    Anyone who’s been paying attention to the news would see that the EPA would have a lot of information to share. It has begun to reverse a number of air, climate, water, and chemical regulations put forward during the Obama administration. In the last few weeks, Pruitt has delayed a methane regulation for oil and gas, a rule to prevent accidents at refineries and hazardous facilities, stricter standards for the air pollutant ozone, and a water rule that would have expanded clean water protections to streams. At the same time, Pruitt has refused to renew dozens of scientists’ positions on the EPA’s science advisory boards and wants to set up a new kind of task force to undermine climate science. […]

    Mother Jones link

  250. says

    blf @392, Those comments from the public are interesting, and sometimes spot on. What is also interesting is that the White House posted them without censoring them, a good thing.

    However, the incompetent White House also posted those comments without deleting or obscuring sensitive personal information.

    The White House just responded to concerns it would release voters’ sensitive personal information by releasing a bunch of voters’ sensitive personal information.

    Last month, the White House’s “election integrity” commission sent out requests to every state asking for all voters’ names, party IDs, addresses, and even the last four digits of their Social Security numbers, among other information. The White House then said this information would be made available to the public.

    A lot of people did not like the idea, fearing that their personal information could be made public. So some sent emails to the White House, demanding that it rescind the request.

    This week, the White House decided to make those emails from concerned citizens public through the commission’s new website. But the administration made a big mistake: It didn’t censor any of the personal information — such as names, email addresses, actual addresses, and phone numbers — included in those emails.

    In effect, the White House just released the sensitive personal information of a lot of concerned citizens giving feedback to their government. That’s made even worse by the fact that the White House did this when the thing citizens were complaining about was the possibility that their private information would be made public.

    As of Friday afternoon, the emails are still uncensored and available on the White House’s website. They include all sorts of feedback, from concerns about privacy to outright insults of the Trump administration. […]

    Vox link

  251. says

    Health care news from Wonkette:

    We’re learning all sorts of fun stuff about the Senate Republicans’ exciting new bill to kill Obamacare and many of the people on it. For instance, it’s full of wishful math, promising to use the exact same money for several different purposes.

    It also makes sure whatever horrors the bill unleashes on plans in the individual marketplace, Congress’s healthcare will not be affected by the New Cruelty. After all, they’re important people, unlike the losers and takers who’ll be subject to higher prices or penalties for having preexisting conditions.

    […] what’s good for the voters is not good for Congress, because why should Congress have to suffer just for writing an incredibly bad healthcare bill? The brand new version of the “Better Care Resolution Act” sneaks in a provision that was laughed out of the House version of the bill, exempting congressional health insurance from Ted Cruz’s plan to let insurers drop the Affordable Care Act’s essential health benefits:

    Insurers can offer plans without these benefits — unless they’re selling coverage to members of Congress and their staff, who are required to buy coverage on the health law marketplaces. The exemption says this part of the law still applies to any plans sold to Congress. […]

  252. says

    From Wonkette’s coverage of Don Junior’s attempt to collude with the Russians:

    […] Junior was promised anti-Hillary dirt in this meeting, and though he claims he didn’t get any (PFFFFFFT), the AP reports that Natalia Veselnitskaya surely did bring a folder full of supposed dirt on the DNC. (Hilariously, that AP article says Baby Trump “lost interest” when Veselnitskaya said the Trump campaign “would need to research it more.” Poor baby, nobody ever told him illegally conspiring with Russia would involve work!)

    So! WHAT THE EVERLOVING FUCK IS ALL THIS? Was part of Junior’s meeting another kind of conspiracy, where he, Paul Manafort (the campaign manager) and Jared Kushner (the son-in-law at the top of the Trump campaign’s data operation) were promised anti-Hillary dirt in exchange for killing this little bitty money laundering case [Russian mobsters allegedly stole $230 million and hid some of the cash in New York City real estate — the case involving Prevezon] and getting rid of the rude prosecutor [Preet Bharara] who just wouldn’t drop it?

    What kind of alphabet soup of lies and Russian conspiracies are we living in? It’s enough to drive us to drink. . […]

    The first part of the Wonkette article covers the connections between Sergei Magnitsky, Natalia Veselnitskaya and Preet Bharara’s case (before Trump fired Bharara).

    Russians let Sergei Magnitsky die in prison (or they murdered him), hence the sanctions later included in the Magnitsky Act passed by Congress.

  253. says

    Kushner’s lawyers tried to explain away the omission of more than 100 foreign contacts on Kushner’s SF-86 form by saying that a staff member prematurely clicked on a “send” button before the form was ready to send.

    This is a bullshit excuse because SF-86 forms are either submitted by hand, or, if they are submitted electronically, there are many steps (many things to do, and many things to click on) as part of the verification process.

    From Susan Hennessey:

    You have to click/enter password TWENTY-EIGHT times in order to e-file. Tough to imagine it could be done in error.

    https://twitter.com/Susan_Hennessey/status/885850877881454592

  254. says

    Jared Kushner is using his family and White House ties to benefit a company in which he and his family members have a financial interest:

    Apple, Google, Microsoft, Intel, OpenGov. One of these things is not like the others. In fact, one of these things is about 4,000 times smaller than the others. But they all had front row seats at the White House tech roundtable.

    How did a start up like OpenGov end up shoving aside companies much, much larger? They have a special friend.

    Mr. Kushner’s brother, through a venture-capital firm, is a part owner of OpenGov, according to government disclosures and data from Dow Jones VentureSource. Until earlier this year, Mr. Kushner owned stakes in the venture-capital firm that he sold to his brother, according to a person familiar with the matter. Mr. Kushner’s connection to OpenGov isn’t widely known.

    The crony capitalism on display in literally giving his company a seat at the big table, while larger companies were shut out, might seem fairly minor. But, as the name OpenGov suggests, there’s more at play here than just letting a friend bump elbows with tech giants.

    Scoring a seat at the summit was a milestone for OpenGov, a Redwood City, Calif. company that aims to make government data more user-friendly and has sought business with the federal government, according to its website. OpenGov’s clients are mostly state and local governments—such as Converse County, Wyo. and California Polytechnic State University—looking to upgrade their technology.

    OpenGov sells their services to governments, including agencies of the federal government. But of course, they compete for these contracts with many other companies. Companies that don’t have someone to pick them up and give them a front row seat.

    Kathleen Clark, a law professor at Washington University in St. Louis, said the OpenGov situation raised ethics issues. “This seems like a textbook example of cronyism in action,” she said.

    Daily Kos link

    Wall Street Journal link

  255. says

    Oh, FFS! Louie Gohmert must be the biggest dunderhead in the U.S. Congress. His latest dunderheaded statement claims that radical Islamists will use transgender U.S. military personnel as a recruiting tool.

    […] “When it’s advertised that the United States Congress is in favor of taking men and surgically making them into women with the money that they would use to protect the nation otherwise…then it is an advertising bonanza for the radical Islamists,” Gohmert said Friday in a speech on the house floor, after referring to transness as a “type of lifestyle.”

    “Because my Muslim friends tell me, the recruits, you’re right, if that’s how stupid they are, this society has no right to remain on the earth. We need to take them out. They are too stupid.” He had referred to these unnamed “Muslim friends” earlier in his speech: “friendly Muslims — Muslim friends, yes, I do have them from around the world.”

    The bizarre claim was made in defense of an amendment to the NDAA which would prohibit the military for providing spending money on transgender-related health needs other than mental health treatment. Gohmert was disappointed that the Senate rejected the amendment on Thursday. […]

    Think Progress link

  256. says

    Kushner may be losing representation from one of his lawyers:

    Senior White House adviser Jared Kushner’s lawyer is stepping back from representing him as the probe into collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia evolves, according to a new report.

    The National Law Journal reported on Friday that Jamie Gorelick, the high-powered D.C. attorney that has represented Kushner since the transition period, is stepping back from the case in favor of another member of the White House legal team. […]

    Gorelick is stepping back from the Russia probe as she is “wrapping up” her services for Kushner, President Trump’s son-in-law.

    She was originally hired by Kushner to represent him on issues related to ethics and security clearance. Kushner will now be represented on all Russia matters by Abbe Lowell, a well-known Washington criminal defense attorney. […]

    The Hill link

  257. says

    An expert talked to a Vox journalist about how the Russian have engaged with the Trump family:

    […] I reached out by phone to Glenn Carle, a 23-year veteran of the CIA and former deputy officer on the National Intelligence Council. I asked him to walk me through the week’s revelations and to explain Russia’s actions from the perspective of an intelligence officer.

    He told me that the meeting with Trump Jr., while unusually brazen, fits a broader pattern of Russian intelligence attempting to engage with the Trump family over the years. “This is how it’s done,” he said.

    Carle explains why in our lightly edited conversation […]

    Glenn Carle
    […] For me, this may be a smoking gun for a prosecutor, but I think there have been not just smoking guns but explosions going off all over the place for years [that] show exactly what this latest meeting showed: collusion between the Russians and Trump. So this meeting didn’t really show us anything we didn’t already know.

    Sean Illing
    Well, what, exactly, did it show us?

    Glenn Carle
    It’s a clear report of how the Russians are seeking to communicate with, manipulate, funnel, and extract information from the Trump entourage and campaign. […]

    What do you do here if you’re the Russians? Well, you send someone who is a private lawyer into what might theoretically be a legitimate, aboveboard meeting, and you inject an intelligence officer or intelligence objectives into that meeting. That appears to be what happened in this case.

    It’s a perfectly plausible cover for a meeting that is ostensibly about one thing but in reality about something entirely different. […]

    Of course they have leverage. We know that the Trump family has taken on numerous debts from Russian creditors and banks and who knows what other sorts of leverage they might have over Trump. Hell, we have Trump Jr. on record in 2008 saying that “Russians make up a pretty disproportionate cross-section of a lot of our assets. We see a lot of money pouring in from Russia.” It’s quite obvious that there are deep financial ties lurking beneath all of this. […]

    Link

  258. says

    John Cassidy, writing for The New Yorker, discussed the Senate G.O.P. health-care bill that Mitch McConnell released on Thursday:

    […] The latest draft dropped a proposal to repeal two tax increases on very high earners, which were part of the Affordable Care Act. The revenue from those tax increases was used to help fund some of the A.C.A.’s most progressive features, including the expansion of Medicaid and the subsidies offered to families of modest means for the purchase of private insurance plans.

    But the merits of the revised Senate bill stop there. Enacting it into law would be a disaster. The old and the sick would be forced to pay far higher premiums; deductibles would go up for almost everyone in the individual market; and many millions of Americans, many of them poor, would lose their health-care coverage entirely.

    […] it is worth restating what is at stake here: the principle that society is made up of people with mutual obligations, including the duty to try to protect everyone from what Franklin Roosevelt called the “hazards and vicissitudes of life,” such as old age, unemployment, and sickness.

    To deal with aging and joblessness, F.D.R. introduced Social Security and expanded unemployment insurance. Originally, he intended to include publicly funded health care as part of Social Security […]

    […] it has become clear that private insurance works tolerably well for people who hold well-paid, steady jobs at large companies […] But for everybody else—the elderly, people with low-wage jobs that don’t offer benefits, the self-employed and employees of small companies, people who are employed intermittently or who are out of work—private insurance is costly, complicated, and often hard to obtain.

    During the nineteen-sixties, the Lyndon Johnson Administration introduced Medicare, for senior citizens, and Medicaid, for poverty-stricken families with children. But people outside those categories were left to the mercies of the insurance market,[…] By 2013, close to one in five adult Americans didn’t have any health-care coverage. […]

    The A.C.A. raised the income thresholds for eligibility to Medicaid, allowing individuals and families with incomes just above the poverty line to qualify for the program. This policy worked wonders. Since going into effect, at the start of 2014, it has enabled about fourteen million Americans, most of them from working families, to obtain health-care coverage […]

    “Choice always sounds so good, like with the Cruz amendment,” Larry Levitt, a senior vice-president at the Kaiser Family Foundation, explained on Twitter. “But in insurance, it’s generally a recipe for instability and discrimination.” The United States lived for decades with a health-care system that discriminated against the old, the sick, and those too poor to afford coverage. Will Republican ideologues be allowed to plunge the country back into this dark past?

  259. blf says

    Teens discover Boston’s TD Garden has ignored law mandating fundraisers:

    Students find owner ignored 1993 agreement critical to state’s approval for construction as officials say it’s too early to say whether arena will disburse funds

    Three high-school students in Massachusetts have discovered that the owner of Boston’s TD Garden, the home of the NBA’s Celtics and NHL’s Bruins, has ignored an agreement with state legislators that green-lit the construction of the multi-purpose arena in 1993 […].

    Jeremy Jacobs, the owner of the Bruins and developer of TD Garden, agreed to a state law with the city of Boston requiring him to hold three fundraisers a year to benefit the Metropolitan District Commission, which operated the city’s recreational facilities […].

    The three teenagers, Jonah Muniz, Mabel Gondres and Lorrie Pearson, discovered this spring that TD Garden has failed to hold even one of the promised fundraisers over the last 24 years, ignoring a condition that was critical in winning state approval for construction to begin on the $160m arena in 1993.

    The students from Boston’s Jamaica Plain neighborhood were researching ways to secure funding for a local recreation center in their underserved neighborhood when they came across the law.

    […]

    The students declined to go to the media at first, attempting to confirm interpretation of the law and whether any of the promised fundraisers had been held, but a continued lack of response and a FOIA request that “did not reveal a responsive record” led the students to conclude the arena had not held up their part of the deal.

    Apparently, TD Garden are claiming they didn’t know about this requirement, and are now trying to wriggle out of paying any compensation.

  260. says

    More information in this WaPo piece, including:

    While Veselnitskaya was not allowed to testify in Congress, she did secure a prime, front-row seat for a June 14 hearing in the House on Russia-related issues.

    Her high-profile spot in the room gained notice this week with the circulation of a photo in which she looms over the shoulder of former U.S. ambassador to Russia Michael McFaul, an adviser to President Barack Obama and a witness before the panel. Some conservative blogs this week have said the photo suggests she had accompanied McFaul and was a Democratic plant.

    In fact, her seat had been reserved for her by a Republican consultant with close ties to the Trump campaign.

    Lanny Wiles, whose wife, Susie, was then chairing the Trump campaign in Florida, said in an interview that he came early to scout out the seat and was there at the request of Akhmetshin, with whom he was working as a consultant on the sanctions-related adoption issue.

    Lanny and Susie Wiles both said she was unaware of his role in the lobbying effort. Lanny Wiles said he was unaware that the Russian lawyer whose seat he was saving had just days earlier met with Trump Jr.

    “I wasn’t part of it,” Susie Wiles said.

    Because anything this shady and corrupt must eventually involve Florida. :)

    Note that after the hearing she and the other anti-sanctions lobbyists had dinner with Rohrabacher and others at a Republican Party restaurant in DC (see #380 above).

  261. blf says

    Afghanistan’s Sesame Street brings in new puppet to teach respect of women:

    Broadcaster of Baghch-e-Simsim (Sesame Garden) says goal in creating four-year-old Zeerak is to show men that they should ‘respect their sister’

    Last year, Afghanistan’s version of Sesame Street introduced a young, female character aimed at inspiring girls in the deeply conservative Muslim nation. Now a new puppet is joining the cast: her brother, who will show boys the importance of respecting women.

    Zeerak, whose name means Smart in Afghanistan’s two official languages, is a four-year-old boy who enjoys studying and learning. He joins his six-year-old sister Zari, whose name means Shimmering, on Afghanistan’s version of the show, Baghch-e-Simsim (Sesame Garden).

    Both muppets wear traditional Afghan clothing — baggy trousers and long embroidered shirt known as a shalwar kameez for Zeerak, and colourful native dresses and a cream-coloured hijab for Zari. They join the rest of the show’s multi-cultural line-up, which includes puppets specially created for local versions of the program in Bangladesh, Egypt and India.

    Massood Sanjer, the head of Tolo TV, which broadcasts the program in Afghanistan, said that after the overwhelmingly positive response to Zari from both parents and children, the goal was to create a boy character to emphasise the importance of gender equality and education in a country where the vast majority of girls don’t go to school and the literacy rate for women is among the lowest in the world.

    “In a male-dominant country like Afghanistan, I think you have to do some lessons for the males to respect the females. So by bringing a male character to the show who respects a female character, you teach the Afghan men that you have to respect your sister the same way as you do your brother,” Sanjer said.

    […]

    It’s an important message broadcast on a medium with a nationwide reach: while television in Afghanistan is largely restricted to urban areas, Sesame Garden is also broadcast on radio in both official languages, Pashtun and Dari, expanding its audience to most of the country.

    […]

    This started me wondering what a Sesame Street for Wacko House would be like. In addition to TV, perhaps radio, and probably streaming web, it’s have to be available via twitter. To retain the attention of hair furor, there would need to be glittering objects, but to avoid those become his only focus of attention, there would be puzzles to solve. E.g., “How is black person different from a white person? (a) The shiny ball can be seen often if both people agree to step to aside; or (b) The only difference is the color of the skin.” Hair furor, would probably answer (c) Me, me, ME!, and / or throw some toys at the TV. And, of course, the thugs would insist it’s fake news whilst mentioning they are the party of Lincoln, and anyways too busy on replacing the dreadful ACA to worry about a commie atheist moolsin fascist children’s cartoon.

  262. says

    A little more context for the collusion meeting – “The Russian Lawyer And The Lobbyist From The Trump Jr. Meeting Had A Busy Month In America Last Summer”, including:

    Four days after the Trump Tower meeting, the Newseum hosted a film presenting the Russian government’s view of the Magnitsky affair.

    Directed by Andrei Nekrasov, Veselnitskaya supported the film. BuzzFeed News has learned that staff from Rep. Dana Rohrabacher’s office were sending invitations to the June 13, 2016, evening event.

    Among those attending the event that night were the director, Nekrasov — but also Veselnitskaya and Akhmetshin. An activist who opposed the film secured admittance to the film screening, which was by invitation only, after having one of the invitations from a Rohrabacher staffer forwarded to her.

    The woman, Natalia Arno, is president of the Free Russia Foundation and provided BuzzFeed News with a copy of the invitation and photographs that she took at the event.

    (The article notes that in 2015 Akhmetshin “was working to undermine the asylum application of Ashot Egiazaryan, a former Russian parliament member who was facing fraud charges in his home country.” The Wikipedia page for Egiazaryan currently reads: “Ashot Gevorkovich Egiazaryan…is fugitive from justice, former Russian politician, and businessman.” It describes him as wanted by Interpol. Um.)

  263. says

    Follow-up to comments 223, 329 and 442 (the last two are from SC).

    Governor Kasich’s press secretary debunked one of Mike Pence’s lies. Pence lied about Medicaid waiting lists in Ohio.

    Just over a week after the White House spread misinformation about Ohio’s Medicaid program, Vice President Mike Pence today falsely claimed that 60,000 Ohioans are going without care.

    “I know Governor (John) Kasich isn’t with us, but I suspect that he’s very troubled to know that in Ohio alone, nearly 60,000 disabled citizens are stuck on waiting lists, leaving them without the care they need for months or even years,” Pence asserted at the National Governors Association gathering in Providence, Rhode Island.

    That prompted Kasich’s press secretary Jon Keeling to tweet ”That’s what we call #fakenews.” Keeling included a link to The Dispatch’s Capital Insider column from Sunday citing state Medicaid data to refute an article cited by the White House. In what “the West Wing is reading,” the piece claimed that after expanding Medicaid, Ohio ″rolled back eligibility for some 34,000 seniors and individuals with disabilities as a cost-cutting measure.”

    And Medicaid officials also said there was no truth to a separate claim about recipients of Ohio’s Medicaid expansion “being put ahead of 60,000 disabled Ohioans who rely on Medicaid but are currently on a waiting list.”

    The claim is not accurate. It’s been fact checked twice. http://www.latimes.com/business/hiltzik/la-fi-hiltzik-domenech-medicaid-20170626-story.html …http://www.dispatch.com/news/20170709/capitol-insider-white-house-claim-about-ohio-medicaid-rollback-called-false … https://twitter.com/dshesgreen/status/885930290102902784

    John Weaver, Kasich’s top political adviser, tweeted, “Hey @VP stop spreading Fake News to further dishonest sales pitch on health care bill which hurts millions!”

    http://www.dispatch.com/news/20170714/vp-pence-spreading-fake-news-about-ohio

  264. says

    From George Takei’s opinion piece for The Daily Beast:

    It’s exhausting, frankly, to open the news each day to see what new horror or embarrassment this administration has visited upon us, or what new scandal has broken, even since last night. Our president may despise The New York Times, may disparage it as “fake news,” but the rest of us must thank that venerable institution and the rest of our free press for doing their job—and doing it better than ever they were called upon to do.

    [Donald Junior’s] emails confirming Russian support for his father and meddling in the election present such low hanging evidentiary fruit that even Jeffrey Beauregard Sessions III could pick them. […] Junior’s emails shed more than a little light now on at least one other pathway: through trusted business associates, close to both Trump and the Kremlin. […] Historians may someday note that at least one back channel was staring us all in the face this whole time. […]

    Junior’s attempts to explain the emails and the subsequent meeting with the Russians seemed only to raise further eyebrows. His defense appears to be that the campaign actually wound up receiving no useful information out of the meeting, and that the enticement of highly sensitive and damaging goods on Clinton wound up being only a pretense for a meeting about getting lifted certain sanctions that the Russians really hated.

    But think for a moment about that. What Junior really wanted was to obtain and use highly sensitive and damaging information from his contacts in Russia. […] It is arguably a federal offense to obtain anything of value from a foreign agent during the course of a national election. If that information was then passed to Trump Senior, which the timing of his draft speech indicates, then there’s strong evidence that Senior was also in the know.

    The president, in tepid defense of his son, remarked that Junior is a “good boy,” a “high-quality person,” and that he applauds his “transparency.” I can’t help but think the president probably wishes that level of transparency would render Junior invisible right about now. For with now another member of his immediate family caught up in the Russia investigation, and the curious timing of his [Trump Senior’s] speeches, it becomes increasingly implausible that all this was happening without the president’s knowledge.

    And what poetic irony it would be if Trump’s downfall resulted from emails.

  265. says

    Some White House aides are trashing the Congressional Budget Office, (yes, more than they have already done), in advance of the CBO score on the Senate health-care bill. The score is due to be made public on Monday.

    You would think that Don Junior’s complete trashing of the “fake news” category that Trump Senior loves so much for news related to Russia would have ended the White House’s use of “fake news” to describe reporting they don’t like. You would be wrong. “Fake news” is still in heavy rotation:

    Two White House aides are preemptively casting doubt on the accuracy of the Congressional Budget Office’s assessment of Senate Republicans’ healthcare plan, saying the estimate will be “little more than fake news.”

    In an op-ed published in The Washington Post Saturday, Marc Short, the assistant to the president for legislative affairs, and Brian Blase, the special assistant to the president for the National Economic Council, urged Americans to give “little weight” to the CBO score.

    “The reason: The CBO’s methodology, which favors mandates over choice and competition, is fundamentally flawed,” they wrote. “As a result, its past predictions regarding health-care legislation have not borne much resemblance to reality. Its prediction about the Senate bill is unlikely to fare much better.” […]

    The Hill link

  266. says

    Fox News anchor Shepard Smith sometimes insists on telling it like it is despite the fact that he is on Fox News. In reference to Don Junior’s now-infamous meeting with Russians in Trump Tower, Smith had a conversation with Chris Wallace that was partly a venting session:

    […] Why is it lie after lie after lie?The deception, Chris, is mind-boggling. There are still people out there who believe we’re making it up, and one day they’re gonna realize we’re not, and look around and go, “Where are we? And why are we getting told all these lies?”

    We’re still not clean on this, Chris. If there’s nothing there, and that’s what they tell us […] “Nothing burger.” […] If all of that, why all these lies?

    Chris Wallace replied:

    I don’t know what to say. There’s a lot of truth to everything that you’ve said.

    https://twitter.com/LeanneNaramore/status/885948819875262465

    Video available at the link. The video includes Smith’s reference to his grandmother, which SC mentioned up-thread.

  267. says

    Follow-up to comment 429.

    Shepard Smith may have noted all the lies seeping out of Don Junior and Senior, but other Fox News hosts were eager to push the conspiracy theory that the meeting with Russians was all a set-up orchestrated by Hillary Clinton. This is from Erick Erickson:

    I am still increasingly of the mind that this was a Democratic trick. Again, the Russians wanted to sow discord in the process. No one, including the Russians, thought Trump could win. It would make sense to hedge their bets and try to influence both sides, especially because they wanted the Magnitsky Act overturned and didn’t think Trump would win.

    But you’ve got Fusion GPS, a Democrat firm preparing an oppo research file on Trump that claims he worked with the Russians, also working with Rinat Akhmetshin and Natalia Veselnitskaya. The latter is the lawyer who met with Trump. The former, if NBC News is to be believed, sounds like it might have been the other person at the meeting.

    If you had helped stage the meeting and didn’t want it to look like a set up, wouldn’t you let the reporters run their natural course instead of throwing it all at them? But I certainly think we need to ask if the Russians were playing both sides and no one wants to ask that, if only because many of those in the position to ask it favored the losing side.

  268. blf says

    Even the insurance industry is having to explain to Cruz & teh thugs how insurance works, Cruz provision in Republican health bill ‘unworkable in any form’, insurers warn:

    [… T]wo of the US insurance industry’s most powerful organizations said a crucial provision in the Senate Republican healthcare bill, crafted by Ted Cruz and allowing the sale of bare-bones policies, was “unworkable in any form”.

    […]

    Two of the 52 Republican senators have already said they will oppose the legislation. Majority leader Mitch McConnell cannot lose any others for the legislation to survive a showdown vote expected next week. A 50–50 tied vote, with all Democrats opposing the measure, would be enough for the bill to pass with a vote from Vice-President Mike Pence.

    […]

    The criticism of Cruz’s provision was lodged in a rare joint statement by America’s Health Care Plans and the BlueCross BlueShield Association. The two groups released it late on Friday in the form of a letter to McConnell.

    “It is simply unworkable in any form,” the letter said, adding that the provision would “undermine protections for those with pre-existing medical conditions”, increase premiums and lead to “widespread terminations of coverage”.

    […]

    The two insurance groups said premiums would “skyrocket” for people with preexisting conditions, especially for middle-income families who did not qualify for the bill’s tax credit. They also said the plan would leave consumers with fewer insurance options, so “millions of more individuals will become uninsured”.

    […]

  269. says

    Worthwhile:

    – Tamara Keith on NPR, “Reconstructing the 2016 Campaign after Trump Jr.’s Russia Meeting” (about 23 minutes long)

    – Matt Viser, Boston Globe, “Tracing a Russian pop singer’s link to Trump” (Two notes: 1) Of course he went to high school in Tenafly, NJ. Of course. 2) Viser isn’t skeptical enough when it comes to the explanations for why this family first – allegedly – made contact with Trump. In fact, the story in this article is completely different from the one Adam Davidson questions in this very interesting interview with Chris Hayes the other day.)

  270. says

    CNN has confirmed that Trump’s campaign paid Jr.’s lawyer Futerfas $50,000 almost two weeks before the publication of the emails, which is when Trump claims he learned of the meeting. Of course, Trump didn’t learn of the meeting at that time, either, since he undoubtedly knew about it when it was happening. But what’s interesting, as I think I might have noted above, is that around the time they retained the lawyer with campaign donors’ money, Hannity, Gingrich, and other Fox propagandists started shifting gears from denying any collusion to questioning whether collusion was really a bad thing, seemingly preparing their audience for the impending release of this evidence.

  271. says

    CNN has confirmed that Trump’s campaign paid Jr.’s lawyer Futerfas $50,000 almost two weeks before the publication of the emails,

    I’m not sure exactly what confirming that entailed, since I believe the FEC filings are public.

  272. blf says

    I’m not sure exactly what confirming that entailed, since I believe the FEC filings are public.

    Assuming it was not CNN which broke the story, then it could be as simple as checking the FEC filings to verify whoever broke the story read the filings correctly. Such double-checking is highly useful.

  273. says

    Assuming it was not CNN which broke the story, then it could be as simple as checking the FEC filings to verify whoever broke the story read the filings correctly. Such double-checking is highly useful.

    Lachlan Markey at the Daily Beast tweeted out the relevant section of the filing yesterday, with the amount, recipient, and date of disbursement clearly shown (I linked to it @ #423 above). The forms are available online.

  274. blf says

    A follow-up to @425, Maryam Mirzakhani: Iranian newspapers break hijab taboo in tributes:

    Tehran front pages run photographs of mathematician without head covering, showing her prominence overrode rules

    Iran was in shock on Sunday after the mathematician Maryam Mirzakhani, the first woman in history to win the Fields medal, maths’ Nobel prize, died of cancer […].

    Her death on Saturday […] dominated front pages in Tehran, with a number of newspapers breaking with tradition and publishing photos of her without a head covering — a rare tribute that showed her prominence overrode rules requiring all Iranian women to be covered in public. […]

    […]

    In another sign that Mirzakhani was breaking more taboos even after her death, a group of parliamentarians in Iran on Sunday urged the speeding up of an amendment to a law that would allow children of Iranian mothers married to foreigners to be given Iranian nationality.

    Mirzakhani is survived by her Czech scientist husband and her daughter but a marriage between an Iranian woman and a non-Muslim man was previously not recognised, complicating visits to Iran by their children.

    Fars news agency reported on Sunday that 60 MPs were pressing for the amendments so that Mirzakhani’s daughter could visit Iran.

    […]

  275. says

    SC @431, That’s a good analysis. Thanks for the link. You are right, Trump simply doesn’t care what is true or not true, he only cares about what is useful to him in the moment. However, watching his lawyer, Jay Sekulow’s five appearances on the Sunday shows added an extra dimension for me. Sekulow threw Trump’s son Donald Junior under the bus repeatedly and in various ways, while making sure that Trump Senior remained in the knew-nothing, did-nothing category.

    I knew that Trump worked with shady characters, but Sekulow’s rip-off-Christians-to-fund-his-extended-family scams are extra-shady. It looks to me like Trump Senior is now using this guy to tear down his own son.

  276. says

    Follow-up to comment 444.

    An example of Sekulow on the Sunday morning shows. this is from NBC’s “Meet the Press”:

    “I don’t represent Donald Trump Jr. and I do not know everyone for sure that was at that meeting and the President was not at the meeting,” Sekulow said. “I can tell you he was not there. The President was not aware of the meeting and did not attend it.”

    Sekulow said Trump “became aware of it very recently” and that he learned of the meeting “about the same time, almost exactly the same time.”

    Asked about the perception that Trump Jr. was trying to obfuscate what happened in the meeting by changing his story amid new reporting, Sekulow said, “There was nothing illegal to cover up.”

    “That was information that was controlled not by my client, not by the President. It was controlled by Donald Trump Jr.,” he said. “The President was not involved in that decision.”

  277. says

    This morning, Trump sort of defended Don Junior by using Twitter in his characteristic way:

    HillaryClinton can illegally get the questions to the Debate & delete 33,000 emails but my son Don is being scorned by the Fake News Media?
    —————
    Thank you to former campaign adviser Michael Caputo for saying so powerfully that there was no Russian collusion in our winning campaign.
    ————–
    With all of its phony unnamed sources & highly slanted & even fraudulent reporting, #Fake News is DISTORTING DEMOCRACY in our country!

    (head/desk)

  278. says

    Trump is considering Cheryl Stanton for the job of top enforcer of federal wage and overtime regulations.

    Stanton was sued last year for not paying the people that clean her house:

    Laurie Titus of Sunflower Cleaning Group stated in her suit that [current head of South Carolina’s Department of Employment and Workforce Cheryl Stanton] failed to pay for four house cleaning visits, at $90 each.

    “I have emailed, mailed, and certified mailed trying to get payment,” the lawsuit said.

    Link

    Stiffing the people you hire? Yes, that sounds like a person Trump would like. Birds of a feather.

    Stanton also seems to be an abrasive and abusive leader when she is in power:

    Stanton has faced questions about her management.
    “In all my years as a manager, I’ve never been spoken to by a supervisor in such a confrontational and abrasive manner as you have done in our last two meetings,” former Assistant Executive Director Bill Beckham wrote in an April 2016 resignation letter. […]

    Beckham was one of several senior officials who left the agency under Stanton. At a legislative hearing in May, Republican state Sen. Thomas Alexander grilled Stanton on her executive turnover, which he said was higher than at other state agencies.

  279. says

    Republican Senator Susan Collins called Mike Pence out for lying, but she did so in a relatively mild and polite way:

    “I would respectfully disagree with the vice president’s analysis,” she responded, warning that the bill would “impose fundamental, sweeping changes in the Medicaid programs. And those include very deep cuts that would affect some of the most vulnerable people in our society.”

    “You can’t take more than $700 billion out of the Medicaid program,” she added, “and not think that it’s going to have some kind of effect.”

    Pence had said earlier that the Senate health-care bill “strengthens and secures Medicaid for the neediest in our society.” He lied.

    Collins also pointed out that the Senate health-care bill, if enacted, would harm rural hospitals, disabled children, seniors who are poor, and nursing homes.

  280. says

    John McCain had surgery (he’s okay), and so Mitch McConell is postponing the vote on Trumpcare. I wonder if McConnell is relieved or worried about putting this vote off for a week or more.

    Meanwhile, the White House announced that they will hold events related to “Made in America,” “American Heroes” and “American Dreams” over the next three weeks. Sounds like vaguely themed events to distract from the problems with the health-care bill and from all the Russian scandals. I wonder if Ivanka Trump will speak at the “Made in America” events? Her company does not make products in America.

  281. se habla espol says

    I wonder if Ivanka Trump will speak at the “Made in America” events? Her company does not make products in America.

    We can presume (presumption only, due to lack of information and interest) that Ivanka was “Made in America”, even though her company’s products aren’t.

  282. blf says

    There is another authoritarian with an even thiner skin that hair furor, ‘Oh, bother’: Winnie the Pooh falls foul of Chinese internet censors:

    Search blackout may be linked to clampdown on unflattering meme comparing president Xi Jinping with AA Milne character

    Has Winnie the Pooh done something to anger China’s censors?

    Some mentions of AA Milne’s loveable but slow-witted bear with a weakness for honey have been blocked on Chinese social networks.

    Authorities did not explain the clampdown, but the self-described “bear of very little brain” has been used in past memes comparing him to the Chinese president, Xi Jinping.

    Posts bearing the image and the Chinese characters for Winnie the Pooh were still permitted on the Weibo social media platform Monday. But comments referencing “Little Bear Winnie” — Pooh’s Chinese name — turned up error messages saying the user could not proceed because this content is illegal.

    […]

    China’s ruling Communist party is highly sensitive to comical depictions of its leader, particularly as Xi attempts to consolidate power ahead of a key party congress later this year.

    […]