1. says

    Putin commented on Sergei Skripal:

    Russian President Vladimir Putin denied involvement in the poisoning of ex-spy Sergei Skripal, who he labeled a “scumbag” and a “traitor.” […]

    “I see that some of your colleagues are pushing the theory that Mr. Skripal was almost some kind of human rights activist,” Putin said in response to a question from a moderator.

    “He was simply a spy. A traitor to the motherland. There is such a concept — a traitor to the motherland. He was one of those.”[…]


    He added: “He’s simply a scumbag, that’s all.”

  2. says

    Update on polls detailing the significant opposition to Kavanaugh:

    Opposition to Brett Kavanaugh’s nomination to the Supreme Court increased every day following his hearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee last Thursday, according to a Reuters/Ipsos poll.

    The poll, taken between Sept. 25 to Oct. 1, found that 41 percent of Americans say that the judge should not be confirmed, while just 33 percent say that Kavanaugh’s nomination should go through. 26 percent of Americans say they don’t know yet whether Kavanaugh should be on the Supreme Court. […]


    SC in comment 2, that’s an excellent choice for Tweet o’ the Day. When asked what she remembered most about the sexual assault, Christine Blasey Ford said, “The laughter.” Watching all those people laughing at Trump’s rally when Trump mocked Ford … that made me ill.

    Meanwhile, during the press briefing today, Sarah Huckabee Sanders said that Trump was just pointing out the facts.

  3. says

    Follow-up to the last paragraph in comment 4:

    The White House on Wednesday defended President Trump’s decision to mock Christine Blasey Ford’s Senate testimony, in which she accused Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh of sexual assault.

    “The president was stating the facts,” White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said at a press briefing. “The Senate has to make a decision on those facts.”

    Sanders downplayed concerns that Trump’s comments at a rally in Mississippi the previous night will undermine his ability to get key Senate GOP holdouts to vote for Kavanaugh.

    “I don’t think so. The president is very confident in his nominee, as he has said time and time again,” she said.

    Sanders said the “entire process has been a disgrace” and claimed Senate Democrats have “undermined our entire judicial branch.” […]


  4. says

    Update on Trump’s approval rating:

    President Trump’s approval rating among voters who lean liberal has dropped amid the sexual assault allegations surrounding Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh, according to a new American Barometer survey.

    The poll, conducted by Hill.TV and the HarrisX polling company, found that only 12 percent percent of voters who said they leaned liberal approved of Trump, an eight-point drop from the last American Barometer survey.

    Trump’s disapproval with the group also increased eight points to 88 percent, according to the survey.

    The survey, which was conducted on October 1-2, comes as Trump defends his Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh as he faces three sexual misconduct allegations that have roiled his confirmation process in the Senate.

    Kavanaugh has strongly denied all the allegations.

    Emily Ekins, polling director at the Cato Institute, told Hill.TV’s Joe Concha that the decrease in approval from those who lean liberal could be a result of the controversy surrounding Kavanaugh. […]


    Unfortunately, voters who do not lean liberal may well like Trump more because he is attacking Christine Blasey Ford, and because he is supporting Kavanaugh.

  5. says

    Sarah Huckabee Sanders’ take on the New York Times article that detailed instances of fraud and tax evasion by Trump and by Trump’s father:

    […] White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders told reporters during a press briefing that she was “not aware of any plans” for Trump to release his tax returns. She also downplayed the significance of The Times’ story, calling it a “totally false attack based on an old, recycled news story.”

    “I’m not going to sit and go through every single line of a very boring, 14,000-word story,” she said.

    Sanders did not rebut any specific facts in the story, but referenced a statement from Trump’s attorney, Charles Harder, to the newspaper.

    Harder said in a statement to The Times that allegations that Trump engaged in tax evasion are “100 percent false.”

    The attorney said that Trump “had virtually no involvement” with the tax strategies used by his family, and instead delegated those tasks to others. […]

    Sanders said Wednesday that “a number” of Trump’s taxes are still under audit,” […]


    Talking Points Memo coverage of the New York Times investigation showing that Trump engaged in “outright fraud” to help his parents evade taxes, and to funnel more money to Trump and his siblings.

  6. says

    “I am taking everything into account,” Senator Lisa Murkowski told reporters in the Capitol. “The President’s comments yesterday mocking Dr. Ford were wholly inappropriate”

  7. says

    Senator Lindsey Graham digs himself deeper into a hole:

    Graham defends Trump’s insulting of Dr. Ford last night. “Everything he said was factual,” he says. “This is what you get when you go through a trailer park with a $100 bill.” Audience gasps. Somebody in my row: “Are you fucking kidding me?”

    Graham says he’s quoting James Carville speaking, I think, about Clinton’s accusers and says he didn’t approve of Trump’s tone. Adds “I thought Kavanaugh was treated like crap.” Boos erupt. […]

    Graham: “He denied it in a passionate, effective way. He had a calendar.” Audience LOLs. “No prosecutor in the country could have gotten out of the batter’s box with this allegation.”

  8. says

    More than 900 law professors sign letter saying Kavanaugh unfit for SCOTUS, an article from Daily Kos:

    The list includes eight professors from Yale, THE NUMBER ONE LAW SCHOOL IN THE COUNTRY! […]

    Of course, the list of jobs Kavanaugh is temperamentally unfit for also includes Best Buy cashier and old-timey bowling alley pin-setter. He’d be a perfect WWE wrestler, but he needs to put on some weight (more beer, maybe?) and he has to have a nickname and a gimmick. Maybe “Judge Two-Fister” or “The Two Fists of Justice”? Those work on so many levels!

    “We regret that we feel compelled to write to you to provide our views that at the Senate hearings on Thursday, September 27, 2018, the Honorable Brett Kavanaugh displayed a lack of judicial temperament that would be disqualifying for any court, and certainly for elevation to the highest court of this land,” the letter says.

    The letter is signed by many high-profile law professors, including eight from Yale Law School, where Kavanaugh obtained his law degree. The letter remains open for additional signatures through Thursday, when it will be presented to the Senate. […]

    HuffPo link

  9. says

    From James Comey, in reference to Trump mocking a survivor of sexual assault:

    After last night’s rally, it is important to remember we once had a President who spoke these words, “Live simply, love generously, care deeply, speak kindly, and leave the rest to God.” Ronald Reagan.

    In other news, here is Trump’s reaction to the New York Times article, (see comment 7):

    The Failing New York Times did something I have never seen done before. They used the concept of “time value of money” in doing a very old, boring and often told hit piece on me. Added up, this means that 97% of their stories on me are bad. Never recovered from bad election call!

    From The Hill:

    […] Trump suggested the Times holds a grudge against him because the paper failed to predict his victory in the 2016 presidential election. […]

    The message is the clearest sign yet that Trump is angry over the report, which undercuts his portrayal as a self-made billionaire and accuses him of possibly breaking tax laws.

    In its report published Tuesday, the Times detailed a litany of tax practices used by Trump and his family members, including the establishment of a “sham” corporation to disguise taxable gifts from their parents and undervaluing many of Trump’s father’s properties to avoid tax payments.

    The practices allowed Trump and his siblings to inherit more than $1 billion from his father’s real estate empire while paying a fraction of what they should have owed in gift and estate taxes, according to the Times.

    Despite the explosive nature of the claims, the president waited until Wednesday morning to personally respond. […]

  10. tomh says

    @ #5
    The same way Trump was just “stating the facts” when he mocked the disabled guy during the campaign.

  11. says

    tomh @17, good point.

    In other news, John Cassidy, writing for The New Yorker, made the point that the Trump family’s tax dodging is symptomatic of a larger problem.

    Careful financial journalists and investigative reporters who have covered Donald Trump for decades long ago dismissed his claim to be a self-made billionaire as self-serving hogwash.

    […] But none of this preëxisting information can detract from the monumental investigation into the Trump family’s finances that the Times published on Tuesday. Running more than thirteen thousand words, the Times article reveals that Trump didn’t merely get some family support: he received a vast fortune “the equivalent today of at least $413 million from his father’s real estate empire, starting when he was a toddler and continuing to this day.”

    Trump has claimed that his father, who died in 1999, helped him out only once, by extending a loan of a million dollars. The Times article says the elder Trump extended to his son and his businesses loans and lines of credit worth “at least $60.7 million, or $140 million in today’s dollars.” Trump gradually received the rest of the $413 million in the form of salaries, profits, gifts, and bequests. “By age 3, Mr. Trump was earning $200,000 a year in today’s dollars from his father’s empire,” the story says. “He was a millionaire by age 8 […]

    These revelations should lay to rest what remains of the myth of Trump as a Horatio Alger figure. But the Times article didn’t stop there. It asserted that much “of this money came to Mr. Trump because he helped his parents dodge taxes,” especially estate taxes. […] the Times article claimed that some of the Trump family’s schemes amounted to “instances of outright fraud.”

    In one instance that the piece details, the Trumps claimed a group of buildings were worth $90.4 million when they converted them to co-ops, but valued them at $13.2 million on one of Fred Trump’s tax returns, which he and Donald Trump both signed. On another occasion, Trump and his siblings valued a building in Queens that they were converting to a co-op at $17.1 million, and subsequently listed it as worth $2.9 million on a tax return.

    In response to inquiries from the Times, a lawyer for Trump, Charles Harder, issued a statement […] It is perhaps not surprising that Harder didn’t challenge the particulars of the Times story. […] “Most notably, the documents include more than 200 tax returns from Fred Trump, his companies and various Trump partnerships and trusts.” […]

    Regardless of where the Times got its scoop, it contains a trove of new information about the President, much of which confirms what we already knew, or suspected. He is a shameless flim-flam man with practically no regard for the truth or the quaint notion that wealthy people like him have a civic duty to pay their fair share of taxes. […] “I was able to use the tax laws in this country and my business acumen to dig out of the real-estate mess,” Trump said during the 2016 campaign. “Few others were able to do what I did.” […]

    “Due to budget cuts, attrition and a shift in focus, there’s been a collapse in the commitment to take on tax fraud,” Chuck Pine, a tax consultant who was formerly a senior criminal-enforcement officer at the I.R.S., told ProPublica. “I believe there are thousands of individuals who have U.S. tax obligations and are not complying with U.S. tax laws.” They are following the example set at the top.

  12. says

    SC @19, Senator Grassley seems to be reveling in letting his bully flag fly, ala Trump. It’s like he has been waiting for this cultural turn all his life and now he is not just halfway in, he is all in. He is aboard the bully train.

  13. says

    Bad news. The Kavanaugh hearing energized Republicans, erasing the Democratic Party enthusiasm edge.

    […] according to a new poll from Marist College for NPR and PBS News.

    In the poll, 82 percent of Democrats and 80 percent of Republicans say the upcoming elections are “very important.” That negligible two-point difference in voter enthusiasm is down from a 10-point edge Democrats held when Marist polled that question in July, and much lower than other polling from earlier this fall showed.

    Democrats’ lead on the generic congressional ballot also dipped from 12 points in September to 6 points now — slightly below what they’ll need to feel confident in winning the House this fall.

    The poll does find that a solid plurality of voters believe Dr. Christine Blasey Ford over Kavanaugh that he sexually assaulted her when they were teenagers, however.

    This is just one poll. But it’s not the only public survey in recent days that’s shown a shift towards Republicans since Ford came forward with her accusations. Democrats privately have told TPM in recent days that they saw an uptick in GOP interest and intensity in the days leading up to the Kavanaugh hearings and a tightening in polls in states where their candidates had held wider leads, though some say they’ve seen some evidence that the hearings themselves helped their side some. […]

    Talking Points Memo link

  14. says

    This new accuser knows *both* Dr. Ford *and* Swetnick—which has the dual effect of CORROBORATING Swetnick’s claim she was enough within Kavanaugh’s social circle to be at events with him *and* CORROBORATING other items in both women’s accounts (see subsequent tweets for more).
    Before getting to her allegations, this new accuser—whose name has been sent to Congress along with this *sworn* affidavit (i.e., made under penalty of perjury)—offers herself as a character witness in support of *both* Dr. Ford *and* Julie Swetnick in terms of their honesty.
    This is key because NBC News—I felt a bit prematurely—had announced they couldn’t yet identify other women who could confirm Swetnick had been at parties with Kavanaugh (I think they should’ve noted that it was still early innings in terms of them getting that corroboration).
    This new witness says she knows Kavanaugh *and* Judge—*and* shares *many* mutual friends with each—*and* was friends with their friends. *And* she attended *20* house parties where *both* Kavanaugh and Judge were present. This is, therefore, a *major* new *percipient* witness.
    Her sworn claim to have met the two men at “Beach Week”—and having attended house parties from 1980-82 at which both men were present—is corroborated by statements made by both Kavanaugh and Judge in terms of their presence at Beach Week and (together) at local house parties.
    If the sworn statement is true, all its elements are CORROBORATED by other evidence: Kavanaugh/Judge drinking underage; both getting “aggressive” and being “verbally abusive” to women and—most importantly—*sexual assaults* (“[unsolicited] physical contact of a sexual nature”).
    In witness statements, witnesses rarely use legal terms, so “inappropriate physical contact of a sexual nature” *is* “sexual assault” here. It’s usually a misdemeanor but sometimes a felony—but *always* a crime and a *serious* one that Kavanaugh appears to have falsely denied.
    The new accuser also confirms Kavanaugh’s vomiting (CORROBORATION includes “The Ralph Club” and *many* other witnesses) and Kavanaugh drinking to the point of incoherence (CORROBORATION includes *many* other witnesses, including Ludington, Brookes, Swisher, Roche, and others).
    The witness says she “witnessed firsthand” Kavanaugh and Judge *spiking party drinks* with “Quaaludes and/or grain alcohol”—which CORROBORATES Swetnick saying she “became aware,” via circumstantial evidence, of likely attempts by Kavanaugh and Judge to spike drinks with grain alcohol.
    There is CORROBORATION for the claim Kavanaugh drank *more than beer* in high school and college, a fact he seemed to be at pains to hide and which evasion now makes more sense than before (as no one spikes anything with beer, you really have to possess and use hard alcohol).
    The weakest part of the affidavit—only because it’s vague, not because it’s at all misleading on whether the affiant was a percipient witness—is the accuser’s claim says she “understood” Kavanaugh/Judge wanted women who drank the spiked alcohol to be (as it were) uninhibited.
    The reason this isn’t a weakness is because it follows a legal form of sorts: when you say you “understood” something to be the case in an affidavit, but do not claim direct testimonial knowledge—e.g. a confession—occurred, you are saying that something was *your impression*.
    A common in-court sort of question for an accuser under these circumstances would be, “And what did you understand to be the *purpose* of spiking the alcohol?” Opposing counsel would object (“Calls for speculation!”) but judges *will* allow “present sense impression” answers.
    So this accuser is being *quite* responsible: she’s saying what she saw, and saying how she interpreted what she saw—and to be clear, her interpretation is, let’s be frank, the *universal interpretation* in such a situation—but she’s not claiming Kavanaugh “confessed” to her.
    But at a house party where alcohol and sex are present, and where the boys spiking the punch are sexually assaulting women (groping), roughly 100 out of 100 criminal-trial jurors—or all 100—will interpret that as this new accuser did: an effort to lower women’s “inhibitions.”
    The new accuser *also* asks to be interviewed by the FBI, and says she can give the FBI multiple CORROBORATING WITNESSES who confirm her account—and therefore Swetnick’s—in all relevant particulars. This is major news—but, incredibly, it’s not clear the FBI will speak to her.
    The new witness says she has information on “other inappropriate conduct” by Kavanaugh but says she wants to disclose it directly to the FBI—which suggests, in an affidavit of this sort, that the additional conduct is *more* (not less) serious than misdemeanor sexual assault.
    It’s difficult to imagine a world in which a) the White House and Senate say they’ve given the FBI free rein to do this supplemental background check, and b) the FBI ignores a sworn statement alleging sexual assault when they have *three more days* to investigate the nominee.
    That said, Congress is apparently refusing to answer Avenatti—I’ve already addressed, at length, this *historic* effort to ignore credible, sworn allegations of sexual assault because one doesn’t like the victims’ attorney—and there’s no sign the FBI has been in touch either.
    So I hope, given everything in this thread and the news that Trump is now openly mocking a sexual assault victim—Dr. Ford—at a campaign-style rally in Mississippi tonight, people will understand why I’m asking anyone willing to do so to RETWEET the pinned tweet on this feed.

  15. says

    Devin Nunes’ War on the Media Just Got Even Weirder

    […] Devin Nunes sent constituents in his Central Valley, California, district a curious bit of campaign literature. It wasn’t a typical half-page or full-page mailer, but a 38-page glossy mini-magazine entirely dedicated to lambasting the area’s largest newspaper, the Fresno Bee.

    In bold red lettering at the top of several pages, the magazine promises to unveil the “dirty little secrets of the Valley’s propaganda machine.” The cover portrays cartoon bees on a yacht, drunk on Kool-Aid, crashing into a rocky shore. Posters reading “Resist,” “Antifascist,” and “Socialism” bob in the water below.

    It’s the latest salvo in a nearly year-long battle between Nunes and his local paper. As Nunes—the chair of the House Intelligence Committee and one of President Donald Trump’s most ardent defenders—has seen his national profile rise, the Bee has taken notice. The paper’s editorial board has been especially critical, calling him “Trump’s stooge” in one op-ed. In response, Nunes has called the paper a “left wing rag” and aired a television and radio ad asserting that the Bee is on a “crusade” against him.

    […] Rather than focusing on his Democratic opponent, Nunes has taken a Trumpier approach: Depicting the media and a horde of unnamed “left-wing organizations” as his enemy. He even sounded like the president when he told a Bee reporter that he felt “bad for the people who work at the Bee” because it’s “sad.”

    Nunes has made conspiratorial claims about the “deep state” and “fake news,” says Thomas Holyoke, a professor of political science at Fresno State University. “His entire campaign is about undermining the media—local media, national media, anything critical,” Holyoke says. “They’ve barely gone after Andrew Janz at all.” […]

  16. says

    “The Senate Should Not Confirm Kavanaugh.”:

    Judicial temperament is one of the most important qualities of a judge. As the Congressional Research Service explains, a judge requires “a personality that is even-handed, unbiased, impartial, courteous yet firm, and dedicated to a process, not a result.” The concern for judicial temperament dates back to our founding; in Federalist 78, titled “Judges as Guardians of the Constitution,” Alexander Hamilton expressed the need for “the integrity and moderation of the judiciary.”

    We are law professors who teach, research and write about the judicial institutions of this country. Many of us appear in state and federal court, and our work means that we will continue to do so, including before the United States Supreme Court. We regret that we feel compelled to write to you, our Senators, to provide our views that at the Senate hearings on Sept. 27, Judge Brett Kavanaugh displayed a lack of judicial temperament that would be disqualifying for any court, and certainly for elevation to the highest court of this land….

    Signed by more than 650 law professors, and being updated with new signatures as they come in; to be presented to the Senate tomorrow.

  17. says

    “I stepped down as U.S. ambassador to Estonia. Here’s why.”:

    When you serve as U.S. ambassador to a foreign capital, you represent your country, of course. But you are also the personal representative of the president. Professionalism demands that career foreign service officers — like career military officers — follow the orders and pursue the policies of our elected, civilian leadership.

    If you cannot do that, the honorable and right thing to do is resign. That is what I did in July, when I stepped down as U.S. ambassador to Estonia. Now, with my formal departure this week from the U.S. Foreign Service after 33 years, I can more fully explain why.

    This spring, I reached the point where I could no longer support President Trump’s policies and rhetoric regarding NATO, our European allies and Russia.

    What do I believe? I am extremely uncomfortable with the trade policies the United States is pursuing. I also believe it is a historic mistake to cozy up to Russian President Vladimir Putin.

    Arrogance does not suit us well. “America First” is a sham.

    Russia and its corrupt, authoritarian government are a threat to the rules-based order and the fundamental values and interests of the United States and its allies. Trump’s habit of denigrating our allies and their leaders while lauding Putin and other authoritarians is no way to lead. It placed me in an untenable position in Tallinn whenever I was asked, as chief of mission, to explain our intentions.

    I had no choice but to resign. I have no sympathy or understanding for those who remain in government service while claiming to be ignoring or otherwise violating their instructions. I certainly don’t understand an anonymous op-ed proclaiming some right to fight a rear-guard action behind the president’s back. That approach is devoid of integrity and seems cowardly to me.

    Now I am free to speak for myself as a citizen. I want to use my voice to advocate for policies more in accord with our history, our values and the global good. And I also hope to convince as many ambitious, smart young people as I can that a life in service to their country is a wonderful way to make a contribution toward a better world.

  18. says

    Sen. Leahy: “BOTTOM LINE: It’s not just ‘Bart O’Kavanaugh’, or minimizing his contemporaneous drinking or misogyny in his yearbook. On issues big and small, anytime Judge Kavanaugh is faced with an incriminating or difficult question under oath, he cannot be trusted to tell the truth.”

  19. says

    Eric Boehlert:

    WH couldn’t risk Kavanaugh lying to FBI agents, so seems pretty clear the strategy was he could not be questioned. ever. under any circumstances;

    so instead, FBI cooperated with a charade.

    great job Christopher Wray!

    think about: a Supreme Court nominee could not be trusted to tell the truth to the FBI.

    not to put too fine a point on it, but this is how democracies die

  20. says

    Excellent piece – “The Cruelty Is the Point”:

    …The Trump era is such a whirlwind of cruelty that it can be hard to keep track. This week alone, the news broke that the Trump administration was seeking to ethnically cleanse more than 193,000 American children of immigrants whose temporary protected status had been revoked by the administration, that the Department of Homeland Security had lied about creating a database of children that would make it possible to unite them with the families the Trump administration had arbitrarily destroyed, that the White House was considering a blanket ban on visas for Chinese students, and that it would deny visas to the same-sex partners of foreign officials. At a rally in Mississippi, a crowd of Trump supporters cheered as the president mocked Christine Blasey Ford, the psychology professor who has said that Brett Kavanaugh, whom Trump has nominated to a lifetime appointment on the Supreme Court, attempted to rape her when she was a teenager. “Lock her up!” they shouted.

    Even those who believe that Ford fabricated her account, or was mistaken in its details, can see that the president’s mocking of her testimony renders all sexual-assault survivors collateral damage. Anyone afraid of coming forward, afraid that they would not be believed, can now look to the president to see their fears realized. Once malice is embraced as a virtue, it is impossible to contain.

    Trump’s only true skill is the con, his only fundamental belief is that the United States is the birthright of straight, white, Christian men, and his only real, authentic pleasure is in cruelty. It is that cruelty, and the delight it brings them, that binds his most ardent supporters to him, in shared scorn for those they hate and fear: immigrants, black voters, feminists, and treasonous white men who empathize with any of those who would steal their birthright. The president’s ability to execute that cruelty through word and deed makes them euphoric. It makes them feel good, it makes them feel proud, it makes them feel happy, it makes them feel united. And as long as he makes them feel that way, they will let him get away with anything, no matter what it costs them.

  21. says

    “Financial Elites Are Ready To Throw Brazil Into The Hands Of A Far-Right Authoritarian”:

    A funny thing happened in the hours after Jair Bolsonaro, a far-right congressman from Rio de Janeiro, was stabbed during a campaign stop this month: Brazil’s beleaguered stock market bounced upward, on the belief that the attack on the controversial front-runner in Brazil’s upcoming presidential elections would boost his support and improve his chances of victory.

    Bolsonaro is a former army officer who has praised the military dictatorship that ruled Brazil from 1964 to 1985. He has declared a female fellow legislator unworthy of rape, suggested that indigenous Brazilians are not suitable for procreation, called immigrants “scum” and, at different points over the last two decades, called for the murder of his political opponents. His running mate has suggested that Brazil’s military could return to power. The combination of the two on the right-wing Social Liberal Party’s ticket has fostered fears that Bolsonaro would pose a deep threat not only to Brazil’s most vulnerable populations and but also to the very existence of its 30-year-old democracy.

    After two decades spent on Brazil’s political fringes and with less than a week until the first round of elections on Oct. 7, Bolsonaro has surged to the top of pre-election polling, which suggests he will face former São Paulo Mayor Fernando Haddad of the leftist Workers’ Party (or PT, for Partido dos Trabalhadores) in the second round at the end of October.

    While Wall Street and market-focused elites had warned of the dangers of putting a right-wing populist in charge of the world’s ninth-largest economy, the market’s performance on the day of his stabbing was the most obvious indication yet that Brazil’s investor classes now see Bolsonaro as a man they can get behind, especially if it means keeping the left from returning to power.

    “It was the clear sign of the market view that if this guy wins, then the [Workers’ Party] doesn’t,” said Thiago Figueiredo, a trader and analyst at Horus GGR in São Paulo. “So let’s celebrate. And that’s what the market believes, that he’s the best option.”

    Bolsonaro and Brazil’s financial elites make for strange bedfellows. The right-wing candidate has admitted his ignorance on economic issues, and through most of his political career, he has opposed the market-friendly policies of Brazil’s traditional center-right parties. He has opposed austerity and privatization of state-owned companies. In 1999, after President Fernando Henrique Cardoso, the darling of Brazil’s elites, proposed a round of spending cuts, Bolsonaro suggested that someone shoot him.

    But Bolsonaro and the fancy classes have a common goal in the 2018 elections. Both want nothing more than to keep the leftist Workers’ Party ― and specifically its leader, former President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva ― from returning to power.

    Nearly a year ago, he began wooing financial elites in Brazil and abroad, attempting to convince them that he was only playing populist on the trail and would govern as a pragmatic liberal supportive of their market-friendly policies. In late 2017, he traveled to the United States to visit with Wall Street firms and speak with American financial publications. In April of this year, he hired Paulo Guedes, a University of Chicago–educated economist who had advised the center-right Social Democratic Party.

    Since then, Bolsonaro has turned his back on his previous support for more statist economic policies and embraced the market-friendly beliefs of his new adviser. He has said he would staff much of his government with military men, but when it comes to economic affairs, he has promised to hand near-total control to his “Chicago Boy.”

    Such an alliance has been formed before, with brutal consequences.

    Bolsonaro’s primary critique of Pinochet’s 30-year military junta: that it wasn’t murderous enough.

    And much as with Trump, the elites simply don’t believe he’s going to pursue the sort of policies to match his words. His praise for dictatorship in Chile and Brazil and his violent rhetoric aimed at women, LGBTQ people and black and indigenous Brazilians are easy to dismiss as “things that people dig up from 10 years ago or 15 years ago” that financial elites “don’t think are a reason to be afraid if he’s the president,” Figueiredo said. Their view, he said, is that Brazil’s democratic institutions will constrain Bolsonaro should he win, preventing him from having the latitude to draw up a new constitution (as his running mate has suggested may be necessary) or implement the worst of his anti-democratic ideas.

    It’s a familiar recipe for disaster, but the irony of it all is hard to avoid. Bolsonaro’s rise is a product of his ability to capitalize on voters’ discontent with Brazil’s elites. But if he wins the presidency, he will owe his victory, in part, to the acquiescence of the same elites he has railed against and their ability to turn their heads from the horrors he may bring to Brazil’s most vulnerable citizens.

    “Some of them will be fine, probably,” de Bolle said of the elites who have embraced Bolsonaro. “But the country won’t be.”

    (Employs some of the stupid tropes common to articles about South American politics, but good overall.)

  22. says

    From text quoted in SC’s comment 33:

    Once malice is embraced as a virtue, it is impossible to contain.

    So true. And that is exactly what Trump does. He embraces malice as a virtue. He embodies the expression of that concept.

    All of the people standing behind Trump at that rally, laughing and cheering, are egging him on as he embraces malice as a virtue.

    And see comment 22 for polling that suggests lots of Trump’s followers agree.

  23. says

    Senators will view FBI report on Kavanaugh Thursday

    Senators are being told that they will get to review a supplemental FBI background investigation into Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh on Thursday, but only one copy is being made available to senators under restricted conditions.

    Senate Democratic Whip Dick Durbin (Ill.), a member of the Judiciary Committee, said that preparations are being made to review the report on Thursday.

    Republicans are putting strict limits on the viewing.

    Only one copy is being made available to senators, and each party will take turns viewing it in one-hour increments, Durbin said.

    “Get this — one copy! For the United States Senate,” he said. “That’s what we were told. And we were also that we would be given one hour for the Dems, one hour for the Republicans. Alternating.

    “We tried to reserve some time to read it. That is ridiculous,” he said. “One copy?!”

    “Bizarre, it doesn’t make any sense,” he added.

    A senior Democratic aide confirmed the restrictions being placed on viewing the FBI report Thursday. […]

  24. says

    Follow-up to comment 36.

    Senator Maizie Hirono confirmed on Rachel Maddow’s show tonight that the schedule is (as far as I can remember):
    8:00 AM, Senator Grassely reads the report in a secure room.
    9:00 AM, Senator Diane Feinstein reads it
    10:00 AM, All of the Republican Senators read it. (Or only the Republicans on the Senate Judiciary Committee?)
    11:00 AM, All of the Democratic Senators read it. (Or only the Democrats on the Senate Judiciary Committee?

    WTF is going on?

  25. says

    Oh, I see, after the Democrats on the Judiciary Committee read the report, then all of the rest of the Senators get a crack at it, supposedly at noon.

    Or maybe not. Mitch McConnell says some Senators will be reading the report tonight.

    [Throws up hands. Gives up.]

    Is chaos a virus that travels from Trump White House to the Senate floor?

  26. says

    This is a total farce. Republicans just lie and cheat and con their way through, destroying everything in their path.

    “The F.B.I. Probe Ignored Testimonies from Former Classmates of Kavanaugh”:

    Frustrated potential witnesses who have been unable to speak with the F.B.I agents conducting the investigation into sexual-assault allegations against Donald Trump’s Supreme Court nominee, Brett Kavanaugh, have been resorting to sending statements, unsolicited, to the Bureau and to senators, in hopes that they would be seen before the inquiry concluded. On Monday, President Trump said that the Bureau should be able to interview “anybody they want within reason,” but the extent of the constraints placed on the investigating agents by the White House remained unclear. Late Wednesday night, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell announced that the F.B.I. probe was over and cleared the way for an important procedural vote on Kavanaugh’s nomination to take place on Friday. NBC News reported that dozens of people who said that they had information about Kavanaugh had contacted F.B.I. field offices, but agents had not been permitted to talk to many of them. Several people interested in speaking to the F.B.I. expressed exasperation in interviews with The New Yorker at what they perceived to be a lack of interest in their accounts.

    Deborah Ramirez, one of two women who have accused Kavanaugh of sexual abuse, said in an interview that she had been hopeful that her story would be investigated when two agents drove from Denver to Boulder, Colorado, last weekend to interview her at her lawyer’s office. But Ramirez said that she was troubled by what she perceived as a lack of willingness on the part of the Bureau to take steps to substantiate her claims. “I am very alarmed, first, that I was denied an F.B.I. investigation for five days, and then, when one was granted, that it was given on a short timeline and that the people who were key to corroborating my story have not been contacted,” Ramirez said. “I feel like I’m being silenced.”

    …Several former Yale students who claim to have information regarding the alleged incident with Ramirez or about Kavanaugh’s behavior at Yale said that they had not been contacted by the F.B.I. Kenneth G. Appold was a suitemate of Kavanaugh’s at the time of the alleged incident. He had previously spoken to The New Yorker about Ramirez on condition of anonymity, but he said that he is now willing to be identified because he believes that the F.B.I. must thoroughly investigate her allegation. Appold, who is the James Hastings Nichols Professor of Reformation History at Princeton Theological Seminary, said that he first heard about the alleged incident involving Kavanaugh and Ramirez either the night it occurred or a day or two later. Appold said that he was “one-hundred-per-cent certain” that he was told that Kavanaugh was the male student who exposed himself to Ramirez. He said that he never discussed the allegation with Ramirez, whom he said he barely knew in college. But he recalled details—which, he said, an eyewitness described to him at the time—that match Ramirez’s memory of what happened. “I can corroborate Debbie’s account,” he said in an interview. “I believe her, because it matches the same story I heard thirty-five years ago, although the two of us have never talked.”

    Appold, who won two Fulbright Fellowships, and earned his Ph.D. in religious studies from Yale in 1994, also recalled telling his graduate-school roommate about the incident in 1989 or 1990. That roommate, Michael Wetstone, who is now an architect, confirmed Appold’s account and said, “it stood out in our minds because it was a shocking story of transgression.” Appold said that he initially asked to remain anonymous because he hoped to make contact first with the classmate who, to the best of his recollection, told him about the party and was an eyewitness to the incident. He said that he had not been able to get any response from that person, despite multiple attempts to do so. The New Yorker reached the classmate, but he said that he had no memory of the incident.

    Appold reached out to the Bureau last weekend but did not hear back. Frustrated, he submitted a statement through an F.B.I. Web portal….

    Ramirez said that the F.B.I. agents she spoke to interviewed her in a comprehensive and sensitive manner. Several of their questions appeared to mirror Republican speculation that the allegations against Kavanaugh were coördinated by Democrats or were otherwise politically motivated. (Ramirez said that neither was true.) “They asked me if I’d ever been in touch with Dr. Christine Ford,” Ramirez recalled, “and if I knew how reporters got my name.” She told the agents that she has never had contact with Ford and began receiving calls from reporters unbidden. Ramirez said that her main concern, after her F.B.I. interview, was that the agents who interviewed her might not be the same ones talking to people who could corroborate her account—she felt that continuity was important. But she had not anticipated that people she believed had relevant information wouldn’t even be interviewed. “Being told that these people haven’t even been contacted,” Ramirez said, “it’s very troubling to me.”

    In addition to Appold, several other former Yale classmates said that they had reached out to the F.B.I. about Kavanaugh but had not received a response. Stephen Kantrowitz, a former Yale classmate, said in a text message that, “No one who lived in Lawrance Hall (so far as I know) has been contacted by the FBI What a charade.”

    Two high-school acquaintances of Kavanaugh’s have also submitted sworn declarations to senators and to the F.B.I. A classmate of Kavanaugh’s at Georgetown Preparatory School, who asked to remain anonymous because of the intensity of the partisan fight over Kavanaugh’s nomination, submitted a signed declaration to the F.B.I. after visiting the F.B.I. field office nearest his home, where he was told they didn’t do “in-person interviews.” He said that he was hoping to hear something back, but hadn’t yet. In his statement, which his attorney also sent to several members of the Senate Judiciary Committee on Tuesday, he described Kavanaugh as part of a clique of high-school athletes, most of whom were on the football team, who “routinely picked on” less physically fit or popular students. He said that he never witnessed Kavanaugh physically attacking another student, but he recalled him doing “nothing to stop the physical and verbal abuse.” Instead, he said, Kavanaugh “stood by and laughed at the victims.”…

    His statement also challenges Kavanaugh’s assertion in last week’s hearing that he never denigrated a female student named Renate Schroeder, whose married name is Renate Dolphin, and who attended Georgetown’s sister school, Stone Ridge School of the Sacred Heart, in Bethesda, Maryland….

    Angela Walker, who was in Dolphin’s class at Stone Ridge, also submitted a declaration to the F.B.I….

    It seems noteworthy that Ramirez “began receiving calls from reporters unbidden.” That suggests that they got her name because fellow classmates, as earlier reporting has noted, were talking about it online around the time of Kavanaugh’s nomination. Any real investigation/background check would be all over that.

  27. says

    “Blasey Ford’s Lawyers Bash FBI Probe For Not Interviewing Her, Witnesses”:

    Lawyers for professor Christine Blasey Ford released a statement Wednesday night that sharply criticizes an FBI investigation that didn’t include her or many witnesses willing to corroborate some facets of her claims.

    “An FBI supplemental background investigation that did not include an interview of Dr. Christine Blasey Ford — nor the witnesses who corroborate her testimony — cannot be called an investigation,” the lawyers said, per the Hill. “We are profoundly disappointed that after the tremendous sacrifice she made in coming forward, those directing the FBI investigation were not interested in seeking the truth.”

    The completed report was given to the Senate Judiciary Committee very early Thursday morning.

    Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) prepared a preliminary Friday vote even before the report was delivered, setting up a final full-Senate vote this weekend.

  28. says

    The reason Ford and Kavanaugh aren’t being interviewed is because the majority-makers – Collins, Murkowski and Flake – haven’t demanded they be interviewed. Last week showed they can control the process.”

    Yes, and because they have this power, if they continue to go along with the con they’re even worse than others, because they’ve used their reputation as people with some honor or scruples to assure everyone all week of their confidence that the FBI would be permitted to conduct, and was conducting, a full and fair investigation when that was a lie to string the public along until McConnell, Grassley, and the WH could shut it down and call a vote.

  29. says

    I suppose that Trump and McConnell are going to ignore this too: “National Council Of Churches Calls For Kavanaugh To Be Withdrawn.”

    The National Council of Churches, a huge coalition of Christian churches of a wide swath of denominations, has released a statement saying that Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh is unfit to serve on the Supreme Court and should be withdrawn.

    “Judge Kavanaugh exhibited extreme partisan bias and disrespect towards certain members of the committee and thereby demonstrated that he possesses neither the temperament nor the character essential for a member of the highest court in our nation,” the statement says.

    The statement also lists “several misstatements and some outright falsehoods” Kavanaugh uttered during his Senate testimony as disqualifying. […]


  30. says

    From Mark Sumner:

    From the day he took office, and even before, Donald Trump has been looking for a way to discourage, demean, and diminish the FBI. And he finally found it. Trump didn’t take down the FBI by tweeting about James Comey or humming the Deep State theme song, he did it by setting the agency up. By giving them instructions to conduct an investigation in which their every action was so constrained as to be pointless. By seeing that even people who walked through the FBI’s door and tried to give evidence in a case critical to the nation … found a deaf ear. The FBI is, after all, an executive branch agency. This week, Donald Trump weaponized his control of the FBI, and demonstrated conclusively that it could be not simply neutered, but wielded against his opponents, with nothing more than a single sheet of paper … that no one is allowed to see.

    It’s not just Trump’s instructions to the FBI that remain hidden. The report produced from their radically restricted investigation was literally taken directly by Trump, sealed in a box, then locked in a vault. Until that lid is lifted—briefly—to allow Senators a brief glimpse, no one knows what is in the FBI report. Even when they do, no one is allowed to repeat the contents, or even characterize the words they read. Consider all of this a preview for the end of the Russia Investigation. […]

  31. says

    Feinstein making statement: “The most notable part of this report is what’s not in it.”; “[The report] looks to be a product of an incomplete investigation that was limited.” “In my view, from what I saw, the investigation was very limited…” Talking about all of the people who wanted to be interviewed but weren’t.

    Schumer: “We had many fears that this was a very limited process that would constrain the FBI from getting all the facts…Those fears have been realized.”; “We are reiterating our call…that the documents, with proper redaction, be made public” and that the WH directive to the FBI be made public.

  32. says

    Asked why the FBI was not permitted to investigate whether Kavanaugh had memory lapses — as his former Yale roommate and other former classmates have alleged — Shah argued that no Senator who matters wanted to know.

    “All the folks that are demanding this type of investigation in the Senate are Democrats who have already pledged to vote no. They don’t want additional information to make a decision. They want to delay this process.”

    Raj also argued that the multiple allegations of memory lapses are unimportant because Kavanaugh testified in last week’s hearing that he liked alcohol.

    “A lot of people are coming forward about claims about his high school and college drinking which the Senate hasn’t asked us about, but also more importantly, he has already admitted in his testimony that he drank in high school, drank in college, sometimes drank too much, drank underage. He said he likes beer. I don’t really know what folks who are demanding an open-ended fishing expedition into those areas want other than delay, delay, delay.”

  33. says

    Matthew Miller article further developig the points he made in the thread to which I linked yesterday:

    “It’s Time for Democrats to Play Hardball With the FBI”:

    As the FBI prepares to conclude its review of the sexual assault allegations against Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh, it seems clear that its investigation has been cursory at best. According to NBC News, more than 40 potential sources have yet to be contacted by the FBI, including Kavanaugh’s original accuser, Christine Blasey Ford. A number of people with information relevant to the investigation have complained that even after calling the bureau’s field offices or national tip line in good faith, the bureau has not followed up with them.

    Democrats have responded by accusing the White House of inappropriately restricting the bureau’s probe—a claim based on the fact the White House has authority to set the scope of follow-up background investigations—and a charge that the White House denies. But just as during the 2016 Clinton email investigation and the ongoing Russia probe, Democrats have largely failed to criticize the FBI for its role in the investigation, and have at times gone out of their way to praise its professionalism.

    This strategy is both a political and substantive mistake, one that stems from the asymmetric way America’s two political parties deal with the administration of justice. Over the past several years, Republicans have repeatedly assaulted the Justice Department with hyper-politicized demands, while Democrats—for reasons that fall somewhere between tactics and timidity—have ceded the playing field to the loudest and most irresponsible actors on the right. The inevitable result has been a Justice Department that constantly scurries to respond to Republican criticism, making concessions that would have once been unimaginable, in a fruitless attempt to appease people who have no respect for the department’s obligation to enforce the law fairly.

    While it is true that the White House determines the scope of a background investigation, the FBI possesses a number of tools to shape its outcome if it feels it is being unfairly restricted. For example, the bureau could formally notify the White House in writing that it believes further witness interviews are necessary to obtain a complete picture—an act of bureaucratic pressure that would be difficult to ignore, especially if Wray shared that conclusion with key senators. It could compile every allegation and lead it has obtained through its tip line and field offices in its final report, even those the bureau has been blocked from investigating. Finally, it could do what it does best when it feels unfairly jammed by other government agencies: leak aggressively to the media.

    Absent any pressure from Democrats, however, the FBI is likely to simply follow its orders from the White House. So what should Democrats do? Treating the FBI as aggressively as the GOP does would be a start.

    I am sympathetic to the idea that Democrats should not merely ape the Republican playbook of politicizing law enforcement and have made that argument myself on many occasions. But it’s clear that the Kavanaugh investigation is a sham, and anyone involved in perpetrating that sham—whether at the White House or in law enforcement—should know that they will be held accountable. Moreover, while attacking the conduct of this investigation would be newly aggressive, given the investigation’s clear deficiencies, this stance is entirely consistent with the Democratic Party’s commitment to the rule of law.

    It’s time for Democrats to realize that the rules have changed. It’s not enough to simply rely on most federal law enforcement officials being well-intentioned, nonpolitical figures trying to do the right thing under tough circumstances. That’s a description that applied to both Comey and former Attorney General Loretta Lynch, yet sustained Republican pressure led each of them to decisions in 2016 (Comey speaking publicly in both July and October 2016 about the Clinton investigation; Lynch not blocking him from doing so) that might have helped put Trump in the White House.

    There is no sign the Republican Party intends to change course soon. If anything, its pressure on federal law enforcement seems likely to intensify as Robert Mueller’s Russia probe nears its conclusion. If Democrats hope to ever get a fair shake, their only choice is to fight fire with fire. While such a fight would be ugly, putting federal law enforcement on notice that both parties are watching its decisions would yield a better outcome not just for Democrats, but for the country.

    More, including concrete suggestions, at the link.

  34. says

    From Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley:

    I’ve now received a committee staff briefing on the FBI’s supplement to Judge Kavanaugh’s background investigation file. There’s nothing in it that we didn’t already know.

    These uncorroborated accusations have been unequivocally and repeatedly rejected by Judge Kavanaugh, and neither the Judiciary Committee nor the FBI could locate any third parties who can attest to any of the allegations. There’s also no contemporaneous evidence.

    This investigation found no hint of misconduct…I’ll be voting to confirm Judge Kavanaugh.

    From Senator Dianne Feinstein:

    [The FBI report] looks to be the product of an incomplete investigation that was limited.

    Perhaps by the White House.I don’t know.

  35. says

    From Wonkette, more examples of cruelty perpetrated by the Trump administration:

    The Department of Homeland Security’s Inspector General’s office is sure acting like it takes “following the rules” seriously lately. Monday, we learned the IG had determined Trump’s family separation policy was a horrible clusterfuck from Day One. Now the Washington Post reports on yet another DHS IG report, this one detailing the casually horrifying conditions in a private prison that houses undocumented immigrants for ICE while their immigration cases slowly move forward.

    Among other fun stuff, the IG’s document review and an unannounced inspection in May of this year discovered indifferent medical care, guards ignoring twisted sheets hung from air vents that could be used as nooses, and such crappy dental care that several detainees lost teeth while waiting to be seen by a dentist. Oh, yes, and then there was the disabled guy who was left alone in his wheelchair for nine day and never got any help to get into bed. […]

    The September 27 IG report looks at the Adelanto ICE Processing Center, which is run by private prison giant GEO Group. WaPo notes GEO “owns and operates 71 federal prisons and detention centers with a combined total of 75,500 beds,” but doesn’t mention that GEO also handed Donald Trump’s campaign assloads of cash […]

    the New York Times published a major piece on how immigration detention has become a cash cow for private prisons. […]

    We should point out that while this is a prison, the detainees haven’t been convicted of crimes — they’re all being held because their immigration cases are waiting to be addressed. Some are waiting on an asylum decision, others fighting deportation on other grounds. Those in “disciplinary segregation” are there for breaking rules while being held, not for doing crimes outside. […]

    The report details numerous alleged instances of substandard care and neglect by jailers who “prematurely and inappropriately” locked detainees in segregation cells without proper review, the report found, actions that posed “a significant threat” to detainees’ rights and their mental and physical health.

    The auditors found gross violations of health and safety standards, including detainees forced to wait weeks or months to see a doctor […]

    The report points out the Adelanto facility played a clever semantic game with an ICE directive that all detainees begin receiving dental care, “including checkups, cleanings, and procedures, after an individual has been in detention for 6 months.” To avoid providing any dental care at all, Adelanto didn’t include time spent at other ICE facilities, and only deemed inmates eligible for care starting six months after being transferred to Adelanto — and at that point, they didn’t get care, either. They got to go on a waiting list […]

    One detainee we interviewed reported having multiple teeth fall out while waiting more than 2 years for cavities to be filled. When we asked one of the dentists why fillings were not performed, he said he barely has time to do cleanings and screening, so as a result he does not do fillings. […]

    Thank heavens the dentist at least offered some relief: Fillings were too much trouble, but he could manage extractions, which he recommended regularly. Mind you, detainees reported waits of up to eight months even to have a tooth yanked, and one told the inspectors the wrong tooth got pulled; written records backed up the testimony. […]

  36. says

    Follow-up to SC’s link in comment 41.

    […] Trump’s surrogates are defending his latest attack on Christine Blasey Ford […] They’re claiming that Trump’s mockery of Ford, delivered at a political rally on Tuesday night, was “factual.” […] everything he said about Ford’s testimony was true.

    No, it wasn’t true. Trump lied about Ford. And his supporters, in defending him, are doing the same.

    At the rally, Trump mocked Ford by pretending to re-enact a question-and-answer session with her:

    “How did you get home?”

    “I don’t remember.”

    “How’d you get there?”

    “I don’t remember.”

    “Where is the place?”

    “I don’t remember.”

    “How many years ago was it?”

    “I don’t know.”

    “What neighborhood was it in?”

    “I don’t know.” …

    “Upstairs, downstairs, where was it?”

    “I don’t know. But I had one beer. That’s the only thing I remember.”

    Trump’s allies say this depiction of Ford’s testimony was accurate. On Wednesday morning, at a forum hosted by the Atlantic, Sen. Lindsey Graham declared, “Everything he said was factual.” In an interview with Fox News, White House counselor Kellyanne Conway insisted, “The president is pointing out factual inconsistencies.” At an afternoon briefing, White House press secretary Sarah Sanders claimed that Trump’s re-enactment “wasn’t anything other than the president stating facts. … He was stating facts that Dr. Ford herself laid out in her testimony.” […]

    Yes, Trump’s mockery of Ford was contemptible. But let’s not lose sight of the fundamental dishonesty of his remarks. What he said at that rally wasn’t more than stating the facts. It was less. It was full of lies. […]

    Start with Trump’s claim that Ford said she didn’t know in “what neighborhood” the attack occurred. In her testimony, Ford described the location as “a house in the Bethesda area … somewhere between my house and the [Columbia] Country Club.” Kavanaugh, in his testimony, added the address: “Dr. Ford has said that this event occurred at a house near Columbia Country Club, which is at the corner of Connecticut Avenue in the East-West Highway in Chevy Chase, Maryland.” Mitchell’s memo repeated Ford’s description.

    […] Let’s be real: The reason Trump made the joke is that he didn’t pay attention to Kavanaugh’s testimony, Ford’s testimony, or Mitchell’s memo. He just made it up.

    Trump’s next line was about where in the house the attack occurred: “ ‘Upstairs, downstairs, where was it?’ ‘I don’t know.’ ” Here, there’s no interpretation that can rescue the president’s lie. In her initial letter, her interview with the Washington Post, and her testimony, Ford explicitly said the attack happened upstairs. […] There are only two possible explanations for Trump joking that she didn’t know on which level the attack took place. One is that he didn’t read the memo or watch the testimony. The other is that he doesn’t care.

    Trump’s last line—“I had one beer. That’s the only thing I remember”—is false on its face. It’s a dismissal of everything Ford recalled in her testimony. […]

    So when Graham says “everything [Trump] said was factual,” he’s lying. When Sanders says Trump’s riff “wasn’t anything other than the president stating facts,” she’s lying. […] And when Conway says Trump was just “pointing out factual inconsistencies,” she’s lying, too. […]

    It’s true that Ford can’t recall important details about place and time. It’s true that she can’t recall how she got to the house or how she left. It’s true that every accused person is entitled to a presumption of innocence. But Trump’s portrayal of Ford’s testimony wasn’t true. It was a pack of lies. And people who defend it, like Lindsey Graham, are liars too.


  37. says

    Could Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME) be a worse liar? Here’s what she has to say after her cursory review of the even more cursory FBI investigation into sexual assault allegations against Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh.

    “it appears to be a very thorough investigation but I’m going back later to personally read the interviews.”

    It is not a “very thorough investigation.” That’s the one thing that absolutely cannot be plausibly said about it. Dozens of witnesses were not interviewed—people who were voluntarily going to the FBI to tell their stories. People who knew Kavanaugh in high school and college very well are offering their stories to the nation, all of them revealing his lies.

    That makes Collins a liar, too. Not just this “very thorough investigation” bullshit, but the fact that she’s been pretending to be undecided all these weeks. She’s just been looking for enough cover for the vote she promised Mitch McConnell at the get-go, reportedly even before Kavanaugh was named. Who knows what promises McConnell made that she was gullible enough to fall for this time.

    The fix is in with Susan Collins, she’s been lying to Maine for weeks.

  38. says

    The FBI may not have interviewed James Roche, but the former college roommate of Brett Kavanaugh appeared on Anderson Cooper 360 because he is so concerned about the complete falsehoods and even outright lies he saw Brett Kavanaugh make to the Senate Judiciary Committee. Roche said very directly, “I saw him do the stuff that he said under oath that he didn’t do. I saw him use words in a different way than he said under oath they were used.”

    Listen to Roche in his own words. Mitch McConnell and Donald Trump may be using the FBI to cover-up their flawed candidate with a phony investigation, but James Roche and those who were there will not be silenced in the long run. Even if they confirm Kavanaugh, as they are likely to do, everything he touches is tainted and Democrats may very well pursue remedies if they win back Congress in November. It will be even uglier than it is today, all because Mitch McConnell is insistent on putting this flawed nominee in a lifetime appointment, despite his stated biases and questions about his character. […]


    Video at the link.

  39. Akira MacKenzie says

    Ugh! Someone on the Cognitive Dissidence podcast posted a photo of the president of the University Texas–San Antonio chapter of the Secular Student Alliance at an Anti-Beto/Pro-Kavanagh rally holding a “WITCH HUNT” placard.

  40. says

    Well, this is funny, sort of:

    Washington Post columnist Jennifer Rubin’s objection to the confirmation of Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court was the “final straw” that prompted a group of nearly 40 officials affiliated with prominent conservative groups to ask The Washington Post to stop labeling Rubin a conservative.

    Led by the libertarian and socially conservative think tank American Principles Project, the group told the Post in a letter that it has a “credibility problem” and a lack of “intellectual diversity” on its opinion pages. The group said identifying Rubin as a conservative was “dishonest,” based on her writings on a slew of issues, like climate change, gun control and abortion.

    “Rubin’s public opposition to Kavanaugh — even before any of these allegations came out — definitely served as the final straw that spurred this letter,” Terry Schilling, the executive director of the American Principles Project, told TPM on Thursday. “We’ve been circulating it for weeks. Conservatives have been frustrated with Rubin’s identification as a ‘conservative’ for years, especially because it leads to inaccurate ‘Conservative Columnist Criticizes GOP’ headlines.”

    Rubin has been vocal about her opposition to President Donald Trump’s policies and parts of the Republican agenda since before Trump took office. She came out in opposition to Kavanaugh’s nomination before and after the allegations of sexual assault were levied against him in recent weeks.

    The group of conservatives were adamant that they were not calling for Rubin’s firing, but rather want to see the Post “end the charade that she is in any way conservative,” and asked the publication to bring on more writers who can defend Republican policies, Schilling said. […]


    It will be interesting to see what Rubin has to say in response. She is smarter than all of her critics.

  41. says

    Follow-up to comment 65.

    From the readers’ comments:

    I’d prefer it if they stopped calling the majority of the Republicans “conservatives” and start calling them “fascists”.
    The only charade is pretending that the GOP is in any way conservative. It is a radical, reactionary party, the total antithesis of traditional slow, incremental change conservatism.
    The group said identifying Rubin as a conservative was “dishonest,” based on her writings on a slew of issues, like climate change,

    And there it is. You can’t be a conservative if you “believe” in reality.
    Personally, I think she has increasingly tended to the right, in the sense that right is the opposite of wrong.
    Perhaps she is a conservative and not a fascist, bigoted, racist zombiefied Trump Republican.

  42. says

    I noticed this was happening: China is the new bogeyman, meant by Trump to replace Russia in the minds of Americans as responsible for interfering in elections.

    From Josh Marshal, “White House Begins the China Counter-Narrative”

    Vice President Pence is giving a speech today at the Hudson Institute. Normally that wouldn’t get a lot of attention, especially with so much else going on. But this is a bigger deal than it might appear. Seeing portions of the speech now on Twitter, it is crystal clear that the White House is trying to delegitimize the on-going Mueller probe by setting up China is the real meddler in US internal affairs and democratic practice.

    Most importantly, they are claiming that China is working against Donald Trump in 2018 and 2020. This is a big, big deal and I expect they will be expanding on it in the coming weeks and likely going into 2020. […]

    Here are fuller quotes released in advance of the speech (emphasis added)…

    Today, the Chinese Communist Party is rewarding or coercing American businesses, movie studios, universities, think tanks, scholars, journalists, and local, state, and federal officials. Worst of all, China has initiated an unprecedented effort to influence American public opinion, the 2018 elections, and the environment leading into the 2020 presidential elections…

    To put it bluntly, President Trump’s leadership is working; China wants a different American President.

    China is meddling in America’s democracy. As President Trump said just last week, we have “found that China has been attempting to interfere in our upcoming 2018 [midterm] election[s].”

    Our intelligence community says that “China is targeting U.S. state and local governments and officials to exploit any divisions between federal and local levels on policy. It’s using wedge issues, like trade tariffs, to advance Beijing’s political influence.”

    In June, Beijing circulated a sensitive document, entitled “Propaganda and Censorship Notice,” that laid out its strategy. It states that China must “strike accurately and carefully, splitting apart different domestic groups” in the United States. […]

  43. says

    Heitkamp will be voting “no” on Kavanaugh. Good for her.

    Democratic Sen. Heidi Heitkamp (N.D.) said on Thursday that she will oppose Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh.

    “The process has been bad …I will be voting no on Judge Kavanaugh,” Heitkamp told a North Dakota TV station.

    Heitkamp, who is running for reelection, was one of three Democrats to support Neil Gorsuch, President Trump’s first nominee.


  44. says

    While Pence and Trump are running around blaming China for everything, (see comment 67), the U.S. Department of Justice just indicted seven Russian spies for hacking.

    The US Department of Justice is going after Russian spies once again — this time for a plot to undermine international anti-doping agencies.

    On Thursday, the DOJ announced the indictments of seven offices in the Russian Main Intelligence Directorate (GRU) on charges of computer hacking, wire fraud, aggravated identity theft, and money laundering.

    Federal prosecutors allege that these Russian officers targeted individuals and organizations in the United States, Canada, and Europe to get information about athletes and anti-doping agencies, and to release that information publicly as part of an “influence and disinformation campaign,” according to the Department of Justice.

    According to prosecutors, the Russians were basically trying to exact revenge against these agencies for their roles in exposing Russia’s vast state-sponsored doping efforts, which ultimately led to the Russian Federation’s exclusion from the Olympic games. […]

    In other words, Russians were trying to create “fake news” and sow distrust because the country had been caught cheating, had been punished, and wanted to retaliate.

    This indictment isn’t related to special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election, though three of the seven Russian spies indicted on Thursday were also charged in July in Mueller’s case against the GRU officers who hacked Hillary Clinton’s campaign, the Democratic National Committee, and the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee. […]

    Vox link

  45. tomh says

    @ #65
    Rubin has a good column today, Republicans’ misogyny will come back to haunt them.

    It starts off:

    Republicans under President Trump have adopted a distinct political methodology evocative of autocratic regimes: Eschew rationality and facts, whip up hate, play to the mob. They cannot make winning, rational arguments on immigration, so they resort to fear-mongering about a nonexistent crime epidemic caused by illegal immigrants. They cannot come up with an effective health-care plan to replace the Affordable Care Act, so they sabotage that law and disguise their quest to strip out protections for preexisting conditions.

    In the case of the Supreme Court, it was not enough for Republicans to praise Judge Brett M. Kavanaugh and to let the facts come out about their nominee; they had to turn the FBI investigation into a Swiss-cheese production, laughably omitting key issues (Did he lie under oath about drinking, suggesting he might not have a solid memory of high school debauchery?) and not interviewing all the key witnesses.

    There’s a lot more, but she says one thing near the end that I really hope comes true.

    “When a Democratic president eventually wins the White House with a Democratic Senate majority, you can count on a court-packing scheme.”

    Please let that happen.

  46. says

    Follow-up to comments 65 and 66.

    From Wonkette’s coverage:

    […] it’s not Rubin’s conservatism or lack thereof that makes these “thinkers” mad. It’s that she refuses to be utterly braindead in the age of Donald Trump. The letter begins by accusing the Washington Post of having a “credibility problem” […], and goes on to give examples of times Rubin — who has been a conservative columnist at the paper since forever but continually commits the twin cardinal sins of thinking Donald Trump is full of shit and going on MSNBC — has used her noodle and written her own thoughts on an issue, as opposed to what President Good Brain thinks. Indeed, they’ve caught Rubin red-handed believing in science and thinking women should be sovereign over their own bodies. HOW DARE SHE!

    The letter’s signatories are a veritable who’s who, if the “who” in question is “Oh no, we are trapped on a desert island! WHO shall we eat first?” There’s Michelle Malkin, who is referred to as an “Investigative Journalist.” Truly, who among us can forget that time Malkin investigated a child in need of health insurance and found that his parents possessed granite countertops?

    There’s Ginni Thomas, Clarence Thomas’s bugfuck insane wife, who likes to call Anita Hill early in the morning and demand apologies, because that’s a normal thing to do. Maybe she can teach Ashley Kavanaugh a thing or two, about being married to a Supreme Court justice who’s also a super fucking pervert.

    There’s Matt Schlapp, the TV talking windsock who made a big show of running away from the White House Correspondents Dinner crying because Michelle Wolf said a mean joke about Sarah Huckabee Sanders’s eye makeup […] Like we said, it’s a who’s who (of people we wouldn’t leave our children alone with). […]
    [insert b-word at the end to make this link work]

  47. says

    We could have had a woman president, and I’m looking at this group of awful white men helping other awful white men to install another awful white man on the Supreme Court for life.

  48. says

    I think there still might be a possibility for constituents and colleagues to keep reasoning with Sasse and possibly Tim Scott (though somehow not Capito, who went to Holton Arms).

  49. says

    Nerd @ #83, here’s her full report – “Retired Supreme Court Justice: Kavanaugh does not belong on high court”:

    Retired U.S. Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens on Thursday said that high court nominee Judge Brett M. Kavanaugh, who Stevens once lauded in one of his books, does not belong on the Supreme Court.

    Speaking to a crowd of retirees in Boca Raton, Stevens, 98, said Kavanaugh’s performance during a recent Senate confirmation hearing suggested that he lacks the temperament for the job.

    Stevens, a lifelong Republican who is known for falling on the liberal side of several judicial rulings, praised Kavanaugh and one of his rulings on a political contribution case in the 2014 book “Six Amendments: How and Why We Should Change the Constitution.”

    “At that time, I thought (Kavanaugh) had the qualifications for the Supreme Court should he be selected,” Stevens said. “I’ve changed my views for reasons that have no relationship to his intellectual ability … I feel his performance in the hearings ultimately changed my mind.”

    Commentators, Stevens said, have argued that Kavanaugh’s blistering testimony during a Sept. 27 hearing on sexual misconduct allegations demonstrated a potential for political bias should he serve on the Supreme Court.

    “I think there’s merit to that criticism and I think the senators should really pay attention that,” Stevens said at a closed event hosted by retirement group, The Institute for Learning in Retirement.

    Stevens, who retired in 2010 after 35 years on the bench, stands as one of the longest-serving justices in history. Nominated by President Gerald Ford, Stevens was unanimously confirmed by the Senate….

  50. says

    #BREAKING @SteveDaines [he’s a Republican – SC] has a scheduling conflict this weekend. He says he’ll be walking his daughter down the aisle at her Montana wedding, regardless of the #KavanaughVote that could take place this weekend.”

  51. says

    From Molly McKew, writing for WIRED:

    SINCE THE ADVENT of Donald Trump’s candidacy, there’s been a ton of focus on botnets and sockpuppets—automated and semiautomated social media accounts that use disinformation to manipulate public opinion.

    But the spotlight on bots has overshadowed the importance of the people who often initiate the flood and flow of information, and how the narratives they build over time influence how we see politics, ourselves, and the world around us.

    Last month, the attorney of Christine Blasey Ford, […] revealed that Blasey Ford and her family were in hiding and had hired private security after Blasey Ford received death threats over email and social media. Among those cheering on the hate-trollers were many familiar faces from the sewers of the modern far-right disinformation metropolis: dandified Republican rogue (and likely Mueller investigee) Roger Stone, his alt-media protégés Mike Cernovich and Jack Posobiec, anarchist turned Kremlin propaganda employee turned Bernie backer turned Trump backer Cassandra Fairbanks, and breathless Infowars conspiracist-in-chief Alex Jones. And not surprisingly, alt-right super-troll and white nationalist fund-raiser Chuck Johnson had his own connection to players in the scandal.

    This is an operational unit of information terrorists helping to transform the way Americans consume news in the age of Trump—some of the central nodes that give order to the information deluge and around which bot armies can be organized […]

    Once information architecture is in place, it’s like pipes. You just inject new material into the system, and it gets where it needs to go faster and faster as people get used to receiving narratives and themes in a certain context from certain sources. On the far-right, in particular, there has been a concerted effort to recruit people to participate in this process. They act as human amplifiers, both organic and automated, within these narrative structures. […]

    This has all taken on a new heady energy as pushback to #MeToo—and riding the coattails of the conspiracy bandwagon. […]

    This is the ideological landscape that has been so swiftly leveraged in the defense of Brett Kavanaugh.

    The cadre and their followers knew exactly what to do when the allegations made against Kavanaugh by Christine Blasey Ford became public. […]

    Roger Stone cited Mark Judge’s denial of Blasey Ford’s account. Judge, it turns out, has a long history of interaction with this core network. […]

    Judge was a prolific writer on a range of conservative “culture warrior” causes, including for The American Spectator,, The Daily Caller, Acculturated, and Splice Today, among other blogs and publications. Much of it fits right in to the Cernovichian advocacy of “men’s rights.” […]

    Judge discussed Hollywood liberals and child rape jokes with Cernovich (Hollywood/pedophilia is a topic he frequently returns to). He wrote a piece on Gamergate linking to Yiannopoulos and calling media critic Anita Sarkeesian a “social justice warrior.” He authored a positive review of alt-right backer David Horowitz’s book. (Horowitz is known for his views that the real race war is being waged against white people and that the coverage of Charlottesville was “fake news.”)

    In short, Judge was a generator of content for the alt-right machine, using his high school bad-boy, “real man” credentials as a springboard to comment on the whole suite of social issues that the alt-right feels is eating away at our Americanness. […]

    Much, much more at the link, including analysis of Roger Stone’s influence, of Pizzagate, of Gamergate, of QAnon, and of bots and trolls working during the Republican convention in Cleveland.

  52. says

    Lisa Murkowski has been meeting with dozens of Alaskan women privately in her office today, including several sexual assault survivors. The last group of 18 just left, describing a very emotional, hour+ meeting

    The women tell me Murkowski was VERY engaged with their stories and heard them out as they urged her to vote against Kavanaugh.”

  53. says

    UPDATE: I just spoke with someone I know who is a survivor of sexual assault. She and a group of other survivors met with Sen. Gardner just a few hours ago in DC. Her view is that, yes, it is very much worthwhile to keep calling. He told the group he has not made a decision.

    People who have lived in Colorado for a while know how rare it is for Cory Gardner to take a meeting like this. I don’t want to read too much into it, but at a minimum I think it worthwhile to call him. I was able to leave messages at the DC and Pueblo offices (see # upthread).”

  54. says

    #Russia’s state TV:
    Dmitry Nekrasov:
    ‘We’re so incompetent that all of our [GRU] agents can be identified based on their [sequential] passport numbers’.
    Expert in American studies Mikhail Sinelnikov-Orishak:
    ‘If we’re so incompetent, how did we manage to put Trump in power?'”

    In related news…:

    “305 Car Registrations May Point to Massive GRU Security Breach”:

    …By searching for other vehicles registered to the same address, Bellingcat was able to produce a list of 305 individuals who operated cars registered to the same address. The individuals range in age from 27 to 53 years of age.

    The database contains their full names and passport numbers, as well as — in most cases — mobile telephone numbers. Besides the physical street address, the address entry points out the specific Military Unit: 26165. This is the same unit as the one identified in the U.S. Department of Justice indictments that were also announced on October 4, 2018.

    If these 305 individuals — whose full personal data is available in the automobile registration database consulted by Bellingcat — are indeed officers or otherwise affiliated with the GRU’s Military United 26165, their listing in a publicly accessible database may constitute one of the largest mass breaches of personal data of an intelligence service in recent history.

    “How Russian spies bungled cyber-attack on weapons watchdog”:

    The four Russians arriving at Amsterdam’s Schiphol airport looked like classic business travellers. Two of them – Alexey Minin and Oleg Sotnikov – strolled casually through arrivals. Sotnikov, head down, looked as if he was making a joke. Just behind were a pair of younger men, both going bald. They were Evgenii Serebriakov and Alexsei Moronets.

    The travellers were thirty- and fortysomething Russian diplomats. At least, that is what their passports said. Clearly they were on a mission of some kind; a tie-wearing official from Russia’s embassy in the Netherlands came to the airport to greet them. But the precise reason for their trip from Moscow to Holland was unknown.

    In fact the group were not tourists, as they would later meekly claim. They were undercover officers working for the GRU – the Main Intelligence Directorate of the General Staff of the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation. Of Russia’s three spy agencies, the GRU is the biggest and the most powerful.

    The four intelligence officers who arrived in Holland belonged to a covert GRU cyberhacking team, investigators believe. Their trip to the country was merely the latest in a series of secret international assignments. Their target this time was the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW).

    …The OPCW was about to release the results of its investigation into the Skripal case , findings that would confirm Downing Street’s claims and lead to international condemnation. Meanwhile, in Syria, another chemical weapons attack had taken place in the city of Douma. The west blamed the Assad regime; Moscow the rebels.

    GRU operatives are meant to be part of an elite spy cadre – highly trained professionals, dedicated to the motherland, and schooled in operational warfare. In reality the four turned out to be bungling amateurs. Seemingly, British intelligence knew of the plot in advance. They tipped off their Dutch colleagues. The men were closely tracked.

    By late spring, western intelligence agencies had pieced together a comprehensive picture of the GRU’s cyber operations abroad. Its sweep was astonishing….

    The Russians caught in Holland were not diplomats; rather, they were veteran members of the GRU’s Sandworm cyber unit. Their mission could hardly be deemed a success. They were expelled.

    The Kremlin’s denials may work inside Russia but will convince few in western countries, where governments are increasingly weary of hyper-aggressive Russian operations.

    After Thursday’s revelations no one can be in any doubt of the GRU’s staggering ambition and global footprint. It has been a bad spell for the agency, which has suffered setbacks in Salisbury and The Hague. It may spend a little time updating tradecraft and its expenses policy. But its officers will carry on and continue to probe for weakness in “enemy” defences.

    More at the links.

  55. says

    Very good WaPo editorial – “Vote ‘no’ on Kavanaugh”:

    AS SENATORS prepare to vote this week on Supreme Court nominee Brett M. Kavanaugh, they, and the rest of the country, must wonder: Which Brett M. Kavanaugh are they evaluating? Is it the steady, conservative jurist he was reputed to be before his confirmation saga? Or is it a partisan operative harboring suspicions and resentments about Democrats, with possible misdeeds in his past?

    Unfortunately — and unnecessarily; it didn’t have to be this way — too many questions remain about his history for senators to responsibly vote “yes.” At the same time, enough has been learned about his partisan instincts that we believe senators must vote “no.”

    We do not say so lightly. We have not opposed a Supreme Court nominee, liberal or conservative, since Robert H. Bork in 1987. We believe presidents are entitled to significant deference if they nominate well-qualified people within the broad mainstream of judicial thought. When President Trump named Mr. Kavanaugh, he seemed to be such a person: an accomplished judge whom any conservative president might have picked. But given Republicans’ refusal to properly vet Mr. Kavanaugh, and given what we have learned about him during the process, we now believe it would be a serious blow to the court and the nation if he were confirmed….

    More at the link.

  56. says

    WaPo op ed by Ludington, Brookes, and Swisher – “We were Brett Kavanaugh’s drinking buddies. We don’t think he should be confirmed.”:

    …None of this is what we wanted, but we felt it our civic duty to speak the truth and say that Brett lied under oath while seeking to become a Supreme Court justice. That is our one and only message, but it is a significant one. For we each believe that telling the truth, no matter how difficult, is a moral obligation for our nation’s leaders. No one should be able to lie their way onto the Supreme Court. Honesty is the glue that holds together a society of laws. Lies are the solvent that dissolves those bonds.

    All of us went to Yale, whose motto is “Lux et Veritas” (Light and Truth). Brett also belonged to a Yale senior secret society called Truth and Courage. We believe that Brett neither tells the former nor embodies the latter. For this reason, we believe that Brett Kavanaugh should not sit on the nation’s highest court.

  57. says

    So do the affidavits people sent into the FBI after they were turned away not make it into Kavanaugh’s FBI background file? Do they just get filed away somewhere?

  58. says

    Last night, a week after the hearing, Kavanaugh published an op ed in…the WSJ, attempting more to justify than to apologize for his behavior during it. Setting aside for the moment that the temperament issue encompasses the content of what he said (which he wrote, longhand, tossing aside his prepared remarks in the last hours before his appearance) in addition to his aggressive and belligerent affect and that this is a weird and poorly conceived PR maneuver, it reminded me that this is a common pattern of behavior among people who frequently act in ways that hurt others or themselves or drinkers (and there’s a lot of overlap between those two categories). Feeling backed into a corner, you make an effort to convince yourself and others that the actions were unlike you and to subtly justify them by blaming people and forces beyond your control (which, of course, created a rare or anomalous set of circumstances that led to your acting, in that moment, in that manner).

    Kavanaugh has been held accountable for his actions so little in his life that he’s not even very good at it. He regurgitates a number of the tired phrases about impartiality that have always rung hollow coming from him. He attributes his belligerence, lies, and partisanship – which continued well beyond his opening statement and into his responses to Senators – to the horrible unfairness of what others are doing to him. There’s no real attempt to come to terms with how he acted or to see it from any point of view other than his own, which says more about how he would be as a justice than a million canned “I believe that an independent and impartial judiciary is essential to our constitutional republic”s.

  59. says

    Sen. Murphy:

    It’s too late for this, Judge Kavanaugh.

    You told us there exists a vast liberal conspiracy, led by Dem Senators, organizing fake charges against you. That’s delusional.

    You threatened us that “what comes around goes around”. That’s unacceptable.

  60. says

    Update to #95:

    New statement: “Senator Gardner has been supportive of Judge Kavanaugh throughout the nomination. He had the opportunity to review the FBI report tonight. Nothing in the report changed his mind and he remains supportive of Judge Kavanaugh’s nomination.”

  61. says

    Update to #92:

    After speculation that @SteveDaines would miss final Kavanaugh vote on Saturday due to his daughter’s wedding, his Spox says he spoke to Kavanaugh on the phone & he “assured Judge Kavanaugh tonight he has made arrangements to be there to get him across the finish line as needed”

    Spox for @SteveDaines reiterates, “He’ll be walking his daughter down the aisle in Montana” on Saturday, that hasn’t changed, and if his vote is needed he will make arrangements to make it back in time to vote.

    So he’s planning to walk her down the aisle and then leave during the reception?

  62. says

    “Trump’s Scotland golf course lost $4.5 million in 2017, new report says”:

    President Trump’s Turnberry golf course in Scotland — one of Trump’s largest investments and the site of a presidential visit this summer — lost $4.5 million in 2017, its fourth consecutive year in the red.

    That loss was detailed in documents filed by the Trump Organization with the British government, and posted online Thursday.

    They showed that, in the three years after Trump bought the iconic Scottish golf club, Turnberry was a sinkhole for cash. In all, Trump has spent at least $212 million on the property — $67 million to buy it and an additional $144 million to renovate it and sustain its ongoing losses.

    Trump still owns his businesses, although he has given over day-to-day management to his eldest sons.

    The figures from Turnberry were another sign that Trump’s businesses have suffered during his presidency — as his rise as a polarizing political figure has alienated the rich, urban customers whom his hotels and golf courses seek to attract.

    Trump’s company has already lost hotels in Panama, Toronto and New York’s SoHo neighborhood, as the building owners cut ties with his brand. In New York and Chicago, Trump’s expensive hotels have also seen a decline in business since 2015, according to internal documents obtained by The Washington Post….

    Fahrenthold also notes: “The NYT story on @realDonaldTrump’s finances was great for many reasons. But 1 thing that stood out to me: his enterprise required regular cash infusions from his dad to stay afloat. After ’04, tho, Fred Trump’s money ran out. 2 yrs later, these cash purchases began.”

  63. says

    “The Kremlin’s For Kavanaugh: Russian State Media Back Trump’s Supreme Court Nominee”:

    The Kremlin’s support of Donald Trump’s objectives, devoid of traditional U.S. values, has spilled out into the issues typically outside of Russia’s purview, such as Judge Brett Kavanaugh’s nomination to the Supreme Court.

    Trump’s disregard for human rights and values is balm to the Kremlin’s sanction-wounded heart, which is why the Russians were quick to jump on the Kavanaugh wagon.

    Russian state media is supporting Trump’s Kavanaugh nomination both in its domestic publications, as well as those aimed at the English-speaking audiences.

    Hamilton 68, an organization which tries to track Russian influence operations on Twitter, also recorded extensive activity pertaining to the Kavanaugh nomination.

    When Trump complains: “It’s a very scary time for young men in America,” but “women are doing great.” A Kremlin propagandist Dmitry Kiselyov commiserates on TV: “Guess what stands in Kavanaugh’s way? Certainly, the disease of malignant feminism… used to destroy promising careers and eliminate political opponents.”

    It’s worth keeping that context in mind when Trump calls Democrats the “party of crime,” and blames them for “sick attacks against Kavanaugh.” RT excitedly chimes in: “Tired of the political divide in America? Don’t worry, it’s going to get much worse.”

    No doubt the Kremlin is willing to do its part to ensure just that.

  64. says

    ! – “French investigate wherabouts of Interpol chief after wife reports him missing”:

    French police have opened an investigation into the whereabouts of the president of international police cooperation agency Interpol, after his wife reported he had gone missing after traveling home to his native China last week.

    The wife of Interpol head Meng Hongwei contacted police in Lyon, the French city where the agency has its headquarters, after not hearing from her husband since he traveled to China on September 29, police sources said. The investigation was first reported by French radio Europe 1.

    Calls to an Interpol spokeswoman went unanswered….

  65. says

    “Russian Official Linked to Natalia Veselnitskaya, the Trump Tower Lawyer, Is Dead”:

    A Russian official accused of directing the foreign operations of Natalia Veselnitskaya, the lawyer who met senior Trump campaign officials in 2016, has plummeted to his death in a helicopter crash.

    Russian Deputy Attorney General Saak Albertovich Karapetyan was exposed in a Swiss court this year for a plot to enlist another nation’s law-enforcement official as a double-agent for the Kremlin.

    Media reports in Russia say he died Wednesday night when his helicopter crashed into a forest during an unauthorized flight in the Kostroma region, northeast of Moscow.

    Karapetyan, 58, was intimately familiar with some of the most notorious operations carried out under the orders of Vladimir Putin. He worked closely with Veselnitskaya as well as running some of Moscow’s most high-profile efforts to thwart international investigations into Russia’s alleged crimes.

    It was Karapetyan who signed a letter from the Russian government refusing to help the U.S. in a civil case it was pursuing linked to the death of Sergei Magnitsky, a Russian lawyer who was trying to expose a $230 million fraud in Russia. Leaked emails have since shown that Veselnitskaya helped to draft the document sent with that letter.

    Karapetyan has been involved in efforts to foil international investigations for more than a decade….

    It is not known why experienced pilot Stanislav Mikhnov, 54, reportedly decided to take off after nightfall in adverse conditions without authorities’ approval. A third man, Arek Harutyunyan, was also killed, according to the Russian news agency Interfax….

  66. says

    Tweet o’ the day.

    This is serious. CNN just interviewed a woman from Maine who wanted Collins to vote to confirm Kavanaugh. She doesn’t believe the allegations against him, and thinks the Capitol protesters are being paid by the “Soros campaign.” These people don’t even know what they’re saying.

  67. says

    MURKOWSKI now: ‘I believe that Brett Kavanaugh is a good man… this has truly been the most difficult…decision I’ve ever had to make…we’re also at a place where we need to be thinking about the…credibility of our institutions’.”

  68. says

    Flake to vote Yes. Because he’s Flake.

    Susan Hennessey: “Flake was always going to vote yes. It’s all Collins. If you’re not from Maine, leave her alone, leave her phone lines open. The people she needs to hear from in the final hours are her constituents.”

    And Murkowski. And Barbara Boxer.

  69. Saad says

    SC, #120

    Yeah, it’s terrible. I’ve just been watching and reading in horror where this country is at on such a clear-cut issue. It feels like there are no safeguards left to keep our system safe from these people anymore. It’s almost like it’s just up to Trump to decide when he wants to establish a dictatorship and it’ll be done.

  70. says

    Hennessey: “Everything you need to know about Brett Kavanuagh’s fitness for the bench, about his character as a judge, about who he is when it matters—every single thing—is that he would rather do this to the Court and the country than withdraw.”

  71. says

    SC @110, Trump substituted the Russians for Daddy Fred Trump when Fred’s money ran out. That’s what it looks like.

    Without an infusion of Russian money, Trump would be nothing.

  72. says

    Nadia Murad’s statement on winning the Nobel Peace Prize:

    This morning the Nobel Committee informed me that I was selected as a co-recipient of the 2018 Nobel Peace Prize. I am incredibly honored and humbled by their support and I share this award with Yazidis, Iraqis, Kurds, other persecuted minorities and all of the countless victims of sexual violence around the world.

    As a survivor, I am grateful for this opportunity to draw international attention to the plight of the Yazidi people who have suffered unimaginable crimes since the genocide by Daesh, which began in 2014. Many Yazidis will look upon this prize and think of family members that were lost, are still unaccounted for, and of the 1,300 women and children, which remain in captivity. Like many minority groups, the Yazidis, have carried the weight of historical persecution. Women in particular have suffered greatly as they have been, and continue to be the victims of sexual violence.

    For myself, I think of my mother, who was murdered by DAESH, the children with whom I grew up, and what we must do to honor them. Persecution of minorities must end. We must work together with determination – to prove that genocidal campaigns will not only fail, but lead to accountability for the perpetrators and justice for the survivors.

    We must remain committed to rebuilding communities ravaged by genocide. Survivors deserve a safe and secure pathway home or safe passage elsewhere. We must support efforts to focus on humanity, and overcome political and cultural divisions. We must not only imagine a better future for women, children and persecuted minorities, we must work consistently to make it happen – prioritizing humanity, not war.

    Congratulations to my co-recipient, Dr. Mukwege, a man I admire greatly who has dedicated his life to helping women of sexual violence.
    Thank you to the Nobel Committee for this honor.

    I will organized a press conference this Sunday in Washington DC. The time and place will be announced tomorrow on this page.

  73. says

    Incompetence at every level: Donald Trump’s re-election campaign sent an email appeal to supporters which read, “No more games. No more excuses. The Senate must confirm Judge Kavanaugh to the U.S. Senate now.”

    As Rachel Maddow said, they need to hire a sixth grader to proofread their fundraising appeals … and every other statement they put out.

    In other news, Janet Garrett has a new ad out that is inspired by the “Handmaid’s Tale.”
    NBC News link

    Your beliefs about women were crystal clear. Violence against women? Acceptable. Equal pay? Unnecessary. Birth control and choice? Eliminated… You got away with it because when it mattered most, when we had the chance to raise our voice, we fell silent.

    Video is available at the link. Garrett is running against Ohio Republican Representative Jim Jordon, a guy who voted to defund Planned Parenthood, and who opposed the Violence Against Women Act.

  74. tomh says

    Another good column by Jennifer Rubin today.

    Tough votes reveal character — and the importance of women in power
    Oct. 5th, 2018

    After explaining the issues Murkowski and Heitkamp (and Manchin) face, she finishes:

    Two women, one Democrat and one Republican, each voted in a way contrary to political self-interest. Both saw something bigger than fairness to one nominee was at stake. We know that another nominee in the mold of Justice Neil M. Gorsuch would get their votes; Gorsuch already got their votes. The reason the GOP and White House persist in pushing Kavanaugh is specifically the desire to rally their base by stoking male grievance. That is the point of the exercise, one that Kavanaugh gladly joined when he made a base-pleasing opening statement and then wrote a party-establishment-pleasing op-ed in the Wall Street Journal.

    That, Heitkamp and Murkowski ultimately could be no part of. In this case it is hard to dispute that gender played a role — because Trump and the Republicans made it about gender, about a “scary time” for men. At some level Heitkamp and Murkowski understood that. Their votes took on a greater significance precisely because the GOP has declared open season on Christine Blasey Ford, mocked and attacked women protesters and fueled misogynist sentiment.

    As for Collins, she’s seemed desperate to find a rationale to support Kavanaugh, for whatever reason, be it friendship, the “cover” or some other fig leaf. Her female colleagues recognized a higher bar: the dignity of women and the legitimacy of the courts. The vote will define Collins one way or another, and her vote will reverberate for decades.

  75. says

    Trump is spouting conspiracy theories again about protests/protestors:

    The very rude elevator screamers are paid professionals only looking to make Senators look bad. Don’t fall for it!

    Also, look at all of the professionally made identical signs. Paid for by Soros and others. These are not signs made in the basement from love! #Troublemakers

    This is the first time Trump mentioned George Soros in a tweet.

    From Steve Benen:

    As far as Trump is concerned, the women survivors of sexual assault who’ve traveled to D.C., demanding to be heard, are little more than “trouble makers” on the payroll of some Hungarian-American philanthropist.

    It’s the Trumpiest possible response to this week’s protests.

    And, as was mentioned up-thread, Trump is repeating a conspiracy theory pushed by Russian TV and by Russian social media bots and trolls. Who is actually being paid to spread disinformation?

  76. says

    Trump’s criticism of Al Franken and of the person appointed to fill Franken’s seat, Senator Tina Smith:

    Nobody knows who the hell she is. Who is she? She was appointed; she took a wacky guy’s place. He was wacky. Boy, did he fold up like a wet rag, huh? Man. Man. He was gone so fast.

    I don’t want to mention Al Franken’s name, so I won’t mention. He was gone so fast. It was like, “Oh, he did something.” “Oh, oh, oh, I resign, I quit, I quit.”

    From Steve Benen:

    The comment offered an interesting insight into Trump’s perspective. In his mind, the problem with Franken isn’t that he allegedly groped women; rather, the problem with Franken is that he stepped down after being accused of allegedly groping women.

    From the New York Times:

    The remark was in keeping with Mr. Trump’s long-stated personal mantra of never giving in to any accusation, and considering those who do to be weak.

    That gives us some insight into why Brett Kavanaugh gave that unhinged “deny, deny, deny” performance in front of the Senate.

  77. says

    From Kavanaugh’s op-ed that was published in the Wall Street Journal:

    I was very emotional last Thursday, more so than I have ever been. I might have been too emotional at times. I know that my tone was sharp, and I said a few things I should not have said. I hope everyone can understand that I was there as a son, husband and dad. I testified with five people foremost in my mind: my mom, my dad, my wife, and most of all my daughters.

    Going forward, you can count on me to be the same kind of judge and person I have been for my entire 28-year legal career: hardworking, even-keeled, open-minded, independent and dedicated to the Constitution and the public good.

    He did not say which comments he regrets.

    When the pressure mounted, Kavanaugh’s defensive instinct was to spout conspiracy theories and partisan nonsense about a revenge scheme supposedly cooked up by Democrats “on behalf of the Clintons.”

    Moreover, he can’t claim to have just been emotional in the moment. He wrote his statement. He read from prepared remarks.

    Kavanaugh has now been interviewed by Fox, and he has written an op-ed for the Wall Street Journal. Good way to prove that he is an impartial, non-partisan judge. Right?

  78. says

    Senator Cory Booker appeared on The Rachel Maddow Show. He talked about the ridiculous way senators were allowed to read the one (yes 1) copy of the FBI report in large groups, about the report’s insufficiency, and he stated firmly that there was evidence of misconduct in the report, (or at least incidents which required further investigation). “In plain English, in what I just read there are hints of misconduct […]”

    The video is 6:02 long.

  79. says


    […] If you are from Texas, check your voter registration right now. Especially if you used to register to vote. Why?

    With the Kavanaugh distraction, right-wing officials at the Secretary of State identified a great time to do this:

    More than 2,000 potential voters in Texas had their voters’ registration applications unfairly rejected by the Texas Secretary of State, a national advocacy group said Wednesday.

    October 9 is the deadline for registering new voters in Texas.

    Although Texas is a sea of red, there are distinct blue areas around the urban centers: Dallas County (Dallas), Bexar County (San Antonio), and Travis County (Austin). There’s also Cameron County, which is the southernmost county in Texas, right next to the border. (The Texas Tribune has an interactive map of the red and blue counties.)

    These blue areas are the counties where the applications were rejected.

    State officials claimed the rejections were due to voter registration applications using digital photographs of their signatures. The Secretary of State officials insist that signatures must be handwritten.

    Which is a load of b.s.

    Lawyers for disagree with the Secretary of State’s interpretation and say they “reserve all rights to challenge it.” They say there is nothing in the election code requiring a handwritten signature.


    2400 Texas voter registrations rejected right before deadline—all from Democratic-leaning counties.

  80. says

    Follow-up to comment 131.

    […] White supremacists and other members of the far-right quickly turned out to praise Trump’s anti-Soros turn on Friday. White supremacist Paul Ramsey, for instance, called for the U.S. to “follow Hungary’s example and implement [a] Stop Soros law.” The so-called “Stop Soros” law effectively prohibits those in Hungary from helping, in any manner or form, individuals or immigrants who are undocumented. […]

    Other conspiracy theorists also picked up on Trump’s tweet. White supremacist Kevin MacDonald decried the claims that Trump’s anti-Soros tweet was actually anti-Semitic. Jack Posobiec, perhaps best known for once reportedly holding a “Rape Melania” sign in public, shared Trump’s tweets with his followers, saying only, “Soros!”

    A few hours before Trump’s tweet, Paul Joseph Watson added his conspiratorial voice to the din, claiming that the anti-Kavanaugh push was actually a “Soros-funded campaign.” […]

    the social media site Gab, a favorite of white supremacists, was stocked with all kinds of praise for Trump. As one user wrote, “Of all the presidential tweets that hint of an internal war for the soul of America and the world, perhaps none more directly thrown down the gauntlet than” Trump’s tweet about Soros. […]

    One “Gab Pro” user, the British Columbia-based Jamie Schneider, summed up the day’s reactions about fellow white supremacists. As Schneider wrote, “A day where Trump calls out Soros by name is a good day.”


  81. says

    From Addy Baird writing for Think Progress:

    […] Kavanaugh added that his time in high school and college had been “ridiculously distorted” by the press and Democrats, and said his wife and daughters had faced “vile and violent threats” as a result. He promised to “continue to contribute to our country as a coach, volunteer, and teacher.”

    “Every day I will try to be the best husband, dad, and friend I can be,” he wrote.

    To many experts, those words mirrored the language often used by abusers.

    Nicole Bedera, a researcher at the University of Michigan studying sexual violence and masculinity, told ThinkProgress the column read to her like a classic abuser apology. When abusers apologize, Bedera said, they make victims feel as if everything is their fault, rather than taking any blame themselves.

    “In the case of abuser, they tell the survivor, ‘I know that what I did wasn’t good, but I only did it because I was pushed too far,’” Bedera said.

    That, she claimed, was precisely what Kavanaugh did in his column.

    Bedera said she was also struck by Kavanaugh’s promise that his aggressive, angry outbursts would not happen again.

    “But the thing we know about abusers is they will do it again,” she said. “If it were really a one-off, he wouldn’t have to work this hard.”

    Understanding the ways in which Kavanaugh has employed different, specific damage-control tactics, Bedera noted, is particularly important.

    “The behavior he has been exhibiting has been consistent with abusers the whole way through… and if you come from a place of believing the survivors that have come forward, what Kavanaugh and his angry outburst shows us is, in a way, a form of corroboration,” she said. […]

  82. says

    Afghan officials have had enough of Erik Prince.

    Afghan officials have finally had enough, […] angrily rejecting any possibility that foreign military contractors could be charged with training and advising their embattled country’s security forces.

    This is essentially bad news for one person: Erik Prince, the founder of Blackwater, the private military contractor (that has gone by many names) with a record of killing civilians with impunity in Iraq and making Prince a very, very rich man.

    According to Reuters, President Ashraf Ghani on Thursday repeated his disdain for Prince’s plan as “destructive and divisive debate”.

    “Under no circumstances will the Afghan government and people allow the counterterrorism fight to become a private, for-profit business,” read Ghani’s official statement.

    Since President Donald Trump came into office, Prince has been trying, and trying, and trying get a foothold back in Afghanistan, privatizing U.S. military operations there. […]


  83. says

    NOW: Sen. Kamala Harris telling the Senate about cases in which potential jurors privately confided they had been sexually assaulted, but had never told anyone – including their spouses. But told attorneys b/c they didn’t feel they could sit on a jury in such a case.”

  84. says

    “Free” Tablets Are Costing Prison Inmates a Fortune

    Would you send that email if it cost 30 cents? These prisoners don’t have another choice.

    […] in the early 2000s, inmates at Marion got their first taste of email—though a far different version than the one most users know. Inmates received printouts of messages, and wrote their responses on lined paper that would be scanned and sent back for roughly 40 cents each way.

    That system was their only option for email until 2014, when prisoners learned Ohio had signed a contract with JPay, a private prison technology service company, for personal tablets. For $140, prisoners would be able to purchase a clear, 7-inch Android device from JPay. The tablets wouldn’t be connected to the internet, but for a fee, Snitzky and his fellow inmates at Marion can access emails, games, and music from their prison cells.

    The access comes with a hefty price tag. At Marion, each email Snitzky [a prisoner] sends costs 30 cents, and video visits cost nearly $10 for 30 minutes—services that are free for non-incarcerated internet users through services like Google and Skype. In some facilities, a simple game like solitaire that would be free on a phone costs up to $7.99, and movie rentals and purchases range from $2 to $25. These rates are on the cheaper end of the market; in other states, such as Indiana, JPay’s main competitor, GTL, charges 38 cents for an email, up to $7.99 for 48-hour movie rentals, and $24.99 for a monthly music subscription. Even premium versions of streaming services Spotify and Apple Music only cost $9.99 a month for those on the outside, and those plans grant access to millions more songs than what GTL offers.

    Ownership of this media can be tenuous. Just this summer, Florida inmates lost about $11.3 million in music downloads after the corrections department switched from JPay to a new contractor. Other inmates report media downloads disappearing from their devices for no explained reason.

    [The great divide:] who can afford commissary food, or who can purchase non-state-issued clothing and necessities. Now, that divide has gone digital, and it’s private contractors and state governments that have benefited from this arrangement. In Ohio, for example, the state makes $1.3 million annually in commissions from JPay services, according to its budget. [….]

  85. says

    The Washington Post called for Kavanaugh’s rejection in rare editorial rebuke.

    […] The Post cited Kavanaugh’s partisan rhetoric and emotive behavior during a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing last week on allegations of sexual misconduct against him, as well as what the editorial board felt was insufficient information for senators to make an informed decision.

    Though the newspaper admitted it would have preferred a more moderate pick to replace retired Justice Anthony Kennedy, who had been the court’s swing vote, it said Kavanaugh’s conservative views were not a reason for its opposition. […]

    During his hearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee, convened to address allegations of sexual assault against him, Kavanaugh levied accusations that Senate Democrats had conspired against him in “a calculated and orchestrated political hit, fueled with apparent pent-up anger about President Trump and the 2016 election” and “revenge on behalf of the Clintons.” […]

    The Post editorial argued such rhetoric from the Supreme Court nominee could be an indicator of future partisanship on the Supreme Court.

    The editorial board also feared Kavanaugh could be a pawn for President Donald Trump in the light of special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation of Russian interference in the 2016 election. The editorial quoted Kavanaugh “obsequiously” claiming “no president has ever consulted more widely, or talked with more people from more backgrounds, to seek input about a Supreme Court nomination.” It also cited Kavanaugh’s penchant for executive deference and declining to comment on how he would handle cases involving Trump.

    The Post also cited what it felt was insufficient information and evasiveness from Kavanaugh, and a tepid drive from Senate Republicans to fill in the gaps. In addition to dodging questions concerning his behavior in high school, Kavanaugh did not sufficiently account for several of his decisions as a federal judge during the Bush administration, the editorial argued. […]

  86. says

    If this is, as it overwhelmingly appears to be, Collins’ wind up to a Yes vote, it’s the most shameful thing she’s ever done, and history and Maine voters will remember.

  87. says

    SC @145, Collins spent an hour rebuilding Kavanaugh into a different man. She did not mention Kavanaugh’s many lies or misleading statements during his Senate testimony. She did not mention Kavanaugh’s sneering, aggressive attacks against senators like Amy Klobuchar. She did not mention Kavanaugh’s blatant partisan statements.

    Finally, Collins said she would vote for the man she had invented.


    Joe Manchin came out soon afterwards and said that he would also vote “yes” for Kavanaugh.

  88. says

    From comments on Twitter:

    Area Woman Believes Brett Kavanaugh Moderate, Despite His Wild Theory That Democrats Are Working With The Clintons And Soros To Get Him Kicked Out Of Washington
    Brett Kavanuagh is watching Susan Collins and is cracking open a beer.

  89. says

    Jeff Sessions and Trump lose one battle.

    A federal district court judge has ruledAttorney General Jeff Sessions’ conditions on grant funding to force so-called sanctuary cities to cooperate with immigration enforcement efforts as unconstitutional

    Judge William Orrick, of the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California, sided with the state of California and San Francisco in their lawsuit challenging the requirements in granting their request for summary judgment Friday.

    The condition Sessions set in 2017 require sanctuary cities to give immigration officials access to their jails, notify ICE officials of the planned release of a detainee and follow a law that prohibits state and local governments from restricting how much information is shared with the Department of Homeland Security.

    Orrick’s decision was in agreement with every court that has looked at these issues.

    The judge said he said the challenged conditions violate the separation of power and the information-sharing law is unconstitutional. […]


  90. says

    tomh @151, Kavanaugh and Collins as “moderate” Republicans is an invention, a myth, a disinformation campaign, and a public relations campaign. A lot of politicians play that game. As a Federalist Society member, Kavanaugh is a judge that plays that game. In some instances, Trump plays harder than anyone.

    As Adam Gopnik said in The New Yorker:

    […] Donald Trump’s genius for misdirection is to pile so many obvious ruses upon so many ham-handed sleights that the easily fooled parts of his audience are impressed by the audacity, while the more sophisticated parts of his audience, on left and right both, become so fatigued by the constant motion that they stop paying sufficient attention to the core point of the deception. […]

    very often, the most brazen kinds of misdirection are the most successful, especially in the hands of a brazen performer.

    All of which is to put us in mind of the truth that the Brett Kavanaugh drama—with all the debates over the layout of suburban Maryland houses and the parsing of the repeated use of the letter “F”—is a distraction. Kavanaugh is not unqualified for the Supreme Court just because of something that he may have done when he was seventeen, or because of how he may have lied to the Senate about this or that specificity of his youthful behavior or about how he may have accepted illicitly obtained Democratic e-mails when he worked in the George W. Bush White House, or about his possible involvement in the effort to make torture seem acceptable. (Kavanaugh maintains innocence on all fronts.) He became disqualified for the Supreme Court the moment that he accepted the offer from Donald Trump. At this stage in his Presidency, Trump, already described in reports from his own aides as unfit for the office, implicated by his former lawyer as an unindicted co-conspirator in a felony, and now alleged, according to the Times, to have benefitted from tax schemes that in some instances amounted to “outright fraud”—not to mention being a liar and a con artist—should not be allowed to appoint Justices for lifetime appointments.

    […] Trump’s purpose in appointing Kavanaugh to the Court was clearly to provide himself with a protective vote for whenever one issue or another arising from his misbehavior makes its way there. […] anyone who had illusions about Kavanaugh not being an acolyte of Trumpism should have been disabused by his partisan performance last week, in which he made it quite apparent. […] Everything else is simulation and dissimulation. Everything else is misdirection. […]

    [Trump] is not uniquely responsible for the existence of a revanchist core of white men who so fear the assertion of minority power that they will go to almost any lengths, and make any deal with any devil, to prevent it. That core has been a consistent feature of American life since the post-Civil War period. […]

    But Trump is the direct cause of turning this enduring American fact into an active threat to democracy itself. […]

    This is Trump, and Trump alone, degrading American politics, and we should not get lost in side debates and sideshows. Some may be wringing their hands about the unending and presumably two-sided intolerance of red for blue and blue for red. But there is no figure in the Democratic Party who in any respect shares Trump’s rhetoric or mirrors Trump’s threats or repeats Trump’s hatreds. Such figures exist only on the fringes of the left, whereas Trumpism has now become the central and defining faith of the Republican Party. […]

    Pundit on MSNBC saying right now that Kavanaugh won by becoming Donald Trump.

  91. says

    Follow-up to comment 153.

    The issues that Kavanaugh’s past behavior raises are crucial ones, and there is time and the need for a deep dive into the persistence of sexual assault and the necessity of hearing out victims and recognizing pathological cultural patterns. But do not let the simulations and dissimulations distract you. Kavanaugh is an instrument of Trumpism, an insurance policy that the con man is writing for himself. […]

  92. says

    From Steve Benen:

    […] The Maine Republican’s surprisingly long speech was, at times, alarmingly naïve about the kind of justice Kavanaugh could be. At one point, for example, Collins declared, “My fervent hope is that Brett Kavanaugh will work to lessen the divisions in the Supreme Court so that we have far fewer 5-4 decisions.”

    As if an overt partisan, who last week peddled Republican conspiracy theories, and who’s played partisan roles throughout much of his career, can credibly be counted to “lessen the divisions” on the nation’s highest bench. […]

    Republicans didn’t refute [Christine Blasey] Ford’s story; they simply decided not to let it influence their opinion of her alleged attacker.

    Fifty-one senators heard Kavanaugh lie repeatedly. They heard him peddle partisan conspiracy theories. They confronted credible allegations against him. They reviewed his highly controversial views about shielding presidents from legal scrutiny. And they nevertheless concluded to give him the powerful job anyway.

    History will not be kind.


  93. says

    Representative Louie Gohmert (from Texas) said of Democrats:

    Well, they might as well raise their forearm, and raise their hands and yell Heil Soros!, is the way they’re headed.


  94. says

    The website to fund Collins’ opponent crashed from extremely high traffic. As SC flagged in comment 152, Susan Rice might run.

    Weirdly, people are jumping on a bandwagon to blame Michael Avenatti for Kavanaugh’s win.

  95. says

    Susan Collins may be in deep shit.

    On Friday afternoon, as Maine Sen. Susan Collins gave a speech on the Senate floor explaining why she would vote in favor of Judge Brett Kavanaugh’s confirmation to the Supreme Court, the progressive crowdfunding platform Crowdpac began receiving a flood of campaign donations for her eventual Democratic challenger when she runs for re-election in 2020. In fact, it appears that Crowdpac was deluged by so many donations that it shut down due to an internal server error. The website is still down as of this writing. […]


    Crowdpac announced that it will be back online shortly. “Senator Susan Collins has people more motivated than we’ve ever seen before. Hold tight, we’ll be back shortly.”

  96. says

    Kavanaugh’s Wall Street Journal Op-Ed Is a Fraud

    This isn’t the first time the Supreme Court nominee has scrambled to clean up his partisan outbursts.

    […] We’ve seen this from Kavanaugh before: rage, animus, and political warfare, followed by a scramble to clean things up. The cleanup is an act. The real Kavanaugh is what we saw in the committee hearing: a congenital partisan. […]

    In 1998, while working for independent counsel Ken Starr, Kavanaugh wrote an angry memo against President Clinton. Kavanaugh urged Starr to “make [Clinton’s] pattern of revolting behavior clear—piece by painful piece.” Afterward, according to colleagues, Kavanaugh “immediately regretted” his explosion. Kavanaugh has also behaved violently at least twice after drinking, according to witnesses and a police report. There’s the Kavanaugh who apologizes, and then there’s the Kavanaugh who keeps doing things that require apologies. […]

    Kavanaugh’s written draft of his statement to the Judiciary Committee, submitted on Sept. 26, was nonpartisan. It spoke of “a frenzy to come up with something—anything … that will block a vote on my nomination.” But while Ford was testifying on the morning of Sept. 27, Kavanaugh, by his own account, rewrote his remarks instead of watching her testimony. After the word “frenzy,” he inserted the phrase “on the left.” And before the words “grotesque and obvious character assassination,” he inserted “anger about President Trump,” “revenge on behalf of the Clintons,” and “left-wing opposition groups.” These revisions weren’t the work of a man defending his honor. They were carefully crafted appeals to political tribalism. […]

  97. says

    The irony of Trump’s debasing allegation that Kavanaugh protesters are paid

    […] The implication from Trump’s tweet is that those protesters are broadly employees of left-wing groups, not that they have an opposing point of view worthy of consideration.

    He made a similar claim shortly after the 2016 election, when protests that erupted following his win were dismissed as being “professional protesters, incited by the media.” After that comment received a negative response, he claimed that he “loved” that protesters had “passion for our great country.” […]

    Claims that the anti-Kavanaugh protesters are paid to be there, for example, often pivot around a photograph of a woman who was arrested for protesting during a hearing being handed money by a man beforehand. It was posted on Twitter with the caption “Proof the protesters were paid off in line.” The man handing her the money, though, was an organizer with a group called the Center for Popular Democracy, which provided cash bond payments to people who risked arrest by protesting […] (Those who weren’t arrested were expected to return the money.) […]

    In an interview on Fox Business, Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Sen. Charles E. Grassley (R-Iowa) said that he, too, believed the protesters were funded by Soros.

    “I have heard so many people believe that. I tend to believe it,” he said. “I believe it fits in his attack mode that he has and how he uses his billions and billions in resources.”

    Large-scale protests on both sides require organizers to get permits, arrange timing and plan tactics. They often make signs to coordinate a central message. None of this suggests that the protesters themselves are not sincere. The Center for Popular Democracy has done a lot of organizing around Kavanaugh. […]

    There are sharp ironies to Trump’s criticisms here. The first is that Trump himself faces allegations of assault. In a news conference last month, he suggested that those women who had come forward to allege that he’d assaulted them had been discredited by having been paid to make the claims. This isn’t true.

    Then there’s this: On June 16, 2015, he announced his candidacy for the presidency from the lower lobby of Trump Tower. As he began, he celebrated the people arrayed around the balconies above him showing their support.

    Some — not all — of those people were there because they were paid to be, $50 a head. They had professionally printed signs and shirts, not signs crafted with love in their basements. Several of the actors posted photos of themselves online; the firm that organized their attendance created a video highlighting its work on the event.

    The kicker? Trump’s campaign didn’t pay that firm, Gotham Government Relations, for months, leading to an FEC complaint. That was reported on the day of Trump’s inauguration.

  98. says

    Chris Hayes’ podcast – “Women, Rage, and Power with Rebecca Traister”:

    Women are pissed. After the election of Donald Trump, the sustained fury of American women has been one of the defining features of his political backlash. From the immediate outpouring of rage in the Women’s Marches to the reckoning of the #MeToo moment to the historic number of women on the ballot in the coming midterm elections, the country is witnessing the beginnings of a social upheaval that’s been long in the making. In her new book, Rebecca Traister traces the historical and current potency of women’s political rage.

  99. says

    “The Trumpification of the Supreme Court”:

    Brett Kavanaugh’s confirmation to the Supreme Court, now all but assured will be remembered as the signal moment when Trumpism fully infected the judiciary.

    Yes, Republicans have placed scores of lower court judges, and even a Supreme Court justice, on the bench over the past 20 months; yes all were nominated by a president who lost the popular vote, and yes, all were confirmed by a Senate majority that represents a popular minority.

    But Kavanaugh is different, and not because he represents the emergence of an anti-Roe majority since the the Court declared a constitutional right to abortion 45 years ago. Almost any GOP-nominated replacement for Justice Anthony Kennedy would have cemented such a majority. Kavanaugh in particular symbolizes much more.

    For reasons that no long require explanation his lifetime appointment is a painful blow for the patriarchy against equality movements like Me Too.

    Even before he stood accused of sexual assault, Kavanaugh was a totem for the forces of dishonesty and bad faith, angling to deceive his way into power by hiding and lying about his career and his agenda.

    Kavanaugh has been systematically misleading the Senate since 2004. Rather than own up to his history as a partisan activist lawyer, he disguised his life’s work with spin and outright lies….

    Those deceptions predated the wildly dishonest political campaign he waged to rescue his nomination from credible accusations of sexual assault.

    Kavanugh’s appointment is thus an extension of Trump’s contempt for U.S. governing institutions as anything other than instruments of raw partisan power.

    Kavanaugh’s confirmation represents the establishment of a Republican court—not just a conservative one—for a generation, and enhances the case that Democrats should abandon niceties and add two seats to the Supreme Court when they next control government—one to rectify the theft of Merrick Garland’s seat, and another to neutralize the partisan interloper, whom Republicans confirmed to the Court amid credible claims that he assaulted women and misled Congress.

    The effort to confirm Kavanaugh opened new frontiers of corruption in the executive branch as well—through the concealment of Kavanaugh’s public-service records, and, just as importantly, through the shameless manipulation of the FBI, which the White House tasked with conducting a constrained background investigation of the assault allegations, not to pursue the truth, but to contrive the talking point that none of the allegations could be corroborated.

    Despite of all these disqualifying sins of, Kavanaugh will become a Supreme Court justice, and the face of a government that has been commandeered by a minority faction and deployed antagonistically against the interests of the masses. The lesson for those masses is to mobilize as if their lives and livelihoods depend on it—for many of them, it does.

  100. says

    “The battle over accusations goes on as Kavanaugh nomination advances: Kavanaugh classmates ignored by the FBI speak out, reveal new text message.”

    These messages, both the timing and the content – are ridiculously sketchy. Kavanaugh was involved. And the Republican staffers plainly used the cover of the FBI “Investigation” (as I predicted they would) to go after witnesses to silence them or try (unsuccessfully) to undercut Ramirez’ story and keep corroboration out of the official record.

    Matthew Miller: “This stuff is going to keep coming out and it is going to be devastating for the legitimacy of both Kavanaugh and the court.” He noted earlier that Christopher Wray is scheduled to testify in the Senate on Wednesday.

  101. says

    From Elizabeth Warren:

    I’ve seen the FBI “report” on Brett Kavanaugh. 4 things are clear:
    ❌This wasn’t a full or fair investigation.
    ❌ It doesn’t exonerate him.
    ❌ The available documents contradict what he said under oath.
    ❌ We must #CancelKavanaugh.

    Longer statement from Elizabeth Warren:

    Senators have been muzzled. So I will now say three things that committee staff has explained are permissible to say without violating committee rules. … One: This was not a full and fair investigation. It was sharply limited in scope and did not explore the relevant confirming facts. Two: The available documents do not exonerate Mr. Kavanaugh.

    And three: the available documents contradict statements Mr. Kavanaugh made under oath. I would like to back up these points with explicit statements from the FBI documents — explicit statements that should be available for the American people to see. But the Republicans have locked the documents behind closed doors.

  102. says

    Brett Kavanaugh Cannot Have It Both Ways, by Robert Post

    As the former dean of Yale Law School, I’m shocked by the judge’s partisan turn.

    Brett Kavanaugh and I differ on most fundamental questions of constitutional law. Nevertheless, as a former dean of the institution where he received his law degree, I have withheld comment on the merits of his appointment. I am proud of the rich diversity of views that Yale Law School has produced.

    Over the past decade, Kavanaugh has been a casual acquaintance. He seemed a gentle, quiet, reserved man, always solicitous of the dignity of his position as a judge on the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit. It was therefore with something approaching unbelief that I heard his speech after Christine Blasey Ford’s testimony.

    With calculation and skill, Kavanaugh stoked the fires of partisan rage and male entitlement. He had apparently concluded that the only way he could rally Republican support was by painting himself as the victim of a political hit job. He therefore offered a witches’ brew of vicious unfounded charges, alleging that Democratic members of the Senate Judicial Committee were pursuing a vendetta on behalf of the Clintons. If we expect judges to reach conclusions based solely on reliable evidence, Kavanaugh’s savage and bitter attack demonstrated exactly the opposite sensibility.

    I was shell-shocked. […] Even if he sought to defend his honor as a husband and father, his unbalanced rantings about political persecution were so utterly inconsistent with the dispassionate temperament we expect from judges that one had to conclude that he had chosen ambition over professionalism.

    […] behind the smiling face of judicial benevolence lies the force of an urgent will to power. No one who felt the force of that anger could possibly believe that Kavanaugh might actually be a detached and impartial judge. Each and every Republican who votes for Kavanaugh, therefore, effectively announces that they care more about controlling the Supreme Court than they do about the legitimacy of the court itself. There will be hell to pay.

    […] Kavanaugh published a remarkable editorial in the Wall Street Journal in which he apologized for his rash words and attempted to reclaim for himself the “independence and impartiality” so necessary for judges. But judicial temperament is not like a mask that can be put on or taken off at will. […]

    Judge Kavanaugh cannot have it both ways. He cannot gain confirmation by unleashing partisan fury while simultaneously claiming that he possesses a judicial and impartial temperament. […]

    Kavanaugh will join the court as the black-robed embodiment of raw partisan power inconsistent with any ideal of an impartial judiciary. As the court moves to the right to accommodate Trump’s appointments, Kavanaugh will inevitably become the focus of distrust and mobilization. His very presence will undermine the court’s claim to legitimacy; it will damage the nation’s commitment to the rule of law. It will be an American tragedy.

  103. says

    Follow-up to comments 67 and 69.

    From Josh Marshall:

    […] the Trump White House is now trying to hold up China as the ‘real’ meddler in US elections, attempting to delegitimize the investigation into members of the Trump entourage conspiring with Russia.

    […] we should be able to recognize this manipulation without needing to make any excuses for China’s documented and assumed behavior. Like all great powers, China has active and robust espionage and cyber-espionage operations. But Politico talked to various leaders in the private sector cyber-security industry and they say they’re not seeing any of what the Trump White House is claiming. So the White House line on this seems to be even more bogus than I’d imagined.

    There’s one other point to note that can be an assist in not getting bamboozled by these claims. All countries practice espionage: stealing each others’ secrets, listening to each others’ phone calls, breaking into each others’ computer networks. What marked a big change was when Russia began using this material in an offensive capacity. An early hint of this came during the Ukraine crisis in 2014 when Russia listened in on the phone calls of a State Department official (totally standard) and then leaked a recording of the call on the web (not standard). This turned out to be a precursor of the 2016 campaign. This is the difference between intelligence collection and something more like information warfare and a disruption campaign. There’s a major difference.

  104. says

    Follow-up to SC’s comment 166.

    […] As Senate Judiciary Chairman Charles Grassley, R-Iowa, closed out his executive summary of allegations of sexual misconduct against Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh, his staff called a former roommate of Deborah Ramirez, the Yale classmate who has accused Kavanaugh of exposing himself to her.

    Jen Klaus, the former roommate, told NBC News that committee staff members called her at 4:30 p.m. Thursday, put her on speakerphone and asked about Ramirez’s drinking habits, whether there was a Yale student known for dropping his pants and the party culture at Yale. She says they suggested the allegation was a case of mistaken identity.

    “It just gave me the impression they were suggesting perhaps it was (another classmate) who threw his penis in her face instead of Brett. Why would they be asking me this?” said Klaus, who now resides in Brookline, Massachusetts. […]

    Two former Yale classmates say they have made several attempts to share text messages raising questions about whether Kavanaugh tried to squash the New Yorker story that made Ramirez’s accusations public — and say the FBI did not respond to their calls and written submissions to its web portal.

    The text messages involve one potential eyewitness to the incident and the wife of another potential eyewitness.

    The texts are a conversation between Kathy Charlton and a mutual friend of Kavanaugh’s who, NBC has confirmed, was identified to the FBI by Ramirez as an eyewitness to the incident. […]

    The story detailing Ramirez’s accusation was published in the New Yorker on September 23. Charlton told NBC News that, in a phone conversation three days earlier, the former classmate told her Kavanaugh had called him and advised him not to say anything “bad to the press.”

    Then on September 21, according to the texts, that same person sent Charlton a text accusing her of disclosing their conversation to a reporter. “Hellllllooooo. Don’t F****** TELL PEOPLE BRETT GOT IN TOUCH WITH ME!!! I TOLD YOU AT THE TIME THAT WAS IN CONFIDENCE!!!”

    “From the content and all capital letters of the text (the alleged witness) seemed to feel that there was a great deal at stake for Brett if Brett’s fears of exposure ever became public,” Charlton wrote in a statement to the FBI shared with Grassley’s office on Oct. 4. […]


  105. says

    Senators voted 50-48 to confirm Kavanaugh, as expected.

    Trump tweeted:

    I applaud and congratulate the U.S. Senate for confirming our GREAT NOMINEE, Judge Brett Kavanaugh, to the United States Supreme Court. Later today, I will sign his Commission of Appointment, and he will be officially sworn in. Very exciting!

    One more step was taken in Trump’s plan, (and his enablers’ plans), to destroy democracy.

    Autocracy in action.

    Trump praised Susan Collins:

    I thought that Susan was incredible yesterday. You could see how hard she worked, how hard she was working. She didn’t stop. And I know for a fact, because I spoke with her, she didn’t stop, and she gave an impassioned, beautiful speech yesterday, and that was from the heart. That was from the heart. I have great respect for Susan Collins. And I always have.

    From the readers’ comments section on Talking Points Memo:

    Besides her vile and unforgivable vote for a sexual predator to be seated on the Supreme Court […], now phony media-created-moderate Susan Collins has received praise for her despicable actions from our sexual predator president, which is like receiving a shot of the ebola virus while being in the OR after a serious car accident. Oh, and I can see that crowd-funded website for her opponent hitting over $4M in no time at all. […]

    I really don’t expect Collins to be giving any public town halls in the near future – just private ones for her RW donors. […]

  106. says

    Mitch McConnell’s response was really irritating:

    It’s been a great political gift for us. The tactics have energized our base. I want to thank the mob, because they’ve done the one thing we were having trouble doing, which was energizing our base.

    “The mob.” You are calling protestors a “mob”?

  107. says

    From The Ben Carson News, a political newsletter, (probably not written by Ben Carson himself, but who knows):

    The Democrats are like a pack of vicious dogs with this whole Kavanaugh “crisis”, sinking their teeth in and tearing at the flesh until rivers of blood flow through the street.

    They’re crazed lunatics on a seek and destroy mission to annihilate Trump and anyone associated with him.

    And the driving force behind them—the reason the left has gone so full-on radical extreme left?

    The Deep State.

  108. says

    From Wonkette’s coverage of Kavanaugh’s confirmation by the Senate:

    […] Barring impeachment — and does anyone even really trust that it would actually happen? — we are pretty much fucked forever. I’m sorry that I can’t put any kind of hopeful spin on it right now, but there you have it. A lot of people are about to lose a lot of rights and there is not going to be a whole lot we can do about it, legally anyway. We are at least going to have to learn how to perform safe, illegal abortions and — in the event that abortion remains legal in a few states — start planning some kind of underground railroad type situation. We can use unions to keep some workplace protections for as long as we are legally allowed to have unions. We can try to keep things as normal as possible in the states we have some control over.

    I don’t know what we can do about the other things he is going to fuck up. I don’t know what we can do about the decades we are going to have to spend looking at his stupid face.

    The Senators who voted to confirm Kavanaugh represent a minority of our country’s population. There are far, far more of us than there are of them, and that should give us some amount of power, but it doesn’t. Wyoming gets two Senators and has a population a quarter the size of Chicago? That is some tyrannical bullshit right there. […]

  109. says

    From the Washington Post:

    […] Kavanaugh has a distinct honor: He will be the first justice nominated by someone who lost the popular vote to earn his seat on the bench with support from senators representing less than half of the country while having his nomination opposed by a majority of the country. […]

    Kavanaugh’s confirmation will come with support from senators representing only 44.2 percent of country.[…]

  110. says

    Senator Mazie Hirono said:

    Senator Susan Collins said that Dr. Ford thinks that she was assaulted, which is even more insulting than saying that she gave a very credible account.

    To say that she thinks that Dr. Ford thinks that she was assaulted, what is that? Is she mistaken? She, herself, said that she serves so many survivors from her state and elsewhere. All of us have been hearing stories and accounts from survivors going back many, many years where they kept all these painful, traumatic accounts to themselves.

    This is what happens with sexual assault survivors, that they do not come forward.

    There was corroboration, because she had talked about this assault to her husband, to others, before Brett Kavanaugh was ever nominated to the Supreme Court. She took a lie detector test. Corroboration was there.”

  111. says

    Trump thinks he was right to mock Christine Blasey Ford:

    […] Trump told reporters Saturday that his decision to mock Christine Blasey Ford at a campaign rally had a “great impact” on Supreme Court Justice Kavanaugh’s eventual confirmation.

    “I think that the Mississippi speech had a great impact, yes,” Trump said ahead of a Kansas rally, at which he further celebrated Kavanaugh’s confirmation. “I think it was a very important thing. Hey look, the Washington Post said it on their front page. I can’t believe they said it, but they said it.”

    He added separately that Kavanaugh’s nomination “started to sail through” after he mocked Blasey Ford.

    To cheers of supporters at the Kansas Expocentre in Topeka, Trump declared it an “historic night,” not long after signing the paperwork to make Kavanaugh’s status official.

    “I stand before you today on the heels of a tremendous victory for our nation,” he said to roars, thanking Republican senators for refusing to back down “in the face of the Democrats’ shameless campaign of political and personal destruction.” […]


  112. says

    From Hunter, Senator Susan Collins, liar

    […] Susan Collins should not be under the impression that anyone, anywhere is buying her third man theory, the insulting, cowardly and toxic theory that Dr. Christine Blasey Ford was definitely assaulted when she was fifteen years old and that Sen. Susan Collins “believes” her, but Collins also believes that Dr. Ford is completely mistaken about the face she saw inches from hers, as a hand covered her mouth to keep her from screaming and a drunken friend turned up the radio so that other party-goers would not hear her attempts to escape. Susan Collins says she “believes” all parts of Dr. Ford’s testimony except for her absolute “100%” certainty that her assailant was a young Brett Kavanaugh. Instead, Collins “believes” Kavanaugh when he said, in evasive and rage-fueled testimony, that he didn’t do it–so it must have been someone else.

    Collins is lying, and everybody knows it. What Susan Collins means is that she believes Brett Kavanaugh is currently too Important to have done it. Too central to the conservative cause; too much a celebrity. […] Collins has no problem believing that Dr. Ford correctly described Brett Kavanaugh’s social circle–his drinking friends. She would have no hesitating in believing Dr. Ford if Dr. Ford had named any of those other names as her assaulter. But Brett Kavanaugh is simply too important to the moment to have done it–he denied it on the grandest of possible stages, after all–and therefore he did not. […]

    […] Collins and others can only believe it by discounting every other witness to Kavanaugh’s behavior; all those who said he drank to excess. All those who said he was a prolific, belligerent, and sometimes-violent drunk. The woman who came forward to describe a similar alcohol-fueled assault. The classmates who backed her up. Kavanaugh’s willing participation in not one, but two of the most alcohol-obsessed and virulently misogynist groups on his college campus. […]

    […] Dr. Ford was assaulted by a mystery man, but Brett Kavanaugh, the known drunk, the sexist, stumbling product of the worst frat and the worst decisions, is now too Important for it to have been him.

    Let’s not pretend it’s anything otherwise. Her claims should land with the appropriate thud; Collins has played this game too many times and in too many circumstances, this game of pretending at a supreme gullibility that a sitting senator could not possibly have. This notion that she is simply an idiot, unable to parse the nuances of the evidence presented to her or who is willing to believe the obvious lies of a fellow senator who has promised her this or that in exchange for a capitulation that Susan Collins was always, from the first moment, seeking to give. […]

  113. says

    April Ryan: Trump treats women and minority journalists differently than white males.

    Journalist April Ryan says President Trump treats women and minority reporters differently than he treats white men in the press corps.

    “You don’t see this kind of exchange happening with white males in that room as much as minorities … or women,” Ryan said Sunday on CNN’s “Reliable Sources.”

    Ryan, a White House correspondent for American Urban Radio Networks, has a tense relationship with the White House and is promoting her new book “Under Fire: Reporting from the Front Lines of the Trump White House.”

    She was responding to clips from Trump’s combative exchange with two female reporters last week. He was criticized when he said ABC News’s Cecilia Vega was “shocked that I picked her” when he called on her at a news conference. Trump also told Vega, “I know you’re not thinking. You never do.”

    During the same news conference, Trump cut off another woman reporter, CNN’s Kaitlan Collins, telling her that “you’ve had enough” when she tried asking a question. […]

  114. tomh says

    An interesting piece in the NYT, The Myth of the Lazy Nonvoter
    By Sarah Jackel and Stuart A. Thompson. Ms. Jackel is the general counsel for

    Most people have a vague idea that voting laws have become more restrictive, but this article details exactly how and where this has taken place.

    If history is any indicator, only around 40 percent of eligible voters will vote in the midterm elections. Most people assume that voter turnout remains this low because Americans are apathetic and simply don’t want to vote. But it’s more likely that most Americans do want to vote, and one of the root causes of low turnout is this country’s framework of restrictive voting laws.

    The United States is unique in allowing state laws to largely govern voting in federal elections. Ever since key federal protections were dismantled by the Supreme Court in 2013 – including portions of the Voting Rights Act, which required some states and localities with a history of discrimination to obtain federal permission before changing voting procedures — state lawmakers have had more latitude than ever to enact laws affecting whether, how and when one can vote in a federal election.

    To explore the hurdles that voters face this election, we created five voter profiles: the voter with no ID, the procrastinator, the student, the working parent and the convicted felon. There is one figure for each state. In states with a Republican majority in the state House of Representatives, the figure is red. In states with a Democratic-majority House, the figure is blue.

    Much more at the link.

  115. KG says

    Nearly half of Brazilians who voted in the first round of the country’s presidential election, voted for fascism. This is not an exaggeration. The scumbag Jair Bolsonaro, who gained 46% of the vote, is not only openly racist, misogynistic and homophobic, he has in the past denigrated democracy, and spoken in favour of a military dictatorship. He is pro-torture, pro-death penalty, opposes the Paris Agreement, and has promised to fill his administration with generals. His opponent is Fernando Haddad of the Workers’ Party, who gained 29% of the vote. Haddad stepped in at the last moment because Luis Inácio Lula da Silva, ex-President and still the country’s most popular politician, is in jail on a dubious corruption charge. There had, undoubtedly, been corruption within the Workers’ Party government under Lula’s successor Dilma Rousseff – but it is above all Brazil’s recession and rising crime, combined with the “soft coup” against Rousseff, that have given the fascists their opportunity. Bolsonaro has abandoned his former dirigiste economic rhetoric for promises of privatization and a “small state” – demonstrating the purely opportunistic nature of fascist economic policy, and gaining strong support from Brazil’s economic elite. If, as seems almost inevitable, Bolsonaro wins the second round in three weeks time, Brazilian democracy will die. In fact, it must be doubted if Haddad would be allowed to win, or to take office if he does.

  116. says

    Bolsonaro has abandoned his former dirigiste economic rhetoric for promises of privatization and a “small state” – demonstrating the purely opportunistic nature of fascist economic policy, and gaining strong support from Brazil’s economic elite.

    More about this @ #34 above.

  117. says

    “As lawyers argue Medicaid expansion case, uninsured Mainers forgo health care”:

    …Maine voters approved expansion by a margin of 59 to 41 percent in November 2017, but Republican Gov. Paul LePage, a steadfast expansion opponent, has blocked implementation. The group that campaigned for the expansion, Maine Equal Justice Partners, sued the administration this spring, after LePage refused to implement it.

    As the LePage administration and a health care advocacy group fight a seemingly endless court battle, 70,000 Mainers who would be eligible are waiting to see when or if they will become eligible for Medicaid health insurance.

    As the monthslong legal wrangling continues, thousands remain uninsured, which means that many will put off taking care of health problems or leave themselves susceptible to medical bankruptcy if they fall severely ill….

  118. says

    “Popular Bulgarian Journalist Victoria Marinova Raped And Beaten To Death”:

    A popular Bulgarian journalist who had reported on an investigation into alleged corruption involving European Union funds was raped and beaten to death, authorities said.

    The semi-nude body of 30-year-old Victoria Marinova was found in a park in the Danube town of Ruse on Saturday. She’d been beaten with such force that she was unrecognizable, according to the Federation of European Journalists.

    Marinova is the fourth high-profile journalist to be killed in Europe since the beginning of 2017. Her death follows the alleged slaying of a Washington Post journalist in the Saudi consulate in Istanbul.

    Bulgarian officials said there was no evidence to suggest that Marinova’s killing was related to her work. “It is about rape and murder,” Interior Minister Mladen Marinov said, according to The Guardian.

    People who worked with Marinova said otherwise.

    “Viktoria’s death, the brutal manner in which she was killed, is an execution. It was meant to serve as an example, something like a warning,” Asen Yordanov, owner of news website, told AFP.

    Kim Wall, a Swedish journalist, was decapitated in August 2017 while conducting an interview on a submarine owned by inventor Peter Madsen, who was later convicted of the crime. Two months later, Maltese anti-corruption journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia was killed by a car bomb.

    In February 2018, Slovakian journalist Jan Kuciak and his fiancée were shot dead in their home. Kuciak had been investigating alleged political corruption at the time.

    The media freedom representative of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe called for a “full and thorough” investigation into Marinova’s slaying….

  119. says

    Taylor Swift posted on Instagram:

    I’m writing this post about the upcoming midterm elections on November 6th, in which I’ll be voting in the state of Tennessee. In the past I’ve been reluctant to publicly voice my political opinions, but due to several events in my life and in the world in the past two years, I feel very differently about that now. I always have and always will cast my vote based on which candidate will protect and fight for the human rights I believe we all deserve in this country. I believe in the fight for LGBTQ rights, and that any form of discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender is WRONG. I believe that the systemic racism we still see in this country towards people of color is terrifying, sickening and prevalent.

    I cannot vote for someone who will not be willing to fight for dignity for ALL Americans, no matter their skin color, gender or who they love. Running for Senate in the state of Tennessee is a woman named Marsha Blackburn. As much as I have in the past and would like to continue voting for women in office, I cannot support Marsha Blackburn. Her voting record in Congress appalls and terrifies me. She voted against equal pay for women. She voted against the Reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act, which attempts to protect women from domestic violence, stalking, and date rape. She believes businesses have a right to refuse service to gay couples. She also believes they should not have the right to marry. These are not MY Tennessee values. I will be voting for Phil Bredesen for Senate and Jim Cooper for House of Representatives. Please, please educate yourself on the candidates running in your state and vote based on who most closely represents your values. For a lot of us, we may never find a candidate or party with whom we agree 100% on every issue, but we have to vote anyway.

    So many intelligent, thoughtful, self-possessed people have turned 18 in the past two years and now have the right and privilege to make their vote count. But first you need to register, which is quick and easy to do. October 9th is the LAST DAY to register to vote in the state of TN. Go to and you can find all the info. Happy Voting! [emojis]

    She lives in Tennessee. She’s stayed out of politics in the past.

  120. says

    “We have 12 years to limit climate change catastrophe, warns UN”:

    The world’s leading climate scientists have warned there is only a dozen years for global warming to be kept to a maximum of 1.5C, beyond which even half a degree will significantly worsen the risks of drought, floods, extreme heat and poverty for hundreds of millions of people.

    The authors of the landmark report by the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) released on Monday say urgent and unprecedented changes are needed to reach the target, which they say is affordable and feasible although it lies at the most ambitious end of the Paris agreement pledge to keep temperatures between 1.5C and 2C.

    The half-degree difference could also prevent corals from being completely eradicated and ease pressure on the Arctic, according to the 1.5C study, which was launched after approval at a final plenary of all 195 countries in Incheon in South Korea that saw delegates hugging one another, with some in tears.

    “It’s a line in the sand and what it says to our species is that this is the moment and we must act now,” said Debra Roberts, a co-chair of the working group on impacts. “This is the largest clarion bell from the science community and I hope it mobilises people and dents the mood of complacency.”

    Policymakers commissioned the report at the Paris climate talks in 2016, but since then the gap between science and politics has widened….

    Scientists who reviewed the 6,000 works referenced in the report, said the change caused by just half a degree came as a revelation. “We can see there is a difference and it’s substantial,” Roberts said.

    The IPCC maps out four pathways to achieve 1.5C, with different combinations of land use and technological change. Reforestation is essential to all of them as are shifts to electric transport systems and greater adoption of carbon capture technology.

    At the current level of commitments, the world is on course for a disastrous 3C of warming. The report authors are refuseing to accept defeat, believing the increasingly visible damage caused by climate change will shift opinion their way….

  121. says

    Update to #112 above:

    This statement appears to indicate Interpol has accepted the resignation of its president, who remains in the custody of China’s ruling communist party. It does not say whether there’s any concern on the part of the organization that he resigned under duress.

    Interpol doesn’t even say who they received the resignation from or how they determined its authenticity. An international crime fighting organization is just letting officials in China summarily terminate their connection to their sitting president.

    Marks a pretty dark day in the new rise of the dictators, imo.

  122. tomh says

    Joe Manchin’s sellout on the Kavanaugh vote, in a vain attempt to win over right wing West Viginians, looks like it backfired.
    Manchin faces firestorm at home following Kavanaugh vote

    From AP:

    A day after Manchin broke with his party on what may be the most consequential vote of the Trump era, the vulnerable Democrat is facing a political firestorm back home. While Republicans — including one of the president’s sons — are on the attack, the most passionate criticism is coming from Manchin’s very own Democratic base, a small but significant portion of the electorate he needs to turn out in force to win re-election next month. A Manchin loss would put his party’s hopes of regaining control of the Senate virtually out of reach.

    Good job, Joe.

  123. says

    I’m reading this new article in the New Yorker“Was There a Connection Between a Russian Bank and the Trump Campaign?” – and I’m stuck on this paragraph:

    Over time, the F.B.I.’s interest in the possibility of an Alfa Bank connection seemed to wane. An agency official told Lichtblau that there could be an innocuous explanation for the computer traffic. Then, on October 30th, Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid wrote a letter to James Comey, the director of the F.B.I., charging that the Bureau was withholding information about “close ties and coordination” between the Trump campaign and Russia. “We had a window,” Lichtblau said. His story about Alfa Bank ran the next day. But it bore only a modest resemblance to what he had filed. The headline— “Investigating Donald Trump, F.B.I. Sees No Clear Link to Russia”—seemed to exonerate the Trump campaign. And, though the article mentioned the server, it omitted any reference to the computer scientists who had told Lichtblau that the Trump Organization and Alfa Bank might have been communicating. “We were saying that the investigation was basically over—and it was just beginning,” Lichtblau told me.

  124. says

    Wow, this article:

    In April, 2017, Lichtblau left the Times, after fifteen years—in part, he said, because of the way that the Alfa Bank story was handled. He went to work for CNN, but resigned less than two months later, amid controversy over another story that he had worked on, about the Trump aide Anthony Scaramucci. [That was bullshit, too – SC] This April, Lichtblau returned to the Times newsroom for a celebration: he had been part of a team of Times reporters that was awarded a Pulitzer Prize for its work on other aspects of the Trump campaign. “It was quite a year,” he said.

    This story isn’t the central point of the piece, but wow.

  125. says

    Regarding the central question of the story:

    …As Max and his colleagues searched D.N.S. logs for domains associated with Republican candidates, they were perplexed by what they encountered. “We went looking for fingerprints similar to what was on the D.N.C. computers, but we didn’t find what we were looking for,” Max told me. “We found something totally different—something unique.” In the small town of Lititz, Pennsylvania, a domain linked to the Trump Organization…seemed to be behaving in a peculiar way. The server that housed the domain belonged to a company called Listrak, which mostly helped deliver mass-marketing e-mails: blasts of messages advertising spa treatments, Las Vegas weekends, and other enticements. Some Trump Organization domains sent mass e-mail blasts, but the one that Max and his colleagues spotted appeared not to be sending anything. At the same time, though, a very small group of companies seemed to be trying to communicate with it.

    Examining records for the Trump domain, Max’s group discovered D.N.S. lookups from a pair of servers owned by Alfa Bank, one of the largest banks in Russia. Alfa Bank’s computers were looking up the address of the Trump server nearly every day. There were dozens of lookups on some days and far fewer on others, but the total number was notable: between May and September, Alfa Bank looked up the Trump Organization’s domain more than two thousand times. “We were watching this happen in real time—it was like watching an airplane fly by,” Max said. “And we thought, Why the hell is a Russian bank communicating with a server that belongs to the Trump Organization, and at such a rate?”

    Only one other entity seemed to be reaching out to the Trump Organization’s domain with any frequency: Spectrum Health, of Grand Rapids, Michigan. Spectrum Health is closely linked to the DeVos family; Richard DeVos, Jr., is the chairman of the board, and one of its hospitals is named after his mother. His wife, Betsy DeVos, was appointed Secretary of Education by Donald Trump. Her brother, Erik Prince, is a Trump associate who has attracted the scrutiny of Robert Mueller, the special counsel investigating Trump’s ties to Russia. Mueller has been looking into Prince’s meeting, following the election, with a Russian official in the Seychelles, at which he reportedly discussed setting up a back channel between Trump and the Russian President, Vladimir Putin. (Prince maintains that the meeting was “incidental.”) In the summer of 2016, Max and the others weren’t aware of any of this. “We didn’t know who DeVos was,” Max said.

    The D.N.S. records raised vexing questions. Why was the Trump Organization’s domain, set up to send mass-marketing e-mails, conducting such meagre activity? And why were computers at Alfa Bank and Spectrum Health trying to reach a server that didn’t seem to be doing anything? After analyzing the data, Max said, “We decided this was a covert communication channel.”

    The Trump Organization, Alfa Bank, and Spectrum Health have repeatedly denied any contact. But the question of whether Max’s conclusion was correct remains enormously consequential. Was this evidence of an illicit connection between Russia and the Trump campaign? Or was it merely a coincidence, cyber trash, that fed suspicions in a dark time?

    To assess the Alfa Bank data, Jones assembled a team of computer scientists, divided into two groups, one on each coast. (They also consulted with Jean Camp, who agreed to coöperate despite the possibility that Alfa Bank might take legal action.) All these experts have national reputations in the field. Some have held senior cybersecurity jobs in the Pentagon, the White House, and the intelligence services, as well as in leading American technology companies. In order to encourage an unbiased outcome, Jones never introduced the East Coast group to the West Coast group.

    I met several times with the two members of the East Coast group and spoke with them repeatedly. They used pseudonyms, Paul and Leto, in part because they had been alarmed by encounters with Russia while they were working at high levels of government….

    Given the limitations of D.N.S. data, none of the independent experts I spoke to could be certain of what Alfa Bank and the Trump Organization were doing. Some of them cautioned that it was impossible even to guess at every way that an e-mail system might malfunction. A senior analyst at a D.N.S.-service provider said, “Things can get messed up in unexpected ways.” But Paul and Leto maintained that they had considered and rejected every scenario that they had encountered in decades of cybersecurity work. “Is it possible there is an innocuous explanation for all this?” Paul said. “Yes, of course. And it’s also possible that space aliens did this. It’s possible—just not very likely.”

    The enigma, for now, remains an enigma. The only people likely to finally resolve the question of Alfa Bank and the Trump Organization are federal investigators. Max told me that no one in his group had been contacted. But, he said, it wasn’t necessary for anyone in the F.B.I. to talk to him, if the agents gathered the right information from other sources, like Listrak and Cendyn. “I hope Mueller has all of it,” he said.

    Much, much more at the link.

    “According to experts I spoke to, large Russian companies typically have a member of the intelligence services, either active or retired, working at a senior level. If a company’s services are required in some way, the officer—called a kurator—coördinates them. ‘A company couldn’t say no’, a Washington-based Russia expert told me.” This is consistent with what’s described in The Red Web.

  126. says

    “In Rare Move, Hebrew University Asks to Join Appeal of U.S. Student Detained by Israel”:

    The Hebrew University of Jerusalem’s senate called on Strategic Affairs Minister Gilad Erdan and Interior Minister Arye Dery to allow an American student, 22-year-old Lara Alqasem, into Israel.

    Alqasem, who was accepted as a graduate student at the Hebrew University, was barred from entering the country and detained at Ben-Gurion Airport on Tuesday because the Israeli authorities claim she supports a boycott of Israel.

    In an unusual step, the university also asked to join Alqasem’s appeal to the district court against the decision to deport her. The appeal is expected to be heard in the coming days.

    The Tel Aviv District Court ruled on Monday that Alqasem will remain in detention until a final ruling is made on her appeal. Judge Kobi Vardi noted in his ruling that he did not see a reason to order Alqasem’s release from detention at the airport “until the claims against her regarding the risk and possible harm to the State of Israel are clarified.”

    The senate’s statement says that the university is “a place for the exchange of ideas and the acquisition and creation of knowledge. It is a place that does not shrink from disagreement and is pleased with a multiplicity of opinions. [Erdan’s] decision not to allow the student into the country merely because of her opinions constitutes a threat against what the university represents.”

    The statement also said that an “extreme step” like banning Alqasem from entering the country “could deter foreign scholars and students from coming to Israel,” and “should be taken only for the strongest and clearest reasons – preventing violence and lawbreaking. In Alqasem’s case no such claims were presented.”

    “The Hebrew University supports a position of tolerance toward those who call for a boycott – we don’t prevent anyone from participating in university activities, in studying, teaching and research, even if he calls for a boycott against us,” he wrote. “We think it is better to maintain an open discourse and to respond to claims that we should be boycotted in a pointed manner rather than through force.״

    Meanwhile, more than 100 American academics and Jewish professionals signed a petition demanding Alqasem’s release, including J Street President Jeremy Ben-Ami….

    They’ve been holding her now for almost a week. A US student.

  127. says

    I haven’t researched this in any serious way, so I could be wrong, but it appears that the State Department as of now has said nothing publicly about Khashoggi beyond that they’re “following reports,” and has said nothing at all publicly about Meng Hongwei, Victoria Marinova, or (US citizen) Lara Alqasem.

  128. says

    “Second Skripal Poisoning Suspect Identified as Dr. Alexander Mishkin”:

    In the preceding report from the current investigation into the two suspects in the Skripals poisoning case, Bellingcat and its reporting partner the Insider disclosed the identity of one of the two suspects. The person travelling under the alias of Ruslan Boshirov was identified as GRU’s Col. Anatoliy Chepiga, recipient of Russia’s highest state award.

    Bellingcat can now report that it has conclusively identified the second suspect, who travelled to Salisbury under the alias Alexander Petrov. In its previous reporting, we already produced evidence that “Alexander Petrov” is not an authentic persona, but an undercover alias for an officer of a Russian security agency. In another report, we established that “Petrov” was specifically working for Russia’s military intelligence, the GRU.

    We have now identified “Alexander Petrov” to be in fact Dr. Alexander Yevgenyevich Mishkin, a trained military doctor in the employ of the GRU. Bellingcat’s identification process included multiple open sources, testimony from people familiar with the person, as well as copies of personally identifying documents, including a scanned copy of his passport. The full identification process will be described in the upcoming full report.

    In the period 2011-2018, Alexander Mishkin traveled extensively under his new identity. Bellingcat has identified multiple trips to Ukraine and to the self-declared Transnistrian Republic, the last of which as late as during the Maidan events in Kyiv in December 2013….

  129. says

    “Serb nationalist Milorad Dodik wins seat in Bosnia’s presidency”:

    Bosnian Serb nationalist leader Milorad Dodik has claimed victory with 55 percent of votes over moderate incumbent Mladen Ivanic to take the Serbs’ seat at the presidency, according to preliminary results from Bosnia’s Election Commission.

    Meanwhile, the moderate Croat candidate, Zeljko Komsic, defeated nationalist Croat incumbent of Bosnia’s tripartite presidency, Dragan Covic, bagging 50 percent of the votes.

    Sefik Dzaferovic won the Bosniak seat of the presidency with 38 percent of votes.

    Sunday’s election saw more than 3.3 million Bosnians cast ballots to elect an array of institutions in the country’s complex governing system, which was created by a peace accord that ended the war 25 years ago.

    The country consists of two regional mini-states – a Serb-run and a Bosniak-Croat entity – with joint institutions in a central government.

    The ballot was seen as a test of whether Bosnia will move towards integration in the European Union and NATO or remain entrenched in rivalries stemming from the 1992-95 war, which left 100,000 people dead and millions homeless.

    The campaign was marred by divisive rhetoric and allegations of irregularities that heightened tensions.

    In a show of widespread popular discontent with Bosnia’s politicians, thousands rallied at anti-corruption protests on Friday in Sarajevo and in the main Serb city of Banja Luka.

    The election’s main focus was the Bosnian presidency because of the candidacy of Dodik, who advocates eventual Serb separation from Bosnia.

    He is a key Balkan ally of Russian President Vladimir Putin, and his victory would mean stronger influence of Russia….

  130. says

    “After selling off his father’s properties, Trump embraced unorthodox strategies to expand his empire”:

    In 2005, Donald Trump kicked off a decade-long buying and spending spree, vastly expanding his hotel and golf-course empire and cementing his image as a brash impresario.

    The un­or­tho­dox approach Trump took in making those bold bets — racing through hundreds of millions in cash and drawing loans from the private-wealth office of Deutsche Bank — came when he was on new terrain as a developer.

    For the first time, he was operating without the safety net of his late father Fred’s real estate empire, which had been sold off in 2004, according to a New York Times investigation published last week.

    That means that between 2005 and 2015, when Trump expanded his hotel chain from three locations to 12 and increased his golf courses from four to 15, he was finally on his own.

    “Fred was a piggy bank that Trump could routinely go to when he needed a cash infusion. [But then] the piggy bank disappeared,” said Tim O’Brien, a journalist who researched Trump’s business extensively for his 2005 book “TrumpNation.”

    Trump received $177.3 million from the sale of his father’s remaining holdings, of which he quickly used $149 million for pressing needs at his own ventures, according to the Times. After that, he bought 14 properties with cash alone, without taking on loans, in a $400 million spending spree that defied industry norms, as The Washington Post previously reported. To buy other properties, he got more than $300 million in loans from an unusual source — the private-wealth management office of Deutsche Bank, according to public documents. And Trump ended up with a loan of more than $50 million that he still owes himself, according to financial disclosures.

    Trump emerged from his decade-long buying spree with another major debt — that oddly, according to records, he owes himself.

    Since 2012, according to his financial disclosures, Trump has owed more than $50 million to a company called Chicago Unit Acquisition LLC. The disclosures indicate that the debt is related to the Trump hotel in Chicago but do not require him to reveal the exact amount.

    Chicago Unit Acquisition isn’t a bank. It doesn’t have its own office. Instead, it is headquartered at Trump Tower in New York — and owned by Donald Trump.

    So why would Trump owe himself more than $50 million?

    The Trump Organization has declined to answer questions from The Post about the loan.

    But in 2016, Trump told the Times that the loan began as a debt he owed to a group of lenders. Instead of paying it back, however, he bought the loan itself — and kept it on his own books, as a debt one part of his empire owed to the other.

    “I have the mortgage. That is all there is. Very simple. I am the bank,” he told the Times.

    He did not explain what loan he had purchased.

    The Post checked both major loans that were outstanding on the Trump building in Chicago in 2012, but neither appeared to fit Trump’s description….

  131. says

    “Jamal Khashoggi: ‘People who get arrested are not even dissidents'”:

    Three days before he disappeared, Jamal Khashoggi was in London for a conference and came into the Newshour studio for an interview.

    Before beginning the scheduled recording about the Middle East Peace process, we asked him whether he thought he could return to Saudi Arabia.

    We wouldn’t normally broadcast an off-air conversation, but we’ve decided to make an exception, in light of the current circumstances.

    Short audio clip at the link. The WaPo Global Opinions editor, Karen Attiah, will be on Maddow tonight to talk about Khashoggi.

  132. says

    Trump spoke at the Fraternal Order of Police today. He told the audience of police chiefs that Republicans love the police and that Democrats hate the police. Talk about divisive:

    Four weeks before the mid-term elections, President Donald Trump portrayed Democrats as “anti-police” at an official speech to a police chiefs association in Orlando, Fla., Monday using language similar to that at his recent campaign rallies.

    “For too many years, we have watched politicians escalate political attacks on our courageous police officers and I’ve never seen it more than over the last few years — it’s disgraceful,” Trump said, alluding to Democrats. “Politicians who spread this dangerous anti-police sentiment make life easier for criminals and more dangerous for law-abiding citizens, and they also make it more dangerous for police, and it must stop, and it must stop now.”

    He could have honored police chiefs and thanked them for their service without politicizing law enforcement. But politicizing law enforcement is a Trump specialty.

    Trump says state and local police are his good buddies, and that he has their back … all while his administration is proposing budget cuts that would affect police departments all over the U.S. At the same time, Trump touts his battles against the FBI and continues to try to browbeat the FBI until they do his will.

  133. says

    What the heck is Trump talking about?

    We will always protect Americans with pre-existing conditions. We’re going to take care of them. Some of the Democrats have been talking about ending pre-existing conditions.

    And some people have — you know what I say? We’ll get a little more money from China. It’ll be just fine. It’ll be just fine. We’ll be just fine.

    We’re going to take care of pre-existing conditions, folks. Remember that.

    Lots of Republicans, not just Trump, are lying about their efforts to protect healthcare coverage for pre-existing conditions in the run up to the mid term elections. No, they are doing the opposite.

    Furthermore, no Democrats “have been talking about ending pre-existing conditions,” whatever that awkward phrase means.

    And … does Trump expect China to pay for the healthcare coverage of U.S. citizens that have pre-exiting conditions? From Politico:

    […] Trump said Monday that China is paying the U.S. billions of dollars in tariffs as he ramps up his trade war with Beijing. But that’s inaccurate: American consumers and businesses are the ones who will be paying higher costs for imports after he slapped penalties on $200 billion in Chinese goods.

    Trump is deeply, irretrievably, alarmingly ignorant. The extent of Trump’s ignorance regarding tariffs, healthcare, and almost all policy issues cannot be corrected. This is not something that can be fixed by presenting Trump with more information.

    Republicans test whether ‘lying to the voter’ is a pre-existing condition.
    Three Pinocchios for three vulnerable House Republicans.

    […] Republican Rep. George Holding […] voted for the American Health Care Act, the House GOP’s Obamacare repeal proposal. […] North Carolinians for a Fair Economy [said Trumpcare would] “discriminate against people with pre-existing conditions.”

    In a response spot posted a few weeks ago called “Answer,” Holding actually shows part of the spot misleadingly describing it as an “ad to elect Linda Coleman,” the Democratic nominee against him. On Holding’s behalf, an unidentified woman shakes her head and scolds, “Don’t be fooled. The fact is George Holding voted to make insurance companies cover people with pre-existing conditions. The ad is false and Linda Coleman knows it.” On the screen, the sourcing for the claim is revealed to be his vote for the Trumpcare bill.

    The claim is false: Trumpcare bill did away with protections for patients with pre-existing conditions. A recent Washington Post fact-check gave “Three Pinocchios” to other GOP claims that the legislation actually protected pre-existing conditions. In the ad, Holding tries to pull a bait-and-switch, saying that the claim that he voted to allow discrimination against people is false because he would require coverage be available. Under that logic, for example, a law that allowed hotels to charge women ten times more than men would not be discriminatory as long as they were required to rent to both genders. […]

  134. says

    Trump tells us what women are thinking:

    Asked aboard Air Force One about women voters angry about Kavanaugh’s confirmation, the president responded, “I don’t think they are,” he said. Women are “extremely happy,” he said, “because they’re thinking of their sons, they’re thinking of their husbands and their brothers, their uncles, and others.”

    From Steve Benen:

    […] Trump’s assurances appear to be at odds with every shred of independent evidence available to us.

    The latest Quinnipiac poll, for example, found that while a modest plurality of men supported Kavanaugh’s nomination (49% to 40%) a clear majority of women did not (55% to 37%). Other surveys pointed in the same direction.

    Similarly, two major recent polls – Pew Research and CNN – both found women opposing Trump’s presidency by more than two-to-one margin.

    This morning, meanwhile, we learned of new data from a new Washington Post-Schar School survey, which polled voters in 69 battleground House districts. The report on the results noted that while men prefer Republican candidates by a modest margin (51% to 46%), women support Democrats by a wide margin (54% to 40%).

    Donald Trump is eager to tell you what women are thinking. There’s ample reason to believe he has no idea what he’s talking about.

  135. says

    “Trump Campaign Aide Requested Online Manipulation Plans From Israeli Intelligence Firm”:

    A top Trump campaign official requested proposals in 2016 from an Israeli company to create fake online identities, to use social media manipulation and to gather intelligence to help defeat Republican primary race opponents and Hillary Clinton, according to interviews and copies of the proposals.

    The Trump campaign’s interest in the work began as Russians were escalating their effort to aid Donald J. Trump. Though the Israeli company’s pitches were narrower than Moscow’s interference campaign and appear unconnected, the documents show that a senior Trump aide saw the promise of a disruption effort to swing voters in Mr. Trump’s favor.

    The campaign official, Rick Gates, sought one proposal to use bogus personas to target and sway 5,000 delegates to the 2016 Republican National Convention by attacking Senator Ted Cruz of Texas, Mr. Trump’s main opponent at the time. Another proposal describes opposition research and “complementary intelligence activities” about Mrs. Clinton and people close to her, according to copies of the proposals obtained by The New York Times and interviews with four people involved in creating the documents.

    A third proposal by the company, Psy-Group, which is staffed by former Israeli intelligence operatives, sketched out a monthslong plan to help Mr. Trump by using social media to help expose or amplify division among rival campaigns and factions….

    There is no evidence that the Trump campaign acted on the proposals, and Mr. Gates ultimately was uninterested in Psy-Group’s work, a person with knowledge of the discussions said, in part because other campaign aides were developing a social media strategy. Psy-Group’s owner, Joel Zamel, did meet in August 2016 with Donald Trump Jr., Mr. Trump’s eldest son.

    Investigators working for Robert S. Mueller III, the special counsel investigating Russia’s campaign to disrupt the 2016 election and whether any Trump associates conspired, have obtained copies of the proposals and questioned Psy-Group employees, according to people familiar with those interviews.

    Mr. Gates first heard about Psy-Group’s work during a March 2016 meeting at the Mandarin Oriental hotel along the Washington waterfront with George Birnbaum, a Republican consultant with close ties to current and former Israeli government officials….

    Mr. Birnbaum appeared to initiate the contact with Mr. Gates,…

    It is unclear how and when the special counsel’s office began its investigation into Psy-Group’s work, but F.B.I. agents have spent hours interviewing the firm’s employees. This year, federal investigators presented a court order to the Israel Police and the Israeli Ministry of Justice to confiscate computers in Psy-Group’s former offices in Petah Tikva, east of Tel Aviv.

    The company is now in liquidation.

    Much more at the link.

    I found this interesting: “Since [he helped Netanyahu’s campaign to victory in 1996], Mr. Birnbaum has worked extensively as a campaign consultant for Israeli politicians and has developed a network of contacts with current and former Israeli security officials. He served as a foreign policy adviser to the 2016 presidential campaign of Ben Carson, the neurosurgeon who is now the secretary of housing and urban development.” It’s weird that Papadopoulos worked on the Carson campaign until he was able to join the Trump campaign. He has a number of suspicious links to Israel.

  136. says

    Why are all the main TV news outlets covering the swearing in ceremony of Brett Kavanaugh live?

    Kavanaugh is, technically speaking, already sworn in. This just a propaganda spectacle.

  137. says

    Matthew Miller re #214 (the article has a few paragraphs about his role, which has previously been reported): “Nader remains the piece I understand the least yet want to understand the most.”

    I’m sure he’s cooperating enthusiastically, since he’s a convicted child molester.

  138. says

    Why are all the main TV news outlets covering the swearing in ceremony of Brett Kavanaugh live?

    Kavanaugh is, technically speaking, already sworn in. This just a propaganda spectacle.

    I know! What the hell?

  139. says

    Trump brazenly lied about an immigration bill that does not exist:

    Every single Democrat in the U.S. Senate has signed up for the open borders — and it’s a bill. And it’s called The Open Borders Bill. What’s going on? And it’s written by — guess who — Dianne Feinstein.

    Trump said that at a campaign rally.

    There is no such bill. Senator Feinstein backs a bill to prohibit the separation of families at the border. NO, it is not an “open border” bill, not even close.

    President Obama pushed for strong security at the border, and some people thought that Obama’s security push was too much, but many Democrats backed it. Diane Feinstein hasn’t pushed for open borders in any way whatsoever, including during the time that she served in the Senate while Obama was president.

    There is no “open border” bill, except in Trump’s mind.

  140. says

    Eric Swallwell – “Nunes buried evidence on Russian meddling to protect Trump. I know because I’m on the committee”:

    No one really expected President Donald Trump, who benefited from Russia’s 2016 election interference, to counter that hostile regime’s active measures: Russia wanted him to win, and when they hacked, he invited them to hack more.

    But America should have been able to rely on a united Congress to ensure that our next elections aren’t just as vulnerable if not moreso. Instead, due to House Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes’ persistent and pernicious obstruction, America has been spectacularly let down.

    Just last week, hours before the Republican-led House recessed for six weeks, Nunes broke out his shovel yet again to bury even deeper the evidence of Russian interference, once again demonstrating there’s no distance he won’t go to protect this president.

    Committee Democrats asked to immediately send the transcripts to Special Counsel Robert Mueller, who hasn’t been allowed to see them under Nunes’ rules. There’s good reason to believe many witnesses committed perjury or offered information relevant to the special counsel’s work. But Nunes opposed it, and it was voted down.

    Committee Democrats then moved to have the transcripts released to the public immediately — after a 10-day intelligence community review — to avoid any selective release or other political manipulation. Again, Nunes opposed this.

    This is his modus operandi. Though incomplete due to Republican obstruction, our investigation did reveal worrisome contacts between the Russians and candidate Trump, his family, his businesses, and his campaign. Yet every time we sought to learn more, we were blocked.

    The Nunes fix was in from the very start. Soon after 2016’s election, as we began to see the breadth of Russia’s interference, I had approached him with an idea: “Let’s have an independent commission look at what the Russians did,” just as we had after the Sept. 11 attacks.

    “We can handle this on the committee,” Nunes insisted. I was doubtful, but I never expected that by “handle,” he meant “bury.”…

    (It’s strange that Democrats so often fail to emphasize that these efforts are also helping Putin.)

  141. says

    Bellingcat now has their full report up on the identification of Mishkin.

    Via Russian social networks, Bellingcat mass-contacted hundreds of VMEDA graduates from the 2001-2007 class range. We did not inform the persons contacted about the context of the query, nor mentioned Petrov. Many of the contacted persons responded by saying they are not familiar with an Alexander Mishkin in their class. Most other did not respond to our queries. One person who requested complete anonymity, confirmed to Bellingcat that Alexander Mishkin indeed graduated the academy in a different class than his or hers, and that this person had recognized Mishkin as “Alexander Petrov” from the RT interview. This same person informed us that many of the graduates from Mishkin’s class and department had been contacted by Russian security services over the last few weeks, and instructed not to divulge Mishkin’s identity to anyone.

    Just like Kavanaugh!

  142. says

    Follow-up to #223 – thread from Adam Davidson:

    …- Six months from now, I predict, the whole operation will be laid bare and will truly shock.

    – Yes. Maybe, the GOP will do nothing. That’s what everyone tells me. But I still believe that there will be some moment when something is revealed that forces all to see the truth.

    – There is profound legal risk for the Trump family. They could lose much of their money and some could go to jail.

    – The incentive for non-Trumps to flip will only increase, while the value of flipping will decrease, forcing something of a rush.

    – Trump’s response will likely be ever-more aggressive and crazy.

    – In short, 2019 promises to be many times more insane, terrifying, high-stakes, than anything we’ve seen so far.

    – My gut tells me there will be a breaking point, even for GOP sycophants.

    – But I know that the GOP turning on Trump, even at the very worse, is far from certain.

    – If they back him, all the way down, I fear for what will be left of our nation.

    – We ain’t seen nothing yet.

  143. says

    “Migrant Children in Search of Justice: A 2-Year-Old’s Day in Immigration Court”:

    The youngest child to come before the bench in federal immigration courtroom No. 14 was so small she had to be lifted into the chair. Even the judge in her black robes breathed a soft “aww” as her latest case perched on the brown leather.

    Her feet stuck out from the seat in small gray sneakers, her legs too short to dangle. Her fists were stuffed under her knees. As soon as the caseworker who had sat her there turned to go, she let out a whimper that rose to a thin howl, her crumpled face a bursting dam.

    The girl, Fernanda Jacqueline Davila, was 2 years old: brief life, long journey. The caseworker, a big-boned man from the shelter that had been contracted to raise her since she was taken from her grandmother at the border in late July, was the only person in the room she had met before that day.

    “How old are you?” the judge asked, after she had motioned for the caseworker to return to Fernanda’s side and the tears had stopped. “Do you speak Spanish?”

    An interpreter bent toward the child and caught her eye, repeating the questions in Spanish. Fernanda’s mouse-brown pigtails brushed the back of the chair, but she stayed silent, eyes big. “She’s … she’s nodding her head,” the judge said, peering down from the bench through black-rim glasses. This afternoon in New York immigration court, Judge Randa Zagzoug had nearly 30 children to hear from, ages 2 through 17. Fernanda was No. 26.

    …Though the exact figures are not known, lawyers who work with immigrants said the large number of migrant children now being held in detention has given rise to a highly unusual situation: more and more young children coming to court.

    “We rarely had children under the age of 6 until the last year or so,” said Ashley Tabaddor, president of the National Association of Immigration Judges. “We started seeing them as a regular presence in our docket.”

    All of which means there are more children showing up more often to federal immigration courtrooms like Judge Zagzoug’s, at hearings that could determine whether they will be deported, reunited with their parents, or granted the asylum that their parents desperately want for them. They often sit at counsel tables alone, unaccompanied by any family and sometimes without even a lawyer.

    “We used to just deal with teenagers,” one lawyer, Jodi Ziesemer, said as she ushered children to the 14th floor before the hearings began. “Now they’re …” Her gaze swept the small group. Fernanda was gripping a green apple with both hands, occasionally taking a bite. As they moved down the hallway, her caseworker picked her up and carried her toward court….

    This is obviously horrific, but it’s also insane. Why are they bringing these kids into courtrooms? Insane.

  144. tomh says

    Taylor Swift’s Instagram post spurs spike in US voter registration

    Global superstar Taylor Swift caused a spike in voter registration across the US on Monday, according to, largely on the back of a single Instagram post….

    The organization saw 65,000 registrations in a 24-hour period following the post, versus 190,178 registrations in the whole month of September. The impact in Swift’s home state of Tennessee was even more pronounced, with 2,144 registrations since she spoke out, compared to 2,811 throughout September.

    Of course she’s been trashed on right-wing web sites and Trump weighged in with,
    “I’m sure Taylor Swift has nothing — or doesn’t know anything about her (Blackurn),” Trump said. “Let’s say that I like Taylor’s music about 25% less now, OK?”

  145. says

    “Let’s say that I like Taylor’s music about 25% less now, OK?”

    Let’s translate: He hates her because she got people to register. OK?

  146. says

    Haley says she’s not running in 2020, and will be campaigning for Trump. I think she knows she won’t be campaigning for him come 2020.

    They also announced that she’ll be leaving at the end of the year, but she’s removed the stuff related to her role from her Twitter bio already. Also, if she’s staying through the end of the year, it’s strange to announce it now.

  147. says

    SC @219, I watched part of the Kavanaugh propaganda/Dear Leader/Kavanaugh-Induction-into-the-Hall-of-Lackeys show. I agree with Chris Hayes, it was worse than I thought it would be. I was particularly dismayed when Trump said:

    On behalf of our nation, I want to apologize to Brett and the entire Kavanaugh family for the terrible pain and suffering you have been forced to endure. [Judge Kavanaugh] was proven innocent.

    No. Far from it. No one was “proven innocent.” It was not a trial. What “investigation” did take place was a sham. Kavanaugh proved that he is an emotional, entitled narcissist who thinks the Clintons and Clinton backers are waging a war of revenge against him. In other words, he proved with his own words and demeanor that he is a conspiracy-mongering nutcase.

    What Kavanaugh said to Trump at the ceremony:

    Mr. President, thank you for the great honor of appointing me to serve as a Justice of the Supreme Court. I’ve seen firsthand your deep appreciation for the vital role of the American judiciary. I am grateful for your steadfast, unwavering support throughout this process. And I’m grateful to you and Mrs. Trump for the exceptional, overwhelming courtesy you have extended to my family and me.

    Really? Trump has a “deep appreciation for the vital role of the American judiciary.” No, he manifestly does not. Trump has condemned judges (Curiel, and others), condemned federal courts, and he has described the justice system as “broken.”

    From Michael Beschloss:

    Compared to Clarence Thomas in terms of the relationship with the president who selected him, Clarence Thomas had a courtly relationship with George H.W. Bush, but Kavanaugh has been spending weeks at the White House, weeks closeted with Donald Trump’s people trying to get this nomination through. And he goes to court in a situation in which he is going to be very indebted to Donald Trump.

  148. says

    SC @234, LOL. Conjecture has it that Nikki Haley is setting Jared Kushner up to replace her. That way, Jared and Ivanka get to move back to New York.

    Kushner hides his genius really, really, really well.

    I think Haley is a rat with enough sense to leave before the ship sinks.

    From the past:

    […] Haley has generally cultivated a reputation as a competent U.N. diplomat, but she has also routinely pursued foreign policies that differ from the White House’s agenda.

    Perhaps the most memorable moment of Haley’s tenure came in April, when the ambassador declared to the world that the administration would announce new sanctions on Russia over its support for the Assad regime in Syria.

    […] what Haley didn’t know was that Trump had rejected that idea, making her declaration wrong. The White House soon after suggested that Haley was “confused,” prompting the ambassador to issue a statement that read, “With all due respect, I don’t get confused.” […]

    When Trump dismissed the need for a two-state solution for Israelis and Palestinians, for example, Haley said the exact opposite a day later. Haley’s line on U.S. policy towards Venezuela also contradicted Trump’s State Department.

    And when it comes to Russia’s attack on our 2016 elections, there was no meaningful overlap between Haley’s rhetoric and the president’s rhetoric. It’s as if they were on two entirely different teams.

    Making matters worse, Haley has occasionally had to say ridiculous things in public, apparently out of loyalty to the team. Just two weeks ago, for example, after diplomats laughed at one of Trump’s more outlandish claims during a speech to the General Assembly, Haley insisted that foreign officials “love to be with” Trump and appreciate his “honesty.”

    This morning, she added that under the Trump administration, “Now, the United States is respected.” The evidence to the contrary is overwhelming. […]


  149. says

    Trump and his cohorts have a new talking point about protestors. They are characterizing protestors as “a mob,” “an angry mob,” etc. Meanwhile, they have renewed the lie that protestors are being paid. This was Trump’s tweet from this morning:

    The paid D.C. protesters are now ready to REALLY protest because they haven’t gotten their checks – in other words, they weren’t paid!

    The person who was caught paying people to appear at events was Trump himself … and those actors at his announcement that he was running for president complained that they did not get paid. Washington Post link to the article, “Even the firm that hired actors to cheer Trump’s campaign launch had to wait to be paid.”

    From a current Washington Post article:

    Weeks ahead of the midterm elections, Republicans have cast the Trump resistance movement as “an angry mob,” a term used by many of them to describe a faceless amalgamation of forces that they say threaten the country’s order and, they hope, energize their voters. […]

    The characterization evokes fear of an unknown and out-of-control mass of people, and it taps into grievances about the nation’s fast-moving cultural and demographic shifts that Republicans say are working against them.

  150. says

    Another look at polls showing Democrats losing ground in the generic popularity race after Kavanaugh was confirmed. Not so much.

    House Democrats’ lead in the generic congressional ballot has slightly increased in the wake of the bombshell hearing for now-Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh, according to a newly released survey from CNN — numbers that conflict with some other recent polling and push back on the narrative that the Kavanaugh hearings were a political win for the GOP.

    Democrats lead in the new survey of likely voters by 54 percent to 41 percent, a 13-point edge. That’s up from 10 points when SSRN last polled for CNN in early September.

    Those numbers are some of the best recent poll figures for Democrats. And while they should be looked at in the broader scope of things, they suggest the building narrative that the Kavanaugh confirmation was a disaster for Democrats isn’t totally correct.

    Of the eight reputable national pollsters to survey the generic congressional poll since the Sept. 27 hearings, three including CNN have found an increase for Democrats’ lead in the generic congressional ballot since the last time those pollsters were in the field, three have found Democrats’ lead shrinking, and two have found essentially no change.

    That’s a sign that at least on the House side, the Kavanaugh fights may have had a negligible effect on the overall battle. […]


  151. says

    From the Wall Street Journal, regarding Kavanaugh’s violence while drunk:

    One document likely in the stack would be a notarized statement submitted to the FBI Tuesday by a truck owner, who allegedly confronted an inebriated college student who was “smashing the black cargo box” in the bed of his parked Ford Courier on a New Haven, Conn., street in the fall of 1986.

    “I yelled again at the person, and realized it was Brett Kavanaugh,” reads the statement, which goes on to allege that the future Supreme Court nominee, “uncontrollably, incoherently drunk,” later refused to pay for the damage when confronted over the incident at meeting of Truth and Courage, the secret society both Yale undergraduates belonged to. Judge Kavanaugh, through his attorney, denies the incident took place.

    The former truck owner, whose redacted statement was reviewed by The Wall Street Journal, says that Truth and Courage members met twice weekly through senior year to hang out and drink. When “heavily drunk,” Mr. Kavanaugh, could turn “belligerent, offensive and even possibly criminal,” the statement says. The judge has denied such allegations about his alcohol habits in testimony before the Senate.

  152. says

    “Balanced-budget” Republicans voted to add a half trillion dollars to the deficit with a new tax cut bill.

    The House passed a bill to make permanent the Trump tax cuts for the rich, and it passed mostly along party lines.

    […] the House Republican majority [passed] the Protecting Family and Small Business Tax Cuts Act of 2018 — a bill to make the Trump tax cuts for the rich permanent.

    Sheesh. Talk about misleading names for Republican bills

    According to the GOP-controlled Joint Committee on Taxation and the Congressional Budget Office, the bill would add another $545 billion to the federal budget deficit over the next decade. This would be on top of the trillions already added to the debt by the original tax bill and the omnibus budget signed by Trump earlier this year. […]

    A ThinkProgress review found that many of the vulnerable Republicans who voted for this latest unfunded legislation are also among those campaigning on their commitment to a balanced budget and/or a constitutional amendment to require one.

    Indeed, the bill’s sponsor, Republican Rep. Rodney Davis (IL-13) has a whole section on his campaign website about the national debt. “Our national debt has surpassed $17 trillion, nearly $53,000 for every man, woman, and child in America. In fact recently, the CBO released a report stating without major reforms, federal debt held by the public would reach 100 percent of GDP in 2038,” he argues. “This is wrong and immoral. It undermines the dollar and our place in the global market, resulting is more economic uncertainty that the nation cannot afford. Washington should live by the same rules as every American family and that means balancing our budget and only spending what we take in.” […]

  153. says

    This should be interesting. The University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign will offer a course called “Trumpaganda: The War on Facts, Press and Democracy.”

    “Disinformation campaigns,” and “running wars” with the media will be covered.

  154. says

    Oh, FFS. Kanye West is scheduled to have lunch with Trump on Thursday.

    See comment 182 for a link to a good takedown of Kanye West.

    From West:

    You don’t have to agree with Trump but the mob can’t make me not love him. We are both dragon energy. He is my brother.

    From Trump:

    Kanye has good taste.

    Meanwhile, Taylor Swift is having a positive impact on voter registration. Taylor wins this round. See comments 189 (SC) and 230 (tomh).

  155. says

    Hillary Clinton called Kavanaugh’s ceremonial swearing-in a “political rally.” That’s an apt description.

    Hillary Clinton labeled Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh’s ceremonial swearing-in at the White House on Monday a “political rally” that “undermined the image and integrity” of the Supreme Court.

    “It saddens me because our judicial system has been viewed as one of the main pillars of our constitutional government,” Clinton said during an interview over the weekend with CNN’s Christiane Amanpour. […]

    “The president has been true to form,” Clinton said. “He has insulted, attacked, demeaned women throughout the campaign, really for many years leading up to the campaign, and he’s continued to do that inside the White House.”


  156. says

    Ha! This is kind of funny. Mexico’s president-elect wants to rename USMCA in Spanish.

    […] Lopez Obrador said in a tweet his chief trade negotiator, Jesús Seade, alerted him the USMCA acronym does not suit Mexican law, under which the trade pact would be a formal treaty, not an agreement.

    The USMCA — short for United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement — is set to replace the 25-year-old North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), once ratified by the three countries’ legislatures.

    In Spanish, NAFTA was known as TLCAN, short for “Tratado de Libre Comercio de América del Norte.” […]

    Trump insisted on the name change after vilifying NAFTA as the “worst trade deal ever.”

    But the distinction between “treaty” and “agreement” is important to the investment community, as Mexican law regards treaties ratified by its Senate to be above federal laws and only below the constitution.

    López Obrador said in a series of additional tweets that the pact’s name in Spanish should start with a “T” for “treaty,” in deference to Mexican law, and that it should be pronounceable in Spanish. […]

    two proposed names for the treaty: TEUMECA (Tratado Estados Unidos-México-Canada) and T-MEC (Tratado México-Estados Unidos-Canadá) […]


    Looks like Trump may have messed up the branding.

  157. says

    Another musical megastar is following Taylor Swift’s lead, (see comment 231 by Kip T.W., and previous comments regarding Taylor Swift):

    Rihanna is urging her fans to register to vote, saying there’s “no greater responsibility” Americans have than showing up at the ballot box.

    “Who is awake this morning? And who’s woke?” the “Love on the Brain” singer wrote in a Tuesday Instagram post to her more than 65 million followers. […]

    Full text:

    badgalriri GOOD MORNING AMERICA ☀️ Who is awake this morning? And who’s woke? Cause today is an extremely crucial day to the future of America!!! Today is the last day in 14 states to REGISTER TO VOTE… I’m talking to you ARIZONA, ARKANSAS, FLORIDA, GEORGIA, INDIANA, KENTUCKY, LOUISIANA, MICHIGAN, MISSISSIPPI, NEW MEXICO, OHIO, PENNSYLVANIA, TENNESSEE, TEXAS.

    You have 1 job today and that is to properly register to vote. I don’t care what responsibilities you have today, there’s no greater responsibility than being in control of your future and the future starts NOW!! We don’t have time, no procrastinating, don’t let the discouragement take you off coarse [sic], that’s not how my people or my generation will go down…this is the loudest way to make your voice heard! REGISTER

  158. says

    Well, well. What the heck is going on here? Setting Russian troll farms on fire?

    The office of a Russian internet troll farm linked to election interference efforts by Russia’s government during the 2016 presidential election was set on fire in an arson attack […]

    The Moscow Times reports that the office of the Kremlin-linked Internet Research Agency was set ablaze around 3:00 a.m. Tuesday local time by an unknown suspect who used a Molotov cocktail to start the fire.

    Surveillance footage shows a window being broken by an unknown suspect, who sets the fire while a female employee flees the office, according to the Times. […]


  159. says

    Follow-up to comment 237.

    From Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell:

    These demonstrators—I’m sure some of them were well-meaning citizens, but many of them were obviously trained to get in our faces, to go to our homes up there, basically almost to attack us in the halls of the Capitol. So there was a full-scale effort to intimidate as well as to eliminate fundamental notions of fairness and due process, such as the presumption of innocence.

    More detail from Molly Olmstead, writing for Slate:

    […] Republicans are using this language more and more, evoking the idea of a liberal “mob” to stoke conservative anger in a party fired up over the Kavanaugh hearings. Here are the examples the Post cited from the past week:

    • Trump: “The radical Democrats have turned into an angry mob.”
    • McConnell: “We stood up to the mob.”
    • Sen. Chuck Grassley, the chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee: “They have encouraged mob rule.”
    • Sen. Orrin Hatch: There was “a paid mob trying to prevent senators from doing the will of their constituents.”
    • Sen. Marco Rubio: “Imagine the coverage on cable news if an angry mob of conservatives stormed the steps of the Supreme Court building” and “Can you imagine what democrats & many in media would be saying if it was conservatives ambushing them at restaurants,confronting them at home,disrupting Senate hearings & vote with primal screams & now literally banging on door of Supreme Court building? They would call it a mob.” […]


    This is an obvious campaign to discredit protestors.

  160. says

    Susan Collins attempted to back up her recent slippery, unethical role in the Kavanaugh hearing and confirmation with a lie about Planned Parenthood:

    I would note that Planned Parenthood opposed three pro-choice justices just because they were nominated by Republican presidents, David Souter, Sandra Day O’Connor and Justice Kennedy. They said the same thing: Women will die.

    Nope. Not true.

    Here is the fact checking by the Washington Post:

    Planned Parenthood’s political arm began scoring Supreme Court nominees only in 2005, meaning tracking which way senators vote and counting it against them in scorecards and endorsements. So Souter, nominated in 1990, O’Connor, in 1981, and Kennedy, in 1987, predate that shift in the organization’s policies.

    Even Planned Parenthood did not have records that went back that far. So we had to dig into the newspaper clips. What we found did not back up Collins’s claim.

    So, Collins is now openly partisan, openly promoting conspiracy theories and altered history. She is a hack that is looking worse and worse as she tacks far right in order to please McConnell, Trump and others.

    From Joan Walsh:

    I truly hope @PlannedParenthood rescinds its award to Susan Collins. The ABA withdrew its support for Brett Kavanaugh as “highly qualified” and opened an investigation into his behavior. She just proved she doesn’t give a damn about women’s rights.

    My take on this is that Collins was planning to retire at the end of her present term all along. Also, she is weakening with age and veering into a don’t-make-me-think-too-hard idealogical strait jacket.

    She’s getting the facts wrong. And she seems to be doing that willingly. Very Trump-like.

  161. says

    Very fine people on both sides.

    A neo-Nazi who boarded an Amtrak train armed with a gun and broke into the engine compartment to disable the train has been revealed to have attended the Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville, Virginia last August, and marched next to accused domestic terrorist James Alex Fields.

    Taylor Wilson was sentenced to 14 years in prison on Friday in Lincoln, Nebraska for boarding the train in October. After entering the engine compartment, he cut the lights to the passenger compartment and disabled the train, causing panic among passengers.

    Wilson, who was a card-carrying member of the neo-Nazi National Socialist Movement, said shortly after that he was “trying to save the train from black people”. Authorities later found white supremacist documents, 1,000 rounds of ammunition, and a tactical shield behind a secret compartment in his house. […]

    […] not only was Wilson an avowed white supremacist, but he’d actively participated in the Unite the Right rally, said he wanted to be a martyr for the white supremacist cause, and had spoken regularly with members of the now-defunct Traditionalist Worker’s Party in the run-up to the Charlottesville rally. […]

    Wilson was also seen marching side-by-side with James Alex Fields Jr., who stands accused of ramming his car into a group of counter-protesters, killing Heather Heyer and injuring dozens more. Fields, who has also been indicted on federal hate crimes charges, faces trial later in November. […]


  162. says

    ICE indulges in questionable tactics yet again:

    Flavio Musmanno, an undocumented immigrant from Argentina who came to the United States on the visa waiver program, had been working construction jobs in Ohio over the summer when he lost his wallet on August 28. A few hours later, someone called Musmanno asking him to meet at truck stop to retrieve his wallet.

    According to family, Musmanno believed the man at the other end of the line was just a Good Samaritan returning a found wallet. In reality, it was an Immigration and Customs Enforcement agent.

    Musmanno was subsequently detained and is currently being held inside the Seneca County Jail, awaiting deportation.

    “When I found out what was in the wallet, I was like, ‘Oh, Dad, why did you go?’” his stepdaughter Paola told the Miami New Times. “There was no phone number in the wallet. You wouldn’t go meet strangers who found you like that, right?”

    Musmanno’s wife, a recent U.S. citizen, said the couple recently filed a Form I-130, a petition used by citizens to ask the federal government to issue relatives a green card. According to Paola, Musmanno had received confirmation from U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) that the form was being processed.

    Despite his open green card case, however, Musmanno is scheduled for deportation sometime Tuesday.

    The news has devastated Musmanno’s family. Speaking with Rise News, Musmanno’s 16-year-old son Francisco tearfully described how his father looked while sitting in the detention facility.

    “His fingers, his skin was peeling off, because of the nervousness,” Francisco said. “And you could see that his movements just didn’t feel natural, he didn’t feel OK.”

    Paola claimed ICE agents did not identify themselves to her stepfather on the phone, a tactic immigration law enforcement officials have used previously. In the past, ICE has texted undocumented immigrants out of the blue, tricking them into deportation talks. Some agents have even impersonated family members, luring individuals out of church by sending texts instructing them to come outside, where they were subsequently arrested.

    Like Musmanno, the majority of those tricked into deportation do not have a criminal record. According to the Associated Press, arrests of noncriminal immigrants have increased 66 percent this year. In the first 14 months of the Trump administration alone, that number more than tripled. […]


  163. says

    From Carolyn Kormann, writing for The New Yorker:

    […] Last night, in Incheon, South Korea, after a week of deliberation, the I.P.C.C. released the new findings. The summary tells a nightmarish tale—one much worse than any of those in the I.P.C.C.’s previous reports—surveying the climate-change impacts we’re already experiencing with one degree of warming, and the severity of the impacts to come once we surpass 1.5 degrees of warming.

    Ten million more people would be exposed to permanent inundation, and several hundred million more to “climate-related risks and susceptible to poverty.” Malaria and dengue fever will be more widespread, and crops like maize, rice, and wheat will have smaller and smaller yields—particularly in sub-Saharan Africa, Southeast Asia, and Central and South America. Security and economic growth will be that much more imperilled. “Robust scientific literature now shows that there are significant differences between 1.5 and 2 degrees,” Adelle Thomas, a geographer from the Bahamas and also one of the report’s lead authors, told me. “The scientific consensus is really strong. It’s not just a political slogan: ‘1.5 to stay alive.’ It’s true.”

    The report marks the start of the I.P.C.C.’s latest assessment cycle, the sixth since the organization was formed by the U.N. Environment Program and the World Meteorological Organization, in 1988. Its importance is hard to overstate. The thirty-three-page summary for policymakers—which is based on more than six thousand cited studies, and written by ninety-one authors from forty different countries—is a collective scream sieved through the stern, strained language of bureaucratese.

    Unique ecosystems will vanish and species will go extinct by the thousands. With two degrees of warming, three times as many insects (eighteen per cent), and twice as many plants (sixteen per cent) and vertebrates (eight per cent), will lose their geographic range, when compared with warming of 1.5 degrees. Nearly all the coral reefs (more than ninety-nine per cent) will be dead, including the Great Barrier Reef, an ecosystem some twenty-five million years old, which is visible from space and is already in severe decline. The global annual catch from marine fisheries will decrease by three million tons. The likelihood of a sea-ice-free Arctic summer will increase from once per century to once per decade. “The next few years are probably the most important in our history,” Debra Roberts, a co-chair of the I.P.C.C. Working Group II, said. […]

  164. says

    To depose Wilbur Ross, or not to depose Wilbur Ross:

    […] Update: An appeals court on Tuesday filed an order allowing the deposition of Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross to proceed, but put the order on hold for 48 hours so that it could be appealed to the Supreme Court.

    The high-stakes court battle to depose Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross about his decision to add a citizenship question to the 2020 Census may come to a head this week, with Ross slated to sit for the deposition on Thursday.

    The Trump administration, which faces numerous lawsuits over the question, has been fighting the effort to depose Ross tooth-and-nail, most recently turning to the Supreme Court to halt Thursday’s deposition. Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg — the recipient of the petition because she oversees the appellate circuit where it came up — denied the request, but left the door open for it to come back up for Supreme Court review. The question is now in front of a federal appeals court, which has already ruled in favor of deposing John Gore, a top DOJ political appointee involved in adding the question.

    If courts force Ross to sit for the deposition, it will be a remarkable event. A deposition of an executive branch official of Ross’ stature is extremely rare. According to Politico, the last Cabinet official who was called to testify in a civil proceeding while still in office appears to be Interior Secretary Bruce Babbitt, who took the stand in a 1999 trial over funding for Native American programs. The district court decision ordering Ross’ deposition pointed to three other sitting agency heads whose depositions were required by courts. […]


  165. says

    Babysitting while black causes suspicion in Georgia:

    […] A youth mentor in Marietta, Georgia, and the two young children he was caring for found themselves trailed by a total stranger for nearly an hour before being confronted by police on Sunday. The reason? A white woman refused to accept that white children could be babysat by a black man.

    Corey Lewis was looking after the children of family friends on Sunday, and, along with his mother, took them to his local Walmart to get Subway for dinner. According to Lewis, an unnamed white woman, who, for the purpose of this article, I’ll call Child Care Charlotte, accosted him and demanded to speak to the oldest of the two children, in order to confirm that Lewis hadn’t snatched her—in that oh-so-common and devious plot where people of color feed stolen white kids five-dollar foot-longs […]. Lewis declined, quite reasonably, to let a total stranger interrogate his charges, and left the store.

    After threatening to take down his license plate number and call the authorities, Child Care Charlotte then followed Lewis, his mother, and the two children to Murphy’s, a local gas station, where the group dangerously filled up their car with gasoline. At this point, Lewis went on Facebook Live to document the creepy stalker. Lewis and his mother returned to Lewis’ house, and Child Care Charlotte followed them, parking a few driveways away.

    That’s when the police arrived. After a short conversation with Lewis and his mother, the officer ordered the children out of the car, and quizzed them on who Lewis was and why they were with him. The kids look terrified in the Facebook Live video, and refer to their babysitter as “Mr. Lewis” while explaining that they’d just gotten some sandwiches with two trusted adults.

    According to local news station CBS46, the police officer wasn’t convinced that Child Care Charlotte wasn’t hot on the case of a kidnapping charge, so his next step was to contact the children’s parents […].

    The officer questioned the 10-year-old and the 6-year-old before calling their parents.

    David Parker and Dana Mango were in disbelief.

    “I said are you saying that because there’s an African American male driving my two white kids, that he was stopped and pulled over and questioned and he said I’m sorry ma’am that’s exactly what I’m saying,” Mango told CBS46.

    Parker and Mango say they feel absolutely no gratitude toward Child Care Charlotte.

    Instead, they feel repulsed by the behavior of the woman—who, again, remains unidentified—and don’t appreciate her creepy and unsolicited vigilance in the supposed interest of their children, who were totally safe, with bellies full of sandwiches […]

    Not that it matters, but Lewis runs his own youth center, where the younger of his two “suspicious” charges is a regular attendee.

    Child Care Charlotte was not charged for wasting police resources and remains free to harass black people throughout Cobb County. […]


  166. says

    Follow-up to comment 252.

    Here is Trump’s response:

    It [the U.N. climate report] was given to me. And I want to look at who drew it. You know, which group drew it. I can give you reports that are fabulous and I can give you reports that aren’t so good.

  167. says

    “Khashoggi case: CCTV disappears from Saudi consulate in Turkey”:

    Security camera footage was removed from the Saudi consulate in Istanbul and Turkish staff were abruptly told to take a holiday on the day the dissident journalist Jamal Khashoggi disappeared while inside the building, Turkish authorities have claimed.

    A week after Khashoggi vanished in the heart of Turkey’s biggest city, details of the investigation into his disappearance continued to point towards Riyadh having ordered Khashoggi’s seizure.

    Investigators believe the squad responsible for his disappearance from the Saudi consulate spent several hours at the nearby consul general’s house before leaving for the airport in a convoy of six cars, one of which is thought to have carried the missing dissident or his body.

    A still-frame image emerged on Tuesday of Khashoggi striding towards the diplomatic mission before he disappeared. The black van that was allegedly used later to smuggle him away was parked next to the front door.

    Details of the planes used to fly 15 Saudi officials from Riyadh to Istanbul have also been confirmed….

    However, despite a circumstantial case being established that blames Saudi Arabia for Khashoggi’s abduction, there were signs that Turkish officials were unwilling to further incriminate the kingdom, with which Turkey has lucrative trade ties and attempts to maintain a delicate regional relationship.

    Political leaders have not delivered on pledges to supply video footage that purports to show heavy bags being carried from the consul gate to the waiting cars. Officials who had offered glimpses into the investigation for the past week were no longer prepared to talk.

    Yasin Aktay, an adviser to the Turkish president, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, claimed “the Saudi state is not blamed here”, a marked shift in rhetoric that had earlier called for the kingdom to explain what had happened.

    “We have our own problems with a deep state,” he told al-Araby in an interview. Earlier, Aktay had pointedly claimed that Khashoggi had been murdered by people sent from Riyadh.

    In a further sign of an apparent climbdown, the pro-government newspaper Daily Sabah suggested that the focus of the investigation had moved towards the possibility that Khashoggi was smuggled alive on to one of the planes. Turkish officials had been adamant that the journalist was killed inside the consulate; a claim they repeated to US authorities who began asking questions about Khashoggi’s disappearance at the weekend.

    Privately, senior officials have told counterparts in the US and Europe that they still believe Khashoggi was killed, but that political leaders are willing to make a climbdown for Riyadh in return for concessions.

    The spectre of a political dimension to the investigation has raised the prospect that evidence that could establish Khashoggi’s fate may never be disclosed….

  168. says

    Conservative Supreme Court justices already on the bench didn’t need Kavanaugh’s help to disenfranchise some voters (Native Americans among them) in North Dakota.

    The Supreme Court on Tuesday allowed North Dakota to enforce for the midterm elections its full voter ID law, which a federal judge had previously sought to relax in a lawsuit brought by Native Americans in the state.

    […] Native Americans in the state had challenged a provision in the law requiring that the address be a residential street address, rather than a PO Box or other kind of address, given that some members of some tribes don’t have residential street addresses.

    A federal judge ruled in favor of the challengers and expanded the law’s requirements so documents with non-residential street addresses were acceptable. However, an appeals court blocked that ruling for the 2018 elections, and the Supreme Court on Tuesday decided to leave appeals court order blocking the expansion of the law in place.

    […] Justices Elena Kagan and Ruth Bader Ginsburg publicly noted their dissent, with Ginsburg writing that the “the risk of disfranchisement is large.”

    “The risk of voter confusion appears severe here because the injunction against requiring residential-address identification was in force during the primary election and because the Secretary of State’s website announced for months the ID requirements as they existed under that injunction,” Ginsburg wrote, in the dissent joined by Kagan. “Reasonable voters may well assume that the IDs allowing them to vote in the primary election would remain valid in the general election.”

    Justice Brett Kavanaugh, who was confirmed to the Supreme Court this weekend, did not participate in the court’s decision.


    Justice Ginsburg is obviously correct.

  169. says

    Hurricane Michael has been upgraded to a category 3 storm. The potential storm surge is 13 feet. Potential rainfall is about 1 foot, (30 centimeters). Winds about 120 mph, plus.

    […] “We don’t know if it’s going to wipe out our house or not,” Jason McDonald, of Panama City, said as he and his wife drove north into Alabama with their two children, ages 5 and 7. “We want to get them out of the way.” […]

    Florida Gov. Rick Scott warned it was a “monstrous hurricane,” and his Democratic opponent for the Senate, Sen. Bill Nelson, said a “wall of water” could cause destruction along the Panhandle.

    “Don’t think that you can ride this out if you’re in a low-lying area,” Nelson said on CNN. […]

    Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum, Florida’s Democratic nominee for governor, helped people fill sandbags. […]

    Disaster agencies in El Salvador, Honduras and Nicaragua reported 13 deaths as roofs collapsed and residents were carried away by swollen rivers. […]


  170. says

    SC @259, I think they enjoy the communal exercise of chanting about locking up women. It’s always a woman they want to lock up.

    And it was just today that a bunch of Republicans, including Trump, were all about calling protestors “left wing mobs,” “angry mobs,” “screaming mobs,” and so forth.

  171. says

    “Saudis are said to have lain in wait for Jamal Khashoggi” (emphasis added):

    As Jamal Khashoggi prepared to enter the Saudi consulate in Istanbul on Oct. 2, a squad of men from Saudi Arabia who investigators suspect played a role in his disappearance was ready and in place.

    They had arrived from Riyadh, the Saudi capital, early that morning and checked in at two inter­national hotels in Istanbul before driving to the consulate in the leafy Levent neighborhood, said two people with knowledge of the investigation. One of them, the Mövenpick Hotel Istanbul, is a few minutes from the consulate by car.

    By the end of the day, a 15-member Saudi team had conducted its business and left the country, departing on planes bound for Cairo and Dubai, according to flight records and the people familiar with the investigation.

    Turkish officials have previously said they believe that Khashoggi, a prominent journalist and critic of the Saudi government, was killed inside the consulate.

    Turkish officials, who are examining the squad’s movements, have now expanded their investigation to explore what happened at the residence of the Saudi consul general, Mohammed al-Otaibi, located 500 yards from the consulate. A photograph taken from a Turkish police closed-circuit television camera outside the residence and obtained by The Washington Post shows a Mercedes Vito van with tinted windows that security officials say transported some of those men from the consulate to the residence about two hours after Khashoggi entered the consulate.

    In the week since the disappearance of Khashoggi, a contributor to The Post’s Global Opinions section, the Saudi government has maintained that he left the consulate soon after he arrived. Not only do they not know what happened to him, they say, but they are also worried for his safety.

    Before Khashoggi’s disappearance, U.S. intelligence intercepted communications of Saudi officials discussing a plan to capture him, according to a person familiar with the information. The Saudis wanted to lure Khashoggi back to Saudi Arabia and lay hands on him there, this person said. It was not clear whether the Saudis intended to arrest and interrogate Khashoggi or to kill him, or if the United States warned Khashoggi that he was a target, this person said….

    Putin playbook: “Saudi regime mouthpiece, Okaz, explains reasons for the media frenzy about Saudi role in the disappearance of Khashoggi: it attributes it to ‘Saudiphobia’. Kid you [n]ot.”

  172. says

    “Viktoria Marinova: man held in Germany over death of Bulgarian journalist”:

    A Bulgarian man has been detained in Germany on suspicion of the rape and murder of the television journalist Viktoria Marinova, Bulgaria’s chief prosecutor has said.

    Authorities in Bulgaria said an arrest warrant was being issued for the 21-year-old man, who would be charged in absentia with rape and murder.

    The body of Marinova, 30, who reported on an investigation into alleged corruption involving EU funds, was found in the border town of Ruse, on the Danube, at the weekend. She disappeared after going for a run by the river on Saturday.

    The country’s interior minister, Mladen Marinov, said there was physical evidence to link Krasimirov to the murder. Krasimirov, a resident of Ruse, had a criminal record for scrap metal theft, he said. The minister said investigators had spoken to the journalist’s family and friends and added: “There is no apparent link to her work.”

    Marinova was the third journalist to be killed in an EU country within a year. The death has reopened debates about the dangers of reporting, as well as the particular threats faced by female journalists.

    Authorities have said they are investigating all possibilities, but say they are cautious about linking the murder to Marinova’s journalism….

    If it’s true that her murder was unrelated to the content of her journalism, it’s still a political issue – the plague of violence against women attempting to engage in routine activities in public (see #205 above).

  173. says

    Apologies if anyone’s already posted this – “The Myth of the Lazy Nonvoter”:

    If history is any indicator, only around 40 percent of eligible voters will vote in the midterm elections. Most people assume that voter turnout remains this low because Americans are apathetic and simply don’t want to vote. But it’s more likely that most Americans do want to vote, and one of the root causes of low turnout is this country’s framework of restrictive voting laws.

    The United States is unique in allowing state laws to largely govern voting in federal elections. Ever since key federal protections were dismantled by the Supreme Court in 2013 – including portions of the Voting Rights Act, which required some states and localities with a history of discrimination to obtain federal permission before changing voting procedures — state lawmakers have had more latitude than ever to enact laws affecting whether, how and when one can vote in a federal election.

    To explore the hurdles that voters face this election, we created five voter profiles: the voter with no ID, the procrastinator, the student, the working parent and the convicted felon….

    While many countries greatly simplify the voting process — or make voting mandatory — the solutions here in the United States may not need to be so drastic.

    In fact, they are right in front of us. Just as some states that have passed laws restricting access to voting in recent years have seen reduced turnout, states with laws that afford people the greatest access to voting – several states where ID requirements are not onerous, where all residents can register to vote online and registration periods extend to Election Day, and where voters have many options to vote early or on Election Day without losing any income – have experienced high participation. Our democracy depends on the ability to participate freely, without unnecessary barriers. The voters must choose elected officials, and not the other way around.

  174. says

    The gender chasm:

    […] Republicans enjoy a modest lead over Democrats among men, 50% to 45%. But among women, Democrats are up by 30 points, 63% to 33%.[…]


  175. says

    Trump wrote an op-ed for USA Today, and it was policy-oriented. Well, actually, someone in Trump world wrote an op-ed about healthcare and Trump took credit. Also, the policy-oriented look was a just a ruse to get some lies in print.

    […] This initially struck me as encouraging: some Dems have a policy idea, and the Republican president wrote an op-ed […] as part of an effort to engage in a policy debate during an election season. […]

    Sometimes, however, what seems encouraging in theory is actually quite discouraging in practice. Let’s start with the first paragraph of Trump’s piece.

    Throughout the year, we have seen Democrats across the country uniting around a new legislative proposal that would end Medicare as we know it and take away benefits that seniors have paid for their entire lives.

    Nope, he’s lying. Zero Democrats have endorsed proposals that would take benefits from seniors. How about the second paragraph?

    Dishonestly called “Medicare for All,” the Democratic proposal would establish a government-run, single-payer health care system that eliminates all private and employer-based health care plans and would cost an astonishing $32.6 trillion during its first 10 years.

    That’s misleading. If the United States spent $32.6 trillion on a Medicare-for-All system, it would represent a reduction in overall health care spending as compared to the status quo. Maybe the third paragraph of Trump’s op-ed show an improvement?

    As a candidate, I promised that we would protect coverage for patients with pre-existing conditions and create new health care insurance options that would lower premiums. I have kept that promise, and we are now seeing health insurance premiums coming down.

    Nope, he’s lying again. Trump has endorsed a Republican lawsuit that would end up stripping millions of Americans with pre-existing conditions of their current protections. He’s also endorsed GOP legislation that would, at a minimum, curtail the safeguards families now enjoy, while also expanding use of junk plans that don’t include coverage for those with pre-existing conditions.

    It would be exhausting – for you and me – to keep going, claim by claim, paragraph by paragraph, pointing out every presidential error of fact and judgment. The fact remains that Trump’s entire argument rests on a foundation of nonsense. Offered an opportunity to engage in a real debate, the White House instead chose deception. […]

    What’s less clear is why the newspaper thought it’d be a good idea to present its readers – four weeks before critically important midterm elections – with a piece littered with demonstrable lies. As Glenn Kessler, a Washington Post fact-checker, asked, “How can USA Today allow Trump to publish an article with documented falsehoods?”

    That need not be a rhetorical question. If other politicians submitted op-eds to USA Today that were filled with obvious fabrications, I suspect the editors would balk. Sure, a written piece from a sitting president is probably going to be treated a little differently, but maybe it should be accompanied by a companion piece alerting readers to the truth?


  176. says

    Senator Tom Cotton, a Republican from Arkansas is fond of conspiracy theories. He went on Fox News recently and offered up the theory that Chuck Schumer leaked Christine Blasey Ford’s letter.

    Hugh, I believe the Schumer political operation was behind this from the very beginning. We learned last week that a woman named Monica McLean was Ms. Ford’s roommate, and she was one of the so-called beach friends who encouraged Ms. Ford to go to Dianne Feinstein and the partisan Democrats on the Judiciary Committee.

    Well, it just turns out, it just so happens that Monica McLean worked for a Preet Bharara, the former U.S. Attorney in Manhattan, now a virulent anti-Trump critic on television and former counsel to Chuck Schumer. So I strongly suspect that Chuck Schumer’s political operation knew about Ms. Ford’s allegations as far back as July and manipulated the process all along….

    Well, it just turns out, it just so happens that Tom Cotton is full of bull pucky.

    Fact checking from the Washington Post:

    We decided to fact-check Cotton because U.S. senators should get the facts straight before trotting out incendiary accusations.

    Not a whiff of evidence shows that McLean conspired with Bharara or Schumer or both to leak details about Ford’s letter. Contrary to what Cotton said, McLean never worked for Bharara. McLean left the FBI’s New York field office in 2009; Bharara was U.S. attorney from 2009 to 2017. Bharara and McLean both say they don’t know each other.

    A few minutes of simple research would have set things straight for Cotton. Bharara had tweeted four days before Cotton’s interview that McLean “never worked for me,” and it’s an elementary fact that U.S. attorneys don’t supervise FBI agents. (Senators should know that kind of stuff.)

    Expect Hair Furor to repeat Cotton’s fact-free conspiracy theory even though it has been thoroughly shredded.

    Cotton is a foolish man.

  177. says

    Quoted in Lynna’s #265 above:

    Nope, he’s lying again. Trump has endorsed a Republican lawsuit that would end up stripping millions of Americans with pre-existing conditions of their current protections. He’s also endorsed GOP legislation that would, at a minimum, curtail the safeguards families now enjoy, while also expanding use of junk plans that don’t include coverage for those with pre-existing conditions.

    And since some Senators, led by Tammy Baldwin, are trying to protect people from junk plans, he’s threatening a veto:

    Upon President Trump’s first-ever veto threat of Senator Tammy Baldwin (D-WI)’s resolution to block insurers from selling short-term, junk insurance plans, Leslie Dach, chair of Protect Our Care, issued the following statement:

    “Trump’s first ever act as President was about rolling back American health care and now his first ever veto threat is about ensuring his sabotage that started that day continues — go figure. By pushing junk insurance plans, and wielding veto threats when Senators stand up to them, Trump is making it clear once and for all he’s on the side of more profit for big insurance and less health care for the American people.”…

    But USA Today is fine with letting him spew more outright lies in their publication.

  178. says

    FBI Director Wray confirmed that the White House limited the Kavanaugh probe.

    During a Senate Homeland Security Committee hearing Wednesday, Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA) asked FBI Director Christopher Wray if the investigation into sexual assault allegations against Supreme Court justice Brett Kavanaugh was curtailed by the White House. Wray confirmed that it was.

    “I think I would say that our investigation here, our supplemental update to the previous background investigation, was limited in scope and that that is consistent with the standard process for such investigations going back quite a long ways,” he said.

    Harris followed up by asking if communication between the White House and FBI was in writing, and requested that it be turned over to the committee. Wray said that he assumed some of it was and that he’d have to see what’s “appropriate” to give the senators.

    Harris then specifically tried to suss out if White House lawyer Don McGahn was involved in the communication, but Wray sidestepped.

    “Well, I can’t speak to what anybody throughout the organization might have received instructions on,” he said. “My understanding is that the communications occurred between the White House’s office of security and the FBI security division.” […]


  179. says

    Mueller probe update: Richard Pinedo was sentenced to six months in prison, and to six months home confinement.

    […] Pinedo, a California resident, cooperated with Mueller’s probe, including testifying for the special counsel’s grand jury, after he was approached by the FBI. Before his sentencing Pinedo’s lawyer asked the judge for leniency, emphasizing Pinedo’s cooperation with Mueller and noting that he was living in fear while helping the government’s Russia probe.

    U.S. District Judge Dabney Friedrich […] called Pinedo’s crime “serious,” but also noted the “significant mitigating factors,” including his timely acceptance of responsibility, his cooperation with the government, his age, and his lack of criminal history.

    Pinedo acted as a middleman of sorts, selling bank account numbers connected to real people that he purchased on the black market (though not stealing the bank account numbers directly himself) to anonymous customers. Among those customers were some of the Russian internet trolls whom Mueller has alleged sought to influence the 2016 election, though Pinedo was not aware that he was facilitating the alleged election meddling scheme. […]

    Rush Atkinson, who spoke on behalf of Mueller’s team, explained that because of the mandate of the special counsel, Mueller could not prosecute some of the other people above Pinedo in the ID fraud scheme, despite the information Pinedo had given prosecutors implicating them. Atkinson said that the special counsel, generally speaking, has referred information to relevant U.S. attorney’s offices that could lead to prosecutions outside of Mueller’s mandate. […]

  180. says

    New analysis shows that 61% of Trump’s Twitter followers “are bots, spam, inactive, or propaganda.”

    A new analysis of white supremacist in chief Donald Trump’s Twitter followers reveals that most of the “people” subscribing to him on the popular social media platform, are “bots, spam, inactive, or propaganda.” An online marketing company released these findings this week, along with their analysis of other public figures such as President Obama and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. All of these figures had large numbers of fake followers, but nobody had the true bloat that our most bloviating president has.
    Donald Trump (President) – 61.0%
    Kamala Harris (Senator) – 24.4%
    Ted Cruz (Senator) – 26.0%
    Susan Collins (Senator) – 24.6%
    Mike Pence (Vice President) – 41.5%
    Al Gore (Former Vice President) – 41.0%
    Beto O’Rourke (Congressman) – 22.7%
    Barack Obama (former President) – 40.9%
    Mitch McConnell (Senator) – 31.3%
    Jerry Brown (Governor) – 50.0%
    Lindsey Graham (Senator) – 25.3%
    Elizabeth Warren (Senator) – 33.7%
    Hillary Clinton (former Senator) – 43.8%


  181. says

    Mitch McConnell spoke about President Obama:

    The single most important thing we want to achieve is for President Obama to be a one-term president.

    Mitch McConnell now:

    […] Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is warning Democrats to think carefully about “presidential harassment” if they win the majority of the House.

    But McConnell wants it known he only offers this advice out of concern for the Democratic Party. After all, launching any investigations into Donald Trump might get in the way of the dozens of investigations into the Obama administration that the Republicans have already conducted—without producing a single indictment—and the ones they are still launching, sometimes several at once.

    Right now, the Republican House has open investigations into Uranium One, into FBI actions before the 2016 elections, into how FISA warrants were obtained under Obama, and of course, into how the FBI handled Hillary Clinton’s emails.

    All of these matters have been investigated multiple times before. But that hasn’t kept Republicans from firing off one investigation after another. Investigating Democrats. It’s what Republicans do. […]


  182. says

    SC @274, I’m with you on that. The storm has been upgraded to a category 4. This is going to be bad. Houses on the coastline are going to be hit by a 12-foot storm surge.

  183. says

    Follow-up to comments 265 and 270.

    Gutting health care, chapter umpteen:

    The Senate on Wednesday defeated a Democratic measure to overrule President Trump’s expansion of non-ObamaCare insurance plans as Democrats seek to highlight health care ahead of the midterm elections.

    The Democratic measure would have overruled Trump’s expansion of short-term health insurance plans, which do not have to cover people with pre-existing conditions or cover a range of health services like mental health or prescription drugs.

    It was defeated on an extremely narrow, mostly party line 50-50 vote, with Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) voting with Democrats in favor of overturning the short-term plans.
    Republicans argue the short-term plans simply provide a cheaper option alongside more comprehensive ObamaCare plans.

    Democrats forced the vote ahead of the midterms in an attempt to put health care front and center in the campaign. Democrats said Republicans voting to keep in place these “junk” insurance plans that do not have to cover pre-existing conditions was another example they can use to paint the GOP as wrong on health care.

    “In a few short weeks the American people will head to the polls where they can vote for another two years of Republican attempts to gut our health-care system, or they can vote for Democratic candidates who will safeguard the protections now in place and work to make health care more affordable,” Senate Democratic Leader Charles Schumer (N.Y.) said on the Senate floor Wednesday. […]


  184. says

    Matthew Yglesias wrote about Trump’s “absurd tissue of lies” in the USA op-ed about health care.

    […] it’s so dishonest that some clever editor appears to have subversively snuck links into the text that debunk some of its key claims — it’s hard to believe that Trump or his communications staff would have done so:

    As a candidate, I promised that we would protect coverage for patients with pre-existing conditions and create new health care insurance options that would lower premiums. I have kept that promise, and we are now seeing health insurance premiums coming down.

    I also made a solemn promise to our great seniors to protect Medicare. That is why I am fighting so hard against the Democrats’ plan that would eviscerate Medicare. Democrats have already harmed seniors by slashing Medicare by more than $800 billion over 10 years to pay for Obamacare. Likewise, Democrats would gut Medicare with their planned government takeover of American health care.

    Follow the “pre-existing conditions” link and you’ll get a Washington Post fact-check item explaining that Trump has betrayed this promise. Follow the “new health care insurance options” link and you’ll find Trump talking during the campaign about allowing insurance plans to be sold across state lines, which hasn’t happened.

    Most importantly of all, if you follow the link for “eviscerated Medicare” you find a New York Times analysis of Sen. Bernie Sanders’s Medicare-for-all plan that concludes that Medicare enrollees “would have more generous coverage” under his plan. […]

    More embedded links are accessible in the article written by Yglesias.

  185. says

    From Wonkette’s coverage of Melania Trump’s comments about sexual assault:

    […] We have had first ladies who were super fucking cool (the most recent one, for example) and we have had first ladies who were less cool, and we have never had a first gentleman because America is really bizarrely retrograde and literally “elected” the world’s stupidest man in order avoid being led by a woman. But right now, we have Melania Trump, and as much as people try to be charitable or make excuses for how she never wanted this in the first place, it doesn’t change the fact that she is bad and she is complicit […]

    the president of the United States, Melania Trump’s husband, has been credibly accused of sexual harassment and/or assault by multiple women, […]

    Which brings us to today!

    Melania Trump is still on her tour of all the countries in Africa her husband has called “shitholes,” and she sat down with ABC News to talk about the events of the day, and you will be shocked to learn she said some really fucked up shit about sexual assault and the #MeToo movement. It’s not that she thinks we shouldn’t believe women — she does. It’s that she thinks we need to also believe men, and we don’t mean men who have been sexually assaulted. […]:

    “I do stand with women. But we need to show the evidence. You cannot just say to somebody, ‘I was sexually assaulted or you did that to me,’ because sometimes the media goes too far and the way they portray some stories, it’s not correct.” […] “I support the women and they need to be heard,” she told ABC. “We need to support them. And also men, not just women.”

    We have asked this a million times, but it’s possible we were yelling at clouds at the time, so we will ask it again: WHAT FUCKING EVIDENCE DO PEOPLE THINK THEY NEED?

    By its very nature, sexual assault tends to be a crime that happens out of sight from the general public, and short of saying an accusation of sexual assault or rape doesn’t count unless the guy was wearing a GoPro on his dick at the time, WHAT FUCKING “EVIDENCE” IS SHE LOOKING FOR RIGHT NOW?

    Perchance, an audiotape of a man bragging about grabbing women by the [P-word] without their consent? Would that be “evidence”?

    What about the testimonies of people who say, AYUP, that guy “Bart O’Kavanaugh” was a real disgusting blackout drunk and he and his pal Mark Judge threw parties where some really fucked up rapey shit happened? Is that EVIDENCE? […]

  186. says

    […] Trump told The Washington Post Saturday that Murkowski’s decision to not vote to confirm Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh was “really unacceptable” and he thinks “the people from Alaska will never forgive her for what she did.”

    Senator Lisa Murkowski responded:

    […] Murkowski dismissed criticism from President Trump, telling reporters that she knows Alaska voters “better than he does.” […]

    Murkowski, who is not up for reelection until 2022, told reporters Wednesday her “barometer is not necessarily what the president says but what the people of Alaska say,” according to the Associated Press.

    Murkowski adopted a stronger tone Wednesday than she did during comments she made Tuesday about her vote in which she said “I took the vote that I took. And I’m good with it and I’m moving forward. I think we all need to be, so I’m not going to dwell on the ‘what ifs.’”

    “I took the vote that I took and we’re moving forward,” she added. […]

    Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) also offered his own support, telling the AP that “nobody’s going to beat her” in Alaska. […]


  187. says

    “Late GOP Activist Peter W. Smith Met With Former Trump Adviser Michael Flynn in 2015”:

    A veteran Republican activist whose quest to obtain Hillary Clinton’s emails from hackers dominated the final months of his life struck up a professional relationship with Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn, the former national security adviser to President Trump, as early as 2015, and told associates during the presidential campaign that he was using the retired general’s connections to help him on the email project.

    The late Peter W. Smith, an Illinois financier with a long history in Republican politics, met with Mr. Flynn in 2015, according to people familiar with the matter. At the time, Mr. Flynn had recently left his job as head of the Defense Intelligence Agency and was trying to set up his own consulting firm, while Mr. Smith was looking at investment opportunities in cybersecurity.

    Additionally, in an email reviewed by The Wall Street Journal, one of Mr. Smith’s former associates wrote to a friend last week, “As you are aware Peter started a business relationship with Gen. Mike Flynn in November 2015. We spoke with him on the day he left for his trip to Moscow.” The associate, John Szobocsan, sent the email as the Journal was preparing a story on Mr. Smith and was attempting to reach Mr. Szobocsan. He didn’t respond to requests for comment.

    The Journal reported in 2017 that Mr. Smith implied he had connections to Mr. Flynn, but the email and people familiar with the matter indicate the two men were in contact and did in fact have a working relationship. Though no apparent business deals came of the 2015 meeting, the introduction gave Mr. Smith a contact who would go on to become part of Mr. Trump’s inner circle. An attorney for Mr. Flynn declined to comment….

  188. says

    Follow-up to comment 237.

    An explanation from Steve Benen:

    […] On Twitter yesterday morning, pointing to nothing in particular, [Trump] wrote, “The paid D.C. protesters are now ready to REALLY protest because they haven’t gotten their checks – in other words, they weren’t paid!”

    The obvious oddity was that there were no paid protesters, but his larger point was even tougher to understand. People who don’t exist haven’t been paid? What was Trump talking about?

    It seemed possible that the president, who struggles to write well, simply wasn’t expressing himself clearly, but a few hours later, during a brief Q&A with reporters, Trump said largely the same thing.

    Q: Do you think the Democrats, on the other hand, will be energized because they saw the defeat of someone that they wanted (inaudible)?

    TRUMP: Yeah, probably. I mean, there could be. But, you know, a lot of those were paid protestors. You saw that. They were all unhappy because they haven’t been paid yet. I’ve been calling it. They were paid protestors. That was professional. That was orchestrated, when you look in the halls of Congress, and you see screaming like that…. These are paid protestors.

    Again, Trump was talking about people who, in reality, don’t exist. There were no “paid protesters.” There were organizers who helped rally activists, but the people “screaming like that” did so because they were expressing their genuine beliefs.

    And yet, the president seemed quite sincere about the idea that these activists “haven’t been paid yet,” as if Trump – who has a fair amount of experience paying for supporters and then failing to pay his bills – had some kind of first-hand knowledge about the details of financial arrangements that exist only in his imagination.

    Eventually, however, we came to learn why Trump was so confused. The Washington Post explained:

    Trump sent his tweet out into the world at 8:32 a.m…. As some have noticed, this was just half an hour after his favorite morning show featured a discussion about the apocryphal paid protesters.

    The writer Asra Nomani was invited onto “Fox & Friends” to talk about various liberal organizations she says helped organize some of the Kavanaugh protests. (Though she didn’t mention it, conservative groups do this as well; see the Obamacare protests a few years ago.)

    “It’s not the individual protesters who are getting the money,” Nomani explained. But she also said: “People have sent me lots of messages that they’re waiting for their check.”

    In context, as Nomani later explained, she was being sarcastic about the activists waiting for their check. Her point was that progressive organizations played a role hiring organizers, but rank-and-file activists showed up because they wanted to, not because they were paid to.

    The humor was apparently lost on Trump, who heard “they’re waiting for their check,” took it seriously, and scrambled to tell the public how right he was.

    In other words, the president convinced himself that his silly conspiracy theory was true because of an obvious joke he didn’t understand.

  189. says

    Follow-up to comments 265 and 270.

    USA Today tried to defend printing that op-ed from Trump:

    Statement by Bill Sternberg, editorial page editor, USA TODAY:

    USA TODAY Opinion provides a forum for a diversity of views on issues of national relevance. We see ourselves as America’s conversation center, presenting our readers with voices from the right, left and middle.

    President Trump’s op-ed was treated like other column submissions; we check factual assertions while allowing authors wide leeway to express their opinions. Readers are invited to submit opposing viewpoints and provide additional context, some of which will be published.

    Yeah, right. Here are some statements that are more reality-based:

    Glenn Kessler, who heads up the Washington Post’s Fact Checker section, wrote that “almost every sentence contained a misleading statement or a falsehood.”

    PolitiFact reviewed a dozen of Trump’s remarks in the op-ed and said many of them lacked full context or were inaccurate.

    Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) blasted the piece as “smears and sabotage,” and posted a photo on social media that included an edited version of the op-ed that was marked up to correct Trump’s mistakes. […]


    Link to Schumer’s tweet containing the marked up op-ed. Lot’s of red ink.

  190. says

    Trump pretends to be briefed on hurricane preparedness, and he pretends to understand:

    One consistent principle that guides Donald Trump’s decisions as president is that he acts like he thinks a president who’s doing something on TV would act. Instead of actually doing the thing, he performs the TV version of doing the thing.

    As this Hurricane Michael–related clip flagged by a Washington Post video producer indicates, the performance does not always involve A-list, top-shelf acting. [See Twitter link below.]

    The context here is that instead of just having reporters receive a hurricane-preparedness briefing directly from Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen and FEMA chief Brock Long, the White House instead invited them to watch Trump listen to a briefing from Nielsen and Long while seated at his desk, which appears to have gone about as awkwardly as you’d expect.

    I like when he points at the map, as if to say, “This is a map.”

    Video of some of the embarrassing moments:

  191. says

    NEW from @SenBobCorker, @SenatorMenendez, @LindseyGrahamSC, @SenatorLeahy and 18 additional members of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee:…”

    Letter to Trump announcing that the committee “today triggered an investigation and Global Magnitsky sanctions determination regarding the disappearance of Jamal Khashoggi…”

    (Incidentally, there’s one woman on the committee. From a quick check, it looks like the only one who didn’t sign is Rand Paul.)

  192. says

    “Russian Whistleblower Assassinated After Uncovering $200 Billion Dirty-Money Scandal”:

    A crusading Russian official traveled to Estonia in the summer of 2006 to warn the authorities that an unprecedented money-laundering scheme had been established in the tiny Baltic financial sector. The scam he had uncovered would go on to become the biggest dirty-money operation in history: the $200 billion Danske Bank scandal.

    Three months after Andrei Kozlov, the first deputy chairman of the Russian Central Bank, tried to raise the alarm, he was dead.

    Crooked beneficiaries of the illicit multibillion-dollar scheme to transfer money out of Russia included a member of Vladmir Putin’s family and agents from the KGB’s successor, the FSB, according to a leaked report drawn up by a bank insider.

    According to a diplomatic cable seen by The Daily Beast, U.S. officials briefly investigated Kozlov’s trip to try to shut down the money-laundering superhighway through Tallinn soon after his death, but the scale and importance of the dirty-money route was unknown at the time.

    Kozlov becomes the third dead Russian who can be linked to the Danske scandal after Alexander Perepilichnyy, whose company used the bank’s Estonia branch, died in suspicious circumstances in Britain, and Sergei Magnitsky, a Russian lawyer who was investigating the theft of $230 million when he died in Russian custody. It is claimed that the vast majority of the proceeds of that theft were laundered through Danske Bank.

    Up to that time, it was the most high-profile killing in Russia since Putin had become president six years earlier. Anna Politkovskaya, the investigative journalist and arch-critic of the Kremlin, was to be murdered a month later.

    Within hours of Kozlov’s death, Russian officials were publicly speculating that he was most likely murdered in retaliation for revoking the licenses of a number of small banks. “It’s quite possible that the gangsters linked to them might have put out a contract on him,” said Boris Gryzlov, the chairman of Putin’s United Russia Party, the day he died.

    This somewhat outlandish theory quickly “proved” exactly right; the Russian authorities found the operator of just such an institution and accused him of ordering the murder. Alexei Frenkel, whose VIP Bank had been shut down by the Russian Central Bank, was arrested for hiring three Ukrainian hitmen to gun down Kozlov.

    As guards led Frenkel away from his first court appearance, Reuters reported that the private banker, who was 34 at the time, managed to shout out to a group of journalists in the corridor: “I am not guilty!”

    Despite his protestations of innocence, which continue to this day, Frenkel was soon convicted and sentenced to 19 years in prison for an outrageous plot to shut down one of Russia’s most prominent anti-corruption officials.

    We can now say that Kozlov had far more dangerous enemies at the time.

    In June 2006, the central banker went to Estonia personally to warn the local authorities that billions of rubles were being transferred illegally into dollars and euros in the West via an Estonian outpost of Sampo Bank. Sampo, an institution based in Finland, was subsumed by Denmark’s largest bank, Danske, later that year.

    It would be another 12 years before Danske Bank admitted that $234 billion in non-resident money had flowed from Russia and former Soviet republics through Danske’s tiny operation in Estonia….

    In Russia, officials are in no rush to re-open the murder of Andrei Kozlov.

    Five years after his murder conviction, Alexei Frenkel saw his latest appeal turned down in 2012.

    Doubts that Frenkel, a young financier, would have ordered the hit on a senior Russian official emerged as soon as he was publicly accused of the killing by Putin’s close confidant Yury Chaika.

    Chaika, whose son has been hit with sanctions by the U.S. under the Global Magnitsky Act, is Russia’s prosecutor general. After Kozlov’s death, he said he would take the case under his personal control. Chaika is a hugely influential man in Moscow; he is also the alleged source of both the supposed Hillary Clinton kompromat offered to Donald Trump Jr. at the Trump Tower meeting and the propaganda handed to controversial Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (R-CA).

    In April 2007, seven months after Kozlov was shot dead and long after Frenkel was placed behind bars, the Austrian interior ministry made public a report of its own investigation into Kozlov’s death.

    They said they had passed their findings to the Russian prosecutor general’s office but had received no response, according to a report in The New York Times. The Austrians confirmed they had been working closely with Kozlov about shutting down these money-laundering pipelines out of Russia, and concluded that they could not rule out “official corruption” as the motive for his murder….

    Much more at the link.

  193. says

    “Huge reduction in meat-eating ‘essential’ to avoid climate breakdown”:

    Huge reductions in meat-eating are essential to avoid dangerous climate change, according to the most comprehensive analysis yet of the food system’s impact on the environment. In western countries, beef consumption needs to fall by 90% and be replaced by five times more beans and pulses.

    The research also finds that enormous changes to farming are needed to avoid destroying the planet’s ability to feed the 10 billion people expected to be on the planet in a few decades.

    Food production already causes great damage to the environment, via greenhouse gases from livestock, deforestation and water shortages from farming, and vast ocean dead zones from agricultural pollution. But without action, its impact will get far worse as the world population rises by 2.3 billion people by 2050 and global income triples, enabling more people to eat meat-rich western diets.

    This trajectory would smash critical environmental limits beyond which humanity will struggle to live, the new research indicates. “It is pretty shocking,” said Marco Springmann at the University of Oxford, who led the research team. “We are really risking the sustainability of the whole system. If we are interested in people being able to farm and eat, then we better not do that.”

    “Feeding a world population of 10 billion is possible, but only if we change the way we eat and the way we produce food,” said Prof Johan Rockström at the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research in Germany, who was part of the research team. “Greening the food sector or eating up our planet: this is what is on the menu today.”

    The new research, published in the journal Nature, is the most thorough to date and combined data from every country to assess the impact of food production on the global environment. It then looked at what could be done to stop the looming food crisis….

    Much more at the link.

  194. says

    Susan Hennessey: “As we weigh the complex and consequential question of how the US should respond to the alleged murder of Jamal Khashoggi, it seems incredibly important to get a complete picture of the financial interests of the president and his son-in-law in relation to the Saudis.”

  195. says

    “Trust in Vladimir Putin declines steeply among Russians, poll shows”:

    Trust in Vladimir Putin and Russia’s ruling party have declined steeply over the past year with analysts pointing to the government’s controversial pension changes as the main reason.

    In a poll by the independent Levada Centre, 39% of Russians listed Putin as a politician they trust. That is a 20% decrease from November 2017, when Putin was named by 59% of Russians, according to the same polling agency.

    The Levada polls are the latest to show a strong backlash as the Kremlin pushes unpopular social reforms to relieve pressure on the budget. This month, 45% of Russians told FOM (Public Opinion Foundation), a polling agency close to the Kremlin, they would vote for Putin if elections were held this Sunday. That rating was down from 67% at the beginning of the year.

    It is among the lowest support Putin has held in the last decade, according to FOM data, tied only with his support in late 2013 just before the annexation of Crimea and a wave of patriotic fervour.

    The ruling United Russia party, seen as more vulnerable than Putin, has also been hit hard. FOM showed the party had 31% support, also a drop of close to 20% since the beginning of the year, with its docile rivals rising in the polls….

    Julia Davis: “Russian researchers, who accurately predicted the protests of 2011-2012, say the Russians are back to ‘pre-#Crimea moods’ – the negativity staved off by the annexation is back with a vengeance. Watch out, tiny tyrant.”

  196. says

    Ned Price: “As we learn more about what the administration knew and when it knew it, can’t help but recall reporting from March that Kushner passed US intel to the Saudi Crown Prince to facilitate his purge. Congress must demand answers re. any Kushner role here.”

    Link to the March article at the link.

  197. says

    “‘Sweep it under the rug’: Fears grow Trump won’t confront Saudis over journalist’s disappearance”:

    President Donald Trump’s desire to maintain strong ties to Saudi Arabia is facing its biggest test yet: allegations that Riyadh ordered the killing of a dissident Saudi journalist who had been living in the United States.

    Calls are mounting for the Trump administration to find out what happened to Jamal Khashoggi. Republicans and Democrats in Congress have taken steps to force a government investigation. Khashoggi’s fiancé has pleaded for Trump to “help shed light on Jamal’s disappearance.” The fury has grown after a Washington Post report that U.S. intelligence knew of Saudi plans to abduct Khashoggi, raising questions about whether the administration failed to warn the journalist.

    The White House insists it’s taking the case seriously, with Trump vowing Wednesday to “get to the bottom of it.” But former officials and analysts, including some friendly with Khashoggi, are dismayed by what they say is a milquetoast response so far by the Trump team.

    On Tuesday evening, a group of foreign policy figures attended a dinner with a senior White House official with responsibility for the Middle East. The official kept stressing that the U.S. had significant long-term interests in Saudi Arabia and repeatedly noted that Iran is a top threat, several attendees told POLITICO on condition that some of the details about the event be kept private.

    When asked about Khashoggi, the official said the U.S. is still trying to get information about what happened, a statement many in the audience found absurd given that Khashoggi disappeared a week earlier and detailed reports had emerged in the media. The official said nothing about the administration being prepared to hold the Saudis accountable for what happened.

    When it comes to the mystery surrounding Khashoggi, the administration is “trying to sweep it under the rug,” said Randa Slim, an analyst with the Washington-based Middle East Institute.

    Still, Slim and others warned that, if the worst proves true, the Khashoggi case could cause lasting damage to the U.S.-Saudi relationship….

    The White House said Wednesday that the powerful Saudi crown prince, Mohammed bin Salman, had spoken about Khashoggi the previous day with White House national security adviser John Bolton and Trump’s son-in-law and senior adviser Jared Kushner. Kushner and the crown prince, who is commonly referred to as MBS, are known to be close.

    A former administration official told POLITICO that MBS had demanded the call earlier in the week after the top official at the U.S. embassy in Riyadh asked MBS directly about the Khashoggi case. The crown prince denied any wrongdoing in his conversation with that embassy official, the former official said.

    Neither the White House nor the State Department would comment on the Saudi crown prince’s demand or most other aspects of this story. But the former official said the crown prince’s insistence on talking directly to the White House indicates he is hoping to leverage his close ties with Kushner and others in Trump’s inner circle to avoid repercussions.

    Statements so far from Pompeo, Vice President Mike Pence and other U.S. officials have pressed the Saudis to share their side. To some analysts, it appears the administration is trying to give the Saudis room to come up with an explanation — a rogue operative, an interrogation gone wrong, or something plausible — that can be used to tone down the international anger….

    More at the link.

  198. says

    “Crown prince sought to lure Khashoggi back to Saudi Arabia and detain him, U.S. intercepts show”:

    The crown prince of Saudi Arabia, Mohammed bin Salman, ordered an operation to lure Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi back to Saudi Arabia from his home in Virginia and then detain him, according to U.S. intelligence intercepts of Saudi officials discussing the plan.

    The intelligence, described by U.S. officials familiar with it, is another piece of evidence implicating the Saudi regime in Khashoggi’s disappearance last week after he entered the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul. Turkish officials say that a Saudi security team lay in wait for the journalist and killed him.

    Khashoggi was a prominent critic of the Saudi government and Mohammed in particular. Several of Khashoggi’s friends said that over the past four months, senior Saudi officials close to the crown prince had called Khashoggi to offer him protection, and even a high-level job working for the government, if he returned to his home country.

    Khashoggi, however, was skeptical of the offers. He told one friend that the Saudi government would never make good on its promises not to harm him.

    “He said: ‘Are you kidding? I don’t trust them one bit,’ ” said Khaled Saffuri, an Arab American political activist, recounting a conversation he had with Khashoggi in May, moments after Khashoggi had received a call from Saud al-Qahtani, an adviser to the royal court.

    The intelligence pointing to a plan to detain Khashoggi in Saudi Arabia has fueled speculation by officials and analysts in multiple countries that what transpired at the consulate was a backup plan to capture Khashoggi that may have gone wrong….

    Of course, death is always a possibility when someone’s detained by MBS.

    Yeah, I’m sure this is totally true:

    One person in contact with the crown prince, speaking on the condition of anonymity to preserve the relationship, said Khashoggi last year asked him to give a message to Mohammed saying he needed someone like Khashoggi as an adviser.

    When he transmitted the message, this person said, the crown prince said that Khashoggi was tied to the Muslim Brotherhood and to Qatar, both Saudi adversaries, and that the arrangement would never happen.

  199. says

    Hysteria continues on #Russia’s state TV re: @bellingcat #Skripal revelations. Sole panelist dares to say that ‘Petrov and Boshirov’ are obviously Mishkin and Chepiga. In response, state TV host Vladimir Soloviev screams he is no better than Skripal and should get out of Russia.”

    I can’t understand what they’re saying, but the whole stage set is like something out of a dystopian scifi film.

  200. says

    “Israeli Spy Firm That Approached Trump First Proposed Dirty Tricks Against BDS”:

    The Israeli private intelligence company that offered to manipulate social media for the Trump campaign offered similar services a year earlier to a group of U.S. Jewish donors who sought to target Israel’s critics, according to a document obtained by the Forward.

    In late 2015, the Israeli private intelligence firm Psy-Group approached an ad hoc group of Jewish donors with a proposal to covertly undermine the boycott, divestment and sanctions movement. According to a summary of the proposal reviewed by the Forward, Psy-Group said it would seek to damage specific individuals and organizations associated with the BDS movement by disrupting their activities, or leading them to be investigated by the authorities. It also said it would run a media influence campaign.

    Psy-Group, whose employees were veterans of the Israeli intelligence apparatus, emphasized that it would work in utmost secrecy, covering up any financial or technological links to its activities. It said that none of the actions would be traceable to Jews or Israelis.

    The summary includes no specifics, but in very broad strokes it resembles a far more detailed proposal obtained by the New York Times that Psy-Group made to officials with the Trump campaign a year later.

    As with the Trump proposal, there is no evidence that Psy-Group ever carried out the activities included in its pitch to the Jewish donors. Yet the discussions between U.S. Jewish donors and foreign private spies, which were facilitated by a leading Jewish organizational figure, show how Israel’s culture of intelligence and covert information warfare intersects with efforts to oppose the BDS movement in the U.S.

    Psy-Group approached its group of potential U.S. Jewish donors in 2015 through Misha Galperin, a prominent Jewish communal official who had recently left a senior executive position at the Jewish Agency for Israel, a major Israeli non-profit with close ties to the Israeli government. Galperin had previously worked as an executive at two large Jewish federations. He did not respond to a request for comment about his work with Psy-Group.

    Psy-Group did eventually do some work against the BDS movement. Who paid for it is unknown, and there is no evidence that Psy-Group carried out any work on behalf of the group of U.S. Jewish donors it pitched in 2015. In 2017, Psy-Group created a website called that posted profiles on supporters of the boycott movement, and sent ominous emails to BDS advocates, according to a July report in the Times of Israel….

    More at the link.

  201. says

    Follow-up to #221 above – “We need to talk about Melania Trump’s Out of Africa wardrobe”:

    …So, given that we have now followed Trump’s instructions and thoroughly discussed what she is doing with USAid and her programme, let’s take a look at her damn clothes. Now, first of all, you cannot be all, “Oh, for heaven’s sake, stop paying attention to my clothes, you shallow fools” when you are wearing a pith helmet. A PITH HELMET. To recap, on her trip to Egypt she was dressed in a ludicrous outfit of cream trousers, white shirt, black neck tie and white fedora that was, as the entire internet instantly pointed out, three-quarters Belloq and one-quarter Michael Jackson. Then, in Nairobi, she wore safari trousers, brown boots over her trousers, a white shirt and that helmet (seriously, where does one even buy a pith helmet these days? White Saviours R Us?) So, in other words, for her trip to Africa, Trump’s mood board ran from movie Nazi collaborator to old-timey colonialist. Really, she makes it look so effortless.

    For a while I suspected Trump was playing some weird game, telling people to stop talking about her clothes and then wearing a jacket that said “I really don’t care, do u?” while en route to an immigrant child detention centre. Was she gaslighting us with fashion? Then I wondered if perhaps the problem was that she was just so used to having to be mute around the spray-tanned Stay Puft Marshmallow Man she married that she could not help but try to talk through her clothes. But after jacketgate and what I am calling Belloqgate, I think it’s more simple: her stylist is a genius insurrectionist on the inside, working to make the Trumps look even more deranged than they are. There really is no other explanation, and, personally, I salute that stylist. I cannot wait for her SS-inspired wardrobe for her trip to Germany. Start polishing those black boots, Melania!

  202. KG says

    Cross-posted from <Ahref=””>The madness unparalleled, genuinely epic:

    The “Democratic” Unionists are currently threatening to vote against the budget later this month if they don’t like what they’re hearing about the Brexit negotiations. This would probably mean the government could not get its budget through, although it would be close, and a few strategic absences by Labour MPs who hate Corbyn might let them squeak through. A Tory MP has said she thinks the “D”UP are bluffing, but May would be unwise to count on it.

  203. says

    Jamal Elshayyal: “ATTENTION @foreignoffice @Jeremy_Hunt while the world tries to come to terms with the fact that the #Saudi government sent a 15 man Kill squad to murder journalist #JamalKhashoggi now Saudi media is inciting against me through its media. I am beginning to worry about my safety…”

    Examples at the link.

  204. says

    Olivia Nuzzi’s piece needs to be read in full – “My Private Oval Office Press Conference With Donald Trump, Mike Pence, John Kelly, and Mike Pompeo.”

    This seems like a tangential remark, but, especially in context, it’s evocative of the grotesquely manipulative and bullying way Trump tries to treat people, especially women:

    Sarah Huckabee Sanders cut in, but Trump said he had time for another question.

    “You’re saying that the narratives about your White House and your staff are false, but why do—” I began. Trump interrupted, asking me to speak louder. “Have you been told that you speak very softly?” he asked.

    This whole stage-managed event is a continuation of how he used to deal with financial reporters in advancing his scams and lies. It’s great that Nuzzi presents the attempted manipulation as a central element of the story.

  205. says

    Daniel Jacobson:

    Wilbur Ross just changed his story on the citizenship q again! Ross now “recalls” he spoke w/Bannon and Sessions about adding the question in Sprint 2017. The Govt previously said they couldn’t confirm whether Ross spoke to Bannon, and didn’t disclose the Sessions convo.

    Specifically, Ross now suddenly “recalls” that Steve Bannon called in the Spring of 2017 to ask Ross to speak with Kris Kobach about his idea for adding the citizenship question. The Govt just made this new disclosure in our suit. No wonder they’re so afraid of Ross being deposed.

  206. says

    “Judge questions ‘highly unusual’ Manafort plea deal with Mueller”:

    The federal judge in Virginia who oversaw Paul Manafort’s criminal trial earlier this summer threw a new obstacle Thursday into the former Trump campaign chairman’s plea deal by calling out as “highly unusual” a plan to seek the dismissal of deadlocked charges only after Manafort has finished cooperating with special counsel Robert Mueller.

    U.S. District Court Judge T.S. Ellis II ordered Manafort, his lawyers and Mueller’s prosecutors back to his Alexandria courtroom for a hearing next Friday to resolve the situation and to set a sentencing date for the longtime GOP operative.

    Ellis’ latest move doesn’t appear to jeopardize the overall deal with Manafort, but has the potential to remove one of several incentives for the former Trump campaign chairman to cooperate and could lead to details of Mueller’s investigative interests being made public sooner than the special counsel may like.

    Manafort met with Mueller’s team last week at the special counsel’s Washington D.C. office as part of the cooperation agreement. The two sides have a Nov. 16 deadline to file their first joint status report on his sentencing with the federal judge in Washington D.C. overseeing that case.

    But in a two-page order on Thursday, Ellis said he wants to discuss the plea agreement stipulation to defer sentencing and Mueller’s decision on whether to retry Manafort on the outstanding charges in the Virginia case until after his cooperation is over.

    “This would be highly unusual,” Ellis wrote. “In this district, the government’s decision to re-try a defendant on deadlocked counts is always made in a timely manner and sentencing occurs within two to no more than four months from entry of a guilty plea or receipt of a jury verdict.”

    If Manafort is cooperating with the government before sentencing and will continue to do so after his sentencing, Ellis said that Mueller must file motions explaining the extent of that cooperation, including whether the information being shared will help the special counsel investigate or prosecute someone else.

    “This case appears to be no different than any other case in which defendant is cooperating and that cooperation is expected to extend beyond a scheduled sentencing date,” Ellis said….

  207. says

    Warning signs:

    A new PRRI/The Atlantic survey on civic engagement finds stark gaps within different age groups’ attitudes toward the utility of voting and other methods of civic engagement. The survey shows little evidence that younger Americans will turn out at historic rates in the upcoming midterms.

    Just 35 percent of young Americans (ages 18-29), compared to 81 percent of seniors (ages 65+) and 55 percent of all Americans, say they are absolutely certain to vote in the November elections.

    Taylor Swift’s efforts, and other’s efforts, aside, it looks like younger voters may fail to show up … again.

  208. says

    Trump is pushing a new conspiracy theory about the infamous, anonymous op-ed that dissed him:

    Let me tell you about leaks. I think a lot of leaks are not leaks, they’re made up by newspapers…. The media is very, very dishonest, beyond anything that anybody can understand. Now, even the letter written to the Times, there is a chance — I don’t say it’s a big chance — but there is a very good chance that it was written by the Times. […]

    It could’ve been the New York Times wrote it, to be honest. They’re a very dishonest paper.

  209. says

    ALERT: The Trump administration has a plan to drastically curtail protests in DC, shutting down space in front of White House, charging massive fees, & banning stages & sound systems for rapid-response demonstrations. Deadline for comments? Monday, Oct 15:…”

    This is unconstitutional. It would also come back to bite them if and when they’re out of power.

  210. says

    Presidents of the USA usually refrain from commenting when it comes to the Federal Reserve and the Fed Chair’s decisions. Trump does not refrain:

    […] Trump put the Federal Reserve at the middle of Wednesday’s stock-market selloff just minutes after the White House issued a statement playing down the drop by pointing to solid economic fundamentals.

    “The Fed is making a mistake,” Mr. Trump told reporters in Erie, Pa., after stock markets suffered their biggest decline in more than seven months. “I think the Fed has gone crazy…. I really disagree with what the Fed is doing, OK?”

    Wall Street Journal link

    More whining from Trump was aired on Fox News. Trump’s whining is, I think, is meant to pressure the Federal Reserve Chairman so that the Fed stops raising interest rates, and/or lowers interest rates. Trump wants the stock market to rebound just before voting begins in November.

    […] [Trump] told Fox News the central bank “is going loco.” This morning, Trump reached out to Fox News again, insisting that the Fed is “getting a little too cute.”

    As a substantive matter, the president’s argument isn’t ridiculous. Trump’s basic point is that the Federal Reserve shouldn’t raise interest rates without significant evidence of inflation, and by the standards of this White House, that’s a rather mainstream thing to say.

    There are, however, a few problems with Trump’s increasingly over-the-top lobbying.

    For one thing, one need not be obsessive about political norms to realize that it’s a bad idea for a sitting president to undermine public confidence in the Federal Reserve, especially one led by a chairman the president personally chose. […]

    For another, pretty much everything Trump is saying right now about interest rates is the opposite of what he said on the campaign trail two years ago. In fact, before he took office, Trump accused Janet Yellen, the then-chair of the Federal Reserve, of corruption for failing to raise rates under similar economic circumstances.

    But even putting these angles aside, let’s not overlook the broader context: Wall Street saw a very sharp slide yesterday, and this president has treated the stock market as a day-to-day report card on his economic competence. The more the indexes go up, the more Trump sees it as proof of his own excellence.

    Which makes down days politically awkward. Trump, however, made clear yesterday that in the event of economic tumult, he already has a blame-shifting excuse ready to go: the buck stops at the Fed, not in the Oval Office.


  211. says

    Kanye West is a rambling, narcissistic, blustering man … just like Trump.

    rapper Kanye West ranted for more than 10 minutes about everything from his Adidas sneakers to an “iPlane” that West thinks Trump should fly around in.
    Kanye: Hillary campaign didn’t work for me as a guy.
    Kanye explains how lack of male role models and lack of exposure to “male power” led him to embrace MAGA which gave him power and “balls” and also helped him make a ton of money with Adidas.
    Kanye decries “trap door of the 13th amendment” and how his sleep disorder was diagnosed as bipolar disorder.
    Trump’s expression when he thinks “holy shit what’s up with this dude”
    Kanye speaks of his past under the “welfare mentality”
    “Liberals would try to control a black person through the concept of racism because we know we’re very proud emotional people. So when I said I like trump to like someone as liberal, they’ll say, oh, but he’s racist. You think racism can control me? Oh, that don’t stop me.”

    Multiple video snippets are available at the link.

  212. says

    From readers’ comments about Kanye’s rant:

    He fits right in. It’s a good thing he’s a black pro-slavery advocate otherwise we wouldn’t be able to tell them apart.

    Which one is the “stable genius” again?
    This is the first time Trump is not the craziest person in the Oval Office.
    I am not going to fact check this.
    Musician Kanye West meets with President Trump at the White House, telling him that wearing his “Make America Great Again” hat makes him feel like Superman.
    Its uncanny how similar Kanye and Donald are and after her whining about being bullied we can see that Melania is cut from the same cloth as well. Weird weird people. I guess we should thank these folks for dispelling any notion that intelligence and wealth go hand in hand, obviously they do not.
    More importantly, pre MAGA Kanye was considered by some to be a feminist. This guy though….yeesh
    Artistic/creative is one thing, not connected to reality is another thing and it’s not at all clear which side he comes down on.

    I don’t mean to make light about this. I feel bad for Kanye.
    So, Kanye is for slavery? Is he high?

  213. says

    Follow-up to SC’s comments 310, 311 and 312.

    Trump makes clear he prioritizes arms sales over basic human rights.

    Again, this took place in Turkey, and to the best of our knowledge, Khashoggi is not a United States citizen, is that right, or? … he’s a permanent resident, okay. We don’t like it even a little bit. But as to whether or not we should stop $110 billion from being spent in this country, knowing that they have four or five alternatives — two very good alternatives — that would not be acceptable to me.

    Think Progress link

    […] Trump’s “$110 billion” comment refers to an arms deal his administration struck with Saudi Arabia in May.

    Earlier during the press availability, Trump was unable to describe what exactly the U.S. is doing to investigate the apparent death of Khashoggi inside the Saudi Arabian consulate in Istanbul, Turkey, beyond saying, “we are looking at it, we are looking at it very strongly.” He characterized Khashoggi’s potential murder as “a terrible thing, assuming it happened.”

    Asked about the possibility of punishing Saudi Arabia, Trump made clear that he prioritizes doing business with the country more than he does basic human rights.

    “I don’t like stopping massive amounts of money that’s being poured into our country,” Trump said. “They are spending $110 billion on military equipment and on things that create jobs for this country.”

    Trump’s financial relationship with Saudi Arabia goes beyond arms sales. As the Washington Post reported in August, the Saudi regime has been pumping money directly into Trump’s pockets through his hotels. […]

  214. says

    Fox News is no longer airing all of Trump’s rallies? That is good news.

    […] Trump loves to brag about ratings, but he’s not getting them anymore.

    As he’s ramped up his rally schedule ahead of the midterms, viewership numbers for the raucous prime-time events have been roughly similar to — sometimes dipping below — Fox News’ regular programming, and the network has recently stopped airing most evening events in full.

    During three Trump rallies last week, Fox News showed clips and highlights from his speeches but stuck largely with its normal weekday prime-time programming. On Saturday, when “Fox Report Weekend” and “Justice with Judge Jeanine” would ordinarily air, the network showed Trump’s speech from Topeka, Kan., in full. But on Tuesday, a rally in Council Bluffs, Iowa, was particularly hard to find — it was not aired live on any major network, and even C-SPAN cut away for other news. And on Wednesday night, as Trump took the stage in Erie, Pa., at 7 p.m., Fox News stuck with its coverage of Hurricane Michael.

    Since Trump took office, CNN and MSNBC have mostly declined to air his campaign rallies, though, like Fox News, they’ll typically carry any presidential speeches or comments to reporters.

    Fox still provides livestreams of the campaign events online, but during a crucial period, with the midterms less than a month away, some in the White House are worried that the president is losing a prime-time megaphone to his base.[…]


  215. says

    An excerpt from Kanye’s rant:

    “What I need ‘Saturday Night Live’ to improve on and what I need liberals to improve on: If he don’t look good, we don’t look good,” the “Famous” rapper said of Trump. “This is our president. He has to be the freshest, the flyest.”

  216. says

    Update to several previous comments – “Ukraine wins approval for historic split from Russian church”:

    Ukraine secured approval on Thursday to establish an independent church in what Kiev says is a vital step against Russian meddling in its affairs, but the Russian clergy fiercely opposes the biggest split in Christianity for a thousand years.

    At a three-day synod presided over by the Ecumenical Patriarch in Istanbul, seat of the global spiritual leader of roughly 300 million Orthodox Christians, endorsed Ukraine’s request for an “autocephalous” (independent) church.

    The synod will “proceed to the granting of Autocephaly to the Church of Ukraine,” a statement said.

    In retaliation, the Russian Orthodox Church said it would break eucharistical relations with the Ecumenical Patriarchate, Interfax news agency quoted a spokesman as saying.

    The tussle over Ukraine’s spiritual future flows from the poisoning of relations between Kiev and Moscow after Russia’s annexation of Crimea in 2014 and the outbreak of separatist fighting in Ukraine’s east that has killed over 10,000 people.

    Ukraine accuses the Russian Orthodox Church of wielding a pernicious influence on its soil, allowing itself to be used as a tool of the Kremlin to justify Russian expansionism and support of separatist rebels in eastern Ukraine….

    More at the link.

  217. says

    “Top Corruption Investigator Shot Dead In Moscow Region”:

    A top Russian investigator involved in serious economic crimes and corruption cases has been shot dead in the Moscow region, officials say.

    The Investigative Committee’s Moscow branch told Russian news agencies that Colonel Yevgenia Shishkina was shot in the neck on October 10 when she was leaving her apartment block in the town of Arkhangelskoye, near the capital.

    Committee spokeswoman Olga Vrady said Shishkina had received threats and that her car was burned in an arson attack several months ago.

    Russia’s Investigative Committee said in a statement that its chief, Aleksandr Bastrykin, took the investigation into Shishkina’s killing under his personal control and ordered the Main Investigative Directorate to probe the killing.

  218. says

    Another excerpt from Kanye West’s rant in the Oval Office:

    There’s theories that there’s infinite amounts of universe, and there’s alternate universe.

    That statement was made in reference to commuting the prison sentence of someone he knows. Don’t ask me to explain.

  219. says

    Another excerpt from Kanye West’s rant:

    I don’t answer questions in simple soundbites. You are tasting a fine wine. It has complex notes to it.

    What Trump said:

    He’s a smart cookie. He gets it.

  220. says

    Ha. This is, in a way, funny. Mormon leaders urged mormon women to “fast” from social media for ten days. This is what they want mormon women to do right before an election.

    On Saturday, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints replaced its men-only session at its General Conference with a women’s session for the first time. (Previously, men had their own meetings at every twice-yearly conference, and women met annually on a different weekend.) The president of the church, 94-year-old Russell Nelson, used the historic session to issue Mormon women a challenge: to “fast” from social media for 10 days.

    […] “What do you notice after taking a break from perspectives of the world that have been wounding your spirit?” he asked, describing the way social media tends to “bring negative and impure thoughts to your mind.”

    But for some women, the suggestion couldn’t have seemed like a worse, or more tone-deaf, moment. “I don’t know why my prophet felt this was a good time for women in the church to step back,” said Michelle Quist, a Republican candidate for city council in Salt Lake County, Utah. “I know our national dialogue has been caustic … but there’s still a national conversation going on. If we’re not in it, then we can’t influence the conversation for good.” […]

    “It would be awesome to say the prophet asked me to stay off of social media and it didn’t affect my sales, or I got double the sales,” she [another mormon woman, Amy Parker] said on Wednesday. “That’s not what happened.” She restocks her Etsy shop on Mondays and typically gets 70 percent of her orders that day. This Monday, without posts to nudge customers, she made only one sale. In a culture that strongly values both hard work and stay-at-home motherhood, many Mormon women like Parker rely on social media for their incomes […]

    With a major election less than a month away, Nelson’s timing was particularly unfortunate for women involved in politics. Parker is a member of Mormon Women for Ethical Government, a left-leaning group founded in the wake of the 2016 election to encourage LDS women to become politically involved. She is helping to organize a nonpartisan “voter prep party” in her neighborhood where women will gather to review the issues, with the goal of boosting turnout in the midterms. Her group had planned to distribute sample ballots and other materials online before the party, but now they are handing out invitations and information by hand and hoping for the best. […]

    she did take note of the fact that women were the only ones being asked to make this particular sacrifice. “That pricked me,” she said.

    She wasn’t the only one: “What irks me about it personally is that men have not been invited to do this yet,” said Riess. To be fair, Nelson suggested a weeklong social media fast earlier this year for young people ages 12 to 18, and it’s possible that a similar call for men will come in the future. But another speaker this weekend urged women specifically to limit their reliance on cellphones. Asking only women and children to abstain so far, Riess said, “sends a message that teenagers and women may be using the internet for frivolous reasons.” In her column on Monday, she noted that only one woman addressed the full audience last weekend—compare that with 26 talks delivered by men.


  221. says

    Turks tell U.S. officials they have audio and video recordings that support conclusion Khashoggi was killed

    The Turkish government has told U.S. officials that it has audio and video recordings that prove Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi was killed inside the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul this month, according to U.S. and Turkish officials.

    The recordings show that a Saudi security team detained Khashoggi in the consulate after he walked in Oct. 2 to obtain an official document before his upcoming wedding, then killed him and dismembered his body, the officials said.

    The audio recording in particular provides some of the most persuasive and gruesome evidence that the Saudi team is responsible for Khashoggi’s death, the officials said.

    “The voice recording from inside the embassy lays out what happened to Jamal after he entered,” said one person with knowledge of the recording who, like others, spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss highly sensitive intelligence.

    “You can hear his voice and the voices of men speaking Arabic,” this person said. “You can hear how he was interrogated, tortured and then murdered.”

    A second person briefed on the recording said men could be heard beating Khashoggi. […]

  222. says

    Another excerpt from Kanye West’s monologue in the Oval Office:

    Really the reason why they imprisoned him is because doing positive for the community. He started showing that he actually had power, that he wasn’t just one of a monolithic voice, but he could wrap people around. So there’s theories that there’s infinite amounts of universe, and there’s alternate universe, so it’s very important for me to get Hoover out because in an alternate universe, I am him. And I have to go and get him free because he was doing positive inside of Chicago, just like how I’m moving back to Chicago and it’s not just about, you know, getting on stage and being an entertainer and having a monolithic voice that’s forced to be a specific party.

    From the annotation:

    Larry Hoover founded and led the Gangster Disciples, one of the deadliest street gangs ever to operate in West’s hometown of Chicago. Hoover is currently in the ADX Florence supermax prison in Florence, Colo., where he is serving six life sentences for a number of charges including murder, extortion and conspiracy. It’s unclear why West wants Hoover released from prison.

    More from Kanye:

    You know people expect that if you’re black you have to be Democrat. I have — I have conversations that basically said that welfare’s the reason why a lot of black people end up being Democrat. They say, you know, first of all, it’s a limit to an amount of jobs. So the fathers lose the jobs and they say we’ll give you more money for having more kids in your home. And then we got rid of the mental health institutes in the ‘80s and the ‘90s and the prison rates just shot up and now you got Chiraq, what people call Chiraq, which is our murder rate is going down by 20 percent every year.

    I just talked to the superintendent, met with Michael Sacks, that’s Rahm’s right-hand man. So I think it’s the bravery that helps you beat this game called life. You know they tried to scare me to not wear this hat. My own friends. But this hat, it gives me power in a way.

    You know my dad and my mom separated so I didn’t have a lot of male energy in my home. And also, I’m married to a family that, you know, [laughs] not a lot of male energy going on — it’s beautiful though! But there’s times where you know, there’s something about — you know, I love Hillary, I love everyone, right? But the campaign “I’m With Her” just didn’t make me feel, as a guy that didn’t get to see my dad all the time, like a guy that could play catch with his son. It was something about putting this hat on, it made me feel like Superman. You made a Superman. That’s my favorite superhero. And you made a Superman cape for me, also as a guy that looks up to you, looks up to Ralph Lauren, looks up to American industry guys, non-political, no bulls—t — put the beep on it, however you want to do it, five-seconds delay — and just goes in, and gets it done!

    From the annotation:

    West tweeted in April that he “loves the way Candace Owens thinks.” Owens, a Trump Internet figure who has become much more prominent in right-wing media since the rapper’s endorsement, argues that black people vote for Democrats only because they’ve been brainwashed.

    West also included this welfare theory in an unaired, pro-Trump rant at the end of his recent “Saturday Night Live” appearance.

  223. says

    “Saudi forensic expert is among 15 named by Turkey in disappearance of journalist Jamal Khashoggi”:

    One of the 15 Saudis named by Turkish officials as being involved in the disappearance of a journalist last seen entering a diplomatic consulate in Istanbul is a forensic expert known for pioneering rapid and mobile autopsies, according to Arab media reports and his own academic writings. Salah Muhammed al-Tubaigy flew into Istanbul shortly after Washington Post contributor Jamal Khashoggi entered the Saudi consulate and flew out nine hours later, Turkish officials say.

    The alleged presence of Tubaigy, who has taught and published papers on gathering DNA evidence and dissecting human bodies, amplifies a macabre narrative put forth by Turkish investigators that a team of Saudis killed Khashoggi and then dismembered his body to conceal the murder.

    The Sabah report suggested that Tubaigy departed for Istanbul from Riyadh on a Gulfstream jet that, according to flight records reviewed by The Post, left just nine minutes after Khashoggi entered the country’s diplomatic compound in Turkey.

    The forensic chief then stayed later than several others in the group, leaving Istanbul near 11 p.m. on a different Saudi jet, according to the Sabah report.

    “It sticks out,” said Bruce Riedel, a former CIA official and Brookings fellow who has written a book about Saudi-U.S. relations. “I can’t think of an alternative of why you would need a forensics expert unless you were covering up evidence of a crime.”

    The Saudi-owned Al Arabiya news channel claimed on its website and in social media posts Thursday that Tubaigy and the 14 others were “tourists falsely accused of killing” Khashoggi.

    One of the first people to identify Tubaigy as a Saudi forensics expert this week was Qutaiba Idlbi, a Syrian entrepreneur who says he has consulted with the U.S. Joint Special Operations Command on counterterrorism projects in recent years.

    Idlbi, who was born in Saudi Arabia and who now lives in Washington, D.C., said he was an acquaintance of Khashoggi’s and started posting to Twitter pictures he found of the 15 — some in Saudi military garb and brandishing weapons — in hopes of helping to pressure Saudi Arabia to release Khashoggi.

    Idlbi said that what he began to find, however, quickly made him lose hope that Khashoggi might still be alive. “It really hit me with Tubaigy, he’s literally the guy who is sent in to deal with the bodies,” said Idlbi….

  224. says

    “Mnuchin says will attend Saudi investment conference”:

    U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said on Friday he was still planning to attend an investment conference in Saudi Arabia despite growing outrage over the disappearance of a prominent Saudi journalist in Turkey.

    M[]nuchin’s comments came after several media companies, including CNN, said they would pull out of the conference later this month, following the disappearance of Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi, a critic of Saudi policies, after he entered the Saudi consulate in Istanbul on Oct. 2.

    “I am planning on going at this point. If more information comes out and changes, we can look at that, but I am planning on going,” Mnuchin said in an interview with CNBC….

    The head of the World Bank and some CEOs have also pulled out.

  225. says

    Khalid bin Salman, MBS’s younger brother and Saudi ambassador to the US, sent an encrypted message to Jonathan Swan on Monday, insisting that the allegations that Khashoggi “went missing in the Consulate in Istanbul or that the Kingdom’s authorities have detained him or killed him” were “absolutely false, and baseless” and claiming they were deeply concerned with his well-being. Swan responded with “Thank you” and “Do you have footage of him leaving the consulate?” and has not heard from KBS since.

    Full message at the link.

  226. says

    Here’s the latest corruption video from Navalny’s organization. The narrator concludes with exactly what I was thinking as I watched it – that it’s remarkably stupid for Putin and his accomplices to register these properties as owned by the Russian Federation; will make it much easier for their rightful owners, the Russian people, to reclaim them when thy boot the crooks from power.

  227. says

    JUST IN: Led by discontent among women, Americans disapprove of Brett Kavanaugh’s confirmation to the Supreme Court, 51-41%, new @ABC News/Washington Post poll finds.”

    Also, think the SJC didn’t do enough to investigate, 50-41%, and want9ed0 further congressional investigation, 53-43%.

  228. says


    No idea what happened there.

    Response to ABC’s tweet from a rightwing douchnozzle: “Too late losers.” How do you know you’re morally bereft and on the wrong side of history? When your “arguments” take this form.

  229. says

    From ABC’s poll report (emphasis added):

    Led by discontent among women, Americans by a 51-41 percent margin disapprove of Brett Kavanaugh’s confirmation to the Supreme Court -– and a majority favors further investigation by Congress that could lead to efforts to remove him from office.

    Fifty-three percent of Americans support such an investigation, while 43 percent opposed. The gender gap is wide: Men divide on the question by 47-49 percent, support-oppose. Women, by contrast, support a congressional probe by 58-37 percent.

    Rep. Jerrold Nadler, D-N.Y., has promised an investigation into sexual misconduct and perjury allegations against Kavanaugh, which he vehemently denies, if the Democrats take control of the House in the midterm elections. Nadler is in line to lead the House Judiciary Committee should the Democrats prevail.

    The gender gap is mirrored in views of Kavanaugh’s confirmation and the Senate Judiciary Committee’s handling of the allegations. Men divide about evenly on both, while women disapprove of the confirmation by 58-35 percent and of the committee’s work by 56-38 percent.

    Attitudes on all these questions include sharp partisan and ideological differences. Notably, though, about a quarter of conservatives, 27 percent, support further investigation by Congress of the newest Supreme Court member….

  230. says

    “Stacey Abrams campaign demands GOP’s Kemp resign as Georgia secretary of state amid voter registration uproar”:

    Georgia Democrat Stacey Abrams’ campaign is calling on Republican Secretary of State Brian Kemp to resign following a report his office is using a controversial verification law to effectively suppress the minority vote in their race to become the state’s next governor.

    The demand from the Abrams campaign comes in response to an Associated Press report on records it obtained showing Georgia has put a hold on more than 53,000 voter registration applications — nearly seven-in-ten of them belonging to African Americans — because they failed to clear the state’s “exact match” standard.

    Under the policy, even the most minor discrepancy — like a typo or missing letter — between a voter’s registration and their drivers license, social security or state ID cards can be flagged.

    “As he has done for years, Brian Kemp is maliciously wielding the power of his office to suppress the vote for political gain and silence the voices of thousands of eligible voters — the majority of them people of color,” Abrams spokeswoman Abigail Collazo said in a statement.

    Collazo pushed for Kemp to step down “so that Georgia voters can have confidence that their Secretary of State competently and impartially oversee this election.” Georgia Democrats were rebuffed when they made a similar request earlier in the year.

    Throughout the day on Wednesday and into Thursday, Georgia Democrats ramped up efforts via social media and other channels to promote their “Voter Protection Hotline.” The state party in February became the first in the nation to hire a full-time internal elections watchdog….

  231. says

    Record of John Kelly insulting Elizabeth Warren:

    White House chief of staff John Kelly called Sen. Elizabeth Warren an “impolite arrogant woman” in a private email he exchanged last year with his top aide following a telephone conversation with the Massachusetts Democrat about the Trump administration’s travel ban.

    “Absolutely most insulting conversation I have ever had with anyone,” Kelly, then serving as the secretary of homeland security, wrote to Kevin Carroll, who was then his senior counselor at the Department of Homeland Security, in an email from Feb. 8, 2017. “What an impolite arrogant woman. She immediately began insulting our people accusing them of not following the court order, insulting and abusive behavior towards those covered by the pause, blah blah blah.”


    […] the “court order” he referred to in the message was “a temporary restraining order issued by federal judges in Massachusetts and New York on Jan. 28 and 29, 2017, which blocked” the president’s first iteration of his proposed ban.

    But to fully appreciate Kelly’s complaints about Warren, it’s important to see the Massachusetts senator’s side of the story. […]

    Trump’s new Director of Homeland Security – John Kelly – wouldn’t return our calls and emails. My staff emailed back and forth with his staff, but we couldn’t get them to set up a call or answer our questions.

    When I finally did get on the phone with John Kelly, I asked if he had an office number that I could use in the future to get in touch more quickly. He brushed me off, directing me to the main line listed on the Department of Homeland Security’s website (really). Even worse, he bizarrely insisted that I’d made the whole thing up and we’d never tried to reach him in the first place. I happened to be looking at all the emails between his staff and my staff when he said this, so I started reading them to him. He accused me again of making it all up.

    My policy staffers were in the room. And to this day, I’ve never seen so many jaws drop in unison. It was one of the first times we saw “alternative facts” so up close and personal. And one of the first times we saw how truly dysfunctional the executive branch had become – and how quickly. […]

    Was I tough on John Kelly in that phone call? You bet I was. And apparently he didn’t like it.

    […] A couple of observations come to mind. The first is that John Kelly probably didn’t fully appreciate what serving in the Trump administration would do to his reputation.

    And the second is that the more Republicans complain about Elizabeth Warren, the more she seems to like it.


    Kelly may have thought Warren was arrogant because she really knows her stuff when she argues with opponents.

  232. says

    Update on Beto O’Rourke’s campaign:

    Texas Democratic Senate candidate Rep. Beto O’Rourke raised a record $38.1 million in the third quarter, the campaign announced Friday, nearly tripling his overall fundraising haul for the cycle.

    The blockbuster quarter surpasses the record for the largest fundraising quarter ever in a U.S. Senate race — set by Rick Lazio in his race against Hillary Clinton in New York in 2000.

    The total was “powered by 802,836 individual contributions and without a dime from PACs, corporations or special interests,” the campaign said in a press release.

    Polling news from Steve Benen:

    […] Yesterday, a Quinnipiac poll showed him trailing Cruz by nine points with less a month to go before Election Day, and as of this morning, FiveThirtyEight shows O”Rourke with a 22.9% chance of winning.

    That’s not horrible, but it suggests success is unlikely. […]

    My point is not to detract from O’Rourke’s impressive candidacy. What’s more, he’s running in a big state – both in terms of geography and population – and he’s taking on a highly controversial incumbent. The Texas Democrat will need every penny he can get. […]


  233. says

    Hmmm, speaking of violence (as in Trump and cohorts calling Democratic protestors “angry mobs,” comment 237), another Republican reminds us who is really threatening physical violence:

    […] Scott Wagner, the Republican challenging Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf (D), warned the governor to put on a “catcher’s mask” because he is going to “stop all over” Wolf’s face with “golf spikes.” […]

    “Well, Gov. Wolf, let me tell you what, between now and Nov. 6, you better put a catcher’s mask on your face, because I’m going to stomp all over your face with golf spikes,” Wagner said. “Because I’m going to win this for the state of Pennsylvania. And we’re throwing you out of office. Because I’m sick and tired of your negative ads. Gov. Wolf, I am bound and determined, I am going to vote you out of office.”

    Andrew Romeo, Wagner’s communications director, told Penn Live that the comments were not to be “taken literally.” […]

    Wolf’s campaign spokesperson, Beth Melena said that Wagner’s “latest rant” made him “unhinged and unfit for office.”

    “Threats of violence have no place in society, especially from someone running for public office,” she continued. “This is part of an unfortunate pattern with Scott Wagner.” […]


  234. says

    Trump relies on the same tactics over and over again when he wants to discredit someone but doesn’t really have the facts on his side. He often employs a vague smear campaign, like he just did against Gary Cohn:

    [Trump], told by his friends at Fox News during his latest Fox & Friends phone call that Cohn might have been a source of recent negative stories about his administration, had nothing nice to say.

    “It could have been. A lot of people have said that, you know, Gary Cohn. And I could tell stories about him like you wouldn’t believe. Gary Cohn could have been.” Trump noted that Cohn “issued a statement about how he has great respect for this administration,” but dismissed that asking rhetorically, “but what does that mean?” He then mocked Cohn for not believing in his ability to get his NAFTA 2018 trade deals with Canada and Mexico.

    The tactic of suggesting — with no evidence — that Trump has embarrassing stories to tell about someone in his crosshairs is one Trump uses a lot, along with his technique of claiming that his critics secretly had begged him for stuff. […]


    More examples of Trump insinuating that he has embarrassing stories to tell about someone are available at the link.

  235. says

    Recommend – “I Listened to All Six Trump Rallies in October. You Should, Too”:

    …Much of the coverage of these events tends to be theatre criticism, or news stories about a single inflammatory line or two, rating Trump’s performance or puzzling over the appeal to his followers. But what the President of the United States is actually saying is extraordinary, regardless of whether the television cameras are carrying it live. It’s not just the whoppers or the particular outrage riffs that do get covered, either. It’s the hate, and the sense of actual menace that the President is trying to convey to his supporters. Democrats aren’t just wrong in the manner of traditional partisan differences; they are scary, bad, evil, radical, dangerous. Trump and Trump alone stands between his audiences and disaster.

    I listen because I think we are making a mistake by dismissing him, by pretending the words of the most powerful man in the world are meaningless. They do have consequences. They are many, and they are worrisome. In what he says to the world, the President is, as Ed Luce wrote in the Financial Times this week, “creating the space to do things which were recently unthinkable.” It’s not a reality show; it’s real.

    It’s important to note that even when Fox doesn’t air his rallies, their primetime lineup is systematically conveying the same message. It’s a planned strategy along Bannon’s lines (I have to wonder if when Trump went off the record with Olivia Nuzzi the other day to say something Bannon-related he wasn’t telling her that Bannon is back in the loop with him and Bill Shine orchestrating this fascistic propaganda campaign).

  236. says

    Colin Kaepernick awarded Harvard’s prestigious W. E. B. Du Bois medal

    The award is administered by the Hutchins Center for African & African American Research at Harvard University, and is generally considered one of the highest honors “awarded to individuals in the United States and across the globe in recognition of their contributions to African and African American culture and the life of the mind.”

    Kaepernick was one of eight recipients at Thursday evening’s ceremony, and the only athlete. Since his peaceful protest began, thousands of athletes at every level of competition across the country have staged similar demonstrations on the sidelines before games, often during the national anthem. In response, antagonists listening to racist dogwhistles have sought to falsely portray the protests as disrespectful towards the military, an argument obscured by their simultaneous support for Donald Trump, a draft dodger who has routinely insulted military veterans, attacked Gold Star families, and lied about fallen heroes and their families. […]

  237. says

    “Gaslighting is essentially a tactic used by abusive personalities to make the abused person feel as though they’re not experiencing reality… Trump does this on a daily basis—he lies, uses ambiguities, demonizes the press. It’s a macroscopic version of an abusive relationship.”- Dominic Sisti

    […] During normal times, therapists say, their sessions deal with familiar themes: relationships, self-esteem, everyday coping. Current events don’t usually invade. But numerous counselors said Trump and his convulsive effect on America’s national conversation are giving politics a prominence on the psychologist’s couch not seen since the months after 9/11—another moment in which events were frightening in a way that had widespread emotional consequences.

    Empirical data bolster the anecdotal reports from practitioners. The American Psychiatric Association in a May survey found that 39 percent of people said their anxiety level had risen over the previous year—and 56 percent were either “extremely anxious” or “somewhat anxious about “the impact of politics on daily life.” A 2017 study found two-thirds of Americans’ see the nation’s future as a “very or somewhat significant source of stress.”

    These findings suggest the political-media community has things backward when it comes to Trump and mental health. […]


  238. says

    Trump’s defense of arms sales to the Saudi kingdom isn’t just unethical, and immoral—it’s full of lies.

    […] Trump’s refusal to cancel arms sales to Saudi Arabia, in response to the disappearance and likely murder of Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi, is certainly cruel, cold, and callow—a dark parody of realpolitik foreign policy. But his rationale for doing so is also based on several false premises, and it reflects Trump’s stunning weakness as an international negotiator.

    In a session with reporters Thursday afternoon, Trump was asked about calls by several senators to halt arms sales to Saudi Arabia. Trump replied, “This took place in Turkey, and, to the best of our knowledge, Khashoggi is not a United States citizen.” (Prompted by an aide, Trump noted that he is “a permanent resident.”) Trump then said, “I don’t like stopping massive amounts of money coming into our country. I don’t like stopping an investment of $110 billion in the United States.”

    The heartlessness of the remark needs no elaboration. The inaccuracies are worth pointing out. First, the abduction of Khashoggi did not take place “in Turkey,” but rather in the Saudi consulate in Istanbul—which, by law and practice, is considered Saudi territory.

    Second, when Trump visited Saudi Arabia in May 2017, he boasted—as he did again at Thursday’s press event—that he’d signed $110 billion in arms sales contracts, but this was nowhere near true. Glenn Kessler, in the Washington Post, cites State Department data indicating that actual signed contracts for arms sales since that meeting amount to just $4 billion.

    The heartlessness of the remark needs no elaboration. The inaccuracies are worth pointing out.
    In 2017, acting on contracts signed before Trump was president, the Saudis spent about $10 billion on arms imports—$6 billion from the United States, $2.3 billion from Britain, and almost all of the rest from other European countries.

    Finally, just saying what Trump said—implying that the Saudis held all the cards and he held none—no doubt sent a message to Saudi rulers that the president of the United States wasn’t going to hold them responsible, wasn’t going to take any severe action, and ultimately didn’t much care what happened. (This was likely the calculation before Khashoggi was nabbed; it is hard to imagine these rulers would have put this plan in motion if they thought the president would disapprove.) […]


  239. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    Rachael Maddow has a good show going. Stacy Abrams was interviewed, followed by an update on an attempt of black voter suppression in Texas. Links probably tomorrow morning.
    Hopefully including a segment showing adds with women running for office, women with service backgrounds while I was typing the above.

  240. says

    “Saudi Record Of Trump Biz Bail Outs Under Scrutiny As US Responds To Missing Writer”:

    He’s booked hotel rooms and meeting spaces to them, sold an entire floor in one of his buildings to them and, in desperate moments in his career, gotten a billionaire from the country to buy his yacht and New York’s Plaza Hotel overlooking Central Park.

    President Donald Trump’s ties to Saudi Arabia run long and deep, and he’s often boasted about his business ties with the kingdom.

    “I love the Saudis,” Trump said when announcing his presidential run at Trump Tower in 2015. “Many are in this building.”

    Now those ties are under scrutiny as the president faces calls for a tougher response to the kingdom’s government following the disappearance, and possible killing, of one of its biggest critics, journalist and activist Jamal Khashoggi.

    “The Saudis are funneling money to him,” said former federal ethics chief Walter Shaub, who is advising a watchdog group suing Trump for foreign government ties to his business. That undermines “confidence that he’s going to do the right thing when it comes to Khashoggi.”…

  241. says

    “Berlin protests against far-right politics draw thousands”:

    Berlin produced an absurdly hot and sunny fall day to welcome an estimated 240,000 demonstrators protesting against racism and calling for solidarity against the rise of far-right populism across Germany.

    A 5-kilometer stretch of the capital city’s center, from Alexanderplatz through the Brandenburg Gate to the Victory Column, had to be closed down to accommodate the huge parade, which was united under the hashtag #unteilbar (“indivisible”).

    The crowds were punctuated by 40 trucks mounted with loudspeakers, some delivering political messages, others music of all genres, as well as the old Berlin staple: the techno truck surrounded by semi-clothed dancers. The march was bookended by two concert events, the second of which was expected to stretch into the evening.

    All kinds of organizations joined in, including trade unions, NGOs, political parties (both mainstream and fringe), gay rights groups, schools, and theaters, carrying a variety of banners, each with their own cause to promote (Ryanair workers were a conspicuous anomaly), but all united behind the slogan: “Solidarity not marginalization.”…

  242. says

    “Registration is a voter-suppression tool. Let’s finally end it.”:

    The midterm elections are less than 30 days away, but if you missed the deadline to register to vote in your state — many of which already passed this week — you’re out of luck.

    This is absurd and antiquated — and it specifically penalizes young people, who are used to doing everything online with an instant click of a button. But it’s more than that: Voter registration itself is a voter-suppression tool.

    Just consider what is happening in Georgia, where state election officials — led by Georgia Secretary of State Brian Kemp, who is also the Republican candidate for a close governor’s race — purged hundreds of thousands of people from voter rolls. And they have put on hold more than 53,000 applications from those who tried re-registering to vote in November — most of whom are black.

    Our democracy holds sacred the value that every person has an equal voice in elections. To preserve that principle, we must stop such voter suppression. The best way to do this is to eliminate voter registration altogether.

    The burden should be on the government — not individuals — to ensure the right to vote. And this wouldn’t be too difficult:…

    If we end voter registration and allow citizens to vote automatically once they turn 18, we eliminate the endless opportunities to use registration as a place to suppress or hack the vote. No registration means no absurd deadlines, no purges and no tampering.

    We have the ability to make participation greater and democracy stronger and more representative of the people by abolishing our current system altogether. Let’s make it happen.

  243. says

    Who really is a violent mob?

    The Proud Boys took Manhattan Friday night, attending a lecture by their founder, Gavin McInnes, at the Metropolitan Republican Club of New York City.

    Following the event, the white nationalist group took to the streets, brutally beating and kicking several individuals while shouting [anti-gay slurs snipped], reportedly because one of them stole one of their MAGA hats. Fox News responded by only reporting on anti-fascist vandalism that had taken place at the venue, while continuing to portray Democrats as the real angry mobs. […]

    Twitter user and photojournalist Shay Horse followed the Proud Boys after they left the event and documented a group of about 30 Proud Boys “pummeling a guy on the ground screaming, ‘Are you brave now [anti-gay slur snipped]?!’” […] several fights were playing out simultaneously. He also showed the Proud Boys proudly flashing white power hand symbols afterward. […]

    In his [Christopher Wright’s] video, in which he claims members of Antifa attempted to jump them, the Proud Boys can be heard [chanting], “I like beer!”, referring to Justice Brett Kavanaugh’s testimony when he denied sexually assaulting Christine Blasey Ford. One individual can be heard boasting, “I kicked him right in the fucking head!” and “Dude, I had one of their fucking heads and was just smashing it in the pavement!” Another replies, “Whoo, yeah!” […]

    Fox News’ […] pundits continued to echo the Republican drumbeat that it’s liberals who are an “intimidating” political “mob.”

    Several people have pointed out that the police appeared to protect the Proud Boys in these altercations. Indeed, Rebecca Kavanaugh, senior staff attorney for The Legal Aid Society, confirmed on Twitter that three arrests were made, but all three were anti-racist protesters — none of them members of the Proud Boys. […]


    Video and photos available at the link.

  244. says

    Nerd @367, I liked the interview with Stacey Abrams. She called her Republican opponent the “architect of voter suppression,” and she noted that he had been suppressing the votes of minorities in Georgia for about a decade.

    In other news, somewhat related to comment 373, Trump continues to laud confederate heroes and to lavish praise on the Confederacy.

    President Trump praised Robert E. Lee as a “great general” during a campaign-style rally in Ohio on Friday night, providing just the latest installment in a long line of controversial comments about Civil War history. […]

    “So Robert E. Lee was a great general and Abraham Lincoln developed a phobia, he couldn’t beat Robert E. Lee,” Trump said. “Robert E. Lee was winning battle after battle after battle and Abraham Lincoln came home and he said, ‘I can’t beat Robert E. Lee.’” […]

    the comments fit into a larger pattern of Trump White House figures praising the Confederacy and expressing sympathy for historical figures who were responsible for horrific acts of racism and ethnic cleansing.

    Last year, for example, White House Chief of Staff John Kelly straightforwardly praised Lee — referring to him as “an honorable man,” and suggesting the Civil War resulted from the “lack of an ability to compromise” rather than Southern states aligning themselves with the institution of slavery.

    White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders defended Kelly’s comments by doubling down, insisting his remarks were not historically inaccurate.

    Trump himself has also cast doubt on the origins of the Civil War, suggesting it stemmed from a simple disagreement rather than Confederate leaders’ insistence that the practice of owning black people as slaves should be preserved.

    “People don’t realize, you know, the Civil War, if you think about it, why?” he said in a radio interview that aired last year. “People don’t ask the question, but why was there the Civil War? Why could that one not have been worked out?” […]


  245. says

    A New Report Says Jared Kushner Likely Paid Almost No Federal Income Taxes for Years.

    And he’s worth more than $320 million, according to the New York Times.

    […] Trump’s son-in-law, appears to have paid little to no federal income tax between 2009 and 2016. For a new investigation, reporters for the New York Times reviewed more than 40 pages of confidential financial documents and laid out their theory on how this happened.

    Kushner Companies has spent decades buying real estate, allowing Kushner to grow his net worth to more than $300 million. The confidential financial documents reviewed by the Times indicate that Kushner used a depreciation tax benefit that allows real estate investors to deduct a part of the cost of their buildings on their taxable incomes. For example, in 2015 Kusher raked in a $1.7 million salary, but reported an $8.3 million loss based on the depreciation of the company’s real estate. But, according to the New York Times, those losses were only on paper […]

  246. says

    A follow-up, of sorts, to comment 375.

    A New Study Shows White Families Getting Four-Fifths of Trump’s Tax Cut.

    Experts warn that last year’s tax law will “supercharge” racial disparities.

    […] white Americans are the big winners, and the existing wealth gap between them and minority households will continue to grow. That’s the conclusion of a new report released this week on the racial implications of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, the bill championed by Trump and passed by congressional Republicans in December 2017.

    The report, from the Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy (ITEP) and the nonprofit Prosperity Now, is the first quantitative analysis of its kind. While a number of previous reports have noted that the vast majority of the $1.5 trillion doled out to taxpayers and businesses by the cuts will go to the wealthiest Americans, this newest study highlights how that dynamic affects minority families. After estimating taxes under the law for white, black, Latino, and Asian households across various income brackets, the authors conclude the law will “supercharge” existing racial disparities in wealth “to an alarming extent.”

    “Households of color have less income and have less wealth than white households, in large part due to centuries of systemic racism,” says Meg Wiehe, ITEP’s deputy director and one of the report’s authors. “So inevitably a tax cut that’s so expensive and so tilted to the top is furthering not just income inequality—it’s also furthering racial inequity in income and in wealth.”

    The authors found that nearly 80 percent of the $275 billion in tax cuts to individual households will go to white families—even though whites make up just two-thirds of taxpayers. In dollar terms, white families will get about $218 billion in tax cuts, while black households will see about $14 billion and Latinos about $18 billion. […]

    More, including informative charts, at the link.

  247. says

    Excellent piece: “There’s Been a George Soros for Every Era of Anti-Semitic Panic: From Russia to Hungary to, now, Donald Trump’s America, a rising authoritarianism plays on an atavistic European hatred. We live in the Soros Age of Anti-Semitism.”

    “A recurrent theme of 19th-century anti-Semitism is that it finds substantial currency at moments when old regimes appear exhausted and fear about revolutionary dislocation intensifies.”

    “In place of a systemic critique was a Jewish face.”

  248. says

    Follow-up regarding the five-year-old child from Honduras who was detained by the Trump administration and then persuaded to sign away her rights.

    Helen—a smart, cheerful five-year-old girl—is an asylum seeker from Honduras. This summer, when a social worker asked her to identify her strengths, Helen shared her pride in “her ability to learn fast and express her feelings and concerns.” She also recounted her favorite activities (“playing with her dolls”), her usual bedtime (“8 p.m.”), and her professional aspirations (“to be a veterinarian”).

    In July, Helen fled Honduras with her grandmother, Noehmi, and several other relatives; gangs had threatened Noehmi’s teen-age son, Christian, and the family no longer felt safe. Helen’s mother, Jeny, had migrated to Texas four years earlier, and Noehmi planned to seek legal refuge there. With Noehmi’s help, Helen travelled thousands of miles, sometimes on foot, and frequently fell behind the group. While crossing the Rio Grande in the journey’s final stretch, Helen slipped from their raft and risked drowning. Her grandmother grabbed her hand and cried, “Hang on, Helen!” When the family reached the scrubland of southern Texas, U.S. Border Patrol agents apprehended them and moved them through a series of detention centers. A month earlier, the Trump Administration had announced, amid public outcry over its systemic separation of migrant families at the border, that it would halt the practice. But, at a packed processing hub, Christian was taken from Noehmi and placed in a cage with toddlers. Noehmi remained in a cold holding cell, clutching Helen. Soon, she recalled, a plainclothes official arrived and informed her that she and Helen would be separated. “No!” Noehmi cried. “The girl is under my care! Please!”

    Noehmi said that the official told her, “Don’t make things too difficult,” and pulled Helen from her arms. “The girl will stay here,” he said, “and you’ll be deported.” Helen cried as he escorted her from the room and out of sight. Noehmi remembers the authorities explaining that Helen’s mother would be able to retrieve her, soon, from wherever they were taking her.

    Later that day, Noehmi and Christian were reunited. The adults in the family were fitted with electronic ankle bracelets and all were released, pending court dates. They left the detention center and rushed to Jeny’s house, in McAllen, hoping to find Helen there. When they didn’t, Noehmi began to shake, struggling to explain the situation. “Immigration took your daughter,” she told Jeny.

    “But where did they take her?” Jeny asked.

    “I don’t know,” Noehmi replied.

    The next day, authorities—likely from the Office of Refugee Resettlement (O.R.R.)—called to say that they were holding Helen at a shelter near Houston; according to Noehmi, they wouldn’t say exactly where. Noehmi and Jeny panicked. Unable to breathe amid her distress, Noehmi checked herself into a local hospital, where doctors gave her medication to calm her down. “I thought we would never see her again,” Noehmi said. She couldn’t square her family’s fate with the TV news, which insisted that the government had stopped separating migrant families. […]

    “Judge, this case doesn’t stop here,” Delgado said. “What about the little child lost in the system?”

    The judge looked confused. “What do you mean?” he asked.

    “Well, where is Helen, the five-year-old?”

    The judge, Delgado recalled, seemed startled. Both he and the government prosecutor had no idea that Helen existed, let alone where she was being held. “I could give you a couple of phone numbers to call?” the prosecutor offered.

    Delgado began the search. “It was just a complete maze, trying to trace the girl down,” he recalled. “I talked to at least ten people—case workers, social workers.” Eventually, he learned of Helen’s placement in Baytown, the Houston shelter. After that, Noehmi and Jeny were allowed two ten-minute calls with Helen per week, during which the girl often pleaded, “Come get me, Grandma!” The government collected fingerprints and other information from Noehmi and Jeny, to determine whether they were Helen’s rightful guardians; the Office of Refugee Resettlement soon deemed Jeny a fit sponsor, Delgado told me, but the completion of Noehmi’s background check was delayed for unexplained reasons. […]

    Noehmi fears that some of the damage inflicted on her family can never be mended. “Helen was always a very calm girl,” she told me, sitting in lupe’s office on a recent Friday night. “Now I have to be very patient with her—she’s very attention-seeking.” Lately, at bedtime, Helen hides in the closet and refuses to go to sleep, afraid that her family might leave her in the night. Sometimes Noehmi wants to hide, too; she buried her round face in her hands, weeping, when she recounted one of Helen’s declarations upon her return: “You left me behind.” But Noehmi decided to share their story with me because she worries that other families are still living out a similar search. “I fear there are still other children suffering,” she said. “Other families are feeling this anguish, this struggle, and they need us to act.”

    New Yorker link. The article is by Sarah Stillman.

  249. says

    Today, Trump is inventing jobs numbers, wildly exaggerating the size of the arms deal to sell equipment to Saudi Arabia, and doubling down on his claim that nothing, (not even the death of Jamal Khashoggi), will be allowed to interfere with the arms deal.

    It’s the best equipment in the world but if they don’t buy it from us, they’re going to buy it from Russia or they’re going to buy it from China or they’re going to buy it from other countries.

    Russia and China wanted it [the arms deal] very badly. […] They are ordering military equipment. Everybody in the world wanted that order. Russia wanted it, China wanted it, we wanted it. We got it, and we got all of it, every bit of it.

    […] the largest order ever made […] will support 450,000 jobs […]

    That’s a tremendous order for our companies. It’s a tremendous order, really from an economic development standpoint […]

    In terms of the order of $110 billion — think of that, $110 billion — all they’re going to do is give it to other countries and I think that would be very foolish of our country.

    There are other things that we can do that would be very severe. […] I’ll tell you what I don’t want to do. Boeing, Lockheed, Raytheon, I don’t want to hurt jobs. I don’t want to lose an order like that. And you know what, there are other ways of punishing, to use a word that’s a pretty harsh word, but it’s true.

    At this point it’s looking like he [Khashoggi] perhaps won’t be or isn’t around and that’s very sad. I think we would have known by now. […] They [the Saudis and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman] deny it. They deny it every way you can imagine. In the not too distant future, I think we’ll know an answer.

    The arms sale is closer to $14 billion, and parts of the arms sale were brokered by the Obama administration, so the deal(s) are ongoing from earlier agreements.

    Who knows where Trump got the idea that arms deals with the Saudis would creat 450,000 jobs in the USA.

    From the readers’ comments section on the Washington Post:

    What a colossal joke. Trump won’t do anything except deny the truth of what happened to Khashoggi, because holding the Saudis accountable will mean less money in his pocket. He’s a despicable human being, and a total embarrassment to this country.
    Trump will do as little as possible

  250. says

    Something is going on. I was on the road today and I tuned in to Al Arabiya to listen/watch their news broadcast and what struck me is that they were airing a taped brief report about the Khashoggi, and repeating it all day. It felt like there’s a state of emergency in KSA.”

  251. says

    Update – “Merkel’s Bavaria ally CSU suffer ‘massive losses'”:

    Angela Merkel’s sister party has suffered massive losses in Bavaria’s state elections, exit polls suggest, in a blow to the German chancellor.

    The CSU is set to lose its absolute majority in the state parliament.

    The Greens surged into second place and the anti-immigration AfD entered the state parliament for the first time.

    The CSU has ruled Bavaria almost single-handedly since 1957, but has lost support as opinion becomes polarised over issues like migration.

    Exit polls for major broadcasters said the CSU (Christian Social Union) won about 35.5% of the vote, down 12 points on four years ago, with the left-leaning pro-immigration Greens on 19%.

    The Alternative for Germany (AfD) came fourth with 11%, behind a collective of independent candidates known as the Free Voters.

    Mrs Merkel’s national coalition partners the centre-left Social Democrats (SPD) trailed in fifth with 10%, their vote halved….

  252. says

    “MP demands Met police explain why Brexit inquiry dropped”:

    A senior Conservative MP has demanded that Scotland Yard urgently explain why it has not opened a criminal investigation into three pro-Brexit campaigns that the Electoral Commission found had broken the law.

    Damian Collins, chair of the Commons committee investigating the illegal use of data during the EU referendum, told the Observer he was concerned that the Metropolitan police had as yet failed to launch a formal investigation into potential crimes committed by pro-Leave groups before the 2016 referendum.

    His intervention comes five months after the official election regulator ruled that criminal offences had been committed and the force was first handed a dossier containing evidence of the potential crimes.

    On Thursday, the website Open Democracy reported that the Met had stalled the launch of a criminal investigation into the pro-Brexit campaigns citing “political sensitivities”.

    Hours after the report appeared, the Met issued a statement saying it had received more than 900 documents from the Electoral Commission, which are “being assessed in order to make an informed decision as to whether a criminal investigation is required”.

    Collins, the chair of the Commons digital, culture, media and sport committee, said the report was troubling. “If the law was broken they [the police] have a duty to investigate. It makes no sense at all. I have no idea what’s going on. We need a proper official response,” he said.

    Collins also revealed he was baffled about the lack of apparent progress by the National Crime Agency, which has received evidence from the Electoral Commission concerning the main pro-Brexit campaigns.

    “We don’t know. We’re no clearer on that. We now have different government agencies who know about this. We know there is evidence of attempts to interfere in British politics. Why is there not a broader investigation?” said Collins.

    The MP said it was “absurd” that the UK had not reacted to claims of Russian interference in the referendum by replicating the investigation of US special counsel Robert Mueller,…

  253. says

    The editorial board of the Des Moines Register, the newspaper in Iowa with the largest circulation, criticized Republican candidates and endorsed every single Democrat running for Congress.

    […] The Republican majority in Congress tried and failed to dismantle the Affordable Care Act without offering a plan of their own that a majority of their own members — let alone a majority of the American people — could support. Instead, they have allowed the system to become increasingly unstable, leading to a lack of competition and rising premiums.

    Republicans in Congress have not only failed at comprehensive immigration reform, but their action allowed protection to expire on young, undocumented Americans brought here as children. […] They stood by as the administration tried to bar Muslims from certain countries from entering the United States. They looked the other way as the administration shocked and dismayed the nation by separating young children from their parents at the border, holding them in detention and losing track of some of the kids.

    Republicans promised fiscal responsibility, yet they have punted on putting the nation back on sound financial footing. Their one major legislative success, the 2017 tax cut, is projected to add $1.9 trillion to the debt. This, after Republicans howled endlessly about the comparatively meager deficits created during the Obama administration. The Congressional Budget Office said in August that these tax cuts and spending increases would become “unsustainable” if extended. But the House GOP, including Iowa’s three Republican representatives, voted last month for another $3.8 trillion in tax cuts. […]

    Some have argued that this election should be a referendum on President Trump. We disagree. This is about Congress, which has abdicated much of its constitutional duty and has failed to provide a check and balance to the executive branch.

    Not only has the party failed to act as a check on the president, key Republicans have been complicit in trying to obstruct and undermine the investigation of a foreign power’s interference in a U.S. election. And by their silence they have tacitly endorsed the president’s racism, misogyny, white nationalism, divisiveness and crudity.

    But the stakes are too high this year to worry about whether some candidates have sufficiently detailed agendas or know enough about how some parts of the government work. Nothing short of a change in party leadership in Congress will move this country forward. That’s why we’re recommending that Iowa voters send home Reps. Rod Blum, David Young and Steve King and return Rep. Dave Loebsack to the House. […]


  254. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    Lynna #389, Ouch I can feel the sting of that editorial the next state over. Hope it makes a difference. (I ignore the Chicago Tribune as the editors are very biased toward rethugs.)
    Have early voting on my calendar at a site a short drive away. D’s all the way.

  255. says

    Today in 1940:

    Balham Underground Station has suffered a direct hit from a high-explosive bomb. Hundreds of people sheltering from air raid inside, now trapped by tunnels choked with rubble.

    At Balham, the German bomb has burst water mains & sewage pipes, making them flow straight into the station. 500 people fighting desperately to escape as platforms begin to flood.

    Balham station engineer: “As I scrambled to open an emergency door amid the roar of water, people scratched at my hands in desperation- my fingers bled in ribbons.”

    66 people are dead at Balham Tube Station, crushed, suffocated by gas leak or drowned. Bodies buried beneath rubble, & trapped underwater.

  256. KG says

    Sammy Wilson, the “Democratic” Unionist Party’s Brexit spokesperson, tells us that a no-deal Brexit is “probably inevitable”, after talks between workplace bully, sexist and racist Dominic Raab and Michel Barnier ended in deadlock over the Irish border. May increasingly looks to be out of options: if she concedes enough to the EU to get an agreement, the “D”UP will likely pull the plug on her government; if she allows the “D”UP to block a deal, enough Tory Remainers may be sufficiently appalled at the spectacle of the “D”UP tail wagging the Tory dog to allow a Commons motion for a “People’s Vote” andor a request to the EU for an extension to the 2-year period of negotiation to pass. It’s impossible to be sure a last-minute rabbit won’t be pulled out of the negotiators’ hat, as the EU doesn’t want a no-deal Brexit or the huge uncertainty of May’s government collapsing, but they have shown no sign of backng down on either the rules of the Customs Union and Single Market, or the need to avoid a hard border in Ireland.

  257. says

    SC @393, Daniel Dale did a great job of commenting on Trump’s “60 Minutes” interview. Dale also highlighted every lie Trump told, which was, wow, a LOT of lies.

    Trump proved himself to be as ignorant as ever. And he proved himself to be willing to lie repeatedly on national TV.

    I was angered by his attempts to bully Leslie Stahl. Trump kept saying, “You don’t know that,” to a reporter who had obviously done her homework. The implication was that Leslie Stahl did not have any basis for her questions about climate change, Trump’s relationship with Putin, etc.

    Trump even claimed that Stahl was unfair when she questioned him about immigration. She wasn’t unfair, and contrary to Trump’s claim, she addressed his point about the Obama-era law.

    Trump finally had to resort to, “I’m president and you’re not.” What a dolt.

  258. says

    An excerpt from Daniel Dale’s live tweeting:

    Told that it seems like he’s calling Blasey Ford a liar, Trump says, “I’m not going to get into it because we won. It doesn’t matter. We won.”

  259. says

    From Steve Benen:

    Andrew Brunson, an American evangelical Christian preacher, was caught up in a Turkish crackdown two years ago following a failed coup attempt, and has been detained ever since, charged associating with terrorists and harboring coup plotters. U.S. officials have pushed for his release, and last week, Turkey’s government agreed to a deal.

    The day after the North Carolinian’s release, Brunson joined Donald Trump in the Oval Office, where the president welcomed him home. By any fair measure, it’s tough to mess up an event like this: a president is expected to congratulate the freed prisoner, commend his family, and say a few kind words.

    But on Saturday, Donald Trump’s thoughts turned to … Donald Trump.

    Early on at the White House event, the president insisted that his handling of Brunson’s ordeal was superior to what others in his job could’ve achieved. “We thought we had it done two months ago,” Trump said of Brunson’s release. “Sometimes it doesn’t always work out, but that’s — I can only tell you that’s better than anybody else could have done.”

    Soon after, the pastor prayed with Trump, who then asked a question.

    After Pastor Andrew Brunson, who was detained in Turkey for more than two years, finished a prayer in the Oval Office for the president whose administration had brought him home, Donald Trump was curious about just one thing.

    “Can I ask you one question,” Trump asked. “Who did you vote for?”

    Amid the awkward, forced laughter that ensued, Trump turned to his Cabinet and added in a faux whisper, “I knew the answer.”

    [Vox link]

    Watching the clip, I think Trump directed the question at Brunson’s wife, which would only make sense given the fact that the pastor was literally incarcerated in a Turkish prison on Election Day 2016. […]

    Hours later, the president referenced the developments while patting himself on the back during a campaign rally.

    Mr. Trump carried the release of Mr. Brunson with him to Kentucky hours after the meeting, celebrating it almost as soon as he took the stage.

    “He is on American soil,” he told cheering supporters. “It wasn’t easy. That one wasn’t easy. And we don’t pay ransom.”

    Trump sees so much of he does through a self-glorifying lens.

  260. says

    Follow-up to SC’s comment 397.

    This is an excerpt from Trump’s conversation with reporters on the White House South Lawn this morning, when he was getting ready to board Marine 1:

    Q: Mr. President, your reaction to Sen. Elizabeth Warren releasing the results of her DNA test?

    TRUMP: No, I don’t, who cares? Who cares?

    Q: Mr. President, you said you’d pay $1 million…

    TRUMP: I didn’t say that. I didn’t, you better read it again.

    Nobody cares more than Trump, who made the DNA question the centerpiece of his repetition of the slur “Pocahontas” that he repeated dozens of times. And that he tweeted dozens of times.

    Everybody “read it again” and watched it on video tape.

    She of the great tribal heritage. What tribe is it? Let me think about that one. Meantime, she’s based her life on being a minority. Pocahontas – they always want me to apologize for saying that and I hereby – oh no, I want to apologize. I’ll use tonight. Pocahontas, I apologize to you. I apologize – to you I apologize.

    To the fake Pocahontas, I won’t apologize. No, it’s causing problems. You know that’s name causing – because now even the liberals are saying, “Take a test. Take a test.”

    You know, the – I tell you, I shouldn’t tell you because I like not to give away secrets but this one. Let’s say I’m debating Pocahontas, right? I promise you I’ll do this. I will take – you know those little kits they sell on television for $2. Learn your heritage. The guy says I was born in Scotland, it turns out he was born in Puerto Rico. And that’s OK. It’s good, you know. Guy says I was born in Germany, well, he wasn’t born in Germany. He was born someplace else.

    I’m going to get one of those little kits and in the middle of the debate when she proclaims that she’s of Indian heritage because her mother says she has high cheekbones. That’s her only evidence, that her mother said she had high cheekbones. We will take that little kit and say, but we have to do it gently. Because we’re in the me-too generation so I have to be very gentle. And we will very gently take that kit and we will slowly toss it, hoping it doesn’t hit her and injure her arm even though it only weighs probably two ounces.

    And we will say, I will give you a million dollars to your favorite charity, paid for by Trump, if you take the test so that it shows you’re an Indian. You know. And let’s see what she does. I have a feeling she will say no.

  261. says

    Trump tweeted:

    Just spoke to the King of Saudi Arabia who denies any knowledge of whatever may have happened ‘to our Saudi Arabian citizen’.

    That’s close to what Trump said to Leslie Stahl in the “60 Minutes” interview. It’s also close to the same response Trump gave when he explained that Putin had denied meddling in the 2016 election; and when he explained that Roy Moore had denied sexually assaulting underage girls, etc.

    This morning, Trump repeated to reporters on the South Lawn that he is impressed with King Salman’s “very firm” denial.

    (Same dynamic with Judge Kavanaugh.)

  262. says

    An excerpt from Trump’s “60 Minutes” interview, in which Trump denies climate change and goes on to claim that “scientists also have a political agenda”:

    STAHL: Do you still think that climate change is a hoax?

    TRUMP: I think something’s happening. Something’s changing and it’ll change back again. I don’t think it’s a hoax, I think there’s probably a difference. But I don’t know that it’s man-made. I will say this. I don’t wanna give trillions and trillions of dollars. I don’t wanna lose millions and millions of jobs. I don’t wanna be put at a disadvantage. […]

    TRUMP: You’d have to show me the scientists because they have a very big political agenda, Lesley.

    STAHL: I can’t bring them in.

    TRUMP: Look, scientists also have a political agenda.

    From Steve Benen:

    As for Trump’s concerns about the economic impact of addressing the crisis, it’s worth keeping in mind that the president isn’t just wrong about the facts, he’s also failing to acknowledge the simple fact that food shortages, intensifying disasters, and the threat of international instability won’t exactly be great for domestic job creation.

  263. says

    Trump made another excuse for the Saudis in the case of the suspected murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi:

    He [Mohammed bin Salman] didn’t really know. Maybe … I don’t want to get into his mind, but it sounded to me like maybe these could have been rogue killers. Who knows?

    Maybe it was a 400-pound man sitting on a bed in a basement somewhere that killed Khashoggi. Not funny, but blackly ironic that Trump would continue to make these kind of excuses for the strong men with whom he is “in love.” (Trump claimed to be “in love” with Kim Jong-un.)

    Trump is harming all kinds of people on a daily basis, and he is always blaming others. He even blamed Leslie Stahl for some of his own lies.

  264. says

    From Mark Sumner:

    […] Though the interview did serve as a reminder of Trump’s readiness to pretend to knowledge he doesn’t have, his utter inability to admit the truth even when caught in an obvious lie, and his horrifying incoherence in attempting to describe even the simplest facets of policy, there was perhaps just one moment that broke through. Pressed beyond multiple repetitions of whining about the media’s meanness, Trump declared “I’m president, and you’re not.” Besides being the only, regrettably, truthful thing said during the interview, the phrasing adopted the self-serving arrogance of a first-season Saturday Night Live in-joke. Then and now, it was a statement meant to dismiss all questions by declaring a post-Papal level of infallibility. The only difference is that when Chevy Chase said it, it was funny.

    Besides the reliable level of lies, the most notable thing about Trump’s responses was just how empty they were. The press is unfair… somehow. Politicians are deceptive … in some way. Negotiations with other countries are hard … sometimes. The level of detail behind any of Trump’s statements was such that all of the facts revealed in the interview could be inscribed on the head of a pen. With a crayon.

    The worst thing about Trump’s 60 Minutes interview was that it showed how statements that in the past would have resulted in 60 Minutes reporters following up, cracking down, and ultimately confronting someone who was shamefacedly forced to admit their lies, simply … went past. Trump’s lies and exaggerations have become so vast and commonplace that Stahl barely blinked at blatantly untrue declarations again and again. Trump didn’t just pass one enormous lie and misstatement after another, he made them boring.

    Trump claimed that before he settled in the White House, America was headed for war with North Korea. He said the trade deficit with China is $500 million, and that China meddled in the 2016 election. He said he knew more about NATO than General Mattis. He said that climate change was not a sure thing and that “it could go back;” whatever that means. All of these things were simply lies.

    Trump’s interview showed that he’s unwilling to listen to anyone, even subject area experts who he selected as advisers. It’s shows he unable to admit a mistake, or confess to a lie, when faced with the truth. And it shows he’s utterly unfit for office. But again … we knew that.

    Mostly this interview, like several by the New York Times, showed the pointlessness of interviewing Trump at all in a traditional sense. You can’t ask him questions and expect answers. There’s no information to be gained. Unless an interview with Trump takes the form of an interrogation, with the interviewer prepared to present the truth on every point and pin Trump down on his lies, it’s not worth proceeding. […]

  265. says

    Voter suppression in action, and live, on the first day of Georgia’s early voting period:

    […] As senior citizens boarded the vehicle plastered with photos of African Americans and raised black fists, the Leisure Center in Jefferson County was notified that someone had called the county commissioner and complained that the bus didn’t have the proper registration to take voters to the polls.

    LaTosha Brown, one of the co-founders of Black Voters Matters, said there was nothing illegal about the group’s activity. The organization is non-partisan and the bus doesn’t endorse any particular candidate. She said it was a clear-cut case of “voter intimidation.”

    “This is voter suppression, Southern style,” said Brown. “I’m very upset. I’m angry. I’m frustrated. I’ve got a lot of emotions right now.”

    There are no laws in Jefferson County or in the state of Georgia prohibiting groups from transporting voters to the polls, and Brown said the elderly citizens “actually requested to ride with us.” Jefferson County is roughly 53 percent black, according to Census data. […]

    The staff of the senior center and the Black Voters Matter organizers said they did not know who called the commissioner, but said it was likely someone who was scared by the sight of black people celebrating and preparing to vote.

    “Even in the absence of law, they will use tactics like intimidation and voter suppression,” she said. “Somebody called the county commission, but there was nothing illegal or inappropriate.” […]


  266. says

    Children’s health chief Ruth Etzel was placed on administrative leave three weeks ago without explanation.

    The Trump administration is refusing to consider any new regulations to protect children from environmental hazards, according to Dr. Ruth Etzel, director of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Office of Children’s Health Protection […]

    The water crisis in Flint, Michigan, lead to calls for a national strategy for protecting children from lead poisoning. But when President Donald Trump took office, the message at the EPA was that no new regulations would be considered to help children avoid lead contamination, Etzel said in an interview with CBS News broadcast on Monday.

    Children younger than six years are especially vulnerable to lead poisoning, which can severely affect mental and physical development.

    “My sense is that the new government has absolutely no intention of taking any action towards seriously changing lead in children’s environments,” Etzel said. “It basically means that our kids will continue to be poisoned. It basically means that kids are disposable. They don’t matter.” […]


    Video interview with Etzel is available at the link.

    Yet more evidence that Trump is cruel and ignorant when it comes to caring for children.

  267. says

    Republican congressman Duncan Hunter’s campaign has devolved into Islamophobic trash.

    “Sharia and Islamism — it wouldn’t be as dangerous if it was just a religion. It’s not just a religion. That’s why we’re fighting them.”

    […] The disgraced incumbent, who was indicted over the summer for allegedly embezzling more than $250,000 in campaign funds over seven years, has resorted to Islamophobic smears and attack ads against his opponent, Democrat Ammar Campa-Najjar, branding him as a “security risk” and a “radical Muslim.”

    In a 30-second ad, which was released by the Hunter campaign in late September, viewers are told that Campa-Najjar, who is of Palestinian-Mexican descent, is trying to “infiltrate Congress,” that he has used different names to “hide his family’s ties to terrorism,” and that “his grandfather masterminded the Munich Olympic massacre.” And that’s just in the first 10 seconds. […]

    Hunter’s ad is riddled with racist lies. Campa-Najjar was, in fact, born and raised in San Diego. He never met his grandfather, who died nearly two decades before he was born, and has denounced his role in the Munich attacks. As the Washington Post reported in its debunk of Hunter’s claims, Campa-Najjar’s father wasn’t around much during his childhood and Campa-Najjar was raised largely by his mother. He changed his name long before running for Congress to pay homage to his mother’s heritage. Campa-Najjar has said that the Muslim Brotherhood would consider him an apostate because he is not Muslim — he’s Christian. […]

  268. says

    Philadelphia Archbishop: ‘Joy and wholeness’ requires denying existence of LGBTQ Catholics.

    Philadelphia Archbishop Charles Chaput has rejected the possibility that LGBTQ Catholics exist. The Catholic Church’s position on sexuality “is the only real path to joy and wholeness,” he insisted, even if young people see it as a barrier to connecting with the Church.

    Chaput made the comments earlier this month as part of the Church’s Synod 2018 on Young People, The Faith and Vocational Discernment, a global assembly of bishops occurring all month. It was among the objections he voiced regarding how the synod was catering to the perspectives of young people (ages 18-29), insisting that if they feel disconnected from the Church, then the Church must redouble its efforts, rather than change to accommodate them. […]

  269. says

    From Wonkette’s coverage of Trump pointing to “rogue killers” with “diplomatic passports (and bone saw)” for Saudi slaying:

    Don’t worry, America. Donald Trump argle bargled ten thousand stupid words to Lesley Stahl last night, but he still has plenty left. He’s like the strategic reserve of derp — we will never run out. Or escape.

    […] After speaking with Saudi King Salman, father of de facto despot Mohammed bin Salman, Inspector Gadget has decided that the responsibility for the disappearance of Jamal Khashoggi lies with … ROGUE KILLERS!!! […]

    Rogue killers with a bone saw. And diplomatic passports. On charter planes arriving and departing on the very same day Khashoggi had an appointment to pick up documents at the consulate. Obviously.

    Which Trump knows because he asked King Salman whether his son ordered the murder and dismemberment of the dissident journalist, and he denied it. In fact, he DENIED IT FIRMLY.

    Which is just how investigations go. Trump asks Salman/Brett/Roy/Vladimir if they did it, they say, “NO WAY, MAN!” then everyone goes home. And really, isn’t that for the best? Are we really going to jeopardize $100 billion of arms sales for a brown dude with a weird name who wasn’t even a US citizen? Especially when the Saudis are threatening to quit pumping oil so the price spikes wildly and we all start paying $4 per gallon for gas. […]

    Jared’s BFF MBS would hate if it you made him “throw the Middle East, the entire Muslim world, into the arms of Iran” and blow up the world oil market right before the midterms. […]

    The important thing is that the US keeps sending weapons, the Saudis keep sending oil, and we all agree to jettison any pretense of caring about human rights or the rule of law. […]

    More at the link, including official statements from the Saudis that are not subtle.

  270. says

    Correction to comment 407: Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman is not the “King” to whom Trump spoke on the phone. He is the son of Saudi King Salman.

    I sometimes have difficulty keeping track of who is in charge of what in Saudi Arabia. My apologies.

  271. says

    Just in from @clarissaward and @TimListerCNN: ‘According to two sources, the Saudis are preparing a report that will acknowledge Jamal Khashoggi’s death was the result of an interrogation that went wrong, one that was intended to lead to his abduction from Turkey…'”

    The thing about MBS and Trump going with Putin’s strategy is that it’s not working out so well for Putin at the moment.

  272. says

    Leaving National Security Adviser John Bolton’s staff to lead an anti-Muslim hate group? Just par for the course when it comes to the Trump administration.

    […] chief of staff Fred Fleitz is leaving after just a few months on the job […]

    “Fred Fleitz is a longtime friend and adviser. He’s been a valuable member of the National Security Council team. I wish him the best with his next endeavor,” Bolton told CNN.

    Fleitz, a longtime Bolton associate, joined the Trump administration in May after working for five years at the Center for Security Policy, an Islamaphobic group run by Frank Gaffney. The Southern Poverty Law Center considers CSP a “hate group.” Fleitz joined Gaffney and others from CSP in March 2016 when they went to work on Sen. Ted Cruz’s (R-TX) presidential campaign.

    According to CSP, Fleitz will take over for Gaffney as the group’s President and CEO in January 2019. Yet he will begin the leadership transition in just a few days, on Nov. 1 — a day after he leaves the White House, an unnamed administration official told CNN. Gaffney, the group said, will become executive chairman. […]

  273. says

    Follow-up to SC’s comment 417.

    With word now that the Saudis are preparing to admit that Jamal Khashoggi died in its Istanbul consulate as part of an unathorized interrogation gone wrong, it’s worth considering a few points.

    First Khashoggi was 59 years old when he died – his 60th birthday came on the 13th, apparently after his death. Photos suggest he was portly. All evidence suggests he was the target of a highly planned operation involving multiple members of an elite military and/or security services team from Saudi Arabia. It is very difficult to accidentally kill someone in the process of what in conventional terms we’d call an interrogation. If you’re torturing the person, it’s not likely but it’s certainly possible. Unless of course, you’re trying to kill them or inflict severe injuries. If we assume that the idea was to exfiltrate Khashoggi and return him to Saudi Arabia, again, a trained team should be able to do that without the person dying.

    What is important to focus on is that this was almost certainly not one person trying to subdue another person, in which case the targeted person resists and can possibly sustain a fatal injury in doing so. We’re likely talking at least half a dozen against one, in which case the half dozen are likely in prime physical condition and armed and the target is middle aged and unarmed.

    The other layer of this is that the Saudis are apparently preparing to say that the operation was not authorized by the Saudi government. This is not really plausible. But the credibility of the claim is different since we can’t categorically rule out an unauthorized operation. Not likely. Not credible. But who knows what factions exist in the Saudi government? But on the issue of his dying, here we can make some common sense judgments. If he died in Saudi custody, it is highly, highly likely that the plan was either to kill him or that he was at a minimum undergoing torture of some sort.

    The text above is from Josh Marshall.


  274. says

    I’m sure I’m forgetting some, but here are a few problems for what CNN is reporting to be the latest MBS claim – interrogation gone wrong: they flew in 15 trained operatives; those included the forensics expert; they brought a bone saw; they had a means of disposing of the body immediately; he was an unarmed, out-of-shape 59 year old; they previously completely denied Khashoggi was killed; they previously claimed he left the consulate; they chalked this all up to “Saudiphobia”; they told Corker they didn’t save video from the consulate, a ridiculous lie; they tried to threaten global economic sabotage if they were sanctioned for something they didn’t do; they’ve flooded the internet with disinformation; they tried out a different – “rogue killers” – claim earlier today;…