1. blf says

    According to this opinion column, Trump came to Puerto Rico like an emperor: with pomp and little sympathy, the only part of Puerto Rico hair furor visited — which is where he threw stuff at people — is one of the wealthiest communities on the island:

    During a ‘press conference’ at the Luis Muñiz Air National Guard Base in San Juan — in which he took no questions from the press — Trump praised the director of the Federal Emergency Management Agency, military commanders and half-dozen members of his Cabinet, who accompanied him to Puerto Rico.

    He reserved nothing, not one word of encouragement and empathy for the Puerto Rican people, who are the ones that have shouldered the brunt of this tragedy all by themselves.


    [… A]fter his pompous speech, Trump was taken to see the devastation in one of the wealthiest municipalities of the whole island: Guaynabo. Even in forgotten, neglected Puerto Rico, Trump reminds us that there is a pecking order — and its the rich and powerful living in gated communities who come before all others.

    And what did Trump do in Guaynabo? He threw out rolls of paper towel and bags of rice to the well-heeled Puerto Ricans. It was a pathetic performance, and deeply offensive, especially as people in the interior of the island have next to nothing.


  2. says

    “Jared Kushner fined again for late ethics form, Ivanka Trump fined too”:

    Jared Kushner and Ivanka Trump, senior advisers to President Donald Trump, were both fined $200 for missing deadlines to submit financial reports required by government ethics rules, according to documents and interviews.

    It’s the second time that Kushner has been fined for late filing as part of his months-long process of divesting pieces of his vast business empire to serve in the White House, a highly unusual occurrence.

    In addition, Kushner and Trump, the president’s daughter and her husband who serve as unpaid aides to him, listed vastly different values for some of their joint assets, with some discrepancies of hundreds of thousands of dollars or more.

    …In total, Kushner has made changes to his financial disclosure form 39 times — in many cases in response to questions from the Office of Government Ethics — after receiving an initial 18-day filing extension….

  3. says

    “Tillerson’s Fury at Trump Required an Intervention From Pence”:

    Secretary of State Rex Tillerson was on the verge of resigning this past summer amid mounting policy disputes and clashes with the White House, according to multiple senior administration officials who were aware of the situation at the time.

    The tensions came to a head around the time President Donald Trump delivered a politicized speech in late July to the Boy Scouts of America, an organization Tillerson once led, the officials said.

    Just days earlier, Tillerson had openly disparaged the president, referring to him as a “moron,” after a July 20 meeting at the Pentagon with members of Trump’s national security team and Cabinet officials, according to three officials familiar with the incident.

    While it’s unclear if he was aware of the incident, Vice President Mike Pence counseled Tillerson, who is fourth in line to the presidency, on ways to ease tensions with Trump, and other top administration officials urged him to remain in the job at least until the end of the year, officials said….

  4. blf says

    Trump’s tax reforms are a bigger gift to business than most expected:

    The Republicans’ proposals dodge necessary changes and will leave the country with a mountain of debt
    Tax policy should reflect a country’s values and address its problems. And today, the United States — and much of the world — confronts four central problems: widening income inequality, growing job insecurity, climate change and anaemic productivity growth. America faces, in addition, the need to rebuild its decaying infrastructure and strengthen its underperforming primary and secondary education system.

    But what Trump and the Republicans are offering in response to these challenges is a tax plan that provides the overwhelming share of benefits not to the middle class — a large proportion of which may actually pay more taxes — but to America’s millionaires and billionaires. If inequality was a problem before, enacting the Republicans’ proposed tax reform will make it much worse.

    Corporations and businesses will be among the big beneficiaries, a bias justified on the grounds that this will stimulate the economy. But Republicans, of all people, should understand that incentives matter: it would be far better to reduce taxes for those companies that invest in America and create jobs, and increase taxes for those that don’t.

    After all, it is not as if America’s large corporations were starved for cash; they are sitting on a couple of trillion dollars. And the lack of investment is not because profits, either before or after tax, are too low; after-tax corporate profits as a share of GDP have almost tripled in the last 30  years.


    US states and municipalities are responsible for education and large parts of the country’s health and welfare system. And state income taxes are the best way to introduce a modicum of progressivity at the subnational level: states without an income tax typically rely on regressive sales taxes, which impose a heavy burden on the poor and working people. It is thus perhaps no surprise that the Trump administration, staffed by plutocrats who are indifferent to inequality, should want to eliminate the deductibility of state income taxes from federal taxation, encouraging states to shift toward sales taxes.


    [… The f]ederal government support of research as a percentage of GDP is now at a level comparable to what it was 60 years ago.

    While Trump the candidate criticised the growth of US national debt, he now proposes tax cuts that would add trillions to the debt in just the next 10 years — not the “only” $1.5tn that Republicans claim would be added, thanks to some growth miracle that leads to more tax revenues. Yet the key lesson of Ronald Reagan’s “voodoo” supply-side economics has not changed: tax cuts like these do not lead to faster growth, but only to lower revenues.


    An administration of plutocrats — most of whom gained their wealth from rent-seeking activities, rather than from productive entrepreneurship — could be expected to reward themselves. But the Republicans’ proposed tax reform is a bigger gift to corporations and the ultra-rich than most had anticipated. It avoids necessary reforms and would leave the country with a mountain of debt; the consequences — low investment, stalled productivity growth, and yawning inequality — would take decades to undo.

    Trump assumed office promising to “drain the swamp” in Washington, DC. Instead, the swamp has grown wider and deeper. With the Republicans’ proposed tax reform, it threatens to engulf the US economy.

  5. says

    Tillerson denies that he’s considered leaving, which is surely a lie; won’t deny that he called Trump a “moron” – probably afraid there’s more evidence than he knows of.

  6. says

    Stephanie Ruhle just said one of her sources said Tillerson didn’t just call Trump a “moron” but an “f-ing moron.” She’s talking about the extent of Tillerson’s dedication to the Boy Scouts, which I hadn’t realized. (The NBC report suggests that this all came to a head after Trump’s spectacle of a performance at the Boy Scouts’ jamboree.)

  7. lumipuna says

    I’m a bit disappointed Murray Edwards only “sympathises with the idea that gender is not binary”, rather than simply flat-out stating “gender is not binary”. That is perhaps a quibble?

    The whole statement is so muddled, it looks like they actually mean binary trans identities here. They probably haven’t even considered whether they should admit AFAB nonbinary people, or trans men for that matter.

    Incidentally, Finland’s main feminist organization (Unioni) is currently debating on whether to open their membership for non-women. They currently officially accept all self-identified women, but then it remains unclear whether for example AFAB non-women could be considered ‘women’ for this purpose. It’s mainly a debate on whether all member functions really need to be a women’s space.

  8. lumipuna says

    (I was responding to blf near the end of previous page, on British women-only colleges and trans inclusion.)

  9. blf says

    The Grauniad is now piling in on UK PM Theresa May’s “most calamitous conference speech in British political history” (see @498(previous page) & @5(this page)), The cough, the P45, the falling F: Theresa May’s speech calamity (“Everything that could have gone wrong did go wrong in a speech designed to unite the Tories behind their leader. Here’s how the disaster unfolded”). They point out additional feckups during the speech, including this one:

    The communist-loving bracelet
      There was some question over May’s choice of jewellery for a speech in which she was keen to criticise the politics of Jeremy Corbyn — a bracelet depicting self-portraits by the Mexican artist Frida Kahlo.

    […] Theresa May is wearing a bracelet of Frida Kahlo, a member of the Communist party who LITERALLY DATED TROTSKY


  10. blf says

    Follow-up to @8/10/11, Rex Tillerson says he won’t quit but doesn’t deny calling Trump a ‘moron’:

    The secretary of state said he had not talked to the president [sic] on Wednesday morning before making his statement, saying Trump was on his way to Las Vegas. But the president [sic] was clearly watching Tillerson, tweeting within a few minutes: The NBCNews story has just been totally refuted by Sec Tillerson and VP Pence. It is #FakeNews. They should issue an apology to AMERICA! […]

  11. says

    SC @10, parts of Tillerson’s speech sounded like they were written by Trump. Tillerson performed the ritual of hyper praise for Trump.

    From David Kurtz:

    […] It was cringe-inducing. The only real audience was the President. Will the secretary of state’s personal humiliation be enough to satisfy Trump? It’s the kind of question you expect to ask in a tinpot dictatorship. The other piece of “analysis” here also strains belief: Trump just canned his HHS secretary last week … can he shove out his top diplomat so soon?

    What can you even say? The whole tableau this morning is the problem with this president. This isn’t about Rex Tillerson.

    Trump’s analysis of the performance:

    The @NBCNews story has just been totally refuted by Sec. Tillerson and @VP Pence. It is #FakeNews. They should issue an apology to AMERICA!

    Excerpt from Tillerson’s speech:

    Let me tell you what I have learned about this president, whom I did not know before taking this office: He loves his country. He puts Americans and America first. He’s smart. He demands results wherever he goes and he holds those around him accountable for whether they’ve done the job he’s asked them to do.

    Somebody has to tell us that Trump is “smart”? I’m surprised Tillerson didn’t add, “Believe me!”

  12. says

    Trump said this about Puerto Rico’s massive debt:

    They owe a lot of money to your friends on Wall Street and we’re going to have to wipe that out. You’re going to say goodbye to that, I don’t know if it’s Goldman Sachs but whoever it is you can wave goodbye to that.

    Office of Management and Budget Director Mick Mulvaney said something that came off as “don’t believe what Trump says”:

    I wouldn’t take it word for word with that. I spoke to the president about this at some length yesterday as we flew home on Air Force One, and what we are focusing on right now is … the federal effort is to make sure the island is safe and that we’re rebuilding the island.

    I think the president knows that in order for Puerto Rico long-term to fix itself it’s going to have to deal with that debt situation. The country — excuse me, the territory — was very poorly run for a very long time. Right now they are paying their pension payments, the pension that comes due at the end of the month, they’re paying out of their operating accounts. This was a very badly mismanaged island for a very long time, and I don’t think I’m making any news by saying that.

    So, yeah, clear as mud.

  13. blf says

    …clear as mud

    Trump Moronic Thug Mud (TMTM™) is perfect for:
    ● Slathering over your eyeballs — avoid seeing reality!
    ● Stuffing in your ears — avoid hearing inconvenient things, like facts!
    ● Pouring over your tax returns — keeps things secret!
    ● Building walls!
    ● Throwing at Muslims, Puerto Ricans and other Mexicans, and your own staff!
    ● Is a cheap medicine for all that ails you — no doctor or other silly things like medical care required!
    ● Seals ballots — preventing voting fraud!
    ● Scares away N.Koreans bearing missiles! (Also works on Iranians.)
    ● Cleans the air — cools the planet!
    ● Excellent sauce for steaks — even better than ketchup!
    ● Can be used as brains — no exercise required!

    TMTM™ to gums things up spectacularly!

  14. says

    Sarah Huckabee Sanders offered up a standard response to increasing gun control:

    I think if you look to Chicago, where you had over 4,000 victims of gun-related crimes last year, they have the strictest gun laws in the country. That certainly hasn’t helped there.

    That argument does not hold up, not even under a cursory examination.

    As Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel pointed out:

    If you really want a gun, you can just drive over the Indiana border, and get whatever you want. That is why you need national gun legislation that prevents gang members or criminals from getting their hands on an assault weapon that is not meant for the streets of any urban center.

    In Indiana, people can buy a gun easily, in some instances not even going through a background check. Vice President Mike Pence is partially responsible for this. As governor, he helped to set up Indiana’s lax gun laws.

    […] According to a 2014 report from the Chicago Police Department, nearly 60 percent of the guns in crime scenes that were recovered and traced between 2009 and 2013 came from outside the state. About 19 percent came from Indiana — making it the most common state of origin for guns besides Illinois.

    Here’s how it works: Chicago requires a Firearm Owner Identification card, background check, three-day waiting period, and documentation for all firearm sales. But Indiana doesn’t require any of this for purchases between two private individuals — including those at gun shows and those who meet through the internet — allowing even someone with a criminal record to buy a firearm without passing a background check or submitting paperwork recording the sale.

    So someone from Chicago can drive across the border […] and buy a gun without any of the big legal hurdles he would face at home. Then that person can resell or give guns to others in Chicago or keep them, leaving no paper trail behind. (This is illegal trafficking under federal law, but Indiana’s lax laws and enforcement — particularly the lack of a paper trail — make it impossible to catch someone until a gun is used in a crime.)

    […] A 2016 report from the New York State Office of the Attorney General found that 74 percent of guns used in crimes in New York between 2010 and 2015 came from states with lax gun laws. (The gun trafficking chain from Southern states with weak gun laws to New York is so well-known it even has a name: “the Iron Pipeline.”) […]

    This pipeline makes it impossible for states to stop the flow of guns used in crimes within their borders, since the root of the problem lies in other jurisdictions. The only way the pipeline could be stopped, then, is if all states individually strengthen their gun laws or if the federal government passes a law that enforces stricter rules, from universal background checks like Chicago’s to mandatory gun buyback programs like Australia’s, across all states.

    […] The US has nearly six times the gun homicide rate of Canada, more than seven times Sweden’s, and nearly 16 times Germany’s, according to United Nations data compiled by the Guardian. […]

    A more recent study from 2013, led by a Boston University School of Public Health researcher, reached similar conclusions: After controlling for multiple variables, the study found that a 1 percent increase in gun ownership correlated with a roughly 0.9 percent rise in the firearm homicide rate at the state level.

    This holds up around the world. As Zack Beauchamp explained for Vox, a breakthrough analysis in 1999 by UC Berkeley researchers Franklin Zimring and Gordon Hawkins found that the US does not, contrary to the old conventional wisdom, have more crime in general than other Western industrial nations. Instead, the US appears to have more lethal crime — and that’s driven in large part by the prevalence of guns. […]

    That helps explain why the most rigorous reviews of gun policies have concluded that stricter gun laws can reduce gun violence and deaths. A 2016 review of 130 studies in 10 countries, published in Epidemiologic Reviews, found that new legal restrictions on owning and purchasing guns tended to be followed by a drop in gun violence — a strong indicator that restricting access to guns can save lives. […]


  15. says

    Burr/Warner press conference:

    – They wanted to show how much ground they’ve covered – witnesses interviewed, public hearings, documents examined,… They seem to continue to work reasonably well together and be on roughly the same page.

    – They’re very confident at this point in the IC assessment. (Burr danced around this a bit with regard to the Kremlin’s specific intent to help Trump and hurt Clinton, but couldn’t really avoid acknowledging it.)

    – They’ve “hit a wall” re the Steele dossier, especially with regard to the memos dealing with the period prior to June 2016. Steele hasn’t taken them up on their requests for an interview or information. (It should be noted that there have been reports that Steele has talked to and turned over information, including about sources, to Mueller’s team.) Regarding the other information in the Steele dossier, Burr doesn’t say or suggest that it’s been even tentatively proven false. (He doesn’t say it’s been confirmed, either, but if it had been completely rebutted I’m sure he would have found a way to say that, as he did with his hints about the changes to the proposed Ukraine amendment in the Republican platform.)

    – Warner was pleased that the social media companies have finally started to be more thorough in their internal investigations. He expects quite a bit more to come. They’ve asked representatives from FB, Twitter, and Google to testify in an open hearing on November 1st and hope they’ll accept. They won’t turn over the ads they’ve received from FB – or any other documents provided to the committee – but they have no problem with FB releasing them, and Warner thinks the public should have the information.

    – Warner was dismayed that it took DHS until last Friday afternoon to notify states whose election systems were probed or breached, and that even now a few states don’t have total clarity about what was done. Burr tried to spin the notifications as a positive, heralding a new approach from DHS and thus the Trump people, but this isn’t at all convincing. They have suggestions going forward for the security of the voting process as a result of what they’ve learned. They both say they can certify that no vote totals were tampered with.

    – Burr wants to complete the investigation by the end of this year, but new information can always lead to new avenues. In any event, they both agree that the committee should complete its work and release its public report in time to inform people prior to the 2018 elections.

    – Asked if the evidence of Kremlin interference could ever be so strong that a do-over could be contemplated, Burr says the election took place and “that’s how it’s gonna stay.”

  16. says

    Malcolm Nance: “Senate intelligence briefing. Briefing essentially confirmed there was Russian collusion by avoiding all talk of it.”

    Hm. Burr did say the Kremlin was very clever or sneaky or something and that he would warn all campaigns going forward, but I didn’t gather that they essentially confirmed anything. (Again, they didn’t refute anything, but I’m not sure they would do that for collusion in general.)

  17. says

    Follow-up to SC in comments 2 and 20.

    Excerpt from an an article by Andrea Bernstein, Jesse Eisinger, Justin Elliott and Ilya Marritz (a collaboration between The New Yorker, ProPublica and WNYC):

    In the spring of 2012, Donald Trump’s two eldest children, Ivanka Trump and Donald Trump, Jr., found themselves in a precarious legal position. For two years, prosecutors in the Manhattan District Attorney’s office had been building a criminal case against them for misleading prospective buyers of units in the Trump SoHo, a hotel and condo development that was failing to sell. […] An indictment seemed like a real possibility. The evidence included e-mails from the Trumps making clear that they were aware they were using inflated figures about how well the condos were selling to lure buyers.

    In one e-mail, according to four people who have seen it, the Trumps discussed how to coördinate false information they had given to prospective buyers. […] In yet another, Donald, Jr., spoke reassuringly to a broker who was concerned about the false statements, saying that nobody would ever find out, because only people on the e-mail chain or in the Trump Organization knew about the deception, according to a person who saw the e-mail. There was “no doubt” that the Trump children “approved, knew of, agreed to, and intentionally inflated the numbers to make more sales,” one person who saw the e-mails told us. “They knew it was wrong.”

    […] These attorneys had met with prosecutors in the bureau several times. They conceded that their clients had made exaggerated claims, but argued that the overstatements didn’t amount to criminal misconduct. Still, the case dragged on. […] Donald Trump, Sr., expressed frustration that the investigation had not been closed. Soon after, his longtime personal lawyer, Marc Kasowitz, entered the case. […]

  18. says

    Greg Sargent at WaPo on the Burr/Warner presser:

    …I have learned new details about why this presser is actually happening, and they do not exactly inspire confidence in the future of this investigation, or at least in how Republicans are going to handle it going forward.

    According to a senior aide to a Democratic senator on the committee, the reason this presser is happening is that Burr had initially moved to issue an interim report on the progress made by the probe.

    But Democrats on the committee balked at this, the aide tells me. They worried that releasing a report would be premature and that Burr’s desire to do so might be rooted in political pressure he is feeling to wrap up the probe faster.

    So after Democrats objected, a compromise was reached to hold this presser instead.

    The reason this is worrisome is that Republicans are turning up the volume on their efforts to scuttle the probes. In a good piece this morning, Politico reports that pro-Trump Republicans are angry with the GOP leadership for allegedly allowing these probes to get out of hand. Some Trump allies are even claiming that this is happening because the GOP leadership allegedly opposes Trump….

  19. blf says

    This is a follow-up to earlier comments about the DoJ issuing “fishing expedition” warrants on visits to a website used for organizing protests at hair furor’s coronation. Apparently, they are now targeting farcebork, US targets anti-Trump activists’ Facebook accounts:

    The warrants seek information from three accounts related to the massive Inauguration Day protests in February [sic].
    Three warrants were served that demand Facebook provide the US government with all information from the accounts of two activists and a page affiliated with massive protests against right-wing President [sic] Donald Trump’s inauguration on January 20.

    The requested information includes the entirety of photos, videos, posts, private messages, video calls, billing information and other data between November 1, 2016, and February 9.

    [One warrant targets Lacy MacAuley.] The other two warrants target activist Legba Carrefour and the “Disrupt J20” page, which has since been renamed “Resist This”.

    MacAuley and Carrefour had been protest spokespersons leading up to the inauguration, and the Disrupt J20 page was a digital space where visitors discussed and organised demonstrations.

    If successful, the warrant for Disrupt J20 could result in some 6,000 visitors to that page having their names and public and private activity on and with the page passed on to the government.

    Facebook was barred from informing its users that the DOJ was seeking their online information for seven months. Government lawyers dropped the gag order in mid-September.


    Last week, the American Civil Liberties Union’s DC chapter (ACLU-DC) filed a motion in court asking for the warrants to be thrown out.

    MacAuley, Carrefour and Emmelia Talarico, who administered the Disrupt J20 page, are being represented by the ACLU-DC.

    Scott Michelman, a senior lawyer at the ACLU-DC, described the warrants as “a serious case of prosecutorial overreach”.

    “This is a deep invasion of privacy and it’s unconstitutional,” he told Al Jazeera.


    Sam Menefee-Libey, an activist with the DC Legal Posse, a group that supports the Inauguration Day defendants, argued that the warrants are part of the government’s ongoing campaign to dissuade and intimidate anti-Trump activists.


  20. says

    Republicans were inspired by the massacre in Las Vegas to pass an anti-abortion bill. Really.

    As we mourn the lives lost in Las Vegas this week, and welcome Whip Scalise back to Capitol Hill, we are reminded just how precious life is. This message weighed heavily on the hearts of House Republicans as we spoke of the potential of life — especially lives cut short through abortion. […]


  21. says

    Some former Health and Human Services officials who worked in the Obama administration are trying to do some good by mitigating one of team Trump’s efforts to sabotage Obamacare.

    As we have noted again and again, even though Congress hasn’t managed to repeal (much less “replace”) the Affordable Care Act, the Trump Administration keeps coming up with new ways to sabotage Obamacare, like cutting this fall’s open enrollment period by half (from 90 days to 45 days, ending December 15 […]), slashing the advertising budget by 90%, and forbidding HHS regional directors from attending ACA enrollment events […].

    Well, like any bunch of damn trouble-making do-gooders, some former Health and Human Services officials who worked on promoting ACA enrollment during the Obama administration have set up a new group to promote open enrollment this fall (November 1 to December 15), since the actual Trump HHS isn’t interested in doing its own goddamned job.

    The new group, Get America Covered, went online today, and was co-founded by Obama administration veterans Lori Lodes and Joshua Peck. Both worked in HHS’s Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS), the agency responsible for making the ACA work, as part of the efforts to reach and enroll people for individual health insurance plans on the healthcare exchanges. In a press release, Lodes said,

    […] With an Open Enrollment period that’s half as a long, a new final deadline to enroll, cancelled advertising and gutted funding for guides who help people through the process, the administration is making it harder for people to get their health care coverage. We can’t fix that but we can’t sit on the sidelines either. So we’re going to do everything we can to make sure people have the facts about the quality, affordable health care coverage that’s available at

    […] Lodes concedes that the new nonprofit can’t do what a properly run, properly funded government agency would, like CMS did under Obama, but she’s certain that their outreach will be better than the paltry efforts the Trump administration is making: “They have set the bar so low.” […]


  22. militantagnostic says

    SC @38

    The more things change the more they stay the same. When I was young the House Leader of the Progressive Conservatives, Erik Nielson (older brother of actor Leslie Nielson) was a strong forced birther. When he go his secretary pregnant, he pressured her into having an abortion.

  23. militantagnostic says

    According to timgueguen’s link @46, the tanks contained jet fuel which is not very flammable. It is closer to diesel than it is to gasoline and is used in diesel engines in the Arctic because it does not jell at low temperatures. The idea that you can explode a fuel tank by shooting at it is Hollywood bullshit. If you have ever seen gun camera footage from WWII you will see fuel streaming out of punctured wings for some time before it ignites even though the aircraft is being hit with exploding rounds* and red hot tracer bullets. A liquid fuel will not burn, it has to be in the vapour phase to ignite.

    My father was hit in shoulder blade by an exploding bullet in WWII while lying on the ground and it set his hair on fire.

  24. KG says

    staffed by plutocrats who are indifferent to inequality – blf quoting Joseph Stiglitz@9

    Bullshit, Stiglitz! Plutocrats are by no means indifferent to inequality – they love it, and strive by every available means to increase it.

    The video shows, with absolute clarity, God telling Theresa May to “F off!”.

  25. says

    Twitter has also agreed to have representatives testify before the Senate Intel Committee on November 1st.

    During the press conference yesterday, Burr tried to suggest that the Kremlin FB ads were “equal opportunity” – meant just to spread chaos and discord in every direction. This was highly misleading. Here’s Adam Schiff on Rachel Maddow (guest-hosted by Ari Melber) last night talking about how the ads can’t be looked at superficially and need to be seen in terms of their targeting to truly understand their purpose, and also how the FB ads are only part of the picture.

    In fact, they need to look at the FB ads in terms of content and targeting; the Twitter RT ads and their targeting; the use of fake accounts, bots, and trolls on social media, comment threads, etc.; the actions on Reddit; the use of these platforms to promote the (often highly manipulated and misleading) reports about the DNC, DCCC, and Podesta emails; the involvement with or support of Religious Right groups, the NRA, and other political organizations; the variety of hacking attempts, including of journalists, NGOs, and academics; the infiltration of pro-Sanders online groups and sites; the gaming of news algorithms; and of course the possible coordination with people in the US in any of this.

  26. says

    Updated list of politically significant upcoming dates:

    October 17: Kenyan presidential election do-over
    October 18: district court hears oral arguments in CREW’s foreign-emoluments lawsuit against Trump
    October 25: Michael Cohen testifies before the Senate Intel Cmte (open session)

    November 1: representatives from Facebook, Twitter, and Google[?] testify before the Senate Intel Cmte (open session)
    November 7: VA governor election (Northam vs. Gillespie)
    November 19: Chilean legislative and presidential elections
    November 26: Honduran legislative and presidential elections

    December 12: AL Senate special election (Jones vs. Moore)

  27. says

    Updated list of ongoing Inspector General investigations:

    HHS – Tom Price’s travel [don’t know the status of this following his resignation, or whether it expands to Conway’s travel with Price]
    EPA – Scott Pruitt’s travel
    Treasury – Mnuchin’s trip to Fort Knox; Mnuchin’s request for military plane for honeymoon
    Treasury – Mnuchin aide Eli Miller’s travel on hedge-fund billionaire’s private jet
    Interior – Zinke’s threats to Murkowski over ACA repeal vote; Zinke’s travel
    VA – Shulkin’s travel
    Justice – Comey’s Clinton letter
    GSA – Trump’s hotel lease

    There are new reports that Rick Perry used a private charter the day before Price resigned, so that could potentially rise to the level of an investigation by the Energy IG.

  28. blf says

    Heh, the gentlemen (Lee Nelson (real name Simon Brodkin)) who gave UK PM Theresa May an (unfortunately fake) P45 (pink slip) yesterday during the “most calamitous conference speech in British political history” also gave hair furor, when he was still a candidate and in Scotland last year, some red golf balls with swastikas. Here’s an interview with him from around that time, Prankster in chief: why I threw swastika golfballs at Donald Trump, which has a picture showing him and some of the golf balls at the Scottish course.

  29. says

    “Jeff Sessions Just Reversed A Policy That Protects Transgender Workers From Discrimination”:

    US Attorney General Jeff Sessions has reversed a federal government policy that said transgender workers were protected from discrimination under a 1964 civil rights law, according to a memo on Wednesday sent to agency heads and US attorneys.

    Sessions’ directive, obtained by BuzzFeed News, says, “Title VII’s prohibition on sex discrimination encompasses discrimination between men and women but does not encompass discrimination based on gender identity per se, including transgender status.”

    It adds that the government will take this position in pending and future matters, which could have far-reaching implications across the federal government and may result in the Justice Department fighting against transgender workers in court.

    “Although federal law, including Title VII, provides various protections to transgender individuals, Title VII does not prohibit discrimination based on gender identity per se,” Sessions writes. “This is a conclusion of law, not policy. As a law enforcement agency, the Department of Justice must interpret Title VII as written by Congress.”

    But the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, an independent agency that enforces civil rights law in the workplace, and a growing body of federal court decisions have found sex discrimination does include discrimination on the basis of gender identity and sex stereotyping — and that Title VII therefore bans anti-transgender discrimination as well….

  30. says

    Trump inserted a discussion about F-35 fighter jets into a press conference about relief aid to Puerto Rico. It was weird and creepy, as is usual with Trump:

    AIR FORCE REPRESENTATIVE: We have four major runways that are fully open and operational; flown about 700-plus strategic airlift sorties to and from OCONUS, (inaudible) Puerto Rico to provide life-sustaining support.

    TRUMP: Amazing job. Amazing job. So amazing that we’re ordering hundreds of millions of dollars’ worth of new airplanes for the Air Force, especially the F-35. Do you like the F-35? […] I said, how does it do it in fights? And how do they do in fights with the F-35? They said, we do very well. You can’t see it. Literally, you can’t see it. So it’s hard to fight a plane that you can’t see, right?

    AIR FORCE REPRESENTATIVE: Sir, we like that.

    TRUMP: But that’s an expensive plane that you can’t see. And as you probably heard, we cut the price very substantially – something that other administrations would never have done, that I can tell you. So thank you very much.

    Trump was not just off-topic. He was wrong. He was lying. He is deluded.

    […] The main factors driving down the price of each jet include the fact that the military was planning to order them in larger quantities for U.S. forces and allies, according to company and military officials, lawmakers and a POLITICO review of several years of program data. Earlier pressure from the Obama administration and Congress to shave expenses also played a role.

    “This would’ve happened if Hillary Clinton had been elected president,” said Loren Thompson, a defense industry consultant who works for several top Pentagon contractors.

  31. says

    Republicans in the House of Congress passed a $4.2 trillion budget. Joan McCarter summarized this budget resolution:

    With a razor-thin 219-206 margin, House Republicans have passed their FY2018 budget, a $4.2 trillion spending and cuts measure that sets up their tax cut bill to progress through the Senate without being subject to a filibuster […]. This is a non-binding resolution that would set spending—and slashing—priorities for the Congress. Those priorities are a big problem, not just for Democrats but for the health of the nation.

    The bill not only instructs congress to do massive tax cuts for the rich through the budget reconciliation process, it instructs lawmakers to reduce Medicaid spending by $1 trillion and Medicare by $473 billion. That’s along with the $37 billion in cuts for affordable housing, $100 billion for Pell Grants, cutting Head Start by $3 billion, and essentially gutting the WIC program that provides food assistance to 1.25 million women, infants, and children.

    That’s so they can get $1.5 trillion in tax cuts for the rich.

    The budget is so blatantly give-to-the-rich-and-screw-the-rest that eighteen Republicans voted no, but the resolution still passed.

  32. says

    The female writers at the Tonight Show thanked Hillary Clinton. Scroll down for the video (6:14 minutes long). Miley Cyrus, the featured guest, also wrote a “Thank you” note to Hillary.


  33. says

    Good article: “How the Spanish government is pushing Catalans to support independence.”

    I didn’t have a particularly strong opinion one way or the other about the separatist cause. Catalan separatism hasn’t ever been and isn’t now a social-justice movement (although it’s always included social-justice activists), and even if it were the relationship between national independence and leftwing causes is complex. But I’m also well aware of the history of repression under Franco and how the PP made its legacy endure even when the Socialists were in power. The intransigence and disrespect* shown by Rajoy, and even more the violence and repression surrounding the vote on Sunday, were reminders of how little they’ve changed since the mid-twentieth century. Even with the PP in power, Spain is a robust democracy with a number of progressive aspects, but they are diehard reactionaries and it’s inextricably linked to their particular nationalist vision. It’s like an entire party of Jeff Sessionses. The only saving grace at the moment is that the current Pope isn’t like them. But I had an almost visceral reaction to Sunday’s violence – my mind filled with all of the stories of repression from the Franco era. It was a truly vicious regime, and it wasn’t that long ago.

    * Something recent that aroused my sympathy was when, the day of the terrorist attack in Barcelona, almost every tweet by Catalan authorities – despite the fact that they were going to the trouble of tweeting almost everything in English in addition – was met with demanding comments in Spanish about how they should say everything in Spanish. While they were trying to inform people in their own language about a local terrorist attack and their ongoing investigation. It was so obnoxious and entitled and thoughtless. It was noticeable that the Catalan government did all of the press conferences about the vote on Sunday in Catalan and French.

  34. says

    Oh, no, not Stephen Miller. Please, not Stephen Miller.

    The White House is finalizing a plan to demand hardline immigration reforms in exchange for supporting a fix on the DACA program,[…] an approach that risks alienating Democrats and even many Republicans, potentially tanking any deal.

    The White House proposal is being crafted by Stephen Miller, the administration’s top immigration adviser, and includes cutting legal immigration by half over the next decade, an idea that’s already been panned by lawmakers in both parties.

    Politico link

    A summary of Trump’s tap-dancing around the DACA issue:

    – Said he’d deport all undocumented immigrants, with no exceptions.
    – Implied he’d come up with some sort of exemption for DACA beneficiaries by praising them as “incredible kids” and promising to treat them “with heart.”
    – Made the widely unpopular move to end DACA without putting a backup plan in place.
    – Alienated his right-wing supporters by subsequently agreeing with Democrats to create a permanent grand-bargain legislative resolution to the issue.
    – Sabotaged the grand-bargain bargaining process by putting Stephen Miller in charge of it.

    Slate link

    Jamelle Bouie reminds us that Stephen Miller is a white nationalist:

    […] Stephen Miller has a lower profile than either Sessions or Bannon, but he’s made his mark as a staffer for the former. “You could not get where we are today with this movement if it didn’t have a center of gravity that was intellectually coherent,” said Bannon of Miller in an interview with Politico Magazine. “And I think a ton of that was done by Sen. Sessions’ staff, and Stephen Miller was at the cutting edge of that.”

    As a student at Duke University, the now–30-year-old Miller worked closely with Richard Spencer, then a graduate student who would leave the academy and become an intellectual leader for the “alt-right,” an online movement of white nationalists. And as a columnist for the campus paper, Miller worried that “immigrants from non-European countries were not assimilating.”

    Last year, as a key member of Trump’s presidential team, Miller had a strong hand in guiding the Republican nominee’s rhetoric on Muslim immigration. My colleague Ben Mathis-Lilley notes that Miller likely wrote the Trump speech that “complained darkly that Muslim communities within the United States were sheltering terrorists.” […]

  35. says

    Samantha Bee and Hamilton’s Javier Muñoz explained Puerto Rico’s history of getting screwed by the United States.

    Bee did a good job of using satire to deflate Trump’s self-congratulatory visit to Puerto Rico. The video is 6:11 minutes long.

  36. says

    Here’s the story Kaspersky was referring to – “Russian Hackers Stole NSA Data on U.S. Cyber Defense”:

    Hackers working for the Russian government stole details of how the U.S. penetrates foreign computer networks and defends against cyberattacks after a National Security Agency contractor removed the highly classified material and put it on his home computer, according to multiple people with knowledge of the matter.

    The hackers appear to have targeted the contractor after identifying the files through the contractor’s use of a popular antivirus software made by Russia-based Kaspersky Lab, these people said.

    The theft, which hasn’t been disclosed, is considered by experts to be one of the most significant security breaches in recent years. It offers a rare glimpse into how the intelligence community thinks Russian intelligence exploits a widely available commercial software product to spy on the U.S.

    The incident occurred in 2015 but wasn’t discovered until spring of last year, said the people familiar with the matter.

    The Kaspersky incident is the third publicly known breach at the NSA involving a contractor’s access to a huge trove of highly classified materials. It prompted an official letter of reprimand to the agency’s director, Adm. Michael Rogers, by his superiors, people familiar with the situation said….

  37. says

    From the piece @ #64: “Puigdemont’s commitment to Catalan independence is such that he would not travel to Madrid directly from Barcelona by air, instead buying a ticket through, say, Brussels, so that he could enter Madrid through the international terminal.”

    That is super wasteful and stupid.

  38. says

    “John Kelly’s personal cell phone was compromised, White House believes”:

    White House officials believe that chief of staff John Kelly’s personal cellphone was compromised, potentially as long ago as December, according to three U.S. government officials.

    The discovery raises concerns that hackers or foreign governments may have had access to data on Kelly’s phone while he was secretary of Homeland Security and after he joined the West Wing.

    Tech support staff discovered the suspected breach after Kelly turned his phone in to White House tech support this summer complaining that it wasn’t working or updating software properly.

    Kelly told the staffers the phone hadn’t been working properly for months, according to the officials.

    Several government officials said it was unclear when — or where — Kelly’s phone was first compromised. It is unclear what data might have been accessed, if any.

    Kelly’s travel schedule prior to joining the administration in January is under review. The former Marine general retired in 2016 as chief of U.S. Southern Command….

    [Pure, multi-level speculation alert:] I’ve seen a totally random rumor on Twitter that Kelly has resigned but that it won’t be announced until tomorrow. IF that were true, this could be a hit back at him.

  39. says

    “Exclusive: Mueller’s team met with Russia dossier author”:

    Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigators met this past summer with the former British spy whose dossier on alleged Russian efforts to aid the Trump campaign spawned months of investigations that have hobbled the Trump administration, according to two people familiar with the matter.

    CNN has learned that the FBI and the US intelligence community last year took the Steele dossier more seriously than the agencies have publicly acknowledged….

    The intelligence agencies, particularly the CIA, and the FBI took Steele’s research seriously enough that they kept it out of a publicly-released January report on Russian meddling in the election in order to not divulge which parts of the dossier they had corroborated and how….

  40. says

    MSNBC is saying “Tillerson summoned to WH amid Trump fury” and that the reason Kelly didn’t go to Las Vegas was to deal with the Tillerson situation. (So the Kelly resignation rumor might well be false.)

  41. says

    Brief primer for you all on the significance of the Kaspersky story:

    The software did what it was designed to do. The NSA contractor put known malware on his laptop to take it home and work on it. The software recognized it based on signature files and reported home that malware was found. Part of that process involves uploading a copy of the file to a virtual server to analyze the software and see what it does. That’s called ‘sandboxing’.

    Once it was uploaded, it was in the possession of RIS. Eugene Kaspersky is denying it, but it’s pretty solid proof that RIS has access to their sandbox.

    Every other sandboxing AV does the same thing, but we in the industry assume the sandbox itself is secure. I think Maddow’s going to talk about this tonight.

    Full disclosure: The company I work for sells Kaspersky AV. I’m trying to figure out how to convince them to drop them as a vendor without getting the poor lady they just hired to market that malware to their customers fired. She didn’t know. I feel bad for her. She’s in a bad spot.

  42. says

    Maddow reported that a colleague of Steele’s has told her that he relayed a message to Burr and Warner from Steele saying he would be happy to meet with them, and was surprised by Burr’s comments in the press conference yesterday. I don’t know if they didn’t consider the colleague a credible intermediary because they’d approached Steele through his lawyers, there was a miscommunication, or the person actually isn’t credible. Hope it’s one of the first two.

  43. says

    I keep thinking about Trump’s obsession with the comment Neera Tanden (he kept attributing it to John Podesta) made about Hillary Clinton in one of the hacked emails, saying something like “Sometimes her instincts are terrible.” It was a nothing minor (and valid) criticism, but Trump brought it up over and over, even when he was supposed to be talking about something else, saying it showed that Clinton was weak and her advisors didn’t respect her and that he would have fired that person immediately. Then I imagine how he, with his warped psyche, must have responded to Tillerson’s “moron” comment once he got past his denial.

  44. KG says

    From the BBC

    The Spanish government’s representative in Catalonia has apologised to those injured during police efforts to stop Sunday’s independence referendum.

    But Enric Millo blamed the Catalan government for holding an illegal vote.

    A classic notpology.

  45. says

    What’s troubling about the response to this wave of authoritarian bigots and poseurs running for public office is that few people, including in the media, seem to ask them about their vision for their community or society at large. What does their ideal society look like? What concrete policies will they work for to move society in that direction? On what basis do they believe these policies would be effective in making people’s lives better? Do they even have improving people’s lives as a goal? How does their prejudiced, punitive rhetoric match with their policy program?

    Roy Moore’s list of positions is just a ridiculous string of far-Right talking points. It could be written by a 12 year old. He doesn’t know anything about national policy. Here’s the entirety of his statement about his position on health care:

    We do not need socialized medicine which will ultimately lead to loss of quality and affordability of heath care, as well as a loss of access to the latest medical technology. Obamacare should be completely repealed as soon as possible.

    Businesses should receive tax credits for employee health care coverage, and health insurance should be available between the states for competition and quality care.

    Churches and charitable organizations should be encouraged to help the needy and poor.

    Here’s his full position on the economy:

    Lower taxes, smaller government, and less spending will reduce the deficit and enable economic growth and a truly “stimulated” economy.

    I believe in the reduction of taxes at all levels, and a need to reform the tax system by studying and implementing a “flat tax” or a “fair tax,” which is a tax on goods and services purchased instead of a tax on income.

    To paraphrase an old saying, the only two things in life that are certain are death and taxes, but the truth is we are being taxed to death while our businesses are failing and our economy continues to suffer.

    We must return American manufacturing to our Country by rescinding unfair “free trade” agreements which have severely damaged our economy through loss of jobs and skill development. The phrase “Made in America” should mean something again.

    We should cut the deficit and balance the budget using accurate data unlike budget projections used by past administrations.

    This is a candidate for the United States Senate. Contrast with his Democratic opponent Doug Jones.

    Ed Gillespie’s pages on mental health care and education are just total blather, and would want for funds because (of course) he wants to cut taxes. While he rages about MS-13, his crime page states that “There are also significant racial disparities in the criminal justice system, and socioeconomic factors that hold back some of our fellow Virginians, leading them to be statistically more likely to be involved with the justice system, and struggle upon re-entry. This cannot be ignored.” He’s plainly just cynically exploiting racist fears and grievances to paper over his typically vacuous Republicanism which would do nothing for Virginians.

  46. says

    “US Intelligence Unit Accused Of Illegally Spying On Americans’ Financial Records”:

    The intelligence division at the Treasury Department has repeatedly and systematically violated domestic surveillance laws by snooping on the private financial records of US citizens and companies, according to government sources.

    Over the past year, at least a dozen employees in another branch of the Treasury Department, the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network, have warned officials and Congress that US citizens’ and residents’ banking and financial data has been illegally searched and stored. And the breach, some sources said, extended to other intelligence agencies, such as the National Security Agency, whose officers used the Treasury’s intelligence division as an illegal back door to gain access to American citizens’ financial records….

  47. says

    From the article @ #87: “Officials at FinCEN said that after they began raising alarms, OIA began shutting them off from classified networks. That lack of access, which BuzzFeed News reported last week, meant FinCEN officials were unable to fully respond to law enforcement agencies during several live terrorist attacks over the last year. It also prevented FinCEN from fully complying with the Senate investigation into possible collusion between Donald Trump’s campaign and Russia.”

  48. says

    SC @70, what an incredible nest of vipers. They are all interconnected. They are all biting each other. They are all narrow-minded and petty. And yet, they survive and thrive. The bench of white supremacist players is deeper than I thought. The machiavelli-like Steve Bannon is more evil than I thought.

    It makes me wonder if anyone can clean up a mess like that.

    Of course, none of those doofuses would have gotten as far without a torrent of money from the Mercers.

  49. says

    “Roy Moore’s Neo-Confederate Sugar Daddy Has Deep Ties To Secessionists”:

    Alabama Republican Senate nominee Roy Moore’s top supporter is a hardline Confederate sympathizer with longtime ties to a secessionist group.

    Michael Anthony Peroutka…has given Moore, his foundation and his campaigns well over a half-million dollars over the past decade-plus. He’s also expressed beliefs that make even Moore’s arguably theocratic anti-gay and anti-Muslim views look mainstream by comparison. Chief among them: He’s argued that the more Christian South needs to secede and form a new Biblical nation.

    Peroutka and Moore share similar Christian Reconstructionist views of government. Both Moore and Peroutka have long questioned the basic right of the federal government to dictate what local officials do, arguing that’s beyond the power God and the Constitution grants to it, though Peroutka has gone much further, openly talking about secession.

    They believe that America is a Christian nation, that government is limited to enforcing those rights bestowed by God, and anything else it attempts to do is fundamentally wrong and should be disregarded by the people and officials. That explains Moore’s refusal to follow the rule of law in both occasions he was forced to leave the state supreme court. Both explicitly reject the common interpretation of the separation of church and state, blame America’s woes on an abandonment of their theocratic view, and harken back fondly to a hazy earlier era where devout Christians alone ruled the land.

    The sum total of Peroutka’s donations to Moore, his causes and campaigns: at least $622,000 since 2004….

  50. says

    From the Washington Post, more proof that Trump will go to almost any lengths to sabotage the Affordable Care Act:

    For months, officials in Republican-controlled Iowa had sought federal permission to revitalize their ailing health-insurance marketplace. Then President Trump read about the request in a newspaper story and called the federal director weighing the application.

    Trump’s message was clear, according to individuals who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss private conversations: Tell Iowa no.

    Supporters of the Affordable Care Act see the president’s opposition even to changes sought by conservative states as part of a broader campaign by his administration to undermine the 2010 health-care law. In addition to trying to cut funding for the ACA, the Trump administration also is hampering state efforts to control premiums. In the case of Iowa, that involved a highly unusual intervention by the president himself.

    Iowa is controlled by Republicans: two senators, the governorship, the state House, and the state Senate. If all of those Republicans want to revitalize and stabilize their health-insurance market, you would think that Hair Furor would back them up, or that at least he would not block them.

    From Steve Benen:

    […] GOP officials in Iowa crafted an ambitious series of reforms to help stabilize its state insurance market, taking advantage of a provision in the ACA – known among health care wonks as Section 1332 waivers – that allows states to come up with state-specific modifications to the law.

    The catch is, federal officials have to sign off on the changes. Iowa Republicans probably thought their ally in the White House would side with them, but they thought wrong. […]

    Iowa’s not alone. State officials in Oklahoma – one of the nation’s reddest red states, which Trump won by 36 points – spent months on a market stabilization plan of their own. The state submitted its waiver request on time, but the Trump administration didn’t respond until after the deadline had passed. […]

    The Post’s article, meanwhile, noted that Minnesota had a related plan for its state system, which had bipartisan support from state officials, but which the Trump administration handled in the worst possible way: HHS said Minnesota could pursue its reforms if the state accepted millions of dollars in cuts to federal health care spending.

    […] all available evidence suggests Trump and his team are going out of their way to sabotage the nation’s health care system, motivated entirely by partisan spite. It is no exaggeration to characterize this as a “scorched-earth campaign to destroy Obamacare,” the consequences of which may be severe.

  51. says

    “Trump HHS Unveils New Reg Rolling Back Obamacare Birth Control Mandate”:

    The Trump administration officially unveiled Friday a long expected regulation change that would roll back the Affordable Care Act’s contraceptive mandate by significantly expanding the opportunity for employers and other entities to get an exemption from it.

    The so-called “interim rules,” posted on the federal register, tracks closely with a draft leaked to Vox last Spring. It is expected to draw legal challenges by women’s health groups.

    On the substance, the rule represents a dramatic shift in the federal government’s position on Obamacare’s contraceptive mandate. The Obama administration, in the many lawsuits it faced challenging the mandate, argued that the government had a compelling interest in guaranteeing women’s access to contraceptives. The Trump administration is now doing a full reversal on the position in the two interim rules published Friday.

  52. says

    SC @ 90, that’s a great article. Thanks for the link.

    To summarize, and to add more details to those SC already provided: Michael Anthony Peroutka is Roy Moore’s top provider of bags of money. Peroutka is more theocratic than Moore.

    Peroutka thinks that southern states should secede from the United States and form a “biblical nation.”

    I’m sure Russian-controlled social media bots are all over that, and are promoting the idea. Peroutka and Moore represent the attempted mainstreaming of crazypants ideas from the fringes of the rightwing.

    […] Peroutka […] spent years on the board of the Alabama-based League of the South, a southern secessionist group which for years has called for a southern nation run by an “Anglo-Celtic” elite. […] That organization, after Peroutka left, was one of the organizers of the Charlottesville protests last summer that ended in bloodshed. […]

    Peroutka praised his daughter for refusing to play the Battle Hymn of the Republic in her school band, called a visit to Confederate leader Jefferson Davis’ grave “beautiful,” praised his son for calling the Confederate rebel flag the “American flag” […].


  53. says

    I’ve lost count of all of the ways Trump is sabotaging the ACA. After losing legislatively, he’s cheating; he’s violating his oath of office; and he’s reducing people’s access to care and making it more expensive.

  54. says

  55. says

    “Facebook Cut Russia Out of April Report on Election Influence”:

    Facebook Inc….cut references to Russia from a public report in April about manipulation of its platform around the presidential election because of concerns among the company’s lawyers and members of its policy team, according to people familiar with the matter.

    The drafting of the report sparked internal debate over how much information to disclose about Russian mischief on Facebook and its efforts to affect U.S. public opinion during the 2016 presidential contest, according to these people. Some at Facebook pushed to not include a mention of Russia in the report because the company’s understanding of Russian activity was too speculative, according to one of the people.

    Ultimately, the 13-page report, published on April 27 and titled “Information Operations and Facebook,” was shortened by several pages by Facebook’s legal and policy teams from an earlier draft, and didn’t mention Russia at all, the people said.

    Rather, it concluded that “malicious actors” engaged in influence campaigns during the U.S. presidential election but said it couldn’t determine who was responsible….

    The debated inclusion of Russia in the April report raises new questions about when Facebook became aware of Russian manipulation of its platform during the election….

  56. says

    Update to #92 – “The American Civil Liberties Union is filing a lawsuit today against the Trump Administration challenging interim final rules issued by the Department of Health and Human Services and other federal agencies that would allow nearly all employers to deny their employees insurance coverage for contraception if the employer has a religious or moral objection….”

  57. says

    Update to #80 – “Christopher Steele, the former British intelligence operative who authored a 35-page dossier alleging that the Trump campaign had colluded with Russia, has been in talks with the Senate Intelligence Committee about speaking to its leaders, three sources familiar with the situation told NBC News.”

  58. says

    “Jeff Sessions Just Issued New Guidance On Protecting ‘Religious Liberty'”: “The policy is the Trump administration’s latest offering to religious conservatives, who reluctantly coalesced around Donald Trump’s 2016 campaign and then, after he won the election, studded his transition team with advisors. Evangelical activists have clamored for President Trump to rescind Obama-era policies against LGBT discrimination, or, failing that, let religious objectors opt out. In developing the guidance, the Justice Department consulted with religious and political groups with a history of opposing protections for LGBT people. A Justice Department official said those groups included the Mormon Church, the Alliance Defending Freedom, and the US Conference of Catholic Bishops.”

  59. says


    Scores of former members of President Donald Trump’s campaign and transition team, as well as others with ties to his young administration, are setting up shop as lobbyists in Washington and cashing in on their connections, according to a new study published Thursday.

    The report, produced by Public Citizen, a public interest group, identified at least 44 registered federal lobbyists with such ties to Trump or Vice President Mike Pence operating in Washington as recently as the end of August. These collectively billed nearly $41.8 million to clients, records showed.

    Public Citizen identified 17 people who worked for Trump’s transition team, then engaged in lobbying the administration during its first six months. They collectively billed clients $14.9 million….

  60. says

    JFC – the JCPOA doesn’t include all of that other shit. It’s a specific fucking deal about specific fucking acts. By all reliable accounts, they’ve held up their end of the deal.

  61. says

    Hitler fucking purged the SA! That’s what the Night of the Long Knives was!


    SC @70, what an incredible nest of vipers. They are all interconnected. They are all biting each other. They are all narrow-minded and petty. And yet, they survive and thrive. The bench of white supremacist players is deeper than I thought. The machiavelli-like Steve Bannon is more evil than I thought.

    It’s amazing how much they resemble the Nazis before and just after they took power – the rivalries, hatreds, machinations, backbiting, scheming, mutual distrust,… They’re psychologically disturbed and destructive people, and it shows in their relationships with one another. It was amazing, especially because I recently read In the Garden of Beasts, to note in the Buzzfeed article: “In a June 2016 email to an assistant, Yiannopoulos shared the password to his email, which began ‘LongKnives1290’.” It wouldn’t surprise me if he’s just that ignorant and thinks “longknives” sounds edgy, but there’s always been something painfully pathetic about Yiannopoulos.

  62. blf says

    Apparently, some of the bonsai gardens outside of Japan are in rather poor condition, which the Japanese government interprets an national embarrassment. Hence, there is a plan afoot, Japan sends in experts to rescue world’s bedraggled bonsais. That’s kind-of cool, if even is perhaps motivated by hypersensitive feelings.

    However, it is also somewhat infuriating (which is the reason I mention it in this thread). There is a common practice in Japan of being expected / compelled to work long overtime, often(?) illegally. The amount of overtime worked can be mind-boggling, as what happened in a case which currently apparently has Japan in an uproar: A lady was(? felt?) compelled to work about 100 hours overtime in a month, and committed suicide due to the pressure. Her tragic death was ruled a case of karoshi, or “death from overwork”.

    The firm which compelled her to work such long hours was recently fined all of 500,000 yen (£3,385 or $4440)! Japanese firm fined token sum after woman died from overwork. Fining or otherwise punishing firms who engage in such illegal work practices is apparently very rare:

    Matsuri Takahashi killed herself on Christmas Day in 2015 in a case that labour standards inspectors later ruled as karoshi, or death from overwork.

    Takahashi, 24, was forced to work 100 hours’ overtime in the month leading up to her death. Weeks before she died, she posted on social media: “I want to die.” Another message read: “I’m physically and mentally shattered.”

    While the token fine is expected to attract criticism, Takahashi’s lawyer, Hiroshi Kawahito, described the ruling as a “historic” event. “It is very meaningful that a company has been punished,” the Nikkei business newspaper quoted him as saying. “Dentsu’s crime has been confirmed.”

    Takahashi’s death sparked a national outcry and forced the government to draw up guidelines that cap overtime at 100 hours a month, although critics say the limit needs to be lower to protect employees’ health.

    Absolutely. To start with, the lady killed herself after working 100 hours overtime in a month. So what is the limit the government then set? 100 hours a month! Basically, it’s now legally Ok to work your employees to death. No further risk of ¥500,000 fines.

    Oh, and Dentsu, the company Ms Takahashi slaved for, is “Japan’s biggest advertising agency”. A few thousand dollars is probably no more than a minor accounting error to them.

    A white paper on karoshi approved by Japan’s cabinet on Friday said that male employees in their 40s were at highest risk of killing themselves due to overwork.

    The report said there were 191 karoshi cases in the year ending in March 2017, adding that 7.7% of employees regularly put in more than 20 hours’ overtime a week.

    It said 368 people — 352 of them men — had killed themselves between January 2010 and March 2015 in officially recognised cases that involved compensation payouts. However, the actual number of karoshi-related suicides is thought to be significantly higher.

    Dozens of other people die every year from heart failure, strokes and other conditions brought on by punishingly long working hours.

    Prosecutors had taken action against Dentsu for forcing Takahashi and three other employees to work overtime between October and December 2015 beyond a monthly 50-hour limit agreed with the company’s union, Japanese media said.

    “Illegal long working hours were becoming the norm” at Dentsu, the judge Tsutomu Kikuchi said in his ruling at the Tokyo summary court, according to Kyodo news agency. “Overtime work without payment was also rampant” at the firm, he added.

    368 acknowledged karoshi cases over about five years is averages out to about 6 per month, or over one a week (more than 70 per year). And that’s only the acknowledged cases.

    There are about 40 bonsai gardens Japan will be working to restore. At what is almost certainly a cost of more than $4000-or-so dollars each. The priorities seem more than a tad confused here…

  63. blf says

    Iranian chess player to compete for US after ban for not wearing hijab (the Grauniad’s edits in {curly braces}):

    Dora Derakhshani was forbidden from playing for home country following matches in Gibraltar in January

    A leading Iranian chess player, barred from her country’s team after refusing to wear a headscarf, will now compete for the United States.

    Dorsa Derakhshani […], who was born in Tehran, was forbidden from playing by the Iranian chess federation following the Gibraltar chess festival in January […]

    Derakhshani has since moved to the United States where she attends St Louis University and plays for the school’s team. She will now compete as an official United States chess player.

    “It feels good and{…} peaceful to play for a federation where I am welcomed and supported,” the [US Chess] website quoted Derakhshani as saying.


    Derakhshani, who holds the titles of International Master and Woman Grandmaster with the World Chess Federation, said she also hoped to become a dentist.

    A few weeks after the Gibraltar competition, the Iranian chess federation announced it was banning Derakhshani for not wearing a hijab. It also banned her brother, who had played an Israeli entrant in Gibraltar, US Chess said.

    Derakhshani said she had competed before without a headscarf and thought the ban was issued for other reasons. The announcement was made during the women’s world chess championship in Tehran, and all three Iranian competitors had lost in the opening round.

    “So in the middle of all this they needed another distraction{…} which worked perfectly,” she said. “Everybody started talking about us.”

    I assume hair furor will insist she be deported for not being scary enough.

  64. says

    From the conclusion in the article to which SC linked in comment 115:

    In June, shortly after the Administration announced that it was pulling out of the Paris accords, David Rank, the Deputy Ambassador to China, decided to resign, rather than deliver the official notice of withdrawal to the Chinese government. Rank told me that his greatest fear is that the damage done to the State Department, and to the American-led international order, will be too extensive to repair. Reflecting on his three decades as a diplomat, Rank said, “Maintaining our network for foreign relations is hard. It requires constant attention, a lot of people, a lot of work. Sometimes it’s beyond us. But rebuilding it? Not a chance.”

  65. says

    SC @113, yes, I agree. That’s a good comparison, scary but correct. And, yes, Yiannopoulos is painfully pathetic. I don’t think he has any real grasp on what he is doing, nor the consequences. He seems to have one talent: getting other people to do work for him, work for which he then takes credit.

  66. blf says

    As an aside, the current problem with the comments in this thread (and other “old” threads) appears to have a 14-day threshold: That is, comments in any thread older than 14-days do not appear in the “Recent Comments” sidebar. This phenomenon only started after the recent “fix” to some FtB performance issues.

  67. says

    The U.S. economy lost 33,000 jobs in September. That’s the first time in seven years that a monthly job loss was posted. Hurricanes Irma and Harvey had a discernible effect on the job numbers, but it is interesting to note that braggart-in-chief, Hair Furor, has not mentioned the break with a seven-year positive trend established by President Obama.

    What Trump did say (tweet):

    Stock market hits an ALL-TIME high! Unemployment lowest in 16 years! Business and manufacturing enthusiasm at highest level in decades!”

    To make Trump’s claim of “unemployment lowest in 16 years,” you have to look back to July. It ticked back up in August.

    Yes, it’s correct to look at September’s numbers as arriving with a lot “hurricane” caveats. It’s still not the best news.

    […] Pantheon Macroeconomics’ Ian Shepherdson wrote in a note to clients that wages were up “probably because the people who temporarily dropped off payrolls [due to the hurricanes] are lower paid than average.”

    […] Elise Gould, senior economist at the left-leaning Economic Policy Institute, said in a statement that even factoring in the hurricanes, “such a loss—on top of net downward revisions in July and August—is concerning […] In order just to keep up with the working-age population growth, we need to add at least 90,000 jobs a month.” […]

    Politico link

  68. blf says

    In order just to keep up with the working-age population growth, we need to add at least 90,000 jobs a month.

    Removing 90,000 politicians a month would also have benefits.

  69. says


    Late night TV segments mocking Trump:

    Kimmel covered Trump’s most recent “fake news” complaints. (2:43 minutes)

    Stephen Colbert ripped Trump’s trip to Puerto Rico. (5:35 minutes)

    Seth Meyers discussed Tillerson allegedly calling Trump a moron, Trump’s visit to Puerto Rico, North Korea and other topics. (10:35 minutes)

    Our president had to be told not to throw cans of chicken at hurricane victims.

    Jimmy Fallon mocked Trump’s response to Hurricane Maria. (2:32 minutes)

    A clip from SNL covered Trump as the “chaos president.” (5:47 minutes)

    But it’s all part of the plan. The more chaos I cause, the less people can focus. They’re all getting so tired. So tired.

    Scroll down to see all five videos.

    Trump is now suggesting that he should have “equal time” on TV to rebut lat night TV hosts.

  70. says

    Follow-up to comment 122.

    Trump’s tweets:

    Late Night host are dealing with the Democrats for their very “unfunny” & repetitive material, always anti-Trump! Should we get Equal Time?

    More and more people are suggesting that Republicans (and me) should be given Equal Time on T.V. when you look at the one-sided coverage?

    .@NBCNews is so knowingly inaccurate with their reporting. The good news is that the PEOPLE get it, which is really all that matters! Not #1

    Years ago we did have a “Fairness Doctrine.” It applied only to news. It never applied to late night hosts of comedy shows. It never applied to Trump’s concept of “fairness,” which is that only praise for Hair Furor should be allowed on the nation’s airways.

    The Fairness Doctrine was established as policy by the Federal Communications Commission in 1949, and it was eliminated in 1987.

    The “equal time” rule applies only to political candidates.

  71. says

    blf @122, Ha! Good point.

    In other news, attorney Lisa Bloom has resigned as Harvey Weinstein’s advisor:

    I have resigned as an advisor to Harvey Weinstein. My understanding is that Mr. Weinstein and his board are moving toward an agreement.

    Bloom has represented many women in past sexual harassment cases. It never seemed like she was a good fit for serial harasser Weinstein.

  72. says

    Trump seems to threatening to go to war with North Korea … again.

    Today, he tweeted:

    Presidents and their administrations have been talking to North Korea for 25 years, agreements made and massive amounts of money paid……

    …hasn’t worked, agreements violated before the ink was dry, makings fools of U.S. negotiators. Sorry, but only one thing will work!

  73. says

    Trump is losing money in Scotland, (schadenfreude moment):

    Losses at […] Trump’s golf courses in Scotland have more than doubled over the past year, causing Trump’s business to lose millions from the properties, […]

    Trump’s two Scottish golf resorts lost a total of 17.6 million pounds, or roughly $23 million, over the past year […]

    The Trump Organization blamed the mounting losses on having to shut down one resort for half a year while building a new golf course and updating an older one, […] The business also claimed that it lost 8 million pounds, or $10 million, over the fluctuating value of the British pound last year. […]

    Trump has poured millions of dollars into the Scottish properties, […] the title sponsor of the Scottish Open warned in July that the golf tournament might not be held at a Trump property over concerns about a politics.[…]


  74. says

    Lynna @ #119:

    SC @113, yes, I agree. That’s a good comparison, scary but correct. And, yes, Yiannopoulos is painfully pathetic. I don’t think he has any real grasp on what he is doing, nor the consequences. He seems to have one talent: getting other people to do work for him, work for which he then takes credit.

    Yes, and there are several troubling aspects of the situation:

    – how close these emotionally disturbed and dangerous people now are, thanks to the Republican Party, to the highest levels of political power in the US
    – that people in Germany in the 1930s saw the same dynamics and were heartened by them, thinking it meant that Hitler’s crew was too fucked up to stay in power for long – they reasoned that surely the chaos caused by their disturbed personalities and internal hostilities would eventually bring about their downfall…
    – that because the German people so hated and feared the Brownshirts, many saw the purge as a step in the right direction – Hitler cleaning house and getting rid of the worst elements rather than consolidating power
    – that Hitler used the contrast between the “streetbrawler” SA and the “professional” SS to advance his agenda of persecution. While people were outraged by the “low-brow” open racism, smear campaigns, harassment, and street attacks of the SA, the Nazis put in place a system of more covert administrative violence, laws and policies, institutes, and closed prisons/camps where violence was organized on a much larger scale. (Today, while we’re rightly outraged about the white supremacist movement and its associated media, ICE is terrorizing immigrants and concealing its actions, racist immigration/refugee policies are being instituted, Sessions’ DoJ is backing away from and even outright opposing criminal justice reform and the most basic efforts to curb racist police violence, policies are being proposed to decimate women’s and LGBT rights, the people of Puerto Rico and the USVI are being treated like second-class citizens, rightwing ideologues are being given judicial appointments, and on and on.)
    – just how sad it is that our society has created people like this, and that they have a platform from which to manipulate other sad, hateful, destructive authoritarians largely because of a far-Right hedgefund-billionaire crank.

  75. says

    From tim’s link in comment 137:

    They also chanted: “The South will rise again. Russia is our friend. The South will rise again. Woo-hoo! Wooo.”

    Now all the white supremacists/Nazis love Russia?

    The only sort of good news here: about three dozen people showed up for this latest white supremacist rally in Charlottesville. The crowd was small.

  76. says

    Trump included some lies when he ripped into Senator Bob Corker on Twitter.

    Trump’s tweets:

    Senator Bob Corker “begged” me to endorse him for re-election in Tennessee. I said “NO” and he dropped out (said he could not win without… endorsement). He also wanted to be Secretary of State, I said “NO THANKS.” He is also largely responsible for the horrendous Iran Deal!

    …Hence, I would fully expect Corker to be a negative voice and stand in the way of our great agenda. Didn’t have the guts to run!

    Trump did tell Corker he could count on an endorsement if he ran for re-election. From CNN:

    […] The President called the senator early last week and asked him to reconsider his decision not to seek re-election and reaffirmed that he would have endorsed him, as he has said many times […]

    Also, there is no evidence whatsoever that Corker begged for Trump’s endorsement.

  77. says

    Mike Pence flew to Indiana in order to make a big, huffy show of walking out on a football game where some players knelt during the national anthem. Pence tweeted:

    I left today’s Colts game because @POTUS and I will not dignify any event that disrespects our soldiers, our Flag, or our National Anthem.

    Apparently, this was a planned charade. Everybody knew ahead of time that some of the players would kneel. Pence used taxpayer funds to fly there.

    Vice President Mike Pence flew to Indianapolis on the taxpayer dime to attend a football game. But he ended up walking out of it after the anthem, during which several players kneeled in protest as Mike Pence and every one of his handlers knew in advance would happen. Mike Pence spent an unknown sum of taxpayer money on a cheap, hackish publicity stunt. […]

    Pence flew from Las Vegas to Indianapolis, then back to Los Angeles—on the taxpayer dime—to pull his little stunt, and it would be worth knowing how much Pence’s gesture of Trump-fealty cost us. […]

    Even better. Pence did it because Donald said jump and Pence said “how high?”

    I asked @VP Pence to leave stadium if any players kneeled, disrespecting our country. I am proud of him and @SecondLady Karen.


  78. says

    Follow-up to comment 145.

    From Peter Alexander:

    Was Pence leaving Colts game a political stunt? Reporters were told to stay in van bc “there may be an early departure from the game.”

    From Andrew Kaczynski:

    Have to imagine this was planned in advance. Pence isn’t dumb and knew players would be kneeling

    From Abby D. Phillip:

    [Trump’s tweet] Seems to imply the early departure was planned, at great taxpayer expense.

  79. says

    This week’s summary from the Russian influence ops trackers:

    Between September 30 and October 6, we examined 62 unique URLs that were promoted by Kremlin-oriented Twitter accounts. As with past weeks, promoted content fit within two broad categories: social and political content of interest to Americans, and Kremlin-friendly views of issues of interest to Russia. Unsurprisingly, over 25% of the URLs examined featured stories on the mass shooting in Las Vegas. Of those stories, roughly two-thirds promoted various conspiracy theories and/or targeted the left for their individual or collective response to the tragedy. Seven stories (11%) focused on hurricane relief in Puerto Rico, all with the primary theme of either discrediting San Juan Mayor Yulin Cruz or accusing the media of spreading “fake news.” Additionally, there were seven stories that broadly fit into an anti-protest bucket, and three stories that highlighted the Obama administration’s use of pricey, non-commercial planes (a tactic known as “whataboutism”). As usual, Syria was the most prominent geopolitical topic (six stories). The other geopolitical content promoted by the network revealed a wide range of Kremlin interests, with individual stories focusing on Hungary, Iran, Saudi Arabia, Spain, Ukraine, and Venezuela. Across all stories, the most prominent themes were mistrust for the “deep state” (10%), anti-Americanism (11%), and Russia-as-a-victim of the West (11%).

    Two related articles:

    “As Putin Turns 65, His Power Is Slowly Waning.”

    “More than 260 arrests in anti-Putin protests across Russia: Riot police confront supporters of jailed opposition leader Alexei Navalny as president marks 65th birthday.” (The reference to Leonid Volkov’s “heavily pregnant wife” is making me laugh.)

  80. KG says

    There’s been a large (350,000+) demonstration in Barcelona against Catalonian independence. AFAIK, none of the demonstrators were beaten with batons, dragged around by the hair, or had rubber bullets fired at them.

  81. militantagnostic says

    SC @153

    When he wasn’t exposing Pence’s cheap stunt, Trump was golfing.

    I wouldn’t call half a million dollars cheap. The current shenanigans are unsurprising. This is the man who made a face at North Korea across the DMZ.

  82. says

    “Bob Corker Says Trump’s Recklessness Threatens ‘World War III’”:

    Senator Bob Corker, the Republican chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, charged in an interview on Sunday that President Trump was treating his office like “a reality show,” with reckless threats toward other countries that could set the nation “on the path to World War III.”

    In an extraordinary rebuke of a president of his own party, Mr. Corker said he was alarmed about a president who acts “like he’s doing ‘The Apprentice’ or something.”

    “He concerns me,” Mr. Corker added. “He would have to concern anyone who cares about our nation.”

    Mr. Trump poses such an acute risk, the senator said, that a coterie of senior administration officials must protect him from his own instincts. “I know for a fact that every single day at the White House, it’s a situation of trying to contain him,” Mr. Corker said in a telephone interview….

  83. says

    Statement from DeMaurice Smith, Executive Director of the NFL Players Association, responding to alleged franchise requirements that players stand for the national anthem. As I’ve said before, this is not just a Constitutional but a workers’ rights issue. Despite all their bullshit rhetoric about standing up to elites and the government, Trump followers who support bosses’ retaliation against players do nothing but reveal their own authoritarianism and diminish their own power.

  84. says

    “There are spelling mistakes and rough edges. Several of the episodes it described remain entirely unverified.”

    I remain completely perplexed by the frequent mentions of spelling mistakes in the Steele memos. Why the hell does anyone think transposing two letters in a name at one point means anything about the veracity of the information? Spelling errors have nothing to do with anything, and I don’t understand why so many people would note a couple of spelling errors in this context. It’s bizarre.

  85. says

    “Fake news comes to the Supreme Court”:

    …“You paint a very dire picture about gerrymandering and its effects,” Alito said, “but I was struck by something in the seminal article by your expert, Mr. McGhee, and he says there, ‘I show that the effects of party control on bias are small and decay rapidly, suggesting that redistricting is at best a blunt tool for promoting partisan interests.’ So he was wrong in that?”

    The question baffled Smith, who said he would need to see the context.

    “Well,” Alito retorted, “that’s what he said.”

    No, it isn’t.

    I called Eric McGhee, the expert, after the argument. The quote Alito pulled was not from the “seminal article” McGhee co-wrote proposing the legal standard for gerrymandering at the center of the case. It was from an earlier McGhee paper, using data from the 1970s through 1990s. In the paper at the center of the case, by contrast, “we used updated data from the 2000s,” McGhee told me, “and the story is very different. It’s gotten a lot worse in the last two cycles. . . . The data are clear.”

    Why would Alito resort to this sleight of hand? Perhaps because it’s clear that if he stuck to the facts, he’d have to acknowledge that the growing abuse of gerrymandering threatens democracy….

  86. says

    “Google uncovers Russian-bought ads on YouTube, Gmail and other platforms”:

    Google for the first time has uncovered evidence that Russian operatives exploited the company’s platforms in an attempt to interfere in the 2016 election, according to people familiar with the company’s investigation.

    The Silicon Valley giant has found that tens of thousands of dollars were spent on ads by Russian agents who aimed to spread disinformation across Google’s many products, which include YouTube, as well as advertising associated with Google search, Gmail, and the company’s DoubleClick ad network, the people said, speaking on condition of anonymity to discuss matters that have not been made public. Google runs the world’s largest online advertising business, and YouTube is the world’s largest online video site.

    The discovery by Google is also significant because the ads do not appear to be from the same Kremlin-affiliated troll farm that bought ads on Facebook — a sign that the Russian effort to spread disinformation online may be a much broader problem than Silicon Valley companies have unearthed so far.

    Google previously downplayed the problem of Russian meddling on its platforms….

    Executives for Facebook and Twitter will testify before Congressional investigators on Nov. 1. Google has not said whether it will accept a similar invitation to do so.

    Google’s probe is still in its early stages, the people said. The number of ads posted and the number of times those ads were clicked on could not be learned. Google is continuing to examine its own records and is also sharing data with Facebook. Twitter and Google have not cooperated with one another in their investigations.

  87. says

    SC @149, so now the Russians are also dissing San Juan Mayor Yulin Cruz online? Sheesh. I see that the mayor is becoming the punching bag for a lot of rightwing media outlets, and for FEMA head Brock Long.

    Meanwhile, the mayor has her facts right and Trump (“you don’t need flashlights anymore”) has his all wrong.

  88. says

    “Bannon Plans to Back Challengers to Most GOP Senators Running in 2018”:

    Steve Bannon plans to back primary challengers to almost every Republican senator who runs for re-election next year in an effort to depose Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and streamline Senate voting procedures, three people familiar with his plans said.

    McConnell himself won’t be up for re-election until 2020, but by targeting his supporters, Bannon might be able to force him from leadership in the Senate.

    Bannon has been holding a series of meetings with donors, potential candidates and grassroots strategists to plan for the midterms, with the next scheduled for Oct. 18 in New York. Some have been attended by hedge fund manager Robert Mercer, who donated $37.1 million to campaigns, super PACs and parties in the last three election cycles, and his daughter, Rebekah Mercer….

  89. says

    Follow-up to comments 147 and 148.

    The actual cost of Pence’s publicity stunt was about $96,000, as estimated by people who know about the cost of operating the plane, etc. I was wrong, but $96,000 is still a lot of money … and that does not include extra costs that local law enforcement, etc. incur.

  90. says

    Yeah, you probably saw this coming when Trump made a show of being almost reasonable about making a deal with Chuck and Nancy regarding immigration policy, specifically regarding DACA recipients:

    […] Tonight the White House released a maximal set of demands for any deal to make DACA permanent. In fact, at least as Democrats understand the term, Trump is no longer even offering that. For that President Trump says he must have his wall funding, a crackdown on ‘sanctuary cities’, and a number of wholesale changes to the rules of immigration policy, specifically a new merit-based approach to issuing Green Cards and a focus on ‘ability to assimilate.’ There are at least half a dozen demands that are non-starters for a broad majority of Democrats – particularly Senate Democrats, which is where Trump will need some Democratic votes.


  91. says

    “Russian propaganda engaged U.S. vets, troops on Twitter and Facebook, study finds”:

    Russia has exploited social media networks to target current and former U.S. military personnel with propaganda, conspiracy theories and other misinformation, achieving “significant and persistent interactions” over Twitter during a one-month period last spring, a British research team found.

    The Oxford University study, which traced the reach of three websites with clear ties to the Russian government, adds a new dimension to revelations of a Kremlin cyber campaign aimed at undermining Americans’ trust in democracy during last year’s U.S. elections and helping Donald Trump win the presidency.

    “We’ve found an entire ecosystem of junk news about national security issues that is deliberately crafted for U.S. veterans and active military personnel,” said Philip Howard, a professor of internet studies who led the research. “It’s a complex blend of content with a Russian view of the world – wild rumors and conspiracies.”

    However, the study found that Russia’s communication inroads with the military community on Twitter “are not presently very deep,” and that it has had more success gaining influence through Twitter than Facebook.

    Howard, who has tracked Russia’s use of social media to circulate propaganda in dozens of countries, and research colleague Bence Kollanyi, wrote in an op ed in the Washington Post on Friday that their studies have been handicapped because of the lack of cooperation from Twitter and Facebook….

  92. says

    Follow-up to comment 170.

    Here’s a different, and higher estimate of how much money Mike Pence spent to walk out of a Colts game.

    Vice President Mike Pence spent more than $200,000 to attend the 49ers-Colts game he left on Sunday after players knelt during the anthem, according to an estimate by CNN.

    CNN estimated, citing Air Force data and the length of Pence’s flights from Las Vegas to Indianapolis, and from Indianapolis to Los Angeles, that the total price tag for Pence’s flying visit to the 49ers-Colts was “about $242,500.”

    According to CNN, the Republican National Committee will reimburse some costs of Pence’s flight to Los Angeles because Pence “is attending a political event there.”

    Who follows up on the reimbursement? I’m not counting of seeing any evidence of reimbursement. And why are only “some costs” reimbursed?

    “I left today’s Colts game because @POTUS and I will not dignify any event that disrespects our soldiers, our Flag, or our National Anthem,” Pence tweeted on Sunday.

    In addition to Pence’s tweets on the subject, the White House released an official statement on the matter as well as a photograph of Pence standing during the national anthem.

    Trump promptly took credit for Pence’s walk-out, tweeting that he “asked” Pence to leave the stadium “if any players kneeled, disrespecting our country.”

    “I am proud of him,” Trump tweeted.

    Early Monday morning, Trump claimed the trip was “long planned” and said Pence was “receiving great praise for leaving” the game. […]


    Note the Hair Furor is still tweeting about this. Since he only absorbs news from rightwing sources, maybe he really thinks that Pence is “receiving great praise for leaving” the game. 30% of the people think it was a good idea?

  93. says

    More news related to team Trump sabotaging Obamacare:

    The Wall Street Journal reported over the weekend on the latest Affordable Care Act sabotage plan from the Trump administration, executive orders that would undermine the law’s protections for people with pre-existing conditions. Never mind that Trump and myriad Republicans were elected on the promise that they would keep those protections in place.

    […] an executive order that will make it easier for people to create “association health plans” and exempt those plans from some of the rules that apply to other health insurance plans such as the requirement to cover essential health benefits like maternity care or mental health.

    […] Trump will order agencies to unwind a rule that limited the duration short-term medical insurance, […] Trump intends to extend the duration of those plans for one year.

    Finally, he will order agencies to expand health reimbursement accounts which are funded by employers, allowing workers to pay out-of-pocket costs and premiums. Obama administration regulations restrict employers from using these accounts to send employees onto the individual market to buy their own insurance.

    What all this would likely do is draw younger, healthier people out of the individual market—out of Obamacare—and destabilize the markets which in turn would make coverage more expensive and more difficult for some small businesses and individuals to obtain. Particularly people with high medical expenses. In combination, these new regulations would start the death spiral for Obamacare’s markets. But the AHP expansion is what has healthcare experts worried most. […]


  94. says

    Russians backed a white supremacist rally in Houston:

    Last May, nearly 100 demonstrators gathered around the Islamic Da’wah Center in downtown Houston, […]

    The “Stop Islamization of Texas” protest was, on its face, largely similar to any number of other […] demonstrations […]. On the one end: a crew carrying Confederate flags, #WhiteLivesMatter banners, and heavy weaponry. On the other: counter-protesters with signs decrying Islamophobia, calling for communal unity,[…]

    Despite the presence of AR-15s, the demonstrations ended without violence. The white supremacists screaming “Fascist and proud!” dissipated, as did those supporting the Islamic center.

    The organizers behind the anti-Islam protesters, however, never showed. And now, over 16 months later, we know why.

    As CNN reported last week, the protest was put together by the “Heart of Texas” Facebook page – a page that was revealed last month as one of the fake accounts operated out of Russia. […]

    […] Not only did the “Heart of Texas” page call – successfully – for protesters to bring firearms (“concealed or not!”) but Russian operatives were able to convince armed white supremacists to congregate in downtown Houston, facing off with dozens opposed to their message. […] the fact that Russian operatives organized rifle-toting white nationalists into a confrontation with counter-protesters should give pause to politicians on both sides of the aisle […]

    Despite the new disclosures about the “Heart of Texas” group, questions remain. For instance, an Instagram page, which posts identical material to the “Heart of Texas” page, went live just as the Russian-linked Facebook pages were taken down. Representatives from Facebook didn’t respond to queries about the Instagram account […]

    Parts of this story have been discussed previously on this thread, but I thought it useful to have the details presented by Think Progress posted here. More at the link.

  95. says

    Trump’s harshest critics are always secretly begging him for stuff, according to Trump

    […] Senator Bob Corker “begged” me to endorse him for re-election in Tennessee. I said “NO” […]

    Why did @DanaPerino beg me for a tweet (endorsement) when her book was launched? […]

    .@GovernorPerry in my office last cycle playing nice and begging for my support and money. Hypocrite! […]

    .@BrentBozell, one of the National Review lightweights, came to my office begging for money like a dog. Why doesn’t he say that? […]

    Why did Mitt Romney BEG me for my endorsement four years ago? […]

    The very foul mouthed Sen. John McCain begged for my support during his primary (I gave, he won), then dropped me over locker room remarks! […]

    Tactic exposed. Tactic dismissed as dishonest blather, or as wishful thinking.

  96. says

    Follow-up to comment 172.

    Groups that support immigrant rights have responded to Trump’s poison-pill approach to legislation.

    Many on the right were outraged last month when top congressional Democrats announced they’d struck a deal with President Donald Trump to protect nearly 700,000 undocumented immigrants, known as Dreamers, from deportation. The deal, the Democrats claimed, would include increased border security but no border wall. Steve Bannon’s Breitbart responded by labeling the president “Amnesty Don.” Trump has apparently gotten the message.

    […] Trump sent Congress a sweeping list of hardline policy demands that he says “must be included” in any legislation to protect the Dreamers previously covered by Barack Obama’s Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program. […]

    The documents released by the White House Sunday read like an anti-immigration wish list. They include funding for Trump’s border wall, drastically increased immigration enforcement, and even new restrictions on legal immigration. […] Stephen Miller, Trump’s top immigration adviser and a longtime opponent of DACA, could be trying to stop a potential deal.

    It’s hard to exaggerate just how lopsided the White House’s proposal is. Essentially, Trump is demanding Congress pass nationalist immigration reform in exchange for protecting Dreamers, who make up less than 10 percent of undocumented immigrants. On top of that, Dreamers would not even get citizenship if the administration gets it way. […]

    Not surprisingly, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) aren’t happy. “The administration can’t be serious about compromise or helping the Dreamers if they begin with a list that is anathema to the Dreamers, to the immigrant community and to the vast majority of Americans,” they said on Sunday in a joint statement. They added that the proposal goes “far beyond what is reasonable” and “fails to represent any attempt at compromise.”

    […] Marielena Hincapié, the executive director of the National Immigration Law Center, wrote on Twitter, “When you make an offer you know the other side simply cannot agree to, it is evidence that you don’t actually want a deal.”

    Frank Sharry, executive director of the pro-immigration America’s Voice Education Fund, said in a statement that the White House’s “poison pill measures” threaten to kill the chances of passing the Dream Act, a bipartisan bill that would give DACA-recipients and other young undocumented immigrants a path to citizenship.

    David Leopold, a Cleveland-based immigration lawyer and the former president of the American Immigration Lawyers Association, tweeted that the list reflects a white supremacist agenda. […]

    Trump “has never wavered from his xenophobic positions,” Gutierrez [Representative Luis Gutierrez] added. “I never understood—I just never got it, how you go from Charlottesville and white supremacists to reaching an agreement with him.”


  97. says

    Just turned on the TV. Charlie Dent, another Republican who’s not running for re-election, is on with Katy Tur backing Corker, referring to “disquieting,” “dysfunctional,” “emperor-who-has-no-clothes” moments. Says Trump isn’t providing leadership, has lack of policy knowledge on some basic matters. He’s still going.

  98. says

    Dent, asked his reaction to Corker’s WWIII comment, says he’s “certainly worried about our foreign policy.” Criticizing Trump about NATO, North Korea, Russia.

    Also says many of his Republican colleagues share his concerns.

  99. says

    Now he’s talking about the healthcare process – is pointing out that Trump called to put the squeeze on him prior to the vote in the House when he didn’t support the repeal bill and then after it passed called it “mean.”

  100. says

    The WH has chosen to end the suspension of the Jones Act in PR. I’m just finishing The Dangerous Case of Donald Trump. I have too many issues with it to discuss now, but one chapter about therapy for sufferers of trauma has some important insights. The author discusses how people who’ve been traumatized need respectful listeners who believe them and time to develop a narrative of what happened to them in order to heal; and how Trump, with his chaos, bullshitting, gaslighting, and continued victimization makes that impossible for the people traumatized by what’s happening in the US.

    This made me think of the people in Puerto Rico and the USVI, who’ve survived a hurricane and been traumatized by the aftermath and the lack of help. After an already psychologically devastating period of austerity, they’re now not only suffering from want but facing overt hostility, gaslighting, vindictiveness, insults, and attempts to belittle and blame them for their troubles. It will compound and extend their trauma. I hope people there will know that the sick, sadistic man in the WH and the cowardly officials who go along with him don’t represent us, and that we recognize what they’re going through and why.

  101. says

    The cruel and petty Trump administration is going to punish California by arresting more immigrants:

    The Trump administration’s immigration chief warned Friday that his agents will be making more arrests in California neighborhoods and workplaces because Gov. Jerry Brown signed a “sanctuary state” law.

    Tom Homan, acting director of Immigration and Customs Enforcement, said Brown’s decision to sign Senate Bill 54, which offers more protections for unauthorized immigrants, undermines public safety and hinders his department from performing its federally mandated mission, adding that “the governor is simply wrong when he claims otherwise.”

    Sacramento Bee link

    […] “ICE will have no choice but to conduct at-large arrests in local neighborhoods and at worksites, which will inevitably result in additional collateral arrests,” Homan threatened. But ICE agents have plenty of choices in choosing who to prioritize for arrest, and now they’re threatening an uptick in collateral arrests, a callous term they use to describe when undocumented immigrants who are not the target of a raid are arrested anyway because they happened to be there at the wrong time.

    Now, ICE is promising even more unshackled chaos under the false narrative that so-called “sanctuary city” policies make localities less safe, when immigrants actually “commit far less and are far less likely to commit crime than native born Americans.” If anything, it’s the Trump administration that’s ushering in lawlessness by making immigrants so fearful of local law enforcement, that they’re no longer reporting when they’ve been the victim of sexual assault. […]

    Daily Kos link

    […] It’s likely that Brown expected a response like this, as he released a statement yesterday upon signing the bill that stresses that the legislation does not prohibit ICE from, well, anything. “This bill does not prevent or prohibit [ICE] or the Department of Homeland Security from doing their work in any way. They are free to use their own considerable resources to enforce federal immigration law in California,” he wrote. “[T]his bill strikes a balance that will protect public safety, while bringing a measure of comfort to those families who are now living in fear every day.”

    At least for now, the state and ICE seem to be in a standoff.

    “Despite the severe challenges that this law creates for ICE, we remain committed to our public safety mission,” Homan says in the statement, “and we will continue to do our sworn duty to seek out dangerous criminal aliens and other immigration violators.”

    Mother Jones link

  102. says

    Steve Bannon is going after Senator Corker:

    If Bob Corker has any honor, any decency he should resign immediately. He should not let those words stand, what he said about the President of the United States.

    Sounds to me like desperation. Bannon is afraid that other Republicans Senators will start saying what they really think about Trump. Bannon is trying to stem the tide.

  103. says

    Washington AG files lawsuit against Trump for rollback of birth control mandate

    Washington’s attorney general announced Monday he would sue President Trump’s administration over its rollback of an ObamaCare requirement that employers include birth control coverage in their health insurance plans.

    “President Trump’s contraception rules are unfair, unlawful, and unconstitutional,” Attorney General Bob Ferguson (D) said in a statement. “I refuse to let President Trump disregard our laws and our constitution in an effort to deny women access to contraception.”

    Ferguson alleges that the new rules, announced last week by Trump administration officials, violate the First Amendment by “requiring individuals to bear the burdens of religions to which they do not belong,” as well as the equal protection clause of the Fifth Amendment.

    The attorney general also says the new rules violate provisions of the Civil Rights Act.

    “The Civil Rights Act prohibits discrimination against women based on sex or the capacity to be pregnant,” the statement read. “The rules result in women having less access to reproductive health care, which is discrimination based on their gender.” […]

  104. says

    White supremacy in action. CW for picture of a bloody head/face with a noticable gash at link.

    Deandre Harris, a black man whose brutal beating at the hands of Charlottesville white supremacists was captured on video, is now wanted on charges of unlawful wounding in connection to the Aug. 12 incident.

    A magistrate, not the police department, issued the warrant, although a news release said police officers had verified other video that led to the arrest. Harris is accused of attacking a man in the group that beat him.

    Harris’ attorney, Lee Merritt, who called the charge a “clearly retaliatory” effort from white supremacists after Harris used social media to identify suspects in the beating, said his client would turn himself in within 24 hours.

    Journalist Chuck Modi posted video of the attack, which took place in a parking garage near the University of Virginia campus, on Twitter. In the clip, white supremacist marchers — some in white polos, some in riot gear — beat Harris with signs and poles while he struggles to stand.

  105. blf says

    The border goons in the UK are also bonkers, Science shouldn’t stop at the border:

    I’m a physicist and a science communicator, and I’ve had a lot of unique experiences in my life as a result of those passions. But I never expected to be detained at UK border control for three hours, and eventually denied entry and sent back to Ireland, just for doing science communication.

    You see, although I have lived and worked in Ireland for the past six years, I have an American passport and no special privileges in any other part of Europe. And I have been all over Europe as part of my job in Ireland: to attend research conferences, be hosted as a visiting researcher in another lab, speak on panels, and give public lectures and science comedy performances as to engage the public with science. I came to Europe as a postdoctoral researcher and am now a lecturer at NUI Galway, running my own research lab and a plethora of public engagement events such as Bright Club and Soapbox Science in Ireland.

    But when I showed up in Cardiff to do a science comedy show as part of a festival, I was stopped at the border. I was not going to be paid for my performance, and had paid for my own travel out of pocket. However the border agents considered the festival ticket and parking pass that I had received (for an event I was to speak at) as a form of payment in kind. This is equivalent to saying that invited speakers at a conference are paid if their conference registration is covered, and nothing I (or the festival organisers who were phoned) could say convinced them otherwise. […] There is now a black mark in my passport indicating I was refused entry to the UK.

    This is especially ironic given my next planned trip to the UK will be to collect the IOP’s [Institute of Physics –blf]] Mary Somerville Prize — a significant public engagement award that I am honoured to receive for my efforts to communicate science to the public. And yet apparently I am not allowed to do public engagement activities, not just for free but at my own expense, in the UK.

    If the UK’s border goons are consistent, then neither she nor any other non-EU award recipients would be allowed into the UK for their reward ceremonies, as receiving an award is obviously “payment”.

    To me, this is also indicative of how toxic our conversations about immigration in general have become. The border patrol officers I dealt with were as kind as they could be to me, but they were tasked with enforcing a system where all immigration is considered negative. Never mind that immigrants are often young, hard-working, and full of ambition. Never mind that immigrants drive social change, spark innovation, bring new perspectives, and in fact draw less on social safety nets than citizens do (both because of their demographics and often because they aren’t allowed to). […] The narrative we hear about immigration often seems to have a Schrödinger’s Cat quality to it: immigrants as lazy welfare cheats, who are also stealing our jobs.


    Here is an older Irish Times article profiling Dr Fairfield, who seems like an excellent science communicator, Scientist who sees funny side of physics wins Somerville medal:

    To double up as a nanoscientist and a comedian using physics to prompt a laugh or two is quite a feat. For it to be recognised by the Institute of Physics is even more remarkable.

    But NUI Galway physicist Dr Jessamyn Fairfield has had the knack of explaining complex science in an engaging way to audiences in comedy clubs and festivals, rather than lecture theatres, for some years.

    Her success is such that the institute, representing leading physicists in Ireland and the UK, have honoured her “stellar work” as a public speaker and writer on physics for a popular audience.


    Dr Fairfield talks physics in her solo stand-up comedy shows. Since February 2015, she has been the director of Bright Club in Ireland, encouraging academics to discuss their work through stand-up comedy with the help of Science Foundation Ireland funding.


  106. blf says

    The UK-based überloon Katie Hopkins has come up before in this thread. She’s überlooning again. Again. This time, about a traffic accident outside the Natural History Museum in London, when a car mounted the pavement (ran up onto the sidewalk) and hit eleven pedestrians (no-one was killed). That obviously looked-like the current kook tactic of running over people with cars, so Hopkins and other eejits assumed that was what happened. The initial police response understandably presumed it was such a deliberate incident, but quickly determined it was a accident.

    With that background, we pick up the story, Katie Hopkins stands by tweets in wake of Natural History Museum crash (my added emboldening):

    Mail Online columnist defends series of deleted tweets: I stand by the idea that it’s a terror attack

    Katie Hopkins has defended her reaction to a car crash at the Natural History Museum on Saturday, after she wrongly implied that the accident was a terror attack, sparking widespread condemnation and confusion.

    The columnist said she stands by a series of tweets — despite later deleting them  — and cast doubt on the police verdict that the crash was a road traffic accident.


    Joined by other prominent rightwingers including Nigel Farage […], Hopkins used Twitter to blame Sadiq Khan, the mayor of London, for the capital not being worth the risk. [She] also accused the BBC of peddling state propaganda, despite no official confirmation that the incident was a terror attack.

    She later removed the comments […]

    But, speaking at a Media Society event on Monday […], the Mail Online writer repeatedly argued that there is no such thing as truth any more and said she “didn’t buy” that it was a road traffic accident.


    Earlier this year, Hopkins left her job as an LBC radio host after calling for a final solution following the Manchester bombing, but subsequently deleted her tweet, reportedly claiming it was a “typo” and that she had meant to write true solution.

    She has involved herself in a host of attention-grabbing antics, such as labelling refugees cockroaches.

    She was also going to spend some time on the crowd-funded C-Star ship with nazis attacking migrant rescue ships in the Mediterranean. Ultimately, as far as I am aware, she didn’t spend any time aboard ship with “the gang that couldn’t sail straight” (as the New York Times described them), presumably in part due to the inability of the ship to dock anywhere (except Turkish-controlled N.Cyprus). That harassment mission has since been abandoned, and after being marooned off Malta for weeks, the ship made its way to Barcelona and eventually docked.

    (Apparently, her “evidence” the accident was deliberate is she claims she has e-mails from people who she claims claim they present, claiming, she claims, the driver drove at them. Geesh!)

  107. says

    From the Guardian:

    European Council president Donald Tusk has urged Catalan leader Carles Puigdemont not to “announce a decision that would make dialogue impossible” in an impassioned speech at the European Committee of the Regions, calling for dialogue with the Spanish government.

    Tusk said he was speaking “as an ethnic minority” and “as a man who knows what it feels like what it is to be hit by a police baton.”

  108. says

    SC @199, that certainly makes the White House sound like an adult daycare center.

    Also, according to those descriptions, Trump is even worse than we thought.

  109. says

    Team Trump’s anti-birth-control ideology is more than just a bogus “religious liberty” stance:

    […] Trump administration officials are now on record, in writing, making the case that contraception may not reduce unwanted pregnancies and may increase “risky sexual behavior” – despite the fact that real-world evidence points in the opposite direction on both counts.

    In other words, this isn’t just about protecting employers from providing benefits they object to on moral grounds; this is about the Trump administration questioning the value of birth control itself.

    When Donald Trump became president and began packing federal agencies with far-right ideologues, certain consequences were unavoidable. This, evidently, is one of them. […]


    This is a follow-up to comments 92 and 195

  110. says

    Trump is continuing his war of words with Senator Corker:

    I think it’s fake news, but if he did that, I guess we’ll have to compare IQ tests. And I can tell you who is going to win.

    Um, yeah. Senator Corker sounds like a reasonably intelligent man. Trump does not.

    As Steve Benen noted, Trump is obsessed with his IQ score.

    […] Trump’s message to the public in May 2013: “Sorry losers and haters, but my I.Q. is one of the highest -and you all know it! Please don’t feel so stupid or insecure,it’s not your fault.” Think about the smartest people in your life. Then try to imagine them making a public declaration along these lines.

    A month later, sparring with some random person on Twitter, Trump again declared that his IQ score is “the highest, a**hole.”

    Two years later, as he rose to the top of the Republican presidential field, Trump had similar assessments of George Will and Karl Rove. “I watch these pundits on television and, you know, they call them intellectuals. They’re not intellectuals,” he said at a rally. “I’m much smarter than them. I think I have a much higher IQ. I think I went to a better college — better everything.” […]

    More IQ obsession examples:

    Trump insists he has a higher IQ than both Barack Obama and George W. Bush. [and Jon Stewart] “@samflaherty_: @realDonaldTrump I’d bet my life savings Obama has a higher IQ than you” You would lose!”
    “@gharo34: @realDonaldTrump Not only is your IQ somewhere between Barack Obama and G.W.Bush…but you’re entertaining!”Much higher than both
    “@RealCoachHodge: @realDonaldTrump has a much higher IQ than idiot John Stewart” That’s true, and by a lot.
    “@NJWineGeek: @realDonaldTrump but Jon Stewart has a much higher IQ. Wrong, Jon Stewart(?) is an obnoxious lightweight with a lower I.Q.

  111. says

    Trump is economically illiterate.

    […] after GDP for the second quarter was revised up to 3.1%, the president boasted via Twitter, “Many people thought it would be years before that happened.” No one actually thought that – because 3.1% quarterly growth has been quite common since the end of the Great Recession.

    […] During his interview with Mike Huckabee over the weekend, for example, the president added in reference to the latest GDP data, “Everybody was shocked. They said it wouldn’t happen for years.”

    Again, nobody was shocked, just as nobody said it’d take years to see quarterly growth that’s been routine for quite a while.

    In a new interview with Forbes, Trump went just a little further.

    […] “So GDP last quarter was 3.1%. Most of the folks that are in your business, and elsewhere, were saying that would not be hit for a long time. You know, Obama never hit the number.” […]


    See the chart at the link. Quarterly growth reached or exceeded 3.1% eight times in eight years during the Obama administration.

    […] So when Trump says Obama “never hit the number,” it’s the exact opposite of the truth.

    When the Forbes interviewer reminded the president of how wrong he is, Trump replied Obama never reached 3.1% “on a yearly basis.” And while that actually is true, Trump hasn’t reached that number on a yearly basis, either.

    Because he’s so confused about the basics of this issue, the president recently boasted that his tax cuts could push GDP growth to 6%. That, of course, is hopelessly bonkers, and according to the Federal Reserve, the Congressional Budget Office, and his own administration, Trump will be lucky to see growth half that strong. […]

  112. says

    Trump thinks he has more leverage to bully the NFL than he actually does. Trump tweeted:

    Why is the NFL getting massive tax breaks while at the same time disrespecting our Anthem, Flag and Country? Change tax law!

    As Caitlin MacNeall noted:

    The NFL gave up its tax exempt status in 2015, leaving it unclear which tax breaks Trump would be looking to eliminate. The league does see tax breaks when building stadiums, but those are granted by local governments, not the federal government.

    So much ignorance. So little time to document it.

  113. says

    More on the absolute awfulness of Harvey Weinstein’s abuse of women:

    […] Three women—among them [Italian actor and director Asia] Argento and a former aspiring actress named Lucia Evans—told me that Weinstein raped them, allegations that include Weinstein forcibly performing or receiving oral sex and forcing vaginal sex. Four women said that they experienced unwanted touching that could be classified as an assault.

    In an audio recording captured during a New York Police Department sting operation in 2015 and made public here for the first time, Weinstein admits to groping a Filipina-Italian model named Ambra Battilana Gutierrez, describing it as behavior he is “used to.” Four of the women I interviewed cited encounters in which Weinstein exposed himself or masturbated in front of them. […]

    The quoted text is from a New Yorker article written by Ronan Farrow.

    There’s even an audio recording of Weinstein pressuring Gutierrez to enter his hotel room. Just awful. The audio recording should come with a trigger warning.

    […] Virtually all of the people I spoke with told me that they were frightened of retaliation. “If Harvey were to discover my identity, I’m worried that he could ruin my life,” one former employee told me. Many said that they had seen Weinstein’s associates confront and intimidate those who crossed him, and feared that they would be similarly targeted.

    Four actresses, including Mira Sorvino and Rosanna Arquette, told me they suspected that, after they rejected Weinstein’s advances or complained about them to company representatives, Weinstein had them removed from projects or dissuaded people from hiring them.

    Multiple sources said that Weinstein frequently bragged about planting items in media outlets about those who spoke against him; these sources feared that they might be similarly targeted. Several pointed to Gutierrez’s case, in 2015: after she went to the police, negative items discussing her sexual history and impugning her credibility began rapidly appearing in New York gossip pages. (In the taped conversation with Gutierrez, Weinstein asks her to join him for “five minutes,” and warns, “Don’t ruin your friendship with me for five minutes.”) […]

  114. blf says

    A follow-up to @207, A brief history of Trump challenging people to IQ tests:

    […] Trump uses his IQ like he uses his net worth: It’s always higher than you might assume and there’s no way to ever pin it down.
    Some bad news for Trump in terms of his confidence in his own smarts: Over the time that he has been president, Americans’ perceptions of his intelligence have sunk by about 10 percentage points. Only a little more than half the country now uses the word “intelligent” to describe him, according to polling from Quinnipiac University.

    There are some great readers’s comments, such as:

    ● “Dotus would fail an IQ test he drafted himself.”

    ● “[…] If introspection were part of any indication of intelligence, trump has no intelligence.”

    ● “While we’re at it, give the man a grammar quiz. English grammar.”

    ● “Maybe Trump, Tillerson, and Corker could appear as guests on Jeopardy. ‘US Constitution for $100 please’.”

    ● “Trump is one of those idiot savants but without the savant part.”

    ● “[…] Trump would win any IQ test because Trump is such a genius that only he is qualified to grade an IQ test. Anyone else grading his IQ test would be fake according to Trump.”

    ● “It has to be at least near the top of single digits.”

    ● “I’m willing to wager that a rock has a higher IQ […]”

    ● “Called ignorant, Trump brings out his IQ. Ignorance has nothing to do with IQ; it’s lack of knowledge or information, which describes Trump perfectly. You can be all sorts of intelligent, but be the most ignorant person on the planet. Which Trump would know if he wasn’t so ignorant.”

    ● “He seems to be taking the ‘moron’ thing hard even though he said it was fake news.”

    ● (There’s a somewhat convoluted comment which uses France electing Inspector Clouseau as an analogy.)

    ● “I’m disappointed that the Nobel Prize committee ignored the Don’s obviously spectacular intelligence by not awarding him this year’s prize in economics for coming up with the revolutionary concept of ‘priming the pump.’ On second thought, the Don is so brilliant, he should have gotten the Nobel prizes in all of the categories this year.” (As a reminder, earlier this year hair furor claimed to have invented that phrase, in use since at least the 1930s. And he himself has used it previously.)

    Surprisingly few trolls (so far?). And multiple mentions of the Dunning–Kruger effect. Both the article and numerous comments point out IQ testing is highly dubious.

  115. says

    Guardian: “A spokesman for the Catalan government said: ‘President Puigdemont has requested a postponement given the contacts for international mediation’.

    It appears some eleventh hour diplomacy is under way.”

    Puigdemont was supposed to appear about 40 minutes ago. They’re now saying about 20 minutes from now, but if there are talks ongoing then who knows.

  116. says

    “A Catalan government spokesman has confirmed that some kind of talks are under way, saying: ‘There is a mediation effort going on and that’s all we are gong to say for now’.”

    This video the Guardian links to is one of a series featuring people with a range of views. His views are similar to those I expressed @ #64 above.

  117. blf says

    Greece passes gender-change law opposed by Orthodox church (the Grauniad’s edits in {curly braces}):

    Greece’s leftwing government has passed legislation enabling citizens to determine their gender identity amid fierce condemnation from the Orthodox church who said it would destroy human beings.

    After two days of highly charged debate, Alexis Tsipras rallied parliament to endorse policies that will permit people to legally change their gender on all official documents without undergoing sterilisation.

    The law, which passed with 171 votes in favour and 114 against, had exposed political divisions and entrenched beliefs in one of Europe’s most socially conservative societies. It will allows trans individuals to affirm their desired gender from the age of 15 and brings Greece in line with most EU member states.


    It was also opposed by the powerful Greek Orthodox church, which had denounced the legislation as a satanic deed that would lead to the destruction of social cohesion and the spiritual necrosis of man.

    Bishops, echoing the view of the neo-fascist Golden Dawn party, argued that the law had an ulterior aim: to allow same-sex couples to adopt children. The ultimate goal of this law is to allow homosexuals to adopt children, Metropolitan Nicholas of Phthiotis told parishioners. Do you see how far these Greek Orthodox deputies have sunk? They have brought blasphemy upon the human body. Today they tell us that God did not create man and woman{…} every man can easily become a woman, and every woman a man. It is a satanic deed.

    Gen Ripper and precious bodily fluids comes to mind here.

    The article goes on to discuss the problems and abuse apparently prevalent in Greece and the inadequate support.

  118. says


    Catalan president Carles Puigdemont has proposed further dialogue in order to work toward independence.

    He says:

    “I want to follow people’s will for Catalonia to become an independent state.”

    The parliament erupts with applause. But he says the government wants to delay any formal declaration. He continues:

    “We propose to suspend the effect of the independence declaration… in order to work towards putting into practice the result of the referendum… Today, we are making a gesture of responsibility in favour of dialogue.”

  119. blf says

    Here’s an interesting hypothesis / prediction, Trump’s tough talk on Iran could end in a big, blame-evading dodge:

    With little US appetite to kill the nuclear deal, he will likely blame the deep state for not taking action — thus keeping his base onside
    A peculiar pattern of Trumpian behavior is emerging. First, his fragile ego forbids him to ever take responsibility for anything. Ever. Second, because he craves the adulation of his base, he will to shift blame or throw any and all supporters and allies under the bus.

    So, just like the Obamacare “repeal and replace” fiasco, or the DACA deal, or his tax reform plan, Trump dodges the ball. He throws the hot potato to Congress, throws up his hands, walks away and points fingers.

    When he decertifies the deal, Congress will have 90 days to consider his action and decide whether to re-impose sanctions. They must introduce, debate and pass legislation on the sanctions or his decertification means exactly nothing.

    Right now, there seems to be no appetite in Congress to touch the Iran deal. […]

    But neither [senate foreign relations chairman Bob] Corker nor majority leader Mitch McConnell say they are ready to move any sanctions bills, and neither are Democratic leaders in either body. Facing a legislative calendar already crowded with must-pass bills, and mid-term elections on the horizon, it’s hard to see how Congress could act on sanctions even if they wanted to.

    So for Trump, it’s like having your cake and eating it too. He gets to tell his base he’s trying to kill the plan, but the deep state and Congress are standing in the way. It’s brilliant.


    Redacted from this opinion piece is a short analysis of how congress could still feck things up even without implementing any sanctions; basically by adding new conditions or demanding even tougher inspections, such as Senator Tom Cotton of Arkansas has proposed.

  120. blf says

    Does anyone else besides me find it slightly amusing that a live blog is itself being live blogged here?

  121. says


    Does anyone else besides me find it slightly amusing that a live blog is itself being live blogged here?

    Selectively, and in conjunction with information from elsewhere.

  122. says

    OK, I’m going to take a break for a while. I need it, and blf’s comment annoyed me. blf, I was following the Guardian’s liveblog, as well as various people and hashtags on Twitter, the Catalan government’s and its spokesman’s Twitter feeds, the live broadcast of the speech, and Spanish media. I commented about the gist of the speech before the Guardian blogged about it, and then followed up with their reporting to fill things out. I wasn’t just liveblogging their liveblog, so there was nothing to be amused about.

  123. blf says

    This is amusing, Has Trump insulted you?: “Take our quiz to find out”.
    (Whatever technology the Granuiad is using didn’t want to scroll or autoscale properly to fit my screen / window size, so I had to manually force the scaling. Eejits.)

  124. says

    SC @227, taking a break frequently from this intense thread is a good idea. Even if one doesn’t disagree with other comments, one should take frequent breaks.

    Sometimes the world is too much with us, late and soon. (It is for me anyway.)

    Take care, everyone.

  125. says

    I should have given Wordsworth credit:

    The world is too much with us; late and soon,

    Getting and spending, we lay waste our powers; […]

  126. says

    Hillary Clinton commented on Harvey Weinstein’s behavior:

    I was shocked and appalled by the revelations about Harvey Weinstein. The behavior described by women coming forward cannot be tolerated. Their courage and the support of others is critical in helping to stop this kind of behavior.

  127. says

    Trump demonstrates his ignorance again:

    President Trump pointed to the premium hikes a guest of his at the White House Tuesday was facing as his reason to “do something” about the Affordable Care Act […]

    Never mind that the guest Trump cited was former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger, who is 94 years old and thus eligible for Medicare. It is unlikely that Kissinger is getting his insurance from Obamacare’s individual market, yet Trump claimed that he did not want to “pay 116 percent increase in his premiums.”

    “Now, we’re going to have to do something with Obamacare because it’s failing. Henry Kissinger does not want to pay 116 percent increase in his premiums, but that’s what’s happening,” Trump said, after hinting at what the “something” he will sign “probably this week” will do. […]

  128. says

    Commentary on the actions of Environmental Protection Agency administrator Scott Pruitt to unravel the Clean Power Plan of the Obama administration:

    […] Without a trace of irony, Pruitt told coal-miners in Eastern Kentucky, “No better place to make that announcement than Hazard, Ky.”

    That is a Trump-esque level of tone-deafness. The direct health hazards alone from this action will be devastating. By 2030, it could mean up to 3,600 more premature deaths; 17,000 more hospitalizations; 90,000 more asthma attacks in kids; and 300,000 missed days of school and work, according to a 2015 EPA analysis.

    On top of that, Pruitt’s move is a cornerstone of the Trump administration’s plan to undermine both domestic and global climate action. Killing the Clean Power Plan (along with other pro-pollution moves by Trump), will make it much harder for the United States to meet its carbon pollution target for the Paris climate deal — and, more importantly, the country won’t be able to make an even stronger commitment in the next round of negotiations. […]


  129. blf says

    IMF tells rich nations that greater urgency needed on climate change:

    The International Monetary Fund has warned the world’s richest nations to have a greater sense of urgency about climate change, a day after the former Australian prime minister, Tony Abbott, delivered a bizarre speech to a London-based thinktank claiming climate change was probably doing good.

    The IMF’s latest World Economic Outlook (WEO) […], has dedicated an entire chapter to the impact of weather shocks and climate change on global economic activity.

    It warns coping with climate change will be one of the “fundamental challenges” of the 21st century and it calls on the global community to mitigate greenhouse gas emissions before they create “more irreversible damage”, saying richer countries must help low-income economies adapt to rapidly increasing temperatures.

    Directly contradicting one of Abbott’s arguments that Australia’s contribution to global emissions has been so small it is not worth restructuring its economy to change its energy use significantly, the IMF says nations with developed economies such as Australia — one of the highest per capita emitters in the world — have a responsibility to act.


    The IMF warns specifically in its report that rising global temperatures could wreak havoc in parts of the world, particularly in hotter climates where people were too poor to migrate.


    Abbott’s “bizarre speech” (see embedded link (above)) was apparently a doozy, Tony Abbott says climate change is probably doing good:

    Former Australian PM delivers speech in London comparing global warming action to killing goats to appease volcano gods
    Abbott delivered the annual lecture to the London-based Global Warming Policy Foundation (GWPF), a climate sceptic [sic] thinktank on Monday evening. The Guardian and several other media outlets were blocked from attending the event but a copy of the speech was later circulated.

    Abbott told the group the ostracisation of those who did not accept climate science was the spirit of the Inquisition, the thought-police down the ages. He also reprised his 2009 assertion that the so-called settled science of climate change was absolute crap.

    Measures to deal with climate change, which Abbott said would damage the economy, were likened to primitive people once killing goats to appease the volcano gods.

    At least so far, he said, it’s climate change policy that’s doing harm. Climate change itself is probably doing good; or at least, more good than harm.

    There’s the evidence that higher concentrations of carbon dioxide — which is a plant food after all — are actually greening the planet and helping to lift agricultural yields. In most countries, far more people die in cold snaps than in heatwaves, so a gradual lift in global temperatures, especially if it’s accompanied by more prosperity and more capacity to adapt to change, might even be beneficial.


    Even if reducing emissions really is necessary to save the planet, our effort, however Herculean, is barely better than futile; because Australia’s total annual emissions are exceeded by just the annual increase in China’s, Abbott said.

    Recent research from the Australia Institute found the country was the only wealthy nation still breaking energy emissions records.

    The GWPF is chaired by Nigel Lawson, who served as Margaret Thatcher’s treasurer. Lawson has been an outspoken critic of climate science and recently incorrectly told the BBC the global temperature had slightly declined in the past decade. […]


    Abbott, who trained to be a Catholic priest, called climate change a post-Christian theology and said the decline of religion in society had left a hole in which other forms of dogma could take root.

    A Lancet study in 2015 supports Abbott’s claim that more people die from cold weather than hot. But the World Health Organisation has found that by 2050, climate change will cause 250,000 extra people to die each year from malnutrition, malaria, diarrhoea and heat stress.

    Abbott went on to deny many of the central findings of the UN’s climate science body and claimed, without providing evidence, that climate records had been adjusted and data sets slanted.

    Contrary to the breathless assertions that climate change is behind every weather event, in Australia, the floods are not bigger, the bushfires are not worse, the droughts are not deeper or longer, and the cyclones are not more severe than they were in the 1800s, Abbott said. Sometimes, they do more damage but that’s because there’s more to destroy, not because their intensity has increased.

    More than 100 years of photography at Manly beach in my electorate does not suggest that sea levels have risen despite frequent reports from climate alarmists that this is imminent.

    Scientists often refrain from linking single weather events to climate change, saying only that they fit with what they expect to see more of because of climate change.

    But as the Earth warms and scientist better understand climate change, weather extremes have been shown to have been made more likely due to greenhouse gas pollution. In Australia, the record hot winter just passed was made 60 times more likely by climate change. Researchers have also linked warming sea temperatures to the catastrophic rainfall and flooding that killed 35 people in Australia in 2011.

    Sea level rise is one of the least controversial aspects of climate science. It is progressing at 3.4mm per year globally, according to the Australian government’s Ozcoasts website. Perhaps not enough to appear in photographs against other variables, such as daily tides, but over time scientists agree this will cause problems with coastal housing and infrastructure.


  130. KG says


    It’s typical of climate denialist liars that Abbott uses three incompatible “arguments” in the course of his speech: that climate change has not been demonstrated, that it’s probably doing good, and that doing anything about it would be too expensive.

  131. says

    What prompted Secretary of State Rex Tillerson to call Trump a “moron” or a “fucking moron”?

    President Donald Trump said he wanted what amounted to a nearly tenfold increase in the U.S. nuclear arsenal during a gathering this past summer of the nation’s highest ranking national security leaders, according to three officials who were in the room.

    Trump’s comments, the officials said, came in response to a briefing slide he was shown that charted the steady reduction of U.S. nuclear weapons since the late 1960s. Trump indicated he wanted a bigger stockpile, not the bottom position on that downward-sloping curve. […]

    NBC News link

    From Steve Benen:

    […] the president saw a slide that showed the size of the U.S. nuclear stockpile over the past seven decades. Trump saw the highest point on the chart – a half-century ago, the American stockpile was at 32,000 – and “told his team he wanted the U.S. to have that many now.”

    Officials in the room then had to explain there are “legal and practical impediments” to such a move, which isn’t at all necessary anyway. The NBC report added, “Any increase in America’s nuclear arsenal would not only break with decades of U.S. nuclear doctrine but also violate international disarmament treaties signed by every president since Ronald Reagan.” […]

    Making matters even worse is Trump’s record of confusion on the subject itself. Around Christmas last year, for example, the Republican declared, apropos of nothing, that United States “must greatly strengthen and expand its nuclear capability until such time as the world comes to its senses regarding nukes.” […]

    This is the same Republican who, over the course of his campaign, suggested more countries – specifically South Korea, Japan, and Saudi Arabia – should develop nuclear-weapons programs for their own national security interests. […]

    Here is Trump’s response:

    Fake @NBCNews made up a story that I wanted a “tenfold” increase in our U.S. nuclear arsenal. Pure fiction, made up to demean. NBC = CNN! With all of the Fake News coming out of NBC and the Networks, at what point is it appropriate to challenge their License? Bad for country!

  132. says

    Trump invented some fake news in order to complain some more about fake news.

    The Fake News is at it again, this time trying to hurt one of the finest people I know, General John Kelly, by saying he will soon be fired,

    …fired. This story is totally made up by the dishonest media.The Chief is doing a FANTASTIC job for me and, more importantly, for the USA!

    Nope. National media is not reporting that Kelly will be fired. There are reports of Kelly’s management style (organized) causing some tension with Trump, but no reports of firing. Does this mean that Trump is the only one thinking about firing Kelly?

    A summary of the news that is closer to the truth:

    […] A Vanity Fair report published on Monday called Kelly and Trump’s relationship “irreparable,” and a Washington Post article the same day cited sources in the president’s “inner circle” as floating potential replacements for the chief of staff should the dynamic in the West Wing become “unsustainable.” Neither report said that Kelly’s departure is on the horizon.

    Maybe Trump just seizes on any half-truth (or lie) that he can use to foster distrust of the media.

  133. says

    “It’s time to take Trump’s threat of war against North Korea seriously,” excerpts from a conversation with Senator Chris Murphy, a Democrat from Connecticut:

    “It’s time to take Trump seriously as he keeps hinting, over and over, that he wants to go to war with North Korea,” Murphy tweeted. He went on to argue that the media’s tendency to dismiss Trump’s comments as bluster has been wrong before, and Trump’s persistent series of provocations, as well as his dismissal of Secretary of State Rex Tillerson’s efforts to find a diplomatic solution, suggest his views on North Korea are more fixed than critics realized.

    In recent years, Murphy has emerged as a leading foreign policy voice among Senate Democrats, as well as something of a social media celebrity. His tweets rack up thousands of likes and retweets, in part because he uses the platform to make actual arguments, not simply distribute press releases. But his string of missives on Monday read different from his usual fare. They read scared, even desperate. “Many of us have begun to hear whispers of more serious war talk in and near the White House,” he wrote. Trump’s “‘calm before the storm’ comment sent chills.” […]

    More details on the Vox site, where a transcription of a conversation between Senator Murphy and journalist Ezra Klein is presented.

  134. says

    Team Trump’s anti-abortion stance is negatively impacting health care provided to undocumented immigrant minors.

    Thousands of unaccompanied, undocumented immigrant minors are currently in the custody of the United States federal government, which is legally obligated to provide them with health care. Some are pregnant and wish to obtain an abortion. In March, however, the Office of Refugee Resettlement announced that federally funded shelters are barred from taking “any action that facilitates” abortion for these unaccompanied minors without “direction and approval” from ORR Director Scott Lloyd.

    And according to the ACLU, Lloyd, a Trump nominee, is now prohibiting minors from accessing abortion care—and instead sending them to “crisis pregnancy centers” that urge them not to terminate their pregnancies. […]

    The ACLU is suing on behalf of one such woman (“Jane Doe”) […] Its motion for an injunction against the new policy argues that the Trump administration is violating Doe’s constitutional rights.

    Doe came to the United States without her parents at age 17 […] She arrived pregnant and requested an abortion. Her shelter, which gets its money from the federal government, refused, since Lloyd had decreed that “grantees should not be supporting abortion services … only pregnancy services and life-affirming options counseling.”

    The shelter then took Doe to an anti-abortion crisis pregnancy center, where she was compelled to undergo an ultrasound and forced to listen as counselors tried to talk her out of an abortion. [Snipped cruel details of other actions taken against Doe.] As of this writing, the shelter continues to prevent her from obtaining the abortion. […]


  135. says

    So far, 17 people have died in the wildfires burning in Northern California.

    […] The wildfires continue to besiege Sonoma County, where the largest wildfire, called the Tubbs Fire, has grown to 28,000 acres,[…]. Eleven of the 17 deaths occurred in Sonoma County and, […] around 180 people there are still missing. Three of the other fatalities occurred in Mendocino County, two in Napa County, and one in Yuba County. […]

    The cause of the wildfires remains unknown, but in such arid and hot conditions, they can be caused by the smallest of sparks. The chairman of California’s Board of Forestry and Fire Protection said Tuesday the state would investigate why so many fires broke out on the same day, […]. Most wildfires in California are caused by humans.

    The winds could pick up even further late Wednesday night […] and gusts could again reach 50 miles per hour […]


  136. says

    Sen. Elizabeth Warren, Congressman Elijah Cummings, and Sen. Tom Carper have released a report compiled by the Government Accountability Office showing that the Trump team started ignoring ethics rules during the transition period and kept on ignoring them right up until they took over the White House. “[…] … resulting in ethical crises that extended beyond the transition period into the Trump presidency.” […]


  137. says

    Follow-up to comment 239.

    The National Association of Broadcasters issued a statement in reply to Trump’s threat to revoke NBC’s broadcasting license:

    The founders of our nation set as a cornerstone of our democracy the First Amendment, forever enshrining and protecting freedom of the press. It is contrary to this fundamental right for any government official to threaten the revocation of an FCC license simply because of a disagreement with the reporting of a journalist.

    In the past, Trump has also called on the Senate Intel Committee to investigate “Fake News Networks.”

    Trump has also praised the leaders of other countries for restricting freedom of the press. Trump praised the authoritarian actions of President Erdogan of Turkey; the emir of Kuwait, Sheikh Sabah Ahmed al-Sabah; Polish President Andrzej Duda; and Russian President Vladimir Putin.

    The Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) declared Trump to be a threat to press freedoms throughout the world.

  138. blf says

    Puerto Rico: US officials privately acknowledge serious food shortage:

    ● US government providing 200,000 meals a day to meet needs of 2m people
    ● ‘There is no urgency in the government response to this humanitarian crisis’

    Federal officials privately admit there is a massive shortage of meals in Puerto Rico three weeks after Hurricane Maria devastated the island.

    Officials at the Federal Emergency Management Agency (Fema) say that the government and its partners are only providing 200,000 meals a day to meet the needs of more than 2 million people. That is a daily shortfall of between 1.8m and 5.8m meals.

    […] More than a third of Puerto Ricans are still struggling to live without drinking water.


    [… T]he biggest provider of cooked meals says Fema is putting its operations at risk of closure.

    World Central Kitchen, founded by chef José Andrés, cooks and distributes 90,000 meals a day through a network of local chefs and kitchens.

    Its Fema contract, to provide just 20,000 meals a day, ended on Tuesday. Fema insists it is bound by federal rules that mean it will take several weeks for a new contract to emerge to feed more Americans.

    “There is no urgency in the government response to this humanitarian crisis,” Andrés said. “They have all the officials and armed guards at headquarters, but they have no information about the island. They don’t even have a map they can share about who needs food. Fema is over-paying and it is under-delivering.”


    Trump is receiving little appreciation from the American people for his response to the Puerto Rico disaster. According to a recent poll for the Associated Press, just 32% of Americans approve of Trump’s performance after Hurricane Maria devastated Puerto Rico.

    […] The mayor of San Juan called the sight of [hair furor] throwing rolls of paper “terrible and abominable”.

    Conditions on Puerto Rico remain dire; […]. Less than 400 miles of the island’s 5,000 miles of road are open to traffic.


    The suspension of the Jones Act expired several days ago. As far as I am aware, the it has not been re-suspended, meaning there are fewer ships, which also tend to be smaller and more expensive, to send supplies &tc to Puerto Rico.

    According to the New York Times, Puerto Rico may now have an outbreak of leptospirosis, causing at least one and possibly more deaths, Puerto Rico Investigates Post-Hurricane Disease Outbreak:

    Four deaths in Hurricane Maria’s aftermath are being investigated as possible cases of a disease spread by animals’ urine, Puerto Rico’s governor said Wednesday amid concerns about islanders’ exposure to contaminated water.

    A total of 10 people have come down with suspected cases of leptospirosis, Gov. Ricardo Rossello said at a news conference.

    On a US territory where a third of customers remain without running water three weeks after the hurricane, some became ill after turning to local streams to relieve their thirst.


    Meanwhile, “Wall Street” ghouls are descending, Wall Street Firms Gambled on Puerto Rico. They’re Losing.:

    A few days after Hurricane Maria leveled Puerto Rico, John A Paulson, the billionaire hedge fund manager, boarded his company’s 23-seat Bombardier jet and flew to San Juan.

    Mr Paulson wanted to check personally on several resorts and a large office building that he and his firm own, two people familiar with the trip said. He traveled when commercial air traffic to the devastated island was limited and most private jets landing in San Juan were required to bring badly needed emergency supplies.


  139. says

    Wonkette’s coverage of the continuing crisis in Puerto Rico:

    Can we just stop fucking around and admit it already? Puerto Rico was in an economic crisis before Hurricane Maria, and now it’s confronting a humanitarian catastrophe.

    Before the storm, PR owed $70 billion to Wall Street and $50 billion to its own citizens. Three weeks after the storm, PR is facing massive food shortages, 8% of its roads are passable, and only 16% of Puerto Ricans have power. […] [Republicans plan to] lend Puerto Rico some more money! That will totally work!

    From Chris Hayes:

    Wait, a loan? Are you out of your mind ?!?!

    More from Wonkette:

    The problem for Republicans is that Puerto Rico proves that every single piece of GOP orthodoxy is utter bullshit. Small government can’t rebuild the electrical grid for 3 million people. Cutting taxes will not put food in Puerto Rican grocery stores. And the free market is how Puerto Rico got $70 billion of bond debt in the first place.

    A real free-market economist would say, “Well, we clearly intend to cook the planet with carbon emissions, so Puerto Rico is facing an eternity of supercharged storms. We just have to evacuate most of the population to the continental U.S.” But that would require Republicans to acknowledge man-made climate change and allow all those brown-skinned Democrats to turn Florida blue (and Spanish-speaking). Which is right out. […]

    So now we’re back to loaning Puerto Rico money and hoping that charities fill in the gaps to prevent starvation for long enough that the public loses interest. And, hey America, look over there! California is on fire! […]

    From Trump:

    Nobody could have done what I’ve done for #PuertoRico with so little appreciation. So much work!

  140. blf says

    Re @244 and the “NBC broadcasting license”: There is no such thing. Hair furor made it up. Individual NBC-affiliated stations are licensed by the FCC, but the network as a whole is not.

  141. says

    Thanks, blf @245. I didn’t see your comment before I posted my comment 246.

    This part of the news you posted seems to be emblematic of FEMA failures at all levels in Puerto Rico:

    The biggest provider of cooked meals says Fema is putting its operations at risk of closure.
    World Central Kitchen, founded by chef José Andrés, cooks and distributes 90,000 meals a day through a network of local chefs and kitchens.

    Its Fema contract, to provide just 20,000 meals a day, ended on Tuesday. Fema insists it is bound by federal rules that mean it will take several weeks for a new contract to emerge to feed more Americans.

    “Bound by rules”!? That infuriates me.

  142. blf says

    US police killings undercounted by half, study using Guardian data finds (Grauniad edits in {curly braces}):

    Harvard study finds over half of deaths wrongly classified, in latest example of databases greatly undercounting police killings

    Over half of all police killings in 2015 were wrongly classified as not having been the result of interactions with officers, a new Harvard study based on Guardian data has found.


    “Right now the data quality is bad and unacceptable,” said lead researcher Justin Feldman. “To effectively address the problem of law enforcement-related deaths, the public needs better data about who is being killed, where, and under what circumstances.”

    Feldman used data from the Guardian’s 2015 investigation into police killings, The Counted, and compared it with data from the National Vital Statistics System (NVSS). That dataset, which is kept by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), was found to have misclassified 55.2% of all police killings, with the errors occurring disproportionately in low-income jurisdictions.


    Researchers found the accuracy varied wildly by state, with just 17.6% misclassification in Washington, but a startling 100% in Oklahoma.

    “{Oklahoma} had more than 30 people were killed by police there in 2015 and none of them were counted on death certificates,” Feldman said.


    Feldman also noted that this problem was law-enforcement specific. “Evidence suggests that the accuracy of mortality classification for homicide — an outcome similar to law-enforcement-related mortality{…} is very high”, the report reads. One 2014 study cited puts the figure at 99%.


    Other federal databases, including the Bureau of Justice Statistics’ (BJS) arrest-related death count and the FBI’s supplementary homicide reports were similarly criticised for severely undercounting police-related deaths. Both programs have been dramatically reworked since The Counted and similar media / open source databases forced officials such as the former FBI director James Comey to admit that newspapers had more accurate data than the government on police violence.

    I assume hair furor, once he receives his instructions from the NRA and several policegoons’s unions & chiefs, and confirmed by Putin, will order the Grauniad’s — and also Harvard’s — non-existent license to be revoked.

  143. Ogvorbis: Swimming without a parachute. says

    Lynna @224:

    In the past, Trump has also called on the Senate Intel Committee to investigate “Fake News Networks.”

    Hey, Trump, they ARE investigating Fake News — all of the fake news that was pushed by Russian intelligence to discredit Clinton and build up Trump.

    blf @247:

    Individual NBC-affiliated stations are licensed by the FCC, but the network as a whole is not.

    Well, hell, do you really expect the President of the United States of America to actually understand how government works? That’s dangerous liberal thinking! Bad!


    Last night I had the misfortune of listening to my street’s Right Wing Whacko as he ponderously pontificated on Hillary Clinton’s relationship with Weinstein and how this proved (PROVED!!!!!11!1!!) that she is a hipocrit, a liar, and was out to destroy white ment in America!!11!eleventy!! Apparently, the fact the Weinstein contributed to Clinton’s campaign while he was a rapist shows that Clinton is out to get white men. No, I still haven’t quite figured out how that works.

    However, Fox News had Keallyanne Conway on to lash out on Clinton because:

    During an interview on Fox News, host Bill Hemmer asked Conway to respond to the fact that it took Clinton several days to denounce Harvey Weinstein’s treatment of women. Hemmer, however, did not point out that Conway’s boss, President Donald Trump, has also been accused of sexually abusing women.


    President Donald Trump has acknowledged the news that Weinstein sexually assaulted women, but he has yet to condemn the mogul’s actions or offer support to the women who were victimized.

    From RawStory.

  144. says

    Follow-up to comments 244, 247 and 249.

    From David Kurtz:

    It’s Not An Idle Threat When It’s The President

    A couple of quick points about President Trump’s Nixonesque threat to NBC’s “license” today:

    Complaints about fake news and rhetorical attacks on journalists may be contemptible, but in this morning’s threat Trump is introducing direct government retaliation against broadcasters into the mix. This is new territory.

    Whether Trump can or ever does follow through, the mere threat of government action or inaction by the president is itself an act. It puts not just NBC on notice, but any broadcaster with regulatory business before the FCC.

    We’re reporting this story out now (a big part of it may be that Trump doesn’t even know how the FCC works). Stay tuned.

  145. says

    Wonkette covered the upcoming testimony of Carter Page:

    Pity […] former campaign foreign policy adviser Carter Page, the stupidest American person Russian intelligence ever did recruit, for he is having a bad week. He swears he is innocent of all Trump-Russia crimes, […]

    And bless his heart! He WANTS to turn over all the documents the committee has requested, but he just can’t right now, because #reasons. So now he says he’s going to “plead the Fifth” on turning over those documents, while still DEMANDING to testify:

    […] Carter Page told CNN Monday he is going to plead the Fifth Amendment to keep from turning over a “vast array” of documents the Senate Intelligence committee requested, which he said is “beyond the charter” of the inquiry.

    But Page demanded an opportunity to testify publicly before the panel, saying he offered to appear November 1 at the committee’s open hearing on Russian attempts to influence the election through social media.


    What’s up his ass is that the government ILLEGALLY (legally) pulled a FISA warrant on him last year, […] Page is a star of the Steele Dossier for traveling to Russia, maybe to facilitate the transfer of a 19% stake in Russian oil conglomerate Rosneft to (????) in exchange for lifting American sanctions. And the Trump administration admits he went to Russia at that time! Also too, KA-CHING! A sale much like that took place just after the election! Probably a crazy coincidence.

    […] the application for the warrant stated that Page was “knowingly engaged in clandestine intelligence activities for Moscow.” KNOWINGLY.

    However, Page has a different belief about the CIA tracking chip […] and it is that the surveillance was ordered by the Hillary Clinton Deep #Pizza State. No foolin’, y’all! He thinks he’s being targeted so Hillary […] because of how she hates Catholics like him. REALLY.

    […] Page contends that he does not want to be caught in a “perjury trap” since the government has more detailed records about his communications.

    PSSSST! Carter Page, […] you fucking dolt: We don’t think you’re supposed to say that out loud.

    If we’re interpreting him correctly, he’s saying […] he really needs the tiny CIA man to come out and say what he heard, SO HE WON’T FUCK UP AND LIE UNDER OATH.

    Does he have brain damage? Has he ever heard of the age-old strategy of avoiding a perjury charge by NOT LYING?

    […] In May, Senate intelligence chairman Richard Burr told CNN that Page could face subpoenas if he does not cooperate, warning that the investigation was not “100% voluntary.” […]

  146. Ogvorbis: Swimming without a parachute. says

    Holy shit.

    Vowing to not remove any monuments from federal lands, Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke defended the Trump administration’s stance about not taking down Confederate statues and said it would upset “native Indians.”

    “Where do you start and where do you stop? … If you’re a native Indian, I can tell you, you’re not very happy about the history of General Sherman or perhaps President Grant,” Zinke said during an interview with Breitbart {Well, that explains it] Sunday, referencing the Union generals’ monuments around the U.S. despite their roles in creating federal policy that caused great harm to native Americans.

    From TPM

  147. says

    The implementation deadline for sanctions against Russia was October 1, according to a bill passed by Congress. Congressional Republicans in the House passed the bill. In the Senate, the bill passed with a vote of 98 to 2. The sanctions were a response to Russia’s interference in U.S. elections.

    At the time, some people thought the sanctions were a bit weak and that the sanctions did not match the crime. Trump was not one of those people. Trump thought that there should be no sanctions, none at all. And now he has failed to implement the sanctions ordered by Congress.

    From Steve Benen:

    It was one of the more embarrassing failures of Trump’s presidency to date. As lawmakers prepared new sanctions against Russia in response to its attack on the American election, the president opposed the move and tried to shield Moscow from punishment. This, naturally, made Trump look pretty bad.

    Congressional Republicans proceeded to ignore the White House’s appeal and approved the sanctions anyway […] This, naturally, made Trump look quite a bit worse.

    Left with limited choices, the president ultimately signed the legislation he opposed, but not before whining and blaming the Republican-led Congress for undermining relations with Putin’s government.

    At that point, it was widely assumed the administration would honor the law and implement the sanctions. As Foreign Policy noted yesterday, that hasn’t happened just yet.

    On Wednesday, leading senators from both parties – Maryland Democrat Ben Cardin and Arizona Republican John McCain – criticized the Donald Trump administration for not meeting a deadline for implementing new sanctions on Russia’s defense and intelligence sectors.

    “The delay calls into question the Trump administration’s commitment to the sanctions bill which was signed into law more than two months ago, following months of public debate and negotiations in Congress,” they said in a statement….. The lawmakers also noted that after writing to the administration on Sept. 28 urging an implementation plan for these sanctions, they have yet to receive a response. […]

    When Trump signed the bill, he hinted that he might not implement it:

    My administration will give careful and respectful consideration to the preferences expressed by the Congress in these various provisions and will implement them in a manner consistent with the President’s constitutional authority to conduct foreign relations.

    Trump also added a presidential signing statement noting “a number of clearly unconstitutional provisions.”

    It looks to me like Trump is breaking the law. The failure to implement the sanctions should be added to the list of reasons to impeach Trump.

  148. says

    Irony-meter-breaking moment: Roy Moore criticizing others for “disrespect for the rule of law.” Moore is on the Trump bandwagon against NFL players who kneel as a form of protest against injustice evident in the unequal use of violence by law enforcement officers.

    […] Moore argued, “Kneeling during our national anthem not only demonstrates a lack of patriotism for our Country but a disrespect for the rule of law.”

    For the record, Moore was twice removed from the bench for ethics violations, stemming from his belief that he can defy court rulings he doesn’t like. If there’s literally anyone in American politics who should avoid discussing the value of “the rule of law,” it’s Roy Moore.

    Oddly enough, this wasn’t the most embarrassing development yesterday for the GOP candidate. Rather, that news came from the Washington Post.

    Former Alabama judge Roy Moore, a Republican candidate for U.S. Senate, once said publicly that he did not take a “regular salary” from the small charity he founded to promote Christian values because he did not want to be a financial burden.

    But privately, Moore had arranged to receive a salary of $180,000 a year for part-time work at the Foundation for Moral Law, internal charity documents show. He collected more than $1 million as president from 2007 to 2012, compensation that far surpassed what the group disclosed in its public tax filings most of those years.

    When the charity couldn’t afford the full amount, Moore in 2012 was given a promissory note for backpay eventually worth $540,000 or an equal stake of the charity’s most valuable asset, a historic building in Montgomery, Ala., mortgage records show. He holds that note even now, a charity official said.

    To state the obvious, this paints an unflattering picture of the extremist Republican, not only because he appears to have made misleading claims about his compensation at the Foundation for Moral Law, but also because there are legal questions about the organization’s tax filings. [snipped details of tax filings that were apparently fraudulent]

    […] given the available information, it sure looks like Moore and his family – his wife and kids are paid employees – used that charity for their enrichment. […]


  149. says

    Trump is following through on his callous and ill-informed approach to the disaster in Puerto Rico. Trump tweeted:

    “Puerto Rico survived the Hurricanes, now a financial crisis looms largely of their own making.” says Sharyl Attkisson. A total lack of…..

    accountability say the Governor. Electric and all infrastructure was disaster before hurricanes. Congress to decide how much to spend. We cannot keep FEMA, the Military & the First Responders, who have been amazing (under the most difficult circumstances) in P.R. forever!

    As of today, at least 80% of Puerto Rico still has no electrical power, and at least one third of the residents do not have access to clean water. Problems with water-borne diseases are starting to multiply.

    Mike Pence recently visited the island and said that the Trump administration “stands with” the people of Puerto Rico. Not true.

  150. says

    Trump failed another test in basic economics yesterday.

    “The country — we took it over and owed over $20 trillion. As you know the last eight years, they borrowed more than it did in the whole history of our country. So they borrowed more than $10 trillion, right? And yet, we picked up $5.2 trillion just in the stock market,” Trump told Sean Hannity. “So you could say, in one sense, we’re really increasing values. And maybe in a sense, we’re reducing debt. But we’re very honored by it.”

    Daily Beast link

    To summarize, Trump thinks that stock-market gains are “reducing debt.”

    From Steve Benen:

    […] This wasn’t just some verbal gaffe. Yesterday afternoon in Harrisburg, during a speech on taxes, he pushed a related point: “Very proudly, just in the stock market alone, we have increased our economic worth by $5.2 trillion, that’s right, since Election Day. $5.2 trillion. Think about that, that’s a quarter of the $20 trillion that we owe.”

    This is gibberish. They’re the remarks of someone who doesn’t know what the national debt is. Or how the nation’s finances work. Or even how money works.

    Let’s try to make this plain. When the government spends more than it takes in over the course of a year, it runs an annual budget deficit. When this happens repeatedly over the course of several years, the cumulative totals of these deficits serves as the basis for the national debt. Currently, the national debt is, as Trump noted, about $20 trillion.

    This was, however, pretty much the only thing he got right. The president believes stock market gains over the last year or so are worth $5.2 trillion, and if he applies that money to paying off the debt, “in a sense” he’s reducing the debt by nearly a fourth.

    Except, that doesn’t make any sense at all: unless the White House intends to seize all of that money, the $5.2 trillion isn’t the government’s money. The national debt is still $20 trillion – and growing – whether stock indexes go up or down.

    What’s more, instead of “reducing debt,” Trump actually intends to add quite a bit more to the debt with a massive tax-cut package that he and his cohorts have no idea how to pay for.

    Perhaps, some of you are thinking, we should cut the president some slack, since he’s still an amateur who doesn’t yet understand the basics of, well, much of anything. Maybe he simply needs more time to get up to speed on things like Government Finance 101. The trouble, however, is that if there’s one thing Donald Trump should understand, it’s debt. This has, after all, served as the backbone of his operations for many years.

    And yet, even on the subject he should know the most about, the president is hopelessly lost.

  151. says

    Follow-up to comment 259.

    The national debt continued to increase under the Trump administration. The debt hit $20 trillion for the first time in September.

  152. says

    From commenter “sanni” regarding Trump’s nonsensical economic claims (see comments 259 and 260):

    It does give a glimpse into how he counts money and debt. All those who cast serious doubt on his self-proclaimed riches – yep this is how he counts. Nonsensically, and all mirages, no accounting.

  153. says

    Trump continued his nonsensical tweet storm against the press:

    The Fake News Is going all out in order to demean and denigrate! Such hatred!

    Excerpt from responses from NBC, responses that contain facts, unlike Trump’s emotional tantrums, which have been fact-free:

    NBC News didn’t report Trump “called for” more nucs [Nukes]. On the contrary, we reported Trump said he wanted more but no one took it as an order.

  154. blf says

    There are reports that hair furor will be visiting the UK early next year as part of a visit to other European countries. Allegedly, the visit has been “downgraded” from a full state visit, albeit what that means is unclear. The Grauniad’s columnist Owen Jones suspects there will be massive protests if he does show up, Britain will greet Trump with our biggest ever carnival against hatred: “Theresa May and the White House clearly think that downgrading his state visit will subdue our protests. Quite the opposite”.

  155. says

    A white guy, a non-Muslim, a U.S. citizen who is a militia type placed a bomb in an airport in North Carolina. Almost no one covered it. It’s sort of a buried story.

    […] Following the Transportation Security Administration’s protocols, airport security allowed a bomb dog to sniff the bag for explosives and the dog signaled to the team the presence of dangerous materials in the bag. The concourse was then shut down. The street leading to the airport was shut down. And Asheville Regional Airport officials found themselves in a dangerous emergency situation.

    What investigators eventually found in the bag was AN/FO (Ammonium Nitrate/Fuel Oil) explosives that, according to the criminal complaint, have been used “in a number of terrorist-related incidents around the world. When AN/FO comes into contact with a flame or other ignition source it explodes violently. Nails or ball bearings are often items added to the device so as to increase the devastation inflicted by the explosion.” […]

    […] sharp nails and bullets were found in this improvised explosive device. Whoever built it designed the bomb to cause horrific bodily harm. Before disarming it, authorities discovered that the alarm attached to it was scheduled to go off at 6:00 a.m. that morning just as a fresh round of travelers was scheduled to arrive at the airport.

    The man who planted it, it turns out, openly admitted to authorities that he was “preparing to fight a war on U.S. soil” and that this bomb was but one part of that war. […]

    Intercept link

  156. says

    A look at part of Trump’s propaganda machine:

    On an otherwise regular morning in mid-August, viewers in Providence, Rhode Island were treated to a segment called Behind the Headlines with Mark Hyman, which immediately followed the local weather report.

    “We have the greatest health care in the world,” Hyman says, despite the fact that some 27 million people in the U.S. do not have health insurance, and millions more are underinsured.

    “Did Obamacare make us healthier? No,” Hyman declares. “With Obamacare in place, more Americans are dying than ever before. Now this doesn’t mean Obamacare is killing people, but it does mean that Obamacare isn’t making people healthier.”

    The connection between Obamacare and a higher mortality rate has no correlation whatsoever, and experts actually cite more car crashes, drug overdoses, and gun deaths as the driving reasons for that rate — not Obamacare. […]

    Despite his concession that higher mortality rates don’t mean Obamacare is killing people, Hyman ends his segment with the conclusion that “government-directed health care can kill.”Hyman’s segment, which runs daily between a minute and a half and two minutes long, is one of several must-run “news” segments that spread misinformation, echo Trump administration talking points, and function as nationalist and right-wing propaganda.

    Sinclair often defends the must-run segments by arguing that they don’t take up much time, but the short packaging is part of what makes the programming so insidious. They’re slotted into local newscasts easily and not clearly marked as opinion or required programming. […]

    […] the massive expansion, which would reach 72 percent of U.S. households, wouldn’t have been possible without the Trump administration.[…]

    […] One of the must-run segments is anchored by a former Trump adviser, Boris Epshteyn, who consistently shares misleading talking points and echoes misinformation from the Trump administration under the guise of “political analysis.” […]

    Much more at the link.

  157. Ogvorbis: Swimming without a parachute. says

    Lynna @265:

    When ‘Retreat’ is played, and I am in my civilian uniform (NPS), I stop what I am doing, stand at attention, and, if I can see it, face the flag — required of me when in uniform. Out of uniform, I stand. That old military training still crops up.

    I still, quite fondly, remember, as a trumpet player in high school, sounding ‘Retreat’ in the graveyard at Antietam National Cemetery. It brought tears to my eyes then. It still does, especially at military cemeteries.

    Is Trump really this fucking stupid? The protest during the National Anthem does not disrespect the country, the flag, the military, the song. It is a plea that the U.S. live up to its professed ideals. For the POTUS to not stand during ‘Retreat’ at a military function (or any other function) really does disrespect the military.

  158. says

    As Trump continues to try to control the media, a commissioner of the Federal Communications Commission weighed in. Jessica Rosenworcel tweeted:

    Not how it works.

    See here:

    She was responding to this tweet from Hair Furor:

    Network news has become so partisan, distorted and fake that licenses must be challenged and, if appropriate, revoked. Not fair to public!

  159. blf says

    Lawsuit claims border patrol violated constitution by searching Delta plane. This was on a domestic flight from San Francisco:

    A class action lawsuit claims that passengers landing in New York had their identity documents seized and searched, in violation of the fourth amendment

    The Department of Homeland Security is facing a class action lawsuit over an incident in which all the passengers on a domestic flight were held and searched by US Customs and Border Protection (CBP) agents before being allowed to get off their plane — potentially in violation of the US constitution.

    The action, filed in New York, is part of an ACLU-backed effort to force Homeland Security and its subsidiary agencies, CBP and Immigration and Customs Enforcement (Ice), to clarify their position on an unusual and potentially unconstitutional inspection procedure it described as routine in press reports at the time.

    The suit claims that after Delta flight 1583 from San Francisco landed at New York’s JFK on 22 February, passengers had their identity documents seized and searched, a violation of constitutional protections against unreasonable search and seizure under the fourth amendment.


    The lead plaintiff in the case, Kelley Amadei, who was on the flight with her seven year old son, told the Guardian that CDP’s demand had made her feel “intimidated and confused as to why they would be asking for our IDs at the end of a flight. I felt like they weren’t looking for any one person because they were checking everyone. I felt violated”.

    The CDP said that its agents, acting on an Ice request, asked to see passengers’ identification as they searched for an immigrant who had received a deportation order after multiple criminal convictions […]


    In the suit, Amadei and eight other plaintiffs claim two uniformed CBP officers “positioned themselves in the doorway of the airplane, forcing passengers to queue inside and delaying their exit”.

    The officers, the suit alleges, “made it clear, through their own conduct and by directing pre-arrival announcements by the flight crew, that compliance was not voluntary and that passengers would not be permitted to disembark until they showed their identification documents”.


    [Ms Amadei said] “It was a show of force. I’ve been nervous that it could happen again, or that I might be detained for no reason. It’s given more of a sense of awareness, a sense of living in a police state.”

    Amadei also says she does not accept the official explanation for the search. “If they were looking for an individual who was known, why were they checked every single person on the flight, male, female, regardless of age and regardless of race.”


    The cited article from the time, Federal agents ask domestic flight passengers to show IDs in search for immigrant ordered deported (see embedded link (above)), makes a similar point to Ms Amadei’s:

    Jordan Wells, a staff attorney with the New York Civil Liberties Union, said that law enforcement officials sometimes board airplanes to apprehend a suspect or a fugitive, he said it would be unusual for authorities to wait outside an arriving airplane and to ask for identification for each passenger.

    “They’ll occasionally pull someone off of a flight, or officers will come on and make an arrest,” Wells said. “It’s a much more surgical thing than setting up a dragnet. That’s what is so alarming about the way that this played out.”


  160. says

    Ogvorbis @267, thanks for that personal take, very enlightening.

    Yes, Trump really is that fucking stupid. You can’t fix “stupid.”

    In his rap aimed at Trump, Eminem also pointed out that Trump disrespects the military all the time. Excerpt from the lyrics:

    From his endorsement of Bannon
    Support for the Klansmen
    Tiki torches in hand for the soldier that’s black
    And comes home from Iraq
    And is still told to go back to Africa
    Now if you’re a black athlete, you’re a spoiled little brat for
    Tryna use your platform or your stature
    To try to give those a voice who don’t have one
    He says, ‘You’re spittin’ in the face of vets who fought for us, you bastards!’
    Unless you’re a POW who’s tortured and battered
    ‘Cause to him you’re zeros
    ‘Cause he don’t like his war heroes captured [pause]
    That’s not disrespecting the military [said sarcastically]

  161. says

    Wonkette discussed the executive order Trump signed today:

    Since congressional Republicans failed to do his bidding and murder Obamacare, Donald Trump signed an executive order today that has the potential to wreck the individual healthcare markets that are a key part of the Affordable Care Act. That’s in addition to the many steps his administration has already taken to drive down enrollment and increase uncertainty for insurers in the individual market.

    The executive order won’t immediately result in any changes to the health insurance system; several federal agencies will have to write new rules to put the package of changes into place. Those rules will be subject to the sometimes-lengthy federal rule-making process, so there will be chances for public comment (which the administration will ignore) and lawsuits against the new rules. Since this is an Executive Branch process, it also won’t do a hell of a lot of good to pressure your members of Congress, which is delightfully sneaky, although it’s possible that Congress could pass a law to put a stop to some of this shit. You know, if Congress ever passes any laws ever again.

    Let’s take a look at how this latest incarnation of TrumpDon’tCare will screw up our healthcare system. We’ll be cribbing from ‘splainers at WaPo and Vox, which you should look at if you’re a detail junkie.[…] But first, a quick summary from Virginia Democratic Senator Tim Kaine:

    Trump’s health care executive order may seem a little complicated so let me break it down: It’s sabotage.

    It would allow cheap low-quality plans onto the market tat could discriminate against people with preexisting conditions, seniors, women.

    It aims to push healthy people onto junk plans, leaving only the sick or at-risk on ACA plans—essentially destroying the insurance market. What’s the end product? Families could pay even higher premiums to get care. More discrimination of those who need care most. More chaos.

    […] Get ready to hear a lot about association health plans (AHPs), which make up the main prong of the executive order’s attack on the ACA. These are insurance policies sold to groups of similar small businesses that join together […] to purchase health insurance. The idea is to give small businesses the purchasing power of a large employer. We’ll turn the ‘splainering here over to Vox’s Dylan Scott:

    Before Obamacare, national associations could pick and choose which states’ insurance rules they wanted to follow and use those rules to guide the plans they offered nationwide. The bakers association could choose to follow the rules for, say, the Alabama insurance market, which mandates coverage of relatively few benefits, for all its bakeries in New York, a state with many mandates.

    The result was often health insurance that skirted state rules and was a better deal for businesses with young and healthy employees, who are likely to prefer skimpier health plans.

    Obamacare stopped that kind of junk insurance, treating AHPs like small businesses and requiring they provide a full set of essential health benefits and protections for folks with preexisting conditions. […]

    More at the link.

  162. says

    Nerd @272, thanks for the links. The Mayor of San Juan is a brave woman. She’s the “straight shooter,” not Trump.

    In other news, but somewhat related news, White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders made this comment in a press briefing:

    Look, I think that the president is the one that’s keeping the world from chaos.

    If that is true, we are all doomed. I watched Hair Furor speak to the Values Voter Summit this morning. He blatantly pandered to a cult-like reaction from the evangelicals in the audience. Trump repeated applause lines about “protecting the unborn,” about saying “Merry Christmas,” about “religious liberty,” and about dismantling Obamacare piece by piece. (Interesting that he admitted, basically, to sabotaging Obamacare.) Trump obviously uses his how-much-do-you-love-me gauge to guide policy. There is no policy as such. There is no framework to prevent chaos. There’s only Trump’s narcissism.

    From Steve Benen:

    […] Today, to the exasperation of American allies, Trump is putting the future of an international nuclear agreement with Iran at great risk – which has the effect of creating more “chaos,” not less. It comes on the heels of the American president withdrawing from the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), threatening the future of NAFTA, balking at implementing congressional approved Russia sanctions, and rejecting diplomatic solutions with North Korea.

    The New Republic’s Jeet Heer explained yesterday, “America’s longtime allies and negotiating partners are facing a new status quo – one in which they can never be certain where the United States stands on international agreements.”

    This chaotic environment isn’t speculative. The Washington Post reported this week that some foreign diplomats now see the United States as an unreliable mystery.

    After nearly nine months of the Trump administration, many of America’s closest allies have concluded that a hoped-for “learning curve” they thought would make President Trump a reliable partner is not going to happen.

    “The idea that he would inform himself, and things would change, that is no longer operative,” said a top diplomat here.

    Instead, they see an administration in which lines of authority and decision-making are unclear, where tweets become policy and hard-won international accords on trade and climate are discarded. The result has been a special kind of challenge for those whose jobs are to advocate for their countries and explain the president and his unconventional ways at home.

    The article added that senior diplomats and officials from nearly a dozen countries in Europe, Latin America, and Asia have come to accept the fact that Trump is so far gone, “the situation is unlikely to improve.”

    David Ignatius added a day later that the American president and his team have been overcome by “policy paralysis,” adding, “Trump’s slurs and insults may be distracting us from a more basic foreign policy problem: On some key issues, when it comes to actual policy plans, the cupboard is bare.” […]

  163. says

    Trump’s confusion and inability to learn is putting us in danger in another way. Here’s what he said in reference to North Korea:

    We have missiles that can knock out a missile in the air 97% of the time. And if you send two of them, it’s going to get knocked down.

    No, you blustering, ill-informed man, that’s not how it works.

    From the Washington Post:

    The president speaks with confidence but descends into hyperbole. No single interceptor for ICBMs has demonstrated a 97-percent success rate, and there is no guarantee using two interceptors has a 100-percent success rate. Moreover, the military’s suggestion that it could achieve a 97-percent success rate with four interceptors appears based on faulty assumptions and overenthusiastic math.

    The odds of success under the most ideal conditions are no better than 50-50, and likely worse, as documented in detailed government assessments.


    […] Several experts said the high-90s claim appears to be based on faulty math.

    The interceptor system has been tested 18 times since 1999, with a success rate of about 56 percent. The most recent test, on May 30, 2017, was a success, but the three of four before that failed. It’s worth noting that the tests are done under ideal conditions — during the day, not at night, and without having to deal with an adversary’s countermeasures, such as decoy warheads or technology that confuses the interceptors.

    MDA appears to be rounding up to 60 percent. Under its logic, four interceptors with a 60-percent success rate yields a 97-percent rate (The math equation is 1-(1-0.6)^4). […]

    “I think this reasoning is flawed,” said James M. Acton, co-director of the Nuclear Policy Program at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. “It assumes that the failure modes of the interceptors are independent of one another. But, in practice, if one interceptor fails because of a design flaw, say, it’s much more likely that others will do so too for the same reason.”

    Acton offered a compelling analogy. Suppose a family of four showed up at a hospital with the same illness. A doctor treated the first patient with antibiotics that had a 60 percent chance of working. If the antibiotic does not work, then the chances of success actually decline with the next patient; unlike a coin toss, the potential success rate don’t increase. […]

    internal government reports on GMD have cast doubt on the MDA’s claims for the program.

    “GMD flight testing, to date, was insufficient to demonstrate that an operationally useful defense capability exists; and a quantitative assessment of GMD’s operational effectiveness is not possible,” the Government Accountability Office said in a 2016 report. […]

  164. says

    More on Trump’s callous attempts to damage or remove health care insurance for millions of people:

    The White House announced late Thursday that it would no longer reimburse insurers for lowering costs for customers under the Affordable Care Act, a decision Democrats condemned as “spiteful.”

    NBC News link

    Trump on Twitter this morning:

    The Democrats [sic] ObamaCare is imploding. Massive subsidy payments to their pet insurance companies has stopped. Dems should call me to fix!


    […] In other words, the president, who is effectively going to war against his own country’s health care system, is moving forward with a plan that’s likely to hurt many Americans in order to gain some kind of political leverage. […]

    The Congressional Budget Office has already provided a detailed analysis of what would happen if Trump pulled the trigger on such a gambit: scrapped CSRs would lead to a 20% increase in consumer premiums by next year and a 25% increase by the end of the decade. The move is projected to force some insurers from the system altogether, leaving some Americans unable to buy coverage through an exchange marketplace.

    What’s more, the move is projected to push the U.S. budget deficit higher – subsidies will have to go up to meet the higher premiums – which means higher costs for everyone, even as the system covers fewer people. In other words, Trump has identified a change that will spend more to do less.

    The CBO made all of this clear two months ago. It’s not as if the president can say he wasn’t warned about the adverse consequences of this ridiculous gambit. In fact, it was around this time that Sen. Lamar Alexander, the Republican chairman of the Senate committee that oversees health care policy, added that if the CSR payments end, “Americans will be hurt.”

    Trump is doing it anyway, indifferent to the real-world consequences. The president is making a conscious decision to undermine his own country’s health care system on purpose. […]


  165. says

    Excerpts from Trump’s address to the Values Voter Summit today:

    […] We’re saying “Merry Christmas” again! […]

    For too long, politicians have tried to centralize the authority among the hands of a small few in our nation’s capital. Bureaucrats think they can run your lives, overrule your values, meddle in your faith, and tell you how to live, what to say, and how to pray. But we know that parents, not bureaucrats, know best how to raise their children and create a thriving society.

    […] In America, we don’t worship government, we worship God.

    […] As long as we have pride in our country, confidence in our future, and faith in our god, then America will prevail.

  166. says

    Trump continues to rant against NBC and against the news media in general.

    People are just now starting to find out how dishonest and disgusting (FakeNews) @NBCNews is. Viewers beware. May be worse than even @CNN!

    Sadly, they and others are Fake News, and the public is just beginning to figure it out!

    Meanwhile, many of Trump’s supporters are taking Trump’s claims seriously, including Representative Jim Lucas, a Republican state lawmaker from Indiana. Lucas introduced a bill that would require journalists to to obtain a license from the state police. “If you’re OK licensing my Second Amendment right, what’s wrong with licensing your First Amendment right?”
    IndyStar link

  167. says

    From Amy Davidson Sorkin, writing for The New Yorker:

    […] the false stories that congressional Republicans drew of Obamacare—a system that, whatever its flaws, has increased the number of Americans with insurance by some twenty million, and made that coverage more reliable for many times that number— fed partisan demands for Trump to savage it.

    The Republican Party made a destructive promise that Trump, as its candidate, has been eager to keep. It may be the only thing that the Party can rely on him for, and, although some individual Republicans, such as Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, of Florida—who, not incidentally, is retiring at the end of this term—worried about the effect on their constituents, Party leaders were quick with their gratitude. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell tweeted, “As #obamacare continues to fail Americans, I’m pleased @POTUS is promoting affordable policies to better meet the needs of families.” And the Speaker of the House, Paul Ryan, said that Trump’s decision to end cost-sharing subsidies was a “monumental affirmation of Congress’s authority.”

    That may seem like an odd way to describe a move that was also framed as a response to Congress’s failure to repeal the A.C.A., and which was a flanking attempt to undermine a major piece of legislation. But, as a shorthand for the affirmation of the congressional Republicans’ ideological authority, it was not far wrong.

    These two moves are not the only sabotage attempts that the Trump Administration has been engaged in. It has rewritten rules to allow plans to stop covering many forms of birth control. It has made disabling cuts to programs that help people sign up for Obamacare, and made enrollment, across the board, harder—more of a labyrinth. Information about plans that people might be able to afford has been, effectively, hidden.

    Perhaps this is, finally, an example of Trump bringing his business expertise to Washington: the knowledge that bad marketing can cripple a good project.

    But the most Trumpian aspect of the executive order is that it makes life easier for con men. It does so by allowing the sale of insurance plans that do not meet basic standards through “associations,” […] The executive order would create a sham market alongside the real one. […]

  168. says

    Next, here come the lawsuits.

    Democratic attorneys general from a handful of states announced Friday their plans to file a lawsuit against President Trump’s efforts to end Obamacare subsidies to insurers.

    “We’re going to do everything we can to make sure that those payments can continue to go forward,” California Attorney General Xavier Becerra (D) said in a conference call the attorneys general held with reporters.

    Becerra was joined on the call by Kentucky Attorney General Andy Beshear (D), Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healy (D) and Connecticut Attorney General George Jepsen (D). Becerra said more attorneys general were likely to join the lawsuit.

    They plan to file the lawsuit Friday in federal court in California. They will be seeking a declaratory judgment as well as a temporary restraining order to force the Trump administration to make the next payment — due Oct. 18 — and the payments going forward. They said Trump, in stopping the payments, was violating the Affordable Care Act. They also argued that Trump had violated the Administrative Procedure Act.

    Becerra has already successfully intervened in the 2014 House GOP lawsuit against the subsidies, but it was unclear the next moves in that case. […]

  169. says

    Professor William T. Kelly (deceased) taught Marketing at the Wharton School of Business and Finance. Trump was one of his students. “Donald Trump Was the Dumbest Goddam Student I Ever Had.”

    […] Dr. Kelley, who also had vast experience as a business consultant, was the author of a then-widely used textbook called Marketing Intelligence — The Management of Marketing Information […] Dr. Kelley taught marketing management to both undergraduate and graduate students at Wharton. Dr. Bill was one of my closest friends for 47 years when we lost him at 94 about six years ago. […]

    Donald J. Trump was an undergraduate student at Wharton for the latter two of his college years, having been graduated in 1968.[…]

    Professor Kelley told me 100 times over three decades that “Donald Trump was the dumbest goddam student I ever had.” I remember his emphasis and inflection — it went like this — “Donald Trump was the dumbest goddam student I ever had.” Dr. Kelley told me this after Trump had become a celebrity but long before he was considered a political figure. Dr. Kelley often referred to Trump’s arrogance when he told of this — that Trump came to Wharton thinking he already knew everything.

    […] The President has frequently bragged that he was a great student at a great school (Wharton). […] Thus, the public is entitled to a contrary view from somebody who was there (Dr. Kelley), and I faithfully report it here.

    Bill Kelley was one smart cookie. His text book cited above — published in the late 1960s — was standard in his time in the then-new field of “marketing intelligence” and the necessity of using computers and data bases to manage it. […]

    Dr. Kelley’s view seems to be shared by other University of Pennsylvanians. […]

    Another biographer, Gwenda Blair, wrote in 2001 that Trump was admitted to Wharton on a special favor from a “friendly” admissions officer. The officer had known Trump’s older brother, Freddy.

    Trump’s classmates doubt that the real estate mogul was an academic powerhouse.

    “He was not in any kind of leadership. I certainly doubt he was the smartest guy in the class,” said Steve Perelman, a 1968 Wharton classmate and a former Daily Pennsylvanian news editor.

    Some classmates speculated that Trump skipped class, others that he commuted to New York on weekends. […]

    1968 Wharton graduate Louis Calomaris recalled that “Don … was loath to really study much.”

    Calomaris said Trump would come to study groups unprepared and did not “seem to care about being prepared.”

  170. says

    In a fit of pique, Trump decertified the Iran nuclear deal:

    […] Trump decertified Iran’s compliance with the nuclear agreement on Friday, saying that the Obama-era accord is not in the national security interest of the United States, despite prevailing arguments by intelligence officials claiming otherwise.

    “I am directing my administration to work closely with Congress and our allies to address the deal’s many serious flaws, so that the Iranian regime can never threaten the world with nuclear weapons,” Trump said. “However, in the event we are not able to reach a solution working with Congress and our allies, the agreement will be terminated.”

    The decertfication comes just over a week after Defense Secretary Jim Mattis said the United States should remain in the agreement. According to the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) — the body responsible for verifying Iran’s compliance with the deal — Iran has been “fulfilling the commitments it entered into” under the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA). U.S. intelligence, Israeli intelligence, President Trump’s top military brass, and Secretary of State Rex Tillerson have all stated that there’s no evidence that Iran has violated the terms of the deal.

    Trump did not call for Congress to immediately reimpose sanctions on Iran, and his announcement doesn’t mean the United States is immediately withdrawing. Rather, the deal — which restricts the country’s nuclear program in exchange for limited sanctions relief — now moves to Congress. Under the Iran Nuclear Agreement Review Act of 2015 (INARA), Congress will have 60 days to decide whether the United States will re-impose the sanctions related to Iran’s nuclear program. Sanctions would violate the agreement, thus contributing to the deal’s demise. […]

    More details from Elham Khatami</a<

  171. says

    Excerpt from Trump’s speech to the Values Voter Summit:

    In the last 10 months we have followed through on one promise after another. I didn’t have a schedule, [but] if I did have a schedule, I would say we are substantially ahead of schedule.

    Bullshitter in Chief.

  172. says

    A response to Trump from Iranian President Hassan Rouhani:

    The great nation of Iran saw tonight once again that America took a hostile position against an international deal. […]

    Once again, the [European Union] also took a firm position against the United States. America is now more than ever isolated […]

    We will not expect anything else from you from now on. With your incorrect words, you made us more united than ever.[…]

  173. says

    More bad news from team Trump in the Health and Human Services agency: In a radical departure, Trump health officials want to define life as starting at “conception”.

    The Trump administration’s newly released draft plan for Health and Human Services suggests the federal health agency will now be focused on protecting unborn Americans starting as early as conception.

    HHS, according to the plan, will also be in the business of supporting strong family values and “healthy marriages,” empowering faith-based groups that receive federal dollars with the freedom to exercise their morals and beliefs, and looking after American lives all the way to “natural death.”

    Language about human life starting with conception (the fertilization of an egg) is usually reserved for religious groups and anti-abortion activists, not government documents that will guide federal policy, […] The notion that life starts at conception runs counter to federal law — as well as the medical community’s consensus — that recognizes pregnancy as beginning with the implantation of a fertilized egg in the uterus, they said. […]

    The new Trump 2018-’22 draft plan — which is out for public comment until October 27 — seems determined to take health care in a more ideological direction, starting by rewriting the definition of American life. HHS will now be “serving and protecting Americans at every stage of life, beginning at conception.” The plan’s repeated references to “natural death” also suggest the agency may now be opposed to assisted suicide. […]

  174. says

    Trump does not even know what the Iran nuclear deal is. Here’s proof of just one aspect of Trump’s ignorance:

    “It’s no secret, I think it was one of the most incompetently drawn deals we’ve ever seen. $150 billion given, we got nothing. They got past the nuclear weapons very quickly.

    “Think of this, $1.7 billion in cash. This is cash out of your pocket. I do know how many airplane loads that must be? For they have $1 million? This is $1.7 billion. Who would be authorized to do it and who are the people to deliver it? You may never see them again. Right? This is the worst deal. We got nothing.”

    The quoted text is from an interview on Fox News.

    The $1.7 billion (and $150 billion) that Trump referenced was not “cash out of your pocket.” It was Iranian money. It was money that belonged to Iran all along—money that had been frozen by sanctions. The deal made that money accessible to Iranians again.

    No, no there were no “airplane loads” of cash delivered to Tehran. Trump has been listening to too many unreliable “news” sources again. Some payments made to Iran coincided with the release of American hostages ($400 million), but that seems to be coincidence, and not quid pro quo. An Iranian plane picked up the payment in Geneva, so that may be information that Trump misinterpreted. Maybe? I can’t find a reliable source for the $400 million either, so even that may be bogus.

    Trump claimed that, “We got nothing.” We got access to conduct inspections, quite intrusive inspections, in Iran. We got a halt to Iran’s development of nuclear weapons.

    Trump doesn’t know what he’s talking about.

    From commenter “snove77”:

    Setting aside for the moment the incredible word salad he spewed, he actually thought we were transporting that 7b dollars in cash, by airplane? He really is a @!$%#ing Moron.

  175. says

    “Flynn ally sought help from ‘dark web’ in covert Clinton email investigation”:

    A close associate of Donald Trump’s former national security adviser Michael Flynn arranged a covert investigation into Hillary Clinton’s use of a private email server when she was secretary of state, and through intermediaries turned to a person with knowledge of the “dark web” for help.

    Flynn is personally and ideologically linked to Barbara Ledeen, a longtime conservative activist who works for the Republican senator Chuck Grassley on the Senate judiciary committee – which is now investigating alleged links between the Trump campaign and Russia.

    Ledeen’s husband, Michael Ledeen, is also a confidant of Flynn, and co-authored a book with him last year.

    According to the FBI notes, Ledeen wanted to pursue her own investigation in 2015 into whether or not Clinton’s emails had been compromised but could not finance the work.

    She sought out the help of an unnamed defense contractor and also turned to Newt Gingrich, the former Republican speaker of the House, for help. According to the FBI notes, Gingrich “wanted to speak to others about the project” and asked Judicial Watch, the conservative activist group, for financial assistance.

    Judicial Watch allegedly turned to another, unnamed, contractor who was familiar with the “deep web and dark web”, according to the FBI files….

    The incident and web of relationships is important for two reasons.

    First, because Ledeen is the second person with ties to Flynn who allegedly sought to investigate Clinton’s use of a private server in an unofficial capacity.

    Ledeen’s involvement is also important because she works on the Senate judiciary committee, which is conducting an investigation into the Trump campaign. Her family’s relationship with Flynn raises questions about whether Ledeen could be wielding influence over the investigation….

  176. says

    SC @288, not only did Trump make the point that the insurance companies didn’t back him as much as he would have liked during the election, he also made the point that the subsidies were something like welfare for the insurance companies.

    That last claim misses the point. The subsidies were to help many low and middle income people buy insurance. We were also looking at a transition period during which companies needed help to offer insurance plans that people could afford, and the insurance companies needed some incentive to stay in the individual market place. None of that adds up to just being a giveaway to insurance companies.

  177. says

    From SC’s link in comment 286:

    […] The documents also suggest Sputnik journalists had relationships with hackers linked to Russian intelligence and key American allies of Donald Trump. The information Fionda sent to the Justice Department highlighted a tweet in which one of Sputnik’s radio hosts boasted about his role in connecting Guccifer 2.0, the hacker behind the Democratic National Committee leaks, to Roger Stone, an early architect of Trump’s campaign. On April 30, Feinberg emailed Martinichev about a party he attended that was sponsored by the conservative blog Gateway Pundit. Feinberg said he stepped out for a cigarette and encountered Michael Flynn Jr., the son of Trump’s former national security adviser, Michael Flynn. […]

    Gateway Pundit! Flynn Junior! And a clear line of communication from the Russians to Guccifer and thence to Roger Stone!

  178. says

    Also from SC’s link in comment 286:

    […] Stranahan came to Sputnik in April. He previously had worked at the conservative website Breitbart, under Trump’s former campaign guru and adviser Steve Bannon. The month before he joined Sputnik, Stranahan sent out a tweet boasting that he was the one who “introduced” former Trump campaign adviser Roger Stone to Guccifer 2.0, the hacker who obtained emails from the Democratic National Committee that were published by WikiLeaks. American officials have said Guccifer 2.0 was working with Russia’s military intelligence agency GRU as part of the coordinated effort to help Trump in the election. […]

    Bannon, Breitbart, Russian propaganda.

  179. says

    SC @289:

    Ledeen’s involvement is also important because she works on the Senate judiciary committee, which is conducting an investigation into the Trump campaign. Her family’s relationship with Flynn raises questions about whether Ledeen could be wielding influence over the investigation….

    Note the strong connection to Republican senator Chuck Grassley and to the Senate Judiciary Committee—which makes Grassley’s recent attempts to discredit the Steele dossier look even more partisan.

  180. says

    So it’s not missed:

    – Iraqi and Kurdish forces have amassed at Kirkuk in a tense standoff.
    People freed from ISIS by Kurdish-led SDF in Raqqa.
    – The regime in Chad has pulled out of the fight against Boko Haram because of Trump’s travel ban.
    69 Republicans voted against disaster relief for Puerto Rico.
    – There are opposition protests in Kenya after opposition candidate Rail Odinga withdrew from the presidential race ahead of the scheduled do-over next week.

  181. says

    From Josh Marshall:

    President Trump straight up lied in his speech today on ‘decertifying’ the Iran nuclear deal. He said: “The Iranian regime has committed multiple violations of the agreement.” This is not true. The US, the Europeans, outside observers, the inspectors all agree that Iran is meeting the conditions of the deal. If Iran were violating the deal, all of this drama wouldn’t have been necessary. Trump could have just canceled the deal without any need to justify the decision. He would have had broad support for doing so. That’s the bind he’s been in. The Iranians are keeping their end of the bargain. So Trump really hasn’t had a good rationale – legal or geopolitical – for getting out.

    But there’s a different part of the speech I want to focus on. In addition to all the things the President says his new policy will accomplish he made this pledge. “We will deny the regime all paths to a nuclear weapon.”

    But of course there was no explanation of how that would happen. It’s possible that the deal might stay in place even if the US pulled out because the benefits to Iran and Europe are good enough to keep it going. But assuming the deal gets totally scuttled there are really only three ways to “deny the regime all paths to a nuclear weapon.” 1) You can impose sanctions and other forms of pressure to a great enough extent that the Iranians relent. (That’s kind of what Obama did – crippling sanctions plus covert, often cyber, sabotage.) 2) You sign a new agreement. Or 3) you can go to war and physically coerce them into stopping.

    One seems highly unlikely since the European powers, China and Russia don’t want to do that. Without them, really ruinous sanctions aren’t possible. Two seems unlikely mainly because the Trump administration shows really no inclination even to want a deal. Three fits the Trump mentality but it’s fraught with incalculable danger. […] even Israel was held back largely by its own generals. […]

    The Trump team thinks it’s a terrible deal, a giveaway, appeasing a rogue regime. In its place they have no plan at all.

    More at the link.

  182. says

    More impressive reporting – “The man at the crux of the U.S.-Turkey dispute is about to go on trial”:

    At the center of the increasingly bitter dispute between the United States and Turkey is a demand by an irate President Recep Tayyip Erdogan that American prosecutors free a Turkish-Iranian gold dealer who is about to go on trial on money-laundering and fraud charges.

    The confrontation sharpened Thursday, as Erdogan protested in Ankara that the businessman, Reza Zarrab, was being squeezed as a “false witness” about corruption. Turkey alarmed Washington by arresting a U.S. consular official last week, in what some U.S. officials feared was an attempt to gain leverage for Zarrab’s release before the scheduled Nov. 27 start of his trial in New York. Turkish and American officials plan to meet next week for talks to ease tensions.

    What dirt could Zarrab dish in court? A possible preview comes in a May 2016 court filing by then-U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara. Citing a December 2013 Turkish prosecutor’s report, Bharara’s memo said the Turkish evidence “describes a massive bribery scheme executed by Zarrab and others, paying cabinet-level governmental officials and high-level bank officers tens of millions of Euro and U.S. dollars to facilitate Zarrab’s network’s transactions for the benefit of Iran” to evade U.S. sanctions against that country. Bharara’s memo noted that these “conclusions are corroborated by emails obtained through the FBI’s investigation.”

    Erdogan’s campaign to free Zarrab has been extraordinary. He demanded his release as well as the firing of Bharara in a private meeting with then-Vice President Joe Biden on Sept. 21, 2016, in which U.S. officials say half the 90-minute conversation was devoted to Zarrab….

    Erdogan’s government began cultivating Donald Trump’s team before the election. Michael Flynn, then a campaign aide, was hired as a pro-Turkey lobbyist, and his firm continued to receive Turkish money during the transition. After Flynn resigned as national security adviser in February, the Turks began working with Rudy Giuliani, a close Trump adviser.

    Giuliani’s involvement is one of the many unusual aspects of this case. He contacted Bharara on Feb. 24 to inform him that he planned to travel to Ankara on Zarrab’s behalf. Trump fired Bharara in March; around that time, Giuliani began pressing the Justice Department for “some agreement between the United States and Turkey” to aid American “security interests” and help Zarrab, Giuliani said in a filing with the court….

  183. says

    From SC’s link in comment 296:

    The order he signed Thursday instructs relevant cabinet officers to find ways to steer potential ACA beneficiaries into bad health insurance plans. It is consistent with a wide range of actions the Trump administration has taken to destabilize small-group insurance markets, including Thursday night’s announcement that Trump will end billions of dollars in payments to insurers that cover low-income beneficiaries.

    This reminds me of this paragraph from Amy Sorkin’s article:

    But the most Trumpian aspect of the executive order is that it makes life easier for con men. It does so by allowing the sale of insurance plans that do not meet basic standards through “associations,” […] The executive order would create a sham market alongside the real one.

    (See comment 278.)

  184. says

    NBC – “Manafort Had $60M Relationship with Russian Oligarch”:

    Paul Manafort, the former campaign manager for President Donald Trump, has much stronger financial ties to a Russian oligarch than have been previously reported.

    An NBC News investigation reveals that $26 million changed hands in the form of loan between a company linked to Manafort and the oligarch, Oleg Deripaska, a Russian billionaire with close ties to the Kremlin.

    The loan brings the total of their known business dealings to around $60 million over the past decade, according to financial documents filed in Cyprus and the Cayman Islands.

    Manafort’s spokesman, Jason Maloni, declined to give specific answers about the loans, but released a statement to NBC News saying, in part: “Mr. Manafort is not indebted to former clients today, nor was he at the time he began working for the Trump campaign.”

    He later revised the statement, removing that sentence entirely. It now reads: “Recent news reports indicate Mr. Manafort was under surveillance before he joined the campaign and after he left the campaign. He has called for the U.S. Government to release any intercepts involving him and non-Americans in hopes of finally putting an end to these wild conspiracy theories. Mr. Manafort did not collude with the Russian government.”

    Lawyers specializing in money laundering said the loans appeared unusual and merited further investigation.

    “Money launderers frequently will disguise payments as loans,” said Stefan Cassella, a former federal prosecutor. “You can call it a loan, you can call it Mary Jane. If there’s no intent to repay it, then it’s not really a loan. It’s just a payment.”

    Highly placed government sources in Cyprus said that the island’s police — following an official request by U.S. authorities this past summer — are still gathering evidence in this case and have yet to hand it over to American investigators.

  185. says

    I just saw a clip of Trump earlier today talking about North Korea. I’m honestly concerned that he believes this is all some sort of TV show. Actually believes it’s reality TV.

  186. says

    Senator Bob Corker is getting braver all the time. Here is an excerpt from his latest message to Trump:

    The greatest diplomatic activities we have are with China, and the most important, and they have come a long, long way. Some of the things we are talking about are phenomenal. When you jack the legs out from under your chief diplomat, you cause all that to fall apart. Us working with [Beijing] effectively is the key to not getting to a binary choice. When you publicly castrate your secretary of state, you take that off the table.

  187. says

    Trump is continuing to tweet out lies and misinformation concerning health care and the actions he has taken to sabotage the existing system:

    Money pouring into Insurance Companies profits, under the guise of ObamaCare, is over. They have made a fortune.
    Dems must get smart & deal!

    ObamaCare is causing such grief and tragedy for so many. It is being dismantled but in the meantime, premiums & deductibles are way up!

    Health Insurance stocks, which have gone through the roof during the ObamaCare years, plunged yesterday after I ended their Dems windfall!

    Very proud of my Executive Order which will allow greatly expanded access and far lower costs for HealthCare. Millions of people benefit!

    A reality check:

    […] These subsidies were made to lower the cost of health care for low-income people — those earning between 100 and 250 percent of the federal poverty line — buying insurance on Obamacare’s exchanges.

    The decision to end the payments came after the Trump administration threatened to cut off the subsidies for months. The constant threat has caused instability in the health care marketplaces as insurers raised their rates or left areas altogether out of fear that Trump would cut off the crucial subsidies.

    Without CSRs [Cost Sharing Reduction payments], health care markets risk becoming even more destabilized. The Congressional Budget Office projected in August that cutting off CSRs would increase the federal deficit nearly $200 billion between 2017 and 2026, and that individuals whose care depended on the payments could see 20 percent higher premiums by 2018, and 25 percent higher premiums by 2020.


  188. says

    “#Election2016: Propaganda-lytics & Weaponized Shadow Tracking”:

    …The covert-yet-clearly-organized propaganda machine that’s “fake news” is only half the story: The other half is the corresponding tracking network that works to capture all responses, sentiment, and personal information generated from the perpetual outrage.

    How to solve it? Well, the obvious answer might be: stop fighting. That’s impossible, however, so maybe a first step might be to stop arguing and sharing politically-oriented thoughts and news content on social networking sites. Stop liking things on Facebook. The shadow is large: it doesn’t matter if posts are private or public: whether it’s a Facebook message, a group Snap, or whether it is a link shared in a private subreddit, it’s all being captured. All of it.

    This kind of semantic data helps political strategists and data-ops PR firms “custom-tailor” and micro-target their messages to prospective voters’ based on their life experience, social identity, and cultural background. “Fake news,” aka propaganda, helps to drown out opposing campaign messaging, but perhaps it’s become the go-to data-mining tool strategists now use to find the real gems: more accurate predictive behavior models.

    What I’m suggesting with the data I’ve shown in the last two posts (mini data projects) is that we’ve entered a new age where the social conflict that propaganda engines generate helps shadow organizations collect data to improve their behavioral forecasting models.

    It’s a feedback loop between the micro-propaganda machine and its “upside down” weaponized shadow tech counterpart: The more we argue, the more personal information, context/sentiment and rich emotional data gets captured to better target the Death Star’s superlaser….

  189. says

    (By the way, the responses to that Rice tweet are indicative of the extent to which Twitter is overwhelmed by trolls and bots who rally to the attack against tweets critical of Israel, Turkey, or Russia.)

  190. says

    This Trump-Russia major events timeline from Bill Moyers’ site is very useful. It’s also clarifying to read it all in one go – you really get a sense of Trump’s and his associates’ continuous lying, gaslighting, bullying, changing stories, abusing power, concealing information, interfering with witnesses, attacking and threatening the press, and trying to sabotage the investigation(s) both covertly and overtly. Trump’s tweets alone are strongly suggestive of consciousness of guilt.

  191. says

    Trump Supporters Are Promoting Insane Conspiracy Theories About the Vegas Shooter

    And in unrelated news: Trump’s Pick for White House Environmental Post Once Said Coal Helped End Slavery

    […] Kathleen Hartnett White, a hard-line critic of climate change science, […] is a former Texas environmental regulator whose six-year tenure was marked by her vote to greenlight a new coal-fired plant over the objections of 24 Dallas-area cities and counties. […]

    […] She is designated to lead the council after being confirmed by the Senate.

    […] Hartnett White’s impending nomination is “a major win for Steve Bannon,” […]

    Hartnett White has argued that carbon dioxide levels are good for life on Earth, the shift to renewable energy amounts to “green folly” and “a false hope,” and that “carbon dioxide has none of the attributes of a pollutant.” […]

    But, in 2014, she made the particularly specious claim that fossil fuels are to thank for abolishing slavery. In a blog post criticizing an article in The Nation by MSNBC host Chris Hayes, Hartnett White made the connection between “the abolition of slavery and humanity’s first widespread use of energy from fossil fuels.”

    “Fossil fuels dissolved the economic justification for slavery,” she wrote. “When the concentrated and versatile energy stored in fossil fuels was converted to mechanical energy, the economic limits under which all societies had formerly existed were blown apart.” […]

  192. says

    Follow-up to comment 306.

    Wonkette covered Trump’s cluelessness about health care and the insurance market.

    [Trump is] so very proud of this, really, that it almost seems like he has no idea what he even did this week, and that it was not very good. First, he scrapped the whole “healthcare subsidies for the poors” thing, which — in addition to being very bad for poor people — will also cause everyone else’s insurance premiums to rise. Like, literally the insurance companies have come out and said that they will have to raise everyone’s insurance because of this.

    Via The New York Times:

    Insurers have said they will need much higher premiums and may pull out of the insurance exchanges created under the Affordable Care Act if the subsidies were cut off. Known as cost-sharing reduction payments, the subsidies were expected to total $9 billion in the coming year and nearly $100 billion in the coming decade.

    […] And if that wasn’t enough, he’s also expanded the availability of “junk” insurance plans that don’t actually cover anything, allowing small businesses to band together in an “association” that will allow them to purchase these cheap plans for their employees. Will their employees actually be able to go to the doctor or anything with these plans? Probably not!

    The executive order also expands the amount of time people can be on temporary, short term health insurance up to a year.

    Basically what’s going to happen with all of this is that healthy people are going to buy crappy, short-term health plans on the cheap, because they don’t really need them, and the costs for people who do need to use their health insurance are going to be ridiculous.

    Perhaps ironically, states that voted for Trump are going to lose the most here. 9 of the 10 states that get the most in subsidies went to Trump. […]

    For some reason though, Trump seems to believe that all of this is going to lead to great healthcare for everybody. Is he lying? Is he stupid? Is he deluded? Is it some mixture of all three? […]

  193. says

    From Fred Kaplan, writing for Slate:

    […] Trump’s statement Friday on the Iran nuclear deal may be the most dishonest speech he has ever given from the White House—and, depending what happens next, it could be his most damaging. It flagrantly misrepresents what the deal was meant to do, the extent of Iran’s compliance, and the need for corrective measures.

    If he gets his way, he will blow up one of the most striking diplomatic triumphs of recent years, aggravate tensions in the Middle East, make it even harder to settle the North Korean crisis peacefully, and make it all but impossible for allies and adversaries to trust anything the United States says for as long as Trump is in office. […]

  194. says

    SC @309 and 310, I saw some of those responses in Susan Rice’s Twitter feed. She was correct, but if you just read the comments you wouldn’t know that. There’s non-stop misogyny as well as various flavors of anti-liberal/pro-Trump nonsense. A lot of the comments did smell like trolling and/or paid-for bots.

    I don’t know how Susan Rice keeps on keeping on.

  195. says

    From Robin Wright, writing for The New Yorker:

    […] Trump announced on Friday that the landmark 2015 Iran nuclear deal is no longer in the U.S. interest, and took the first step toward unravelling it. The accord—brokered jointly with Britain, China, France, Germany, and Russia, during two years of often tortuous diplomacy—is the most significant agreement stemming proliferation of the world’s deadliest weapon in more than a quarter century. It now faces a precarious future—with the United States, not Iran, shaping up as the first country to violate its terms.

    “We will not continue down the path whose predictable conclusion is more violence, more terror, and the very real threat of Iran’s nuclear breakout,” Trump said in an early-afternoon address.

    […] did not formally pull out of the deal, despite his description of it, on Friday, as “one of the worst and most one-sided transactions the United States has ever entered into.” But he is now refusing to certify—as required every ninety days by U.S. law—that Iran has fully complied, even though his own Administration acknowledges that Tehran has met all its obligations for two years. […]

    Trump instead based his total reversal of U.S. policy on grounds that the Islamic Republic is in violation of the “spirit” of the accord. “The Iran deal was supposed to contribute to ‘regional and international peace and security.’ Yet,” Trump said, “the Iranian regime continues to fuel conflict, terror, and turmoil throughout the Middle East and beyond.” The reference to peace comes from a single sentence in the preface of a hundred-and-fifty-nine-page document—and is not central to any aspect of what is purely an arms-control agreement.[…]

    Trump is unraveling the Iran nuclear agreement on a false pretext.

    Trump’s bellicose speech put Washington on a long-term path toward confrontation with Tehran. The President used scathing language to describe the regime, its military, and its Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, who has now been in power for twenty-eight years. “Iran is under the control of a fanatical regime that seized power in 1979 and forced a proud people to submit to its extremist rule. This radical regime has raided the wealth of one of the world’s oldest and most vibrant nations, and spread death, destruction, and chaos all around the globe,” Trump said, listing decades of bombings of American embassies and personnel. […]

    For Iran, the return of foreign business, trade, and investment is the core barometer of whether the deal was worth it. Last month, the Iranian foreign minister, Mohammad Javad Zarif, told me that Iran might be able to tolerate a U.S. decision not to certify as long as new sanctions weren’t imposed and other countries continued to engage with Iran, particularly economically.

    After Trump’s address, the Iranian President, Hassan Rouhani, went on national television on Friday night to chastise Trump. The speech, Rouhani said, “contained nothing but expletives and a pile of delusional allegations against the Iranian nation.” Rouhani, who was first elected in 2013, on a platform of ending the nuclear standoff, noted that Europe is now siding with Iran over the deal. “America is now more than ever isolated,” the cleric said. “We will not expect anything else from you from now on. With your incorrect words, you made us more united than ever.”

  196. blf says

    From the quote in @316:

    For some reason though, Trump seems to believe that all of this is going to lead to great healthcare for everybody. Is he lying? Is he stupid? Is he deluded? Is it some mixture of all three?

    Whilst possibly including some mixture of the above, the above seems to ignore it’s “Obamacare”, and hair furor was a severe case of Obama Derangement Syndrome: If President Obama did it, or was for it, or hair furor believes Obama supported it, then it, whatever “it” is, simply cannot be allowed. With exceptions, such as extrajudicial execution-by-drone.

  197. says

    From Hillary Clinton:

    For political reasons or for personal reasons – it’s unclear which – he [Trump] is basically throwing open the door to Iran’s nuclear program one more time. I think that is very dangerous.

    He certainly is behaving in an impulsive way that confuses people which I think is not good for the stability of the world. There could be accidental interpretations of his tweets and his bellicose statements that I think might prove to be quite dangerous.

    The choices he’s making are ones that I think are destabilizing and dangerous

  198. says

    Michele Bachmann and Mike Pence are trying to convince everyone that Trump is a “man of faith.”

    […] Saturday while speaking at the conservative Values Voter Summit […]

    Bachmann, who served alongside Vice President Mike Pence in the House, used Pence’s wording to express her belief of Trump’s faith.

    “We were in a meeting with the vice president and the president, about 25 of us. I know the vice president. I served with him in Congress, and he is a vocal, committed believer of Jesus Christ himself. And he said, ‘I want all of you to know that the president is a committed believer. He is a man of faith,'” Bachmann said quoting Pence.

    Bachmann went on to say that Trump is observant of God’s authority over his life and presidency, which “should give us a lot of hope,” said, arguing that faith “helps regulate our behavior.” […]


  199. says

    Harvey Weinstein has been kicked out of the motion picture academy.

    The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences has expelled veteran Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein following sexual harassment and sexual assault allegations against the movie mogul stretching back decades.

    “We do so not simply to separate ourselves from someone who does not merit the respect of his colleagues but also to send a message that the era of willful ignorance and shameful complicity in sexually predatory behavior and workplace harassment in our industry is over,” the Academy’s board said in a statement.

    “What’s at issue here is a deeply troubling problem that has no place in our society. The Board continues to work to establish ethical standards of conduct that all Academy members will be expected to exemplify,” it added. […]


  200. blf says

    From the quote in @329:

    The Board continues to work to establish ethical standards of conduct that all Academy members will be expected to exemplify

    Breaks out laughing. Ethics and ethical standards in that industry amount to nothing more than ensuring Tarzan is a rich white aristocrat, as long as it makes a profit reported as a coincidentally subsidized loss.

  201. says

    From the link in SC’s comment 333:

    There are also over 160 journalists, and media workers behind bars as the co-leader of HDP Selahattin Demirtas remains jailed along with nine other lawmakers from his party.

    Authoritarian promulgation of injustice. Abrogation of civil rights.

  202. says

    Worth watching again if you didn’t see it this morning: Joy Reid interviews retired U.S. Army Colonel Lawrence Wilkerson. the video is 7:05 minutes long. “How high is the threat that Trump’s actions could lead to actual war?”

  203. says

    Follow-up to comment 335.

    “You believe that the endgame is to provoke Iran enough that we then have an excuse to go to war?”

    “Absolutely. We are marching down the road to war.”

  204. says

    Steve Bannon reacting to Trump ending the cost-sharing reduction (CSR) payments associated with Obamacare:

    Gonna blow that thing up. Gonna blow those exchanges up, right?

  205. says

    Why Trump, the “fucking moron,” really wanted more nukes:

    […] He told his aides he wanted 32,000 nuclear weapons because that was the largest number of nuclear weapons that a president ever had, and he wasn’t going to be outgunned by any other president.

    Forget about how the budget should be allocated, what America’s role in the world should be, or why on earth we need to build tens of thousands of nuclear weapons again. […]

    […] what’s often overlooked in this observation is that Trump takes this view not only on the White House but on the whole world. It’s the only view he knows, after all—hence his obsession with Nielsen ratings, poll numbers, Twitter followers, and IQ scores (some of them fictitious) as the prime measures of value. […]


  206. Pierce R. Butler says

    SC … @ # 307, 315, etc – Oh Emm Gee.

    I read your linked stories, and followed up with several of Jonathan Albright’s other reports about the tangled network of BigBrotherCorp® operations amassing files on all of us. Thanks for terrifying the shit out of me!

    Scarier than anything I’d imagined about data-mining & snoopery – apparently they’re not just scanning and analyzing everything, they’re throwing out thousands of provocative posts via hundreds of fake sites/online “accounts”/etc, just to tally up the reactions so as better to manipulate each individual’s emotional levers for their oligarchical clients.

    How the hell does anything but a hollowed-out husk of pseudo-democracy survive anything like this?

  207. says

    Russia takes Trump to task for meddling with the Iran nuclear deal:

    […] “There is an American saying our overseas colleagues often use in such situations: ‘If it’s not broke, don’t fix it,’” Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov told Russian news agency TASS on Sunday.

    “It seems to be a wrong way to follow as the existing documents are working quite efficiently,” he said.

    […] The Russian diplomat suggested it’s a pattern under the Trump administration to call for improvements and amendments of an agreement that is already successful.

    “We note recurring signals from Washington in favor of the so-called improvements of the existing agreement and possible supplements to it,” he said, according to the news outlet. “What is to be improved in this context is the implementation of the existing agreements by the U.S. side.”

    “Iran is fully implementing its liabilities, which cannot be said about the United States,” Ryabkov added.

    Moscow, he says, plans to stress to Iran “the importance of keeping the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA)” deal going. […]


  208. says

    Trump is losing. His campaign to stop NFL players, and others, from taking a knee during the national anthem has failed. In fact, others are joining the players.

    Singer Jessica Sanchez, a former runner-up on the 11th season of “American Idol,” took a knee after she finished singing the national anthem at an Oakland Raiders game on Sunday, […]

    “I’m 100 percent for the message, as far as what the message has been behind everybody kneeling,” Sanchez said, […]

    Many in the NFL community responded to the president’s comments by subsequently kneeling or locking arms during the anthem at various games, […]

    NFL players, most notably free agent Colin Kaepaernick, have kneeled during the anthem in order to protest social and racial injustice in the U.S.

    Sanchez is not the first national anthem singer to kneel at a game.

    Singer Rico Lavelle took a knee after singing the national anthem last month at Detroit Lions game, while singer Megan Lindsey and her guitar player got down on one knee after performing the national anthem at a Seattle Seahawks game.


  209. says

    I just walked up to the corner store. On the way there, a young woman was walking her dog, and at the pace we were both on, we would meet at the corner. She abruptly changed her path when she realized this, and headed down the middle of the side street to avoid me.

    When I first saw her, I had that stupid thought that should we meet at the corner, I would say hi and smile and ask if it was ok to pet her dog, because I love dogs, but when I saw her clearly defensive move to avoid me, I was reminded of the climate we live in. It is dark out, and although well lit, she was in a situation with a strange, large man, and no other help.

    The problem with the alt right kek crew, or as we know them, the slyme pitters, is that they blame feminism for this environment, where a woman can’t feel safe walking her dog at night. They say it’s the lies from the left and from feminists that cause irrational fear.

    I instantly knew the deal, and made no move to make her feel more uncomfortable than she already was, because I know that her fear is justified. Predatory men have created this, not feminists. Women are afraid because they should be, because men are predators. Fuck the alt-right, and fuck predatory men for making that young woman be afraid. No one should be afraid to walk at night, but young white male douche bros blame the wrong group for this climate.

    Men like Trump, and Weinstein, and an innumerable list of others, fuck them. They make the world suck.

  210. says

    From CNN:

    On Saturday October 7, the day the body of 25-year-old Army Sgt. La David Johnson was returned to Dover Air Force Base after he was killed in an ISIS ambush in Niger, President Donald Trump was golfing. It’s not known if the President ever planned to attend the return of remains ceremony at Dover as he has in the past. But since the ambush on October 4 in Niger, he has not commented publicly on the deadliest combat incident involving US troops since he took office. […]

    The Pentagon has not provided a detailed accounting of the ambush by 50 ISIS affiliated fighters which left four US soldiers dead and two wounded and has said the incident remains under investigation. But CNN has talked to half a dozen US officials who describe details of the chaos and confusion which led to the troops being left on the ground for nearly an hour before help could get to the remote area of southwestern Niger where they were operating. […]

    The attackers had rocket propelled grenades and machine guns, while the US troops were armed only with rifles and were in unarmored trucks according to officials. It had been considered ‘unlikely’ they would run into opposition and initial reports being reviewed indicate some locals in the area may have known an attack was planned, two officials said.

    The failure to anticipate an attack and the fact there were no US rescue and recover assets close by meant nearly an hour went by before the evacuation of the two wounded and three dead US troops by French Super Puma helicopters could be completed. […]


  211. says

    In legal news,

    “Trump Given A Subpoena For All Documents Relating To Assault Allegations “:

    …As part of [Summer Zervos’] suit, her lawyers served a subpoena on his campaign, asking that it preserve all documents it had about her.

    They also asked for “all documents” concerning other women who have accused Trump of groping them, including Jessica Leeds, Mindy McGillivray, Rachel Crooks, Natasha Stoynoff, Temple Taggart, Kristin Anderson, Cathy Heller, Jill Harth, and Jessica Drake. The subpoena seeks “all documents concerning any accusations that were made during Donald J. Trump’s election campaign for president, that he subjected any woman to unwanted sexual touching and/or sexually inappropriate behavior.” Last year, Trump tweeted a blanket denial, saying, “Nothing ever happened with any of these women.”

    Trump’s response to Zervos’s motion is due Oct. 31, according to Zervos’s attorney, Gloria Allred. In a statement Allred said: “We are hopeful that the court will deny President Trump’s motion to dismiss, so that we may move forward with discovery and obtain relevant documents and testimony.”

    “Robert Mercer, Trump’s Sugar Daddy, Is Being Sued”:

    …In court papers filed on Friday, Magerman argues that following a pair of phone conversations in which Mercer expressed arguably racist opinions, Magerman felt obliged to inform the press about his boss’s viewpoints—and that he received verbal assurance by Renaissance C.O.O. Mark Silber that the statements he intended to make were “permissible under company policy.” Those racist opinions, according to Magerman, included comments such as:

    a) The United States began to go in the wrong direction after the passage of the Civl Rights Act in the 1960s;

    b) African Americans were doing fine in the late-1950s and early-1960s before the Civil Rights Act;

    c) The Civil Rights Act “infantilized” African Americas by making them dependent on government and removing any incentive to work;

    d) The only racist people remaining in the United States are black; and

    e) White people have no racial animus toward African Americans anymore, and if there is any, is it not something that the government should be concerned with.

    The best part of the filing, at least to us, was that when Magerman “point[ed] out that society was segregated before the Civil Rights Act and African Americans were required to use separate and inferior schools, water fountains, and other everyday services and items,” Mercer allegedly responded that “those issues were not important.”…

    Apropos of nothing, Mercer was a major supporter of Jeff Session’s nomination for attorney general….

  212. says

    Trump is convinced he’s always “ahead of schedule”:

    […] don’t worry, he’s certain he’s “ahead of schedule.” This was the point Trump seemed eager to emphasize in his speech to the Values Voter Summit’s audience on Friday.

    “I’m here to thank you for your support and to share with you how we are delivering on that promise, defending our shared values, and in so doing, how we are renewing the America we love.

    “In the last 10 months, we have followed through on one promise after another. I didn’t have a schedule, but if I did have a schedule, I would say we are substantially ahead of schedule.”

    […] Trump has said, for example, that construction of a border wall is “way ahead of schedule.” He’s said his plans to overhaul veterans’ care are “ahead of schedule.” He’s insisted that his proposed far-right changes to Americans education are “ahead of schedule.”

    And in late May, Trump boasted that his tax-cut plan is “actually ahead of schedule.”

    […] none of these claims are true. In fact, when it comes to passing massive tax breaks, the Trump administration expected the entire endeavor to be done by August – suggesting Team Trump is pretty far behind schedule.

    […] Before the election, the Republican sketched out a plan for what he’d accomplish in his first 100 days, and now, months later, Trump still hasn’t had any meaningful successes in any of those areas.

    […] Trump can either craft some excuses for his lack of accomplishments or he can pretend everything is right on track. Evidently, facts be damned, he’s sticking with the latter.

  213. says

    From Josh Marshall:

    […] [Marshall quotes from a column by then-Times business columnist Joe Nocera]:

    What was taking place in Jupiter was an essential part of Trump’s modus operandi. In every deal, he has to win and you have to lose. He is notorious for refusing to pay full price to contractors and vendors after they’ve completed work for him. And he basically dares the people he has stiffed to sue him, knowing that his deep pockets and bevy of lawyers give him a big advantage […]

    […] Both abroad and with Congress we can see clearly what should have been clear in advance: President Trump has no idea how to negotiate international accords or treaties or how to pass laws. These require building coalitions and trust because you’ll need to work with the same actors again in the future. You also need to build coalitions of people or nations each of whom think they have something to gain from the effort.

    As Nocera noted in that column about the golf resort swindle, Trump’s idea of business is basically cheating. That doesn’t necessarily mean breaking the law, though Trump does plenty of that. It means making money by trickery and hard dealing in which the other party usually ends up screwed. Those just aren’t the skills that end up being effective for a President. But that’s all Trump knows. That’s why we currently have what amounts to governance via chaos and outburst. Trump doesn’t know how to be President.

    Much more at the link.

  214. says

    Chris Hayes: “If you endorse Roy Moore you don’t actually believe in the constitution or rule of law or judicial review. Full stop.”

    I was disturbed by Joy Reid’s segment yesterday about Bannon’s attack on Republican incumbents. The Republican guests were fairly sanguine about the threat from Mercer/Bannon-backed challengers, since they believe Roy Moore is an outlier. Katon Dawson – with whom people are far too indulgent – talked about how they have the Mercers and some others but those they’re challenging have the Kochs, Adelson, and a list of five or six others he rattled off easily, some of whom I’m not even familiar with. (Of course, the party as a whole isn’t denouncing Moore, and many are openly supporting him.) The point shouldn’t be that their party is unconcerned about the electoral prospects of the fascistic-theocratic candidates in the movement it spawned, but that their party has spawned a fascistic-theocratic movement (which, incidentally, has covert propaganda backing from the Russian regime). They’re completely morally and politically bankrupt. They’re almost completely silent on the matter, blinded by their re-election fears to the far greater dangers in store if the fascist-theocrats gain more power.

  215. blf says

    Hair furor and teh dalekocoracy is halcinating wildly and deleting evidence to the contrary (my emboldening), Trump team claims US families will receive extra $4,000 a year from tax cuts:

    The Trump administration said on Monday the average US household will receive an estimated $4,000 more a year after corporate tax rates are slashed under the president’s planned tax reforms. The prediction of a stunning 5% increase in household income follows government and independent reports that found the average worker benefits little from corporate tax cuts.


    A White House analysis claimed the tax cut would conservatively generate an income jump of $504bn, about $200bn more than revenues currently generated by the corporate income tax.


    The analysis by Kevin Hassett, chair of the White House Council of Economic Advisers, said the considerably lower rate would spur more investment by companies, which would then boost hiring and worker productivity.

    Average income gains from the reduced rate would range from $4,000 to as high as $9,000, the administration said. Those figures, however, rely on research arguing that workers — rather than investors — would primarily benefit from lower corporate rates.

    Separate studies, including a 2012 treasury analysis, found that the vast majority of any savings would go to investors, making such a cut unlikely to push up wages as much as the administration has argued. After releasing its tax framework last month with Republican congressional leaders, the administration removed the 2012 analysis from the treasury website.

    According to a report from the non-partisan Institute on Tax and Economic Policy many successful US companies are already paying less than 20% of their net income to the federal government in tax. The study also found that lower tax rates did not lead to higher job creation.


    A preliminary analysis by the non-partisan Tax Policy Center estimated that the proposal would cut business taxes by $2.65tn over a decade while increasing the tax burden on families and individuals by $471bn.

    Hassett criticized those findings in a speech this month as a fiction that is scientifically indefensible because critical details of the proposal remain unknown. But Hassett said enough details are now known about the plan to support his conclusion that it would lead to income gains and stronger economic growth.

  216. says

    SC 2348:

    The point shouldn’t be that their party is unconcerned about the electoral prospects of the fascistic-theocratic candidates in the movement it spawned, but that their party has spawned a fascistic-theocratic movement […]

    Exactly. And now, today, we learn that Senator Mike Lee has endorsed Roy Moore. It sounds to me like the Republican Party is making the same mistake over and over again. They are underestimating the fascistic-theocratic wing of their party

  217. says

    Correction: in comment 355 I referred to SC’s comment 348.

    SC @350, ah yes. Republicans are ignoring the dangerous aspects of their theocratic and/or fascistic candidates, but the Russians are not. Russian bots are all over that, with immediate support.

  218. says

    From Charles M. Blow, writing for The New York Times:

    It must be cold and miserable standing in the shadow of someone greater and smarter, more loved and more admired. It must be infuriating to have risen on the wings of your derision of that person’s every decision, and even his very existence, and yet not be able to measure up — in either stratagem or efficacy — when you sit where that person once sat.

    This is the existence of Donald Trump in the wake of President Barack Obama. Trump can’t hold a candle to Obama, so he’s taking a tiki torch to Obama’s legacy. Trump can’t get his bad ideas through Congress, but he can use the power of the presidency to sabotage or even sink Obama’s signature deeds. […]

    There is a thing present in Obama and absent from Trump that no amount of money or power can alter: a sense of elegant intellectualism and taste.

    The example Obama set makes the big man with the big mouth look smaller by the day. But I believe that this nonadjustable imbalance is part of what has always fueled Trump’s rage against Obama. Trump, who sees character as just another malleable thing that can be marketed and made salable, chafes at the black man who operated above the coarseness of commercial interests and whose character appeared unassailable. […]

    First, Obama wasn’t destroying America’s health care system. To the contrary, he simply sought to make it cover more people. He moved to take American health care in a more humane, modern and civilized direction, to make it more universally accessible,[…]

    Second, the Republicans had no replacement plan that would cost less and cover as many or more people. That could not be done. So, their repeal-and-replace efforts failed. But that also meant that Trump’s promise was proven a lie. Trump has no problem lying, but in the end he wants his lies to look plausible.

    Trump makes assertions for which there is no evidence — either knowingly lying, recklessly boasting or wishfully thinking […]

    He violates a basic protocol of human communication: Be sure of it before you say it. His way is to say something wrong, then bend reality to make it appear right. This is why the age of Trump is so maddening and stupefying: He is warping reality. […]

  219. says

    A community organizer in Puerto Rico called Trump a “charlatan.” Daily Kos has the video.

    Synonyms for charlatan: Swindler, con artist, cheat, con, fake, fraud, imposter, mountebank, phony, pretender, quack, sham, and rip-off artist.

  220. says

    Details regarding the truck bomb in the Somali capital of Mogadishu: they are still counting the dead, but so far there are at least 300 people who were killed. This total includes 15 children.

    […] the single worst attack in the country’s history and one that shows the continued strength of the extremist group al-Shabaab.

    One of the bombs was detonated at a busy city intersection and was believed to be headed towards a nearby government ministry before the truck got stuck in traffic. The explosion ignited a nearby fuel tanker, and destroyed an area the size of “two or three football fields.”

    Aden Nur, a doctor at the city’s Madine hospital, told The Guardian that the heat from the blast was so intense that 160 bodies were unrecognizable. Aamin Ambulance, Mogadishu’s only free ambulance service, tweeted that it was the worst attack officials had ever seen.

    Although no group has yet taken responsibility for the horrendous attack, Somali security officials believe the bombing was the work of al-Shabaab, the al-Qaeda affiliated group which vowed earlier this year to increase its attacks after both the U.S. and Somalian governments announced new efforts against the group. […]


  221. blf says

    EU urges US Congress to preserve Iran nuclear deal Trump threatened (Grauniad edits in {curly braces}):

    The European Union has urged US lawmakers to preserve the Iran nuclear deal, warning that Donald Trump’s threat to end it could jeopardise international security and damage diplomatic efforts to defuse tension in North Korea.

    The EU’s foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini said the president’s threat risks making it “more difficult to open any form of dialogue or mediation with {Pyongyang} in the case of a serious threat”.

    It came as the EU’s 28 foreign ministers unanimously called for full and effective implementation of the Iran deal [(JCPOA)…]


    “Clearly the ministers are concerned that messages on JCPOA might affect negatively opening negotiations or even the space {for} opening negotiations with DPRK,” Mogerhini said […]

    Hint for Ms Mogerhini: Don’t use such big words or complicated phrasing or long sentences. Hair furor won’t understand and will loose interest. (Having said that, I admit I cannot immediately think of an alternative phrasing that doesn’t reinforce trum-prat’s delusions about negotiations.)

    At their meeting in Luxembourg, the EU foreign ministers extended sanctions on North Korea, going beyond UN sanctions. The EU banned all crude oil sales to North Korea and cut remittances that can be sent into the country from the EU to €5,000, down from €15,000, as the money is believed to support the regime’s nuclear programmes. The EU also announced it would not renew work permits for North Koreans, unless people had refugee status.

  222. says

    Follow-up to SC’s comment 343.

    Pentagon officials have weighed in on the situation:

    […] U.S. military commanders in Iraq are urging Iraqi and Kurdish forces to “avoid additional escalatory actions” following a skirmish over the capture of the Kurdish-held city of Kirkuk.

    “We strongly believe that dialogue still remains the best option to the ongoing tensions,” Defense Department spokesman Col. Robert Manning told reporters at the Pentagon.

    “Commanders on the ground are engaged,” he said. […]

    Pentagon spokesman Major Adrian Rankine-Galloway said U.S. coalition forces were “in the vicinity” of Kirkuk at the time of the incident.

    “We do not consider them to be threatened or in any kind of danger and there are appropriate force protection measures in place to ensure their safety,” Rankine-Galloway said of the U.S. special forces.

    About 5,200 U.S. troops are in Iraq, […]

    Manning would not say if or when the U.S. might cut off military aid and training to Iraqi forces should a major conflict begin.

    “I’m not going to speculate on that. We’re looking at all options for planning considerations and we’d have to address that down the road,” Manning said.

    “Right now it is a distraction to do anything but focus on killing ISIS. And so what we’re doing right now is making sure that both sides understand that this is not helpful, and although we support a unified Iraq, we do not support both sides going after each other,” Manning said. […]


  223. says

    (Brexit updates would be most appreciated.)

    Updated list of politically significant upcoming dates:*

    This week: Senate votes on budget reconciliation bill; Loretta Lynch interviewed by Senate Judiciary and Senate and House Intelligence Committees; Senate votes on emergency relief bill for Puerto Rico

    October 16 (today): DEADLINE to register to vote in the November 7 VA governor election
    October 17: Kenyan presidential election do-over scheduled (I can’t figure out what’s going on with this.)
    October 18: Jeff Sessions testifies before the Senate Judiciary Committee (“Ten Questions that the Senate Judiciary Committee Should Ask Jeff Sessions.”) (I believe this will be in open session.)
    October 18: district court hears oral arguments in CREW’s foreign-emoluments lawsuit against Trump
    October 25: Michael Cohen testifies before the Senate Intelligence Committee (open session)
    October 31: Trump’s response to Summer Zervos’ subpoena due

    November 1: representatives from Facebook, Twitter, and Google[?] testify before the Senate Intelligence Committee (open session)
    November 7: VA governor election (Northam vs. Gillespie)
    November 19: Chilean legislative and presidential elections
    November 26: Honduran legislative and presidential elections
    November 27: scheduled start of Zarrab trial (see #297 above)

    December 12: AL Senate special election (Jones vs. Moore)

    * My previous list somehow omitted the Austrian election, which had such a terrible outcome.

  224. blf says

    France considers tough new laws to fight sexual harassment and abuse:

    French MPs are to debate legislation to crack down on sexist or sexual aggression and harassment, especially assaults on children.


    It will also give traumatised child victims more time to come forward to bring criminal charges against their attackers.


    A Twitter appeal by the radio journalist Sandra Muller using #balancetonporc (squeal on your pig), encouraging women to publicly shame their attackers, was top of the French Twitter trend list over the weekend. […]


    On Monday, [Equality minister Marlène] Schiappa launched a pre-debate “citizens’ consultation” over the legislation, including the possibility of police warnings for everyday sexist acts such as wolf whistling and comments about physical appearance in the street.

    “The point is that the whole of society has to redefine what it will accept and what it will not,” Schiappa told La Croix […]


    “[…] All sexually motivated violence must be taken into account, including male sexual violence against small boys and disabled people. On this, we have to address another taboo,” she said.


    Police, magistrates, psychiatrists, and education and legal experts are also being solicited for their opinions, and a parliamentary commission is to study the question of harassment in public places. The information will be collated at the end of the year and a draft bill presented to the Assemblée Nationale in the first half of 2018.

    “I think, personally, that whistling at a women in the street is not harassment, but it’s the case when you follow her on to the subway. In this case, the stress, even intimidation, is evident,” Schiappa said.

    A key pillar of the legislation would be an increase in the time limit for cases of sexual abuse on minors from 20 to 30 years from them reaching adulthood at 18.


    The law would also define an age of consent for minors. The French high commission for male/female equality has suggested it be set at 13 years. Others, including Laurence Rossignol, a former family minister in the Socialist administration, are pressing for 15 years.

    The issue became a political priority last month following national outrage after a court reduced a charge against a 28-year-old man from rape to sexual assault because it decided the 11-year-old victim had suffered no violence, no constraint, no threat, no surprise, and could be deemed to have consented.

    I was unaware there was no defined age of consent in France. (I also seem to have missed the 11-year-old’s case.)

  225. says

    John Oliver roasted Equifax.

    Excerpt from the video:

    […] Apparently there were multiple points where this hack could have been prevented and one of them is incredible.

    Equifax was alerted by Homeland Security back in March that they needed to fix a critical vulnerability in their software. But as lawmakers discovered at a recent hearing, that’s not what happened. […]

    [Your] anger won’t make much difference to Equifax because they make most of their money selling our data to businesses like banks, so in their eyes, we’re not the consumer, we’re the product.

    Think of it in terms like KFC. We’re not the guy buying 10 piece buckets, we’re the f–king chickens.

    The video is 15:21 minutes long. Oliver even covered the fact that Equifax sent the private credit information of over 300 people to a single individual who had requested her own credit report. Furthermore, money paid to Lifelock goes back to Equifax, in part. That’s ridiculous and infuriating. Lifelock is not a solution.

    Excellent roasting by Oliver.

  226. says

    Trump stood around in the Rose Garden today, (with Mitch McConnell, his best bud now), and told a bunch of lies. Here’s one of them:

    […] Trump on Monday again claimed in a press conference that the United States is the “highest taxed country in the world.”

    “We don’t have a vote from the Democrats. As an example — massive tax cuts,” Trump said in an impromptu press conference in the White House Rose Garden. “We may not get any Democrat votes. Now, we also may get three or four but we may get no [Democrats] — for massive tax cuts.”

    “We’re the highest taxed county in the world, and yet we may get no Democrat support,” Trump continued.

    Trump has continually repeated the claim, which has been proven false by several independent analyses.

    A 2015 analysis by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development shows the U.S. behind countries such as the United Kingdom, Germany and France in regards to taxes.

    Last month, Trump tweeted that the U.S. was the highest taxed nation in the world, something he said “will change.” […]

  227. says

    Here’s another lie Trump told in the Rose Garden today:

    President Trump on Monday claimed former President Obama and other past presidents didn’t call the families of fallen soldiers.

    Trump made the remark after being asked about the four U.S. soldiers killed in Niger last week.

    The president said he planned to call the parents and families of those who were killed, something he said he has done “traditionally.”

    “The toughest calls I have to make are the calls where this happens ‚— soldiers are killed,” Trump said.
    “It’s a very difficult thing. Now it gets to a point where you make four or five of them in one day, it’s a very, very tough day. For me that’s by far the toughest,” he said.

    “So the traditional way, if you look at President Obama and other presidents, most of them, didn’t make calls, a lot of them didn’t make calls, I like to call when it’s appropriate, when I think I’m able to do it.”

    Trump’s remarks were immediately criticized online, as Obama and other past presidents did make calls to the families of fallen soldiers.

    Obama and former President George W. Bush have both described the difficultly in making those calls.

    Several former aides of Obama called Trump a liar after he made the comment. […]


    From Alyssa Mastromonaco:

    that’s a fucking lie. to say president obama (or past presidents) didn’t call the family members of soldiers KIA – he’s a deranged animal.

  228. says

    Lynna @ #357,

    Right after I read your comment I came upon a link to this: “Inside Russia’s alliance with white nationalists across the globe.”

    I’m dumbfounded when I read internally condradictory things like “we have white nationalists like Matthew Heimbach describing Russia as the ‘leader … of the anti-globalist forces around the world’.” How is Breitbart, which constantly seeks to open operations in countries across Europe, repeatedly called “nationalist” and “anti-globalist”? It’s a global world, for everyone and in every sphere. “Globalism” vs. “anti-globalism” is a total red herring. The only question is whether it’s to be an authoritarian, white-male supremacist, imperialist, violent globalism built around capitalist rapaciousness, which will bring about our destruction, or a globalism based on freedom, equality, political and economic democracy, mutual respect, and the protection of our common resources.

  229. says

    SC @368, good points.

    The anti “globalism” meme on the right reminds of all their other memes. It is simplistic and misleading. It creates a false us-versus-them “war.”

    As for Russians backing white nationalists, I don’t think Putin backs those groups solely to cause disruption in other countries. I think he backs them because he believes in white nationalism. And, of course, he does thrive when other countries, especially those based on democratic principles, fight among themselves and when their citizens fight each other.

    In other news, House Intel Chairman Devin Nunes is being accused of “unprofessional conduct” by lawyers for Fusion GPS.

    [Nunes] has recused himself from the committee’s Russia probe, but nonetheless issued subpoenas to the firm [Fusion GPS] — Nunes and his staff [are accused] of operating with a “pattern of unprofessional conduct.”

    “Now that you, and by extension, your staff, have proven to be unreliable partners in good faith negotiations, we cannot reasonably be expected to trust anything that you or your staff would represent to us,” the lawyers for Fusion GPS said Monday in the letter. “We cannot in good conscience do anything but advise our clients to stand on their constitutional privileges, the attorney work product doctrine and contractual obligations.”

    The lawyers signaled that Fusion GPS would not be turning over the documents Nunes’ subpoena requested (though the firm did preserve them). The lawyers said that, if compelled to appear in front of the committee, Fusion GPS representatives would invoke their constitutional privileges not to testify. They laid out a number of reasons they believed Nunes and his staff had acted in “bad faith” in issuing the subpoenas, including him doing so unilaterally despite his recusal as well as various “infirmities” in the subpoenas themselves. […]


  230. says

    More financial trouble for Jared Kushner:

    An ambitious plan by Jared Kushner’s family to recast its indebted Fifth Avenue office building as a luxury architectural trophy is collapsing, setting off a chain of events that may imperil the Kushners’ ownership of a property central to their real estate empire.

    Their partner, Vornado Realty Trust, is telling brokers to plan for a much more mundane renovation that would leave the property as an office building, according to three people familiar with the matter. Vornado Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Steve Roth was never enthusiastic about the Kushner plan although until now he hadn’t stood in its way.

    Putting an end to the Kushner effort — to salvage their overpriced investment by turning it into a Midtown jewel with expensive condos, a hotel and five-floor mall — could have profound ramifications for the family. Vornado, which owns 49.5 percent of 666 Fifth Ave., is unlikely to invest further in the property without first being reassured of its future, said three people familiar with Roth’s thinking. That means returning to the negotiating table with lenders — a battle that could result in Kushner Cos.’ losing control of the building, said the people, who asked not to be named discussing private deals. […]


    So, are the Russians going to save Jared? The Chinese company Anbang Insurance Group was set to save Jared’s ass until the public heard about Jared’s sister selling visas to the U.S., and until more concerns about conflicts of interest arose.

    More details at the link.

  231. says

    Follow-up to comment 367.

    […] Trump’s false accusation echoes a conspiracy theory Trump helped elevate long before he was even a candidate for office. The Gateway Pundit, a conservative outlet which has its own White House press credentials, wrote in 2012 that Obama had sent the same form letter to all fallen soldiers’ families, signed with auto-pen. The White House countered at the time, saying that the president personally signs every letter.

    For his part, Trump tweeted his support for the Gateway Pundit’s debunkd conspiracy theory.

    Too busy playing golf? @BarackObama sends form letters with an electronic signature to the parents of fallen SEALs

    Although the president on Monday claimed he was focused on the families of the fallen troops, he seemingly had other things on his mind this past weekend: Trump visited golf courses for his 72nd and 73rd times as president on Saturday and Sunday, respectively. He’s been in office for 38 weeks.


    Obama personally called the families of fallen soldiers. Obama visited wounded troops at Walter Reed about two dozen time.

    Additionally, Obama also reversed a policy of not sending condolence letters to the families sof U.S. soldiers who commit suicide.

  232. says

    “Hill Russia investigators probe GOP operative who sought Clinton emails”:

    …In a private interview earlier this month, a cybersecurity analyst [Peter W.] Smith recruited for the effort reiterated to House investigators a comment that he had publicly made: He believed that Smith had ties to members of President Donald Trump’s inner circle, including former national security adviser Michael Flynn, former chief strategist Steve Bannon and White House aide Kellyanne Conway — and may have been helping build opposition research for the Trump campaign, according to a source familiar with the matter.

    A source familiar with the testimony told CNN [Matt] Tait testified in a staff interview that he believed Smith was close to Flynn and his claims of a connection to Flynn and his onetime consulting firm, the Flynn Intel Group, were legitimate. Tait told the committee he believed Smith may have been working as an unofficial opposition research arm for the campaign, the source said.

    The committee raised questions with Tait about how he knew of connections between Smith and the Trump campaign, the source said, and whether Smith’s claims were credible.

    Tait said that the it wasn’t initially clear how independent Smith was operating, but he said it was “immediately apparent that Smith was both well connected within the top echelons of the campaign and he seemed to know both Lt. Gen. Flynn and his son well.”…

  233. says

    I had missed this – “The End of the Road”:

    …Today Chief Judge Morin of the Washington D.C. Superior Court issued the court’s final order, and we’re elated to see significant changes that will protect the constitutional rights of innocent internet users worldwide.

    Under this order, we now have the ability to redact all identifying information and protect the identities of users who interacted with before handing over any data to the court. Chief Judge Morin acknowledged that the government “does not have the right to rummage through the information contained on DreamHost’s website” to “discover the identity of . . . individuals not participating in alleged criminal activity.”

    We applaud this course of action as it goes a long way toward negating any fears of a “digital dragnet” and targets individual, specific users to whom probable cause has been found by the court. The contact information of simple website visitors, journalists, historians, and any other users who may have interacted with the DisruptJ20 website with innocent intentions is now explicitly protected.

    Absent a finding by the court that probable cause of criminal activity exists, the government will not be able to uncover the identities of many thousands of website users. There are also quite a few modifications within the court’s order that further reduce the government’s ability to review unrelated data….

  234. blf says

    Oh for feck’s sake, hair furor is blithering again. Again. Trump says Cuba responsible for alleged sonic attacks, but offers no evidence:

    Donald Trump has said that he believes Cuba is responsible for unexplained incidents that the US says have injured at least 22 American government workers.

    The United States has avoided casting blame on Cuban President Raul Castro’s government for the mysterious sonic attacks that began last year and have eluded an FBI investigation.


    Trump offered no new details about what type of weapon might have caused damage ranging from permanent hearing loss to mild traumatic brain injury, or concussion. The state department has said that despite the lengthy investigation and FBI visits to the island, the US still can’t identify either a culprit or a device.

    Trump’s ambiguous allegation against the Cubans was likely to increase tensions even further […]


    Responding to Trump’s comments, Ben Rhodes, Barack Obama’s foreign policy adviser, who was involved in negotiating the previous administration’s rapprochement with Havana tweeted: “Trump’s own State Dept has not said this — has gone out of their way to say they don’t know who is behind attack.”


    The point that no-one, not Cuba nor anyone else, has been blamed for the attacks seems beyond many people, including several bloggers and commentators (readers) here at FtB. (Don’t say “Cuba’s (alleged) attacks”, but “(alleged) attacks within Cuba” or similar.) So perhaps I should not be surprised hair furor is also unable to make that distinction.

  235. says

    Glenn Thrush on with Nicolle Wallace today was right. He said Trump tossed out so much at his bizarre press conference that it would superficially appear that a lot of news came out of it, but the only real headline (other than the despicable lie about past presidents with which he attempted to distract from it) is that Trump hasn’t reached out to the families of the men killed in Niger almost two weeks ago.

  236. blf says

    Follow-up to @371, Gregg Popovich calls Donald Trump a ‘soulless coward’ after Obama comments:

    [… San Antonio Spurs coach Gregg] Popovich […] was incensed after the US president [sic] falsely claimed Barack Obama and other presidents didn’t contact the families of soldiers killed in action. Popovich is an air force veteran and considered a career with the CIA before committing to basketball.


    “I’ve been amazed and disappointed by so much of what this president had said, and his approach to running this country, which seems to be one of just a never-ending divisiveness,” Popovich told [the Nation’s Dave] Zirin. “But his comments today about those who have lost loved ones in times of war and his lies that previous presidents Obama and Bush never contacted their families are so beyond the pale, I almost don’t have the words.”

    Popovich also spoke of his contempt for Trump’s inner circle. “This man in the Oval Office is a soulless coward who thinks that he can only become large by belittling others. This has of course been a common practice of his, but to do it in this manner — and to lie about how previous presidents responded to the deaths of soldiers — is as low as it gets,” Popovich added.

    “We have a pathological liar in the White House, unfit intellectually, emotionally, and psychologically to hold this office, and the whole world knows it, especially those around him every day. The people who work with this president should be ashamed, because they know better than anyone just how unfit he is, and yet they choose to do nothing about it.”


  237. says

    “Inside the ‘adult day-care center’: How aides try to control and coerce Trump”:

    During the campaign, when President Trump’s advisers wanted him to stop talking about an issue — such as when he attacked a Gold Star military family — they sometimes presented him with polls demonstrating how the controversy was harming his candidacy.*

    During the transition, when aides needed Trump to decide on a looming issue or appointment, they often limited him to a shortlist of two or three options and urged him to choose one.

    And now in the White House, when advisers hope to prevent Trump from making what they think is an unwise decision, they frequently try to delay his final verdict — hoping he may reconsider after having time to calm down.

    When Sen. Bob Corker (R-Tenn.) described the White House as “an adult day-care center” on Twitter last week, he gave voice to a Trumpian truth: The president is often impulsive, mercurial and difficult to manage, leading those around him to find creative ways to channel his energies.

    Some Trump aides spend a significant part of their time devising ways to rein in and control the impetuous president, angling to avoid outbursts that might work against him, according to interviews with 18 aides, confidants and outside advisers, most of whom insisted on anonymity to speak candidly.


    One defining feature of managing Trump is frequent praise, which can leave his team in what seems to be a state of perpetual compliments. The White House pushes out news releases overflowing with top officials heaping flattery on Trump; in one memorable Cabinet meeting this year, each member went around the room lavishing the president with accolades.

    Trump seems to hold many Republican lawmakers, and some members of his own Cabinet, in similarly low regard. Several people who have met with Trump in recent weeks said he mocks other officials in Washington, especially fellow Republicans.

    Still, Corker’s comments underscored the uneasy dichotomy within the West Wing, where criticism of the president’s behavior is only whispered.

    “They have an on-the-record ‘Dear Leader’ culture, and an on-background ‘This-guy-is-a-joke’ culture,” said Tommy Vietor, who served as a spokesman for President Barack Obama. “I don’t understand how he can countenance both.”

    * It’s also worth noting that late in the campaign when he was way down in the polls they described using precisely the same strategies that are being talked about now. Conway even explicitly likened her management of Trump to dealing with a child, and did so on the record.

  238. says

    “McCain Blasts ‘Half-Baked, Spurious Nationalism’ In US (VIDEO)”:

    …“To fear the world we have organized and led for three-quarters of a century, to abandon the ideals we have advanced around the globe, to refuse the obligations of international leadership and our duty to remain ‘the last best hope of earth’ for the sake of some half-baked, spurious nationalism cooked up by people who would rather find scapegoats than solve problems,” McCain said to applause in the crowd, “is as unpatriotic as an attachment to any other tired dogma of the past that Americans consigned to the ash heap of history.”…

  239. says

    From the link in SC’s comment 383:

    […] The document’s language closely mirrored the contents of a memo provided to Republican US Rep. Dana Rohrabacher by the office of Russia’s chief federal prosecutor Yuri Chaika while Rohrabacher was in Moscow last April.

    The document is marked “confidential” but made the rounds on Capitol Hill upon the lawmaker’s return to the US […]

    Dana Rohrabacher again! Representing the Kremlin.

    “Marked ‘confidential’ but made the rounds” … so lots of people knew.

  240. says

    From the quoted text in blf’s comment 381: “This man in the Oval Office is a soulless coward who thinks that he can only become large by belittling others.” Right. Popovich nailed it.

    blf @375, I think Trump just wants to destroy any rapprochement with Cuba that President Obama worked to achieve.

    Follow-up to comment 355: Rand Paul also endorsed Roy Moore.

    I other news, Trump’s NAFTA negotiations seem to be bumpy and chaotic.

    […] As Trump acknowledged in April, “I was all set to terminate. I looked forward to terminating. I was going to do it.”

    […] this obviously didn’t happen, thanks in large part to conversations the American president had with his Canadian and Mexican counterparts.

    Instead, officials from the three North American countries are engaged in ongoing talks to update the trade agreement, and by all accounts, the NAFTA negotiations aren’t going especially well, and already expected to go well beyond their original deadline. The CBC reported this morning on one of the problems plaguing the process:

    The source says it appears some members of the U.S. delegation are uncomfortable with the demands they are presenting, which appear to have been dictated to them by the Trump administration.

    “They don’t like what they are doing,” says the source, who was not authorized to speak about the talks on the record.

    There also appears to be a sense of confusion about the overall U.S. vision for NAFTA and who is really running the show. […]

    […] the Trump administration never really established clear goals for the talks; it dispatched lower-level staffers to participate in the negotiations; and the White House has reportedly stressed “top-line demands that are generally symbolic rather than substantive in nature.”

    The problem is a familiar one: Trump never really figured out what it is about NAFTA he doesn’t like, so there’s no clear roadmap on how he wants to see it improved. If this sounds familiar, it’s because the American president has run into the same trouble on health care, the Iran deal, immigration, and a host of other foreign and domestic issues.

    The result is a White House that seems eager to make policy, without knowing what, how, or why. […]


  241. says

    We won’t really know if this is good news or not until we see who Trump picks now that Representative Tom Marino is out:

    Rep. Tom Marino has withdrawn from consideration as the White House’s pick for drug czar following a bombshell report that he championed a bill that hindered federal agents from going after the Big Pharma firms that flooded the country with addictive opioids.

    President Donald Trump made the announcement Tuesday morning on Twitter. “Rep.Tom Marino has informed me that he is withdrawing his name from consideration as drug czar,” Trump wrote. “Tom is a fine man and a great Congressman!” […]


    Analysis of the situation:

    […] The Post reported that as the opioid crisis intensified, Congress “effectively stripped the Drug Enforcement Administration of its most potent weapon against large drug companies suspected of spilling prescription narcotics onto the nation’s streets.” The point of the measure was to “weaken aggressive DEA enforcement efforts against drug distribution companies that were supplying corrupt doctors and pharmacists who peddled narcotics to the black market.”

    Leading the way was Tom Marino, a Republican congressman from Pennsylvania, who was the beneficiary of generous contributions from the drug industry. […]

    As Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) put it yesterday afternoon, “Confirming Representative Marino as our nation’s drug czar is like putting the wolf in charge of the hen house.”

    The Pennsylvanian Republican’s withdrawal does not, however, mean the story is over.

    First, some state officials are already using the latest reporting to go after drug companies, blaming them for allegedly having a role in making the opioid epidemic worse.

    And second, the problematic law Tom Marino helped pass is still on the books. Sen. Joe Machin (D), whose home state of West Virginia has been hit especially hard by the opiod crisis, announced plans yesterday to undo what Marino has done. […]


  242. says

    Oh, my. We may die from irony overload, or from bitter laughter.

    Trump has proclaimed “National Character Counts Week” to be of the utmost importance:

    We celebrate National Character Counts Week because few things are more important than cultivating strong character in all our citizens, especially our young people. The grit and integrity of our people, visible throughout our history, defines the soul of our Nation. This week, we reflect on the character of determination, resolve, and honor that makes us proud to be American. […]

    Character is built slowly. Our actions — often done first out of duty — become habits ingrained in the way we treat others and ourselves. As parents, educators, and civic and church leaders, we must always work to cultivate strength of character in our Nation’s youth.

  243. says

    Trump said this yesterday:

    Despite what the press writes, I have great relationships with actually many senators, but in particular with most Republican senators. But we’re not getting the job done.

    And I’m not going to blame myself, I’ll be honest. They are not getting the job done…. We’ve had other things happen, and they’re not getting the job done.

    Note that Hair Furor almost shouldered some responsibility in the first paragraph, “we’re not getting the job done.”

    He quickly corrected himself, “I’m not going to blame myself…” Yeah, yeah, we know. You do not have enough integrity, enough character, to accept any responsibility.

    In the meantime, people who are trying to get something done find themselves continually thrown back into chaos or uncertainly by Hair Furor.

  244. says

    Hair Furor’s bloviation about Cuba was so off the mark that his own State Department had to issue a statement that contradicted him:

    […] “I do believe Cuba’s responsible. I do believe that,” Trump told reporters at a Rose Garden press conference. “And it’s a very unusual attack, as you know. But I do believe Cuba is responsible.”

    The president’s comments were in reference to an ongoing and unexplained series of attacks that first began last year and appeared to target U.S. embassy personnel working in Havana. Diplomats reported hearing strange sounds and were later diagnosed with mild to severe hearing damage. The most recent occurrence was reported in August.

    […] The phenomenon has impacted up to 22 people and an investigation is underway.

    Trump’s accusation on Monday implied that the United States has reason to believe Cuba intentionally worked to harm American workers on the island. But according to the State Department cable, that’s simply not true.

    “We are still investigating these attacks and do not know who or what is behind them,” it read […]. “We continue to exchange information with Cuban investigators.”

    The cable was reportedly sent to all overseas U.S. diplomatic posts and underscored the fact that the United States has “not assigned blame to the Government of Cuba” for the reported attacks. […]


  245. says

    Trump is being called to account for his sabotage of Obamacare:

    […] In comments made to the Philadelphia Inquirer, acting Pennsylvania Insurance Commissioner Jessica Altman traced the unexpected rate 30.6 percent increase directly back to President Trump’s decision to cut off the cost-sharing reduction (CSR) payments insurers use to subsidize coverage for low-income people.

    “This is not the situation I hoped we would be in, but due to President Trump’s refusal to make cost-sharing reduction payments for 2018 and Congress’s inaction to appropriate funds, it is the reality that state regulators must face and the reason rate increases will be higher than they should be across the country,” said Altman of the rate increase, which was approved Monday.

    Sen. Bob Casey (D-PA) also blamed Trump, telling the Inquirer that the sharp increase is “the direct result of President Trump’s sabotage of our health-care system,” […] Before Trump’s action, rates were set to increase by 7.6 percent, the Inquirer reports. […]


  246. blf says

    Russian troll factory paid US activists to help fund protests during election:

    Russian trolls posing as Americans made payments to genuine activists in the US to help fund protest movements on socially divisive issues, according to a new investigation by a respected Russian media outlet.

    On Tuesday, the newspaper RBC published a major investigation into the work of a so-called Russian “troll factory” since 2015, including during the period of the US election campaign, disclosures that are likely to put further spotlight on alleged Russian meddling in the election.

    The existence of the troll factory, which has a history of spamming Russian and English blogs and comment forums, has been reported on by many outlets including the Guardian, but the RBC investigation is the first in-detail look at the organisation’s activity during the election period.

    RBC said it had identified 118 accounts or groups in Facebook, Instagram and Twitter that were linked to the troll factory, all of which had been blocked in August and September this year as part of the US investigation into Russian electoral meddling.

    Many of the accounts had already been linked to Russian disinformation efforts in western outlets, but RBC said its sources at the troll factory had provided screenshots of the internal group administration pages of some of the groups, as proof they were run from Russia. It also spoke to former and current employees of the troll factory, all of whom spoke anonymously.

    Perhaps the most alarming element of the article was the claim that employees of the troll factory had contacted about 100 real US-based activists to help with the organisation of protests and events. RBC claimed the activists were contacted by Facebook group administrators hiding their Russian origin and were offered financial help to pay for transport or printing costs. About $80,000 was spent during a two-year period, according to the report.

    The main topics covered by the groups run from Russia were race relations, Texan independence and gun rights. RBC counted 16 groups relating to the Black Lives Matter campaign and other race issues that had a total of 1.2 million subscribers. The biggest group was entitled Blacktivist and reportedly had more than 350,000 likes at its peak.

    Last month, CNN also reported that US authorities believed the Blacktivist Facebook group and Twitter account were the work of Russian impostors.


    Two years ago, the Guardian spoke with two people who worked at the “troll farm”. They would clock on at the building on Savushkina St each morning, turn on a VPN connection to disguise their location, and spend their days inhabiting fake personas on Russian social networks.

    These profiles would post dozens of innocuous musings on travel or baking, and then occasionally fill them out with politicised entries that mirrored Kremlin talking points. Generally, the posts were either in praise of President Vladimir Putin or about the chaos and degeneration of Europe, often with homophobic or racist undertones.

    The Internet Research Agency, one of the companies believed to run the trolling operations, has long been rumoured to be a project of Evgeny Prigozhin, a shadowy businessman known as “Putin’s chef” […]

    There does not seem to be a link to RBC’s report at the Grauniad — perhaps because it’s in Russian? — but the Moscow Times’ article (Kremlin Troll Factory’s Methods and Figures Revealed) does have this link, Расследование РБК: как «фабрика троллей» поработала на выборах в США (Generalissimo Google translates that title as “Investigation of RBC: how the ‘troll factory’ worked in the US elections”). RBC’s report is quite long and (judging by the Generalissimo Google translation) very through.

  247. says

    Trump simply cannot stop blaming the people of Puerto Rico:

    People don’t have drinking water. [But] we’ve delivered tremendous amounts of water. What you have to do, you have to have distribution of the water, but by the people on the island. We have massive amounts of water. We have massive amounts of food. But they have to distribute it. They have to do it. They have to distribute the food to the people on the island. What we’ve done, we now have military distributing food, something that really they shouldn’t have to be doing.

  248. says

    Follow-up to SC’s comment 384.

    President Donald Trump on Tuesday slapped at Sen. John McCain’s condemnation the previous night of “spurious nationalism,” warning the Arizona Republican that “at some point I fight back and it won’t be pretty.”

    “Well it’s a shocker,” the president told radio host Chris Plante in response to a question about McCain’s comments. “Yeah, well I hear it and people have to be careful because at some point I fight back. You know, I’m being very nice. I’m being very, very nice. But at some point I fight back and it won’t be pretty.” […]


  249. says

    From Sarah Huckabee Sanders:

    […] they’re going to be begging for four more years of President Trump.

    Politico link

    In other news, more former Obama administration officials have responded to Trump’s claim that, “So the traditional way, if you look at President Obama and other presidents, most of them didn’t make calls [calls to the families of fallen soldiers],” Trump alleged. “A lot of them didn’t make calls. […]”

    From Ben Rhodes, Obama’s deputy national security adviser:

    An outrageous and disrespectful lie even by Trump standards.

    Meanwhile, Trump is doing his version of trying to finagle a way out of what he said before:

    President Obama, I think, probably did sometimes and maybe sometimes he didn’t. I don’t know. That’s what I was told. All I can do is ask my generals. Other presidents did not call. They’d write letters. And some presidents didn’t do anything. But I like the combination of — I like when I can the combination of a call and also a letter.

    Bullshitter in Chief.

  250. says

    Follow-up to SC’s comment 400.

    Sens Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) said Tuesday that he and Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.) have reached a bipartisan deal to stabilize ObamaCare.

    The deal would extend key Obamacare payments to insurers for two years and give states more flexibility to change Obamacare rules.


    I don’t think two years will feel like a real solution to insurance companies. The time frame is too short. Also, the “flexibility to change Obamacare rules” sounds more like a windfall for con artists who will sell junk insurance policies.

  251. says

    Carter Page has been subpoenaed.

    The Senate Intelligence Committee has subpoenaed documents and testimony from former Trump campaign adviser Carter Page as part of its investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election, NBC News reported Tuesday.

    Politico reported last week that Page told the Intelligence Committee that he would invoke his Fifth Amendment right to remain silent and would not comply with the committee’s request for documents. He later refuted that report, saying he had offered to testify on Nov. 1.

    The panel’s previous requests to Page have been voluntary. A subpoena would compel the former campaign adviser to testify. […]


    Page practically invited the subpoenas.

  252. blf says

    Joe Biden says European leader likened Trump to Mussolini:

    Joe Biden has said 14 heads of state have contacted him in an attempt to better understand the actions of the Trump administration. One even compared the US president to Mussolini, he said.

    Speaking at an event on Tuesday […], the former US vice-president bemoaned Trump’s “bizarre conduct” and claimed that one European prime minister went so far as to liken the president to “Il Duce”.


    Biden also provided profound criticism of Trump’s ability to run the country. He noted that the Trump campaign “didn’t expect to win — they weren’t prepared to govern” and then said: “We have a president that doesn’t understand governance.”

  253. says

    Josh Marshall:

    “And that’s the thing: Donald Trump poisons everything. It’s like an abuser with a captive family; he poisons everything, inflames everything, destroys and degrades anything in his path for his own ends. No one gets out in one piece. He’s poison. He’s just poison. There’s no other way to put it. He hurts the country every moment he’s in office.”

  254. says

    I still don’t understand what the hell is going on here. Why and how has the response in Puerto Rico gone so catastrophically wrong? Why aren’t resources getting to people who desperately need them? Why has there been virtual silence from the people in charge? Why can’t they figure out how to fix this? Why is it taking so long? What the fuck?

  255. says

    Excerpts from SC’s link in comment 406:

    […] Senator Sheldon Whitehouse, a Democrat from Rhode Island, who has accused the Kochs of buying undue influence, particularly on environmental policy—Koch Industries has a long history of pollution—is less enthusiastic about their alliance with Pence. “If Pence were to become President for any reason, the government would be run by the Koch brothers—period. He’s been their tool for years,” he said. Bannon is equally alarmed at the prospect of a Pence Presidency. He told me, “I’m concerned he’d be a President that the Kochs would own.” […]

    Senator Whitehouse […] believes that the Kochs “will stick one hundred of their own people into the government—and Trump will never notice.” As a result, he said, “the signs of a rapprochement are everywhere.” Whitehouse continued, “One by one, all the things that Trump campaigned on that annoyed the Koch brothers are being thrown overboard. And one by one the Koch brothers’ priorities are moving up the list.” […]

  256. says

    Topher Spiro’s statement on the Murray-Alexander deal:

    This bipartisan deal counters the Trump administration’s sabotage of the Affordable Care Act on two major fronts. First, by guaranteeing payments for cost-sharing subsidies, the deal will lower premiums by about 20 percent in 2019 and provide some much-needed certainty to insurance markets. Second, the deal restores critical funding for outreach and enrollment efforts and extends this funding to 2019.

    For middle-income consumers who are not eligible for tax credits, the deal extends the option of catastrophic plans. Importantly, these plans will not splinter the risk pool, undermine protections for people with pre-existing conditions, or gut essential health benefits. The deal provides for state flexibility to obtain waivers, while maintaining essential health benefits and ensuring affordability for lower-income populations.

    This bipartisan deal sends an important signal that the Senate wants to see insurance markets work—not fail. Unfortunately, much damage has already been done. And other acts of sabotage—such as President Trump’s executive order to promote junk plans—are still a threat. It’s time to end these reckless threats so that millions of patients no longer have to live in fear that their health care is at risk.

    This is the way the Senate is supposed to work: bipartisan public hearings and bipartisan negotiations. It’s what the American people overwhelmingly want. Republican leaders in Congress should now halt their endless pursuit of a partisan repeal and stop taking the health care system hostage just to please their donors. Congress should immediately pass, and the president should immediately sign, this bill to provide relief to the American people.

  257. says

    “Spicer interviewed by Mueller’s team”:

    President Donald Trump’s former press secretary Sean Spicer met with special counsel Robert Mueller’s team on Monday for an interview that lasted much of the day, according to multiple people familiar with the meeting.

    During his sitdown, Spicer was grilled about the firing of former FBI director James Comey and his statements regarding the firing, as well as about Trump’s meetings with Russians officials including one with Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov in the Oval Office, one person familiar with the meeting said….

  258. says

    “Judge: DACA legal advice must be made public”:

    A federal judge in California on Tuesday ordered the Trump administration to turn over emails, letters, memos and other materials related to its decision to end the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program.

    The order by U.S. District Judge William Alsup, based in San Francisco, also appears to cover legal advice about winding down the program, which grants quasi-legal status and work permits to so-called Dreamers.

    Acting in a series of lawsuits filed over the decision, the judge said the administration had waived its attorney-client privilege by claiming the decision was driven by concerns that the program is unconstitutional.

    On Tuesday, Alsup ordered the federal government to supply the materials that Duke used to reach her decision, as well as documents consulted by other government officials who advised her.

    At the same time, the judge demanded that the administration supply all materials considered by former DHS Secretary John Kelly — now the White House chief of staff — when he decided in a February memo to leave the program intact.

    Alsup, a Bill Clinton appointee, ordered the defendants to provide the information by Oct. 27.

  259. says

    “Second judge rules against latest travel ban, saying Trump’s own words show it was aimed at Muslims.” This is the Maryland judge.

    Meanwhile, Trump is desperately trying to distract from Jeff Sessions’ testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee at 10 ET (in about an hour) on C-SPAN, and the fact that Mueller has started interviewing WH officials, by flail-tweeting about Comey. He’s plainly afraid of what could be revealed in public responses or private interviews.

  260. blf says

    Hair furor is reported to have shown staggering insensitivity when finally contacting the families of the USians killed in Niger, Trump allegedly tells soldier’s widow: He knew what he signed up for:

    Donald Trump told the widow of a soldier killed in an ambush in Niger that her husband knew what he signed up for, according to a Florida congresswoman who says she heard part of the conversation on speakerphone.

    Representative Frederica Wilson said she was in the car with Myeshia Johnson on Tuesday on the way to Miami international airport to receive the body of Johnson’s husband, Sgt La David Johnson, when Trump called.

    When asked by Miami station WPLG if she indeed heard Trump say that, Wilson answered: “Yeah, he said that. To me, that is something that you can say in a conversation, but you shouldn’t say that to a grieving widow.” She added: “That’s so insensitive.”

    Trump later claimed on Twitter that her account was false, writing: Democrat Congresswoman totally fabricated what I said to the wife of a soldier who died in action (and I have proof). Sad!


    Wilson […] said she did not hear the entire conversation and Myeshia Johnson told her she could not remember everything that was said when asked it about it later.


    On Tuesday […] Trump boasted that I think I’ve called every family of someone who’s died, though the Associated Press found relatives of two soldiers who died overseas during Trump’s presidency [sic] who said they never received a call or a letter from him, as well as relatives of a third who did not get a call from him.

    Meanwhile, numerous people are confirming teh trum-prat lied, again, about President Obama, ‘I was very comforted’: gold star families recall receiving condolences from Obama: “After Donald Trump criticised Barack Obama for not calling fallen service members’ loved ones, bereaved military families paint a contrasting picture”. (The Granuiad, at one point in this second article, references, of all places, the Washington Times — the moonie cult’s massively unreliable “newspaper” — when discussing what Cheney & Bush ][ did, so I tend to discount that part of the Grauniad’s article.)

  261. says

    Leahy is asking good questions about whether Sessions talked with any Russian officials about emails, Russian interference with the election, the Magnitsky Act/”adoptions,” or Trump campaign positions/presidential policy toward Russia. He was dodgiest about the last two, reverting to “I don’t recall”s. At first he was all “Ooh, there’s too much in your question for a simple country lawyer like me to remember all the parts!” forcing Leahy to break it down into separate parts, which made Sessions look even more dishonest.

    Now being asked whether he’s been interviewed or have an interview requested by Mueller. After much evasion, he finally seemed to say that he hadn’t been interviewed. I’m unclear whether he said an interview hadn’t been discussed/requested. He gets an infuriating grin on his face when he’s refusing to provide a straight answer.

  262. says

    Miller: “There is no privilege that allows an AG to not answer q’s about talking to state AG’s. Sessions is showing real contempt for the committee.”

    He also switches back and forth between “No” and “I don’t recall.”

  263. says

    Franken, talking about Sessions’ original denial of communications with Russians: “The ambassador from Russia is Russian.”

    “If saying you didn’t discuss interfering with the election is your final answer, that’s a very different bar…”

    Sessions is having another tantrum.

  264. militantagnostic says

    SC @ 418

    A couple of weeks before the Calgary Municipal Election, there were polls showing the right wing candidate Bill Smith leading the incumbent mayor Naheed Nenshi by 13 to 17 % (of the total vote). Nenshi won 51.4 to 43.7. Under representation of younger voters and voters whose first language was not English were given as reasons for the discrepancy. It is possible that the Fox poll underestimates Jones’ support.

  265. says

    Although other people in the car have confirmed that Trump spoke too casually to Myeshia Johnson, Sgt. Johnson’s widow, and that Trump said some things that came off as insensitive, Trump has, once again, issued a denial.

    “I didn’t say what that congresswoman said, didn’t say it at all,” Trump said during a meeting with the Senate Finance Committee.

    He claimed that Wilson was no longer giving her account of events, though as recently as Wednesday morning Wilson told CNN that she had “proof” of her account.

    Per that last sentence above, Trump added another lie to his denial.

    “She knows it, and she now is not saying it. I did not say what she said. And I’d like her to make the statement again because I did not say what she said,” Trump said. “I had a very nice conversation with the woman, with the wife, who sounded like a lovely woman. Did not say what the congresswoman said, and most people aren’t too surprised to hear that.” […]

    “And when she hung up the phone, she looked at me and said, ‘He didn’t even remember his name.’ That’s the hurting part,” Wilson said. “It was horrible. It was insensitive. It was absolutely crazy.”

    Trump on Wednesday claimed Wilson’s account was “totally fabricated,” and claimed he had “proof.”

    “What was the proof, Mr. President?” a reporter asked Trump.

    “Let her make her statement again and you’ll find out,” he replied, and, pressed again, repeated, “Let her make her statement again and you’ll find out.”

    Cowanda Jones-Johnson, Johnson’s mother, told the Washington Post on Wednesday that Trump “did disrespect” her son, her daughter, herself and her husband. Asked whether Wilson’s account of Trump’s conversation with Myeshia Johnson was accurate, Jones-Johnson said, “Yes.” […]


  266. says

    Follow-up to SC’s comment 422.

    Some details relevant to the latest court knock-down of Trump’s Muslim Ban 3.0:

    […] Though Ban 3.0 “is purportedly designed to combat deficient information-sharing practices,” [Judge] Chuang writes, “Somalia, which was found to have adequate information-sharing practices, is nevertheless on the list of Designated Countries and is subject to a ban on all immigrants from that nation.”

    Meanwhile, Venezuela, “a non-majority Muslim nation, was determined to have inadequate information-sharing practices, to have at least one national security risk factor, and to not reliably receive its nationals slated for deportation. Despite these deficiencies, only officials of the Venezuelan government are barred from entry.”

    Thus, Ban 3.0 isn’t even consistent with “its own terms.” It “did not simply rely on the results of an objective information-sharing review but instead made certain subjective determinations that resulted in a disproportionate impact on majority-Muslim nations, and a greater alignment with the travel ban of” Ban 2.0. […]

    Think Progress

  267. blf says

    Hair furor has managed to piss off Ireland, Trump’s claim of Irish corporate tax cut is ‘fake news’, says prime minister:

    The Irish prime minister has accused Donald Trump of peddling “fake news” after the US president wrongly claimed that Ireland plans to further reduce its much-criticised 12.5% corporation tax.

    Trump angered Irish officials with his comments at a White House briefing on Monday, in which he alleged that Ireland was going to cut the tax on corporations such as Apple, Google and Facebook to 8%.

    I hear that Ireland is going to be reducing their corporate rates down to 8% from 12, Trump told reporters.

    But the taoiseach, Leo Varadkar, denied the allegation during prime minister’s questions in the Dail (Irish parliament) on Wednesday.

    “I can confirm that President Trump’s claim that we are proposing to reduce our corporation profit tax to 8% is indeed fake news. There is no such plan to do so,” Varadkar said in response to a parliamentary question.


    Rand Paul has also blurted out the same lie, Government rejects Trump claim on corporate tax (Irish Times edits in {curly braces}):

    Mr Trump’s comments echoed a similar claim made by Republican senator Rand Paul — a key figure in the Republican plan to reform the tax code — after playing golf with the president on Sunday.

    […] Ireland is at 12 {per cent} thinking about going to 8. […] Mr Paul said.

    I rather expect some elegant Irish haranguing of the fecking eejits…

  268. says

    Follow-up to SC’s comments 429, 430 and 431.

    I noticed that Jeff Sessions claimed “executive privilege” when he refused to answer a question about a conversation he had with Trump the day before Comey was fired. Sessions cannot claim executive privilege. He does not have that right. Trump has not claimed executive privilege regarding that conversation. Sessions should be held in contempt for refusing to answer. (He is not the first Republican to try to claim executive privilege when questioned by a Congressional committee.)

    I don’t think Mueller will let Sessions get away with that ploy.

  269. blf says

    As noted previously, hair furor is in full spinning-wildly thrashing lying distraction mode, Trump calls James Comey’s investigation of Hillary Clinton obviously a fix:

    President [sic] suggests that the former FBI director had decided to exonerate Clinton before the investigation was done, after new documents released by FBI

    Donald Trump suggested in tweets early on Wednesday that former FBI director James Comey had decided to spare Hillary Clinton from prosecution long before investigation was complete into her government email practices, calling the process a fix.

    FBI confirms report that James Comey drafted letter exonerating Crooked Hillary Clinton long before investigation was complete, Trump tweeted, continuing, Many people not interviewed, including Clinton herself. Comey stated under oath that he didn’t do this-obviously a fix? Where is Justice Dept?

    Trump was referring to documents released by the FBI on Monday which show that Comey had composed a draft entitled: “Drafts of Director Comey’s July 5, 2016 Statement Regarding Email Server Investigation Part 01 of 01” about two months before the statement was actually made and before Clinton was interviewed.


    In the document, the entire content of the draft is redacted, so it does not indicate what that text said or how it may or may not have differed from the statement Comey ultimately released in July.

    That’s priceless! Assuming hair furor is reacting to the publicly-released draft — an empty document — then he is clearly making shite up; he doesn’t know what it said.

    Ironically, at the time Trump fired Comey in May, he had accused the former FBI director of exactly the opposite thing, claiming that his termination was in part, because he had treated Clinton unfairly.

  270. says

    Part of Trump’s bloviation from today:

    Wow, FBI confirms report that James Comey drafted letter exonerating Crooked Hillary Clinton long before investigation was complete. Many people not interviewed, including Clinton herself. Comey stated under oath that he didn’t do this-obviously a fix? Where is Justice Dept?”

    “As it has turned out, James Comey lied and leaked and totally protected Hillary Clinton. He was the best thing that ever happened to her!

    What Trump and his supporters do not get is that drafting a letter does not equal coming to a conclusion before an investigation is complete.

  271. blf says

    Sgt La David Johnson’s mother, Cowanda Jones-Johnson, has confirmed hair furor’s statement to the Sargent’s widow, Trump digs in over call to soldier’s widow: I didn’t say what the congresswoman said:

    Speaking to reporters in the White House, Trump contradicted the accounts of Sgt La David Johnson’s mother and a Florida congresswoman, who were in the car with the soldier’s widow, Myeshia Johnson, when Trump called her. They listened to the conversation on speakerphone.

    Both women said the president told Myeshia Johnson that her husband, who was killed in an ambush in Niger two weeks ago, knew what he signed up for.


    Earlier, Trump had claimed in a tweet that he had proof that congresswoman Frederica Wilson’s account was a fabrication.


    When asked by reporters about this alleged “proof”, Trump simply said twice: Let her make her statement again.

    Wilson promptly tweeted to say she stood by her account. She wrote: “I still stand by my account of the call b/t Donald Trump and Myeshia Johnson. That is her name, Mr Trump. Not ‘the woman’ or ‘the wife’.”

    Trump’s remarks came after the soldier’s mother, Cowanda Jones-Johnson, spoke to the Associated Press […] to say she was in the car and heard the phone call. “The statement is true,” she said.

    Jones-Johnson added that “not only did he disrespect my son” but Trump was disrespectful to her son’s widow. […]


    Wilson told CNN: “The president evidently is lying, because what I said is true.”

    Escalating the criticism of the president [sic], Wilson said: “He doesn’t even know how to sympathize with people. We’re grieving. This is a grieving community. It’s disgraceful for him to even tweet about this. And as I say, this gentleman has a brain disorder and he needs to be checked out.”


  272. says

    Sigh. Trump is once again taking credit for something he didn’t do.

    President Trump gave himself a pat on the back during an interview Tuesday, taking credit for the Islamic State “giving up.” U.S.-backed forces liberated Raqqa, Syria, on Tuesday, seizing ISIS’s de facto capital, and Trump declared his strong leadership was the reason.

    During the interview on The Chris Plante Show, a talk show hosted by Plante and broadcast in Washington, D.C., Trump claimed that the U.S. was losing the war on terror before his administration took charge. CNN notes that Trump has applauded himself before for efforts against ISIS, glossing over the fact that operations in Iraq and Syria began under former President Barack Obama.

    Link to article posted by The Week

    From Steve Benen:

    […] Asked why ISIS is “giving up,” Trump immediately praised himself. “Because you didn’t have Trump as your president,” he replied. […]

    The mission to retake Mosul, for example, was launched under the Obama administration, and Trump opposed it at the time. The mission to reclaim Raqqa was also initiated well before the Republican president took office.

    What’s more, during the campaign, Trump claimed to have a secret plan to destroy ISIS, but earlier this year, it became clear that those promises were ridiculous. In fact, though he prefers not to talk about it, Trump’s plan is to simply do what Obama was doing.

    […] The New York Times added in a newly published piece that there are no significant differences between Trump’s strategy and Obama’s.

    Finally, maybe we can stop pretending that the broader conflict against ISIS is over? There’s reason for optimism following the ISIS’s recent defeats, but as the New York Times’ Rukmini Callimachi explained on the show last night, the terrorist network is far from dead.

  273. says

    blf @441, and, as you have no doubt noted, Trump still hasn’t explained why our special forces are in Niger, nor why the mission did not have adequate air cover, nor why Johnson’s body was left behind and then recovered later.

  274. says

    “AG Sessions’ Shifting and False Statements to Congress on Russia.”

    Leahy is right about the problem with Sessions’ changing answers in the direction of less clarity; and Franken is right that the goalposts have been moved a great distance, and that if Sessions doesn’t recall what he discussed (while hinting he might well have talked about Trump’s views and potential policies regarding Russia) he can’t make truthful claims or assessments about the propriety of the conversations (which isn’t what he’s being asked in any case).

  275. blf says

    Lynna@443, Yes. Reuters has published an analysis of the incident and some background, US deaths in Niger highlight Africa military mission creep. They point out the involvement is Niger is much larger than perhaps many people realise — there is a drone base there, a second one is being built (costing $100m), and around 800 people. The incident itself seems to have been done on the spur of the moment:

    US special forces soldiers were with their counterparts from Niger on Wednesday in the West African nation’s volatile southwest […] when the report came in of a raid nearby.

    The assailants were believed to be led by Dondou Chefou, a lieutenant in a new group operating along the Mali-Niger border and called Islamic State in the Greater Sahara. A decision was soon taken to pursue them.

    The mixed force was ambushed by fighters on dozens of vehicles and motorcycles. Under heavy fire, U.S. troops called in French fighter jets for air support, but the firefight was at such close quarters that the planes could not engage and were instead left circling overhead as a deterrant.
    A diplomat with knowledge of the incident said French officials were frustrated by the US troops’ actions, saying they had acted on only limited intelligence and without contingency plans in place.

    According to the Grauniad’s detailed backgrounder, US special forces deaths in Niger lift veil on shadow war against Islamists in Sahel, “Former western special forces officers with firsthand knowledge of current operations in the Sahel said [the Reuters] account was ‘plausible’.”:

    “Since Trump took power, US forces deployed around the world have had a lot more room to manoeuvre. Decisions about when and what to engage have been devolved right down to unit level,” the former officer said. “Any soldier knows that if you give guys on the ground more independence, then they will be that much more aggressive and will take more risks.”

  276. says

    “Numbers Disagree With Trump Golf Course Claim Of ‘Millions To Charity'”:

    President Trump has made some bold claims about his charitable giving over the years, and those claims do not always match up with reality. At Donald Trump’s California golf course, NPR has found that the golf club has exaggerated or misstated its philanthropic giving in several ways. And after we started asking questions, the golf club took down their claims of philanthropy from their website….

  277. says

    From SC’s link in comment 448:

    […] We started contacting those organizations, emailing, making phone calls. And what we found very quickly is that a number of them – about 17 in total – said they had received no donations at all or at least had no record of such a donation. That included the California Department of Veterans Affairs. It included the Alisa Ann Ruch Burn Foundation, which supports children who have suffered severe burns. And then the donations we could verify were almost entirely in-kind donations for a round of golf or a gift certificate for a Sunday brunch for two.

    GREENE: Well, what are these charities saying about this whole thing?

    DREISBACH: Well, there were some charities that had actually received significant cash donations in the range of about $10,000 to $15,000. That includes the local land conservancy, the local chamber of commerce, local Kiwanis group that said they got some money for a local marathon. They also – they were very grateful. And then for the organizations that were included but had no record of donation, you know, it ranged from frustration that they would be included on this list without their knowledge to just confusion.

    GREENE: Well, if the original number that was suggested was $5 million, is there any way to add up actually what was given by this golf club?

    DREISBACH: What we were able to account for is about $800,000 in donations – far short of that $5 million number. Now, the Trump Organization did not make any contact with us. They refused to answer any phone calls, emails. And one possibility is that they are claiming a conservation easement, which is a sort of controversial tax break that you can take. Basically, The Trump Organization said that their driving range, they were going to preserve it as open space in perpetuity. It’s sort of a way of preserving open space and habitat, but in fact, as one charity expert told me, the driving range is still a driving range, so it doesn’t really pass the smell test in terms of a charitable gift. […]

    It’s one thing to be a con artist. It’s another thing to be president of the U.S. and to run your companies like a con artist. It’s another thing to be president and to use your companies to perpetrate cons in the name of charity.

    Judge Roy Moore also used a “charity” to con people into paying him and his family money.

  278. says

    blf @446, thanks. Those details from Reuters add some clarity.

    In other news, surprise, surprise, the White House says there is no recording of the phone call with Sgt. Johnson’s widow. Trump has no “proof” that his offensive lies are true. And what is Trump doing arguing about conversations with grieving families anyway?

    In other, other news, David Kurtz summarized the state of health care discussions today:

    At almost exactly the same moment that Sarah Huckabee Sanders told reporters in the White House briefing room that President Trump opposes the Alexander-Murray deal to stabilize Obamacare, Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-TN) himself was telling reporters, including TPM’s Alice Ollstein, that he didn’t think Trump opposed the deal, based on their phone call Wednesday morning. Story coming soon.

  279. says

    So, this is how ICE operates under the Trump administration, with deception and cruelty:

    Nearly a week ago, Yale senior Viviana Andazola Marquez accompanied her dad Melecio, who is undocumented, to an appointment with U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). Viviana had petitioned for him earlier this year and the family hoped that Melecio, who has been in the U.S. since 1998 and has four U.S. citizen kids, would finally be on a path to legal status. He was taken into custody at the appointment instead:

    Andazola Marquez said one of the officials told her, “Your dad has been recommended for approval.”

    The daughter was then asked to leave the room.

    She said 20 minutes later, her dad’s attorney came out and said Melecio had been detained.

    “Honestly, it was incredibly cruel,” Viviana said. “In retrospect, now I know they had planned that all along. My dad was trying to do right by the law. He filed all the necessary paperwork, paid all the fees, hired a lawyer, did everything in his power to obtain lawful status and he was tricked and brought into the office and detained.”

    Melecio has no criminal record and poses no threat to public safety, but that hasn’t stopped ICE from targeting undocumented immigrants like him, even using broken taillights as justification to take moms and dads into custody. In Melecio’s case, ICE is using a two-decade old order as reason to tear him from his family after decades in the U.S. […]


  280. says

    An update to Fusion GPS versus Devin Nunes:

    Officials from Fusion GPS, the firm that commissioned the disputed dossier on President Donald Trump’s connections to Russia, came to the Capitol Wednesday to meet with the House Intelligence Committee and refused to offer any testimony, a company attorney said.

    The brief appearance was the latest development in a long-running public dispute between the committee’s chairman, Rep. Devin Nunes (R-Calif.), and top officials at the firm.

    Fusion lawyer Josh Levy said two officials affiliated with the company joined the committee on the Hill, bowing to the threat of a subpoena that Nunes issued recently. But he said the company officials decided to “invoke constitutional privileges” not to testify.

    “No American should have to experience today’s indignity. No American should be required to appear before Congress simply to invoke his constitutional privileges,” Levy said. “But that is what Chairman Nunes did today with our clients at Fusion GPS, breaking with the practice of his committee in this investigation.”

    Levy said company officials had cooperated with previous requests from Congress, and its founder, Glenn Simpson, testified for 10 hours before the Senate Judiciary Committee. Company officials have complained that Nunes is attempting to compel them to disclose who funded their opposition research on Trump, which they say would force the company to violate its clients’ guarantee of confidentiality and harm its business model. […]

  281. says

    Another aspect of Trump showing disrespect for military families: he promises donations of money and then fails to deliver.

    […] Trump promised to personally donate $25,000 to the father of a fallen soldier and create an online fundraiser for the soldier’s family, only to never follow through, The Washington Post reported Wednesday.

    Trump reportedly told Chris Baldridge, whose son was killed in Afghanistan in June, that he would “write you a check out of my personal account for $25,000,” Baldridge told The Post.

    “I could not believe he was saying that, and I wish I had it recorded because the man did say this,” Baldridge said. “He said, ‘No other president has ever done something like this,’ but he said, ‘I’m going to do it.’” […]

    Baldridge said he told the president that he was struggling with his son’s death, which is suspected to have happened during an insider attack.

    “I said, ‘Me and my wife would rather our son died in trench warfare,’” Baldridge told The Post. “I feel like he got murdered over there.” […]


  282. blf says

    Making a military widow cry: that is a classic Trump move:

    This week the commander-in-chief has somehow contrived to drive to tears the grieving mother of one of his own special forces. Along the way, he boasted about his own outreach to gold star families, and defamed his predecessors’ record on the same.

    All the while he shows no sympathy or urgency about millions of his own citizens struggling for several weeks without food, water and power in Puerto Rico.


    […] According to the mother of Sergeant La David Johnson […], Trump managed to “disrespect” her son and his widow, forgot his name, and told them he knew what he signed up for. This charming conversation took place while the family was traveling to the airport to receive the body of their beloved son and husband, leaving Johnson’s widow Myeshia in tears.

    Naturally Trump has turned his multiple blunders into a political fistfight. He has blamed a Democratic representative traveling with the Johnsons for fabricating the account, telling reporters: I had a very nice conversation with the woman, the wife, who sounded like a lovely woman.

    The sad thing is he probably thought he was being nice. The even sadder thing is that he still can’t be bothered to remember their name.

    You can’t screw things up this spectacularly by chance or human error. It takes a lifetime of effort and habit to be this incompetent, unfeeling and self-defeating. […] It may just be the most successful thing Trump has ever done, even if the rest of humanity considers it an abject failure.

    Like all bad habits, it follows a pattern. Trump was remarkably silent about the deaths in Niger, even though he and his fellow Republicans couldn’t stop talking about the US lives lost in the ambush in Benghazi in 2012. When he came under fire for not calling the relatives of the fallen soldiers, Trump said he had written letters which had not yet been mailed. The US Postal Service is obviously not what it used to be.

    When that bumbling excuse fell flat, he claimed Obama failed to call gold star families, including his own chief of staff, John Kelly, whose son died in Afghanistan. This claim has been forcefully rejected by Obama’s aides, while Kelly’s associates can recall no such thing.

    This kind of behavior might be normal among middle school students whose hormones interfere with their ability to finish their homework on time. […]

    […] Trump lashed out at the gold star family of Humayun Khan who died in Iraq in 2004, when they attacked his Muslim travel ban. Naturally Trump went after Khan’s mother for no good reason, claiming she was forbidden from talking.

    Launching a personal attack on an emotionally vulnerable citizen without any foundation in fact: the signature Trump move.

    Then again, he recently mocked the Spanish accent of the long-suffering US citizens in Puerto Rico, threw paper towels into a San Juan crowd like he was shooting hoops, and threatened to pull out his own government support from the US territory.

    You don’t get much more vulnerable than a population struggling to survive with no power, clean water, cooked food, or economy for several weeks.


    [… T]his president […] can think of no cause greater than himself.

  283. blf says

    White nationalist to control which journalists cover Florida ‘free speech’ event:

    ● University of Florida says Richard Spencer has authority to deny access
    ● Expert: school has ‘unfortunately sacrificed’ journalists’ first amendment rights

    A white nationalist has been given full control over which journalists will be permitted to cover his “freedom of speech” event at the University of Florida on Thursday, a university spokeswoman said, a situation one expert called “ironic”.

    “They’ve rented the facility. It’s their event. It’s not our event,” university spokeswoman Janine Sikes said on Wednesday. “It’s their event, so that’s why they can have whomever they want.”

    White nationalist Richard Spencer, who is headlining the event, has the authority to handpick which journalists can cover his speech or deny access to any journalists at all, first amendment experts at the University of Florida said.

    Spencer’s group has also been given complete control over who will receive audience tickets. The group announced they will hand out tickets in person about an hour before the speech starts, a plan one student organizer called “volatile” and “a huge danger”.

    The university’s negotiations with Spencer appear to have “unfortunately sacrificed” journalists’ first amendment rights, said Clay Calvert, the director of the University of Florida’s Marion B Brechner First Amendment Project.


    Calvert went on: “It is a rather ironic situation. Here’s a individual who gets to speak because of the first amendment, but he also gets to exclude members of the press based upon his whim, who are also protected by the first amendment.”


    University of Florida president Kent Fuchs said this month the school had no choice but to allow Spencer to rent a public campus venue to discuss his white nationalist ideas and racist advocacy. Spencer is paying the university $10,564 to rent the Phillips Center and pay for security inside the venue. By law, the president said in a statement, the university must shoulder the additional cost of more than $500,000 to provide security for Spencer’s event and the protests around it.

    But the details of ticketing and media credentialing would have been negotiated by private contract, not constitutional law, the two experts said.


    Some of the information that journalists provided to the university as part of the credentialing process was passed along to [Spencer’s] National Policy Institute, Sikes said, including names, roles, and media outlets. Sikes said she did not know whether other information journalists provided, including their cell phone numbers, was also passed along. “I’m not aware that we’ve done that,” she said.

    The university website did not tell journalists that their information was being shared directly with a white nationalist organization. “Sorry,” Sikes said.

    This is the same event for which Florida governor declares state of emergency before white nationalist’s speech. That article says the University of Florida at first refused to rent the facilities, but then caved after threats of a lawsuit.

  284. se habla espol says

    “The object of war is not to die for your country but to make the other bastard die for his.” – George S. Patton

    That’s what professional soldiers say. Instead of that, trump gives a Superchicken message of ‘condolence’, “You knew the job was dangerous when you took it.”

  285. blf says

    Al Sharpton slams Trump over alleged comments to widow of slain US soldier (video):

    In an interview with FRANCE 24, veteran US civil rights leader Al Sharpton lashed out at President [sic] Donald Trump for allegedly making insensitive remarks to the widow of a US soldier killed in an ambush in Niger. Trump denies saying that the slain 25-year-old soldier knew what he was signing up for. “If he didn’t say it, it’s certainly the first time he didn’t say something divisive”, Sharpton told FRANCE 24’s Marc Perelman.
    Finally, Sharpton defended Barack Obama’s record on race relations, arguing that Obama had done more than “any president since Lyndon Johnson” on the issue and that Trump’s election was a “backlash” against those achievements.

  286. blf says

    There are elections soon in the Czech Republic, and another anti-democratic loon may become PM, Czechs tipped to join populist surge in Europe by electing billionaire:

    Party of Andrej Babiš, country’s second-richest man, is favourite to win election despite fraud charges and democracy fears

    Czech Republic is poised to join Europe’s lurch towards anti-establishment populism by electing as its prime minister a controversial billionaire who faces criminal fraud charges and accusations of communist-era secret police links.

    Andrej Babiš, 63, whose estimated $4.1bn (£3.1bn) fortune makes him the country’s second-richest man, could become the latest politician to drive a wedge between the continent’s east and west if he wins the parliamentary election this week.

    Opinion polls suggest the tycoon’s party, ANO (yes), will emerge as the biggest force after voters go to the polls on Friday and Saturday for an election held over two days, a legacy from communist times.

    That would put Slovakian-born Babiš in pole position to become prime minister heading a coalition, despite question marks over his past and warnings that he could threaten Czech democracy through his business empire.


    At the heart of Babiš’s message is a pledge to run the state like a business, a concept he has suggested could be furthered by halving the number of MPs in the Czech chamber of deputies to 100 and abolishing the upper chamber.

    Despite ANO’s official positioning as a centrist, liberal, pro-EU party promoting greater efficiency, Babiš has championed popular Czech concerns over Europe’s migration crisis, giving a series of hardline speeches against immigration […].


    The election comes less than two weeks after Czech investigators charged Babiš, who entered politics in 2011 styling himself as an anti-corruption crusader, with fraud over nearly €2m (£1.8m) in EU funds given to a luxury hotel and conference complex, Čapí Hnízdo (Stork’s Nest), deep in the Bohemian countryside, 33 miles (40km) south of Prague.

    The money was intended to aid small businesses. But investigators allege that it was obtained illegally because the complex belonged to Babiš’s vast Agrofert conglomerate, which is made up of about 230 companies and employs 32,000 people, and should therefore not have qualified.

    Olaf, the European commission’s anti-fraud unit, is also examining the case, which Babiš has dismissed as politically motivated.


    Forming a governing coalition could enable Babiš to dodge the Czech prosecution by restoring his parliamentary immunity, which MPs voted to lift last month. The Czech president, Miloš Zeman, a close ally, could also issue a pardon, which Babiš would be constitutionally required to sign if he were prime minister.

    More worrying, critics say, is the concentration of power that Babiš would secure. In 2014, when he was finance minister in the outgoing government, Babiš acquired two of Czech Republic’s leading newspapers.


    Lenka Zlámalová, a commentator at Echo 24, who has investigated Babiš’s business interests, said: “[…] If he takes responsibility for the intelligence services and control of the tax authority, it will be really dangerous. He can use it against his competitors.

    “His company is the biggest receiver of state and EU funds in Czech Republic. He receives about £1m more in subsidies a year than he pays in taxes. […]”


    Other questions have been raised about his activities under communism in what was Czechoslovakia. According to files in state archives, he was recruited as an agent by the secret police, the ŠtB. A dozen files suggest he operated under the codename Bures while in his official capacity as an employee of a state trading company, which allowed him to travel abroad.

    Slovakia’s constitutional court reopened the issue last week by overturning a lower court’s 2014 ruling that had effectively cleared him.

    Babiš had promised to challenge the latest verdict and argued that the secret police files identifying him were falsified and he cooperated only under duress, an explanation dismissed by experts as bogus.


    [Pavel Šafr, the director of the Forum24 news website, said] “Babiš […] isn’t conservative, liberal or communist. He is Babiš, a universal populist. And that’s what makes him not understandable for Europeans.”

  287. blf says

    Apparently, the dead kook stumbling, British PM Theresa May, sent a letter about brexit to “all”† non-British EU nationals in the UK, which, fairly predictably, said nothing. And has mostly succeeded in annoying people, EU citizens’ rights groups dismiss May letter as meaningless (Grauniad edits in {curly braces}; there is a copy of the letter at the link):

    Campaigners for the rights of EU citizens in the UK and British nationals in Europe have said a letter from Theresa May reassuring them they will be allowed to stay where they are post-Brexit is “meaningless” and a PR exercise aimed at other EU leaders.

    Activists lobbying on behalf of the 3.6 million EU citizens in the UK said the letter was welcome but addressed to the wrong people. “We want to stay in this country. So we agree on that. But this letter is for the eyes of the leaders of the Council of Europe. If she really meant this, this letter would have been sent 12 months ago,” said Nicolas Hatton, the co-founder of the3million group.

    He said EU leaders had been happy to meet them, but all requests for meetings with May or the Brexit secretary, David Davis, had been rebuffed. They were meeting the EU’s chief Brexit negotiator, Michel Barnier, again in November, and if May was really committed to their plight then she would meet them too, he said.

    British nationals in Europe also expressed scepticism. “It is hard not to take a cynical view {of this letter}, especially in view of the timing. I still feel we are the human shields,” said Debra Williams, a Briton living in the Netherlands who runs Brexpats: Hear our Voice.

    She called on May to ringfence talks on their rights to ensure Britons in Europe are not deemed unlawful residents in 2019 if the UK crashes out of the EU with no deal.

    “I wrote to the Department for Exiting the EU regarding this and I have had four separate replies including a letter from 10 Downing Street [PM’s office –blf]. All ignored this question. Yes, we are mightily fed up,” Wilson said.


    British in Europe, a coalition of campaign groups across the continent, said the letter “didn’t say anything new so we aren’t any further forward. What we want to see is concrete progress on both sides rather than nice words. We need certainty not reassurances.”


    Dave Spokes, of the lobby group Expats Citizen Rights in EU, said: “We can’t help thinking this letter is just a PR exercise{…} Citizens’ rights should have been resolved months ago when the EU first offered to preserve current rights. It was the UK which moved the goal posts by introducing settled status.”

      † When I first heard of this letter, I was alarmed, as I misunderstood how the names & addresses were obtained — I’d leapt to the flawed conclusion there was a (secret?) UK database of non-British EU citizens in the UK.‡ However, as this article makes clear, the letter was only sent to people who registered at a site for the specific purpose of being kept informed about brexit. As such, it seems Ok, except that UK databases &tc seem to have a habit of “mission creep” and being used for more than the originally-stated purpose.

      ‡ The UK does want to set up such a database of non-British EU nationals for the stated purpose of the settled status malarkey mentioned in the last paragraph of the excerpt.

  288. blf says

    An update on the Crew case, Lawsuit says Trump’s ownership of hotels violates the constitution:

    Case filed in New York concerns interpretation of ‘emoluments clause’ in regards to president’s [sic] hotels patronized by foreign government officials

    A federal judge on Wednesday pressed government lawyers to explain why Donald Trump’s ownership of hotels patronized by foreign government officials did not violate the constitution, a key question that could shed light on Trump’s finances if a civil lawsuit heard in New York is allowed to proceed.

    At issue in the case brought by the left-leaning public policy group Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (Crew) is the interpretation of the so-called foreign “emoluments clause” of the constitution, a provision meant to prohibit bribery of federal officials by foreign governments.

    A lawyer for Crew […] said during oral arguments in Manhattan federal court that by doing business with foreign officials with an interest in currying favor with the White House, Trump runs afoul of the constitution. A lawyer for the Department of Justice disagreed, saying a violation only happens if an actual act is done in exchange for a payment.

    US District Judge George B Daniels said he would rule on whether the case can go forward in the next 30 to 60 days. The government has sought to dismiss the case.


    Government lawyer Brett Shumate argued for a precise definition of the emoluments clause, saying that because an emolument includes the exchange of payment for an official act, Trump’s business income couldn’t qualify as such a payment.

    Daniels repeatedly questioned him on that point and others, proposing that if the president promises to take an official act in exchange for money — by signing a treaty, for example — the money transferred is an emolument whether or not the president ever follows through on the action.

    The framers of the constitution did not just want the president not to take money from foreign governments, “they wanted him to not take the promise of the money”, he said.


  289. blf says

    Some more information about the situation in Niger, Sahel poses new risks after jihadists ambush US forces in Niger:

    The Niger attack appears to be the work of the Islamic State of the Sahel[], a splinter group of extremists loyal to the Islamic State group who are based just across the border in Mali, according to interviews with US officials and authorities here in the vast Sahel region bordering the Sahara Desert. It is led by Adnan Abu Walid who built ties with various extremists before forming his own group.

    Some officials believe Walid’s militants are also holding an American, Jeffery Woodke, who was abducted in Niger a year ago. A rebel leader approached by Niger authorities to conduct negotiations for his release confirmed that Walid’s group is holding Woodke, who had spent 25 years as an aid worker in Niger, one of the poorest countries in the world.


    The ambush in Niger highlights how extremist groups have shifted and rebranded since the 2013 French-led military operation ousted them from power in northern Mali. Those extremists lost Mali’s northern cities but regrouped in the desert, including the man suspected of ordering the attack on the Americans.


    [… I]n October 2016 a video circulated on the internet in which [Walid, also known in some circles as Adnan al-Sahrawi,] pledged allegiance to the Islamic State group in Iraq and Syria.

    In the year since then he has called for attacks on foreign tourists in Morocco and the UN mission in Western Sahara, according to audio messages released in his name. It is not clear if Walid is receiving financial help from the Islamic State group or if the links are purely ideological.


    The growing threat posed by Walid’s group comes as the international community is already facing an escalation in violence across the Sahel. A report by the UN chief obtained this week by AP warned that the security situation in the Sahel is in “a continuous downward spiral.”

    For several years American and French forces have provided training and support to the militaries of Mali, Niger and other vulnerable countries in this corner of Africa where Islamic extremism has become increasingly entrenched over the past decade. Now the UN is urging the international community to finance a 5,000-strong regional force, with the head of the UN saying “the stability of the entire region, and beyond, is in jeopardy.”


    France — the former colonizer which has a 5,000-strong military operation to help stabilize the region — has been a major financial backer. Funding, though, has come up short.

    The Security Council unanimously adopted a resolution in June welcoming the deployment, but at US insistence it did not include any possibility of UN financing for the force. So far only one-quarter of the needed funds have been raised, throwing into doubt whether the regional forces will begin operations this month as scheduled.


    I admit I’ve never heard of the Jeffery Woodke case, which doesn’t seem to have much visibility to-date, despite there being an FBI alert. The Al Jazeera report from the time, American aid worker abducted in Niger, doesn’t have much to say. The Daily Beast has a somewhat more recent report, Al Qaeda Is Hiding an American Hostage.

      † I presume the “Islamic State of the Sahel” in this France24 article is the same as the “Islamic State in the Greater Sahara” in the Reuters excerpt at @446. I have not been able to either confirm or refute this. On he other hand, Reuters said a report of the “Greater Sahara” kooks was the bait, and France24 says the attack was by the “Sahel” kooks, so they needn’t be the same. (And the Sahel is only a region of the Sahara, albeit that’s perhaps a bit too pedantic.)

  290. blf says

    Apparently the supercarrier USS Ronald Regan is cruising off the coast of South(?) Korea, and showed what it can do, launching about 90 sorties during an exercise with the S.Koreans. Obviously, the N.Koreans went all-but-literally-ballistic, North Korea threatens unimaginable strike on US ship. (Yawn! — albeit it might invoke another round of bellowing from teh trum-prat…)

    From memory, N.Korea has a habit of doing something provocative around the time of China’s party congress (now) or US–S.Korean military exercises (also now). In addition, hair furor is scheduled to visit the area in early-November, which is perhaps also seen by N.Korea as a good time to do some penis waving. Hence, it’s been widely(?) speculated there will be some N.Korean missile or nuclear tests soon-ish.

  291. blf says

    Al Jazeera has an interesting analysis about the current stalemate in Saudi Arabia’s attempt to neuter Qatar (yes, that is still going on, albeit very little has happened publicly for some time now), Will the GCC’s fate be decided at Camp David?:

    The next few weeks are crucial for the future of the Gulf Cooperation Council [GCC –blf]. What does not happen in the next couple of months could prove to be as important as what does.

    The annual GCC summit is scheduled to take place in December. Since it was founded in 1981 this summit has never failed to take place […]

    Today, however, the GCC’s future hangs in the balance. The deep rift caused by the blockade imposed on Qatar and the attempts by Riyadh and Abu Dhabi to engineer regime change in Doha, and even invade the gas-rich country [eh? –blf], have thrown the region into turmoil.

    For almost five months now there has been a concerted effort headed by Kuwait and supported by several regional and international powers to find a solution to the crisis. Qatar declared its readiness to sit down with its neighbours in a bid to find a solution, but according to senior sources in the Kuwaiti government, those sentiments have not be reciprocated by any of the three [sic†] blockading nations […]

    According to a senior Kuwaiti diplomat, there is a belief that if the GCC summit does not take place as scheduled, this would amount to the collapse of the organisation. The reason such a prospect is so grave is because of the stability — both economic and political — that the GCC represents in a region fraught with conflicts and divisions.

    Earlier this week there, Kuwait’s emir, Sheikh Sabah Al Ahmad Al Jaber Al Sabah, flew to Riyadh for a brief but extremely important meeting [to impress upon Saudi Arabia’s King Salman] just how imperative it is that the meeting of Gulf leaders takes place.

    The problem is that both Saudi Arabia and the UAE seem either unwilling or incapable of agreeing to any reconciliation. […]


    A possible plan B, if Kuwait’s mediation efforts continue to fail, is the announcement of a US–GCC summit to be held at Camp David. Sources tell me this could be an opportunity for the UAE and Saudi to save face […]. This idea seems to be gaining traction amongst diplomats […]

    The challenge for many governments around the world is finding a way to get both sides of the divide to start talking. […] A summit in the United States might do the trick. […]

      † The authour may be correct there are only three nations effectively blockading Qatar (Saudi Arabia, UAE, and Bahrain) — I have