1. says

    “In attack on Frederica Wilson over Trump’s call to widow, John Kelly gets facts wrong”:

    When White House Chief of Staff John Kelly condemned a Miami congresswoman on Thursday for sneering at President Donald Trump’s condolence call to a soldier’s widow, the retired general recalled when the two attended a somber ceremony in Miramar to dedicate a new FBI building named after two slain FBI agents.

    Kelly criticized Democratic U.S. Rep. Frederica Wilson for claiming “she got the money” for the new building during the 2015 ceremony while he and others in the audience were focused on the heroism of agents Benjamin Grogan and Jerry Dove, killed during a 1986 shootout with bank robbers south of Miami.

    Thursday night, Wilson said Kelly got the story flat-out wrong. In fact, she said Washington approved the money before she was even in Congress. The legislation she sponsored named the building after Grogan and Dove, a law enacted just days before the ceremony.

    “He shouldn’t be able to just say that, that is terrible,” Wilson said of Kelly’s remarks in the White House briefing room, the latest volley in the controversy over Trump’s condolence call to a military widow from Miami Gardens, an area Wilson represents. “This has become totally personal.”

    In 2015, Wilson won praise from Miami Republicans for sponsoring the bill to name the long anticipated federal building after two agents who became legends in local law enforcement.

    At the dedication ceremony, James Comey, then director of the FBI, lauded Wilson’s legislation, which was signed into law by President Barack Obama three days before the April 2015 ceremony.

    “Rep. Wilson truly did the impossible, and we are eternally grateful,” Comey said in his remarks….

    Here’s Lawrence O’Donnell last night expressing his anger over Kelly’s remarks about Wilson.

  2. says

    Daniel Dale: “The fact that Kelly attacked someone for accurately conveying the hurt of a Gold Star family is really not making its way into the coverage. Nor is the fact that Kelly conclusively confirmed the president was lying when he said Rep. Wilson had fabricated his comments.”

  3. says

    “Putin Says Americans Should Not ‘Disrespect’ Trump, Because He’s the President and ‘Doesn’t Need Any Advice'”:

    Russian President Vladimir Putin has called on U.S. citizens to stop disrespecting President Donald Trump, a trend that the Russian leader called a symptom of a poor political system in the U.S.

    Putin, who U.S. officials have accused of swaying the 2016 U.S. presidential race in Trump’s favor, broke a streak of hostile diplomatic exchanges between the two leading powers during a speech Thursday in order to defend his former political ally from what he considers unfair criticism at home. Speaking at the Valdai Discussion Club in Sochi, Putin again denied any claims of Russian interference in last year’s U.S. elections, asserting that Trump “won honestly” and that he and his supporters have behaved legitimately in response to the current U.S. political climate.

    “Inside the country, disrespect is shown for him. This is a regrettable negative component of the U.S. political system,” Putin said, according to the state-run Tass Russian News Agency.

    “One can argue but one can’t show disrespect, even not for him personally but for those people who voted for him,” he added.

    Putin also defended Trump’s nontraditional, sometimes controversial approach to leading the country, calling the Republican’s unpredictable decisions a “reasonable response” to “great domestic resistance” that prevents Trump from delivering on electoral promises….

    Once again playing him like an authoritarian fiddle.

  4. says

    “Senate Approves Budget Plan That Smooths Path Toward Tax Cut”:

    The Senate took a significant step toward rewriting the tax code on Thursday night with the passage of a budget blueprint that would protect a $1.5 trillion tax cut from a Democratic filibuster.

    The budget resolution could also pave the way for opening up the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge in Alaska to oil exploration by ensuring that drilling legislation can pass with only Republican votes….

    Just like with the ACA repeal, they lie shamelessly about this legislation and its consequences, now with the full weight of the Koch propaganda outfit behind them.

  5. Ogvorbis: Swimming without a parachute. says

    I may have missed it if anyone did mention it. I haven’t seen it on the news. If so, I apologize.

    Four soldiers were killed in combat in Niger. Four men. Three with names and faces that fit the stereotypical “This is what an American looks like” of the right wing. One who is African-American with a non-1950s whitebread suburbia name: La David Johnson. And which grieving widow did Trump insult? Which family got to listen to a President who didn’t remember his name? And which family is now being attacked by the President and the right-wing media? I hope this is a strange coincidence, but, given Trump’s record, I doubt that it is.

  6. says

    “For those of us who remember when General Kelly was in charge of #GTMO, the only surprise is that so many folks thought he was different…”

    His actions as the head of SOUTHCOM, his approval of the racist paramilitarization of ICE, his overseeing of the vicious implementation of Muslim Ban 1.0, his unbidden suggestion that Trump use a ceremonial sword on the media, his standing by Trump during and after his statements about Charlottesville – all of this showed who he is.

  7. says

    Sarah Kendzior:

    “Generals will save us from Trump” myth was toxic b/c it 1) bred false hope 2) marketed strongman rule as normal replacement for democracy. That this myth even had appeal is disturbing. You deserve much better than rule by military men who allegedly “tame” an aspiring autocrat! The more people continue to mistake “not as bad” for “good”, the worse off we will be. Keep your standards high even if you do not believe they will be met. Do not let autocracy chip away at your expectations and values.

  8. says

    Josh Marshall – “General Kelly’s Paean to MAGA”:

    Lost in the storm and anguish over John Kelly’s attacks today was a sobering reality. The ideological and rhetorical spine of his remarks was a paean to MAGA. The old days were good. We had real religion. Things were right with women. There was no abortion. Honor was sacred and respected. Now it’s all crap because of people like Congresswoman Frederica Wilson (D), a showboater from Florida who transgressed our last sacred space.

    That is the ideological spine. The rhetorical spine of his remarks was even clearer. Attacks on President Trump are attacks on the sanctity of heroism and patriotic sacrifice itself….

    Underneath this logic is a belief which Kelly actually stated much more clearly than most are willing to do. We don’t just owe respect to people who serve in the military. They are actually better than us civilians.

    Kelly made a similar point when he refused to take questions from any reporter who was not either from a Gold Star family themselves or personally knew someone who was. You may not even deserve your civic freedoms, the right to talk, to ask question, unless you are near to military sacrifice….

  9. says

    SC, thanks for the excellent coverage of Kelly’s speech in the previous chapter of this thread.

    For those who didn’t read it yet, SC’s comments start here at comment 476, and there are several follow-up comments on the same subject.

  10. says

    Nikki Haley, U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, disagreed with Trump … again:

    I find it fascinating because the Russians, God bless ’em, they’re saying, “Why are Americans anti-Russian?” And why have we done the sanctions? Well, don’t interfere in our elections and we won’t be anti-Russian. And I think we have to be so hard on this and we have to hold them accountable and we have to get the private sector to understand they are responsible for this, too. We all have to step up from this event.

    Meanwhile, Trump still hasn’t implemented the sanctions against Russia that Congress approved several weeks ago.

  11. blf says

    Nothing paeticularly new here, just another incident of hair furor lying, distorting, and confabulating, Trump links UK crime rise to spread of Islamic terror:

    In latest Twitter outburst US president makes terrorism link even though annual figures cover all police-recorded offences

    Donald Trump has erroneously linked a rise in recorded crime in England and Wales to the spread of radical Islamic terror in his latest outburst on Twitter.

    Just out report: ‘United Kingdom crime rises 13% annually amid spread of Radical Islamic terror.’ not good, we must keep America safe! wrote the US president [sic].

    The UK Office for National Statistics (ONS), in its quarterly update on crime on Thursday, reported a 13% increase in all police-recorded offences across England and Wales.


    The report barely mentions terrorism other than to refer on one occasion to the impact recent terrorist attacks in Britain had on the headline murder rate. Thirty-five people were killed in the incidents in London and Manchester.

    There were 629 murders in total in the UK. For comparison, Stephen Paddock in Las Vegas killed 58 people — more than the the 35 terrorist killings hair furor is focusing on. Excepting those incidents in London and Manchester, there were no mass murders; in contrast, there is almost one each day in the States. And no machine guns were used in the UK.

  12. says

    More B.S. from the Bullshitter in Chief:

    The Fake News is going crazy with wacky Congresswoman Wilson (D), who was SECRETLY on a very personal call, and gave a total lie on content!

    From Steve Benen:

    […] Trump seems to think he deserves the last word on the subject, and he wants the public to believe Wilson wasn’t telling the truth.

    Reality points in the opposite direction. In fact, Kelly yesterday effectively confirmed Frederica Wilson’s version of events, saying he advised the president to tell Sgt. La David T. Johnson’s loved ones he “knew what he was getting into.” […]

    Trump’s smart move would be to stop digging. The president claimed this week Wilson “totally fabricated” what he said, and that turned out to be untrue. Trump claimed there was “proof” to bolster his version of events, and that turned out to be untrue. He said the congresswoman had changed her story, and that turned out to be untrue.

    Making matters worse, the Miami Herald and the Washington Post scrutinized John Kelly’s remarks yesterday, and both found that the White House chief of staff got several of his facts wrong. […]

    Two former defense secretaries, meanwhile, have spoken up this week to criticize the president’s recent behavior. Leon Panetta, who led the Pentagon in the Obama administration, told the Washington Post this week, “I just think it demeans the presidency when you use John Kelly and his son, both of whom are patriots, to back up his excuses for whatever happened. I just think it creates a sense that there is no sacred ground for this president.”

    Chuck Hagel, a former Republican senator who also served as Defense secretary under Obama, added in a USA Today interview yesterday, in reference to Trump, “I’m offended by the way he’s handled it. You just don’t use the families of the fallen to score political points, especially to take jabs at your predecessor. I’m very unhappy about this.”

    […] If he [Trump] could just stop talking about this, it’d be a good start.

  13. says

    This comment adds details to a comment from SC in the previous chapter of this thread:

    CIA Director Mike Pompeo incorrectly asserted Thursday that U.S. intelligence agencies concluded that Russia’s interference campaign did not affect the outcome of the 2016 presidential election.

    “We conducted an election that had integrity,” Pompeo, a former Republican member of Congress from Kansas, said during a public event in response to a question from NBC News. “And yes, the intelligence community’s assessment is that the Russian meddling that took place did not affect the outcome of the election.”

    What the U.S. Intelligence Community actually said/put in writing:

    We did not make an assessment of the impact that Russian activities had on the outcome of the 2016 election. The US Intelligence Community is charged with monitoring and assessing the intentions, capabilities, and actions of foreign actors; it does not analyze US political processes or US public opinion.

    The CIA tried to walk back Pompeo’s comments:

    The intelligence assessment with regard to Russian election meddling has not changed, and the director did not intend to suggest that it had.

    WTF? Pompeo did not “suggest” that the assessment had changed, he blatantly claimed in no uncertain terms that an assessment had been made, and that that assessment was the opposite of what the CIA (and other intelligence agencies) reported earlier in an official report.

    For months, team Trump has been spreading the same false conclusion that Pompeo stated.

    […] A former senior U.S. intelligence official told the Washington Post yesterday, “This is another example of Pompeo politicizing intelligence,” The unnamed former official added that an incident like this one “significantly undermines the intelligence community’s credibility.”

    It may be tempting to think this was an isolated accident. Perhaps, the argument goes, Pompeo merely misspoke, and it’s not worth making a fuss about a casual mistake.

    The trouble with this defense is that yesterday wasn’t an isolated incident. On the contrary, the Kansas Republican “has repeatedly played down Russia’s interference in the 2016 election and demonstrated a willingness to engage in political skirmishes for President Trump.”

    One CIA official said over the summer, “People have to watch him. It’s almost as if he can’t resist the impulse to be political.” […]


    Pompeo is blatantly, repeatedly partisan. He is a member of the Cult of Trump.

  14. blf says

    Follow-up to @16, Was Donald Trump right to blame terrorism for rising UK crime figures?, making a perhaps even better point:

    As for Trump, he might like to reflect that the 629 homicides in England and Wales — population 53 million — in the past 12 months is somewhat below the 2016 death toll of 758 in the single US city of Chicago, population 2.7 million.

    As the Conservative MP […] Nicholas Soames, replied to Trump #thenfixguncontrolyoudafttwerp […]

  15. says

    In an incomprehensible move, team Trump included Chad in the latest version of the travel ban. Rachel Maddow covered the ways in which the inclusion of Chad put members of the U.S. military serving in Niger in danger.

    This incredible piece of reporting from Maddow is 25:22 minutes long, and worth watching twice.

    Team Trump apparently made several stupid and ill-informed moves, moves that increased the chances that four men would be killed in an ambush in Niger.

    Some comments regarding Trump’s inclusion of Chad, a U.S. ally in the fight against terrorism in that region of Africa, in the travel ban:

    – from the Government of Chad: “expresses its incomprehension”

    – from the former head of Africa Command, Carter Ham: “puzzling”

    – from human rights lawyer Reed Brody: “It’s bewildering.”

    – from former U.S. ambassador John Campbell: “It makes no sense whatsoever.”

    – also from John Campbell: “[…] sheer incompetence. Otherwise, frankly, it just doesn’t make sense.”

    So, right after team Trump made the stupid move to include Chad in the travel ban, Chad withdrew its troops from Niger.

  16. says

    Ogvorbis @20: those nazis should not have brought weapons to a protest/counter protest. The weapons should never have been there in the first place. As for firing at unarmed protestors, that’s appalling.

  17. blf says

    Follow-up to @21, Travel ban: Chad added because it ran out of passport paper, US officials say:

    All countries had been given 50 days to take several steps that included providing a recent passport sample. Chad couldn’t comply, and its offer to provide a pre-existing sample wasn’t sufficient.

    The homeland security department says there were other reasons Chad was added […]

    The ban was the wrong approach to the glitch. The “other issues” are not(?) publicly known, and since this is hair furor’s dalekocracy, quite possibly nonsense.

  18. says

    From Wonkette’s coverage of General John Kelly’s lies:

    […] When General John Kelly, Donald Trump’s chief of staff, addressed the press Thursday, he spoke from the heart about what happens when an American servicemember is killed in action. It was especially touching because Kelly lost his own son in the American war in Afghanistan, and his other son is still serving.

    Then Kelly transitioned from that sober moment […] Kelly attacked Congresswoman Frederica Wilson for being a terrible person who lies about what Donald Trump says to the widows of the fallen, but in his defense of Trump, he actually confirmed Wilson’s account.

    But there was a weird moment in the presser where, apropos of nothing besides trying to damage Wilson’s credibility, Kelly told a story about Wilson taking credit for getting “all the money” for an FBI building in south Florida named for two agents killed in the line of duty. He said she rudely said this during her speech at that building’s dedication. He accused Wilson of being the face of “a long tradition of empty barrels making the most noise.” […]

    You will be floored when we tell you the next thing. Are you ready?


    The Miami Herald spoke to Wilson about the 2015 FBI building dedication:

    Thursday night, Wilson said Kelly got the story flat-out wrong. In fact, she said Washington approved the money before she was even in Congress. The legislation she sponsored named the building after [Benjamin] Grogan and [Jerry] Dove, a law enacted just days before the ceremony. […]

    The General Services Administration had already bid out a $144 million construction contract for the project in September 2010, just a few months before Wilson won her congressional seat. The bidding for federal projects takes place after Congress has secured the funding.

    “That is crazy that I got [the money] and Mr. Obama just gave it to me,” Wilson said. “That building was funded long before I got to Congress. I didn’t say that. I have staff, people who write the speeches. You can’t say that.”

    When the Miami Herald published, it hadn’t been able to independently corroborate Wilson’s side of the story yet. But the Sun Sentinel did! Indeed, they posted video of her full speech, which shows she categorically did not say what John Kelly said she did. In reality, her speech was anything but All About Her.

    Go watch it. We’ll wait. […]

    Short version: Donald Trump, John Kelly and their flying monkeys want you to know they think Rep. Frederica Wilson is a real bitch, and they’re lying to get that message across. And people have gotten the message! Wilson’s office has gotten threatening phone calls, and Trump idiots/Russian bots are flooding the Twitter hashtag #IBelieveFrederica with barely literate comments about FREDERICA DERANGED RODEO CLOWN HILLARY CLINTON URANIUM FAKE NEWS I DON’T LIKE THOSE HATS SHE WEARS. […]

    Oh, yeah, the Russian bots were pushing that fake news from General Kelly. Figures.

    Sun Sentinel link

  19. says

    blf, good point. Hair Furor’s team issued a statement saying that no exceptions to their rules would be allowed. They caused deadly havoc over a paper shortage.

    Of course, Hair Furor’s team has not shown the ability to set priorities in a reasonable way.

  20. Hj Hornbeck says

    OgVorbis @8:

    I hope this is a strange coincidence, but, given Trump’s record, I doubt that it is.

    You weren’t the only person to notice that.

    Is this enough information, even a large enough sample size, to draw a firm judgment? I don’t think so. It is also clearly the case that the process was haphazard for everyone and pretty organized. … But it’s hard to ignore that the families who heard nothing seem to include all the African-American families we have any information about. And to be clear, many of these families report hear[ing] from Army generals and other military personnel. Hunter’s family in Indiana heard from Vice President Pence.

    One thing that occurred to me is that more of the white families that heard nothing might be supporters of the President while the African-American families might tend not to [be]. This is what we’d expect from the demographics of the President’s political support. It’s possible this colors both group’s reaction to the same lack of calls. … That is speculation. I just want to raise it as a possibility. Of course none of the four dead in Niger – three white and one African-American – had heard anything after 10 days. La David Johnson’s wife did get a call from the President, though obviously that call did not go well.

    Still, President Trump isn’t just any President. He has a history of friendliness to white supremacists and antagonism with and often hostility to African-Americans. As I noted a couple days ago, it’s a symptom of the poisonousness of Donald Trump that we’re even having this conversation. But here we are. The pattern is conspicuous.

  21. says

    About that new budget blueprint (why a “blueprint”? see below) passed by the Senate:

    […] The measure passed 51 to 49, with only one Republican voting against it: Rand Paul, who still clings to the sentimental Republican doctrine that deficits are always bad, even when Republicans are in power. […]

    The budget outline includes $1 trillion in cuts to Medicare over 10 years, and $500 billion in cuts to Medicaid, because once the Trump tax cuts kick in, no one will be poor anymore, and the resulting economic growth will actually reverse Americans’ aging processes. Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer seemed unaware of the flawless logic behind the plan:

    This nasty and backwards budget green lights cuts to Medicare and Medicaid in order to give a tax break to big corporations and the wealthiest Americans. It shifts the burden from the wealthy and puts it squarely on the back of the middle class, and blows a hole in the deficit to boot […] I think it will go down in history as one of the worst budgets Congress has ever passed.

    The budget plan was supported by some Republicans who had warned it was a bad idea, but not a bad enough idea to actually vote against, of course:

    “The budget’s a sham,” Sen. David Perdue (R-Ga.) said at a recent Koch-backed group’s gathering of wealthy donors in New York. “It has nothing to do with reality. … It’s a tool to get to reconciliation.”

    Sen. Bob Corker (R-Tenn.) called the budget a “hoax” on Thursday.

    Since the bill isn’t an actual budget, but rather a set of instructions for what the Senate can include in a real budget bill that would be passed by reconciliation, the details are all subject to change by the time the final legislation gets written — probably in secret, to be sprung at the last minute to reduce troublesome debate and opposition from Democrats. It includes instructions for a tax cut package, although there again the exact details remain to be framed in legislative language. […]


  22. says

    Trump is meddling where he should not be meddling. Conflict-of-Interest and Obstruction-of-Justice red sirens are going off.

    […] Trump reportedly had a private meeting with a prospective U.S. Attorney, D.C.’s Jessie Liu, before her nomination was made official.

    Politico reported yesterday that this wasn’t an isolated incident.

    President Donald Trump has personally interviewed at least two potential candidates for U.S. attorney positions in New York, according to two sources familiar with the matter — a move that critics say raises questions about whether they can be sufficiently independent from the president.

    Trump has interviewed Geoffrey Berman, who is currently at the law firm Greenberg Traurig for the job of U.S. attorney for the Southern District of New York, and Ed McNally of the firm Kasowitz Benson Torres for the Eastern District post, according to the sources.

    The presidential chat with Geoffrey Berman is of particular interest because the federal prosecutor for the Southern District of New York will have jurisdiction over Trump Tower. The person who used to have this job, Preet Bharara, is the same U.S. Attorney who was fired in March despite having been told he could remain at his post.

    “It is neither normal nor advisable for Trump to personally interview candidates for US Attorney positions, especially the one in Manhattan,” Bharara tweeted Wednesday.

    […] U.S. Attorneys are a powerful group of lawyers, who have considerable influence over federal prosecutions nationwide. The fact that Trump wants to personally meet with some of them before they’re nominated is bizarre.

    In his eight years in office, for example, Barack Obama met with exactly zero U.S. Attorney nominees. […]

    In an interview with Politico yesterday, Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) added that it’s of particular interest that the president singled out prospective prosecutors in D.C. and New York City. “To be very blunt, these three jurisdictions will have authority to bring indictments over the ongoing special counsel investigation into Trump campaign collusion with the Russians and potential obstruction of justice by the president of the United States,” Blumenthal said. “For him to be interviewing candidates for that prosecutor who may in turn consider whether to bring indictments involving him and his administration seems to smack of political interference.”

    Under normal circumstances, this would be the sort of thing Congress would take a closer look at as part of its oversight responsibilities.


  23. Pierce R. Butler says

    After Richard Spencer’s jeered-out talk at the University of Florida, three of his droogs from Texas got themselves charged with attempted homicide for shooting at protesters off-campus:

    William Henry Fears, 30, of Pasadena, Texas; Colton Gene Fears, 28, also of Pasadena; and Tyler Eugene Tenbrink, 28, of Richmond, Texas; were charged with attempted homicide and held in the Alachua County jail. Tenbrink was also charged with being a felon in possession of a weapon.

    At 5:20 p.m. Thursday, a vehicle with William Fears, Colton Fears and Tenbrink pulled up to a bus stop at 3315 SW Archer Road where a small group of people were sitting. One of the men began cheering Adolf Hitler and chanting.

    The victim hit the vehicle’s rear window with a baton, and the car sped away before abruptly stopping.

    Tenbrink got out of the car with a handgun. William Fears and Colton Fears yelled, “I’m going to f—ing kill you,” and “Shoot them.”

    Tenbrink fired one shot at the victim. The shot missed and struck the building that was directly behind the victim.

    The Fears brothers and Tenbrink fled eastbound in the vehicle. …

    Wesley Durrance, a 27-year-old Gainesville resident, told The Gainesville Sun several of his friends were shot at because they were carrying anti-Nazi signs protesting Spencer’s UF visit. …

    Earlier … William Fears told the Sun that he believed James Fields, who drove his car into a crowd of protesters in Charlottesville, Virginia, wasn’t unjustified. He also said alt-right movement supporters were “pushing back” against leftist supporters.

    “It’s always been socially acceptable to punch a Nazi, to attack people if they have right-wing political leanings,” Fears said. “Us coming in and saying we’re taking over your town, we’re starting to push back, we’re starting to want to intimidate back. We want to show our teeth a little bit because, you know, we’re not to be taken lightly. We don’t want violence; we don’t want harm. But at the end of the day, we’re not opposed to defending ourselves.”

    Fears was arrested in 2009 on an aggravated kidnapping charge after abducting a female acquaintance in Texas, media reports show.

  24. says


    Remember: free speech must always be honoured — except when free speech is protesting nazi hate speech:…

    I can’t believe this is the first I’ve heard about this.

  25. says

    John Kelly and the Language of the Military Coup

    Consider this nightmare scenario: a military coup. You don’t have to strain your imagination—all you have to do is watch Thursday’s White House press briefing, in which the chief of staff, John Kelly, defended President Trump’s phone call to a military widow, Myeshia Johnson. The press briefing could serve as a preview of what a military coup in this country would look like, for it was in the logic of such a coup that Kelly advanced his four arguments.

    Argument 1. Those who criticize the President don’t know what they’re talking about because they haven’t served in the military. […]

    Much more at the link.

  26. says

    From Matt Shuham, writing for Talking Points Memo:

    The White House on Friday told a journalist who asked about errors chief of staff John Kelly made Thursday that it would be “highly inappropriate” to “get into a debate with a four-star Marine general.”

    The militaristic language, used to refer to the civilian position in the White House occupied by the retired Marine general, came when the reporter pointed out that Kelly had inaccurately accused a congresswoman of claiming credit for securing funding for an FBI building in Miramar, Florida in 2015.

    As video published Friday by the Sun Sentinel showed, the congresswoman, Rep. Frederica Wilson (D-FL), never claimed to have secured funding for the building. She did mention during her speech that she had led a congressional effort to name the building after two fallen FBI officials.

    Sanders repeated a misleading statement regarding Kelly’s remarks in the press briefing Friday.

    “As we say in the South, all hat, no cattle,” she added, a statement that could allude to the fact that Rep. Wilson is known to wear colorful hats.

    The reporter pointed out that Kelly’s statement Thursday was misleading: Wilson didn’t discuss the building’s funding in her speech in 2015.

    “She also had quite a few comments that day that weren’t part of that speech and weren’t part of that video that were also witnessed by many people that were there,” Sanders said, referring to “what Gen. Kelly referenced yesterday.”

    The reporter pressed: Would Kelly respond to reporting on his inaccurate statement?

    “I think he’s addressed that pretty thoroughly yesterday,” Sanders said.

    “He was wrong yesterday in talking about getting the money,” the reporter countered.

    “If you want to go after Gen. Kelly, that’s up to you,” Sanders said. “But I think that, if you want to get into a debate with a four-star Marine general, I think that that’s something highly inappropriate.”

    The press secretary added later, responding separately to a question about a speech made by former President George W. Bush on Thursday: “I think if anybody is pushing a lot of fabricated things right now, I think most of that would be coming from the news media.”

    In other works, Sarah Huckabee Sanders doesn’t have a leg to stand on. She doesn’t mind compounding the errors of General Kelly.

  27. says

    Sanders: “But I think that, if you want to get into a debate with a four-star Marine general, I think that that’s something highly inappropriate.”

    So now people aren’t supposed to contest the false political statements of high-ranking military officers? Fuck that, and how dare they even suggest it.

  28. says

    An analysis of the economic scam being touted by team Trump:

    The President’s Council of Economic Advisers claims that slashing the corporate tax rate to 20 percent would boost the average American’s wages by $4,000 per year (“very conservatively”) — and perhaps by as much as $9,000. If true, that would be a remarkable gain for working Americans.

    Unfortunately, it’s extraordinarily unlikely to be true.

    […] Over the past decade, the United Kingdom has slashed its corporate tax rate, in several steps, from 30 percent down to 19 percent. At the same time, the United States has kept its corporate tax rate constant at 35 percent. Like the United States, Britain has a large open economy, investors in British firms come from all over the world, and Britain provides a sound legal and regulatory environment.

    So what happened to wages after Britain cut corporate taxes? […] As UK corporate tax rates fell, so did real (inflation-adjusted) median wages. That is, wages moved in the opposite direction from that predicted by the CEA. Meanwhile, in the United States, real median wages crept up — not quickly enough, but at least moving in the right direction. Even if you start the clock in 2013, after the Great Recession, UK wage growth didn’t keep pace with that of the United States.

    Of course, the UK example is just one case, but this comparison is a great deal more relevant to the CEA’s claims than the slapdash comparison it presents near the start of its report. The report compares US wage growth over three years to wage growth in 10 unnamed “low-tax” developed economies. But the United States is simply not comparable to small-economy tax havens like Ireland and Switzerland. […]

    The CEA report draws on outlier research, some of it unpublished.

    […] the work that the CEA cites in defense of its wage estimates is a group of (typically unpublished) papers that have been challenged by subsequent critiques. […]

    A more exhaustive overview of the literature in this area would show that most studies fail to provide convincing cross-country evidence indicating that countries that lower corporate taxes will experience greater investment and wage growth.

    The models used by the Congressional Budget Office, the Joint Committee on Taxation, the US Treasury Department (unless it has just now been directed to do otherwise), and the nonpartisan Tax Policy Center all assign the vast majority of the burden of the corporate tax to shareholders or investors more generally, not to workers. In other words, a corporate tax cut would benefit investors and shareholders, with only a small effect on wages. […]

    Today’s corporate investments are not unduly burdened by taxes. In fact, quite the opposite. Thanks to the intersection of different tax preferences, the effective (real-world) corporate tax rate on debt-financed investments in equipment today is negative. That means taxpayers as a whole already subsidize these investments. Moreover, there is no evidence that companies today are capital constrained — interest rates remain near record lows, and credit is plentiful. […]

    Beyond this, the administration’s tax cut proposal is coupled with a territorial tax system, which permanently exempts foreign income from taxation; this will further tilt the playing field in favor of foreign, rather than US, investment. The CEA’s argument for wage increases is based on an enormous amount of new investment occurring in the United States, yet the administration also proposes to simultaneously cut US taxes on foreign income to zero. (Previously, foreign income was taxable in the United States upon repatriation.) […]


    Much more at the link.

  29. says

    SC @34, I think that Sarah Huckabee Sanders suffers from a surprisingly simplistic mode of thinking. She divides people into two categories: those who may be questioned, and those who may not be questioned.

    She grants automatic, unquestioning credence (loyalty?) to, for example, Trump and Kelly.

    To flavor her simplistic worldview, she adds the same barbs over and over. For example, today she concluded her paean to Kelly with a slap at the media for creating fake news.

    In her mind, Sanders thinks everyone should agree with her. She doesn’t understand why they wouldn’t.

  30. says

    So now people aren’t supposed to contest the false political statements of high-ranking military officers? Fuck that, and how dare they even suggest it.

    Jake Tapper: “Not to put too fine a point on it, but that’s not how we do it here in the United States.”

  31. says


    SC @34, I think that Sarah Huckabee Sanders suffers from a surprisingly simplistic mode of thinking. She divides people into two categories: those who may be questioned, and those who may not be questioned.

    Yes, she’s an authoritarian from a family of authoritarians.

  32. says

    I saw a clip in which she suggested that this all should have ended after he made his appearance yesterday. The glorious general has spoken! Now silence! The most simultaneously pathetic and horrifying thing is that the authoritarians in this farce of a would-be regime seem to have believed that’s what would (and should) happen: Kelly’s speech would shame and quiet all critics and settle the matter.

  33. says

    Jon Lovett on the NRA video @ #41:

    “This is just straight fascism now. I don’t even think it’s twitter hyperbole to say that. Violent rhetoric, authoritarian, anti-American.”

    “Journalists and dissenters are now ‘saboteurs’ ‘driving daggers through the heart of our future’. Can’t be inured to this. It’s dangerous.”

  34. says

    I’m not – to put it mildly – a military person, but I’m offended as a New Englander that Kelly hasn’t set the record straight. My (Republican) father would be offended. My (Republican) grandmother would be offended. It’s just not right, and you know it, Kelly. Your recollection was wrong, and you smeared someone unfairly and hurtfully. Be honest. Make it right.

  35. snuffcurry says

    re Lynna’s link to Maddow’s coverage of the supposed Chad / Niger connection @21, that “connection” is dubious on its face and under dispute:

    [S]ubject matter expertise matters. Having access to specialists like Dr. Seay with deep knowledge of a region and its culture, sociology, politics, economics, religion, human geography, etc prevents this type of mistake from being made. While Dr. Maddow and her staff have access to a lot of quality military and security analysts through NBC/MSNBC, what she really needed yesterday was someone with subject matter expertise in the western Sahel, its politics, and the deployment of the various military forces in the region to troubleshoot her reporting.

    Maddow’s done this before, and there’s good reason not to “connect-the-dots” in this case in a conspiratorial manner without access to real supporting evidence, which doesn’t, at the moment, appear to exist or, at least, Maddow and co. didn’t provide any and no one has done so since the airing of that segment.

  36. says

    “Exclusive: Pentagon Document Contradicts Trump’s Gold Star Claims”:

    In the hours after President Donald Trump said on an Oct. 17 radio broadcast that he had contacted nearly every family that had lost a military servicemember this year, the White House was hustling to learn from the Pentagon the identities and contact information for those families, according to an internal Defense Department email.

    The email exchange, which has not been previously reported, shows that senior White House aides were aware on the day the president made the statement that it was not accurate — but that they should try to make it accurate as soon as possible, given the gathering controversy.

    Not only had the president not contacted virtually all the families of military personnel killed this year, the White House did not even have an up-to-date list of those who had been killed.

    The exchange between the White House and the Defense secretary’s office occurred about 5 p.m. on Oct. 17. The White House asked the Pentagon for information about surviving family members of all servicemembers killed after Trump’s inauguration so that the president could be sure to contact all of them.

    Capt. Hallock Mohler, the executive secretary to Defense Secretary James Mattis, provided the White House with information in the 5 p.m. email about how each servicemember had died and the identity of his or her survivors, including phone numbers….

  37. says

    “‘Czech Trump’ clinches wide lead in election”:

    With voters upset over traditional parties and orders from Brussels, a billionaire populist dubbed the “Czech Trump” has taken a huge lead in the Czech Republic’s election followed by an anti-EU and anti-Islam party with links to France’s National Front.

    State election officials citing results from nearly 73 percent of polling stations said Babis’s anti-corruption and anti-euro ANO (Yes) movement was ahead with 30.87 percent support with the far-right Freedom and Free Democracy (SPD) in second place on 11.19 percent….

  38. says

    Follow-up to SC’s comments 42 and 48.

    From Wonkette:

    […] “We are witnesses to the most ruthless attack on a president and the people who voted for him, and the free system that allowed it to happen, in American history,” she begins. […]

    What any of this has to do with guns, I’m not even sure. The only weapon she even mentioned were the daggers that we are apparently driving through the heart of Dana Loesch’s future? Also that we are “poisoning” their belief that “honest custody of our institutions will ever again be possible” so we can build a utopia? But really Dana Loesch is going to make sure we perish in the flames? […]

    There are a whole lot of mixed metaphors here! We’re stabbing, we’re poisoning, we’re perishing in flames. Clearly, we are the disorganized serial killer of AMERICA.

    She [Dana Loesch] is also claiming that we are doing this all “from the highest levels of government” — which is odd because I am pretty sure the “highest levels of government” are all occupied by Republicans right now.

    Now, Dana Loesch has never not been ridiculous and terrible, but it seems she’s been spiraling the last few weeks. Her speech at the Value Voters Summit was very, very weird — which is saying a lot given that it’s the Value Voters Summit and I am grading on a curve here as a result.

    She just kept repeating that FEMINISM IS DEAD, as if saying it enough times could make it so. […]

    If feminism is dead, and equality is 100% achieved, then how on earth can Dana Loesch feel she is experiencing sexism? IT IS A PARADOX!

    Dana is just so, so confused. I don’t think she even knows what she is mad at, at this point. She is just mad at all the things and Loesching out in every direction. Frankly, my suggestion–as a feminist–is that Loesch go down to Lush, get a nice bath bomb and take some time for quiet reflection and self-care and get her thoughts together before the next time she decides to step into that NRATV studio and make a video.

  39. says

    “O’Reilly Settled New Harassment Claims, Then Fox Renewed His Contract”:

    Last January, six months after Fox News ousted its chairman amid a sexual harassment scandal, the network’s top-rated host at the time, Bill O’Reilly, struck a $32 million agreement with a longtime network analyst to settle new sexual harassment allegations, according to two people briefed on the matter — an extraordinarily large amount for such cases.

    Although the deal has not been previously made public, the network’s parent company, 21st Century Fox, acknowledges that it was aware of the woman’s complaints about Mr. O’Reilly. They included allegations of repeated harassment, a nonconsensual sexual relationship and the sending of gay pornography and other sexually explicit material to her, according to the people briefed on the matter.

    It was at least the sixth agreement — and by far the largest — made by either Mr. O’Reilly or the company to settle harassment allegations against him. Despite that record, 21st Century Fox began contract negotiations with Mr. O’Reilly, and in February granted him a four-year extension that paid $25 million a year.

    Interviews with people familiar with the settlement, and documents obtained by The New York Times, show how the company tried and ultimately failed to contain the second wave of a sexual harassment crisis that initially burst into public view the previous summer and cost the Fox News chairman, Roger Ailes, and eventually Mr. O’Reilly, their jobs….

    Love this part: “In a statement, 21st Century Fox said it was not privy to the amount of the settlement and regarded Mr. O’Reilly’s January settlement, which was reached with a 15-year Fox News analyst named Lis Wiehl, as a personal issue between the two of them.”

  40. Ogvorbis: Swimming without a parachute. says

    SC @56:

    Terrorist bomber arrested in Virginia.

    Nope. Not a terrorist. He’s white. That makes him, what? a freedom fighter?

  41. says

    Here is Rachel Maddow’s follow-up to her earlier piece which posed possible answers to the question of why Trump was so reluctant to talk about the U.S. mission in Niger.

    One possible reason being that Trump is fond of bragging that he is getting close to eliminating ISIS, and noting that an ISIS-affiliated group attacked and killed American troops in Niger doesn’t fit into that narrative.

    Maddow also noted that no one, including her, is sure if the travel ban inclusion of a U.S. counterterrorism partner, Chad, had any effect on the attack in Niger.

    Maddow’s extensive presentation on Thursday caused a lot of backlash. I think her forceful style may have led some to assume she was connecting dots that she did not actually connect. She suggested a lot of (coincidental ?) events/actions may or may not be connected.

    I did not note the tentative aspects of Maddow’s presentation in my earlier post. I apologize for that.

    There is, however, no doubt that the U.S. Defense Department and the U.S. State Department strongly objected to banning travelers from Chad. And yet team Trump banned them anyway.

    This is actually a “stick a pin in this” moment. Let’s note the oddities for which we do not have adequate explanations, knowing that we need to continue to keep an eye on this. Further research and reporting is needed.

    Another fact not in dispute, Chad did pull its troops out of Niger. “This doesn’t mean that Chad withdrawing their troops was necessarily the cause of what happened to those troops who were ambushed. […] Why didn’t the President even acknowledge the worse combat casualties of his presidency?”

  42. says

    Excerpted from SC’s link in comment 64:

    […] Only months into the project, your lead developer is publicly exposed in the pages of the Toronto Star as a fugitive fraudster on the run from U.S. justice. Your major institutional partner — the Ritz-Carlton Hotel Company — bails shortly after.

    Your remaining partners in the deal — a group of investors assembled by the criminal who was just outed — include a New York camera store owner, a former Chicago nursing-home administrator, two small-time landlords in Britain and a little-known Toronto billionaire who earned a fortune in the former Soviet Union.

    The one thing they all have in common — no experience in condo tower development.

    Do you pull out? For Trump, the answer was no. The billionaire dug in, repeatedly told the world he was investing his own money in the project — claims that would prove false — and gushed about its spectacular promise, knowing his profits were guaranteed.

    “Nothing like this has ever been built in Toronto,” Trump said in 2004 as he relaunched the stalled project. “It is going to be the ultimate destination for business, pleasure and entertainment.”

    Fast forward to 2016 and Trump’s Toronto tower is built but bankrupt — a rare failure in Toronto’s booming downtown condo market.

    Yeah, that’s right. Trump failed. He is a loser. And while failing, he lied repeatedly.

    He still managed to rake in a lot of cash, as is the way with most con artists.

    […] “Trump never put money in; he just took money out,” said John Latimer, a former Toronto developer who worked briefly for the project.

    Now that Trump is U.S. president, his conduct during the Toronto project gives an indication of how he might manage challenges with far higher stakes than a mere real estate deal.

    “As I understand it, in Toronto, Trump made inaccurate statements” that may have influenced people who invested in the project, said Kathleen Clark, a law professor at Washington University in St. Louis who specializes in legal and government ethics. “He has shown a willingness to speak inaccurately and encourages people to rely on his inaccuracies, even when that ends up causing harm to them.”

    “In the case of the Toronto deal, the harm was financial. In the case of the presidency,” she said, it could be “apocalyptic.” […]

  43. says

    Details regarding a fundraising effort for hurricane victims:

    […] All five living former U.S. presidents are set to participate in a fundraiser for hurricane relief efforts on Saturday, but they won’t be joined by the current job holder — President Donald Trump is marking the occasion at his golf course.

    In a rare joint appearance, former Presidents Barack Obama, George W. Bush, Bill Clinton, George H.W. Bush, and Jimmy Carter will attend a benefit concert at Reed Arena at Texas A&M University, part of a larger effort to aid the millions of U.S. citizens suffering from hurricane damage. […]

    But the concert’s joint appearance will arguably be most notable for who it doesn’t include. Per White House pool reports, Trump is instead spending Saturday at his golf course in Virginia — the 74th day he has spent at a golf club as president. […]

    Think Progress link

    Update regarding U.S. citizens still suffering:

    […] The Virgin Islands are still facing power and water shortages on a horrifying scale; one island, St. John, has been in complete darkness for more than 40 days.

    Puerto Rico, meanwhile, is facing a humanitarian crisis. More than a month after Hurricane Maria made landfall as a Category 4 storm, less than 17 percent of the island currently has power. More than 29 percent of Puerto Ricans are also without water; those who do have access are being instructed by health officials to boil it prior to consumption. Food shortages have been reported across the island and health worries are mounting. Leptospirosis, a disease caused by animal-borne bacteria, has killed a number of islanders and many are also reporting other illnesses, including conjunctivitis (“pinkeye”) and, most recently, dengue. […]

  44. says

    As discussed up-thread, Trump does like to brag that he is defeating ISIS:

    […] “The defeat of ISIS in Raqqah represents a critical breakthrough in our worldwide campaign to defeat ISIS and its wicked ideology,” Trump said in a statement issued by the White House. “With the liberation of ISIS’s capital and the vast majority of its territory, the end of the ISIS caliphate is in sight.”

    Trump in his statement claimed credit for the latest advances made by the Kurdish-led group known as the Syrian Democratic Forces, […]

    The president noted that one of his “core” 2016 campaign promises was to knock out ISIS, and military orders issued in his first days in office had given U.S. commanders and troops “the full authorities to achieve this mission.”

    “We have made, alongside our coalition partners, more progress against these evil terrorists in the past several months than in the past several years,” Trump said. […]

    “They’re giving up, they’re raising their hands, they’re walking off. Nobody’s ever seen that before,” Trump said.

    Asked to explain why the gains against ISIS had happened, he replied, “Because you didn’t have Trump as your president. I mean, it was a big difference. I mean, there’s a big, big difference if you look at the military now.”

    But former Obama administration officials have taken issue with Trump’s claim that he’s responsible for changing the U.S. approach on ISIS. Former Defense Secretary Ash Carter told CNN on Friday that the plan to capture Raqqa was ordered up in 2015.

    “The plan … was laid out two years ago, and has been executed pretty much in the manner and the schedule that was foreseen then,” Carter said. […]

    Trump’s Cabinet also delivered him plaudits for the military advance. […]

    Note that the Kurds played a critical role in freeing Raqqa of extremists.

    Note that Trump did not say anything about the expansion of ISIS-affiliated groups in Africa.

  45. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    Good thing my BP meds work. Watched today’s AM Joy on time delay, and the DOJ pretending BLF is a terrorist group while NAZI’s being violent is not, is enough aggravation. Add the continuing problems in Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands, are absolutely racist in nature, and my blood could boil. Decided to help the former Presidents help the victims.

  46. says

    “Donald Trump Is Rush-Shipping Condolences to Military Families”: “The Trump administration is scrambling to defend the president’s characterization of his communications with grieving military families, including rush-delivering letters from the president to the families of servicemembers killed months ago. Donald Trump falsely claimed this week that he had called ‘virtually’ all fallen servicemembers’ families since his time in office.”

  47. says

    (Apropos of nothing, I hate when people refer to the parents of dead soldiers as having “sacrificed” their children. This isn’t Abraham and Isaac (which is a horrifying story in any event). They were adult men and women who made their own decisions.)

  48. says

    I can’t get past this moment from the end of Ari Melber’s interview of Mikhail Khodorkovsky, and wanted to record it (transcribing from the video):

    Melber: Did you ever think you might die in prison?

    Khodorkovsky: [chuckles wryly] We have a joke in our country. First, a person is stripped of all pleasures, and then asked, “Are you willing to give up your life?” So the person responds, “Of course. What do I want with this life?” The point is life seems worth living far less inside a Russian prison than outside it.

    Melber: With Russian jokes, are we supposed to laugh or cry?

    Khodorkovsky: [laughs] With nearly all Russian jokes, you laugh through the tears.

  49. says

    “McCain hits Trump where it hurts, attacking ‘bone spur’ deferments in Vietnam”: “‘One aspect of the conflict, by the way, that I will never ever countenance is that we drafted the lowest-income level of America, and the highest-income level found a doctor that would say that they had a bone spur’, McCain said. ‘That is wrong. That is wrong. If we are going to ask every American to serve, every American should serve’.”

    I didn’t realize all the records had been destroyed. Maybe he failed the psychological exam…

  50. says

    “Czech President holds up machine gun marked ‘for journalists’ during press conference”:

    …Zeman’s stunt on Friday aren’t the first time he’s made incendiary remarks towards the press. He has previously referred to journalists as “manure” and “hyenas.” In May, he shared a joke with Vladimir Putin that some of the journalists at an event he was at needed to be “liquidated” — a controversy which caused uproar in the central European country. In 2016, Zeman also urged Czechs to arm themselves against a potential “Super Holocaust” which would apparently be carried out by Muslims.

    What makes Zeman’s actions so inappropriate* this time though are that they take place less than a week after journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia was killed in Malta by a car bomb….

    “Yemeni journalist invited to receive free press award denied U.S. visa”:

    A Yemeni journalist invited to the United States to receive a free press award was denied a visa, according to the New York-based Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ).

    Afrah Nasser, the founder and editor-in-chief of Sana’a Review, was planning on attending the CPJ’s November 15 ceremony to receive the International Free Press Award, but now may not be able to obtain a visa in time. Nasser is a Swedish and Yemeni dual national and has been rejected by the U.S. embassy in Stockholm twice. She wrote in a piece for The New Arab that she will apply for a visa for a third time, but she is “not optimistic.”…

    * “Inappropriate”?

  51. says

    “Hopes Dim for Congressional Russia Inquiries as Parties Clash”:

    …All three committees looking into Russian interference — one in the House, two in the Senate — have run into problems, from insufficient staffing to fights over when the committees should wrap up their investigations. The Senate Judiciary Committee’s inquiry has barely started, delayed in part by negotiations over the scope of the investigation. Leaders of the Senate Intelligence Committee, while maintaining bipartisan comity, have sought to tamp down expectations about what they might find.

    Nine months into the Trump administration, any notion that Capitol Hill would provide a comprehensive, authoritative and bipartisan accounting of the extraordinary efforts of a hostile power to disrupt American democracy appears to be dwindling….

  52. says

    “Prominent Russian journalist stabbed at news radio station in Moscow”:

    The deputy editor-in-chief for Russia’s leading news radio station has been stabbed by an unknown attacker, the company said.

    Ekho Moskvy, which has often been described as Russia’s only independent news radio station, said on its website on Monday the assailant burst into its studios and stabbed Tatyana Felgenhauer in the throat.

    She is best known for co-hosting a popular morning show.

    The station’s editor-in-chief, Alexei Venediktov, tweeted Felgenhauer had been taken to Sklefasocky hospital and her life was not in danger. He said the man had been detained.

    Another popular Ekho Moskvy host, Yulia Latynina, fled Russia in September following a suspected arson attack on her car….

    Evidently the station was accused of acting as a foreign agent on state TV in recent weeks, and Felgengauer was mentioned by name.

  53. blf says

    Nerd@68, “the DOJ pretending BLF is a terrorist group”.

    Well, yes, the Beard Liberation Front has all the hallmarks of being a terrorist group: It’s a group named Liberation Front, it’s full of beardies, and well-known pinko moolsin agitators like Jeremy Corbyn have won awards for their acts of beardism. They’ve even objected to authoritarian rules! And yours truly self-admits to having a hedgehog swallowed sideways for a beard (great for mopping up beer, cheese, and scaring nazis).

  54. says

    “Trump is at risk of blowing it on opioids, a member of his own commission warns”:

    As early as this week, President Trump is set to declare the opioid crisis a “national emergency.” Trump telegraphed this when he recently told reporters that he would soon have a “major announcement” on the “massive opioid problem,” and people inside the White House are now leaking word that this announcement will herald an all-hands-on-deck push to combat the epidemic.

    But members of Trump’s own handpicked commission to combat the epidemic aren’t nearly as confident, I’m told. They are increasingly worried that the Trump administration will not actually follow through with a robust response, even if he does go before the cameras and declare the crisis a national emergency, and they are increasingly annoyed by the efforts of people inside the administration who are resistant to such a response, one member of the commission says.

    In a surprisingly blunt interview with me, Patrick Kennedy, the former congressman from Rhode Island who is a member of the President’s Commission on Combating Drug Addiction and the Opioid Crisis, candidly described the mood on the commission as one racked by pessimism about the president’s willingness and ability to follow through with a response that matches the scale of the human disaster that has unfolded.

    The commission is set to release a final report of recommendations for combating the crisis on Nov. 1, and “the worry is that it won’t be adopted,” Kennedy tells me.

    This apparently includes the head of Trump’s commission: New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (R), whom Trump picked for the role. Kennedy told me that Christie has confided to him that he thinks failure on the opioid crisis could deal a debilitating blow to Trump’s presidency.

    The key distinction to understand here is this: While it is certainly desirable for Trump to declare a national emergency, it is not clear how meaningful that will prove in substantive terms, even if he does it. Axios reports that the administration is preparing a massive “public relations” effort that will include unspecified requests for funds and a public role for Melania Trump.

    But, while such a general vow of seriousness will be welcome, what matters is the follow through….

    This is where the recommendations of the president’s commission come in. Kennedy tells me that the commission members are converging on a fairly robust set of recommendations that include expanded health insurance coverage, training and deploying health-care workers to fill the requests of states for help, and additional subsidies to fund addiction treatment.

    Another concern that commission members have is that even if Trump declares a national emergency on opioids, efforts to combat them will end up getting undermined by Trump/GOP health-care policies and priorities. Trump and Republicans have vowed to keep pushing for repeal of the Affordable Care Act, and any version of repeal would include enormous cuts to Medicaid, which commission members fear would set back efforts to combat the crisis, including deep in Trump country….

  55. blf says

    Thug attacks on the press are ramping up, Republican official would have shot Guardian reporter attacked by Gianforte:

    Montana Republican official Karen Marshall told radio program she would have shot reporter Ben Jacobs if that kid had done to me what he did to Greg

    A Montana Republican party official would have shot Guardian reporter Ben Jacobs if he had approached her as he did Greg Gianforte, who assaulted Jacobs one day before he was elected to Congress.


    If that kid had done to me what he did to Greg, I would have shot him, Karen Marshall, vice-president of programs for Gallatin County Republican Women told the Voice of Montana radio program on Thursday.

    Marshall also described herself as a “friend” of Gianforte. According to federal records, a Karen Marshall from Bozeman, Montana, donated the federal maximum of $2,700 to Gianforte’s campaign for Congress.

    The altercation occurred in a private room at a campaign event, after Jacobs asked Gianforte a question about healthcare. Several reporters were invited to the event, a picnic.

    That kid came on private property, came into a private building, and went into a very private room that I would not even have gone into, Marshall said. It was a setup. A complete setup. He just pushed a little too hard.


    Whilst it doesn’t really matter, Mr Jacobs is probably in his 30s — not exactly a kid.

    Rather more importantly — but probably also pointlessly — this eejit needs to be reminded a Fox News crew was also present and filmed & collaborated Mr Jacob’s account. (Arguably, one of the few incidents where a team associated with Fox can be applauded.) An to his credit, Mr Gianforte’s (spokesperson) has repudiated teh eejit’s comments.

    However, that’s about all the credit which can be given to Mr Gianforte, who has — according to the above link (and previous stories in the Grauniad) — mostly seemed to do the least possible without actually perhaps being in violation of what he agreed to do in court. For instance, according to the above article, “he CPJ[] said its own seven-minute meeting with Gianforte at the US Capitol was ‘disappointingly brief’. When the group suggested Gianforte could join groups such as the bipartisan Congressional Caucus for Freedom of the Press, the congressman’s chief of staff replied: ‘Greg didn’t come here to join clubs.'”

      † CPI — the Committee to Protect Journalists — to which Mr Gianforte agreed to donate $50,000.

  56. blf says

    Oh for feck’s sake, Georgia politician Betty Price asks if people with HIV can be quarantined:

    A Georgia state lawmaker who is married to former Trump health secretary Tom Price asked during a legislative committee meeting about the possibility of quarantining people with HIV.

    State representative Betty Price, a Republican whose district includes parts of Atlanta’s northern suburbs, asked the head of the Georgia department of public health’s HIV epidemiology section on Tuesday about stopping the spread of HIV, the virus that causes Aids.

    What are we legally able to do? I don’t want to say the quarantine word, but I guess I just said it, Price can be seen asking the official, Dr Pascale Wortley, in a video of the study committee meeting on barriers to adequate healthcare.


    Like her husband, […] Betty Price is a doctor.


    I’m tempted to suggest “quarantining” thugs…

  57. blf says

    Ha ha ha! Oh, I do have some hope some in teh dalekocracy will fall for this and be bankrupted, Trump will help pay legal bills of White House staff and aides in Russia inquiries:

    Official confirms plan Obama ethics lawyer says ‘raises questions’ […]

    President [sic] Donald Trump intends to spend at least $430,000 of his own money to help pay the legal bills of White House staff and campaign aides related to the investigations into Russian election meddling in the 2016 election, a White House official said on Saturday.


    It was not immediately clear how the payouts would be structured or which aides would be receiving them. The official spoke on condition of anonymity in order to discuss the president’s plans […].

    Norman Eisen, an ethics lawyer in the Obama administration, said the offer “raises substantial questions under federal criminal law and federal ethics law”, including whether it might be construed as part of an effort to glean more favorable testimony and whether current federal employees are even allowed to accept such gifts.

    “Whenever an individual who is the focus of an investigation, as President [sic] Trump is the focus of this investigation, offers anything of value to witnesses who may be able to affect the course of the investigation, that raises very serious questions on a variety of legal authorities,” he said.

    Eisen said he would have hesitated to recommend such an offer and warned it would probably draw prosecutorial scrutiny.

    Plus, not mentioned in the article, the alleged amount is a small drop in a large bucket, and that its rather unlike hair furor will actually pay anything to anyone (unless it somehow gets recycled back into his own pockets).

    And as the article does go on to note:

    Crooked Hillary Clinton spent hundreds of millions of dollars more on Presidential Election than I did, [hair furor] tweeted on Saturday. Facebook was on her side, not mine!

    Facebook has said ads that ran on the company’s social media platform and have been linked to a Russian internet agency were seen by an estimated 10 million people before and after the 2016 election.

  58. says

    More efforts on Trump’s part to make the Environmental Protection Agency ineffectual:

    For years, the Environmental Protection Agency has struggled to prevent an ingredient once used in stain-resistant carpets and nonstick pans from contaminating drinking water.

    The chemical, perfluorooctanoic acid, or PFOA, has been linked to kidney cancer, birth defects, immune system disorders and other serious health problems.

    So scientists and administrators in the E.P.A.’s Office of Water were alarmed in late May when a top Trump administration appointee insisted upon the rewriting of a rule to make it harder to track the health consequences of the chemical, and therefore regulate it.

    Nancy Beck was an executive at the American Chemistry Council, the trade association for the nation’s chemical industry, before she took a job at the EPA. She is the one who demanded the revision of the rule.

    From Steve Benen:

    […] just to twist the knife a little more, consider what the political appointees at Trump’s EPA had to say when the New York Times called for a comment.

    “No matter how much information we give you, you would never write a fair piece,” Liz Bowman, an EPA spokesperson told the newspaper via email. “The only thing inappropriate and biased is your continued fixation on writing elitist clickbait trying to attack qualified professionals committed to serving their country.”

    And who’s Liz Bowman? Before she went to work at Trump’s EPA as a spokesperson, she was a spokesperson at … wait for it … the American Chemistry Council. […][

    I won’t claim to be an expert in the tactic, but I’m reasonably sure that if the New York Times were desperate for cheap and ill-gotten clicks, it would probably publish cat gifs, not 6,000-word pieces on EPA safeguards related to the chemical industry.

    “Elitist clickbait”?

  59. says

    “Malta: thousands rally to demand justice for murdered journalist”:

    Thousands of people flocked to a rally on Sunday to demand justice for murdered Maltese journalist and anti-corruption blogger Daphne Caruana Galizia.

    Crowds packed roads in the capital Valletta as the “national demonstration for justice” began in honour of the 53-year-old, killed in a car bombing on Monday.

    Initial shock at the slaughter of a woman whose work investigated the murky corners of Maltese politics, rattling the government and opposition alike, has since given way to demands for a united front for justice….

  60. blf says

    First Dog on the Moon in the Grauniad, Won’t people notice if the energy policy is an echidna? (cartoon): “It’s been a long bitter journey but this government finally has something it can call an actual energy policy”. Whilst there are some Ozland-specific references, the overall ghist is easily discerned.

    My favourite is perhaps “The Prime Minister will tell everyone that this echidna or ‘NEG’ as it is known, is our new energy policy. The media will lap it up and the voters will conveniently ignore it.” (From off-panel) “Surely not, that’s too cynical for even us!”

    An echidna (or “spiny anteater”) is related to the platypus. They are very timid and covered in spines — a rather good analogy for Ozland’s AGW-denying coal-fixated “energy” “policy”.

  61. says

    SC @102, a reminder of the State Department’s decision to revoke Bill Browder’s visa. Outside influences that do not have U.S. interests as their first priority are pressuring team Trump to treat Bill Browder, and this Chinese individual, Mr. Guo, unfairly.

    And Trump leaps to take the bait. Apparently, he called Mr. Guo a “Chinese criminal who should be deported” based on the letter delivered by a casino magnate from Las Vegas.

    The Browder fiasco looks like a Putin-orchestrated attack; and the eyebrow-raising fracas around Mr. Guo looks like a fight over money, like a way to take down financial competition perhaps.

    See comments 71, 73 and 77 for more info on Bill Browder that SC posted earlier.

  62. says

    And Trump leaps to take the bait. Apparently, he called Mr. Guo a “Chinese criminal who should be deported” based on the letter delivered by a casino magnate from Las Vegas.

    Wynn is also the finance chair of the RNC!

  63. says

    Oh, FFS.

    President Trump promoted a book written by Robert Jeffress, an evangelical megachurch pastor and Fox News contributor who was also a strong Trump backer during the 2016 presidential campaign.

    In a tweet sent Friday, Trump praised “A Place Called Heaven: 10 Surprising Truths About Your Eternal Home,” and called Jeffress “a wonderful man.”… Trump’s tweet came less than an hour after Jeffress appeared on Fox Business Network’s “Lou Dobbs Tonight” to discuss criticism of Trump leveled by Rep. Frederica Wilson (D-Fla.).

    Just one of Jeffress’ many far rightwing religious statements:

    […] Fox News’s Sean Hannity asked Jeffress if he believes Christians “are being marginalized the way Jews in Germany were.” Jeffress replied, “Absolutely,” adding that American Christians are “treated as objects of contempt by the media and once that happens then the taking away of further rights will be very easy.” […]

    The importance of a persecution complex in conservative evangelical circles is hardly new, but these comments suggest the phenomenon is spreading in some truly hysterical ways.

    The impetus for Jeffress’ terror, in context, is Christian-owned private businesses that “believe in traditional marriage.” From there, the mega-church pastor sees a parallel between ISIS beheadings and pre-Holocaust Germany. […]

    Trump did not praise a book on the basis of having read it. Trump praised the book after having watched an interview in which he was lauded for dissing Representative Frederica Wilson. And Trump continues to insult the Congresswoman based on false stories: one false story from Trump (saying he didn’t say what he actually said), and one false story told by General Kelly. Plus, Trump doesn’t like the way that the Congresswoman looks, nor how she dresses.

  64. says

    From the Washington Post:

    President Trump plans to spend at least $430,000 of his personal funds to help cover the mounting legal costs incurred by White House staff and campaign aides related to the ongoing investigations of Russian meddling in last year’s election, a White House official said. […]

    The arrangement drew immediate criticism from Walter Shaub, the former director of the U.S. Office of Government Ethics, who suggested on Twitter that it is rife with potential conflicts.

    “A potential witness or target of an investigation (and boss of investigators) paying for legal fees of other potential witnesses or targets?” Shaub wrote.

  65. says

    Trump just injected more confusion into the tax reform debate. (Not actually “reform,” but more like tax cuts for corporations and the wealthy.)

    From the Washington Post:

    President Trump vowed on Monday that his tax cuts plan would not include any changes to tax-deferred retirement accounts such as 401(k)s, following reports last week that House Republicans were weighing a sharp reduction in the amount of income American workers could save through such programs.

    Trump tweeted Monday morning: “There will be NO change to your 401(k). This has always been a great and popular middle class tax break that works, and it stays!”

    From Steve Benen:

    […] I’m going to take a wild guess and say the president didn’t run this by Capitol Hill negotiators before announcing his opposition to the idea.

    From Ezra Klein, writing for Vox:

    It is one of the darker comedies of this administration that Trump keeps getting angry when he hears what the policies he supports will actually do.

  66. says

    I’m not too surprised to learn that Kris Kobach is not only a voter-suppression fanatic. He is also totally bone headed when it comes to securing sensitive data.

    Administrators of the voter registration database used by 32 states and run by Kris Kobach, Kansas’ secretary of state and the co-chair of President Trump’s Commission on Voter Integrity, are emailing passwords and using unencrypted servers, according to newly released documents. These basic security vulnerabilities are leaving sensitive voter information open to the public and potentially hackers

    Indivisible Chicago, a branch of the national resistance organization, obtained documents showing that the Interstate Crosscheck Program — a program that compares voter registration databases across states for duplicate voters — is administered in a way that exposes voters’ names, addresses, and in some states, social security numbers, to security breaches. […]

    The entire Republican-dominated “Commission on Voter Integrity” is inexcusably lax when it comes to securing voter data. More at the link.

    Furthermore, Kobach’s crusade is entirely unnecessary, and he intends to expand it.

    […] Kobach, who is also running for governor of Kansas, has said he wants to use Crosscheck as a model for a national voter database.

    Voting advocates have raised concerns about the inaccuracy of the program — roughly 99 percent of the illegal double voters the program catches are false positives, with non-white citizens more likely to be falsely flagged as double voters. In the new documents, Kansas officials admit that double voting rarely occurs and most instances flagged by Crosscheck are errors. […]

  67. says

    Trump is still fighting with the National Football League and with many NFL players:

    Two dozen NFL players continue to kneel during the National Anthem, showing total disrespect to our Flag & Country. No leadership in NFL!

    Trump still has the story behind players kneeling all wrong. He is still lying. No disrespect was/is intended. Trump should STFU.

  68. blf says

    Presidential leaks, French style, Élysée puddle: Macron’s dog Nemo filmed urinating in president’s office:

    [… T]wo-year-old Nemo brought a whole new meaning to the term presidential leaks this weekend when he cocked his leg for a long and abundant wee against an ornamental fireplace in Macron’s gilded office during a filmed meeting between the president and junior ministers.

    In the footage for the channel TF1, three junior ministers are in Macron’s ornate office talking to the president about inner-city investment when Nemo relieves himself behind them. Macron and the ministers look on helpless until the dog finishes. “I wondered what that noise was,” says the junior minister for ecology, Brune Poirson, who had been talking when the dog began relieving itself.


    There’s a video at the link. Nemo, of course, walks away nonchalantly, wagging his tail.

  69. says

    Excerpts from Wonkette’s coverage of the State Department ban of Bill Browder:

    Bill Browder […] Born in America, citizen of the Empire of the Britishes. Also, he was at one time the biggest foreign investor in Russia. Browder’s firm, Hermitage Capital Management, uncovered MASSIVE fraud committed by Vladimir Putin and his oligarchs, and Browder and his Russian lawyer Sergei Magnitsky were working to expose the corruption they found. In response, Putin’s thugs tortured Magnitsky to death in prison (AHEM “ALLEGEDLY”).

    Browder testified in July in the Senate Judiciary Committee on the Magnitsky Act, the law passed to punish the very same Russian human rights abusers/oligarchs who committed all the fraud and who murdered (LMAO “ALLEGEDLY”) Magnitsky in prison. Browder is basically the reason the law exists, in America, and also in the UK, Estonia and (very recently!) Canada. […]

    In response to the Magnitsky Act, Putin banned Americans from adopting BOUNCY RUSSIAN BABIES. Last summer, a clown car full of Russians squeezed into an office in Trump Tower to talk to Donald Trump Jr., Paul Manafort and Jared Kushner about BOUNCY RUSSIAN BABIES, which is code for repealing the Magnitsky Act, which is a big step in repealing all the sanctions currently on Russia. Indeed, one of the many papers Russian lawyer Natalia Veselnitskaya brought to that Trump Tower meeting, […] was a fake “report” on why Bill Browder is a big meanie and a liar and the real Zodiac killer. […]

    So anyway, Rex Tillerson’s State Department just revoked Browder’s visa, and they weirdly did it the same day the Kremlin notified Interpol that it was very angry with Browder and wanted him picked up. […]

    And why does Russia want Browder arrested? Oh, because now they say BILL BROWDER and an MI6 agent killed Sergei Magnitsky in the Russian prison controlled by Putin’s thugs. Likely story! The real reason is because Putin hates Bill Browder for exposing him for the fraud he is, and the Magnitsky Act is one of the few things that really does hurt him and his regime.


    What? Trump isn’t enforcing the new Russian sanctions bill Congress passed, either. […]

    For more on how horrifying this is, please read this full thread from Matthew Chapman at ShareBlue. He notes that “restricting [Browder’s] movement” is a good way for Putin to track the guy and kill him, not that Putin would ever have anybody killed for political reasons. […]

    Wonkette’s forays into all-caps indignation or utter amazement are their own. The bolding near the end of the excerpt is mine.

  70. says

    “Beware the Both Siderism: The New York Times is in dangerous territory when it comes to Trump.”

    From the NYT piece: “Ms. Wilson’s decision to go public with her criticism of the president, even as Ms. Johnson was at her husband’s coffin to receive his body,…”

    FFS, she talked about it then because she was in the car with the family on the tarmac when the call came, and when she emerged from the car, angry that Trump had added to Johnson’s pain in that moment, there were reporters there who asked her about the content of the call.

  71. says

    “Steve Bannon’s already murky Middle East ties deepen”:

    Shortly after Donald Trump’s chief strategist Steve Bannon left the White House, a company with close ties to him was hired by the United Arab Emirates to launch a social media campaign against its Arab neighbor, Qatar.

    It was part of a multimillion-dollar effort by several Middle Eastern nations to isolate Qatar that received a boost when Trump criticized the country that for years had been a critical regional ally.

    The UAE is paying $330,000 to a firm with the same parent company as Cambridge Analytica, the business Trump employed to reach voters with hyper-targeted online messaging during the campaign, to blast Qatar on Facebook and Twitter, among other sites, according to federal records.

    On Monday, Bannon is scheduled to speak at a day-long conference in Washington organized by the Hudson Institute, a conservative think tank and paid for by multiple donors, entitled “Countering Violent Extremism: Qatar, Iran, and the Muslim Brotherhood.”

    The speech follows Bannon’s September meeting in the UAE with its crown prince, Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed al-Nahyan. The two weren’t strangers: Bannon, Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner and ousted National Security Adviser Michael Flynn met with the crown prince at Trump Tower during the presidential transition in December. That meeting triggered controversy, as the UAE hadn’t notified the outgoing Obama administration about the visit as is customary.

    The UAE also helped broker a meeting in January between a Bannon friend, Blackwater founder Erik Prince, and a Russian close to President Vladimir Putin to try to establish a back-channel line of communication to Moscow for Trump just days before Trump’s inauguration, according to the Washington Post; Prince met with the Russian in the Seychelle islands off East Africa.

    Bannon, who through a spokesman declined to comment for this story, has said little publicly about Qatar. But Breitbart News, the far-right website he ran before going into the White House and where he is now once again ensconced, published more than 80 Qatar-related headlines since the blockade began, most of which were critical of the nation.

    Trump’s comments attacking Qatar this summer were at odds with what other administration officials were saying….

  72. says

    “On Safari in Trump’s America”: “The researchers I rode with had dived into the heart of America with the best of intentions and the openest of minds. They believed that their only goal was to emerge with a better understanding of their country. And yet the conclusions they drew from what they heard corresponded only roughly to what I heard. Instead, they seemed to revert to their preconceptions, squeezing their findings into the same old mold. It seems possible, if not likely, that all the other delegations of earnest listeners are returning with similarly comforting, selective lessons. If the aim of such tours is to find new ways to bring the country together, or new political messages for a changed electorate, the chances of success seem remote as long as even the sharpest researchers are only capable of seeing what they want to see.”

  73. says

    Corker said some things about Trump.


    “Bob Corker, who helped President O give us the bad Iran Deal & couldn’t get elected dog catcher in Tennessee, is now fighting Tax Cuts….”

    “…Corker dropped out of the race in Tennesse when I refused to endorse him, and now is only negative on anything Trump. Look at his record!”

    Now Corker: “Same untruths from an utterly untruthful president. #AlertTheDaycareStaff”

    I much prefer this to Trump attacking grieving families. Keep him distracted.

  74. blf says

    The UK’s nasty party seems to be engaging in 1984-style thought policing, Universities deplore ‘McCarthyism’ as MP demands list of tutors lecturing on Brexit:

    Academics are accusing a Tory MP and government whip of “McCarthyite” behaviour, after he wrote to all universities asking them to declare what they are teaching their students about Brexit and to provide a list of teachers’ names.

    Chris Heaton-Harris, Conservative MP for Daventry and a staunch Eurosceptic, wrote to vice-chancellors at the start of this month asking for the names of any professors involved in teaching European affairs “with particular reference to Brexit”. Neatly ignoring the long tradition of academic freedom that universities consider crucial to their success, his letter asks for a copy of each university’s syllabus and any online lectures on Brexit.


    Now that it’s become public knowledge, the nasties are denying they had anything to do with it, claiming / implying it’s an initiative of the MP alone. No-one is buying this: The MP is, and still is, a party whip; no-one (the MP included) has explained why the information was requested; and high-ranking nasties are supporting the request (No 10 [UK PM’s office –blf] disowns Tory whip accused of ‘McCarthyite’ behaviour):

    Andrea Leadsom, the leader of the Commons and a fellow leave supporter, defended Heaton-Harris’s intentions.

    She said it was a very courteous and not at all threatening letter, adding: Universities are bastions of free speech so to be so horrified at somebody asking a simple question with no caveat or demands either implicit or explicit in it, it seems to me to be a bit odd that they should react in such a negative way.

    The above-quoted claim ignores there is an implicit threat in the letter:

    Prof David Green, vice-chancellor of Worcester University, told the Guardian he had felt a chill down his spine when he read the “sinister” request.

    “This letter just asking for information appears so innocent but is really so, so dangerous,” he said. “Here is the first step to the thought police, the political censor and newspeak, naturally justified as the will of the British people, a phrase to be found on Mr Heaton-Harris’s website.”

    Academics specialising in European affairs said they saw the letter as a major intrusion into their work. Prof Hartmut Mayer, director of the European Studies Centre at Oxford University, said: “It is absolutely absurd for an MP to request this information and to think that academic freedom can be interfered with in this way.”

    In addition, the nasties’ / “government’s” Education Minister has not condemned the demand, instead dancing around it via twittering:

    The Universities and Colleges Union said it would push for Jo Johnson, the higher education minister, to strongly condemn the “McCarthyite” letter. Sally Hunt, the union’s general secretary, said: “This attempt by Chris Heaton-Harris to compile a hit-list of professors has the acrid whiff of McCarthyism about it and Jo Johnson must disown it in the strongest terms.


    Johnson tweeted that the government was committed to protecting academic freedom, as criticism of Heaton-Harris’s letter mounted: Academic freedom — which we’ve just entrenched in statute in Higher Ed & Research Bill 2017! — is core to success + better protected than ever

    No 10 Downing St disowning the demand means close-to-nothing; PM Theresa May is, since loosing her Parliamentary majority and the disastrously-demonstrative nasties’ conference, a dead kook walking and largely ignored, and the disowning is a fairly obvious probable deflection. It should be noted that even pro-brexit academics are angry about the letter, for the same reasons as others: McCarthyism, thought-policing, none of the government’s fecking business, …

  75. says

    Corker just now: ‘The debasement of our nation’, will be Trump’s legacy. Trump ‘lacks the desire to be competent’.”

    Said Trump has problems with the truth, wouldn’t support him again. I’m looking for a clip of the whole press scrum.

  76. says

    Michael Cohen and Brad Parscale are appearing before the (mess of a) House Intelligence Committee today. More importantly, Cohen is appearing before the Senate Intelligence Committee tomorrow in public session.

  77. says


    “Sen. Corker is the incompetent head of the Foreign Relations Committee, & look how poorly the U.S. has done. He doesn’t have a clue as…..

    …the entire World WAS laughing and taking advantage of us. People like liddle’ Bob Corker have set the U.S. way back. Now we move forward!”

    Dear media: Please stop calling him a “counter-puncher.” It normalizes and rationalizes his behavior. He’s a profoundly damaged human being whose psychological problems are endangering the country and the planet.

  78. says

    “GOP Leaders Refusing To Pay For Dana Rohrabacher’s Travel Over Russia Fears”:

    House Republican leaders have taken the extraordinary step of curtailing Rep. Dana Rohrabacher’s (R-CA) ability to conduct official business out of fear that he is too compromised by his ties to Russia.

    Rohrabacher has drawn scrutiny for his longstanding links with Moscow, his closeness to Wikileaks founder Julian Assange, and his recent willingness to allow his subcommittee to be used for Kremlin propaganda purposes.

    In response, the House Committee on Foreign Affairs has placed heightened restrictions on the trips abroad that he can take with committee money as well as the hearings he can hold through the subcommittee on Europe that he chairs.

    When the California congressman made a pilgrimage this summer to see Assange, who is holed up in the Ecuadorean embassy in London, he had to do it on his own dime. A congressional source told The Daily Beast that Rohrabacher had requested committee funding for the trip but was denied. The congressman’s staff confirmed that he ended up using his own money….

    He should be removed as subcommittee chair at the very least.

  79. says

    SC @143, thanks for covering Bob Corker’s comments so well. As you noted about Trump’s response to Corker: “Dear media: Please stop calling him [Trump] a ‘counter-puncher.’ It normalizes and rationalizes his behavior. He’s a profoundly damaged human being whose psychological problems are endangering the country and the planet.”

    I totally agree! Trump is not a “counter-puncher,” he is just a stupid, narcissistic bully. Yes, Trump is debasing the entire nation.

  80. says

    White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said the following during a forum discussion at George Washington University:

    I don’t think General Kelly was wrong, and therefore I don’t think he should offer an apology.

    Yeah, we know Kelly was wrong. We have video proof that he was wrong.

  81. says

  82. says

    Follow-up to SC’s comment 131.

    More details:

    […] The Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority’s granting of the huge contract to Whitefish Energy Holdings, a two-year-old company that reportedly had two full-time employees when the hurricane first hit, was first reported by the Weather Channel last week.

    The Washington Post and the Daily Beast on Tuesday offered more details on the company’s backers. The Post noted that the firm is based in Zinke’s hometown and that its CEO, Andy Techmanski, is friendly with the Interior secretary, while the Daily Beast reported that Whitefish’s general partner maxed out donations to the Trump primary and general election campaigns, as well as a Trump super PAC, in 2016.

    […] the type of work Whitefish will be doing is usually handled through “mutual aid” agreements with other utilities, rather than by for-profit companies, especially those of Whitefish’s exceptionally small size.

    “The fact that there are so many utilities with experience in this and a huge track record of helping each other out, it is at least odd why [the utility] would go to Whitefish,” Susan F. Tierney, a former senior official at the Energy Department told the Post. “I’m scratching my head wondering how it all adds up.”

    In addition to Techmanski’s relationship with Zinke, Joe Colonnetta, partner at Whitefish and founder of HBC Investments, the private-equity firm that finances the energy company, is a significant power player in Republican politics, according to the Beast.

    Colonetta donated a total of $74,000 towards Trump’s presidential victory and $30,700 to the Republican National Committee, the Beast reported. His wife, Kimberly, separately gave $33,400 to the RNC shortly after Trump’s win, and was photographed with Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Ben Carson during inauguration week, per the report.

    Corruption run amok. The swamp is overflowing. As Josh Marshall noted, the looting of Puerto Rico has begun.

  83. says

    Republicans want so badly to do something, anything to distract themselves and us from investigations that relate to Trump and Russia.

    It seems that House Republicans are feeling nostalgic for their Obama-era investigations.

    On the same day that the House Republicans on the Oversight and Judiciary committees announced an investigation into the Justice Department’s handling of the Hillary Clinton email inquiry, House Intel Chairman Devin Nunes touted another investigation being launched into Obama administration’s Justice Department, having to do with a 2010-11 Russian uranium deal that has gotten fresh scrutiny. That investigation is also being shared with the House Oversight Committee. […]

    The Republicans on Tuesday said that they had been interested in the deal for a while, but new information had prompted them to announce the investigation.

    “So last Congress, this really was not really investigated. But I am happy to report that House leadership is fully behind this investigation,” said Rep. Ron DeSantis (R-FL), […]

    Nunes wouldn’t say whether high-level Obama administration officials, such as Clinton or former Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner, would be called to cooperate with the investigation. […]

    “We are going to have to talk to the executive branch in order to get information from DOJ and FBI,” Nunes said, later adding that he would also brief the White House on the investigation “if appropriate.”


  84. blf says

    A follow-up to @464(previous page), Kuwait emir warns of GCC collapse and crisis escalation:

    The emir of Kuwait […] warned of the collapse of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) […] should the crisis with Qatar remain unresolved.


    He warned that the collapse of the GCC would mean the collapse of the last bastion of joint Arab cooperation, noting that his country’s goal was to resolve the crisis and prevent the GCC from collapse.

    “History and the future generations of Arabs will not forget those who contributed to the escalation of the conflict and caused the destruction of the Gulf,” Sheikh Sabah cautioned.


  85. says

    Follow-up to comment 151.

    From Mark Sumner:

    […] What Nunes will actually investigate is how Hillary Clinton conspired to give Russia all our uranium in exchange for Bill Clinton getting a big speech payday. That none of that happened won’t slow them down at all.

    Before the election, the New York Times got a huge scoop on Clinton and the Russia uranium deal—in the form of pages from the book Clinton Cash by Breitbart editor Peter Schweizer. Despite the source, the dated material, and the obvious distortions, the Times ran these pieces as if they were both gospel and breaking news. But even that Breitbart-generated level of conspiracy wasn’t enough for Trump, as he’s frequently tweeted a version of the tale in which Hillary personally handed over uranium to Russia for a sweet shot of cash.

    The truth seems to be that the Clinton Foundation did get a donation from owners of Uranium One before those owners sold all interest in the company and the company was bought out by another firm that kept their name. It was this new firm that then sold a controlling interest to a Russia firm—an action that took approval from dozens of offices in both Canada, the State of Utah, and the United States. Included in that approval was the intra-agency Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States, along with the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission.

    Put it all together, and Hillary Clinton was one of more than twenty people in the United States alone who signed off on the sale of what was already a foreign-controlled company part of which had once belonged to someone who gave a donation to her namesake charity. And even that may be going too far, as Clinton says she never took part in the CFIUS review herself, but handed it off to an assistant. Saying that Hillary took a bribe from Russia in this case is roughly equivalent to the police coming after someone because they once accepted a ride in a car, and then the person who gave them that ride sold the car to someone who sold the car to someone who turned out to be a criminal. Maybe. To call the connection “weak” is overstating it. […]

  86. says

    Follow-up to comment 150.

    This is how it really works. This is how the looters of Puerto Rico get paid without actually doing any work themselves:

    […] “Whitefish seems to be nothing more than a glorified middleman to get the real providers of the services, with which PREPA could have contracted directly,” Luis Vega-Ramos, member of the Puerto Rico House of Representatives, told The Daily Beast. “It is a cozy sweetheart deal in which Whitefish gets a gratuity for subcontracting the actual providers.” […]


  87. blf says

    Speaking of corruption run amok, Groups slam US states’ crackdown on Israel boycotts:

    Rights groups and Palestine advocacy organisations have blasted a Maryland executive order that bars state contracts for firms that boycott Israel as part of a “legislative assault” that targets the Palestinian-led Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement.

    On Monday, Maryland Governor Larry Hogan signed the executive order (pdf), which accuses firms that boycott Israel of posing undue risks as contracting partners.

    Surrounded by leaders of pro-Israel groups and Jewish organisations, Hogan addressed a press conference after signing the order.

    There is no place in our state for boycotts and threats, he said, as reported by the Baltimore Sun.


    Brian Hauss, a staff attorney at the [ACLU], described the governor’s order as “part of a legislative assault we’ve seen over the past few years on the right to boycott”, citing a string of legal measures in states across the US.

    [… H]e described the measure as “blatantly unconstitutional” […].


    In recent years, [BDS] has grown in the US, particularly on university and college campuses. In response, pro-Israel organisations have lobbied for measures that target students and state bills alike.

    Throughout the last two years, at least 22 states have passed laws or implemented executive orders that target BDS activism.

    “These laws are examples of the state leveraging financial resources to coerce people to move away from political movements the state does not favour,” Hauss said.


    Last week, Dickinson [Texas], posted a application for hurricane relief funds that mandated applicants to sign an agreement promising they will not boycott Israel. The city cited a Texas law that prohibits state agencies from contracting companies that boycott Israel.

    The move prompted widespread condemnation from rights groups, including the ACLU.


    Rahul Saksena, a staff attorney at the US-based Palestine Legal, said that the wave of anti-BDS laws are designed to intimidate Palestine solidarity activists by creating a “chilling effect”.

    […] Saksena explained that the host of laws and bills follow in the tradition of anti-Palestinian measures that has targeted student activists in recent years.

    Those measures include banning advocacy groups like Students for Justice in Palestine and suppressing pro-Palestinian protests and educational activities.

    In May 2015, Canary Mission, a pro-Israel website, was created to track Palestine solidarity activists and dash their future employment prospects.


    [Saksena] added: “Rather than engaging in the conversation and having a debate about human rights abuses and violations of international law, [pro-Israel organisations] pour resources into pressuring universities and lawmakers to shut down the conversation.”

    Earlier this year, the federal Israel Anti-Boycott Act — a bill that seeks to criminalise boycotting Israel — was introduced in both the US House of Representatives and the Senate.


  88. says

    A clear-eyed look at Trump’s tax plan:

    […] According to Trump, cutting the estate tax, a tax measure that only a few thousand […] plutocrats will ever have to pay, will help the working class. Creating a special 25 percent rate for pass-through corporations that could effectively act as a loophole for the country’s wealthiest and well-connected will help the working class. And cutting taxes for corporations by 15 points will put an extra four thousand dollars in the pockets of every household, and help the working class.

    That last point was first announced at the speech in Harrisburg and created by the administration’s Council of Economic Advisers (CEA), led by Kevin Hassett, a conservative economist and author of the book “DOW 36,000.” A paper released by the CEA argues that “reducing the statutory federal corporate tax rate from 35 to 20 percent would […] increase average household income in the United States by, very conservatively, $4,000 annually.” […]

    And while Hassett uses terms like “scientific” and “peer-reviewed” in the CEA paper to back up his claims, there is no peer-reviewed support for his central argument that slashing the corporate tax rate would raise wages by that much money. In fact, the Treasury Department took the extra step to remove a peer-reviewed study by the Office of Tax Analysis from its website, presumably because the study goes against what the Trump and the GOP are pedaling. The study found workers only bear (or benefit from) 18 percent of the cost of corporate taxes, compared to 82 percent for corporate owners. […]

    Larry Summers, an economist and former U.S. Treasury Secretary under President Bill Clinton wrote a scathing take down of Hassett’s analysis, calling it “some combination of dishonest, incompetent and absurd.”

    “Considering all this, if a Ph.D student submitted the CEA analysis as a term paper in public finance, I would be hard pressed to give it a passing grade,” wrote Summers. “I predict that as debates on tax policy unfold there will be many serious Republican economists who endorse parts of the Trump plan. I doubt that any will associate themselves with the CEA analysis.” […]

    Corporate tax cuts might have been beneficial to President Reagan’s economy, but for Trump, an economy rife with start-ups means corporations are more likely to invest in research and automation to stay competitive […] As economist Paul Krugman wrote in the The New York Times, “why would [corporations] spend that extra money on hiring more workers or increasing their wages? Not, surely, out of the goodness of their hearts – and not in response to worker demands, because these days nobody cares what workers think.”

    A 2011 Senate report, found many big tech companies actually shed jobs when enticed to repatriate their overseas cash holdings with a generous a tax holiday. […]


  89. says

    Jeff Flake is retiring. This puts him in the same category as Senator Bob Corker. Flake is free to speak his mind.

    Today, Flake took to the Senate floor to denounce Trump. (I’ll look for quotes from the transcript later. The transcript is not yet available.)

    Here is some of what Flake said earlier:

    Flake said running in the Republican primary would require him to “condone behavior that I cannot condone.”

    “The path that I would have to travel to get the Republican nomination is a path I’m not willing to take, and that I can’t in good conscience take,” Flake told the paper. “It would require me to believe in positions I don’t hold on such issues as trade and immigration and it would require me to condone behavior that I cannot condone.”

  90. says

    From Senator Flake’s comments on the Senate floor today:

    […] It must also be said that I rise today with no small measure of regret. Regret, because of the state of our disunion, regret because of the disrepair and destructiveness of our politics, regret because of the indecency of our discourse, regret because of the coarseness of our leadership, regret for the compromise of our moral authority, and by our – all of our – complicity in this alarming and dangerous state of affairs. It is time for our complicity and our accommodation of the unacceptable to end.

    In this century, a new phrase has entered the language to describe the accommodation of a new and undesirable order – that phrase being ‘the new normal.’ But we must never adjust to the present coarseness of our national dialogue – with the tone set at the top.

    We must never regard as ‘normal’ the regular and casual undermining of our democratic norms and ideals. We must never meekly accept the daily sundering of our country – the personal attacks, the threats against principles, freedoms, and institutions, the flagrant disregard for truth or decency, the reckless provocations, most often for the pettiest and most personal reasons, reasons having nothing whatsoever to do with the fortunes of the people that we have all been elected to serve.

    None of these appalling features of our current politics should ever be regarded as normal. We must never allow ourselves to lapse into thinking that this is just the way things are now. If we simply become inured to this condition, thinking that this is just politics as usual, then heaven help us. Without fear of the consequences, and without consideration of the rules of what is politically safe or palatable, we must stop pretending that the degradation of our politics and the conduct of some in our executive branch are normal. They are not normal.

    Reckless, outrageous, and undignified behavior has become excused and countenanced as ‘telling it like it is,’ when it is actually just reckless, outrageous, and undignified. […]

  91. says

    More from Flake:

    […] We were not made great as a country by indulging or even exalting our worst impulses, turning against ourselves, glorying in the things which divide us, and calling fake things true and true things fake. […]

    It is time for our complicity and our accommodation of the unacceptable to end. […]

    Sarah Huckabee Sanders called Flake’s statement “petty,” and she also said that both Corker and Flake were grandstanding for TV cameras, and “trying to grab a headline on the way out the door.” She also said that this makes Trump feel victorious.

  92. says

    From Josh Marshall:

    I see no need to romanticize Jeff Flake. He has always struck me as having a personal decency that is recognized by many who don’t agree with his politics. He has also been much more willing than most of his colleagues to speak out against President Trump, even though he’s significantly more politically vulnerable than all but one of them. With all this said, he’s not just a conservative but a very conservative Republican. […]

    But I’m still pretty stunned by this turn of events. We know Trump is a bull in a china shop. […] We know that everyone around President Trump gets damaged. But Flake giving up his seat just makes the impact of Trump, the electoral carnage palpable and visible in an entirely new way.

    Jeff Flake is 54 years old. He served a dozen years in the House before running for the Senate in 2012, the first opening that came up while he was in Congress. Politicians don’t put in that time building a base and a political track to bail out of the Senate after one term. Basically not ever. Certainly not for someone like Jeff Flake.

    No, sentimentality. But wow. The carnage and the stress and the destruction. There will be much more. Trump is poison. He arranges around himself, the worst and least principled sort of people. We’ll all be damaged more.

  93. says

    More from Flake:

    When the next generation asks us, “Why didn’t you do something? Why didn’t you speak up?” What are we going to say? Mr. President, I rise today to say, enough. We have fooled ourselves long enough that a pivot to governing is right around the corner, a return to civility and stability right behind it. We know better than that. By now we all know better than that.

  94. says

    Sarah Huckabee Sanders commented on Flake’s announced retirement:

    I think that, based on previous statements, and certainly based on the lack of support that he has from the people of Arizona, it’s probably a good move. […]

    I think that we support the American people on this on. I think that the people both in Tennessee and Arizona supported this President and I don’t think that the numbers are in the favor of either of those two senators [Flake and Corker] in their states, and so I think that this is probably the right decision.

    The voters of these individual senators’ states are speaking in pretty loud volumes. I think that they were not likely to be re-elected and I think that that shows that the support is more behind this President than it is those two individuals.

    (At one point during the briefing, a reporter noted Sanders had previously called Flake “petty” and asked, “What exactly of Sen. Flake’s speech did you find to be petty?”)

    I thought that his attacks and a lot of the comments that he made — I don’t have a read out in front of me, but as I was watching it, I noticed a lot of the language I didn’t think was befitting of the Senate floor.

    So this is how Trump’s spokesperson starts the narrative that Jeff Flake is a loser, and a petty loser at that.

  95. says

    Update to #138 – “Consumer Bureau Loses Fight to Allow More Class-Action Suits”:

    Senate Republicans voted on Tuesday to strike down a sweeping new rule that would have allowed millions of Americans to band together in class-action lawsuits against financial institutions.

    The overturning of the rule, with Vice President Mike Pence breaking a 50-to-50 tie, will further loosen regulation of Wall Street as the Trump administration and Republicans move to roll back Obama-era policies enacted in the wake of the 2008 economic crisis. By defeating the rule, Republicans are dismantling a major effort of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, the watchdog created by Congress in the aftermath of the mortgage mess.

    The rule, five years in the making, would have dealt a serious blow to financial firms, potentially exposing them to a flood of costly lawsuits over questionable business practices.

    For decades, credit card companies and banks have inserted arbitration clauses into the fine print of financial contracts to circumvent the courts and bar people from pooling their resources in class-action lawsuits. By forcing people into private arbitration, the clauses effectively take away one of the few tools that individuals have to fight predatory and deceptive business practices. Arbitration clauses have derailed claims of financial gouging, discrimination in car sales and unfair fees.

    The new rule written by the consumer bureau, which was set to take effect in 2019, would have restored the right of individuals to sue in court. It was part of a spate of actions by the bureau, which has cracked down on debt collectors, the student loan industry and payday lenders….

  96. says

    Flake’s oped – “Enough”:

    …There is a sickness in our system — and it is contagious.

    How many more disgraceful public feuds with Gold Star families can we witness in silence before we ourselves are disgraced?

    How many more times will we see moral ambiguity in the face of shocking bigotry and shrug it off?

    How many more childish insults do we need to see hurled at a hostile foreign power before we acknowledge the senseless danger of it?

    How much more damage to our democracy and to the institutions of American liberty do we need to witness in silence before we count ourselves as complicit in that damage?

    Nine months of this administration is enough for us to stop pretending that this is somehow normal, and that we are on the verge of some sort of pivot to governing, to stability. Nine months is more than enough for us to say, loudly and clearly: Enough.

    The outcome of this is in our hands. We can no longer remain silent, merely observing this train wreck, passively, as if waiting for someone else to do something. The longer we wait, the greater the damage, the harsher the judgment of history….

    “…And now please excuse me – I’m off to vote away people’s right to sue sleazy banks.”

  97. says

    “Dark Money Group Received Massive Donation In Fight Against Obama’s Supreme Court Nominee”:

    A dark money organization that spent $7 million to block former President Obama’s Supreme Court pick received just three donations between 2015 and 2016, but one transaction really counted: A single $17.9 million contribution from a mystery donor.

    The Judicial Crisis Network (JCN), a Washington, D.C.-based conservative nonprofit, saw its revenues explode as it ran ads thanking Republican senators who successfully prevented Merrick Garland, Obama’s pick to replace Antonin Scalia, from receiving a confirmation hearing. It also sent millions of dollars to nonprofits that worked to elect conservative state judicial candidates and attorneys general. Earlier this year, JCN spent $10 million on ads to help secure Supreme Court Justice Neil Gorsuch’s confirmation.

    The organization’s most recent tax return, covering July 2015 to June 2016, shows JCN’s anti-Garland spending spree was fueled by three contributions. The $17.9 million donation accounted for 96.6 percent of its revenue. Before the donation, the organization had never reported more than $6 million in revenue since its 2005 creation.

    While JCN received widespread attention for its spending on the Supreme Court nominations, the organization also has spent substantial amounts of money on conservative state initiatives.

    The organization provided substantial support to other dark money groups dedicated to helping Republican candidates….

    But sure – uranium.

  98. says

    “The Senate Judiciary Committee’s Russia Probe Just Blew Up”:

    Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) and ranking member Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) have broken up over Russia.

    The committee’s once bipartisan investigation into whether President Donald Trump obstructed justice or his campaign colluded with Russia has hit a partisan wall, with Republicans and Democrats saying they will now conduct their own probes. “We made the decision to go and carry it out ourselves,” Feinstein told Mother Jones on Tuesday. “They can go ahead and do whatever it is they wanted to do.” A Grassley spokesman also said the chairman had decided to proceed with a Republican-only investigation.

    Judiciary’s Russia investigation is the latest congressional probe to stall out over GOP efforts to pursue matters Democrats see as gambits to distract or provide cover for the Trump administration. The partisan sparring within the committees looking into various aspects of the Russia scandal has caused concern among Democrats and other observers that Republicans will fail to complete rigorous probes but will still declare their investigations did not find significant collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia….

  99. says

    Letter from Perkins Coie authorizing Fusion GPS to disclose that it hired them on behalf of the DNC and Clinton campaign. Reads at one point: “Further, given the interest in this issue, we believe it would be appropriate for all parties who hired Fusion GPS in connection with the 2016 presidential campaign to release Fusion GPS from this obligation as well.”

  100. blf says

    As mentioned sometime before in this series of threads (July-ish (2017)), Turkey arrested about a dozen human rights activists on terrorism-related charges, including several high-ranking employees of Amnesty International. They are now on trial, Senior Amnesty figures among 11 on trial in Turkey on terror charges:

    Charity’s Europe director says prosecutions aimed at silencing critical voices within Turkey since last year’s failed coup

    Eleven human rights activists including two senior Amnesty International employees have gone on trial in Istanbul on terrorism charges […].

    Ten of the activists, including Amnesty’s Turkey director, İdil Eser, were arrested while attending a digital security training workshop in July.

    They are accused of plotting an uprising and charged with aiding militants as well as the movement led by US-based cleric Fethullah Gülen, blamed for the [2016] coup attempt. They face up to 15 years in prison if found guilty.

    Amnesty’s Turkey chairman, Taner Kılıç, who was imprisoned separately in June, appeared in court via video link from a prison in İzmir, western Turkey.

    He will also appear at a hearing in İzmir on Thursday on a separate charge of being a member of a Gülen-linked organisation. Kılıç is accused of using Bylock, an encrypted mobile messaging app that the Turkish prosecuting authorities claim was used by Gülen supporters to communicate secretly before the coup attempt.


    Dozens of people protested outside the crowded courthouse in Istanbul’s justice palace as the trial opened, holding banners bearing images of the activists and the hashtag “FreeRightsDefenders”.


    “Without substance or foundation the Turkish authorities have tried and failed to build a case against İdil, Taner and the other nine human rights activists,” said [Amnesty International’s Europe director, John] Dalhuisen, who is attending the trial. “It took the prosecutor more than three months to come up with nothing. It should not take the judge more than half an hour to dismiss the case against them.”


    […] Germany […] considers one of the defendants, German national Peter Steudtner, as well as 10 other German or German-Turkish citizens jailed in Turkey, to be political prisoners.

  101. says

    SC @175, Thanks for that link. That’s a succinct conclusion.

    I have debunked the Hillary-Clinton-sold-uranium-to-the-Russians story so often that I am weary. In earlier chapters of this thread, I presented a lot of information that thoroughly debunked what Nunes and other right-wingers like Peter King are claiming. From your link:

    “So the Uranium deal story? That stemmed from oppo research backed by Bannon/Breitbart.
    It was reported on as fact.
    It was not fact….”

    Now I realize that no one on the right cares about those facts. They need a conspiracy theory fix, (preferably one that illustrates that Hillary Clinton is evil), and they need that fix so badly that no facts can penetrate their force field.

    I’ll recover, but right now I’m dispirited mode.

    The entire “Clinton Cash” book has been shown to be a collection of unproven accusations, cherry-picked facts, misleading/falsified timelines, and blatant lies. And there’s a fake press release used as sourcing for some claims in that book! Sheesh. Layers and layers of unsubstantiated lies. Layers and layers of Nunes-like Congress critters to believe those lies.

  102. says

    More off-the-rails rightwing/Russian “news”:

    If you didn’t spend an hour and a half this weekend watching Dmitry Kiselyov’s “News of the Week,” the leading news-analysis program on Russian television, you could be forgiven. But, if for some reason you had watched the show, about two-thirds of the way through you would have encountered the most peculiar fifteen minutes anyone has yet produced on the Harvey Weinstein affair. It not only strained the imagination but also provided insight into a particular kind of conspiracy thinking,[…]

    Kiselyov—who runs Russia Today, the state propaganda conglomerate that includes two domestic television networks, a news agency, and the foreign-language broadcaster RT—made it clear that he thought there was something fishy about the scandal. He began by asking familiar-enough questions. “What were these Hollywood actresses thinking when they headed to a man’s hotel room alone?” he wondered. Why is all this happening now? And why so many women? Kiselyov noted that “only the biggest stars or someone a bit older, like Meryl Streep, can afford to say any longer that she wasn’t harassed by Weinstein.”

    This was the first hint that Kiselyov thought that the scandal was somehow orchestrated, perhaps even by someone who was coercing women into coming forward. “This is just one thing that’s odd about the Weinstein affair,” he continued. […]

    Here was a clip of Michelle Obama thanking Weinstein for organizing an event and calling him a “powerhouse”—which “News of the Week” translated as “influential person.” The reporter said, “In reality, Weinstein’s influence grew in direct proportion to the amounts of money he was contributing to the Democratic Party.

    […] Cut to Clinton’s recent interview with the BBC journalist Andrew Marr, who asked her if Weinstein and Donald Trump were two of a kind—a question that Clinton declined to answer, but no matter. “And now Summer Zervos, who once levelled accusations against Trump, is again reminding the world of her existence,” the reporter declared. The segment ended with footage of Trump denying wrongdoing.

    So there you had it: the Weinstein affair is a Democratic plot to discredit President Trump. Or, perhaps, a Trumpian plot to discredit the Democrats. The logic was ultimately a little murky, but it was pointed clearly enough toward the three eternal truths of Russian state media: nothing is what it seems, everything is connected, and it’s all Hillary Clinton’s fault. (In the past, the Kremlin has blamed Clinton for, among other things, organizing the mass protests that took place in Russia in 2011 and 2012, and for the release of the Panama Papers.) […]

    The Weinstein Scandal, Seen Through Russian Eyes, Is a Lesson in Conspiracy Thinking

  103. says

    “Trump Data Guru: I Tried to Team Up With Julian Assange”:

    Alexander Nix, who heads a controversial data-analytics firm that worked for President Donald Trump’s campaign, wrote in an email last year that he reached out to WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange about Hillary Clinton’s missing 33,000 emails.

    Nix, who heads Cambridge Analytica, told a third party that he reached out to Assange about his firm somehow helping the WikiLeaks editor release Clinton’s missing emails, according to two sources familiar with a congressional investigation into interactions between Trump associates and the Kremlin. Those sources also relayed that, according to Nix’s email, Assange told the Cambridge Analytica CEO that he didn’t want his help, and preferred to do the work on his own.

    If the claims Nix made in that email are true, this would be the closest known connection between Trump’s campaign and Assange.

    Cambridge Analytica did not provide comment for this story by press time.

    After publication, Assange provided this statement to The Daily Beast: ”We can confirm an approach by Cambridge Analytica and can confirm that it was rejected by WikiLeaks.”…

  104. says

    Matthew Miller re #186:

    “Well, well, well. Enjoy your grand jury subpoena, Cambridge Analytica.”

    “If it does turn out the Trump campaign never colluded w/ Russia it will only be because all their efforts to do so failed. Intent was there.”

  105. says

    Trump participated in an impromptu press conference that just ended. Among other things, Trump said that:

    – When he first met him, he thought Jeff Flake was a Democrat.

    – No one has more respect for Gold Star families than he does.

    – “I am a very intelligent person.” [..] “I went to an Ivy League college.”

    – “I have the best memory.”

    – He repeated at least ten times that he was “very nice” or “courteous” to the widow of Sgt. La David Johnson, and that he had said La David’s name without hesitation.


  106. says

    Correction to comment 188: Trump’s repeated phrase was, “I was extremely nice […]” in reference to his call to Myeshia Johnson. Trump repeated that phrase so many times that he sounded like he was stuck in loop.

  107. says

    More exact quotes from Trump’s impromptu press conference on the White House lawn:

    “I went to an Ivy League college. I was a nice student. I did very well. I’m a very intelligent person.”

  108. says

    SC @191. LOL.

    In dispiriting news, Roy Moore signed “a joint fundraising agreement with the Republican National Committee, National Republican Senatorial Committee, and the Alabama Republican Party.”

    Sheesh. Don’t give Roy Moore money. Too late.

  109. blf says

    Iran’s harassment of the BBC’s Persian Service has also come up before in this series of threads. Now, BBC appeals to UN over Iran’s crackdown on journalists (the Grauniad’s edits in {curly braces}):

    Corporation complains of ‘sustained campaign of harassment’ after assets of BBC Persian staff are frozen

    The BBC’s director general has accused Iran of “unprecedented collective punishment” as the corporation appealed to the UN over crackdowns on Iranian employees of its London-based Persian service.

    Iranian authorities have imposed an asset freeze on at least 152 BBC Persian journalists and former contributors, preventing them from conducting financial transactions or selling properties in their homeland because of their affiliation with the British broadcaster.

    It has emerged that a criminal investigation has also been launched in Iran, accusing those linked with BBC Persian of conspiracy against national security. The corporation said it was the latest “sustained campaign of harassment and persecution{…} designed to pressure journalists against continuing their work for the BBC”.

    Acting on behalf of its London-based Persian service staff, the BBC has filed an urgent complaint with David Kaye, the UN special rapporteur on the promotion and protection of the right to freedom of opinion and expression. It has also contacted Asma Jahangir, the UN special rapporteur on human rights in Iran […].


    The National Union of Journalists in the UK also condemned the harassment of BBC Persian journalists.

    “These ludicrous charges amount to the collective punishment of journalists and a crass attempt to intimidate,” said Michelle Stanistreet, the general secretary. “Iran should drop the criminal charges and lift the asset ban immediately.”

    About 140 employees work for BBC Persian from outside Iran. The TV channel, which is broadcast from London, is loathed by the Iranian establishment and banned inside Iran, but millions of people, hungry for news not reported by the state-run channels, watch it via illegal satellite dishes.

    Iran has launched a campaign of harassment against BBC Persian staff by summoning their family members who live in the country for questioning.

    A number of employees have also been victims of false allegations of sexual misconduct, duplicated Facebook accounts, fake blogs and online identity theft designed to discredit them.


    The ongoing imprisonment of Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe, a British-Iranian woman serving a five-year jail sentence in Iran, is linked to her previous work for the BBC. Tehran’s prosecutor general, in comments made earlier this month, alleged that she was running a BBC Persian online journalism course aimed at recruiting and training people to spread propaganda against Iran. Zaghari-Ratcliffe worked for BBC Media Action between February 2009 and October 2010.


    BBC Persian journalists cannot visit their families in Iran for fear of reprisal.

  110. says

    Collation of text from SC’s link in comment 194:

    The Post story tonight over which the Trumpvolk are losing their damn minds is hilarious.

    Some real talk: there’s little NEW in this piece. EVERYONE knew that Clinton/DNC took over the funding stream after the Republican donor dropped it when his candidate was out. That’s ancient history, and unless you’re a freaking illiterate this isn’t the bomb Team Umber thinks it is.

    Who the eff do you THINK paid for it? If this shocks you, don’t operate heavy machinery.

    The next — and *really* important notes. First, the dossier didn’t *cause* the Mueller investigation. There were *plenty* of other USG/foreign IC leads and intel on Team Trump and Putin. Even if the Steele Dossier was a farrago of utter fantasy …if you slow learner mooks believe Mueller used it as the main driver of this investigation, ease up on huffing starter fluid.

    Many of the items in the Steele Dossier about Trump’s $ were already in circulation waaaay before it was public. And the paper trail of the stuff Mueller has access to makes the Dossier look like a warmup act before the lead in band.

    But by all means, go on and think this exonerates Team Trump, by ALL MEANS pray engage in the magical thinking for which you are now famous.

    The new news in this piece was the role Elias played…but again, *how is this surprising*? Alpha-dog Dem superlawyer handles oppo? No WAY. That is SHOCKING. And by “shocking” I mean, “How dumb are you people to think this is a shock?”

    No, Hillary isn’t going to jail, but *do* click on the 8000 emails various Scam PACS designed to prey on the credulous and cretinous pump to the MAGAverse. So endeth.

  111. says

    What Sarah Huckabee Sanders said:

    […] The fact that 1.7 million new jobs have been created since Donald Trump was elected. Those are all positive things in the economy.

    We didn’t say it was completely fixed and that — but we’re certainly moving in the right direction. I think we’ve been more successful in these first nine months than Obama was in eight years.

    Facts: The U.S. added 1.33 million new jobs this year, not 1.7 as Sarah said. That’s not a bad jobs number, but, as Steve Benen pointed out, “it is the lowest since 2010 for the first nine months of the year, and it’s hardly worth bragging about.”

    Sarah is not exactly telling a lie, but she is misleading the public. She said ““since Donald Trump was elected,” which means that team Trump is taking credit for jobs created while Obama while still president.

    Team Trump did the same thing with stock market gains. They take credit for stats that document a time period beginning in November, instead of mid-January when Trump actually took office.

  112. says

    Follow-up to comment 184.

    […] the relevant details don’t support the thesis. On the contrary, the facts seem to disprove the charge quite clearly. Hillary Clinton had nothing to do with the review of the Uranium One deal, and nine separte U.S. agencies – the Treasury Department, the Justice Department, the Commerce Department, et al – were involved in the process, not just State.

    It’s entirely possible some the Clinton Foundation’s donors hoped to curry favor with Hillary Clinton, but there’s literally no evidence at all that she ever lifted a finger to help the Canadian mining company or any other entity that ever contributed a dime.

    Indeed, in this case, the timing doesn’t even make sense – the Canadian company donated to the Clinton Foundation in early 2008. Hillary Clinton didn’t become Secretary of State until a year later. […]

    One of the more striking things about the media’s reaction to the allegations yeserday is the way in which the factual details weren’t considered determinative. Much of the analysis I saw yesterday included phrases like, “The facts may be on Clinton’s side, but…” or “The substance of Clinton’s defense is entirely accurate, but…” […]

    […] the “bribery” talk is still bullpucky.

    Paul Krugman, meanwhile, said the careless rhetoric sounds like the return of “Clinton rules” that were common in the 1990s: “The usual rules didn’t seem to apply; instead it was Clinton rules, under which innuendo and guilt by association were considered perfectly OK, in which the initial suggestion of lawbreaking received front-page headlines and the subsequent discovery that there was nothing there was buried in the back pages if it was reported at all.”

    Krugman added, “[M]aybe there’s something there. But given the history here, we’d all be well advised to follow our own Clinton rules, and be highly suspicious of any reports of supposed scandals unless there’s hard proof rather than mere innuendo.”


  113. blf says

    NAACP warns black passengers of flying American Airlines after ‘disturbing incidents’:

    ● Leading civil rights group urges black passengers to ‘exercise caution’
    ● World’s largest airline says: We do not and will not tolerate discrimination

    The NAACP has issued a warning to black travelers about flying with American Airlines, following […] a series of “disturbing incidents”.

    The group said it had issued a “national travel advisory” in response to what it described as “disrespectful, discriminatory or unsafe conditions” for African Americans traveling on the world’s largest airline.


    The first of the four cases cited by the NAACP appears[] to involve a flight boarded by the Rev Dr William Barber […]. The Barber case is already the subject of a pending lawsuit.

    Barber says he was kicked off an AA flight in 2016 after responding to two verbally abusive white passengers, who were allowed to remain on the flight.

    “This differential treatment was based on race, as other passengers noted and stated to American Airlines employees,” the lawsuit says. […]

    According to the lawsuit, a black airline employee at the gate told Barber that “this tends to happen a lot”. She said she was “sick of American Airlines doing this”.


    […] Tamika Mallory, the national co-chair of the Women’s March movement, said that after she contested a seat change with gate attendants, the flight’s pilot, who overheard the discussion, kicked her off a flight last week.

    “It definitely was white male aggression. I was singled out, I was disrespected, and he was trying to intimidate me,” Mallory told the New York Daily News. […]

    However, the article notes “Unlike when the NAACP issued an advisory in June for black Americans traveling in the state of Missouri, Tuesday’s announcement did not include any qualitative data to support a targeting of black Americans. The NAACP did not respond to a Guardian request for any such information.”

      † The Grauniad does not explain why it says (my added emphasis) “appears to involve a flight boarded by the Rev Dr William Barber”. It could just be a typo (this is the Grauniad!).

  114. says

    From SC’s link in comment 197:

    Later, we read news reports that suggested that Don McGahn
    might be serving as counsel to the transition, but we couldn’t get a meeting with him for a period of time. And then when we did, it was unbelievably obvious how in over his head he was. At one point he asked me if I was the one who gave security clearances or reviewed the background investigation conducted by the FBI of nominees. And I told him, “No, you are.” And the response was, “I am?”

    That’s Walter Shaub, former director of the Office of Government Ethics, speaking.

    Yes, the Trump transition team really was that bad.

  115. says

    Follow-up to comments 188, 190 and 191.

    From Josh Marshall, in reference to Trump’s impromptu press conference today:

    [Trump] is arguing that the news about the so-called Steele Dossier is now revealed as a hoax and that the Uranium One conspiracy theory […] means it was the Democrats who colluded with Russia. The entirety of this is so nonsensical as to not require or merit any real discussion. Some people are up in arms that Trump needs to be proven wrong otherwise he’ll ‘win’. I’m not terribly worried about this. These probes have a life of their own and I don’t think Trump is convincing anyone that he hasn’t already. […]

    We have overwhelming evidence that the subversion campaign happened. We now know it was far broader than the theft and distribution of confidential emails that gained so much attention last year. We know that it continued on major social media networks until last month and almost certainly continues on those same networks today. Most importantly, we have every reason to think that the 2018 and 2020 election campaigns will be similarly targeted.

    […] Russia may not be an enemy but it is an adversary state which has defined a strategic priority of destabilizing the US and the European Union. That includes information operations and likely actual vote tally tampering as well. This is all happening. It’s a direct attack on the country.

    […] a serious and on-going attack. If the President is out there publicly saying it’s not happening, saying it’s a hoax, he is actively and directly assisting the attack. There’s no other way to put it. He is charged by his oath with preserving the constitution against all enemies foreign and domestic. He pledged to defend against all attacks but he’s actively assisting one. That is just as much the case as it would be if he repeatedly denied an adversary power were moving conventional arms into positions which threatened the United States.

    He is actively and directly assisting the attack and the attack is on-going. Why he’s doing that is not really relevant. He’s doing it.

  116. says

    From David Corn:

    The cognitive dissonance of the Republicans is pegging the needle this week. The news that a law firm working for the Clinton campaign and the Democratic National Committee bankrolled the Trump opposition research project that produced the infamous Trump-Russia memos has touched off much howling in GOP and conservative quarters. […]

    When the existence of these memos was first reported (uh, by me, in October 2016), I noted that Steele’s investigation was underwritten by a Democratic source. Now the public knows which ones. But as Republicans seize on this development to try to discredit the Steele memos and the whole Trump-Russia scandal, they are also pushing for an investigation into what they claim is the real scandal involving Hillary Clinton and the sale of a uranium company with US operations to a Russian government agency. Fact-checkers have already declared this supposed scandal, which Donald Trump has pushed, a phony. But here’s where the hypocrisy truly kicks in: the Clinton-uranium story originated with an anti-Clinton book called Clinton Cash, which was produced at a nonprofit supported by right-wing hedge-fund manager Robert Mercer and co-founded by conservative firebrand Stephen Bannon.

    So you see what’s happening? Republicans are asserting the Steele memos should be dismissed because they are a dastardly Democratic oppo concoction and saying this somehow undermines the whole Trump-Russia scandal. Yet at the same time, they are demanding an investigation of the fake Clinton-uranium scandal that was based on a debunked story subsidized and promoted by a big-money conservative donor and Trump backer.

    […] Republicans and conservatives looking to protect the president from the Russia scandal keep trying to build up distractions. The Steele memos have been a main target. Republicans appear to believe that if they can cast the Steele memos as no more than a spurious product of partisan oppo research—essentially, a dirty trick—they can persuade people that the whole Trump-Russia affair is the hoax the president claims it is. […]

    […] The bottom line: there was plenty of reason for the FBI to investigate Trump-Russia ties without the Steele stuff. […]

    There are elements in the Steele memos that are far more solid than the Clinton-uranium conspiracy theory. […]

    Ultimately, the Steele dossier is not the most important matter at hand. And certainly the uranium deal and unmasking are not. None of these have anything to do with the integrity of the American election process—or with protecting U.S. democracy from future attacks from Russia or elsewhere. Still, many Republicans—Trump, most of all—would rather have congressional committees (and the public) chase after these rabbits rather than confront the bear in the room. And there’s just one word for that: sad.

    Much more at the link.

  117. says

    Yep, team Trump wants to cut spending on other programs in order to fund disaster relief efforts:

    The White House wants Congress to cut spending in order to offset disaster relief funding in its next aid package.

    “As we move toward the longer-term issues of rebuilding the impacted areas of our Nation, we believe that it is appropriate that the Congress consider reducing spending elsewhere in order to offset what will, again, be a significant amount of unbudgeted spending,” White House budget chief Mick Mulvaney wrote in a Tuesday letter to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell […]


  118. says

    This sounds like a really bad idea to me. Ryan Zinke is pushing the idea that fees associated with public lands should be increased.

    National Park entry fees are already too high for me. I live within easy, half-day driving distance of several national parks, but I often cannot take advantage of that because the entry fees are too high to fit into my limited travel budget. I’m not the only relatively poor person who is barred from enjoying public lands, (which I supposedly own along with other citizens, and for which I pay taxes), barred by high fees.

    From Wonkette:

    Now here’s a terrific idea! The National Park Service, facing an 11 percent budget cut as part of the overall Trump War On Nice Things, has proposed doubling the entrance fees for 17 of the nation’s most popular parks, to pay for long-delayed improvements to park infrastructure.

    […] per-vehicle entrance fees could go up to $70 during “peak season” — each park’s busiest five months. Current rates are around $25 to $30 depending on the park. […] since Congress has for years seen maintaining national parks as something that can wait for another time, there’s no reason to think either house will step up to adequately fund park infrastructure […]

    Since the federal government is still required by law to allow public comments, there will be a 30-day comment period on the Park Service’s website before all the comments are ignored and the price hikes are approved. After that, it’s only a matter of time before the inevitable follow-up investigation showing the infrastructure fixes will all be contracted out to companies whose owners just happen to be members of the Whitefish, Montana, coastal elite. [bitter LOL]

    Advocates for the radical notion that you shouldn’t have to be especially wealthy to enjoy the nation’s natural heritage made exactly the sounds you’d expect from a canary in a coal mine before its last strangled note is completely disregarded. […] Theresa Pierno, president and CEO of the National Parks Conservation Association, said […]

    We should not increase fees to such a degree as to make these places — protected for all Americans to experience — unaffordable for some families to visit. The solution to our parks’ repair needs cannot and should not be largely shouldered by its visitors.

    The administration just proposed a major cut to the National Park Service budget even as parks struggle with billions of dollars in needed repairs. If the administration wants to support national parks, it needs to walk the walk and work with Congress to address the maintenance backlog.

    Pierno noted that a bill to provide sustainable funding for the parks, the National Park Service Legacy Act, would be a far better alternative, […]

    Let us also not forget that the Park Service is simply swimming in money, since while the parks face hundreds of millions of dollars in budget cuts, Trump did donate $78,333 to the NPS (which he can write off as a charitable donation, you’re welcome).

  119. says

    From Trump’s impromptu press conference today:

    I can only say this. I was really nice to her [Myeshia Johnson]. I respect her, I respect her family, I certainly respect La David—who, by the way, I called La David right from the beginning, they put a chart in front, La David, it says La David Johnson. So I called right from the beginning, there’s no hesitation, one of the great memories of all time, no hesitation.

  120. says

    Librarian tweets:

    Hang tight folks, because I am about to drop some necessary knowledge on you. First off, library usage is on the RISE motherfuckers.

    As conservatives have taken over state and local governments, and the NO MORE TAXES crowd has gotten their way, public space has decreased.

    That means is that there are a lot fewer free, public gathering places in America anymore. What’s one? The motherfucking public library.

    If you, like this jackalope, think libraries are just warehouses for books, you are sorely and embarrassingly mistaken. Sorely.

    In addition to meeting a community’s need for educational and recreational materials, PARTICULARLY FOR YOUNG FAMILIES…

    public libraries are evolving to meet the demands of the 21st Century, unlike the neanderthal who sparked this thread.

    Books? Books make up a RAPIDLY decreasing percentage of a library’s budget. You want to check out technology? get a library card.

    You need internet access because you are one of the WAY TOO MANY underserved and marginalized persons in America? Go to the library.

    You need a safe place to learn about yourself, LGBT teen? Come to the library. You need to learn English to get a job? Come to the library.

    You need to close libraries because you have no idea what the fuck they do? Stay the fuck home and shut your mouth. Just kidding, everyone is welcome at the library, even the backwards thinking simpletons who want to cut our budgets. […]

  121. blf says

    Protest after Western media troublemakers barred from Xi Jinping speech (the Grauniad’s edits in {curly braces}):

    China has trumpeted this week’s pomp-filled Communist party congress as an example of its increasing openness and transparency.

    But a number of major western news organisations whose coverage has irked Beijing were excluded from Xi Jinping’s unveiling of China’s new ruling council on Wednesday […].

    Those refused access to Xi’s statement to the media include the BBC, the Financial Times, the Economist, the New York Times and the Guardian. Chinese officials offered no formal explanation for the decision.

    The Daily Telegraph, which regularly publishes Communist party propaganda in the UK as part of a reported £800,000 annual contract with Beijing’s China Daily, is understood to have been granted an invitation to Xi’s event.


    Qiao Mu, a former journalism professor at Beijing Foreign Studies University who recently went into self-imposed exile in the United States, said China appeared to have barred those it considered “trouble makers”. The move reflected the frustration of Chinese officials at Xi’s inability to “control the tone of the western media”.

    “The situation will get worse{…} more and more western media websites will be blocked, and journalists will be expelled or {find it} hard to get visas,” Qiao added. He said that in Xi’s “new era” there was room for only “one voice”.


    [… Xi] issued a thinly-veiled rebuke to foreign journalists who publish reports that question the party line.

    We do not need lavish praise from others. However, we do welcome objective reporting and constructive suggestions.

    Xi borrowed the words of Yuan dynasty poet, Wang Mian, to hammer his point home: Not angling for compliments, I would be content that my integrity fills the universe.


    A series of heavily scripted “press conferences” have been organised, which were attended by a large number of foreign reporters on the payroll of party-run media outlets. Many of the questions appeared to have been pre-screened.

    There is great access and openness at the Party congress, whereas in the United States, the administration is closed in a way that they don’t want media attention or criticism, Xinhua [China’s official news agency] quoted an American journalist, Sarah Wendt, as saying.

    According to her Twitter profile Wendt works for Sinovision, a US-based television channel with ties to China’s party-run CCTV and which describes itself as “the leading and most dominant Chinese-language TV station in the Metropolitan New York area”.

    China-based correspondents say the treatment of foreign journalists appears to have deteriorated since Xi took power in 2012 and began a wide-ranging crackdown on opposition voices.


  122. blf says

    More ICE / Border Patrol goons lacking any sense (common or otherwise), Texas girl, 10, with cerebral palsy faces deportation after trip to hospital:

    Rosa Maria Hernandez, who was brought to US when she was three months old, was stopped at a checkpoint and escorted to hospital by border agents

    A 10-year-old girl with cerebral palsy is at risk of deportation after being stopped at a Border Patrol checkpoint and accompanied to hospital by officers who waited outside her room as she recovered from surgery.

    Rosa Maria Hernandez was born in Mexico but has lived in the US since she was three months old. She was being taken from the Texas border city of Laredo to Corpus Christi for a gallbladder operation, travelling in an ambulance with a relative who is a US citizen.

    As they drove through an inland Border Patrol station about 60 miles east of the frontier in the early hours of Tuesday, agents discovered Rosa Maria’s undocumented status.

    They allowed them to continue but followed them to the hospital, another 80 miles.

    [… O]fficers waited outside her […] room while she recuperated from the operation on Tuesday.

    Rosa Maria left hospital in an ambulance on Wednesday, said her attorney, Leticia Gonzalez. […] Border Patrol agents took her to a shelter for child immigrants in San Antonio that has a contract with the federal government.


    It was not immediately clear whether she would be returned to her mother’s care or taken to a government-run shelter for immigrant children.


    It follows another case in May […] that saw the Border Patrol escort a two-month-old US citizen boy with pyloric stenosis from the Rio Grande Valley to the same hospital for surgery with his undocumented parents, who were tracked wherever they went in the building, detained, fingerprinted and released.

    “I understand that CBP {Customs and Border Protection} has a tremendous duty to protect our nation but we should be devoting our resources and focus on bigger threats,” [the US congressman for Laredo who is tracking the case, Henry] Cuellar said in a statement.


    In February, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (Ice) agents returned a Salvadoran woman with a brain tumour from a Texas hospital to a nearby detention centre. She was later released and a court granted a stay of deportation last month.

  123. says

    More ICE / Border Patrol goons lacking any sense (common or otherwise), Texas girl, 10, with cerebral palsy faces deportation after trip to hospital:…

    And there’s also this terrible story. What ICE is doing, which clearly appears to be a policy and not the work of rogue agents or offices, needs to receive a lot more coverage and attention.

  124. blf says

    Update to @183, Turkish judge bails eight Amnesty human rights activists (some wonky formatting in the original corrected in this excerpt):

    Those released include senior Amnesty International figures, who were being tried on terrorism-related charges

    A Turkish judge has ordered the release on bail of eight human rights activists including a senior official from Amnesty International, who were standing trial on terrorism-related charges.

    The decision came after a marathon 12-hour hearing in Istanbul’s Caglayan courthouse, in the opening session of a trial that was condemned by rights campaigners as politically motivated and an attempt to crush dissent.

    The decision means that 10 out of the 11 human rights activists who were detained in the case, including Amnesty’s Turkey director, Idil Eser, will be immediately released on bail. Taner Kilic, Amnesty’s Turkey chairman, will remain in detention as he is on trial in a separate case in the city of Izmir.


    [The decision is] a welcome surprise to human rights activists who had despaired at the pace of the ongoing crackdown and the detentions of activists and journalists in Turkey over the past year.

    But the optimism will be tempered by the fact that the charges in the case have not been dropped, and more journalists and civil society activists have have been detained in recent days and weeks.


  125. blf says

    Italian prosecutors reject DNA test in mistaken identity case:

    The mother of a man accused of being one of the world’s most dangerous human traffickers travelled from Eritrea to Sicily to undergo a DNA test which would prove that her son is the victim of a mistaken identity.

    But her effort to free her son failed after Italian prosecutors refused to allow the test result to be submitted as evidence.

    The man at the centre of Italy’s highest-profile human trafficking case has always claimed to be Medhanie Tesfamariam Berhe, a 29-year-old Eritrean refugee […]. Behre’s family, data from his Facebook account and even the wife of the wanted man have all supported his claim.

    But prosecutors in Palermo insist that he is Medhanie Yehdego Mered, a notorious 35-year-old people-smuggler who has sent thousands of Eritrean refugees from Sudan to Libya and then onwards to Italy.

    This week Berhe’s mother, Meaza Zerai Weldai […], travelled from Asmara to Palermo for a DNA test which showed she was the mother of the detained man. But Italian investigators rejected the submission of the test as evidence.

    Under Italian law, documents originating outside an investigation can only be submitted as evidence in a trial if agreed upon by both sides. We are basing our legal proceedings on other data, not on DNA, Annamaria Picozzi, a prosecutor and member of the investigative team in Palermo, said at the court on Wednesday.


    In a series of articles, the Guardian has produced photographs, documents and testimony that cast doubt on the prosecution’s allegation that the detained man is Mered. “This is not my name. This is not my surname. This is not my identity,” Berhe told the court […]. “You are prosecuting the wrong man. This is all absurd.”


    Despite the overwhelming evidence to the contrary, prosecutors insist the man captured in Khartoum is the real smuggler — even though they have not been able to find a single witness to testify against him.

    At Wednesday’s hearing, the judge invited the prosecutors to reconsider allowing the DNA test to be submitted. The prosecutors postponed their final decision to the next hearing, on 9 November.


    With the caveat I have not been following this case closely, I do not recall ever reading / hearing of any explanation or speculation why the Italian authorities are so insistent they have the right man. The intransigence is truly remarkable; as an additional example, People smuggler was in UAE jail when refugee arrested in his place. That article notes they also keep changing the judges & location of the trial, necessitating the trial be re-started.

  126. says

    “Study: CNN’s paid Trump shills made more than 500 appearances over the last three months”:

    …If CNN is truly worried about the sort of people who tell you that an apple is really a banana, the network should deal with the stable of pundits it has hired to provide viewers with knee-jerk defenses of the president. Those Trump apologists — some of whom were previously on Trump’s payroll — actively harm CNN’s journalism, frequently bringing panel discussions to a screeching halt with claims so dishonest they approach parody, at times drawing on-air rebukes from the network’s anchors. The pundits force the network to constantly debate whether the apple is really a banana.

    In August, media reporter Michael Calderone identified 13 pundits on the CNN payroll “who, to varying degrees, can be identified as pro-Trump”: former Republican Georgia Rep. Jack Kingston, former Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli, talk radio host Ben Ferguson, former Bush White House official Scott Jennings, former South Carolina Lt. Gov. Andre Bauer, former Trump campaign spokesperson Jason Miller, former Trump adviser Stephen Moore, former Sen. Rick Santorum (R-PA), Republican strategist Alice Stewart, former Trump campaign official David Urban, talk radio host John Phillips, former Bush White House staffer Paris Dennard and former U.S. Attorney Matthew Whitaker. Since then, the network has hired Ed Martin, former chair of the Missouri Republican Party, to round out the roster.

    As Calderone notes, the pundits are not monolithic, with some even offering criticism for the president from time to time. But on balance, the group reliably tilts discussions, often negatively impacting the ability of viewers to come away from the network’s coverage with a strong grasp of the facts.

    Over the past three months, those 14 pundits have made 510 appearances on CNN — an average of more than five appearances a day — according to a Media Matters review. Jennings and Ferguson have led the way, with 73 and 69 appearances, respectively. Moore, Kingston, and Stewart round out the top five, each with at least 50 appearances.

    CNN has been paying Trump shills to provide on-air commentary since the 2016 presidential campaign, apparently having learned nothing from the disastrous results….

    Here’s Eric Boehlert on Chris Hayes’ show last night talking about the alternate reality created by rightwing media, and particularly this fake uranium scandal. (In good news, Fox’s, and especially Hannity’s, ad revenue is down (I don’t have the link, but I’ll look for it).

  127. says

    Update to #93 – now, after weeks of dawdling since he publicly promised to declare the opioid epidemic a National Emergency back in August, Trump is set to call it a Public Health Emergency, which will have far less sweeping effects and call up far fewer resources. It’s another betrayal of the people to whom he promised he would mobilize vast resources on this issue. In addition to months of inaction and unkept promises on the issue, he’s supported legislation to cut billions from health care, deep cuts to public health agencies, and Sessions’ sick desire to criminalize drug use and punish people who are addicted.

  128. says

    Bob Corker’s appearance on MSNBC this morning was somewhat weird. He seemed to be trying to narrow his criticisms while talking excitedly about their plan to cut taxes for rich people and corporations. He received a phone call during the interview, following which he looked uncomfortable and like he was sweating a lot. I could be reading too much into it, but he seemed under pressure.

  129. says

    “Twitter Banning Ads from Russia Today, Sputnik”: “Twitter announced on Thursday that it would ban ads from all accounts owned by Russia Today and Sputnik, effective immediately….”

    “Report: Rebekah Mercer Feared ‘Legal Liabilities’ of Accessing Hillary Emails”: “Top Republican donor Rebekah Mercer had a conversation in June 2016 during which she considered trying to find—and release—then-candidate Hillary Clinton’s 33,000 deleted emails, but ultimately decided it would be a ‘terrible idea’ and create ‘major legal liabilities’, The Wall Street Journal reports.”

    These reports should note that there’s no indication her server was hacked or that anyone is in possession of these emails. When they don’t, they contribute to the misperception that her server was hacked and that this was the source of the WL emails. Assange is saying he turned down CA’s offer, but he couldn’t have accepted that particular offer because he doesn’t have these emails.

  130. says

    “Congress quietly passed a budget outline with $1.8 trillion in health care cuts”:

    …The budget also stands as a vision of what the Republican majority wants to do, and perhaps would do if it had eight or nine more votes in the Senate. It tells you what programs they’d protect and which they’d expand, what groups would see funding boosted and who would be left holding the bag. Its underlying numbers tell you how serious the party leaders are about their stated goal of balancing the budget.

    The agenda the resolution outlines is radical. The federal welfare state would be rolled back in just about every dimension, with health care programs particularly affected. All non-Medicare health programs would see a cut of $1.3 trillion, or nearly 30 percent, by 2027, according to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities.

    Medicare would be cut too, to the tune of $473 billion. There is $1 trillion over 10 years in mystery cuts to mandatory programs, cuts that would in practice almost certainly hurt programs for the poor….

  131. blf says

    Update to @223 (Ambassador Scott Brown), More complaints surface over behaviour of US ambassador to New Zealand (the Grauniad’s edits in {curly braces}):

    Over the past two months, the Guardian has spoken to various witnesses who attended the party and who claim the behaviour of the ambassador — the first appointed by the US president [sic], Donald Trump — was worse than he has admitted.


    A male former Peace Corps volunteer described a strained atmosphere as the ambassador shouted at guests to be quiet and listen to him. “It was very culturally insensitive,” he said. “He just did multiple things in 15 seconds that really put me off, and looking around {I} saw it put off a lot of other people as well.

    “At least twice, maybe three times, he was telling everybody: Stop talking, be quiet, listen to me.

    Another former Peace Corps volunteer called Brown’s speech “really pompous and sort of shocking”. The man, who again did not want to be named, said he approached Brown after his speech, hoping to gauge the man representing his country.

    He described their exchange as candid, and claimed Brown became aggressive when he mentioned he was disappointed by Trump’s actions following his inauguration. Brown angrily told him to get over it, he said.


    Another former Peace Corps volunteer who attended the party told the Guardian: “[…] He said something like: When Kennedy started the Peace Corps 100 years ago, so it seemed he didn’t really know what he was talking about.”


    [Brown’s] claims of minor cultural slip-ups do not gel, however, with the accounts of others who attended the party, some of whom considered confronting Brown about his behaviour. Others left early because they felt so ill at ease. Two attendees said they didn’t agree with Brown’s account of the party.


    The article makes clear the Grauniad knows more about what happened than it is (currently) reporting.

  132. blf says

    SC@240 and me@241 are referring to the same Grauniad report. It takes time to excerpt, so I did not see the prior quick comment.

  133. blf says

    A follow-up to @200, Should black Americans boycott American Airlines?:

    After a months-long investigation found “a pattern of disturbing incidents reported by African American passengers, specific to American Airlines,” the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People has issued a “national advisory alerting travelers — especially African Americans — to exercise caution, in that booking and boarding flights on American Airlines could subject them disrespectful, discriminatory or unsafe conditions”.

    This is a wise move […], as boycotting or threatening to boycott companies […] is the only way to push reforms and seek an end to racial profiling, micro-aggressions, and outright violence.


    Earlier this year, the NAACP’s legal defense fund also denounced the “the unlawful profiling of airline passengers on the basis of race or religion has become disturbingly common” in matters of post 9/11 “flying while Muslim”.

    Threatening airlines’ bottom line works. When the internet was rightfully enraged by David Dao being dragged off a plane and losing teeth in Chicago, United swiftly updated its policies for bumping people from flights and settled with with Dao.


    “The way to right wrongs is to turn the truth upon them,” NAACP cofounder Ida B Wells once said. The NAACP is confronting American Airlines with some truth. But corporations react out of fear, and American Airlines isn’t yet afraid of the NAACP’s warning.

    Our team members — a diverse community of gate agents, pilots, and flight attendants — are proud to serve customers of all backgrounds, an American spokeswoman said. Writing “diverse” and “customers of all backgrounds” elides the anti-black racism the NAACP wants to address.

    But the NAACP is right to investigate racism anywhere it is, and to hold companies to account.

    I should also point out a corporate statement referring to Our team members tends to be a lie, as it’s unlike the employees charged with implementing whatever teh overpaid executives have dreamt up had any (meaningful) input.

    And as readers in the comments point out, it’s not just African-Americans who should boycott the airline.

  134. blf says

    Oh for feck’s sake, I hope someone truly shoots you: online conspiracy theorists harass Vegas victims:

    Those who lived to describe the mass shooting face flood of abuse on social media accusing them of being actors, as hoax claims flourish on YouTube
    Conspiracy theorists — some of whom claim that the government staged the shooting […] or that the tragedy was a hoax — have targeted survivors and victims’ loved ones, spamming every social media platform with misinformation and abuse. On Facebook and YouTube in particular, users have published viral posts and videos calling [victims] crisis actors, alleging they were hired to pose as victims.


    By some measures, YouTube seems to be making the problem worse. This week, a search for “[the name of one of the wounded survivors –blf]” on the Google-owned video platform suggested a video titled How To Spot Crisis Actors & Fakest News Ever as one of the top results. That’s despite the fact that YouTube said it was immediately changing its algorithm to better promote legitimate sources after Las Vegas victims criticized the site for spreading conspiracies.

    Mike Cronk, another Las Vegas survivor, was also widely targeted by conspiracy theorists after he did interviews with ABC and NBC news stations. So many users on YouTube have published videos calling him a fake that a search for his name autocompleted to Mike Cronk crisis actor and Mike Cronk fake.[] The top three search results for “Mike Cronk Las Vegas” were conspiracy videos, promoted higher than the ABC News segment.


    After the Guardian inquired about specific videos attacking survivors, YouTube took down one of them […] for violating its “harassment and bullying” policy, but did not remove the others.


      † Yep! Just checked YouTube, and that is what happens. However, at least for me with the settings, &tc, I use / allow, that does not happen with Generalissimo Google itself, albeit the top search results are conspiracy videos / sites.

  135. blf says

    Democrats push bill to stop a Trump pre-emptive strike on North Korea:

    Congressional Democrats have introduced legislation aimed at preventing Donald Trump from launching a pre-emptive attack on North Korea […]

    The “No Unconstitutional Strike against North Korea” bill is the second legislative attempt to curtail’s Trump power to start a war unilaterally. Earlier this year, a bill was introduced to prohibit the president from ordering a nuclear first strike against a foreign adversary without a declaration of war by Congress, amid concerns over Trump’s belligerent language, erratic behaviour and frequent tweeted threats against other countries.

    The new legislation prohibiting an attack on North Korea without congressional authority was launched by Democrats John Conyers in the House and Ed Markey in the Senate. It has two Republicans among the 61 backers in the House, but at present no formal Republican backing in the Senate.


    The bill’s supporters acknowledge that it will not pass without attracting more Republican support, but they argue that it helps focus attention on the unlimited authority of a US president to order the use of nuclear weapons, many of which can be launched within a few minutes. No official has the power to stop or even delay the launch.

    Whilst there is no official check, there is the option of what would be, technically, insubordination. That is, not obeying. There is a time & place for that, e.g., Stanislav Petrov, the “man who saved the world”, back in 1983 (“Judgment and well-timed insubordination have sometimes saved us“).

    Senator Dianne Feinstein, speaking at a conference organised by the Ploughshares Fund, […] said she once asked a former head of US Strategic Command if he would carry out a launch order even if he knew it was a catastrophically bad decision. “He looked me straight in the eye and said: Yes,” Senator Feinstein recalled.


    Ted Lieu, the Democratic congressman who co-authored the bill in January to limit the president’s power to launch a first strike said the best recruiter for Republican support was Trump’s behaviour.

    “Every time the president does something erratic, which is every day, we get more co-sponsors,” Lieu said.

  136. says

    It looks like Trump had Sarah Huckabee Sanders lie for him again:

    […] Sanders said Thursday that she believed special counsel Robert Mueller’s probe of Russian meddling in the 2016 election and other matters was “getting closer to conclusion.” She did not cite any new evidence to back up the claim, instead referring to vague “reporting” on “more details about why the President has been right all along.”

    “I certainly think he has confidence that they are going to close this up soon,” Sanders told Fox News’ Bill Hemmer. […]

    “I think we are seeing more and more evidence that shows, look, they’ve been working on this and investigating this for well into a year through various committees,” Sanders said. […]

    “Every day we find out more and more details about why the President has been right all along and why the Democrats have been wrong all along and I think that each day we’re getting closer and closer to closing the loop on this on our front,” Sanders added.

    “Is that based on news reports or is that based on something else?” Hemmer asked. “Some other channel there at the White House?”

    “I think it’s based on fact — the fact that there has been no wrongdoing by the Trump campaign and a lot of the reporting that we’re seeing coming out, day in, day out with the collusion you’ve got.”

    Sanders was referring two stories, mentioned earlier in the interview, which the White House has said shift suspicion away from President Donald Trump and toward Democrats. […]

  137. says

    Koch, Goldwater and ALEC are behind anti-Title IX attacks to destroy the Education Dept

    Under the civil rights law Title IX, schools are required to prevent and properly respond to reports of sexual violence. […] many of our worst fears were realized when Secretary Betsy DeVos was confirmed to lead the Department of Education. Unsurprisingly, she ended up rescinding the Obama-era guidelines around Title IX, citing concerns over fairness for potential assailants.

    […] her talking points have been spreading. […]. When a bill that’d codify the rescinded guidelines into state law, Democratic California Gov. Gerry Brown used her misleading and incorrect rhetoric to justify his veto.

    Unbeknownst to many, this is all part of a right-wing plan to undermine the Department of Education. […] this is part of a long-term, coordinated push by wealthy and powerful conservatives.

    The attack on Title IX marks the ominous culmination of a coordinated campaign four decades in the making by a coterie of free-market activists including the Koch Institute, the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), the Foundation For Individual Rights in Education (FIRE), Earl Ehrhart, the DeVos family, and the Goldwater Institute, among others. The campaign has gained epochal momentum under Donald Trump, who called the Department of Education “massive and it can be largely eliminated.”

    These conservatives don’t really care about unfairness against college sexual assailants. […] it’s simply an excuse to undermine civil rights. […]

    How committed are they to this? Well, they’re bankrolling lawsuits on the behalf of male students accused of sexual misconduct, taking advantage of the fact that survivors are too traumatized (and under-resourced) to sue and participate in a case for the long haul. As a result, men like attorney Andrew T. Miltenberg is making money off of these lawsuits on behalf of alleged assailants while working to weaken the civil rights protections aimed to curtail sexual violence in schools.

    Newsweek called Miltenberg the “go-to lawyer” among many lawyers now filing a barrage of secretly funded lawsuits on behalf of accused male students. Huge amounts of money are being poured into these cases.
    […] DeVos also rescinded civil rights guidelines for students with disabilities. […] It’s not about campus rape or people with disabilities to these conservatives. It’s about rendering the Department of Education useless and thus creating a new generation of vulnerable students left behind.

  138. blf says

    The New York Times has a series of articles about conditions in Puerto Rico. This one caught my eye, US Hospitals Wrestle With Shortages of Drug Supplies Made in Puerto Rico:

    [… The commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration, Dr Scott] Gottlieb said he was worried that if conditions don’t improve, more shortages [throughout the USA] — of both drugs and medical devices — might follow by early next year.

    Pharmaceutical products made in Puerto Rico account for nearly 10 percent of all drugs consumed by Americans, and about 80 firms make medical products there, the FDA has said.


    Dr Gottlieb says the FDA is watching the supply of about 30 drugs that are made on the island, in addition to medical devices. Most companies are still running on diesel generators, and manufacturers that have been able to connect to the power grid are still encountering an unpredictable supply of electricity, he said.


    The FDA has been supplying logistical help to companies, providing fuel for the generators and assisting with moving finished products off the island. Dr Gottlieb said some companies had gotten down to a 24-hour supply of diesel fuel, and representatives for the medical-device industry had said some generators were beginning to break down, requiring emergency repair.


    Like Dr Gottlieb, many of the hospital administrators said their eye was on the horizon. With so many drug companies manufacturing products in Puerto Rico, Mr Rosner[] said, “I am fearful that this may not be the end of the shortages — it may only be the beginning.”

      † Mr Jeff Rosner “oversees pharmacy contracting and purchasing at the Cleveland Clinic.” (I couldn’t quite figure out how to edit that cleanly into the excerpt.)

  139. blf says

    Follow-up to some previous comment(s?) some time ago in this series of threads, US groups pour millions into anti-abortion campaign in Latin America and Caribbean:

    Trigger warning: Some links within the linked-to & excerpted article contain quite harrowing stories. The excerpt below contains no links, but both it and the linked-to article may still be distressing.



    Guardian investigation reveals anti-choice groups using sophisticated methods to combat potential easing of draconian abortion laws in the region

    US anti-choice groups are coordinating and financing a campaign to restrict access to abortion across Latin America and the Caribbean.

    A Guardian investigation has found that organisations have poured millions of dollars into the region, which has some of the most draconian abortion laws, to combat efforts to decriminalise the termination of pregnancies and to obstruct access to clinics providing services.

    In July, the Guardian reported that Human Life International (HLI), a Catholic not-for-profit group from Virginia, had given more than $600,000 (£450,000) to support its work in Central America between 2008 and 2014, and that one group in El Salvador, Fundación Sí a la Vida, had received more than $47,000 over a seven-year period.

    But it has now emerged that at least two other US-based organisations — 40 Days for Life and Heartbeat International — are also training anti-choice activists, opening centres and ploughing money into the region.


    The bulk of the US funding is being used to develop a network of crisis pregnancy centres, which critics claim[] are designed to persuade women not to have terminations. The number of centres more than doubled between 2012 and 2015, to 130.

    HLI brought the crisis pregnancy centre model to Latin America in the 1980s and is one of the most active supporters of the anti-abortion movement in the region.


    Between 2013 and 2015 [Heartbeat International] gave $15,925 to Latin American partners […]. It also helps receive and transfer donations from other US anti-abortion groups and individuals.

    Reproductive healthcare providers and rights advocates in Colombia, where these organisations are establishing a stronghold, said many of the centres are built to look like regular clinics. The director of a legal abortion clinic in Colombia’s capital, Bogotá, who asked not to be named, said her staff had documented multiple cases of patients mistakenly visiting local crisis pregnancy centres, where anti-abortion activists “made them feel guilty, stigmatised, harassed and pressured to continue their pregnancies”.


    An estimated 75% of all abortions in the region are illegal and each year 760,000 women are treated for complications arising from unsafe abortions.

    “If there is one thing we’ve noticed about the way that these anti-rights groups operate it is that they blame women for being women. They start to question which life is more important, and the final conclusion they come to is that the lives of women don’t matter,” said Sandra Mazo Cardona, director of Católicas por el Derecho a Decidir – Colombia, a Catholic feminist organisation.

    “People have a right to have their beliefs and to work toward a goal that they think is laudable and fair. But it cannot be based on intimidation.”

    The article notes that frequently the women & girls seeking abortions don’t know their rights, making them especially vulnerable.

      † I smell lawyer’s interference in the added weasel wording critics claim.

  140. says

    blf @252, thanks for that info re Puerto Rico. I hadn’t heard that aspect of the post-Hurricane difficulties before.

    Here’s a bit of good news out of Puerto Rico … and it has nothing to do with Trump unless you count his complete absence in this solution to an energy problem:

    A children’s hospital in Puerto Rico that was forced to run off generators and ration diesel fuel in the wake of Hurricane Maria now has a solar power system that will supply all of its electricity needs.

    Tesla and Puerto Rico’s governor touted the project yesterday, sending out multiple official tweets and Facebook posts, and officials said today that the system is already providing solar-generated electricity to the hospital. […]

    ABC News link There are photos at the link.

    From the Los Angeles Times:

    […] Rossello and Musk began public discussions on Oct. 6, when the governor tweeted at the entrepreneur and suggested that Puerto Rico could be a “flagship project” to “show the world the power and scalability” of Tesla’s technologies.

    Musk responded that day, saying he would be “happy to talk” and that he hoped Tesla could be helpful.

    On Tuesday — less than three weeks after their social media rapport began — Tesla tweeted that the project was “going live.” […]

    From Walter Einenkel:

    […] So while Trump and his crew of wealthy wanna-be oligarchs sat around trying to figure out how best to divide of the money pie in Puerto Rico, the rest of humanity tries to help the humans living in Puerto Rico.

  141. says

    From The Washington Post, in reference to Trump declaring a “national health emergency” today to address the rising number of opioid overdoses in the U.S.:

    With Trump’s declaration, the federal government will waive some regulations, give states more flexibility in how they use federal funds and expand the use of telemedicine treatment, according to senior administration officials who briefed reporters on Thursday morning.

    But the president stopped short of declaring a more sweeping national state of emergency that would have given states access to funding from the federal Disaster Relief Fund, just as they would have following a tornado or hurricane. Officials who briefed reporters said that such an emergency declaration would not be a good fit for a longtime crisis and would not offer authorities that the government doesn’t already have.

    Trump’s announcement drew sharp criticism from Democratic lawmakers and some public health advocates, who questioned his commitment to the crisis, given that Trump made no immediate request to Congress for emergency funding.

    Bolding is mine.

    From Senator Ed Markey:

    Nothing more than a dog-and-pony show in an attempt to demonstrate the Trump administration is not ignoring this crisis.

    White House officials claim that Trump’s declaration is a “first step.” I won’t be holding my breath for more steps.

  142. says

    These remarks from Rosenstein are extremely concerning:

    I think, what you need to recognize is that there have been a number of public reports about alleged Russian activities related to the election, including a report of the intelligence community, and what you’ve asked about public information, you have in an unclassified version of a report that reflects the assessments of our intelligence community. There have also been public reports, recently, about allegations of Russian advertisements, for example, that were posted on various networks. And so, there are a lot of public sources of information out there, and I think what people need to keep in mind is that there’s a distinction between people trying to sway American elections, and succeeding in swaying American elections. I think one of our responsibilities is to make sure that people understand, you know, what the risks are, but also that they make their own determinations. You know, American citizens are pretty savvy, and they decide who to vote for. I don’t think they’d be influenced by ads posted by foreign governments. I think people are more thoughtful about that in the way that they make their decisions. But nonetheless, you know, if we have foreign countries that are seeking interference in our elections, I think we need to take appropriate action in response.

  143. says

    Dallas Morning News“John Cornyn betrays himself and his party with embrace of Roy Moore”:

    Sen. John Cornyn’s endorsement this week of Roy Moore for the U.S. Senate from Alabama is a new low not just for the former jurist and ex-Texas attorney general, but for the party he claims to love.

    We had hoped, as many have, that Cornyn would stand against the tide of populist, nativist and exclusionary politics that have come to dominate the Republican Party in Texas and elsewhere. That hope has now been all but extinguished.

    Cornyn is certainly under pressure….

    But if taking the right course wasn’t hard, it wouldn’t require courage. Besides, Cornyn’s embrace of Moore doesn’t just put party over principle. It puts power over party.

    What will remain of a Republican Party whose leaders are so desperate to preserve its power that they cozy up to a Senate candidate like Moore?…

  144. says

    This Uranium One nonsense is outrageous. We were far too tolerant of the endless travesty that was the Benghazi “investigation.” This is a debunked conspiracy theory, the fruit of a billionaire-funded political smear campaign, a partisan witch hunt, an appalling waste of public resources, an attempt to obstruct justice in the Mueller investigation and to divert from Congressional investigations into a foreign adversary’s attack on our democratic process, an open breaching of the wall between the executive branch and the DoJ and attempt to use of the powers of US law enforcement to persecute a former political opponent. It’s completely intolerable, and Corker, Flake, McCain, Dent, and the rest of the Republicans who claim to oppose Trump’s assault on the law and democratic norms and culture should be on TV every day denouncing this vile idiocy.

  145. says

    Update to #232 and previous – “State Department Scraps Sanctions Office”:

    The State Department shuttered an office that oversees sanctions policy, even as the Donald Trump administration faces criticism from lawmakers over its handling of new economic penalties against Russia.

    Secretary of State Rex Tillerson eliminated the Coordinator for Sanctions Policy office, which had been led by a veteran ambassador-rank diplomat with at least five staff, as part of an overhaul of the department, former diplomats and congressional sources told Foreign Policy.

    Instead, the role of coordinating U.S. sanctions across the State Department and other government agencies now falls to just one mid-level official — David Tessler, the deputy director of the Policy Planning Office. The Policy Planning Office, which previously operated as a small team providing strategic advice to the secretary but did not manage programs or initiatives, has grown in power under Tillerson’s “redesign” of the department.

    The sanctions office was dissolved after the administration missed a key Oct. 1 deadline to implement new penalties against Russia adopted by Congress in August. The move has reinforced concerns among both Democratic and Republican lawmakers that the Trump White House is mismanaging the State Department and undercutting the role of U.S. diplomacy.

    …After blowing past the Oct. 1 deadline, the administration informed Corker on Thursday that it would finally issue guidance for the measures, identifying entities linked to Russia’s defense and intelligence sectors.

    The Treasury Department takes the lead on the technical aspect of sanctions, but implementing punitive measures requires elaborate coordination with allies, particularly the European Union, to build diplomatic support and to ensure a unified approach. As a result, the State Department plays a crucial role in making sanctions effective.

    “You can churn out all the sanctions you want,” Fishman said. “But if you don’t have diplomats around the world pounding the pavement every day to get allies on board, they won’t be effective.”

  146. says

    Ben Rhodes: “Breathless focus on this [the bullshit uranium story – SC] and dossier counter narrative suggests Trump WH knows there’s really really bad stuff coming for them on Russia.”

    I suspect this is true. Maybe they have a better sense of what Mueller knows from the interviews with present and former officials and document requests.

  147. says

    Stephanie Ruhle is interviewing the spokesman for Whitefish right now. She’s asking about the non-auditing clauses in the contract and he’s furiously attempting to spin, starting nearly every sentence with “Stephanie,…” She’s not having it.

  148. says

    “The Makings of a GOP Pseudo-Scandal”:

    …The fabrication of the scandal, not the scandal being fabricated, is the scandal itself.

    The purpose of the propaganda has changed from defaming Hillary Clinton* to blurring the truth about Russia’s subversion of the election, but the underlying content is the same. The facts of the matter are all out in the open, as are the ways and reasons the right manipulated those facts and has now returned to them a year later. But the press, once bitten, hasn’t yet learned to be shy.

    * It’s still about that, too!

  149. blf says

    Health experts say Trump’s opioid response relies on magical thinking:

    [… W]ith no new funding, many public health experts and state officials said it was “magical thinking” to imagine that the [public health emergency] declaration would stem the tide of opioid overdoses that has already killed 183,000.

    “We need more resources,” said Dr Jay Butler, chief medical officer for the state of Alaska, who was at the White House for Trump’s announcement. Butler said the president’s [sic] speech sounded “a call for an opioids moonshot, but in order to focus resources, you need resources”.

    You know hair furor has no interest in the problem (in part because he cannot see how to profit from it), so why the feck were you there at the signing, Dr Butler? As said previously, stop giving teh trum-prat and his dalekocracy the benefit of the fecking doubt. Eejit.

    [… I]t was what the president [sic] left out of his announcement that most frustrated many addiction treatment advocates.

    Trump failed to call for more funding; stopped short of declaring a more sweeping national emergency as he had promised and his own White House commission recommended; and declared the emergency as his administration attacks public health insurance for the poor.

    Jeff Levi, professor of health policy at George Washington University, said it was simply “not true” that the federal government was using all the tools at its disposal.

    “Declaring a public health emergency brings no new resources to the table, and there is a broad consensus in the public health community that we need additional resources for prevention, harm reduction and treatment,” said Levi.

    [… T]he public health emergency fund has a balance of only $57,000, and some experts were concerned using funds dedicated to HIV could mean robbing Peter to pay Paul.

    Further, because public health emergency declarations are typically used to cut red tape after natural disasters or during disease outbreaks, they expire after 90 days. The declaration will then have to be renewed.


    Butler, who will be looking at the declaration’s details in his own state, said: “To think we can do a lot more without any new resources is really magical thinking.”

  150. says

    I start feeling moderately optimistic and then read one of these articles…

    “McConnell preps judicial confirmation frenzy: The transformation of the federal judiciary has been one of the early successes of Donald Trump’s presidency”:

    Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is launching a circuit court confirmation blitz.

    The top Senate Republican on Thursday teed up votes to install four nominees to the powerful appellate courts, which give the final word on the vast majority of cases that don’t reach the Supreme Court.

    The transformation of the federal judiciary has been one of the enduring early successes of Trump’s presidency, particularly because he entered office with an unusually high number of vacancies in the district and circuit courts.

    Conservative advocacy groups have been pressuring McConnell to confirm judicial nominees more quickly, although Trump already has gotten more judges installed at this point in his presidency than his predecessor.

  151. blf says

    School uniform authoritarianism gone übercrazy, Japanese student sues over school’s order to dye hair black:

    A teenager in Japan has taken local authorities to court after her school told her to dye her hair black or face exclusion.

    The 18-year-old, who has naturally brown hair, is seeking 2.2m yen (£14,700) in damages from the Osaka prefectural government in western Japan due to anguish caused by repeated commands to colour her hair black.

    The student […] says multiple applications of dye have damaged her hair and caused rashes on her scalp.

    [… T]eachers instructed the student to dye her hair black or face expulsion, and made her colour it again when it still contained brown tinges, according to Japanese media reports.

    School staff told her mother they would even ask foreign exchange students with blond hair to comply […].

    NO, alleged teachers, you’re not “asking”. You are compelling. Learn your own fecking profession and stop being obsessed with torturing the minors in your care.

    Masahiko Takahashi, Kaifukan’s headteacher, declined to comment on the case but acknowledged that the school also prohibited students from colouring or bleaching their hair. He did not say whether dyeing brown hair black was a breach of that rule.

  152. says

    “Dereliction of Duty: A week of silence speaks volumes about John Kelly”: “If ever there were a tangle of falsehoods that one man could straighten out, this is it. Kelly heard the phone call. He made the bogus claim about Wilson’s speech. He’s the witness who, according to Sanders, saw Wilson grandstand about the FBI building in some still-unspecified appearance. He’s the man whose military authority the White House invokes as a substitute for evidence. Kelly must tell the truth: Is Wilson’s account of the call a fabrication? Is he mistaken that she took credit for funding the FBI building? Where and when did he see her grandstand about it? Or is that persistent claim by Sanders baseless? And does Kelly agree that no one should challenge the word of a four-star general?”

  153. says

    From SC’s comment 262: “You can churn out all the sanctions you want,” Fishman said. “But if you don’t have diplomats around the world pounding the pavement every day to get allies on board, they won’t be effective.”

    Team Trump doesn’t want effective sanctions against Russia.

    This reminds me of a segment in which Rachel Maddow described “non-performance” as a tactic that team Trump uses. SC was right to highlight the problems that this non-performance causes. And it seems that Congress is powerless to correct the course of the State Department and of team Trump.

  154. says

    From SC’s link in comment 260:

    […] One thing I’ve always told you is that you shouldn’t sit back and wait for someone like Mueller to save this country for you.

    We have to get off our butts and save it ourselves. That’s why I’m running for Attorney General of Illinois.

    Our state attorneys general are our last line of defense against the Trump Administration. When I’m Attorney General, I plan to do everything I can to stop Trump from taking away our rights and misusing his power. […]

    Renato Mariotti‏

  155. says

    From SC’s comment 256:

    You know, American citizens are pretty savvy, and they decide who to vote for. I don’t think they’d be influenced by ads posted by foreign governments. I think people are more thoughtful about that in the way that they make their decisions.

    OMG, is Rod Rosenstein (Deputy Attorney General) really that naive? Or is he just trying to play by team Trump rules in order to downplay Russian influence on the last election?

  156. says

    Well, this is a good way to draw attention to Tom Steyer’s ad campaign: Trump tweeted about Steyer:

    […] Trump took to Twitter on Friday to deride political mega-donor Tom Steyer as “wacky & totally unhinged,” firing back at a California billionaire who is funding and starring in a television ad campaign calling for Trump’s impeachment.

    “Wacky & totally unhinged Tom Steyer, who has been fighting me and my Make America Great Again agenda from beginning, never wins elections!” Trump said in his tweet. […]

    In his television ad, Steyer calls Trump mentally unstable and “a clear and present danger” and argues that he should be impeached because he leading the country in the direction of nuclear war, has obstructed justice and has threatened to shut down news organizations he doesn’t like. […]

    Washington Post link

  157. blf says

    Oh for feck’s sake, US teenager who won golf competition denied trophy because she is a girl:

    A 16-year-old Massachusetts teenager who finished first in a regional tournament this week was denied the trophy and an opportunity to play at the state high school golf championships because she is female, according to a local media report.

    High school student Emily Nash […] shot a three-over-par 75 at the Central Massachusetts Division 3 boys’ golf tournament on Tuesday, four strokes ahead of the runner-up […].

    But she was not awarded a trophy or a spot in the state championships because of a Massachusetts Interscholastic Athletic Association rule that stipulates girls can play as part of a team but not win as individuals.


    The rule was criticised by golf experts and volunteers at the tournament. One volunteer official [said] it was a “real injustice”, while a writer for the Professional Golf Academy of America said “it stinks”.

    “It’s 2017. This rule sounds like it was created in 1917,” wrote TJ Auclair.


    Ms Nash said she’s “disappointed” but doesn’t seem too upset — or at least not too inclined to (publicly?) try and fix the problem, saying “I understand that there are rules in place”.

  158. says

    Follow-up to comments 151, 153, 175, 184, 199, 204, 206, 226, 261, and 267.

    Rightwing media is all over this. Fox News is repeating it 24/7. Sean Hannity is pushing “facts” that have no relation to reality. If you have Trump voters in your circle of family or friends, expect them to believe this crap.

    Former White House aide and self-proclaimed counterterrorism expert Sebastian Gorka […] said that that Hillary Clinton’s role in approving the sale of a uranium mining firm to Russia was “equivalent” to the actions of convicted spies Julius and Ethel Rosenberg. […]

    “If this had happened in the 1950s, there would be people up on treason charges right now,” Gorka told Sean Hannity of the so-called “Uranium One” scandal, […]

    “The Rosenbergs, okay?” Gorka continued. “This is equivalent to what the Rosenbergs did and those people got the chair. Think about it. Giving away nuclear capability to our enemies, that’s what we’re talking about.” […]

    In February, Gorka refused to say whether Trump thought Islam was a religion, and he has maintained the provocative, often racist rhetoric that he employed as a Breitbart News editor since leaving the White House.

    Last week, for example, he opined that Chicago faced the problem of “black African gun crime against black Africans.” […]

    Republicans’ intense focus on Clinton’s role in approving the Uranium One sale — widely seen as an attempt to divert attention from the ongoing probe into Russian meddling in the 2016 election in support of Donald Trump — began in 2015 with the book “Clinton Cash,” which the New York Times and other outlets then built upon in their own coverage.

    Clinton Cash was written by the president and co-founder of the Government Accountability Institute, Peter Schweitzer, a Breitbart News senior editor-at-large. The other co-founder of GAI was Trump’s chief White House strategist, Steve Bannon, who has since gone back to leading Breitbart. And GAI was bankrolled by the Mercer family, deep-pocked fundraisers for Trump — and for Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX), and others — who are closely tied to Bannon. […]

  159. says

    Follow-up to comments 131, 150, 154, 266, 271, and 273.

    Excerpt from the contract with Whitefish:

    In no event shall PREPA, the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, the FEMA Administrator, the comprtoller general of the United States, or any of their authorized representatives have the right to audit or review the cost and profit elements of the labor rates specified herein.

    The governor of Puerto Rico ordered an audit anyway.

  160. says

    “Talking Points Brought to Trump Tower Meeting Were Shared With Kremlin”:

    Natalia V. Veselnitskaya arrived at a meeting at Trump Tower in June 2016 hoping to interest top Trump campaign officials in the contents of a memo she believed contained information damaging to the Democratic Party and, by extension, Hillary Clinton. The material was the fruit of her research as a private lawyer, she has repeatedly said, and any suggestion that she was acting at the Kremlin’s behest that day is anti-Russia “hysteria.”

    But interviews and records show that in the months before the meeting, Ms. Veselnitskaya had discussed the allegations with one of Russia’s most powerful officials, the prosecutor general, Yuri Y. Chaika. And the memo she brought with her closely followed a document that Mr. Chaika’s office had given to an American congressman two months earlier, incorporating some paragraphs verbatim.

    The coordination between the Trump Tower visitor and the Russian prosecutor general undercuts Ms. Veselnitskaya’s account that she was a purely independent actor when she sat down with Donald Trump Jr., Jared Kushner, the president’s son-in-law, and Paul J. Manafort, then the Trump campaign chairman. It also suggests that emails from an intermediary to the younger Mr. Trump promising that Ms. Veselnitskaya would arrive with information from Russian prosecutors were rooted at least partly in fact — not mere “puffery,” as the president’s son later said.

    In the past week, Ms. Veselnitskaya’s allegations — that major Democratic donors were guilty of financial fraud and tax evasion — have been embraced at the highest levels of the Russian government….

    Russian elites have been known to mount independent initiatives to curry favor with the Kremlin. But a number of well-known Russian analysts called it inconceivable that Ms. Veselnitskaya would have bypassed her own government to deliver what are now unmistakably official allegations to an American presidential campaign.

    Said Gleb O. Pavlovsky, the president of the Fund for Effective Politics, a Moscow research institute: “She had guidance.”

  161. says

    An NFL owner compared his players to “inmates.”

    […] During that meeting, a small group of owners who feel that NFL players should be required to stand during the anthem expressed their frustration with the way the league as a whole was handling the divisive topic.

    “We can’t have the inmates running the prison,” Houston Texans owner Bob McNair said, […]

    ESPN says that McNair’s statement “stunned some in the room.” Troy Vincent, who had a 14-year NFL career and is now the Executive Vice President of Football Operations for the NFL, reportedly confronted McNair about his statement during the meeting.

    “Vincent said that in all his years of playing in the NFL — during which, he said, he had been called every name in the book, including the N-word — he never felt like an ‘inmate,’” Wickersham and Van Natta Jr. reported. McNair later apologized to Vincent personally, saying he did not mean that expression literally. […]


    Should we give this aging white guy credit for not comparing NFL players to slaves? (/sarcasm)

  162. blf says

    Follow-up to @273, Firm restoring Puerto Rico’s power threatened to quit, mayor says:

    After San Juan’s mayor, Carmen Yulín Cruz, questioned the deal that brought Whitefish Energy to the island, the company tweeted to ask if it should leave

    The mayor of San Juan on Wednesday accused the company restoring power to Puerto Rico of threatening to withdraw its services after she drew attention to its controversial contract.

    Mayor Carmen Yulín Cruz had demanded greater transparency over the $300m deal secured by Whitefish Energy […].

    Whitefish hit [sic] back in a tweet: We’ve got 44 linemen rebuilding power lines in your city & 40 more men just arrived. Do you want us to send them back or keep working?

    Cruz then responded on Twitter: “They are threatening not to do their job which frankly is quite irregular for a company hired to work for the public sector.”


    Ricardo Rosselló, the governor of Puerto Rico, has said his administration would soon audit the contract awarded to Whitefish.

    But it is Cruz who has clashed with Whitefish most publicly. She told Yahoo News on Wednesday that she found the deal “alarming” and said it “should be voided right away”. She added: “A proper process which is clear, transparent, legal, moral and ethical should take place. What we need is somebody that can get the job done and that has the expertise to get the job done.”

    Whitefish tweeted in response: We share frustration with Mayor Cruz on the situation in Puerto Rico, but her comments are misplaced.


    According to the Associated Press, a Whitefish spokesman has said the company arrived in Puerto Rico ahead of everyone, and the director of Puerto Rico’s power company, Ricardo Ramos, has praised its work and said the company was the only one that did not require a down payment. […]

    According to Fema says it did not approve $300m Puerto Rico power grid contract, Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority director Ricardo Ramos has suggested — albeit perhaps not specifically said — the non-requirement for any downpayment is the (official) reason Whitefish were given the contract, However, as that article notes, the contract says the utility would not pay costs unallowable under Fema grants. Note, however, the wording is allowable, not reimbursed — that is, if Whitefish decides Fema would allow the charge, then Puerto Rico has to pay, whether or not Fema reimburses Puerto Rico. The contract specifically says The federal government is not a party to this contract.

  163. says

    They do. I saw this on CNN and felt like throwing things at the screen. In CNN’s defense, what followed was an interview with Walter Shaub, who made clear how alarming a development it is that Trump is refusing to recognize the independence of the DoJ. (Matthew Miller is asking rightly why Sessions and Rosenstein didn’t put a stop to it.)

  164. blf says

    This seems a bit of a surprise since Poland is currently “governed” by it kooks, Poland to white nationalist Richard Spencer: keep out:

    The Polish government has expressed strong objections to plans by American white nationalist Richard Spencer to speak at a far-right conference in Warsaw in November, but did not say if it would prevent him from entering the country.

    Foreign minister Witold Waszczykowski described Spencer as someone “who defames what happened during World War II, defames the Holocaust.”

    “He should not appear publicly, and especially not in Poland,” Waszczykowski said on Friday.


    In past years a march by far-right extremists on 11 November has become one of the largest extremist gatherings in Europe.

    The foreign ministry said “as a country which was one of the biggest victims of Nazism, we believe that the ideas promoted by Mr Spencer and his followers could pose a threat to all those who hold dear the values of human rights and democracy”.


    Hungary in October 2014 banned a conference of Spencer’s think tank, the National Policy Institute. When Spencer tried to hold an informal gathering anyway he was arrested, deported and banned from Europe’s visa-free Schengen zone for three years.

  165. blf says

    Oil giants pay billions less tax in Canada than abroad:

    Data shows companies made much higher payments to developing countries in 2016 than to Canadian, provincial governments

    Canada taxes its oil and gas companies at a fraction of the rate they are taxed abroad, including by countries ranked among the world’s most corrupt, according to an analysis of public data by the Guardian.


    The countries where oil companies paid higher rates of taxes, royalties and fees per barrel in 2016 include Nigeria, Indonesia, Ivory Coast and the UK.

    “I think it will come as a surprise to most Canadians, including a lot of politicians, that Canada is giving oil companies a cut-rate deal relative to other countries,” said Keith Stewart, an energy analyst with Greenpeace.

    Companies like Chevron Canada paid almost three times as much to Nigeria and almost seven times as much to Indonesia as it did to Canadian, provincial and municipal governments.

    Chevron used to run its Nigeria and Indonesia projects out of the US, but after allegations that they evaded billions in taxes, their operations were moved to Canada.


    Even with the low rates, the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers has been lobbying the federal government for more tax breaks to improve their “competitiveness.”


    “Companies in Canada will point to the jobs they are creating rather than acknowledge they could be sharing more of their profits, which mostly goes to shareholders who are not even in the country,” [resource governance expert and UBC geography professor Philippe Le Billon] said. “In key jurisdictions like Alberta, this has come about after decades of rule by Conservatives who are very cozy with oil interests. The numbers reveal a poor tradeoff: high emissions for not much revenue. It’s long-past time for Canada to follow a model like Norway’s, which captures far more revenue from oil production.”

    While royalty rates in Newfoundland are the highest in Canada, in Alberta they have fallen from a 40 per cent high during the 1970s to less than four per cent, and a complex system of exemptions ensures companies often pay even less. The NDP government in Alberta backed away from a pledge to hike them.


    Natural Resources Canada referred questions to the Finance Ministry, which did not respond to questions.

    Justin Trudeau’s Liberal government and the provinces also continue to give $3.3 billion in yearly subsidies to fossil fuel producers in the country, despite having pledged to phase them out.

    Redacted from the above excerpt is a discussion of the fairly new Canadian law, “publish-what-you-pay”, intended to “to empower citizens in developing countries to ensure more tax revenue is collected for much-needed social programs.” The law was opposed by the oil industry.

  166. blf says

    Son of Equatorial Guinea’s president is convicted of corruption in France:

    Teodorin Obiang, the son of Equatorial Guinea’s president, has been given a three-year suspended jail term by a French court for plundering public money from his oil-rich but impoverished west African state to fund a jet-set lifestyle in Paris.

    Obiang, 48 — the eldest son of president Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo — was tried in absentia and also given a suspended fine of €30m for embezzlement, money-laundering, corruption and abuse of trust.

    The landmark case — spearheaded by two anti-corruption NGOs, Sherpa and Transparency International — marks a turning point in France, which has long turned a blind eye to the families of corrupt foreign dictators buying up Paris real estate and going on luxury spending sprees.


    The court demanded the confiscation of assets including Obiang’s €107m mansion near the Champs-Élysées […].

    The case revealed the staggering spending habits of the presidential family of a state where a majority of people live below the poverty line. Obiang, who was appointed a vice-president by his father, was accused of spending more than 1,000 times his official annual salary on the six-storey mansion on one of Paris’s most exclusive avenues as well as a fleet of fast cars and artworks, among other assets.

    The house was decorated with more than €40m-worth of furniture, including a €1.6m Louis XV desk, a Rodin sculpture and a dozen Fabergé eggs.

    Obiang owned two Bugatti Veyrons, the most expensive and fastest street car in the world, costing about €1m a piece […] — part of luxury fleet that filled the garages around the cobbled courtyard of his mansion. During the investigation, French police needed trucks to tow away 11 luxury cars worth around €5m […]. More lorries were need to clear other assets, including bottles of wine worth thousands of euros each.

    Obiang’s lifestyle was in stark contrast with that of ordinary people in Equatorial Guinea, where over the half the population lives on less than €1.65 a day […]


    Equatorial Guinea argues that the Paris mansion is a diplomatic mission and therefore untouchable. Obiang’s lawyers have referred the issue to the international court of justice in The Hague.

    In an interim ruling in December 2016, the UN court ordered France to give the property the same protections as all other diplomatic locations. It cannot be confiscated and auctioned off by French authorities until the court in The Hague has decided the matter.

    Obiang’s father has ruled Equatorial Guinea […] for more than three decades, making him one of Africa’s longest-serving leaders, and rights groups have labelled his administration as one of the world’s most corrupt.


    The suspended sentences mean that Obiang will only face jail or have to pay the fine if he is found to have re-offended in France.

    I have absolutely no idea why the sentence & fine is suspended.

    According to France24, Paris court gives Equatorial Guinea president’s son suspended sentence in graft trial:

    [… Obiang’s] lawyers accused France of meddling in the affairs of a sovereign state.

    [… T]he defence accused the French justice system of trying to replace Equatorial Guinean judges with themselves.


    Many of his eye-popping purchases were made through Somagui Forestal, a forestry company that prosecutors called “an empty shell used solely to channel public money”.

    His tastes included sharp suits from Paris’s top tailors, whom he paid with suitcases of cash.

    Obiang said the money came from legitimate sources […]

  167. says

    Trump is shrinking public lands in the U.S.:

    […] Trump told Utah Sen. Orrin Hatch on Friday that he will reduce the size of the state’s 1.3 million-acre Bears Ears National Monument.

    “I was incredibly grateful when the president called this morning to let us know that he is approving Secretary Zinke’s recommendation on Bears Ears,” Hatch said in a statement.

    […] The White House also announced that the president will visit Utah in December to officially announce the news. […]

    Bears Ears protects Native American artifacts in southern Utah. It was one of the last, and largest, monument designations made by Obama during his tenure, and one that incensed conservatives in the West who have long argued the government has too much power over land spanning several states.

    […] other large monuments designated since 1996 were also subject to an extensive Interior Department review this summer, including Utah’s 1.8-million acre Grand Staircase-Escalante monument, which Trump also told Hatch he plans to shrink. […]

    “President Trump and his administration will stop at nothing to sell out America’s parks and public lands,” said Greg Zimmerman, the deputy director of the Center for Western Priorities.

    “This foolish attempt to erase protections for Bears Ears — or any other national monument — will meet immediate legal challenges, and it is destined to fail in court,” he continued.


    Meanwhile, as noted up-thread, Mitch McConnell is busy staffing appeals courts with rightwing doofuses.

  168. says

    Yikes. Team Trump is reducing the effectiveness of the National Weather Service more than I realized.

    The labor union representing the National Weather Service offered a rather dire assessment this week, telling the Washington Post that its lack of staff is taking a toll on forecasting operations and that the agency is “for the first time in its history teetering on the brink of failure.” […]

    Brooke Taber, a Weather Service forecaster and union steward, told Vermont’s latest newspaper, “Given our staffing, our ability to fill our mission of protecting life and property would be nearly impossible if we had a big storm.”

    It’s against this backdrop that Donald Trump has chosen a nominee to lead the agency that oversees the National Weather Service. […] recently tapped AccuWeather CEO Barry Myers to run the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

    […] NOAA chiefs have traditionally been scientists, and Myers is a businessman and a lawyer. But in this case, the concerns run deeper.

    As NOAA administrator, Myers would be in charge of the Weather Service whose data are heavily used by his family business, based in State College, Pa.

    AccuWeather has, in the past, supported measures to limit the extent to which the Weather Service can release information to the public, so that private companies could generate their own value-added products using this same information.

    Ciaran Clayton, who was communications director at NOAA in the Obama administration, told the paper, “Barry Myers defines ‘conflict of interest. He actively lobbied to privatize the National Weather Service […] to benefit his own company’s bottom line.”

    As Rachel put it on a recent show, Myers has specifically worked to “limit the amount of information the weather service provides to the public for free, so his family business instead can do that for profit. A for-profit National Hurricane Center, right? What could possibly go wrong?”

    It will be up to the Republican-run Senate to consider his nomination. Confirmation hearings have not yet been scheduled.


  169. blf says

    Tennessee: Anti-fascists to confront white supremacists:

    A torchlit march is slated to take place on Friday night at a local university in Murfreesboro […], and the main white supremacist event, which has been dubbed White Lives Matter, will be held on Saturday in nearby Shelbyville.


    The events were called by the Nationalist Front, a coalition that includes the neo-Confederate League of the South, the neo-fascist Traditionalist Worker Party (TWP), Vanguard America and the National Socialist Movement (NSM).


    In Murfreesboro, more than 120 local organisations and businesses are planning to participate in a counterdemonstration, according to a joint press release published on Thursday. They expect more than 1,000 community members will join the counterprotest.


    The Middle Tennessee State University (MTSU), where the Nationalist Front plans to hold a torchlit rally on Friday night, has cancelled a student band competition that was meant to take place on Saturday […].


  170. says

    tim @304, so a grand jury has found probable cause that a crime has been committed. That’s big news. But so many details are missing that it’s hard to judge what this means.

    Here’s a response from rightwing doofus and Fox News host, Sean Hannity: “When will Hillary Clinton be indicted?” In another tweet, Hannity accused Mueller of “working hand in hand” with the media. WTF? Hannity also posted this: “Left needs a dramatic change in the narrative!! Uranium One, Fusion GPS dossier, all out this week. This is a distraction! TICK TOCK….”

  171. says

    Follow-up to comments 304 and 305.

    From Jake Tapper:

    Boy it’s almost as if some people knew this was coming so they tried to pour chum in the water to make it dank and murky

    Meanwhile, Trump tweeted about Hillary Clinton.

  172. says

    Follow-up to comments 304, 305 and 306.

    Fox News is sounding desperate. They quoted Trent Franks, a Republican from Arizona:

    The federal code could not be clearer – Mueller is compromised by his apparent conflict of interest in being close with James Comey. The appearance of a conflict is enough to put Mueller in violation of the code. … All of the revelations in recent weeks make the case stronger.

    Chris Christie is sounding he desperate. He also called for Mueller to resign.

  173. says

    Sarah Huckabee Sanders confirmed from the White House podium today that all of the women accusing Trump of sexual assault are liars. Link

    Put that news in context. Harvey Weinstein and others … that kind of context.

  174. says

    NBC News posted a video of Rose McGowan blasting sexual misconduct.

    […] I have been silenced for 20 years. I have been slut-shamed. I have been harassed. I have been maligned. And you know what? I’m just like you. […]

    We are pure and we are strong and we will fight. My name is Rose McGowan, and I am brave, and I am you. […]

    The triggering has been insane. The monster’s face [Weinstein] has been everywhere, my nightmare […]

  175. says

    Follow-up to comments 304, 305, 306, and 307.

    From Rick Wilson:

    Now you know why the horseshit uranium story was getting pushed so hard.

  176. Ogvorbis: Swimming without a parachute. says

    Lynna @ 308:

    Put that news in context. Harvey Weinstein and others … that kind of context.

    Well, Weinstein supported Clinton so he is, by definition, an un-American criminal.

  177. says

    Why is Trump personally interfering in a proposed merger between AT&T and Time Warner (maybe?, possibly? Allegedly?)?

    Roger Stone can tell us:

    When AT&T aquires Time Warner the house cleaning at CNN of human excrement like @donlemon @jaketapper & dumbfuck @ananavarro will be swift

    Background information:

    […] AT&T is currently trying to finalize an $86 billion acquisition of Time Warner. It’s actually behind schedule. […] The companies say they are extending their deadline “for a short period of time to facilitate obtaining final regulatory approval required to close the merger.”

    AT&T needs the Justice Department’s approval for that deal. Normally, that decision would be housed off at the Antitrust Division at the Justice Department. But no one thinks that’s how it works in the Trump Administration. AT&T needs Donald Trump’s sign off, possibly mediated through the hand of Jeff Sessions but maybe not. Indeed, there has already been quite a bit of concern on Capitol Hill that Trump would try to hold up the AT&T deal as a way to exert pressure on Time Warner?

    Why would the President want to pressure Time Warner? Because Time Warner owns CNN. And the White House has already put out word that it wanted to use the deal as a way to place pressure on CNN to rein in its coverage. Senators have pressed the administration to make the decision purely on legitimate antitrust grounds. […] It’s been suggested that to help move things along AT&T might suggest (or perhaps already has suggested) that it will rein in the “fake news” at CNN as a way to get President Trump to Yes. […]

    Do I think AT&T will try to gut CNN? I have no idea. But is Trump pushing for it and grousing and gossiping about it with Roger Stone? I’d say that’s a pretty good bet. And given he’s the President of the United States … well, you know how that sentence ends.

  178. says

    Watch for a really busy news cycle on Monday.

    NBC News is reporting that the first indictment generated by the Grand Jury attached to the investigation of Special Counsel Robert Mueller will be delivered on Monday. Still not clear: Just who is getting this indictment or what charges are attached. […]

    We know what dunderhead Sarah Huckabee Sanders thinks:

    The evidence Clinton campaign, DNC & Russia colluded to influence the election is indisputable

  179. says

    Trump plays the role of whining baby … again. An “Impeach Trump Now” ad was aired during the Fox and Friends show on Friday morning. Trump reacted:

    Wacky & totally unhinged Tom Steyer, who has been fighting me and my Make America Great Again agenda from beginning, never wins elections!

    We already discussed this up-thread, but I wanted to point out that Trump felt it necessary to call Tom Steyer “wacky,” and that Trump then moved on from childish insults to pretending that winning elections is the only thing that counts, that winning is, in fact, a virtue that tops all others.

    At no point did Trump actually refute, (or even address), the facts that Steyer presented.

    If anyone wants to communicate with Trump, just place an ad on Fox News.

  180. says

    Students who were scammed by for-profit colleges may not be able to get student loan debts forgiven after all. Betsy DeVos does not have students’ best interest in mind.

    […] the Education Department is considering only partially forgiving federal loans for students defrauded by for-profit-colleges.

    That would mean abandoning the Obama administration’s policy of fully erasing that debt.

    Tens of thousands of students deceived by now-defunct for-profit schools had over $550 million in such loans canceled completely under President Barack Obama.

    But Education Secretary Betsy DeVos is working on a plan that could grant such students just partial relief. […]

    If DeVos goes ahead, the change could leave many students scrambling after expecting full loan forgiveness, based on the previous administration’s track record. It’s not immediately clear how many students might be affected.


  181. says

    Some of things Trump said when he handed out candy to the children of journalists:

    “I cannot believe the media produced such beautiful children,” he joked, unsmiling. “How the media did this, I don’t know.”

    “Do you know who they are? They’re the friendly media,” he told the children surrounding his desk, pointing to clicking cameras. “That’s the press. Are you crying? Come here, sweetheart.”

    “Are you going to grow up to be like your parents?” the President asked costumed kids to his right. “Mmm,” he wavered. “Don’t answer. That can only get me in trouble, that question.” […]

    “You have no weight problems, that’s the good news, right?” Trump told one child as he passed out the treats.

    “So how does the press treat you? I bet you get treated better by the press than anybody in the world,” he added to another. […]

  182. says

    From an article in The New Yorker titled Weighing the Costs of Speaking Out About Harvey Weinstein: Annabella Sciorra, Daryl Hannah, and other women explain their struggles with going public.

    In March, Annabella Sciorra, who received an Emmy nomination for her role in “The Sopranos,” agreed to talk with me for a story I was reporting about Harvey Weinstein. Speaking by phone, I explained that two sources had told me that she had a serious allegation regarding the producer. Sciorra, however, told me that Weinstein had never done anything inappropriate. Perhaps she just wasn’t his type, she said, with an air of what seemed to be studied nonchalance.

    But, two weeks ago, after The New Yorker published the story, in which thirteen women accused Weinstein of sexual assault and harassment, Sciorra called me. The truth, she said, was that she had been struggling to speak about Weinstein for more than twenty years. She was still living in fear of him, and slept with a baseball bat by her bed. Weinstein, she told me, had violently raped her in the early nineteen-nineties, and, over the next several years, sexually harassed her repeatedly.

    “I was so scared. I was looking out the window of my living room, and I faced the water of the East River,” she said, recalling our initial conversation. “I really wanted to tell you. I was like, ‘This is the moment you’ve been waiting for your whole life. . . .’ ” she said. “I really, really panicked,” she added. “I was shaking. And I just wanted to get off the phone.” […]

    Much more at the link.

  183. blf says

    (Cross-posted from No Greater Strength… at Affinity here at FtB, about Pence’s idiotic & frightening comments on nuclear penis fondling: History attests the surest path to peace is through American strength. There’s no greater element of American strength, there’s no greater force for peace in the world than the United States nuclear arsenal.)

    In today’s paper, Trump team drawing up fresh plans to bolster US nuclear arsenal:

    The Trump administration is working on a nuclear weapons policy that is intended to mark a decisive end to the era of post-cold war disarmament, by bolstering the US arsenal and loosening the conditions under which it would be used.


    The document is still being debated with a target for completion by the end of this year or the beginning of next. Among the new elements under consideration are a low yield ballistic missile […]; a sea-launched cruise missile; a change in language governing conditions in which the US would use nuclear weapons; and investments aimed at reducing the time it would take the US to prepare a nuclear test.


    Like much else about Trump’s presidency [sic], the new policy is aimed at erasing the legacy of his predecessor. Barack Obama began his administration with a major speech in Prague in April 2009, committing the US to disarmament and the eventual elimination of nuclear weapons globally.

    A year after the speech, the US and Russia signed the New Start agreement, restricting both sides to 1,550 deployed strategic warheads and bombs, down by about 30% from previously agreed limits.

    However, the “Prague agenda” petered out. Aspirations to cut the strategic stockpile by another third, unilaterally if necessary, were abandoned in the face of congressional resistance, North Korea’s growing nuclear weapons programme and worsening relations with Russia.


    The Congressional Budget Office is expected to issue a new report on Tuesday that would revise cost estimates for the nuclear weapon modernisation programme approved by Obama from $1tn to $1.25tn over the next three decades.

    That’s trillion with a T!

    “We never really knew where the money was coming from and now it is even less clear,” said Jon Wolfsthal, who was senior director for arms control and nonproliferation in the Obama White House.


  184. blf says

    Oh for feck’s sake, Mississippi students allowed to read To Kill a Mockingbird — with a parent’s note:

    Junior high school students in Biloxi, Mississippi will be allowed after all to read To Kill a Mockingbird […] as part of their regular study — but only with permission from a parent.

    Earlier this month […] administrators pulled the novel from the eighth-grade lesson plan because language in the book “makes people uncomfortable”.

    An email to the newspaper from a reader said the use of the word “[n-word†]” was the reason for the book being pulled. […]


    Jennifer Riley Collins, executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Mississippi, said in a statement:“In a state like Mississippi, where we continue to deal with racial injustices and discrimination even today, it is critical that our students have the opportunity to engage on the themes presented in To Kill a Mockingbird.”

    In a letter to the Biloxi school board, the Mark Twain House and Museum in Hartford, Connecticut offered help in teaching great books that deal with difficult language and subjects in manners now considered outdated.


    “Great literature makes us uncomfortable,” the letter read. “It changes how we think, forcing us to analyze our established points of view.”

      † Redacted so as to not run afoul of poopyhead’s filter.

  185. blf says

    Nothing(?) new about the claims of charge(s?) and possible assert(s?) by Mueller’s team other than some observations, First charges filed in Robert Mueller Russia inquiry — reports:

    Some Republicans called on Friday for Mueller to step down. A former Trump adviser, Sebastian Gorka, who has frequently been a mouthpiece for the president on television, tweeted: If this man’s team executes warrants this weekend he should stripped of his authority … Then HE should be investigated.

    […] There are also mounting concerns among US allies over how the president, besieged at home, would act on the world stage, especially in the western Pacific where there is a worsening nuclear standoff with North Korea.

  186. blf says

    A follow-up to the Shelbyville & Murfreesboro (Tennessee) nazi rallies and counter-protests (see @303 & @318), Tennessee police on high alert but white nationalist rallies pass quietly:

    White nationalists were heavily outnumbered by around 600 counter-protesters during a Saturday afternoon White Lives Matter rally in Murfreesboro […]

    […] Counter-protesters […] had lined routes into town chanting “Murfreesboro loves”, “refugees are welcome here” and “this is what democracy looks like”, chanted “black lives matter” and “na na na na goodbye”.


    The Tennessean later reported that the group which obtained the permit for the Murfreesboro event, the League of the South, had decided not to participate


    We’re not going to back down and be content to be closeted, one Tennessee organizer wrote on the white nationalist blog Occidental Dissent earlier this month. […]

    The Grauniad’s report excerpted above doesn’t say anything about why the one group of nazis apparently didn’t attend. Al Jazeerea reports a rather far-fetch claim by the absent kook group, Neo-Nazi coalition rallies in Tennessee amid pushback:

    At the rally in Shelbyville, the white supremacist demonstrators chanted Jews will not replace us, a slogan that has become commonplace at far-right events in the US.

    A second rally slated to be held in nearby Murfreesboro was reportedly cancelled by organisers. In a Twitter post, the League of the South’s Hunter Wallace said the event was called off because he had intel that it was a lawsuit trap.

    Yeah, sure.
    Al Jazeera’s report goes on to discuss the anti-protestor trend / antics of hair furor and his dalekocracy, but concludes (Al Jazeera’s edits in {curly braces}):

    Against this backdrop, [the author of Antifa: The Anti-Fascist Handbook, Mark] Bray explained, anti-fascist activism has played a crucial role in confronting the swell of white supremacist events since Trump took office.

    “Anti-fascist, anti-racist organising and broader societal pushback have done a pretty good job of depriving {the far right} of the kinds of opportunities for expanding beyond their base,” he said.

    The far-right group Anticom recently cancelled a December 28 torchlit rally dubbed March Against Communism in Charlotte, North Carolina. The alt-right’s Spencer was slated to speak at the event […].

    The Tennessean (Murfreesboro rally canceled as counterprotesters outnumber White Lives Matter activists, see embedded link in the first excerpt from the Grauniad) says there were 800–1000 counter-protestors, “overwhelmingly outnumber[ing]” the c.30(! — yes, just thirty!) nazis. They also report the kooks who didn’t attend have given multiple reasons: The paranoid conspiracy theory reported by Al Jazeera, and that “long security lines in Shelbyville delayed the group”. The dog probably also ate their maps.

  187. blf says

    And more nonsense about language, Académie Française rejects push to make French language less masculine:

    The esteemed [sic] Académie Française — France’s highest authority on matters pertaining to the French language — has warned that proposals to use less masculine terminology pose a mortal danger to the language.

    On Thursday, the Académie Française released a fiery condemnation of attempts to make French more gender-inclusive with new spellings.

    Faced with the aberration of ‘inclusive writing’, the French language finds itself in mortal danger, the statement published on the Académie’s website reads.

    According to French grammatical rules, the masculine takes precedence over the feminine. So while a group of women is referred to with the feminine, if just one man joins their ranks, the entire group is referred to as masculine. In recent years, activists have been pushing to change that. Increasingly, politicians, civil servants, associations and, notably, members of French President Emmanuel Macron’s administration are getting on board and taking care to address, for example, not just « Les Français » but « Les Françaises et les Français ».


    Essentially, the Académie Française says [some evolving writing conventions are] just making things too complicated.

    We find it hard to identify the desired objective and how to overcome the practical obstacles of writing and reading — both visually and out loud — and pronunciation, the Académie Française wrote in its statement.


    [Françoise Vouillot, president of the HCE’s[] “Fight Against Stereotypes” commission] believes that embedded misogyny or gender biases are the real reasons why people are opposed to these changes.

    “I mean, the Académie Française is not exactly a model for inclusion,” Vouillot says.

    The Académie was founded in 1635 but didn’t have a single female member until 1980. Among the 729 members throughout its history, only eight have been women.


    “We want to use language to make women more visible,” Vouillot says.

      † HCE — Le Haut Conseil à l’égalité entre les femmes et les hommes (The High Council for Equality between Women and Men, also known as the High Council for Gender Equality). Here is their short (2 page) presentation in English (PDF).

  188. blf says

    Nicely done, Hail to the chief: cyclist gives Trump the middle finger (photograph at the link):

    The woman on her bike was photographed raising her middle finger when Trump’s cavalcade passed her on its way out from the Trump National Golf Club on the banks of the Potomac river, on the outskirts of Washington DC. She then repeated the gesture when she caught up with the motorcade.

  189. blf says

    In the UK, Anti-abortion Life charity will get cash from UK tampon tax:

    The government has confirmed that it is to award a quarter of a million pounds from an unpopular levy on women’s sanitary products to an anti-abortion organisation […].

    There was an outcry earlier this year after the Observer revealed that £250,000 of the money raised from the so-called tampon tax — the 5% rate of VAT that is levied on sanitary products — would go to Life, a charity that campaigns against abortion.

    The organisation also opposes plans for the expansion of sex education in primary schools and has been at the centre of controversy over the information provided by a network of unregulated pregnancy counselling centres.

    [… A] reply by the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) to a Freedom of Information request has now revealed that the award from a £12m pot will be made, though Life will be prohibited from spending the money on publicity or on its controversial pregnancy counselling and education services.

    Diana Johnson, one of a number of Labour MPs who had pressed the government to review the grant decision, said: “This decision is not in keeping with the spirit of the tampon tax fund, which was intended to improve the lives of disadvantaged women and girls.


    “Many excellent women’s organisations will have lost funding bids to Life. […]”


    Life said: There is no need for ‘prohibition’ on how the grant is used. [… A]ll funds received from the government will be used to support vulnerable women in crisis.

    The DCMS said: […] The grant is for a specific project in west London to support vulnerable, homeless or at-risk pregnant women who ask for their help. […]”

    I obviously don’t believe for a moment either the kooks awarding the tax-obtained money, or the kooks awarded the tax-obtained money.

  190. blf says

    There’s been a brouhaha in Ozland for the last several months over eligibility for elected office. Dual-nationals — that is, people who are citizens of another country in addition to Australia — are apparently constitutionally barred from (some?) elective(?) offices, a requirement which has mostly been overlooked in the past. For whatever reasons, this has recently become an issue, with a number of Ministers and Senators being forced to resign (upheld recently by the courts), which has had at least two effects. One is that, technically, the “government” is now in a minority.

    The other effect is that Malcolm Roberts, the nazi who, e.g., debated Dr Brian Cox about AGW, and ignored all the evidence Dr Cox had brought with him — Why present evidence when the critic ignores evidence? — is one of the dual-national Senators who has been forced to resign. Unsurprisingly, he got quite creative about why he didn’t have to. The Grauniad snarks him, Malcolm Roberts was convinced his beliefs spoke louder than facts:

    It took the high court to do it, but Malcolm Ieuan Roberts has finally been proven wrong.

    The CSIRO[] could not do it. The weather bureau could not do it. Australia’s, nay, the world’s greatest scientific minds could not do it.

    No. If Malcolm Roberts, so often the smartest man in the room, was going to be proved wrong, it would take an intellect equal to his own.

    So in the end, Malcolm Roberts took down Malcolm Roberts.

    After offering excuses so dense that light could bend around them, Roberts was eventually undone by a failure to understand his own background.

    He didn’t need to, he told us, because he chose to believe he was only ever Australian.

    Despite being born in India to a Welsh father. Despite first stepping foot on Australian soil only when old enough to not only feed and dress himself, but walk, talk and complete complex thoughts. Despite having a document which conferred Australian citizenship.

    But as Roberts has so frequently proved during the 423 days he spent in the Australian Senate, facts mean nothing when you believe.

    The man who has the great climate hoax figured out, who knows the secrets of the world banking system and who uses the word empirical like a child who has learnt to swear believed an email asking am I still British would be enough to prove his righteousness.

    The man who responded to queries into his due diligence with screams of witch hunt loud enough to reach Salem, who demands transparency and facts and signed blood oaths in response to every question he asks, refused to show a single document he swore would prove doubters wrong.

    Instead, the man who claims to speak for the people, but views the world through a pinhole so narrow that light would struggle to shine through, demanded the taxpayer prove what was already known by just the barest perusal of the facts.

    Even at the end, Roberts refused to admit he was wrong. Only that the court had found him so. The facts […] weren’t assembled in my mind where I could see it all logically.

    That might actually be true. He has no known understanding of logic, facts, or the coherent presentation of such.

      † CSIRO — Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation, Ozland’s scientific research agency. Teh eejit had a meeting with them to, allegedly, prove to him AGW is real. He claimed they didn’t blah blah blah…

  191. blf says

    It must be Granuiad snarking season, Is this the night of the living dead? No, it’s Britain’s Brexit team:

    The EU couldn’t have picked a better PM and her crack troops to lead Britain out of Europe

    The Tories are at pains to make sure that Brexit is being done by the book; sadly, that book is Lord of the Flies. If the EU had created Brexit as a deliberate The Producers-style disaster to demonstrate how difficult it was to leave, they’d probably have been tempted to tone down the casting.


    [Brexit Minister David] Davis has suggested that MPs will have a vote on Brexit but only after Britain has left the EU. What a great country we are. So confident in our democracy that we’re willing to have a vote about an event that happened months before. […]


    The EU is probably broadly supportive of [UK PM Theresa] May. It’s good to have a weak, embattled PM, as the less capable they look of being able to handle negotiations, the greater the domestic panic and the easier it will be to justify a divorce bill to the public. It seems that everybody wants Theresa May to be prime minister, with the exception of a majority of the electorate, and herself.

    Chris Heaton-Harris MP has sent letters to universities asking them to list the names of the people who lecture on Brexit. He’s been accused of McCarthyism, but defended his move, saying he was only looking for information as he was planning to write a book, presumably entitled something like First Up Against the Wall.

    Brexiters have always been keen on rooting out heretics. [Nasty party MP] Jacob Rees-Mogg called the Bank of England governor, Mark Carney, an enemy of Brexit. Rees-Mogg’s other enemies include the Jacobites, the concept of Progress and Velcro. Rees-Mogg is an imperial C-3PO […]. Yet he serves a sinister purpose: as an outlier to provide a context in which [hair furor-lite UK FM Boris] Johnson seems a plausible prime minister. Many voters are complacent about Rees-Mogg, maybe because they feel like any minute now he’s going to be arrested by Poirot.

    Indeed, one of the consolations of Brexit for the Tories is that it has drawn the eye away from one of the more ghoulish cabinets in recent history, packed with figures who are able to go out on Halloween as themselves. […]

    [… One] reason governments like wars — there’s very little for them to do: delivery is entirely performed by someone else. Also, consequences usually have a kind of time-lapse. PFI [private finance initiative] contracts, or even the destabilisation of Iraq, might take a decade or more to become truly toxic, by which time the politicians involved will hope to have moved into the private sector.

    With Brexit, the whole country might implode within about nine months. This is why the Tories are behaving like a besieged rat colony: they actually have to do something and are being confronted with the novelty of immediate consequences. […]

  192. blf says

    An army of fake Twitter accounts invades Ireland. Why? (Irish Times’ edits in {curly braces}):

    At the end of August, the RTÉ [Ireland’s “BBC” –blf] broadcaster Philip Boucher-Hayes noticed something strange happening to his Twitter account. His popularity started to climb, rapidly.

    Ordinarily, his followers might increase by 100 to 150 a week. “[… S]uddenly at the end of August I started getting 10 times the number of followers, this huge, huge leap. […] It had gone from 150 to 1,500. Last week there were 1,991 {new followers}.

    “I didn’t suddenly become 10 times more interesting between the end of August and the beginning of September. There’s nothing above board that explains that.”

    There are mutterings on what can loosely be described as “Irish Twitter” about the growth of spam or “bot” accounts, as several high-profile Irish Twitter accounts have observed a marked increase in their followers, and a disproportionate number of accounts following them that look suspicious — primarily accounts that have Irish-sounding names but no profile photos, no tweets, and sometimes with eight digits following their account name.

    That sounds awfully familiar.

    Dr Iulia Cioroianu is a research fellow at the Q-Step Centre for Quantitative Social Sciences at the University of Exeter. With Prof Susan Banducci, she conducts research on political information exposure on social networks.

    “Our understanding is that they are strategically generated and managed by actors that have certain interests,” Dr Cioroianu says of large numbers of bot accounts.

    In the multiple unknowns of the current Irish context, these interests could be commercial, political, social, or just plain disruptive for the sake of it. […]


    “What we have noticed is often times these automated accounts may not be to support a particular political actor, but to create contentious arguments to keep the debate going on topics that are seen as very divisive topics,” Dr Cioroianu says. “What we call in political science, social policy topics{…} participating in conversations about abortion, gun control, gay marriage{…} These would be the ones that are strong and hot social issues in the US, and you do see a lot of bot activity on these issues.

    “It’s the same thing on Facebook,” she says. “Bots on Facebook are participating in conversations not necessarily linked to a political actor, but on ideologically divisive topics. The idea is that they are trying to increase the gap between people who may be on different sides of the debate. They are trying to increase the level of divisiveness on the issue.”


    From a researcher’s perspective on this Irish context, the fact that people are noticing potential bots or potential spam accounts (if that’s what they are) before they are activated (if that’s what’s ahead), is unusual.


    Boucher-Hayes is waiting to see what the accounts do next, saying he “came to the conclusion that somebody somewhere is doing this on an industrial scale. What purpose they’re doing it for, I don’t know. It’s as likely to be something commercial as it is political. There is an army of these accounts now sitting there. Since August, in the region of 20,000.”

    Twitter, of course, issued a bland says-nothing statement which (as quoted by the Irish Times) is mostly about how many actively-being-used — not the case here, this flood of fake “Irish” accounts is sofar inactive (can you say miss the point?) — dubious accounts they allegedly detect. Without any context, such as an estimated percentage of the dubious accounts which are detected.

  193. blf says

    Roger Stone’s twittering account has been suspended, Trump ally Roger Stone suspended from Twitter:

    His suspension came hours after he used abusive and homophobic language to target journalists, including a gay CNN presenter, Don Lemon.

    Mr Stone has said he will sue Twitter for blocking his account.

    The Washington Post discusses why, CNN broke news in the Russia probe. Roger Stone’s resulting rant got him yanked off Twitter.:

    [… M]aybe it wasn’t the words themselves but rather the sheer quantity of them — tweet after foul, aggressive tweet all night — that finally led Twitter to yank @RogerJStoneJr.

    The company rarely comments when it takes action against individual accounts, but it pointed BuzzFeed to its policies against abuse, harassment and intimidation — three words that Stone has been accused of many times in his political career.


    Stone launched his last tweetstorm after the network reported that someone was likely to be arrested in [Mueller’s] investigation “as soon as Monday” […]


    He blasted [sic] Lemon and other reporters for lying, for fake news, and for not digging into Democratic scandals. And the insults flew.

    That’s also a description of hair furor!

    Whatever caused the suspension, Stone has been skirting notions of propriety since he worked for Richard Nixon in the 1970s, and he promptly fell back to supplementary Twitter accounts to keep yelling at people on Friday.

    I have been informed that my main account has been suspended for 3 hours and 12 minutes. Sometimes the stark truth offends some people. I’ll be baaaaaack…

    He said his main account would be back online within a few hours on Saturday. On Sunday morning, it remained dark with no explanation.

    Now Stone, between curses and insults, celebrates himself as a martyr to censorship, and the conspiracy theorist [Alex Jones] warns of dark times to come.


  194. KG says


    A referendum on the constitutional ban on abortion is scheduled in the Irish Republic next May or June. Seems possible these bots are being put in place to try and sway the result.

  195. says

    I went to be social for a couple of days and missed about 10 major news stories. So CNN’s indictment report has been confirmed by several other outlets, but not by NYT or WaPo, which is surprising. One detail added in subsequent reports is that someone (possibly more than one person) will be arrested or turn themselves in tomorrow (video simulation).

    Trump had a Twitter meltdown this morning:

    “Never seen such Republican ANGER & UNITY as I have concerning the lack of investigation on Clinton made Fake Dossier (now $12,000,000?),….” “…the Uranium to Russia deal, the 33,000 plus deleted Emails, the Comey fix and so much more. Instead they look at phony Trump/Russia,….” “…’collusion’, which doesn’t exist. The Dems are using this terrible (and bad for our country) Witch Hunt for evil politics, but the R’s…” “…are now fighting back like never before. There is so much GUILT by Democrats/Clinton, and now the facts are pouring out. DO SOMETHING!” “All of this ‘Russia’ talk right when the Republicans are making their big push for historic Tax Cuts & Reform. Is this coincidental? NOT!”

    Jeanine Pirro on Fox called for the Mueller investigation to be shut down and for Clinton to be locked up. Republicans aren’t racing to step forward and condemn these remarks (or Trump’s open interference with the DoJ) or state plainly what they’ll do if Trump tries to fire Mueller.

  196. says

    In response to an absurd WSJ editorial* calling on Mueller to resign, Joe Scarborough tweeted:

    “There are no words to describe how disgraceful and dangerous this coordinated attack against Robert Mueller is.”

    “This last week has revealed those who have frantically put loyalty to Trump above America’s rule of law. A defining moment in US history.”

    * It suggests: “Two pertinent questions: Did the dossier trigger the FBI probe of the Trump campaign, and did Mr. Comey or his agents use it as evidence to seek wiretapping approval from the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court of Trump campaign aides?” No, we know from congressional testimony what triggered the FBI investigation: CIA intercepts of Russian officials and agents talking about their contacts with the Trump campaign. No, because unverified information like that can’t be used as evidence to obtain a FISA warrant.

  197. says

    “These 13 Wire Transfers Are A Focus Of The FBI Probe Into Paul Manafort”:

    …BuzzFeed News has learned that investigators have been scrutinizing at least 13 wire transfers between 2012 and 2013. The transfers were first flagged by US financial institutions, which are required by law to tell an office within the Treasury Department about any transactions they deem suspicious….

    Bank officers flagged unusual behavior among five offshore companies that authorities say are associated with Manafort: Global Endeavour Inc., Lucicle Consultants Ltd., and three others that appear to have no current contact information.

    Law enforcement sources say the companies sent funds in round-dollar amounts without explanation of what the money was to be used for. The countries where these transactions originated — notably Cyprus and the Caribbean nation of St. Vincent and the Grenadines — are notorious for money laundering. Federal law enforcement officials said they saw evidence of “layering,” the process by which the origin of money is obscured behind many layers of companies. Much of the money ended up in the US, sent to home improvement contractors, a hedge fund, and even a car dealership.

    Manafort’s suspicious financial transactions were first flagged by Treasury officials as far back as 2012 and forwarded to the FBI’s International Corruption Unit and the Department of Justice for further investigation in 2013 and 2014, a former Treasury official who worked on the matter told BuzzFeed News. The extent of Manafort’s suspicious transactions was so vast, said this former official, that law enforcement agents drafted a series of “intelligence reports” about Manafort’s financial dealings. Two law enforcement officials who worked on the case say that they found red flags in his banking records going back as far as 2004, and that the transactions in question totaled many millions of dollars….

    The specific transactions BuzzFeed describes are, typically for Manafort, almost comically shady.

  198. says

    ” Trump, Assange, Bannon, Farage… bound together in an unholy alliance”:

    …Because if there’s one person who’s in the middle of all of this, but who has escaped any proper scrutiny, it’s Nigel Farage. That’s Nigel Farage, who led the Leave.EU campaign, which is being investigated by the Electoral Commission alongside Cambridge Analytica, about whether the latter made an “impermissible donation” of services to the leave campaign. Nigel Farage who visited Donald Trump and then Julian Assange. Who is friends with Steve Bannon and Robert Mercer. Who headed an organisation – Ukip – which has multiple, public, visible but almost entirely unreported Russian connections. Who is paid by the Russian state via the broadcaster RT, which was banned last week from Twitter. And who appears like clockwork on British television without any word of this.

    This is a power network that involves WikiLeaks and Farage, and Cambridge Analytica and Farage, and Robert Mercer and Farage. Steve Bannon, former vice president of Cambridge Analytica, and Farage. It’s Nigel Farage and Brexit and Trump and Cambridge Analytica and WikiLeaks… and, if the Senate intelligence committee and the House intelligence committee and the FBI are on to anything at all, somewhere in the middle of all that, Russia.

    Try to follow this on a daily basis and it’s one long headspin: a spider’s web of relationships and networks of power and patronage and alliances that spans the Atlantic and embraces data firms, thinktanks and media outlets….

    Yet it’s also quite simple. In a well-functioning democracy, a well-functioning press and a well-functioning parliament would help a well-functioning judiciary do its job. Britain is not that country. There is a vacuum where questions should be, the committees, the inquiries, the headlines on the TV bulletins….

  199. says

    I agree – this is totally batshit. WSJ editorial:

    …Mr. Trump can end this madness by immediately issuing a blanket presidential pardon to anyone involved in supposed collusion with Russia or Russians during the 2016 presidential campaign, to anyone involved with Russian acquisition of an American uranium company during the Obama administration, and to anyone for any offense that has been investigated by Mr. Mueller’s office. Political weaponization of criminal law should give way to a politically accountable democratic process. Nefarious Russian activities, including possible interference in U.S. elections, can and should be investigated by Congress….

  200. says

    The NYT article report on the indictments links to their piece about Gates from June:

    …In the spring of 2016, when Mr. Trump found himself outmaneuvered in the arcane battle for Republican convention delegates, he turned to Mr. Manafort. Mr. Gates came along as his deputy — the man behind the man in charge. In a campaign known for its factionalism, Mr. Gates won over colleagues by managing the mundane but essential work of daily operations. He traveled often with Mr. Trump and forged relationships with Reince Priebus, the future chief of staff, and Brad Parscale, the campaign’s digital director.

    “What made him valuable was, people trusted him, No. 1, and No. 2, he was effective,” said Richard F. Hohlt, a longtime Republican lobbyist who worked on Mr. Trump’s inaugural committee.

    Those ties enabled Mr. Gates to outlast his mentor last summer, when Mr. Manafort was ousted. Mr. Gates moved to the Republican National Committee, helping iron out joint fund-raising agreements and other contracts with Mr. Trump’s campaign.

    Mr. Gates was soon established in Mr. Trump’s circle. Before the first presidential debate, he glad-handed with Michael T. Flynn, Mr. Trump’s top security adviser — now also a subject of the federal investigations — and Sheldon Adelson, the billionaire casino mogul. At an election night party, Mr. Gates hit it off with Thomas J. Barrack Jr., the wealthy Los Angeles investor, who hired Mr. Gates to help run Mr. Trump’s inaugural.

    After Mr. Trump was sworn in, Mr. Gates joined Mr. Parscale and other Trump aides to raise $25 million for a new pro-Trump group, America First Policies. Mr. Gates lined up office space adjacent to the Willard Hotel, a Washington power-breakfast spot, and became a frequent visitor to the White House, hoping to join the new Trump era elite.

    But his work in Ukraine cast a long shadow. Amid the Russia investigations, reports on Mr. Manafort’s work for Mr. Deripaska rattled colleagues at America First Policies. Mr. Gates was let go….

    Gates was Manafort’s business deputy, so this could be related to that. At the same time, though, much of that business was with Deripaska and the like, so that wouldn’t be at all far afield from the Russia investigation.

  201. says

    Here’s the statement:

    Paul J. Manafort, Jr., 68, of Alexandria, Va., and Richard W. Gates III, 45, of Richmond, Va., have been indicted by a federal grand jury on Oct. 27, 2017, in the District of Columbia. The indictment contains 12 counts: conspiracy against the United States, conspiracy to launder money, unregistered agent of a foreign principal, false and misleading FARA statements, false statements, and seven counts of failure to file reports of foreign bank and financial accounts.

    The full 31-page indictment is here.

  202. says

    I was right a few weeks ago: on page 10, in the list of vendors to whom Manafort illegally transferred funds to pay for personal purchases is “Vendor E (Men’s Clothing Store in New York).” That explains why they took pictures of the suits in his closet.

  203. says

    Wow – the FBI’s Papadopoulos affadavit. Page 7 quotes from an email he sent to one of his three Russian contacts on July 14, 2016, about a possible meeting in London between Trump campaign and Putin representatives, saying “It has been approved from our side.” Page 11 quotes another from July 21, 2016, to the same contact, which reads in part “Keep an eye on the speech tonight. Should be good.”

  204. blf says

    Related to @345, Breitbart apparently all-but-owns Ukip, the UK’s nazi party, Ukip whistleblowers raised fears about Breitbart influence on Brexit:

    Sources tell Guardian that senior ‘volunteers’ in Ukip before EU referendum were paid by the rightwing US website

    Two internal Ukip whistleblowers filed complaints to the UK’s Electoral Commission over fears the party was making “unusual arrangements” with a pro-Trump website in the months before the 2016 EU referendum, the Guardian has learned.

    The concerns included allegations that individuals who were being paid by Breitbart, a rightwing American news organisation, were working as senior unpaid Ukip volunteers, raising questions in their minds about whether their work could be construed as an indirect political donation by a foreign donor, according to sources who spoke to the Guardian on the condition of anonymity.

    One whistleblower told the Guardian that concerns that the party was turning to “off-balance-sheet financing”, possibly in violation of UK rules, prompted the decision to turn to the electoral commission.


    Steve Bannon, who has a close relationship with the former Ukip leader Nigel Farage, served as executive chair of Breitbart at the time. Bannon later became Donald Trump’s campaign adviser and served as White House strategist until August, when he left the White House and returned to Breitbart.


    Farage has often praised Breitbart for its support of Brexit, saying the 23 June referendum would not have gone in favour of the leave campaign without the news website’s “supportive voice”.


    Multiple sources who spoke to the Guardian on the condition of anonymity said that they were alarmed by what they viewed as a “deliberate strategy” by Breitbart to wield influence over Ukip in ways that emphasised views against migrants and other far-right positions.


    Sources pointed to Farage’s close relationship with Bannon and Breitbart, and work that was performed by a lawyer, Matthew Richardson, who served as party secretary for Ukip and was close to Bannon.

    In one case, according to people familiar with the matter, Richardson suggested in late 2014 that ahead of the general election Ukip could make use of the services of a US-based electoral data company, Voter Gravity, that would not have to be paid for by Ukip and would be provided as a donation-in-kind.

    The offer was declined, according to sources.

    Voter Gravity is a company that promises to “turn data into votes”, according to its website. It was founded by conservative US political operative Ned Ryun, who is also a regular contributor to Breitbart.


    Raheem Kassam was also seen as a link between Ukip and Breitbart. Kassam, who now heads Breitbart London, also worked as a key adviser to Farage. According to a 2015 report in the Spectator, it was Bannon who saw Kassam as a rising star of the British right, and approached Kassam, who was active online, as an “ideal apprentice”.

    Asked about his financial ties to Breitbart and Ukip, Kassam told the Guardian: You realise your line of questioning is actually much more applicable to the BBC than us, right?


  205. blf says

    Westminster Abbey in London is a temple to the deity Shiva, with official kooks calling for not only a Muslim travel ban in India, but also a prayer ban, plus hints of corruption, and at the Taj Mahal! (Sorry, that sounds a bit like the “plot” of a Dan Brown “thriller”.) Hardline Hindu nationalists campaign against Taj Mahal:

    Critics of the Taj Mahal are also growing increasingly bold. In past months, religious nationalists in the Hindu-majority country have stepped up a campaign to push the four-century-old Mughal monument to the margins of Indian history. One legislator recently kicked up a national storm when he labelled the tomb “a blot”.

    Resentment at the fact the country’s most recognisable monument was built by a Muslim emperor has always existed on the fringes of the Hindu right. But those fringes have never been so powerful.

    Attacks on the monument, a lifeline for its home state of Uttar Pradesh, have grown so loud that last week the state chief minister — himself a critic of the Taj — was forced into “a day-long exercise in damage control”, one newspaper said.


    Before he was appointed chief minister of Uttar Pradesh in February, Adityanath was best known for his fiery anti-Muslim rhetoric. He spent 11 days in jail in 2007 for inciting religious tension […], and has called for India to replicate Donald Trump’s Muslim travel ban.


    A tourism brochure recently published by his government omitted any mention of the Taj, but listed Hindu pilgrimage locations including the temple in eastern Uttar Pradesh where Adityanath serves as head priest.


    Fuelling the controversy are the writings of a fringe historian, PN Oak, whose works were dismissed for decades but are enjoying new prominence among Hindu hardliners.

    Oak claimed that much of the world was once ruled by an ancient Hindu empire, that the English language is a dialect of Sanskrit, and that Westminster Abbey is, in reality, a temple to the deity Shiva.

    The Taj too, he argued, was originally a Shiva temple built by the maharajah of Jaipur, and initially named the Tejo Mahalaya.

    His theory has been cited by several BJP legislators this month to cast doubt on the provenance of the monument. A dozen students were arrested at the Taj last week for offering prayers to Shiva on its grounds.

    Historians are frustrated by the debate. “It is absolutely wrong and absurd,” says R Nath, a leading historian on the architecture of the Mughal era.


    It was hoped that Adityanath’s about-face on the monument and his official visit last Thursday would mark the end of this latest storm. But the day after, the history wing of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh, a leading Hindu nationalist umbrella group, publicly called for Muslims to be banned from praying at the Taj site.

    [Vishal] Sharma, the Agra tourism chamber secretary, is watching the continuing controversy with concern. “Whenever there’s unrest, even just reports of unrest, it affects tourism. The Taj brings in lots of foreign currency and even the domestic tourism is quite a lot,” he says.

    “If they had to pick a side,” he adds, “Agra people would choose the Taj Mahal over this government.”

  206. says

    Manafort and Gates both pleaded not guilty. Both got home release with daily check-in and have to surrender their passports. Papadopoulos can’t leave the US and had to surrender his passport.

    From a WaPo report on Papadopoulos: “In court filings, prosecutors quote from an email Papadopoulos sent to a campaign supervisor about his interactions with the professor in March. The email appears to match one described to The Washington Post in August in which Papadopoulos identified the professor with whom he met as Joseph Mifsud, the director of the London Academy of Diplomacy. The email was among more than 20,000 pages of documents the Trump campaign turned over to congressional committees after review by White House and defense lawyers.”

    Pretty awkward for Mifsud.

  207. blf says

    The Russia scandal has gone from phony war to heavy shelling:

    Indictments do strange things inside a White House. They twist the minds of an already neurotic nest of frenemies, turning suspicions into paranoia, press leaks into prosecutorial intelligence and financial concerns into colossal legal bills.

    Normal life ceases (if it ever existed) for everyone from the president down, as the indictments grow in number, the grand juries call ever more witnesses, and impeachment looms ever closer.

    Welcome to the first year of the Trump presidency [sic], in which our protagonists have already proved themselves wholly incompetent in a succession of crises. There may be Black Sea ferries that leak as much the Trump White House, but they still run a tighter ship than this gang. Lest we forget, this is a president who wanted Anthony “the Mooch” Scaramucci to run his clean-up operation.


    We just moved far beyond the false equivalence with Hillary Clinton’s private email server, which so dominated the media coverage of her campaign, the final days of the election and a significant proportion of presidential tweets forevermore.

    It turns out that “mistakes” on legal disclosure forms, “misremembering” facts in front of federal agents, and distracting “stories” on Fox News do not constitute much of a legal case against the Federal Bureau of Investigation, and its former director Robert Mueller, who now enjoys the title of special counsel.


    Maybe, just maybe, it wasn’t such a great idea to try to stop the Russia investigation by firing the FBI director who succeeded Mueller. Across the street from the White House, at FBI headquarters, they might consider that obstruction of justice.


    There are many ways you could describe this sequence of events [chronicled in the indictments]. Collusion would be the mildest word. There are also many ways that Trump and his inner circle have flatly lied about such collusion. In addition to being tired of winning, America might now be tired of hearing such lies.


    Trump attempted to claim that the news about Manafort and Gates was so much blah blah before Paul Manafort was part of the Trump campaign.

    Nice try, Mr President [sic].
    For now, let’s just focus on the essential promise of the Trump campaign.

    Even more than making America great again, Trump talked endlessly about his corrupt opponent. He trashed Clinton at every turn for her emails, warning gravely that her presidency would be crippled by FBI investigations, especially in the closing days of the contest.

    Lock her up was the rallying cry of his entire general election, based on this supposedly serious FBI inquiry.

    Only now, the shackles are on the other foot. We always knew that Trump accused others of his own failings. Even Lyin’ Ted Cruz, in a rare moment of honesty, accurately described Trump as a pathological liar and a serial philanderer.

    Now Trump can serve out the remainder of this presidency [sic] living the life he predicted for Hillary Clinton. Making his final case to the voters before his election, Trump said the FBI investigations would trigger an unprecedented and protracted constitutional crisis because of a criminal massive enterprise and cover-ups like probably nobody ever before.

    He’s rarely been so right and so wrong at the same time.

  208. says

    As expected, team Trump is distancing itself from George Papadopoulos by saying that he was just “an unpaid volunteer” for the campaign.

    However, as Steve Benen points out:

    George Papadopoulos spent nearly a year as a foreign policy adviser to Donald Trump’s presidential campaign, and during his tenure, he interacted with foreign nationals with ties to the Russian government – who claimed to have “dirt” on Hillary Clinton they wanted to share.

    From NBC News’ report:

    The professor introduced Papadopoulos to a Russian who said he was close to officials at the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs who then spoke with Papadopoulos over Skype about laying the groundwork for a meeting between the campaign and officials in Moscow. […]

    Papadopoulos, 30, communicated with a “campaign supervisor” about his attempts to broker a meeting with the Russians to discuss U.S.-Russia ties during a Trump presidency, the court papers say.

    “Great work,” the supervisor, who was not named in the documents, told him in an email. […]

    Just a few days before Inauguration Day, for example, CBS’s John Dickerson asked Mike Pence, “Did any adviser or anybody in the Trump campaign have any contact with the Russians who were trying to meddle in the election?”

    The vice president-elect responded at the time, “Of course not.”

    […] when reports first surfaced that Russia was in talks with Team Trump during Russia’s election crimes, the response from the Republican camp was categorical: those communications simply did not happen. Even after Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov acknowledged that “there were contacts” between the Russian government and Trump’s campaign team ahead of Nov. 8, Team Trump kept insisting otherwise.

    Indeed, Trump and his aides left no wiggle room on the subject. Kellyanne Conway, asked about the possibility of these communications between the Republican campaign and Russians, said, “Absolutely not.” She added the conversations “never happened” and any suggestions to the contrary “undermine our democracy.” […]

    Bullshitter in Chief and his team have been caught lying again. I don’t think Trump can tweet his way out of this.

  209. says

    Team Trump is all trying to blame the FBI for not warning them about letting a bunch of criminals work on the campaign.

    From Corey Lewandowski:

    If the public reports are true, and there was a time where Paul Manafort was under a FISA warrant before coming to the Trump campaign, why is it the FBI never reached out to me as the campaign manager, never reached out to Donald Trump, and said: “Look, you might want to pause for a second and take a look before you bring this guy on board as a volunteer to hunt delegates to you.”


    From Steve Benen:

    […] I see. So, it’s not Trump World’s fault they hired a suspected criminal to lead Trump’s political operation; it’s federal law enforcement’s fault for not discouraging Trump World.

    Given what we know about this presidency, the argument isn’t exactly compelling. Team Trump knew Michael Flynn was under investigation, for example, but the president made him White House National Security Advisor anyway. […]

    More unpersuasive arguments from team Trump:

    The White House is seeking to distance President Donald Trump from the indictments of two former campaign officials, claiming that the charges have nothing to do with Trump’s campaign or his presidency.

    These claims, which track with the Trump administration’s earlier attempts to inoculate the President from his former campaign chairman Paul Manafort and former Trump campaign official Rick Gates, set up the argument that the President’s successful campaign was staffed by people with criminal ties, but did not engage in criminal behavior itself. Both Manafort and Gates were indicated by special counsel Robert Mueller on Monday.

    White House press secretary Sarah Sanders said Monday’s actions from the special counsel have “nothing to do with the President, nothing to do with the President’s campaign or campaign activity” and proves there is “no evidence of Trump-Russia collusion.” […]

  210. blf says

    Related to @373, Alec Luhn twits, “London Centre of Int’l Law Practice deleted page on Joseph Mifsud, who likely is ‘professor’ connecting Trump-Moscow”. I can confirm the page is no longer present but is in Generalissimo Google’s cache.

    I didn’t see anything particular interesting in that cached CV, other than he claims experience in every area of the world (except Antarctica†), has heavy involvement in Malta, and claims expertise in Russia and relations with Russia.

      † I suspect he just forgot about Antarctica — the CV does, to me, read like that, trum-pratian but literate. Also, whilst Latin Americas isn’t listed per se, he does claim OAS experience.

  211. says

    Trump’s personal attorney stops denying collusion with Russia and starts defending it.

    […] Jay Sekulow discussed the plea of George Papadopoulos, a Trump campaign national security adviser, who admitted he lied to the FBI about conversations he had with a professor acting as an intermediary between the Trump campaign and the Russian government.

    According to Sekulow, there was absolutely nothing wrong with Papadopoulos having these conversations. His only error was lying about the conversations to the FBI.

    Sekulow said he was “not concerned” about Papadopoulos because the charge against him “was about a false statement about a time about when he talked to somebody about Russian activities.”

    The conversation in question was between Papadopoulos and a professor with “substantial connections with Russian government officials” about “thousands of emails” the Russian government stole from Hillary Clinton’s campaign. Papadopoulos lied to the FBI when he claimed this conversation happened before the campaign and was unrelated to his role in the campaign. Papadopoulos subsequently attempted to arrange a meeting between the Trump campaign and Russian officials — activity that the campaign authorized.

    Sekulow said that the underlying conversation between Papadopoulos and the Russian government cutout was not “illegal or inappropriate.”

    In other words, Sekulow is defending the Trump campaign’s discussions with a Russian intermediary to damage the campaign of Hillary Clinton with stolen emails.[…]

  212. says

    Another example of incompetence that is a basic component of team Trump:

    Another one of […] Trump’s judicial nominees — this time, to the powerful appellate courts — has been deemed “not qualified” by the American Bar Association.

    Leonard Steven Grasz was nominated in August to fill a vacancy on the U.S. Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals and has his confirmation hearing in the Senate Judiciary Committee this week. But in a letter to the Senate Judiciary Committee obtained by POLITICO, the American Bar Association says members of its standing committee unanimously concluded, with one person abstaining, that he was not qualified to serve as a federal judge. […]

    Grasz is the second judicial nominee from Trump to get a “not qualified” label from the bar association; the first was Charles Goodwin, who has been nominated to a district court in Oklahoma.

    The Trump White House, in tandem with Senate Republicans, are undertaking an ambitious effort to remake the federal judiciary, particularly in the circuit courts that are the final call for the vast majority of cases that never reach the Supreme Court.

    The Republican-controlled Senate has already installed four of Trump’s appellate picks and is on track to confirm four more in the next several days, starting with Amy Coney Barrett, a Notre Dame law professor who has been nominated for the 7th Circuit.


  213. blf says

    Please note that, at the moment, this is unconfirmed, Catalan leaders facing rebellion charges ‘flee to Belgium’:

    Carles Puigdemont and members of his cabinet may seek asylum or set up government in exile, according to reports

    Catalonia’s ousted president and several members of his deposed cabinet are reported to have fled to Belgium hours before Spain’s attorney general asked for charges of rebellion, sedition and misuse of public funds to be brought against them over their decision to declare independence last week.

    Shortly after the possible charges were announced on Monday, Spanish media reported that Carles Puigdemont and five of his former ministers had driven to Marseilles and then caught a flight to Brussels. There was speculation they could be intending to set up a government in exile or claim asylum.

    Apropos, possibly, of nothing much, Barcelona–Marseilles is quite a drive (c.500km, or at least 5 hours), so I’m a bit skeptical due to the timing.

    Spanish government officials said Puigdemont was in Brussels but a spokeswoman for his Catalan Democratic party (PDeCat) would not confirm his whereabouts.


  214. says

    Trump tweeted:

    Report out that Obama Campaign paid $972,000 to Fusion GPS. The firm also got $12,400,000 (really?) from DNC. Nobody knows who OK’d!

    Analysis from Louis Nelson:

    […] The president’s online post does not link to a specific story but appears to be a reference to The Federalist’s report that Obama for America paid $972,772 to Perkins Coie, an international law firm.

    The Washington Post reported last week that both the Democratic National Committee and Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign paid millions to Perkins Coie, which in turn paid Fusion GPS, the firm behind the unconfirmed dossier alleging collusion between the Kremlin and the Trump campaign.

    The Federalist’s story has gained significant traction within conservative circles, but Trump’s summary of its reporting offers a conclusion not reached in the story: that Obama’s campaign organization had funded the dossier. The Federalist report, which is based on publicly available Federal Election Commission reports, shows only that Obama for America funds went to Perkins Coie, classified as “legal services,” not that that money was then funneled to Fusion GPS. […]

    Wouldn’t be the first time that Trump proved that he cannot read for comprehension.

  215. says

    Another identification, this one from Isikoff: “But they quote one unidentified campaign ‘supervisor’ as emailing him in August 2016 that ‘I would encourage you’ to make a trip to Moscow to arrange such a meeting. A Trump campaign source identified the supervisor as Sam Clovis, a conservative radio host who was co-chairman of the campaign.”

  216. blf says

    The conclusion of this analysis is perhaps worth noting, Russia inquiry charges: how close does this get to Trump?:

    As the news of the indictments rolled in, Trump tried to play down their significance — but the details revealed in the charge sheet are damning

    [… T]he odds on the special counsel’s investigation leading to Trump’s downfall just shortened again. People will talk. Matthew Miller, a former justice department spokesman, tweeted: “Mueller’s choreographed one-two punch today sends a signal to every Trump official: cooperate & get a good deal or resist & get hammered.”

  217. says


    Supervisor – Clovis
    High-ranking official – Manafort

    Hennessey points out that “This leaves one campaign ‘Senior Policy Advisor’ unidentified in indictment.”

  218. blf says

    Teh eejits in the Saudi Arabian led boycott of Qatar are sounding more and more like “Dr No”‘s DUP in N.Ireland — no, no, no, no, no, you must, must, must do it our, our! way!! — Bahrain to boycott summits attended by Qatar: King:

    The king of Bahrain has said his country will not take part in any summit or meeting attended by Qatar unless Doha corrects its approach […]


    Bahraini King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa on Monday said that Qatar had shown that it did not respect the treaties and charters that the Gulf Corporation Council (GCC) was founded upon, according to BNA, the kingdom’s official news agency.

    As long as Qatar continues this approach, the Kingdom of Bahrain cannot participate in any GCC Summit or meeting attended by Qatar unless it corrects its approach, comes to its senses, and responds to the demands of the countries that suffered so much from its policies, he said during his weekly cabinet meeting in the capital, Manama.


    His comments came a day after the Bahraini Foreign Minister Khalid al-Khalifa called for the suspension of Qatar’s membership from the GCC until it responds to the demands of the four blockading countries.

    Separately on Monday, the Bahraini king also issued a directive to impose visas on Qatari nationals planning to visit the tiny kingdom. Previously, Qataris could enter Bahrain by showing their identity cards.

    The king said that the new visa policy, which only applies to Qatar and not to the other GCC countries, is part of Bahrain’s efforts to preserve the security and the safety of the kingdom, according to BNA.

    The move came a day after a US news broadcaster aired an interview with the emir of Qatar, in which he stressed he will not bow to pressure from the blockading countries.

    “Our sovereignty is a red line. We don’t accept anybody interfering our sovereignty,” Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani told CBS’ 60 Minutes.

    The Qatari emir said his country’s policies are seen as a threat by the blockading states.

    “They don’t like our independence, the way how we are thinking, our vision for the region,” said Sheikh Tamim. “We want freedom of speech for the people of the region. And they’re not happy with that.”

    Qatar’s Sheikh Tamim’s comments on “freedom of speech” is, despite Qatar hosting and financing Al Jazeera, hyperbolic, as criticism of Qatar is frowned on, to put it mildly. For instance, it’s a noticeable omission from Al Jazeera’s otherwise informative coverage.

    Having said that, his comments are correct, the blockage is due to Qatar not slavishly following Saudi Arabia and pursing policies — such as supporting Al Jazeera and dealing with Iran — which the feudal authoritarians in Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, &tc perceive as threatening.

  219. blf says

    Jeremy Diamond twits:

    Yes, this is in part about discrediting the investigation. But it’s how Trump really feels. & not wrong: He is weakened by the investigation

    Trump is worried special counsel’s investigation will hamstring his ability to negotiate with world leaders, senior WH official says

    [Wacko House] Official adds: World is less safe because of this investigation and it will remain less safe until it is over.

    Spotted at the Grauniad’s live blog (21:28 mark), which also notes:

    CNBC has published a detailed interactive chart of the funds allegedly laundered by Paul Manafort through offshore accounts over the course of some seven years.

    It shows when (horizontal axis), how much (vertical axis), for what (colour), and other details such as to whom.

  220. blf says

    Hj Hornbeck@392, At the special counsel’s page there are several documents, including the Statement of the Offense: “[T]he United States of America and the defendant, GEORGE PAPADOPOULOS, stipulate and agree that the following facts are true and accurate. These facts do not constitute all of the facts known to the parties concerning the charged offense; they are being submitted to demonstrate that sufficient facts exist that the defendant committed the offense to which he is pleading guilty. […]”

  221. Hj Hornbeck says

    Already linked to those, blf, but keep that page bookmarked. There’s another little case, “17-mc-2482,” which is to be unsealed. I can’t find any info on it, but judging from the case number it’s similar to the Motion to Compel that Manafort’s lawyer faced. New stuff will be announced via PACER, or Big Cases Bot if (like most people) you don’t have access.

  222. says

    No, Facebook, you’re not burying this in today’s mountain of news.

    “Facebook estimates 126 million people were served content from Russia-linked pages”:

    Facebook will inform lawmakers this week that roughly 126 million Americans may have been exposed to content generated on its platform by the Russian government-linked troll farm known as the Internet Research Agency between June 2015 and August 2017, CNN has learned.

    That estimate, which is equivalent to more than half of the total U.S. voting population, offers a new understanding of the scope of Russia’s use of social media to meddle in the 2016 U.S. presidential election and in American society generally.

    In written testimony to the Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on Crime and Terrorism, a copy of which was obtained by CNN, Facebook General Counsel Colin Stretch says that 29 million people were served content directly from the Internet Research Agency, and that after sharing among users is accounted for, a total of “approximately 126 million people” may have seen it.

    Facebook does not know, however, how many of those 126 million people actually saw one of those posts, or how many may have scrolled past it or simply not logged in on the day that one of the posts was being served in their News Feed.

    Stretch also says in his testimony that Facebook estimates 11.4 million people saw ads purchased by the Internet Research Agency between 2015 and 2017. But the full, organic reach of content posted by the troll farm-linked pages was more than 10 times higher.

    Facebook first informed lawmakers in September that it had identified 470 accounts linked to the Internet Research Agency, and that those accounts spent approximately $100,000 on more than 3,000 ads between June 2015 and August 2017.

    The new testimony reiterates those numbers while also noting that the IRA-bought ads promoted roughly 120 IRA-generated Facebook Pages, “which in turn posted more than 80,000 pieces of content between January 2015 and August 2017.”

    Stretch’s testimony also discloses that some of the 3,000 ads also appeared on Instagram, which is owned by Facebook….

    Sigh: “Nevertheless, Facebook says in its testimony that the posts from those pages represented ‘a tiny fraction of the overall content on Facebook’.” First they tried something like a percentage of “civic content,” which was never defined, and now they’re putting it in the context of all of the content on FB. Please.

  223. blf says

    As a result of the Harvey Weinstein / #metoo sexual assault situation, there have been stories circulating about similar abuses-of-power in the UK’s parliament. I haven’t been following the reports too closely, but I thought it was mostly still at the “this is happening a lot” stage with few named allegations, albeit the following article suggests names are being named. Unsurprisingly, names or no names, this has the rats and fiends who lurk in parliament scurrying about and obfuscating. There was recently a “debate” supposedly about the problem, which the Grauniad snarks, Sex pest discussion finds MPs in no hurry to wash dirty linen in public:

    At times like these it can be useful to have a cabinet minister who knows next to nothing about anything. And no cabinet minister makes a virtue of knowing less than Andrea Leadsom. That made the leader of the house the ideal person to speak on behalf of the government in answer to an urgent question on sexual harassment in parliament from Labour’s Harriet Harman.

    The public expects MPs to conform to the highest standards, Leadsom said. It really doesn’t. The public is far more realistic than that. It just expects them to behave with a modicum of decency, something rather too many MPs are all too often unable to do. We must demonstrate accountability, honesty and openness to show we are serious in our treatment of wrongdoing.

    And that was just about the last we heard of accountability, honesty and openness for the rest of the session. For the most part, it was as if the proceedings were taking part in a vacuum, away from the widespread allegations of abuse within all parties that had been widely reported the previous weekend. So there was not a single mention of the list of the 36 Tory MPs, including two cabinet ministers, who have been named as sex pests by people working in parliament.

    With Labour also in no hurry to wash its own dirty linen in public, a truce had been apparently been called. So there was much talk of a culture that needed to be changed and of a new improved confidential hotline to allow people to report abuse, but absolutely nothing about what each party was going to do with the MPs with previous who were already well known to its whips.


    Labour’s Jess Phillips wasn’t overly impressed. On the way into the chamber, she had overheard two male colleagues talking about a witch-hunt. It was all very well talking about the need to stamp out sexual harassment and bullying and creating an environment where people felt able to. But what about the perpetrators?

    […] Leadsom replied. And the sacking of ministers will be in scope. The prime minister, who had sat alone looking furious throughout the proceedings, briefly looked up. A reshuffle was the one thing she had been hoping to avoid. A couple of high-profile resignations could potentially bring the government down and a long catalogue of Tory abuse getting out into the open was the last thing she needed.

    […] The process needed to be swift, robust and wholly transparent.

    Leadsom looked doubtful. Transparency was sometimes best kept opaque. Parliament had done the right thing by talking about its imperfections. Surely that was more than enough for now.

    Also, That sound? It’s Westminster’s sex pests rehearsing their excuses; and a Ben Jennings cartoon, Westminster sexual harassment allegations.

  224. blf says

    Whilst there are many Ozland-specific issues (some of which are perhaps hard-to-decipher), there are also some good zingers in this First Dog on the Moon, Boycott Streets ice-cream. Try Manus Island Deathcicle or Recognicy Poles instead! (cartoon): “Fortunately with the free market there are many scrummy ice-creams made by exploited workers to choose from! Here are some of our non-Streets favourites”, for instance:

    Capitalismaplebacon Swirl
    This jumbo sized concoction will leave you gasping for more and more and more until the until planet is consumed in a scrumptious creamy explosion of shareholder value, salted caramel death and marshmallow.

  225. says

    Decent people are going to oppose villainous schemes. The cable news stories today asking “Can Republicans get the focus back on tax reform?” were bizarre. Of course they don’t want the focus on what they’re doing in private, smoke-filled rooms. There’s no public debate about a plan, or even a plan revealed, because they know how much people will hate it. I welcome the publicity of the Republican tax plans, which are plainly harmful and unpopular. Put that focus back, by all means.

  226. says

    From the Washington Post:

    Away from the podium, Trump staffers fretted privately over whether Manafort or Gates might share with Mueller’s team damaging information about other colleagues. They expressed concern in particular about Gates because he has a young family, may be more stretched financially than Manafort, and continued to be involved in Trump’s political operation and had access to the White House, including attending West Wing meetings after Trump was sworn in. […]

    Some White House advisers are unhappy with Thomas J. Barrack Jr., Trump’s longtime friend and chair of his inauguration, whom they hold responsible for keeping Gates in the Trump orbit long after Manafort resigned as campaign chairman in August 2016, according to people familiar with the situation. Barrack has been Gates’s patron of late, steering political work to him and, until Monday, employing him as director of the Washington office of his real estate investment company. […]

    But Trump’s anger Monday was visible to those who interacted with him, and the mood in the corridors of the White House was one of weariness and fear of the unknown. As the president groused upstairs, many staffers — some of whom have hired lawyers to help them navigate Mueller’s investigation — privately speculated about where the special counsel might turn next.

    “The walls are closing in,” said one senior Republican in close contact with top staffers who spoke on the condition of anonymity to speak candidly. “Everyone is freaking out.”

  227. KG says

    [Wacko House] Official adds: “World is less safe because of this investigation and it will remain less safe until it is over.” – blf@391

    The Wacko House official is unfortunately right: the more threatened Trump feels, the more likely he is to launch a war as a distraction.

  228. KG says


    There may well be sexual harassers or worse among MPs in all parties in the Commons (the Green Party of England and Wales is probably free of them, as it has only one MP, Caroline Lucas), but it’s the Tories who have most to fear, as either a cabinet reshuffle, or a by-election if a Tory resigns their seat, would be a real threat to the government.

    Meanwhile, the Government’s Brexit Bill is bogged down – with some three hundred amendments tabled, and a likely defeat in the Lords on Monday over a related Data Protection Bill: the Government planned to use EU withdrawal to take away our rights to data privacy, by not transferring the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights (and specifically, its Article 8) into UK law. Negotiations with the EU are also bogged down, despite optimisitc noises during May’s recent visit to Brussels – no further meetings are currently scheduled between David Davies, the ignorant and lazy UK negotiator, and the EU’s Michel Barnier.

  229. Ogvorbis: Swimming without a parachute. says

    I picture Donald Trump sitting in the Oval Office, feeling dejected and confused. After all, he ran his campaign exactly the same way he runs his business empire — lies, criminals, obfuscation, getting monies from whoever will give it to him no matter who or where they are, making deals with foreign governments for favours and inside information, a coterie of lawyers to cover over the ugly parts — and, suddenly, for no reason at all, people want to investigate him for running his campaign the same way ran his business empire. It is almost as if there is a difference between what is acceptable in the business world and what is acceptable in government service. And he really has no clue.

  230. says

    Ogvorbis @408, well summarized! Thanks for that.

    A description of Trump’s cluelessness when it comes to the word “collusion”:

    […] Trump World’s initial posture was that Russia did not attack our elections in the hopes of helping elect the Republican ticket. Once it became obvious that this posture was wrong, Trump World changed course, conceding that Russia may have attacked, but the Trump campaign had no communications with the Putin-backed attackers during their espionage operation.

    When this was also discredited, Trump World effectively declared, “OK, Russians may have taken steps to help us, and we may have been in contact with them during the attack, but we definitely didn’t collude with them.”

    This would be a more compelling talking point were it not for all the collusion that’s now been documented. The Washington Post’s Dana Milbank summarized this nicely:

    Technically, President Trump’s standard line of defense in the Russia probe – we did not collude – suffered a bit of a blow Monday. In a plea deal with the special counsel unsealed Monday (at about the time Trump was tweeting the phrase “there is NO COLLUSION!”), Trump campaign adviser George Papadopoulos admitted the Trump adviser had contacts with Russians offering the Trump campaign Hillary Clinton’s emails and other “dirt,” and he tried to arrange meetings with Russian officials.

    That’s pretty much the dictionary definition of “collusion.”

    […] we now have two known instances in which Russians, having stolen Democratic documents, offered Trump World damaging information on Hillary Clinton, and in both instances, officials from Trump’s campaign sought the damaging materials. The first was the Trump Tower meeting in June 2016, and the second was the evidence that emerged yesterday in George Papadopoulos’ guilty plea.

    In other words, Team Trump (1) knew a foreign adversary had targeted the U.S. election; (2) welcomed the adversary’s intervention in our democracy; and (3) then lied more than once about the interactions between the campaign and Russia.

    It’s against this backdrop that Donald Trump has said five times since Friday, including once this morning, that there was “no collusion” between his campaign and Russia.

    Which necessarily means that Trump is either struggling to understand the basics of current events or he defines “collusion” in a rather unique way.


  231. says

    I meant to reference Obvorbis’ comment 409, which I mistakenly identified as 408.

    In other news, apparently no Republican lawmakers are interested in protecting Special Counsel Robert Mueller against the possibility that Trump will fire him.

    The bipartisan cosponsors of two bills to protect Special Counsel Robert Mueller from meddling by President Trump told reporters Monday night that they have received zero indication that the Senate’s GOP leaders will allow a vote on the legislation. And most rank-and-file Republicans, including one cosponsor of the legislation, said they saw no need to pass it.

    “I don’t feel an urgent need to pass that law until you show me that Mr. Mueller is in jeopardy,” said Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC), a cosponsor of the Special Counsel Independence Protection Act. “Anybody in his right mind at the White House wouldn’t think about replacing him.”


    Hey, Lindsey Graham, Trump is not in his right mind. Trump may never have even had a “right mind.” You have no idea what Trump will or won’t do. You should protect the Special Prosecutor and his investigation.

    Trump told the New York Times earlier that he would consider firing Mueller:

    [The New York Times asked] “If Mueller was looking at your finances and your family finances, unrelated to Russia, is that a red line?”

    Trump replied, “I would say yeah. I would say yes.” He added, “I think that’s a violation.”

  232. says

    Trump commented on Gorge Papadopoulos:

    Few people knew the young, low level volunteer named George, who has already proven to be a liar.


  233. says

    White House Chief of Staff John Kelly is becoming ever more Trumpish. He has the disease.

    […] Fox News’ Laura Ingraham asked Kelly if a special counsel should look into the funding of the dossier.

    “I think probably as a layman looking at this kind of thing, we need to find someone who’s very very objective who can get to the bottom of these accusations, I think it’s important,” Kelly replied. “Again, the American people have an absolute right to know these things unless things are classified.” […]

    And here’s another excerpt from the same interview:

    […] Ingraham asked Kelly about a church in Virginia that decided to remove plaques honoring George Washington and Robert E. Lee since the plaques “create a distraction in our worship space and may create an obstacle to our identity as a welcoming church and an impediment to our growth and to full community with our neighbors.”

    Kelly said that Americans should not “take what is today accepted as right and wrong” and apply it to history.

    “It shows you how much of a lack of appreciation of history and what history is. I would tell you that Robert E. Lee was an honorable man. He was a man that gave up his country to fight for his state, which in 150 years ago was more important than country. It was always loyalty to state first, back in those days, and now it’s different today,” Kelly told Ingraham.

    “But the lack of an ability to compromise led to the Civil War,” he added. “And men of women of good faith on both sides made their stand, where their conscience had them make their stand.” […]

  234. tomh says

    @ #413
    “You also had some very fine people on both sides.” Seems like I’ve heard that somewhere before.

  235. a_ray_in_dilbert_space says

    Hmm, I’ve oft heard it said that no one profits in the long run from having associated with Trump. It occurs to me that the same could be said of Putin–could it be we are having a battle of the toxic masculine kleptocrats?

  236. says

    Follow-up to comments 413, 414 and 415.

    Ta-Nehisi Coates responded:

    Regarding John Kelly’s creationist theorizing on Lee and the Civil War, its worth pointing out a few things.

    Notion that Civil War resulted from a lack of compromise is belied by all the compromises made on enslavement from America’s founding. I mean, like, it’s called The three fifths compromise for a reason. But it doesn’t stand alone. Missouri Compromise. Kansas-Nebraska Act. Lincoln’s own platform was a compromise. Lincoln was not an abolitionist. He proposed to limit slavery’s expansion, not end it. During the Civil War, Lincoln repeatedly sought to compromise by paying reparations–to slaveholders–and shipping blacks out the country.

    Explicit compromises don’t even get at it. Historian James McPherson points to implicit compromises with slavery. Spirit of “compromise” continued–Lincoln asked only 10 percent of voters in rebel states to sign loyalty oath for readmission to Union. “Compromise” continued long after Lincoln’s death. Compromise of 1877 led to explicit White Supremacist rule in the South for a century. As historian David Blight pointed out “compromise” with white supremacy was how the country achieved reunion.

    Shocking that someone charged with defending their country, in some profound way, does not comprehend the country they claim to defend.

    Notion that we are putting today’s standards on the past is, in itself, racist–implies only white, slave-holding, opinions matter. Majority of people living in Mississippi in 1860 were black. They knew, in their own time, that enslavement was wrong. Half the people living in states like Louisiana, Georgia, Alabama enslaved–knew full well that enslavement was dead wrong.

    Praising Bobby Lee as an honorable man is just sad. Like some kid insisting his deadbeat dad is actually a secret agent away on a mission. As @AdamSerwer points out Lee wasn’t some agnostic pressed into War. He was a dude who thought torture was cool. Lee didn’t prosecute the war with no regard for White supremacy, his army that kidnapped free blacks and sold them into slavery.

    You do have to get these guys were the worst of America. They did not merely want to preserve the right to own people, they wanted to expand that right. Been a lot of hemming and hawing over the term “white supremacist.” Fools who won’t be satisfied until Trump literally lynches someone. But, like, when the “adult in the room” believes a war for slavery was honorable… Believes that the torturer of humans, vendor of people, who led that war was honorable… When that dude portrays a sitting member of Congress as some shucking and jiving hustler… When he sticks by that portrayal of a black women, in the face of clear video evidence, when he has so descended into the dream… You really do see the effect of white supremacy.

  237. says

    Steve Bannon’s advice to Trump is to defund Mueller’s investigation:

    […] A source close to Bannon told CNN that the former Trump aide is pushing the White House to take down Mueller on multiple fronts.

    Bannon wants Republicans to get Congress to cut funding to the special counsel, and he wants the White House to publicly debate Mueller’s mandate, slow the production of documents and go on a public relations campaign against the probe, according to CNN. The Daily Beast and Politico reported similar information from sources close to Bannon. The Daily Beast reported that Bannon thinks these approaches will look better than Trump firing the person who is investigating Russian interference into the 2016 election and any potential collusion with the Trump campaign. […]


    Yes, Mueller and his investigation need protection from Congress.

  238. says

    Update on the four ruling that issued an injunction against Trump’s ban on transgender people serving in the military:

    […] The decision by U.S. District Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly, Moore [Alabama Republican Senate candidate Roy Moore, chief justice of the Alabama Supreme Court who was twice suspended for failure to follow the law] said in a statement, “[The injunction] is absolutely ridiculous and is a perfect example of the outlandish doctrine of judicial supremacy whereby judges exalt themselves over the Constitution they are sworn to uphold.” […]

    Kollar-Kotelly granted a preliminary injunction Monday to stop Trump’s policy — which began with a tweet — from going into immediate effect.

    Moore said the American Psychiatric Association considered, in his words, “transgenderism to be a mental disorder” until 2013. […]

    “And only in 2016 did the Obama administration attempt to impose that delusion upon our fighting forces,” Moore continued. “To say that President Trump cannot prohibit transgenderism in the military is a clear example of judicial activism. Even the United States Supreme Court has never declared transgenderism to be a right under the Constitution.” […]


  239. says

    Jeff Sessions lied:

    Attorney General Jeff Sessions once claimed he wasn’t “aware” of any contacts between the Trump campaign and the Russians. Here’s some very bad news for Jeff Sessions: the picture of him attending [a] March 31, 2016, meeting, tweeted out by Donald Trump, also appears to be the same meeting in which Trump aide George Papadopoulos made clear that he did indeed have Russian connections willing to help Trump’s candidacy.

    Here’s how that campaign meeting was framed in the special counsel’s charging document for Papadopoulos released Monday:

    On or about March 31, 2016, defendant PAPADOPOULOS attended a ‘national security meeting’ in Washington, D.C., with then-candidate Trump and other foreign policy advisors for the Campaign. When defendant PAPADOPOULOS introduced himself to the group, he stated, in sum and substance, that he had connections that could help arrange a meeting between then-candidate Trump and President Putin.”

    That directly contradicts Jeff Sessions’ sworn testimony, as Marcy Wheeler points out at The Intercept.

    During his confirmation process, Sessions was asked a key question by Sen. Al Franken, D-Minn.: “If there is any evidence that anyone affiliated with the Trump campaign communicated with the Russian government in the course of this campaign, what will you do?”

    “Senator Franken, I’m not aware of any of those activities,” Sessions responded. “I have been called a surrogate at a time or two in that campaign and I didn’t have — did not have communications with the Russians, and I’m unable to comment on it.”

    The question, however, was about Sessions’s knowledge of such communications, and we now know he was in a meeting in which they were discussed.

    […] the special counsel’s plea agreement with Papadopoulos adds a new twist to Sessions’ contortionist explanations, lending more insight into why his story has changed so drastically over the last year. […]


  240. says

    If Ed Gillespie, the Republican candidate for Virginia governor, is not a racist it is certainly hard to tell from the campaign he is running.

    Some of his ads feature MS-13 gang threats that do not exist in Virginia (brown people that want to kill, rape, or control the good white folks of Virginia, according to Gillespie’s ad); or screeds against “sanctuary cities” that also do exist in Virginia. Gillespie also supports preserving Confederate monuments.

    However, Gilliespie is very, very upset that people are concluding from his not-so-subtle campaign ads that he is a racist. He went on Fox News to agree with Fox hosts that there is no greater sin than calling a white person “racist.” Fox News link.

  241. says

    Russian trolls and bots are attacking Hillary Clinton and Robert Mueller:

    […] Russian influencers tracked by the Hamilton 68 dashboard were pushing stories on Twitter about “collusion” between Russia and Hillary Clinton—a narrative regarding a 2010 sale of uranium rights that has long since been debunked.

    According to the nonpartisan security research project, a week’s worth of tweets from late October turned up a wave of content with “some variation on a theme of corruption, collusion, cover-up by the Clinton-led State Department and/or the Mueller-led FBI,” as well as content attacking special counsel Robert Mueller […]

    And since Friday, when news reports made clear that the special counsel’s team was moving ahead with indictments, the dashboard began registering a sharp increase in attacks specifically against Mueller.

    […] congressional investigators will hear testimony from tech leaders on Tuesday and Wednesday concerning the Kremlin’s propaganda war on the 2016 election. […]


  242. says

    Follow-up to comments 382, 385, and 386 from SC; and to comment 387 from blf.

    Sam Clovis is a cooperative witness in the Mueller probe.

    Sam Clovis, […] Trump’s controversial nominee to be the Agriculture Department’s chief scientist, has been “a fully cooperative witness” in the Senate Intelligence Committee’s investigation of Russian interference in the 2016 election, Senate Agriculture Chairman Pat Roberts told POLITICO. […]

    Clovis’ nomination to the top scientific job at the Agriculture Department has already drawn significant opposition from Democrats and scientists who have raised concerns about his climate-change skepticism, his credentials and his history of making disparaging statements about blacks, women, LGBT individuals and others. But there’s been no public opposition from Republicans, and Roberts said he plans to continue with a planned Nov. 9 confirmation hearing.

    WTF? They still plan to confirm Clovis?

    “I don’t think he’s a target of any investigation,” Roberts said of Clovis, describing him as someone likely on the fringes of the inquiry. […]

    Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and Agriculture ranking member Debbie Stabenow, along with a handful of other Democrats, have publicly announced their opposition to Clovis. They argue that Clovis, a former professor at Morningside College in Iowa, does not have the academic and research background required for the post, and also point to the disparaging comments, including some about former President Barack Obama and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi.

  243. says

    Trump might meet with Putin in Asia. Link

    Meanwhile, here is yet another debunking of the charge that Hillary Clinton gave Russia “20 percent of our uranium” when she was secretary of state:

    […] Trump made that claim early on in his time in office to defend himself against charges that he would be too soft on Russia. […]

    Take New York Republican Rep. Peter King, who said last week that “it’s important we find out why that deal went through.” At the same press conference, House Republicans said the House Intelligence Committee and the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee would launch new probes into Clinton’s purported role in helping a Russian state-owned company, Rosatom, gain control of 20 percent of America’s uranium production capacity, a key part of any US effort to build nuclear weapons. […]

    Fox News in particular has taken up the conspiracy theory with gusto, with Fox & Friends, Sean Hannity, Tucker Carlson, and Martha MacCallum all running lengthy segments devoted to the story. Conservative radio darling Laura Ingraham tweeted out a link to an article about the supposed uranium scheme in the conservative National Review. The conservative Daily Caller website has run several articles on the subject, as has Breitbart, the right-wing outlet run by former Trump senior strategist Steve Bannon. […]

    1. The mines, mills, and land the company holds in the US account for 20 percent of the US’s uranium production capacity, not actual produced uranium.

    2. The State Department was one of nine federal agencies and a number of additional independent federal and state regulators that signed off on the deal.

    3. President Barack Obama, not Clinton, was the only person who could’ve vetoed the deal.

    4. Since Russia doesn’t have the legal right to export uranium from the US, its main goal was likely to gain access to the company’s uranium assets in Kazakhstan.

    Crucially, the main national security concern was not about nuclear weapons proliferation, as Trump has suggested, but actually ensuring the US doesn’t have to depend too much on uranium sources from abroad, as the US only makes about 20 percent of the uranium it needs. An advantage in making nuclear weapons wasn’t the main issue because, as PolitiFact notes, “the United States and Russia had for years cooperated on that front, with Russia sending enriched fuel from decommissioned warheads to be used in American nuclear power plants in return for raw uranium.”

    Trump’s misleading comments are in service of a broader goal: to push back against the growing investigations into his administration’s possible collusion with Moscow. […]

    Link. More info and details at the link.

  244. says

    Late night TV shows covered the recent indictments issued by Robert Mueller.

    Salon link

    Stephen Colbert:

    […] “Manafort’s been charged with 12 counts, including conspiracy to launder money, tax fraud and conspiracy against the United States. What’s that crime usually called again? I can’t remember, for some treason,” he added. […]

    Colbert took extra interest in Trump’s tweet, when he bizarrely called on his followers to “do something” about Hillary Clinton. […]

    “There’s something so reassuring about the president screaming ‘DO SOMETHING!’ into the void,” Colbert said.

    Trevor Noah’s segment is also posted:

    […] “It really doesn’t look good. Twelve counts, including ‘conspiracy against the United States.’ I don’t even know what that means, but it just sounds bad,” Trevor Noah said.

    “So Paul Manafort has now been charged with lobbying for the government of Ukraine and not telling the U.S. government he did this,” Noah added. “He’s also been charged with laundering tens of millions of dollars into secret foreign bank accounts in remote island nations around the world. Which basically makes Manafort one eye patch away from being a Bond villain.” […]

    From Seth Meyers:

    Seth Meyers focused on the right-wing media’s response to the indictment news, noting during his “Closer Look” segment that Fox News when to great lengths not to cover the Manafort story.

    “When none of your defenses work, there’s always the option of ignoring the news completely,” Meyers said on “Late Night.” “As other news outlets were going wall to wall with coverage of the [Paul] Manafort indictment, here’s what Fox News thought was more important.”

    He then played a clip of Fox News hosts discussing the hamburger emoji controversy, in which Google’s new avatar has the cheese under the patty. “Who does that?” one of the Fox News hosts asked.

    “Unless the answer is Paul Manafort, who cares?” Meyers responded. “Fox News, if you really want to talk about emojis, you could at least focus on the ones that are relevant to the Trump White House,” he added, showing images of poop and fire emoji.

    Videos are available at the link.

  245. Ogvorbis: Swimming without a parachute. says

    The resident right-winger in our office just stated that he thinks it is a wonderful idea to raise the entrance fees to double or triple the current fee. Why? It will ‘keep out the riffraff and make sure that people who can appreciate the park are the ones who actually visit.’ Apparently, to that park ranger, being able to afford something is the same as being able to appreciate it.


  246. says

    Ogvorbis @426:

    The resident right-winger in our office just stated that he thinks it is a wonderful idea to raise the entrance fees to double or triple the current fee. Why? It will ‘keep out the riffraff and make sure that people who can appreciate the park are the ones who actually visit.’

    Well, I guess you’ll have to count me as “riffraff” then. Sheesh.

    This is so infuriating. People who equate wealth with virtue, (and poverty with having an unsavory character), make up a significant number of the Republicans in my area.

    I still haven’t been able to square this with their reverence for the Bible.

  247. says

    From Jon Chait, commenting on team Trump’s efforts to muddy the waters by claiming that Hillary Clinton colluded with Russia:

    Having apparently decided that defending the Trump campaign against charges of collusion with Russian cyberattacks is an impossible task, the Republican Party has decided to go on offense. The House Intelligence Committee, putatively assigned to investigate collusion, is instead running a counter-investigation into Trump’s nemeses. Their argument, incredibly enough, is that the FBI and Robert Mueller are the real perpetrators of collusion with Russia. “No puppet, no puppet, you’re the puppet” has become the new Republican argument against Mueller. […]

    In some ways the theory of alt-collusion mirrors the propaganda methods used by Putin himself. When William Browder publicizes Russia’s murder of crusading lawyer Sergei Magnitsky, Russia turns around and implies that maybe Browder is the one who murdered Magnitsky. The accusation is preposterous, but that doesn’t matter. The purpose is to create an offsetting accusation against the accuser, so that the average bystander can only puzzle at the spectacle of two sides making the same allegation against each other.

    This method can work if you have enough mouthpieces who are sufficiently devoid of skepticism or intellectual self-respect to be willing to spread your obviously absurd message. A key fact that Trump has discovered, and which has enabled his takeover of the Republican Party, is that this is a resource the American right has in abundant supply.

    New York Magazine link

  248. says

    Six people are dead, and more are injured, after a terrorist attack in Manhattan.

    The “terrorist” label is provisional, and could change. A man drove a truck onto a bike path for several blocks, then exited the vehicle and shot at people with what may have been a pellet (or BB) gun. The driver shouted “Allahu Akbar”. He is in custody at Bellevue Hospital. Police think the man they apprehended is the only suspect.


    My daughter lives in that neighborhood, but she was able to get home to her apartment safely.

  249. says

    Trump’s beloved and often-mentioned alma mater, the Wharton School of Finance, criticized Trump’s tax plan:

    […] The study, released Monday by the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School on Monday, found that the proposed GOP-Trump tax plan would increase the deficit by $1 trillion to $3.5 trillion over the course of the first ten years. By 2040, the plan would cost between $2 trillion and $10.6 trillion.

    According to the GOP budget approved last week, the Republican tax plan is only allotted $1.5 trillion to add to the deficit before violating the reconciliation rules that would allow the Senate to fast-track the bill with 51 votes instead of 60.

    This will test the loyalty of Republican deficit hawks in Congress like Sen. John Kennedy (R-LA) who told The New York Times, “Every Republican I know of is concerned about the deficit. Every Republican I know of is concerned about tepid growth, too.” Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME) in an interview with Bloomberg this week said she would oppose any tax bill that would increase the deficit.

    The Wharton study also found that the administration’s claim that the average American family would receive a four thousand dollar raise under their tax plan is false, echoing a number of academic studies that conclude cutting taxes for corporations does not raise wages for workers. […]

    Think Progress link

  250. says

    Scott Pruitt is using the Bible as a guide to reorganizing the Environmental Protection Agency’s science boards. What could possibly go wrong with that approach?

    Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt on Tuesday used the Bible to explain his major changes to the composition of the agency’s independent science advisory committees, […]

    “In the book of Joshua there is a story about Joshua leading the people of Israel into the promised land after Moses passed away,” Pruitt said. “And Joshua says to the people of Israel choose this day whom you’re going to serve. And I would say to you this is sort of like the ‘Joshua Principle’ that as it relates to grants to this agency, you are going to have to choose either service on the committee to provide counsel to us in an independent fashion or you can choose grants, but you cannot do both.”

    What the “Joshua Principle” means for the EPA is that scientists who receive agency grants for their research are now barred from serving on any of its independent advisory boards. This opens the door to more industry and political representation on the Clean Air Scientific Advisory Committee, the Board of Scientific Counselors (BOSC), and the Science Advisory Board (SAB). […]

    There are widespread implications of appointing industry-sympathetic members, especially as Pruitt’s EPA plans to take a new look at many of the EPA’s scientific conclusions regarding climate change, air pollution, and water pollution. […]

    The new chair of the Science Advisory Board is Michael Honeycutt, a toxicologist who had once received industry support for a past failed bid to head SAB. Paul Gilman, a former EPA adviser who left the agency in 2004 for a waste-to-energy company Covanta Energy, will be in charge of the 18-member Board of Scientific Counselors. And the Clean Air Safety board will now be headed by Tony Cox, a private consultant who’s authored research saying the benefits of pollution reduction are overstated. […]

    The CEO of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) Rush Holt denounced the decision in a statement. “Leading scientific experts who are conducting environmental science research should not be prohibited from participating on EPA science adviser boards and committees if they have met the appropriate financial conflict of interest policy,” he said. “Science and the use of science in evidence-based policymaking cannot thrive when policymakers use politics as a pretext to attack scientific objectivity. Given its desire to limit expert perspectives and the role of scientific information, we question whether the EPA can continue to pursue its core mission to protect human health and the environment.”[…]


  251. Hj Hornbeck says

    Geez, while I was keeping an eye out for documents in Papadopoulos’ case, I missed two new ones for Manafort/Gates: “MOTION FOR SEALING OF THE INDICTMENT” and “MEMORANDUM IN SUPPORT OF CONDITIONS OF RELEASE.” The first was filed on Friday, and just asks for the indictment to be sealed. The second… boy! All bolding is courtesy me:

    As explained below and at the initial appearance in this matter on October 30, 2017, the
    defendants pose a risk of flight
    based on the serious nature of the charges, their history of deceptive
    and misleading conduct, the potentially significant sentences the defendants face, the strong
    evidence of guilt, their significant financial resources, and their foreign connections
    . […]

    The government has also learned that in March of this year, Manafort registered a phone
    and an email account using an alias. Manafort traveled with this telephone to Mexico on June
    2017; to China on May 23, 2017; and to Ecuador on May 9, 2017.

    The indictment sets forth and charges the defendants with engaging in a long running and complex
    scheme to funnel millions of dollars into the United States, through various entities and accounts in Cyprus, Grenadines, Seychelles and England, owned or controlled by the defendants worldwide, and passed through a series of foreign accounts. Manafort, Gates, and a Russian national —who is a longstanding employee of Davis Manafort Partners, Inc. and DMP International LLC (collectively DMI) —served as the beneficial owners and signatories on these accounts. […]

    In August 2016, he listed $63,000,000 as the value of his assets, and in a different application also in August 2016, he listed $28,000,000. Previously, in May 2016, Manafort listed the value of his assets at $136,000,000; in March 2016, Manafort represented his assets to be approximately $42,000,000; the prior month, in February 2016, Manafort represented his assets to be worth $48,000,000. […]

    Both defendants have substantial ties abroad, including in Ukraine, where both have spent time and have served as agents of its government. DMI, which Manafort owned and where Gates worked, had staff in Kiev and Moscow. And both Manafort and Gates have connections to Ukrainian and Russian oligarchs, who have provided millions of dollars to Manafort and Gates. […]

    In a little more than the last ten years, Manafort has submitted ten United States Passport applications on ten different occasions, indicative of his travel schedule. He currently has three United States passports, with different numbers.

    Wheeeew. As if that wasn’t bad enough, the government has also argued for a slow trial.

    Due to the voluminous discovery from both here and abroad, the government moves to designate the case as “complex” under the Speedy Trial Act and thus exclude time. We understand that counsel for the defendant Manafort consents to this request. We understand that the defendant Gates is in the process of retaining counsel and thus have not been able to raise this issue with either the defendant or counsel.

    This is going to be hanging around Trump’s neck for a long time.

  252. says

    Hj @432, multiple passports with different numbers, multiple phones (some under an alias), connections to Russian nationals and to Russian oligarchs … nothing suspicious there. Nope, not at all suspicious.

    I don’t really know what to think about the wildly different accounts of Manafort’s wealth. There’s a big gap between $136 million and $28 million. However, even the smallest number looks like more than enough for Manafort to live comfortably elsewhere if he flees the USA.

    I wonder if this is so much damning evidence that Trump will just ignore it.

  253. says

    The open enrollment period for Affordable Health Care (Obamacare) started today.

    From Steve Benen:

    As of this morning, American consumers can sign up to have health care coverage in 2018. The website is up and running, and though Donald Trump has pushed prices higher, many consumers will find that insurance costs in this open-enrollment period are very affordable.

    […] several independent studies estimate that enrollment will drop this year as a result of the administration’s actions to gut outreach funding, cancel planned subsidy payments to insurers, and sow confusion with public statements declaring the Affordable Care Act “dead.”

    […] between 0.8 and 1.6 million more people will go uninsured in 2018.

    It’s important to realize that this isn’t an accident or a symptom of systemic troubles. It’s the result of deliberate policy decisions made by Republican officials who don’t want the existing American system to succeed. […]

    Barack Obama is already using his social-media platform to promote the open-enrollment period – the former president even recorded a brief new video […]

    […] Get America Covered, is led by Lori Lodes and Josh Peck, who both worked on enrollment efforts under Obama. Other participants include Van Jones, former acting administrator of the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, Andy Slavitt, former insurance CEO Mario Molina, and actors Bradley Whitford and Alyssa Milano.

    […] What if Democratic leaders publicly predicted, “I bet Trump’s enrollment totals fall far short of Obama’s”? […] once the open-enrollment period ends, there are going to be some head-to-head comparisons, and the Republican White House is going to have to explain why Trump’s totals look awful compared to Obama’s.

    From Bloomberg:

    […] According to a report by the Department of Health and Human Services’ policy division, 80 percent of enrollees will be able to purchase a plan for $75 or less per month.

    […] This month, Trump halted payments that reimburse insurance companies for reducing out-of-pocket costs for low-income enrollees. Since insurers are still required to lower those costs, monthly premiums for certain silver tier, or mid-level, plans have skyrocketed.

    But many low-income and middle-class customers will be spared the higher costs. Shoppers with incomes less than four times the poverty line—about $48,000 for an individual or $98,000 for a family of four—are eligible for subsidies that reduce the cost of monthly premiums.

    Since those subsidies rise with the cost of silver plans, it will be easier than ever for people who receive premium subsidies to find cheap plans. That’s good news for customers. It’s bad news for taxpayers who will pay the difference. […]

  254. says

    Part of Trump’s response to the terrorist attack in NYC, (he did also issue “condolences” via Twitter, and the awkward reassurance that “God and your country are with you!”):

    The terrorist came into our country through what is called the ‘Diversity Visa Lottery Program,’ a Chuck Schumer beauty. I want merit based. […]

    No more Democrat Lottery Systems.

    From Steve Benen:

    […] we don’t actually know whether this suspect entered the U.S. through the “Diversity Visa Lottery Program.” Visa records are confidential and the State Department doesn’t comment on any specific application. […]

    The program in question was signed into law by the Bush/Quayle administration, following bipartisan talks. More recently, the bipartisan “Gang of Eight’ immigration reform bill, which Schumer helped write, would’ve scrapped the Diversity Visa Program, had the far-right not killed the legislation. […]

    Trump blamed Chuck Schumer, but Trump, as usual, is ill-informed and/or just bullshitting his way through this.

    His response to last year’s attack in Orlando – the deadliest mass shooting in U.S. history – was pathetic. His reaction to the attack in Nice, France, was every bit as foolish. The Republican president’s response to recent terrorism in London quickly became an international embarrassment – twice. Trump’s reaction to Charlottesville has left a stain on his presidency that will not wash off with time.

    The common denominator, of course, is that Donald J. Trump responds to crises by asking all the wrong questions. Instead of focusing on what matters, the president looks for ways to gain political advantage in the wake of bloodshed, hoping to exploit attacks in ways that help him and his agenda, rather than help bring people together.

    Incidents like these offer leadership tests, which Trump continues to fail spectacularly.

  255. says

    Republicans were supposed to reveal their tax plan today in all of its supposedly glorious detail. Nope. They missed the deadline.

    House Republicans will delay releasing their tax bill until Thursday, it was announced Tuesday night.

    The bill had originally been scheduled to be unveiled Wednesday. But speculation over a delay was rampant on Capitol Hill on Tuesday night, with representatives of House leaders pointing to the Ways and Means Committee for any final decision or announcement…. Republican members privately aired their frustration with a process that they feel cut out of, and some issues were still unresolved hours before the bill had been slated for release.

    NBC News link

    From Politico:

    At the center of the problem were questions about how to pay for the proposed $5.5 trillion in tax cuts, since any major revenue-generator is certain to antagonize some powerful lobby or group of lawmakers who could defeat it.

    Republicans do not know how to pay for their proposed tax cuts.

    They set a new deadline: tomorrow. Don’t hold your breath.

  256. says

    Follow-up to comment 435.

    Trump had time to falsely accuse Chuck Schumer and the Democrats, but he has not yet called the Mayor of New York City nor the Governor of New York to offer his condolences.

  257. says

    From a commenter identified s “Its the Supreme Court Stupid”:

    The Diversity Lottery was slipped into the Conference Report for the Immigration Reform Act of 1986 by then-Speaker Tip O’Neill, who wanted to help undocumented Irish, particularly in his district, who, under the then-current law had no recourse for gaining legal permanent residence. I was at State at the time, and we were caught totally off-guard by the program, which had not been included in any previous version of the bill.

    One interesting note: On the Conference Report, then-Congressman Schumer voted “Nay”

    See comment 435 for context.

  258. says

    Corruption, conflicts of interest:

    A former top Mexican diplomat accused the Trump administration this week of using official diplomatic channels to funnel business to Donald Trump’s hotels.

    Arturo Sarukhan, who served as Mexico’s ambassador to the United States from 2007 to 2013, tweeted on Tuesday that a former U.S. diplomat told him the U.S. State Department’s protocol emphasizes to world leaders that they should use Trump’s D.C. hotel for official visits.

    Kakistocracia: ex funcionario EU me dice q Protocolo DptoEstado fue instruido a enfatizar a gobs🌎 usar HotelTrump p/ viajes oficiales a DC

    […] If the State Department is, in fact, helping Trump drive foreign governments’ business to his hotels, then it is complicit in a violation of the Constitution […]

  259. says

    Kelly, quoted in #413: “He was a man that gave up his country to fight for his state, which in 150 years ago was more important than country.”

    I’m still floored that someone this ignorant of US history (and specifically of the country’s civil war!) could become a 4-star general and head of SOUTHCOM. This is “tied an onion to my belt, which was the style at the time”-level nonsense. It’s shocking. Ta-Nehisi Coates has put together a short list of recommended readings about the Civil War. I’d recommend that Kelly read the recent This Vast Southern Empire, not because it’s in the same category as those other books but because it speaks to the issue of state/national/global identities and loyalties:

    These connected visions of slaveholders, on the one hand seeing the global nature of slavery and the need to defend the institution across the world, and on the other the promising future of slavery, leads for Karp to the final point of This Vast Southern Empire. To assure a global defence of slavery, Southerners had to control the military and diplomatic apparatuses of the federal government. The United States’ army and navy had to be strong enough to defend from abolitionist foreign threats while the diplomatic corps needed to be well disposed enough to slavery to protect slaveholders abroad, and Southern interests in other slave societies. Slaveholders were only advocates of small government and states’ rights when it suited their interests. When amenable Democrats were in power, slaveholders wanted a stronger army and to expand military spending, but when the more hostile Republicans took over following the 1860 election, Southerners reversed their argument. Adoption of political positions about states’ rights was situational and subservient to the greater Southern vision of global slavery. Karp’s coup de grace against the myth of Southern belief in small government is the creation of the Confederacy. Creatures of the federal government like Jefferson Davis and Alexander Stephens dominated the Confederacy’s leadership, and its constitution gave sweeping power to the executive. Confederates were not creating a states’ rights paradise, but rather another strong executive to make up for the one they had just lost.

  260. says

    Trump thinks he has a way to fund his tax cuts:

    […] Trump urged Congress [today] to immediately consider repealing Obamacare’s individual mandate to free up funds for tax cuts.

    “Wouldn’t it be great to Repeal the very unfair and unpopular Individual Mandate in ObamaCare and use those savings for further Tax Cuts for the Middle Class,” […]

    “The House and Senate should consider ASAP as the process of final approval moves along,” Trump added. “Push Biggest Tax Cuts EVER.”

    The president’s position represents a bit of a reversal from the White House. Asked about the individual mandate at Tuesday’s press briefing, White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders told reporters, “I don’t believe it has to be part of tax reform, but the child care tax credit is something he’d certainly like to see.” […]

    “I want to see that individual mandate repealed,” Brady [House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Kevin Brady] said. “I just haven’t seen — no one has seen 50 votes in the Senate to do it.” […]


  261. says

    Thanks, SC, for comment 440. That’s great context. And it certainly puts general Kelly in his place, (on the “I’m with Stupid” bench).

    In other news, Hope Hicks, Trump’s communications director, is scheduled to meet with Mueller’s team in mid-November.

    […] Hicks, 28, one of only a few aides who has been at Trump’s side and in the room since before he launched his presidential campaign, has long been expected to be called as a witness. Earlier this fall, she retained a personal attorney, Robert Trout.

    But her scheduled interview comes just as allies of the president, including former chief strategist Steve Bannon, have been pressuring Trump and his lawyers to find ways to undercut Mueller’s investigation — especially after the White House was blindsided by criminal charges filed against three former Trump campaign aides on Monday.

    Breitbart news chief Bannon, according to two people familiar with his thinking, has been pushing the idea of defunding Mueller’s investigation. That strategy is easier said than done: Mueller’s budget is drawn from a permanent Treasury Department account, and the Justice Department regulations that were used in Mueller’s appointment note that he “shall be provided all appropriate resources” to conduct his investigation. […]


  262. Hj Hornbeck says

    The Big Cases Bot on Twitter announced some “new” releases in the Manafort/Gates case. I say “new” because at least one of the documents was visible last night (see my #432). Still, three require a PACER login, so watch for them to pop up elsewhere:

    Release from Custody



  263. says

    When I see a European city trending on Twitter, my first thought is always “please be soccer,” which it almost always is.

    Now when I see some big-name male celebrity trending, I’m ignorant as to whether it’s that he’s died or is accused of sexual harassment or assault. “Dustin Hoffman” is now trending. It’s the latter.

  264. says

    Another one:

    NPR news chief Michael Oreskes announced his resignation on Wednesday amid sexual harassment allegations dating back nearly two decades.

    “My behavior was wrong and inexcusable, and I accept full responsibility,” Orkeses, 63, said in a statement. […]


  265. says

    Quoted in Lynna’s #406: “‘The walls are closing in’, said one senior Republican in close contact with top staffers who spoke on the condition of anonymity to speak candidly. ‘Everyone is freaking out’.”

    This is the only rational response. Their public posture, which pretends this is going to be the end of it and that it will blow over, is insane. Of course it’s not the end of it. It’s just the beginning with Manafort, ffs. There’s open-source reporting about his emails with Kilimnik during the campaign, which are totally damning (and even more so in light of what’s come out this week), and much more that we know little or nothing about yet.* It’s clear from the new documents and actions that Mueller knows far more than we even thought he did, and has for a long time. It appears that Papadopoulos has been cooperating for months, likely including wearing a wire.

    And that’s not even getting into Flynn and his multifaceted corrupt schemes, Flynn Jr., Kushner, Don Jr., Clovis, Page, Giuliani, Stone, Cohen, Sessions, Sater, Cambridge Analytica, Farage, Prince, the June ’16 Trump Tower meeting, the lies cooked up about the meeting after Trump met privately with Putin, Trump’s history of sleazy business deals with sleazy and connected Russians and others, the wild Flynn/Kusher/Bannon/MBZ New York meeting in December of ’16, the undermining of sanctions, the weeks in which Flynn remained NSA after Yates met with the WH, the firing of Yates, the firing of Bharara, the pressure on Comey, the firing of Comey, the pressure on Sessions, Trump’s open acts to obstruct the investigation, the Guo story,…

    All indications are that the walls are closing in.

    * I’m still curious about the hacking and release of Manafort’s daughter’s communications with what I believe to be a planted message from the Ukrainian legislator who revealed the ledger containing cash payments to Manafort. Manafort later “confirmed” that the legislator had said he’d created a fake ledger and had attempted to blackmail him through his daughter. I thought this was a lie at the time, and and even more convinced of it since the evidence of the payments in the ledger has come out. So it appears that he coordinated with a Kremlin black-propaganda operation to save his own skin.

  266. says

    Update on the victims of the terror attack in NYC:

    […] Among the dead were five Argentine men on a reunion trip to Manhattan and a Belgian woman traveling with her family. Among the wounded were three additional Belgian nationals and a sixth Argentine. As in the June attack on London Bridge in the United Kingdom, and the July attack on Las Ramblas, Barcelona’s main drag, the victims were largely tourists, who hailed from far beyond the streets of Manhattan. […]


    Additional Info:

    The childhood friends from Argentina had been planning the trip to New York City for years.

    The men all hailed from Rosario, Argentina’s third largest city, about 185 miles northwest of Buenos Aires. As teenagers, they had bonded in the halls and classrooms of the Instituto Politécnico, a technical high school in Rosario, and graduated together from there in 1987.

    Through the decades — despite job changes, marriage, children, moves to far-flung corners of the world — they remained close friends. And on Saturday, eight of the former classmates gathered to fly to the United States to celebrate their 30th graduation anniversary.

    They were in their late 40s now, firmly in the realm of middle age. But as they posed for a photograph just before their departure, the old friends slung their arms over one another and grinned like schoolkids. They donned matching white T-shirts emblazoned with the same word: “LIBRE.” Free. […]

  267. says

    Josh Marshall: “Those indictments have made Trump comically, amazingly mad and scared. Just lashing out right and left. That fear is palpable and telling.”

    You can see it in his body language – arms crossed in front of him defensively, face locked in a pained scowl/sneer.

  268. says

    “‘You Can’t Go Any Lower’: Inside the West Wing, Trump Is Apoplectic as Allies Fear Impeachment”:

    …The first charges in the Mueller probe have kindled talk of what the endgame for Trump looks like, according to conversations with a half-dozen advisers and friends of the president. For the first time since the investigation began, the prospect of impeachment is being considered as a realistic outcome and not just a liberal fever dream. According to a source, advisers in the West Wing are on edge and doing whatever they can not to be ensnared. One person close to Dina Powell and Gary Cohn said they’re making sure to leave rooms if the subject of Russia comes up.

    The consensus among the advisers I spoke to is that Trump faces few good options to thwart Mueller….

    Trump, meanwhile, has reacted to the deteriorating situation by lashing out on Twitter and venting in private to friends…. According to two sources, Trump has complained to advisers about his legal team for letting the Mueller probe progress this far. Speaking to Steve Bannon on Tuesday, Trump blamed Jared Kushner for his role in decisions, specifically the firings of Mike Flynn and James Comey, that led to Mueller’s appointment, according to a source briefed on the call. When Roger Stone recently told Trump that Kushner was giving him bad political advice, Trump agreed, according to someone familiar with the conversation….

    As Mueller moves to interview West Wing aides in the coming days, advisers are lobbying for Trump to consider a range of stratagems to neutralize Mueller, from conciliation to a declaration of all-out war….

    Roger Stone believes defunding Mueller isn’t enough. Instead, Stone wants Trump to call for a special prosecutor to investigate Hillary Clinton’s role in approving the controversial Uranium One deal that’s been a locus of rightwing hysteria… “You would immediately have to inform Mueller, Comey, and [Deputy Attorney General] Rod Rosenstein that they are under federal investigation,” Stone said. “Trump can’t afford to fire Mueller politically. But this pushes him aside.”

    Amazing how open they are about their plans to obstruct justice.

  269. says

    The FB, Twitter, and Google reps appeared before the Senate Intelligence Committee this morning. They’re appearing before the House Intel Cmte right now. They’re pretty much getting pummeled. Mark Warner was not happy.

  270. says

    From quoted text in SC’s comment 450:

    Speaking to Steve Bannon on Tuesday, Trump blamed Jared Kushner for his role in decisions, specifically the firings of Mike Flynn and James Comey, that led to Mueller’s appointment, according to a source briefed on the call. When Roger Stone recently told Trump that Kushner was giving him bad political advice, Trump agreed, according to someone familiar with the conversation….

    OMG. Trump is turning on his son-in-law.

    Also, note that Trump does not blame himself, even though the final decision to fire Comey was his, not Jared Kushner’s decision.

    Trump is really going off the deep end if he is ready to attack his own family.

  271. says

    Team Trump’s Department of Health and Human Services recently issued two rules that allow most employers to deny contraceptive coverage to their employees based on any religious or moral claim.

    Here’s one result:

    […] On Friday, Indiana Public Media reports, Notre Dame notified employees and students that starting next year—on Jan. 1, 2018, and Aug. 15, 2018, respectively—birth control will no longer be covered under the insurance plans the university offers. Thousands of Indiana women stand to lose their contraception coverage in coming months, putting them on the hook for a greater risk of unwanted pregnancies or, if they choose to pay out of pocket, thousands of dollars in expenses their male colleagues will never have to pay. […]

    Slate link

    Indiana Public Media link

  272. says

    Donald Trump Junior revealed himself to be an ugly, cruel and stupid human being … again.

    I’m going to take half of Chloe’s candy tonight & give it to some kid who sat at home. It’s never to early to teach her about socialism.
    — Donald Trump Jr. (@DonaldJTrumpJr) October 31, 2017

    Some people responded to Junior’s tweet and to the photo of his daughter, who is cute and sad (and wearing an NYPD costume):

    She was given that candy for free. Halloween is already socialism, you malignant potato.
    I feel like candy that was handed out by strangers is the definition of socialism. But what do I know.
    Or you could give 90% of her candy to the one richest kid in the neighborhood.

    It’s never too early to teach her about Republicanism.
    Fill her bucket with old candy left by her great-grandfather, then explain that she has more because she’s smarter than all the other kids.
    I took half my kid’s candy tonight, ate it myself, and then blamed Hillary for it. It’s never too early to teach him about Trump’s America.
    I’ll take 1/2 my kids candy, store it in a Cyprus tax shelter, then declare bankruptcy to teach her about capitalism
    Hey, you jerk. Maybe teach her to share with less fortunate kids who didn’t grow up wealthy real estate heirs simply by being born.
    Especially funny when you enjoy the fact that about a quarter of all US children now live in poverty. Capitalism working right up to code!
    I hope Chloe remembers to bring you candy when you’re in prison.

  273. says

    CNN reports that in the Trump hotel meeting in spring of 2016, when Papadopoulos talked about setting up a meeting with Putin or his representatives, Trump didn’t reject the idea but Sessions did. This is contrary to Sessions’ congressional testimony about not being aware of these connections. (Again, it was comments Trump made in this meeting that prompted Gordon to think he should weaken the proposed change in the Republican platform.)

  274. says

    Branding genius Donald Trump wants to name the Republican tax bill “The Cut Cut Cut Act.”

    The bill doesn’t have a name, and Trump is only a branding genius in his own mind.

  275. says

    Outspoken bigot Roy Moore ate lunch with Senate Republicans yesterday. Senate Republicans are supporting Moore, a guy who is a white supremacist, and a guy who was kicked off the state-level judicial supreme court for violating the Constitution.

    “I don’t agree with anybody 100 percent of the time,” Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wis.) said after the lunch. “I’m just responsible for my own words and actions. I’ll let the voters of Alabama decide who they want to represent them.” […]

    “Roy Moore is unique. I’ve said that before. But he’s well educated, West Point graduate, lawyer, captain in the Army, you know? He’s been around,” Sen. Richard Shelby (R-Ala.) said. “People have to answer for their own stuff, but he’s the Republican nominee and I support him in the general election.”

  276. says

    Follow-up to comment 435 and 438.

    Senator Jeff Flake, a Republican, responded to Trump:

    Actually, the Gang of 8, including @SenSchumer, did away with the Diversity Visa Program as part of broader reforms. I know, I was there.

    For your convenience, here is a collation of Trump’s tweets about Schumer and the Diversity Visa program:

    The terrorist came into our country through what is called the “Diversity Visa Lottery Program,” a Chuck Schumer beauty. I want merit based.

    We are fighting hard for Merit Based immigration, no more Democrat Lottery Systems. We must get MUCH tougher (and smarter).

    “Senator Chuck Schumer helping to import Europes problems” said Col.Tony Shaffer. We will stop this craziness!

    In those tweets, Trump referenced #foxandfriends

  277. a_ray_in_dilbert_space says

    Lynna: “People who equate wealth with virtue, (and poverty with having an unsavory character), make up a significant number of the Republicans in my area. I still haven’t been able to square this with their reverence for the Bible.”

    Ah, that’s because you haven’t heard the gospel of Supply-Side Jesus! Seriously, there’s no conflict at all between those attitudes and the theology of the Prosperity Gospel types. They seriously contend that the way their Sky Daddy shows his favors if by bestowing wealth. And since the judgements of the lord are all righteous and good, if you aren’t rich…, well there must be something wrong with you.

    Now, the Bibble on the other hand…well, that’s another issue. Hell, Andrew Schlafley and his fellow Conservipedia nuts have been planning on “editing” the Bibble to get rid of all the Communist influence–no, I’m not joking. In the book of Acts, Sky Daddy kills would-be disciples for holding back personal wealth! And there’s that bit about it being easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than for a rich person to enter heaven.

    I contend that Prosperity Gospel is a heresy. They’d best pray that I’m right and there is no God. ;-)

  278. says

    Trump generally labels white killers as “sick,” the term he used to describe the Las Vegas shooter. Trump labels everyone else (Middle Eastern, or other people of color, or other people who don’t fit in Trump’s small-minded white category) “animals”.

    Trump said of the NYC attacker: “My administration is coordinating closely between federal and local officials to…. further investigate this animal who did this attacking.”