1. Marissa van Eck says

    The country is OVER. Get used to it. Kavanaugh’s confirmation is the logical, inexorable, horrible endpoint to the precedent set in 1973 when Ford pardoned Nixon.

    We have been dealt a fatal blow. Our “institutions” cannot protect us from this sort of attack from the inside, largely because the founders seem to have assumed that the Judiciary would never become this sort of partisan weapon. What we have now is more or less a unitary Executive, headed by Donald donkey-punching Trump. And he’s gonna win a second term, too, because enough damage has been done to the electoral system that the GOP has captured it. Cthulhu alone knows what’s going to happen from here on, but I will bet it’ll be a perfect shitstorm of war, economic disaster, climate problems, and who knows what else. This is a bad time to be alive…

  2. Azkyroth, B*Cos[F(u)]==Y says

    On the plus side, the Let-It-Berners must need skin grafts by now from all the masturbating over how PURE they are.

  3. tussock says
    I found that one on Gingrich interesting. Rather than reform the Republicans, make them electable, they set about destroying good people’s confidence in democracy by breaking government and blaming the people who were always running government, the Democrats.
    There’s huge numbers of people don’t vote, because they know how sick the Republican party is, and also believe the Republican story that everything bad is the fault of the Democrats.
    And the Democrats can’t get anything done because they need all four houses to break through the deliberate Republican intransigence, so government stays broken and ineffectual and keeps people not voting.

    Which is the only way the Republicans can win, which is all they really care about. Republican state governments lock their people out of the benefits of the few things that pass, so they’ll distrust it all, and not vote.

    It’s horrific, really. Fifty years of going nowhere, whole country stuck in the past and now flat out going backward on everything that snuck through.

  4. hemidactylus says

    In terms of eudaimonics the organs of one undeserving poor person could save many job creators, enhancing prospects for job seekers wishing to improve their prospects, thus improving overall well being. The hunting for sport proposal could be rolled in as a means to harvest organs. Banning abortion would increase the supply in long term. [sarcasm]

    This most dangerous game trope is the main reason I skipped most of Wrecked this season.

  5. says

  6. says

    As part of his defense against charges he may have colluded with Russia, Trump claimed many times that he had no business dealings in Russia. There is evidence that he does.

    […] during his campaign, a top executive from the Trump Organization emailed Vladimir Putin’s spokesman “to ask for help advancing a stalled Trump Tower development project in Moscow.” The financing for the deal was supposed to come by way of a bank owned and controlled by Putin’s government in Russia.

    […] Michael Cohen “said that he discussed the deal three times with Trump and that Trump signed a letter of intent with the company on Oct. 28, 2015.” That’s several months after Trump launched his campaign. (He even participated in a primary debate that evening.)

    This is the same business deal – which ultimately did not happen – that Felix Sater, a Russian-born real estate developer and Trump associate, also tried to help close, saying in an email at the time that completing the agreement could help put Trump in the White House. […]

    Now Trump is claiming that he has “no financial interests in Saudi Arabia.” Not true. From a Rachel Maddow Show segment:

    In 2015, before he was president but around the time he started running, Donald Trump registered eight shell companies that all included the word ‘Jeddah’ in the company name… Jeddah is the second largest city in Saudi Arabia.

    Trump creating eight shell companies with that city name in the company name – based on past Trump organization practices – that would seem to indicate that the president was planning to build a hotel in Jeddah in Saudi Arabia. He didn’t build that hotel, at least he hasn’t yet. Those companies were dissolved shortly after he was elected president.

    But then three days after Trump’s inauguration, lobbyists working for the Saudi government went out of their way to make sure the American press reported that they were spending almost $300,000 to put up a gigantic Saudi entourage at the Trump Hotel in Washington.

    The Trump Hotel in Manhattan has sort of been on hard times recently. Its revenues have declined for two straight years. But in the first few months of this year, that hotel turned its fortunes around, basically got bailed out. For the first time in years, revenue at the Trump Hotel in Manhattan increased thanks specifically to a very, very, very profligate and expensive visit from the Saudi crown prince – and his entourage too.

    Donald Trump has a business history and a business present with Saudi Arabia, and that’s the kind of thing we never have had to factor in before when considering why president was acting a specific way toward a specific country.

    From Trump’s own mouth:

    Saudi Arabia, I get along with all of them. They buy apartments from me. They spend $40 million, $50 million. Am I supposed to dislike them? I like them very much.

    Jared Kushner also has business ties to Saudi Arabia.

    Yes, it does look like Trump’s statement that “rogue killers” may have been responsible for Jamal Khashoggi’s murder is a form of foreign policy shaped by Trump’s financial connections to Saudi Arabia. He backs the King and his son because he wants to do business with them.

    And we can’t forget that Trump himself claimed that an arms deal with Saudi Arabia took precedence over that little problem of murdering journalists:

    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.

    BTW, that $110 billion is misleading enough to be counted as a lie. The Saudi’s have pushed agreements to buy massive amounts of equipment before. They never buy everything in the list. It is more likely that the deal for arms will equal about $14 billion, and that the purchases will be spread out over time.

  7. says

    From Trump:

    Thank you to the Cherokee Nation for revealing that Elizabeth Warren, sometimes referred to as Pocahontas, is a complete and total Fraud!

    From people who know more than Trump:

    That wasn’t what they said. You’re, once again, cherry picking words. They criticized her announcement, saying her use of a DNA test is “useless” for determining tribal citizenship & that using a DNA test to determine connection to any tribal nation is “inappropriate and wrong.”

    You asked her to prove she had Native American ancestry. Her DNA test did that. You just want to get out of donating $1mil, probably because you don’t have it to donate.

    Harvard stated clearly she received absolutely no benefit due to ANY kind of ancestry.

    For what it is worth, Elizabeth Warren never claimed that she was an Indian, nor did she claim to be a member of a tribe. What she did claim was that there was a Native American ancestor in her family tree.

  8. says

    Mitch McConnell: ‘The single biggest disappointment of my time in Congress has been our failure to address the entitlement issue. And it’s a shame because now the Democrats are promising Medicare for all. I mean, my gosh, we can’t sustain the Medicare we have’.”

  9. says

    From Steve Benen:

    Just to close the circle on yesterday’s story, Sen. Elizabeth Warren released the results of a DNA test to the Boston Globe, proving that she was telling the truth about her ancestry. She also shifted the burden back to Donald Trump, who’s spent months attacking her, accusing the senator of lying about having a Native American ancestor.

    The president said he’d pay $1 million if Warren verified her claim with a DNA test, and yesterday, Trump balked when asked if he’d pay up.

    Later in the day, the president was in Georgia for a briefing on the damage done by Hurricane Michael, and during a Q&A with reporters, Trump insisted that Warren “owes the country an apology.” He didn’t say why, and I haven’t the foggiest idea what he was talking about.

    Moment later, the Republican added this gem.

    Trump said later Monday he would only pay the $1 million “if I can test her personally. That will not be something I would enjoy doing, either.”

    Perhaps the president is unclear about what a DNA test is. What, exactly, does he want to do “personally” that he would find unpleasant? Does Trump envision a process in which he draws blood from the senator and begins a detailed examination of genetic history? […]

    [Elizabeth Warren] tweeted that the president makes “creepy physical threats” about women who scare him, including her.

    “He’s trying to do what he always does to women who scare him: call us names, attack us personally, shrink us down to feel better about himself,” the Massachusetts Democrat responded […] “It may soothe his ego – but it won’t work.” […]

    From Trump:

    Pocahontas (the bad version), sometimes referred to as Elizabeth Warren, is getting slammed. She took a bogus DNA test […]

    Petty nonsense.

  10. says

    In other news in which Trump insults a woman, he called Stormy Daniels “Horseface.”

    […] @FoxNews Great, now I can go after Horseface and her 3rd rate lawyer in the Great State of Texas. She will confirm the letter she signed! She knows nothing about me, a total con!

    Stormy Daniels responded:

    Ladies and Gentlemen, may I present your president. In addition to his…umm…shortcomings, he has demonstrated his incompetence, hatred of women and lack of self control on Twitter AGAIN! And perhaps a penchant for bestiality. Game on, Tiny.

    Michael Avenatti responded:

    @realDonaldTrump – tens of millions of Americans are tired of your fraud, lies, and corruption. They are equally tired of your attacks on women, especially the ones who you have had sex with while cheating on your wives. We (and the UN) are laughing AT YOU, not with you. #Basta

    U.S. District Judge S. James Oterohas dismissed Daniels’ defamation lawsuit Monday on the grounds that Trump’s comments are “rhetorical hyperbole” protected under the First Amendment. (Trump claimed that Daniels was a liar.)

    The dismissal of a defamation suit is not a dismissal of the charges that Trump, Cohen, the owner of the National Enquirer, and Daniels’ first lawyer conspired to trick her and other women into signing non-disclosure agreements. Nor is it a dismissal of possible campaign finance laws being broken by Cohen and Trump. Nor is it a dismissal of claims that Trump had sex with women he later tried to pay off.

  11. says

    Rules for a university student group’s chat room include: “Don’t Jew hate … all the time”

    That’s from s student group that Trump favors.

    A WhatsApp group chat room for a Florida university’s chapter of Turning Point USA, the right-wing campus group promoted by the President and his family, is full of racist chatter […]

    New Times received leaked chat logs from Florida International University’s year-old TPUSA chapter, including of one member who responded to a question about how “edgy” the group’s “meme game” could be by responding: “avoid using the n word and don’t reference [white nationalist leader] Richard Spencer too much and don’t Jew hate … all the time” […]

    As HuffPost put it in April, “Turning Point USA keeps accidentally hiring racists,” including its former national field director, Crystal Clanton, who once told a fellow TPUSA employee in a text message: “I HATE BLACK PEOPLE.”

    Kirk interviewed President Donald Trump at the White House in March. Attorney General Jeff Sessions addressed the TPUSA High School Leadership Summit in July, laughing at one point when the audience chanted “lock her up!” Donald Trump Jr. wrote the foreword to Kirk’s recent, critically panned book, and appears with him often at events nationwide. […]

    Talking Points Memo link

  12. says

    Trump continues to use Twitter to bully Attorney General Jeff Sessions, and to smear Bruce Ohr:

    “Conflict between Glen Simpson’s testimony to another House Panel about his contact with Justice Department official Bruce Ohr. Ohr was used by Simpson and Steele as a Back Channel to get (FAKE) Dossier to FBI. Simpson pleading Fifth.” Catherine Herridge. Where is Jeff Sessions?

    Is it really possible that Bruce Ohr, whose wife Nellie was paid by Simpson and GPS Fusion for work done on the Fake Dossier, and who was used as a Pawn in this whole SCAM (WITCH HUNT), is still working for the Department of Justice????? Can this really be so?????

    I think Trump is quoting Fox News and rightwing pundits again. Trump is cooking up yet another conspiracy theory in which someone’s wife worked for a company Trump doesn’t like and therefore the husband (career civil servant) is part of the so-called “deep state.”

  13. says

    From SC’s link in comment 13:

    They are coming after Medicaid and Medicare.

    Yes, Republicans are doing that. (See McConnell’s statement that SC quoted earlier.) And they are lying about it.

    Trump, and many Republican candidates up for reelection in November, also claim that they are the ones protecting healthcare for people with pre-existing conditions. The opposite is true. They are pushing to legalize junk insurance plans that don’t cover pre-existing conditions, and they are pushing for risk pools that don’t work well.

    They want to cut back so-called “entitlements” like Medicare, and they have been using a death-by-a-thousand-cuts approach to Obamacare ever since Trump took office.

    (Bloomberg) — Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell says the U.S. budget deficit is “disturbing” and spending on entitlement programs must be addressed by both Republicans and Democrats.


    From Joan McCarter:

    […] Remember that massive tax cut McConnell forced through last year? Remember how he said “I not only don’t think it will increase the deficit, I think it will be beyond revenue neutral”? “In other words, I think it will produce more than enough to fill that gap,” he said. He lied. Because that’s what McConnell does. He lies. Everybody knew this was coming. Every economist and budget analyst in the nation predicted a ballooning of the deficit with that tax cut, and those of us who have been paying attention to Republicans for decades know what that means. […]


    McConnell Calls For Cutting Government Programs To Deal With ‘Disturbing’ Debt

    The woman who helped demolish health care access in Maine is now running Medicaid for the country. Mary Mayhew was criticized for completely reorganizing the state department in a way that directly harmed low-income people.

  14. birgerjohansson says

    For laugh-out-loud “the emperor is naked” moments, I recommend Steven Colbert, Trevor Noah and Samantha Bee.
    (Wait, I forgot the British guy! )
    Once you see the powerful in their miserable stupidity mixed with compulsive lying and hypocrisy, you will feel “we can beat the fuckers”!

  15. says

    Earlier this year, Michael Avenatti spent months on television telling everyone that based on the information he had he was convinced that Trump would never finish out his term. Now he’s campaigning on the (absurd) claim that he’s the only one who can beat Trump in 2020. These are not consistent.

  16. says

    “‘He Is Trying to Make It Right’: As the Midterms Approach, Michael Cohen Is Doubling Down on His Civic Duty”:

    Over the weekend, Michael Cohen, the former Trump lawyer who famously facilitated a $130,000 payout to the adult-film star Stormy Daniels, demonstrated the ostensibly civic side of his personality. “The #MidtermElections2018 might be the most important vote in our lifetime,” Cohen tweeted on Sunday morning. ”#GetOutAndVote #VoteNovember6th.” The message came days after Cohen’s attorney, Lanny Davis, confirmed that his client had indeed re-registered as a Democrat in advance of the forthcoming midterm elections. It was Cohen’s second go around on the left. He had voted for Obama in 2008 and remained registered as a Democrat until 2017—despite the fact that he was already serving as the Republican National Committee’s deputy finance chair, and only after Steve Wynn, then the R.N.C.’s finance chairman, insisted that he switch.

    Other than a few tweets and statements, Cohen has remained relatively quiet since pleading guilty, in August, to violating campaign laws by paying off women who claimed to have had affairs with Donald Trump at what he said, in open court, was the “direction” of the then-candidate. Behind the scenes, however, Robert Mueller’s special investigation into collusion and obstruction of justice continues apace. So does the Southern District’s probe into campaign-finance violations. Despite having no formal cooperation agreement with the government, Cohen has willingly assisted and provided information critical to several ongoing investigations, according to two sources familiar with the situation, in a string of meetings that have exceeded more than 50 hours in sum….

    Cohen’s disclosures to investigators remain an enigma, but his proximity to the president and his family make him a valuable witness….

  17. says

    4,000 Square Miles. One Post Office. Why It’s So Hard to Vote in Arizona’s Indian Country.

    Gabriella Cazares-Kelly is obsessed with voting. A Democratic Party precinct committee member for her Tucson, Arizona, neighborhood, she keeps a block-walking app on her phone and the Pima County Recorder’s Office on speed dial. When she turned 36 this spring, Cazares-Kelly passed around a petition for a statewide ballot initiative for education funding and told friends and family not to show up to her party if they weren’t registered to vote.

    […]when the executive office of the Tohono O’odham Nation, where Cazares-Kelly is a high school teacher, stopped funding the voter education program she’d been part of, she, Cohen, and a small group of allies filled the void. […] Meeting once or twice a month in members’ homes or at gas stations, they’ve led workshops to train voter registrars, held candidate forums, and recruited members to fill local offices.

    “We discovered that there are 24 vacant precinct committee-­people spots and not a single one was filled,” Cazares-Kelly told me. “Not only did we not have a seat at the table; we didn’t know what tables we were not being invited to.”

    Voter engagement across Arizona’s Indian Country is substantially lower than state and national averages, in part because voting is harder in almost every way. Transportation and mail service are limited. Polling places are scarce. Recent Republican crackdowns on voting rights have compounded the problem. “You recognize the state doesn’t give a shit. You recognize the county doesn’t give a shit,” says April Ignacio, an Indivisible Tohono member. […]

    The apathy of some tribal members is partly a reflection of history. It wasn’t until 1924 that all Native Americans gained citizenship, 1948 that they could vote in Arizona, and 1972 that the state abolished literacy tests. In 1975, the Voting Rights Act was amended to mandate that translators be made available to assist indigenous voters; another 14 years passed before two of the Arizona counties with the largest Native American populations finally hired indigenous people to do that work. In 2003, the speaker of the state House suggested tribal members were ineligible to serve on state commissions. Retirees in Sun City know they’re voting for a government that’s responsive to what they want. In Indian Country, that’s rarely been the case. […]

  18. says

    From SC’s link in comment 17:

    […] They are part of a national mechanism that is being created to delegitimize a Democratic sweep should it happen next month. It will be Chinese meddling, or sneaky “Illegals.” And they will sell it hard to those people most likely to believe it. And the country likely will catch on fire.

    In addition, as close as some of these races appear to be, we likely are heading into a couple of months of recount hell. If 2000 was any indication, there could be 10 or 20 Brooks Brothers riots in our future. All democratic norms are down. It’s a free-for-all.

    I’m not sure if the Democratic Party is ready for what could be coming, and I’m very sure neither the elite political press nor the country is ready for it. I’d like to believe everything is going to be most chill at the polling places, but I’m not betting on that either way. I’d like to believe that the results, whatever they are, at least will be treated as legitimate decisions made by a democratic polity. But you’d have to be crazy to bet on that. […]

    I’ve seen a considerable ramping up of the claim that the Chinese are meddling in elections. The propaganda comes from Trump, from Republican elected officials, and from rightwing media.

  19. says

    The bullying version of Trump strikes again (immigration):

    […] “The United States has strongly informed the President of Honduras that if the large Caravan of people heading to the U.S. is not stopped and brought back to Honduras, no more money or aid will be given to Honduras, effective immediately!” Trump wrote Tuesday morning, among a diverse flurry of tweets.

    The “caravan” comment referred to a group of hundreds of migrants who are fleeing poverty and gang violence in Honduras, spilling into Guatemala, which lies between Honduras and Mexico. The migrants overwhelmed Guatemalan border guards, who eventually allowed the group to pass and accompanied them deep into the country […]

    Trump’s threat reflects his America First campaign rhetoric, which spurned foreign entanglements. Trump has advocated rolling back foreign aid, which represents less than 1 percent of federal spending, and his administration attempted to kill $3 billion in foreign aid over the summer. […]


  20. says

    Stormy Daniels wins the ratings war. Trump must be sad.

    […] Trump’s recent interview with CBS’s “60 Minutes” drew significantly fewer viewers than adult-film star Stormy Daniels’s interview on the program in the spring, during which she discussed her alleged affair with the president.

    Trump’s interview on the show, which aired on Sunday, attracted 11.7 million viewers, around half of the 22.1 million viewers who tuned into Daniels’s interview in March […]


  21. says

    From Wonkette’s coverage of Trump calling Stormy Daniels “Horseface”:

    […] But let’s get clear on what just happened: Donald Trump called the very beautiful porn actress and producer he had sex with and then arranged an illegal payoff to, (which he directed his son Eric and his former dingbat lawyer Michael Cohen to make), a “horseface.” He reportedly had unprotected sex with her, because guess who wraps his dick up when he has sex with women what are not his wife while his actual wife is home with their new baby? Not Donald Trump! To be fair, maybe they don’t make condoms in weird little fun-sized shapes that would actually fit him. […]

    Meanwhile, Popehat dubbed Trump’s tweet threatening Daniels “legally incoherent.” Link

    Notice the newly-revealed involvement of Eric Trump, who is running (supposedly) The Trump Organization, and who directed some Trump Organization employees to work on fixing the Stormy Daniels problem.

  22. says

    Follow-up to comment 14.

    […] During the debate over the Republican tax package, Democrats made a fairly obvious prediction: GOP policymakers would blow a giant hole in the budget and then use the shortfall as an excuse to target social-insurance programs like Medicare and Social Security (often referred to as “entitlements”).

    That is, of course, exactly what’s happening.

    Larry Kudlow, the director of the Trump White House’s National Economic Council, recently said he wants to take aim at “entitlements” as early as “next year.” A few months earlier, House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) said he wants to see policymakers bring the budget closer to balance by cutting “entitlements.” Rep. Steve Stivers (R-Ohio), who currently chairs the National Republican Congressional Committee, made the same argument in August.

    And now Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is making the identical pitch.

    The election season has ushered in a head-spinning debate over which party truly supports pillars of modern American life such as Medicare and Social Security. Donald Trump has repeatedly said, reality be damned, voters should look to Republicans as the champions of these programs.

    “We’re saving Social Security; the Democrats will destroy Social Security,” the president inexplicably insisted last month. “We’re saving Medicare; the Democrats want to destroy Medicare.”

    But looking past Trump’s bizarre nonsense, leading Republican officials – from the White House, the Senate, and the U.S. House – keep admitting that they’re eager to cut programs like Medicare and Social Security. Maybe the public should believe them.


  23. says

    Election officials in Georgia are being sued … again. This time the issue is related to mail-in ballots. It looks like the mail-in ballots of likely Democratic Party voters are being thrown away.

    […] The complaint — filed by the group Coalition for Good Governance, on behalf of individual voters and candidates in the state — takes issue with the relatively high rejection rates of absentee ballots in Gwinnett County, which is outside of Atlanta.

    It comes on the heels of a Atlanta Journal-Constitution report Monday finding that the county had rejected 8.5 percent of the absentee ballots its received so far, compared with a statewide rejection rate of under 2 percent.

    The lawsuit zeroed in on the 128 ballots — out of 391 ballots rejected — Gwinnett County tossed out because they were missing the voter’s date of birth, or the current date had been filled in instead.

    Gwinnett County Board of Registration and Elections is named as a defendant, as is the state board of elections and Secretary of State Brian Kemp, the GOP gubernatorial who also has been sued for the state’s “exact match” law for voter registration.

    Candice Brice, a spokesperson for the secretary of state, said in a statement that under Georgia law, the policies for processing mail-in ballots were up local officials’ discretion and that state officials are “not involved in those decisions.”

    […] The complaint is seeking a court order that election officials stop rejecting absentee ballots on the basis of birth date issues, that they adopt new protocols for notifying affected voters that their absentee ballots have been rejected, and that they allow those voters to turn in their corrected absentee ballots in person to their voting precinct on election day.

    The group Lawyer’s Committee for Civil Rights also sent the county a letter highlighting the absentee ballot rejection issues. According to the letter, the mail-in ballots rejected in Gwinnett County make up 40 percent of all absentee ballots rejected in Georgia. Nearly 15 percent of all mail-in ballots submitted by Asian voters in the county were rejected, according to the letter, as were 8 percent of the absentee ballots sent by black voters. Only 2.5 percent of absentee ballots sent in by white voters were rejected, the letter said. […]


  24. DanDare says

    Time to design a new constitution and system. Compulsory voting and preference voting. Then get as many people to get on board and just disregard the existing system.
    That’s if you are going to have a civil war anyway, might as well fight for something instead of against something.

  25. says

    “Trump criticizes rush to condemn Saudi Arabia over Khashoggi”:

    President Donald Trump on Tuesday criticized rapidly mounting global condemnation of Saudi Arabia over the mystery of missing journalist Jamal Khashoggi, warning of a rush to judgment and echoing the Saudis’ request for patience.

    In an interview with The Associated Press, Trump compared the case of Khashoggi, who Turkish officials have said was murdered in the Saudis’ Istanbul consulate, to the allegations of sexual assault leveled against Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh during his confirmation hearing.

    “I think we have to find out what happened first,” Trump said. “Here we go again with, you know, you’re guilty until proven innocent. I don’t like that. We just went through that with Justice Kavanaugh and he was innocent all the way as far as I’m concerned.”

    Trump’s remarks were his most robust defense yet of the Saudis, a U.S. ally he has made central to his Mideast agenda. They put the president at odds with other key allies and with some leaders in his Republican Party who have condemned the Saudi leadership for what they say is an obvious role in the case. Trump appeared willing to resist the pressure to follow suit, accepting Saudi denials and their pledge to investigate.

    The Oval Office interview came not long after Trump spoke Tuesday with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. He spoke by phone a day earlier with King Salman, and he said both deny any knowledge of what happened to Khashoggi.

    After speaking with the king, Trump floated the idea that “rogue killers” may have been responsible for the disappearance. The president told the AP on Tuesday that that description was informed by his “feeling” from his conversation with Salman and that the king did not use the term.

    In Turkey earlier Tuesday, a high-level Turkish official told the AP that police investigators searching the Saudi Consulate had found evidence that Khashoggi was killed there.

    Also Tuesday, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo met with the king and crown prince in Riyadh and said the Saudis had already started a “serious and credible investigation” and seemed to suggest it could lead to people within the kingdom….

    It’s perfect that Trump has undermined the Senate Republicans by explicitly drawing the link between this cover-up and the Kavanaugh cover-up. Same rhetoric, same disinformation, same tactics. It’s also comparable to their defensive approach to allegations against Trump and his company, Putin, Michael Flynn, Roy Moore, and Rob Porter.

  26. quotetheunquote says

    Meanwhile, in Canada…

    Recreational marijuana use became legal at midnight last night.
    Waiting for catastrophic social upheaval to commence….
    Hello? Anybody?….

  27. says

    “The Jamal Khashoggi Case: Suspects Had Ties to Saudi Crown Prince”:

    One of the suspects identified by Turkey in the disappearance of the Saudi dissident Jamal Khashoggi was a frequent companion of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman — seen disembarking from airplanes with him in Paris and Madrid and photographed standing guard during his visits this year to Houston, Boston and the United Nations.

    Three others are linked by witnesses and other records to the Saudi crown prince’s security detail.

    A fifth is a forensic doctor who holds senior positions in the Saudi Interior Ministry and medical establishment, a figure of such stature that he could be directed only by a high-ranking Saudi authority.

    If, as the Turkish authorities say, these men were present at the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul where Mr. Khashoggi disappeared on Oct. 2, they might provide a direct link between what happened and Prince Mohammed. That would undercut any suggestion that Mr. Khashoggi died in a rogue operation unsanctioned by the crown prince. Their connection to him could also make it more difficult for the White House and Congress to accept such an explanation.

    The New York Times has confirmed independently that at least nine of 15 suspects identified by Turkish authorities worked for the Saudi security services, military or other government ministries. One of them, Maher Abdulaziz Mutreb, was a diplomat assigned to the Saudi Embassy in London in 2007, according to a British diplomatic roster. He traveled extensively with the crown prince, perhaps as a bodyguard.

    Members of the royal guard or aides who traveled with the crown prince may not report directly to him and may sometimes take on other duties. It is possible that some could have been recruited for an expedition to capture or interrogate Mr. Khashoggi, perhaps led by a senior intelligence official. But the presence among the suspects of an autopsy expert, Dr. Salah al-Tubaigy, suggests that killing might have been part of the original plan.

    Dr. Tubaigy, who maintained a presence on several social media platforms, identified himself on his Twitter account as the head of the Saudi Scientific Council of Forensics and held lofty positions in the kingdom’s premier medical school as well as in its Interior Ministry. He studied at the University of Glasgow and in 2015 he spent three months in Australia as a visiting forensic pathologist at the Victorian Institute of Forensic Medicine. His published writings include works on dissection and mobile autopsies.

    Although there is no public record of a relationship between him and the royal court, such a senior figure in the Saudi medical establishment was unlikely to join a rogue expedition organized by an underling….

  28. says

    “Audio Contains Gruesome Details of Khashoggi Killing, Turkish Official Says”:

    His killers were waiting when Jamal Khashoggi walked into the Saudi consulate in Istanbul two weeks ago. They severed his fingers during an interrogation and later beheaded and dismembered him, according to details from audio recordings published in the Turkish news media on Wednesday.

    It was all over within a few minutes, the recordings suggested….

    Since there’s no way I can provide a warning that would prevent people from reading as they scroll down the thread, I won’t quote any more from the article.

  29. says

    “Crimea” is trending on Twitter. When I checked to see what was happening, I found dozens of RT and other Kremlin propaganda reports talking about a bomb and a Ukrainian terrorist attack at a Crimean university, but it appears to have been a school shooting carried out by a single student. The reports seem to be suggesting that he killed 17 people and then himself. I don’t know if he used any bombs.

    “Vladislav Roslyakov, who killed 17 people at a Crimea college, used the nickname ‘Reich’ online & was obsessed with serial killers, Russian media are reporting. Creepiest of all is the suggestion he (at right) emulated Columbine killer Eric Harris with a white t-shirt & shotgun.”

  30. says

    In his debate with Beto O’Rourke last night, Ted Cruz said, “We can protect pre-existing conditions, and you need to understand, everyone agrees we’re going to protect pre-existing conditions.”

    Laughable. Steve Benen explains:

    […] Ted Cruz isn’t the first Republican to pretend to support the key pillars of “Obamacare,” but given his ferocious efforts on the issue, his rhetoric is arguably the most laughable.

    We are, after all, talking about a GOP senator who authored the Cruz Amendment, which private insurers explained would “undermine protections for those with pre-existing medical conditions.”

    The Texas Republican also led a government-shutdown effort in the hopes of preventing the ACA from being implemented – in effect, blocking the law that would protect those with pre-existing conditions – and vowed as a presidential candidate to repeal “every word” of the health care reform law, which would necessarily mean eliminating the safeguards for those with pre-existing conditions.

    Earlier this summer, Cruz expressed support for a Republican lawsuit intended to gut the Affordable Care Act, and if the litigation succeeds, it would strip millions of Americans with pre-existing conditions of their protections. […]


  31. says

    “Crimea attack: college hit by Columbine-style shooting spree”:

    At least 19 people have been killed and nearly 40 wounded at a vocational college in Crimea after a student went on a Columbine-style shooting spree.

    Several witnesses described a gunman stalking the halls of the school and firing at classmates and teachers until he ran out of ammunition. A bomb may also have been detonated during the attack, although Russian government agencies provided conflicting reports. Sappers said they later disarmed several more explosive devices at the college.

    The attacker was identified as Vladislav Roslyakov, 18, a student of the Kerch polytechnic college, Crimea’s regional head announced on television. Roslyakov, who carried a shotgun or rifle, killed himself at the site of the attack. The motive behind the attack was not immediately made public, although reports in Russian media said he had told acquaintances he was angry at his teachers and wanted to “get revenge”.

    Stills from a video camera showed that he wore black pants and a white t-shirt, clothing that resembled the outfit worn by the Columbine high school attacker Eric Harris. Columbine has led to dozens of copycat attacks and plots in the US and abroad, including a foiled plot by two 14-year-old boys at a North Yorkshire school last year.

    Some politicians initially suggested that the Ukrainian government stood behind the attack, although as more information emerged about the attacker, the dominant version became a disaffected student angry at his school….

  32. says

    Follow-up to SC’s comment 32.

    The Saudis sent $100 million to the USA. The money arrived just as Pompeo landed in Saudi Arabia to meet with top Saudi officials to discuss the disappearance and probable murder of Jamal Khashoggi.

    The Saudis promised the Trump administration $100 million to help the United States’ efforts in Syria this summer — and in a suspicious turn of events, that money was suddenly deposited in U.S. bank accounts as Secretary of State Mike Pompeo landed in Riyadh for what would be a discordantly friendly meeting with Saudi officials about their alleged murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi.

    “Discordant” because Pompeo was supposedly there to push for an investigation into the torture and murder of Khashoggi, but seems to have spent the time laughing with MBS. Photo at the link.

    According to a Tuesday New York Times report, an unnamed official told the outlet that “the timing of this was no coincidence.”

    This new detail surfaces as statements from American and Turkish officials on Khashoggi’s alleged murder stand in stark juxtaposition.

    Pompeo has been gentle with the Saudis, issuing anodyne statements after the meeting like “I don’t want to talk about any facts.”

    President Donald Trump has been even more forgiving, likening the Saudis to Supreme Court justice Brett Kavanaugh and asserting that they could not be “guilty until proven innocent.” Both Pompeo and Trump seem content to let the Saudis conduct the sole investigation into the alleged slaying. […]


  33. says

    In white supremacist news, Representative Steve King, a Republican from Iowa, endorsed a white nationalist for the mayor of Toronto:

    Faith Goldy, an excellent candidate for Toronto mayor, pro Rule of Law, pro Make Canada Safe Again, pro balanced budget, &…BEST of all, Pro Western Civilization and a fighter for our values. @FaithGoldy will not be silenced.

    In the past, Steve King promoted a British neo-Nazi, and he retweeted a white nationalist that is popular on YouTube.

    Here’s a quote from Faith Goldy:

    We must secure the existence of our people and a future for white children.

    She was reciting a white nationalist slogan called the “14 words.”

    Another quote from Faith Goldy:

    It is a natural tribal instinct for human communities to go with their own. So the question is, are we going to continue to work against nature and try to rise above it even though we’re 40, 50, 60 years into this experiment?

  34. says

    From Josh Marshall:

    As we evaluate the Trump administration’s reaction to the killing of Jamal Khashoggi and the President’s heavy reliance on the value of his $110 billion arms deal, it is very important to understand that that deal doesn’t even exist. Does not exist. It’s a mix of old proposals, new proposals, letters of intent and smoke – with a heavy emphasis on smoke.

    From Matt Shuham:

    […] Trump was referring to what he initially celebrated as “a $110 billion Saudi-funded defense purchase” during a speech in Saudi Arabia last year. Then-White House press secretary Sean Spicer, a week later, on May 30, described “an immediate $110 billion investment, which will grow to $350 billion over the next 10 years.”

    That’s not the case. On May 20, an unnamed White House official told reporters a much more revealing story about the $110 billion. […]

    The $110 billion sum, the administration official said, was made up of “Letters of Offer and Acceptance and future defense capabilities under development listed in a Memorandum of Intent to support Saudi Arabia’s defense needs.”

    Think of that as two buckets: letters of offer and acceptance (LOAs), and a memorandum of intent (MOI). Neither represent concluded deals […] and in any case, the $110 billion figure is inflated and takes credit for deals initiated during the Obama administration.

    […] Intent, not reality.

    […] as the Brookings Institution’s Bruce Riedel pointed out recently, “the kingdom has not bought any new arms platform during the Trump administration.”

    In other words: Most of the deals Trump has refused to block in response to Khashoggi’s suspected murder are nascent proposals, at best, and many may never see the light of day.

    For example: The Sept. 30 deadline for a THAAD anti-missile system sale, preliminarily approved by Congress, came and went without any Saudi commitment, “despite a 20 percent price cut,” the Washington Post reported. Jared Kushner reportedly negotiated that discount himself. […]

    The Associated Press and CNN, both citing Pentagon figures, reported last week that Saudi Arabia has only signed LOAs for $14.5 billion in purchases. […]

    The Washington Post poked more holes in the $110 billion number: Lockheed Martin and Boeing put out releases at the time of Trump’s announcement — detailing commercial as well as military purchases — “but other big-ticket items on the list [provided to the Post by the White House] have not been announced, and few if any contracts appear to have been signed.”

    A Pentagon spokesperson told ABC News that the “arms sale announced between the U.S. and Saudi Arabia is a broad agreement in principle” and that “steps include letters of intent, letters of offer, letters of approval, awarding of contract, and delivery. As the terms of these sales are finalized, we will notify Congress and make public the specifics of each transaction.” […]

  35. says

    Stacey Abrams rallies voters forced off Black Voters Matter bus in Georgia

    Obstacles to voting “are only permanent if we don’t fight them.”

    Two days after a Jefferson County official ordered a senior center to remove roughly 40 elderly African Americans on their way to vote from Black Voters Matter’s bus, Democratic candidate Stacey Abrams rallied voters in the town, encouraging them to fight voter suppression.

    Roughly 75 to 100 people — mostly African American — showed up at a parking lot in Louisvillle, just a few blocks from the senior center where the incident occurred Monday, to meet Abrams and cast early ballots.

    “My goal is to make certain that every person be able to cast their vote,” Abrams told ThinkProgress, standing in the middle of the rally. “That’s why I wanted to come to Louisville to just encourage everyone to take advantage of the chance to early vote,” she said. […]


  36. says

    Trump is weakening yet another government agency, the Inspector General office of the Interior Department. Apparently, Trump wants to protect Ryan Zinke, who is under investigation for corruption.

    On the 40th anniversary of the nation’s Inspector General Act, the Trump administration is celebrating the occasion by undermining independent oversight of federal agencies.

    [Trump will] reassign a Republican political appointee from the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) — Suzanne Israel Tufts — to the office of the top watchdog overseeing the Department of the Interior. In her new position, Tufts will be in charge of several investigations into Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke.

    Inspectors general typically serve as nonpartisan government watchdogs and do not have a history of serving as political operatives. Tufts […] does not have any government oversight experience. […] The move blindsided officials inside the inspector general’s office, raising alarm bells among ethics experts.

    The Interior Department made the change without notifying the department’s current inspector general. […]

    Inspectors general at cabinet-level agencies must be confirmed by the Senate but acting inspectors general do not. It is highly unusual for a political appointee to be brought in as an inspector general in an acting role, the Washington Post reported Tuesday, adding, “Acting inspectors general are traditionally promoted from within an agency’s civil-service ranks.”

    The timing of the change in inspector generals at the Interior Department comes at an opportune time for Zinke. The Interior secretary could benefit personally if Tufts, the new acting inspector general, decides to pull back on the office’s investigations into him and his wife, Zola Zinke. The inspector general makes the final determination whether to open up an investigation and has the power to end ongoing investigations. […]


  37. quotetheunquote says

    @Lynna #37

    F. Goldy is SUCH a Nazi twit; it is so embarrassing to have to breathe the same air as her.

    And she was invited to speak at one of our local Universities by none other than Lyndsey Shephard, our resident Jordan Peterson apologist. Free speech, and all that….

  38. says

    quotetheunquote @41, yes, Goldy is a real treat. /sarcasm
    Nasty people coming out of the woodwork, and crawling out from under rocks in Canada, in the USA, in Poland ….

    In other news, Beto O’Rourke tried to insert some facts into that Texas debate.

    […] Eleven minutes into the debate, moderators prodded Cruz, a long-time proponent of fossil fuels, on his climate change views, noting that major oil companies like ExxonMobil have begun to acknowledge the phenomenon under duress.

    “Well, listen, of course the climate is changing,” Cruz responded, declining to weigh in on the stances of oil giants like Exxon. “The climate has been changing from the dawn of time, the climate will change as long as we have a planet Earth.”

    Indicating that he feels people are not responsible for that change — despite science confirming that humans are the main cause — the senator went on to say that Democrats approach climate change as “a matter of government power” in an effort to control the economy. Cruz blasted O’Rourke for voting to tax oil in Texas and called for a “robust energy sector” in the country based on fossil fuels.

    “The climate is changing. And man-made climate change is a fact,” O’Rourke fired back. Scientists, O’Rourke said, “tell us that we have still have time but the window is closing to get this right.”

    With a dig at Cruz’s repeated absences from Congress in order to pursue a presidential bid, he continued, “If we’re going to make our commitment to the generations that follow, and not just think about the next election, or our political career, or our pursuit of the White House, then we can make the right decisions.” […]


  39. says

    “McConnell says Senate Republicans might revisit Obamacare repeal”:

    Republicans could try again to repeal Obamacare if they win enough seats in U.S. elections next month, Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell said on Wednesday, calling a failed 2017 push to repeal the healthcare law a “disappointment.”

    He said, “If we had the votes to completely start over, we’d do it. But that depends on what happens in a couple weeks… We’re not satisfied with the way Obamacare is working.”

    On social programs, McConnell said in an interview with Reuters: “Entitlements are the long-term drivers of the debt.”

    The Treasury Department this week reported a 2018 budget deficit of $779 billion, the highest since 2012.

    The report cited higher military spending as a reason for the increase and showed government revenues were flat after deep tax cuts pushed through late last year by Republicans, despite a growing economy and rising spending levels.

    Trump on Wednesday asked his cabinet for proposals to cut their budgets by five percent.

  40. says

    Watching soccer while black.

    White woman calls the police to deal with a black dad that was just watching his son’s soccer game.

    A white woman in Florida became the subject of mockery on social media after she was recorded calling the police on a black man who was attending his son’s soccer game. […]

    The incident was recorded by several other attendees of the game, one of whom dubbed the woman “Golfcart Gail” in a now-viral Facebook post explaining that the woman accused the man of harassing the referee.

    This man was simply trying to watch his son’s soccer game and cheer for him from the sides. He yelled “The ref is right”‘ when he saw his kid out there getting frustrated after a call.

    For whatever reason, Golfcart Gail just would not let this go. She continued to harass and beleaguer this parent. The gentleman offered to leave in order to avoid a situation. As he began to pack up his things Golfcart Gail informed him that she was calling the police because she no longer felt safe with his threatening behavior.

    [Ginger Williams wrote in a Facebook post.] […]

    “I started filming because she would not leave the father alone,” Maria Morales-Walter told NBC News. “There was no reason for her to call the cops.”

    Videos of white people calling the police on black people for seemingly little or no reason have gone viral on social media in recent months, including an incident in California where a white woman called police on a black family holding a barbecue. […]

  41. says

    It would be helpful if CNN and MSNBC, instead of (or in addition to) talking about the bullshit claims Republicans were making as they passed the tax scam, showed the footage of them making these claims, including right there on the networks.

  42. says

    From the Mitch McConnell quote that SC posted in comment 43:

    We’re not satisfied with the way Obamacare is working.

    This reminds me of something in tussock’s comment #3:

    they set about destroying good people’s confidence in democracy by breaking government

    Republicans severely damaged Obamacare and healthcare in general, and then they blamed Obamacare and the Democrats.

  43. says

    This entertainment factor may increase the Latino vote for Beto O’Rourke. It certainly can’t hurt. Sounds like fun.

    Legendary Grammy-award winning Los Tigres del Norte will throw a free concert for Democrat Rep. Beto O’Rourke in Texas this week as he seeks to unseat Sen. Ted Cruz (R) in the Texas Senate race, Billboard reported on Tuesday.

    The free concert and rally are scheduled to take place in Edinburg, Texas, on Thursday. The Georgia-based band will reportedly be joined by musical groups Asleep at the Wheel and Little Joe y La Familia.

    “The families of our Latino community have been a cornerstone of Texas’ population for generations, but are once again under direct attack from an administration built on divisiveness; while a sitting Senator turns a blind eye and deaf ear to our struggles,” Los Tigres del Norte said in a statement to the publication.

    “In stark contrast, Los Tigres del Norte believes that Beto O’Rourke stands WITH our community on important issues, such as immigration reform, affordable health care, a future for our DREAMers, and more immediate assistance to our families still separated at the border,” the statement continued.

    Los Tigres del Norte will also reportedly use their platform to encourage their fans to support the Texas Democrat on Election Day as he prepares to face off with Cruz this November in a race seen by many to be neck and neck. […]


    “Neck and neck” is optimistic at this point. Most polls have Cruz running ahead by a few points. Still, O’Rourke is much closer to winning that anyone thought a Democrat could get in Texas. From the Texas Monthly:

    […] There are the fundraising numbers, which suggest that Beto O’Rourke’s campaign is a kind of unprecedented juggernaut that is hard to properly predict. There’s the data crunched by professional prognosticators like Nate Silver, whose algorithmic approach to analyzing those numbers grants O’Rourke a roughly 1-in-4 chance of winning the seat, and the less scientific analysis from well-regarded sources like the Cook Political Report, which categorizes the race as a toss-up.

  44. says

    SC @48, I saw that. it was very effective. MSNBC should do more of that.

    I don’t have a link to that segment, but here is a CNBC link to “The numbers are in, and Trump’s tax cut didn’t reduce the deficit – despite his many promises.”

    A quote Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin:

    Not only will this tax plan pay for itself, but it will pay down debt.

    Here is one of the quotes from Mitch McConnell:

    We fully anticipate this tax proposal in the end to be revenue neutral for the government if not a revenue generator.

    Prevaricating dunderheads.

  45. says

    Republicans are ramming through more judges — by holding hearings when everyone is out of town. Link

    In other, slightly weird news, a judge refused Paul Manafort’s request to wear a suit to all of his court hearings.

    […] Defendants who are in custody post-conviction are, as a matter of course, not entitled to appear for sentencing or any other hearing in street clothing. This defendant should be treated no differently from other defendants who are in custody post-conviction. […]

    No special privileges for a rich white guy, at least not in this instance.

  46. says

    From Wonkette:

    […] in this week’s AP interview (which is batshit like his last interview), Trump floats the “Brett Kavanaugh” defense for the Saudis, […] because in Saudi Arabia, “boofing” doesn’t even mean hacking people to death with bone saws. Why is everybody treating the Saudis like they treated poor little rapey Brett?

    But the rest of the AP interview was bugfucking moron insane dipshit idiot too!

    First of all, you need to know the upcoming primary losses for Republicans are not Trump’s fault, because nothing is his fault. Even though he’s been campaigning for Republicans constantly and telling his crowds that a vote for Marsha Blackburn (for instance) is a vote for HIM, he’s not taking responsibility if/when they lose. (This is because he is planning to blame that on the Chinese, who are always meddling in our elections to steal them for Democrats.)

    Plus, he says he is helping the Republicans. They go up “40 and 50 points” in the polls when he endorses them! Yes, that is what he says. But if they don’t vote for Republicans, well, that just means Republicans aren’t wonderful and glorious like Donald Trump is. People have told him this:

    Alert! People are addressing Trump as “Sir” again. In his dreams.

    “I mean, there are many people that have said to me, ‘Sir, I will never ever,’ you on the trail [sic] when I’m talking to people backstage etcetera, ‘I will never ever go and vote in the midterms because you’re not running and I don’t think you like Congress.'”

    Hope those idiots follow through on their Not Voting! As far as what happens if/when the Democrats take the House, Trump is ready for it, because everybody knows there was no collusion, everybody says that, and his response to all other questions about the Russia investigation is can somebody please bring him the list of all his administration’s accomplishments in the first two years? Because it’s a really YOOGE list. Where is the list?????? GIVE IT.

    Oh good, he has the list now, which proves that he is better than every other president except one, and no it is not Abraham Lincoln:

    Who is the one, who’s the one president that percentage-wise has done better than me? There’s only one. George Washington — 100 percent.

    Give him a few more months, though! He’ll totally be better than George Washington, and it will officially be time to sand over the faces on Mount Rushmore and just build a golden Trump trash palace on top of it. You’ll see!

    And why? Well, for one thing it is because Trump has a very good brain. Why look how good he does science! After claiming that he is an “environmentalist” who wants clean air and water because “clean is very important” (he’s a germaphobe, after all!), Trump explained why he knows more about global warming than the generals scientists […]

  47. says

    “Pump and Trump”:

    Since Donald Trump’s fortunes came surging back with the success of “The Apprentice” 14 years ago, his deals have often been scrutinized for the large number of his partners who have ventured to the very edges of the law, and sometimes beyond. Those associates have included accused money launderers, alleged funders of Iran’s Revolutionary Guard and a felon who slashed someone in the face with a broken margarita glass.

    Trump and his company have typically countered by saying they were merely licensing his name on these real estate projects in exchange for a fee. They weren’t the developers or in any way responsible.

    But an eight-month investigation by ProPublica and WNYC reveals that the post-millennium Trump business model is different from what has been previously reported. The Trumps were typically way more than mere licensors or bystanders in their often-troubled deals. They were deeply involved in these projects. They helped mislead investors and buyers — and they profited handsomely from it.

    Patterns of deceptive practices occurred in a dozen deals across the globe, as the business expanded into international projects, and the Trumps often participated. One common pattern, visible in more than half of those transactions, was a tendency to misstate key sales numbers.

    In interviews and press conferences, Ivanka Trump gave false sales figures for projects in Mexico’s Baja California; Panama City, Panama; Toronto and New York’s SoHo neighborhood. These statements weren’t just the legendary Trump hype; they misled potential buyers about the viability of the developments.

    Another pattern: Donald Trump repeatedly misled buyers about the amount (or existence) of his ownership in projects in Tampa, Florida; Panama; Baja and elsewhere. For a tower planned in Tampa, for example, Trump told a local paper in 2005 that his ownership would be less than 50 percent: “But it’s a substantial stake. I recently said I’d like to increase my stake but when they’re selling that well they don’t let you do that.” In reality, Trump had no ownership stake in the project.

    The Trumps often made money even when projects failed. And when they tanked, the Trumps simply ignored their prior claims of close involvement, denied any responsibility and walked away.

    Some long-assumed beliefs about Trump are being re-investigated, with surprising results. This month, The New York Times published a 13,000-word examination of how Donald’s father, the late Fred Trump, and his estate, funneled millions of dollars to his children, in possible violation of tax rules and criminal laws. With copious documentation showing that Fred directed $413 million in today’s dollars to Donald — not the single loan for $1 million, with interest, that Donald has always claimed — it exploded Trump’s long-propagated claim that he is a self-made man.

    This article examines another Trump claim: that his post-millennium comeback and global expansion rested on the brilliant purity of a licensing strategy that paid him millions simply for the use of his name. That, it turns out, is no truer than the notion that Donald Trump is self-made….

    Much, much more at the link. The story of the Baja development is told in (IIRC) David Cay Johnston’s book. It really shows them as a family of grifters.

  48. says

    Beto O’Rourke opened the #TexasDebate debate in English, and Spanish, answered the question in its entirety, and somehow managed to fit in a mic drop against Ted Cruz’s voting record while still staying on topic in 90 seconds. 🔥


    Yes, that video is a pleasure to watch.

  49. says

    SC @53:

    […] In interviews and press conferences, Ivanka Trump gave false sales figures for projects in Mexico’s Baja California; Panama City, Panama; Toronto and New York’s SoHo neighborhood. These statements weren’t just the legendary Trump hype; they misled potential buyers about the viability of the developments.

    Another pattern: Donald Trump repeatedly misled buyers about the amount (or existence) of his ownership in projects in Tampa, Florida; Panama; Baja and elsewhere. For a tower planned in Tampa, for example, Trump told a local paper in 2005 that his ownership would be less than 50 percent: “But it’s a substantial stake. I recently said I’d like to increase my stake but when they’re selling that well they don’t let you do that.” In reality, Trump had no ownership stake in the project.

    The Trumps often made money even when projects failed. And when they tanked, the Trumps simply ignored their prior claims of close involvement, denied any responsibility and walked away. […]

    Scammers and grifters. Con artists.

    ProPublica and WNYC did a great job with that report.

  50. says

    Yes, Republicans in West Virginia impeached a bunch of judges on the state Supreme Court. This did not work out well for them.

    Chief Justice Margaret Workman is one of the impeached justices. Little tiny problem: there are no judges to preside over her trial. Or rather, there is no judge willing to preside over her trial.

    […] The impeachments stemmed from reports last year detailing the justices’ alleged lavish use of state money to decorate their offices. While some of the justices clearly did engage in misconduct — GOP Justice Allen Loughry is separately indicted on federal charges of fraud, witness tampering, and false statements — the office renovations themselves were probably entirely legal, and the impeachment reeked of a political power grab.

    You think? Chief Justice Margaret Workman is a Democrat.

    Republicans sat on the allegations for months until it was legally impossible to hold an election to replace them, thus ensuring GOP Gov. Jim Justice could appoint a full bench of new Republicans in place of the original 3-2 split Democratic court.

    Court packing! Genius … but wait.

    The problem for the GOP started when Workman sued, alleging her impeachment was illegal because the legislature did not actually specify any misconduct and violated her due process.

    There was no valid state supreme court that could hear the case — all the justices were either suspended or had been replaced with acting justices who then recused themselves. So on Workman’s request, retired justice Thomas McHugh picked Harrison County Circuit Judge James Matish to serve as acting chief justice, who then appointed four acting associate justices, who in turn unanimously ruled in Workman’s favor, invalidating the impeachment.

    Ha! That last part above makes me laugh.

    It was at this point that everything exploded. The GOP state senate, enraged that a makeshift court appointed at the request of Workman had overruled them, planned to simply ignore the ruling and hold an impeachment trial anyway. But Justice Paul T. Ferrell, who was in charge of presiding over the trial, honored the court ruling and refused to move forward, forcing the senate to back down. Then Republicans in the state house said they would still present the articles of impeachment to the senate even though the senate was no longer planning to hear them.

    What is happening in West Virginia is far from unique. Republican state legislators have frequently sought to undermine state courts that rule against them.

    In Pennsylvania earlier this year, the GOP pushed to impeach most of the Democratic state supreme court after the justices threw out their congressional gerrymander. In 2015, Republicans in Kansas tried to outright shut down all funding for state courts after the state justices ruled against their scheme to cut funding to public schools, eventually caving amid the potential disaster of being unable to adjudicate any laws. And in North Carolina, Republicans have passed a series of laws designed to prevent Democrats from challenging an incumbent justice on their supreme court, which has backfired horribly as she is now polling in third place.

    West Virginia’s crisis threatens to blow up the independent judiciary and undermine the basic legitimacy of their court system. And Republicans have only themselves to blame.

    Republican legislators shot themselves in the foot (feet?).


  51. says

    Trump really wants to blame the massive, and growing, budget deficit on anything other than his ill conceived tax plan. He came up with a new excuse today: forest fires and military spending.

    Number one, I had to take care of our military. I had no choice but to do it, and I want to take care of our military. We had to do things that we had to do. And I’ve done them. Now we’re going to start bringing numbers down.

    We also have tremendous numbers with regard to hurricanes and fires and the tremendous forest fires all over. We had very big numbers, unexpectedly big numbers. California does a horrible job maintaining their forests. They’re going to have to start doing a better job or we’re not going to be paying them. They are doing a horrible job of maintaining what they have. And we had big numbers on tremendous numbers with the forest fires and obviously the hurricanes.

    Many of the fires in California were not “forest” fires. They were brush or brush/grass fires. Trump should know that by now.

    President Obama shrunk the deficit by $1 trillion in his first seven years in office. Trump cannot compete with that.

    From Steve Benen:

    […] Oh my.

    First, Trump makes it sound as if military spending was so low when he arrived, the Pentagon was holding bake sales in the parking lot. It wasn’t. The Republican chose to increase defense spending, and he did so in a way that, by his own standards, was fiscally irresponsible.

    Second, the president’s incessant criticisms of California’s forest management appears to be based on nothing but Trump’s odd assumptions.

    Third, suggesting the cost of fighting forest fires played a role in the creation of a $779 billion deficit is plainly absurd. The deficit got bigger because Republicans handed a bunch of tax breaks to the wealthy and big corporations, and GOP policymakers didn’t even try to offset the costs.

    Responding to natural disasters isn’t easy, and it can carry a meaningful price tag, but the financial implications are easily eclipsed by the cost of a regressive Republican tax package.

    The president could take responsibility for his own fiscal decisions. Instead, Trump expects people to believe hollow excuses.

  52. says

    The Washington Post annotated Trump’s “falsehood-filled” interview with the Associated Press.

    Excerpts below.

    AP: Did they raise this idea of rogue killers in any of those conversations?

    Trump: Well, the concept of it, I guess. Yesterday, when I spoke with the father, not so much today, but when I spoke to the father, it just sounded to me like he felt like he did not do it. He did not know about it and it sounded like, you know, the concept of rogue killers. But I don’t know. I think the investigation will lead to an answer. And they’re going to do a very thorough investigation. I believe they’re working with Turkey.

    AP: But he didn’t bring up that? That was something you came up with after the conversation?

    Trump: Just the concept of it. No, that was just from my feeling of the conversation with the king, not with the crown prince but with the king.

    From the annotation:

    Trump confirms he got the idea of “rogue killers” from King Salman. Trump in recent days has seemed to parrot the Saudi’s explanations, even before the Saudis officially make it. This would seem to confirm he is passing along their theories.

    This [“Just the concept of it] is another classic Trump dodge, which he’s using more and more these days. When he doesn’t want to give a specific answer, he refers to something as “just a concept.”

    From the interview:

    Trump: Well, I think we have to find out what happened first. You know, here we go again with, you know, you’re guilty until proven innocent. I don’t like that. We just went through that with Justice Kavanaugh. And he was innocent all the way. So I was unconcerned. So we have to find out what happened and they are doing a very major investigation. So is Turkey. Plus, they’re putting themselves together and doing it. And hopefully they’ll get to an answer as to what happened. But I will say they were very strong in their denial about themselves knowing.

    From the annotation:

    Sometimes there’s just no adequate response to Trump’s nonsense. But, as always, Trump remains the sole arbiter of guilt and innocence, good and evil, and all things that can be expressed as dichotomies.

  53. KG says

    It appears the UK government is scheming to restrict the Commons to voting to accept or reject whatever deal it makes with the EU (if it manages to make one), without allowing amendments to be voted on first, as is normal practice – so that the only choices are the deal it’s reached, or a no-deal Brexit. Whether it can get away with this, I don’t know. A court case brought by a private citizen, one Gina Miller established that the Commons must be given a “meaningful vote” on any deal. The success of the government dodge may depend on the Speaker* – currently John Bercow, who is under pressure to resign over accusations of bullying. He personally has been accused of bullying his staff, and there is widespread feeling he cannot therefore lead the necessary change. But Brexiteers want him out because he’s perceived to be a Remainer, and so might rule that amendments must be permitted. Bercow is said to intend to stay on until after “Brexit Day”; I can’t find any information on how a Speaker could be removed if they don’t want to go. Constitutional crisis ahoy?

    *The Commons Speaker is supposed to be strictly impartial, unlike the case – so I’ve heard – in some other legislative assemblies!

  54. KG says

    Lynna, OM@59,

    “it just sounded to me like he [Saudi King Salman] felt like he did not do it” – Trump on the murder of Jamal Khashoggi, quoted by The Washington Post

    WTF could that possibly mean, even in Trump’s own diseased and filthy mind?

  55. KG says

    Lynna, OM@59,

    You know, here we go again with, you know, you’re guilty until proven innocent. I don’t like that. – Trump, same source as @61

    Trump, as we know, prefers “Guilty even after proven innocent, if you’re black”, as the Central Park Five can attest.

  56. Marissa van Eck says

    What more is it going to take to convince people that the nation is dead? We passed a fatal tipping point with the Kavanaugh confirmation. Things are going to get really ugly really fast from here on and nothing short of a miracle can stop it.

    I give up. I’ve completely lost hope in anything getting better in my lifetime, mostly because “my lifetime” could very well be less than 2 more years if things really go to Hell here on the ground. No nation can survive this kind of corruption. The best thing we could do at this point is drop every Republican and most of the Democrats into a running industrial shredder on live, national TV with the microphone turned up good and loud to capture their shrieks of mortal agony as their entire bodies are ground up and crushed. Bringing back the guillotine would be a good start but nothing more.

  57. KG says

    Apologies – I confused two things @60. Gina Miller’s suit established that Parliament had to pass legislation for Article 50 to be invoked (setting the process of leaving the EU in motion). The promise of a “meaningful vote” on any deal was given by the government in June, to persuade Tory Remainers to vote for its EU Withdrawal Bill, which transferred EU laws into UK law (to prevent legal chaos on Brexit) and gave the government powers to vary them after Brexit. A significant number of Tory MPs have now said the scheme I referred to @60 is unacceptable. In other Brexit news, both the EU negotiators and May are floating the idea of extending the “transitional period” after Brexit into 2021, but Tory ultras and the “D”UP have denounced this, and in any case, it would not solve anything.

  58. says

    “Crown prince under scrutiny in journalist’s disappearance even as Saudis search for exculpatory explanation”:

    The Trump administration and the Saudi royal family are searching for a mutually agreeable explanation for the death of journalist Jamal Khashoggi — one that will avoid implicating Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, who is among the president’s closest foreign allies, according to analysts and officials in multiple countries.

    But it will be difficult for the young ruler to escape scrutiny, as mounting evidence points not only to the Saudi government’s knowledge of Khashoggi’s fate, but also to a connection by Mohammed to his disappearance.

    U.S. intelligence reports, accounts from Khashoggi’s friends, passport records and social media profiles paint a picture of a brutal killing that at least had its roots in Mohammed’s desire to silence Khashoggi, a former palace insider turned critic of the government and the prince in particular.

    The analysts and officials said it was inconceivable that such a brazen operation as the one alleged by Turkish officials, involving a team of 15 agents sent to Istanbul, who then killed and dismembered Khashoggi, could have been pulled off by a group of “rogue killers,” as President Trump speculated this week, moments after a phone call with Saudi Arabia’s King Salman….

  59. says

    “Michael Cohen meets with prosecutors investigating Trump’s family business, charity”:

    Michael Cohen and his attorney met Wednesday with a group of state and federal law enforcement officials investigating various aspects of President Donald Trump’s family business and charitable organization, according to people familiar with the meeting.

    The group, which included the federal prosecutors from the US Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York who charged Cohen in August and officials from the New York Attorney General’s office, met at the Midtown New York City office of Cohen’s attorney, Guy Petrillo, these people said.

    CNN observed Cohen leaving Petrillo’s office building Wednesday afternoon. Assistant US Attorney Tom McKay, the lead prosecutor on the Cohen case, had entered the building earlier in the day.

    The purpose of the meeting wasn’t immediately clear, but both offices are continuing to investigate cases that relate to Trump entities and with which Cohen had professional involvement.

    Here’s Donny Deutsch, who’s a friend of Cohen’s, talking about his cooperation yesterday on The Beat.

  60. says

    “Is Fraud Part of the Trump Organization’s Business Model?”:

    …It is hard to understand why developers would, again and again, pay the Trumps an unusually large amount of money up front and then a significant share of profits just for their name, especially when their track record of success is so low. One explanation could be that everyone involved is bad at business. The Trumps, their partners, the banks, and others involved simply don’t do proper due diligence, don’t think through the potential risks of a project, and aren’t dissuaded by Trump’s long record of failure. Another explanation, though, is that they are good at a different business. They are not in the real-estate industry. Perhaps, the evidence suggests, some of Trump’s partners are in the money-laundering and financial-fraud industries.

    What is the Trump Organization? What is it good at? Where do its profits come from? It is becoming increasingly clear that much of the company’s business may have come from fraud. Daniel Braun, a former Assistant U.S. Attorney who specialized in fraud cases, told the reporters on the story, “You’re describing the basic elements of a long-running and significant scheme to defraud investors. So is that the sort of thing that the F.B.I. and the Justice Department pay attention to? It is. It has a number of kinds of ingredients that you would typically see in an investigation or even prosecution of fraud.”

    Bear Sterns’ deep involvement in the Panama project was an interesting aspect of the ProPublica/WNYC report.

  61. says

    “Amid global outrage over Khashoggi, Trump takes soft stance toward Saudis”:

    As gruesome details of Jamal Khashoggi’s alleged killing and dismemberment at the hands of Saudi operatives trickled into the public domain this week, calls sounded in capitals around the globe for immediate retaliation to the apparent human rights atrocity.

    But President Trump has remained dogged about the bottom line.

    In days of private phone calls and Oval Office huddles, Trump has repeatedly reached for reasons to protect the U.S.-Saudi relationship, according to administration officials and presidential advisers.

    Trump has stressed Saudi Arabia’s huge investment in U.S. weaponry and worries it could instead purchase arms from China or Russia. He has fretted about the oil-rich desert kingdom cutting off its supply of petroleum to the United States. He has warned against losing a key partner countering Iran’s influence in the Middle East. He has argued that even if the United States tried to isolate the Saudis, the kingdom is too wealthy to ever be truly isolated.

    And he has emphasized that although Khashoggi had been living in Virginia and wrote for The Washington Post, the dissident journalist is a Saudi citizen — the implication being that the disappearance is not necessarily the United States’ problem.

    Secretary of State Mike Pompeo flew home to Washington on Wednesday after hearing Saudi denials in Riyadh and Turkish accusations in Ankara that Khashoggi was killed by Saudi agents. Trump’s top diplomat received a firsthand briefing from Turkish authorities, but did not listen to the audio recording that Turkish officials say offers a ghastly rendering of Khashoggi’s killing and proves he was murdered inside the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul.

    Pompeo also did not offer reporters traveling with him any deeper clarity into how the Trump administration would address the conflicting accounts, but suggested that any possible U.S. response would weigh its “important relations” with Saudi Arabia.

    Trump said his administration has asked for an audio recording “if it exists,” expressing doubt about the evidence. U.S. intelligence officials, speaking on the condition of anonymity to discuss sensitive matters, said they had no reason to doubt that Turkey has an audio recording that shows what officials claim….

    Meanwhile, Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Bob Corker (R-Tenn.) said the administration had “clamped down” on sharing intelligence about the Khashoggi case. He said an intelligence briefing scheduled for Tuesday was canceled and he was told no additional intelligence would be shared with the Senate for now, a move he called “disappointing.”

    “I can only surmise that probably the intel is not painting a pretty picture as it relates to Saudi Arabia,” Corker said….

  62. says

    “Jamal Khashoggi audio: US requests recording evidence from Turkey”:

    Donald Trump says the US has asked Turkey for an audio recording of Jamal Khashoggi’s death which reportedly proves he was brutally tortured before his premeditated murder inside the Saudi consulate in Istanbul.

    Turkish officials said the audio recording had been handed over to the US and Saudi Arabia. But on Wednesday, Trump told reporters: “We’ve asked for it … if it exists” – before adding that it “probably does” exist….

    Good summary of developments at the link.

  63. says

    Sen. Murphy:

    I couldn’t have framed the election better than McConnell did this week. He says if GOP wins they will:

    a. try again to repeal ACA and replace it w nothing

    b. cut Social Security and Medicare to pay for their corporate tax cut

    c. provide no check on Trump

    Got it, America?

  64. says

    “Rod Rosenstein Defends Mueller Probe as ‘Appropriate and Independent’”:

    Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein defended the special counsel’s investigation into Russian election interference as “appropriate and independent,” a message that contrasts with President Trump’s description of the inquiry as a “witch hunt” and “rigged.”

    In an expansive interview with The Wall Street Journal on Wednesday, Mr. Rosenstein offered a forceful defense of the inquiry, saying the public would have faith in its findings.

    “People are entitled to be frustrated, I can accept that,” he said, in a nod to attacks on the probe from some conservatives and Republicans. “But at the end of the day, the public will have confidence that the cases we brought were warranted by the evidence, and that it was an appropriate use of resources.”…

  65. says

    Re #35 and others above:

    #Russia’s state TV: discussion about an attack on college in occupied #Crimea. The host and panelists blame the West for corrupting their young, conclude that freedom leads to hell, ‘freedom is chaos and destruction’. Participants reminisce about tougher gun laws in the USSR.

    Russian propagandists conclude that the Russians need less freedom, less Internet, more ideology (à la USSR), tougher gun control (already exceptionally restrictive).”

    The tragic consequences of colluding with the NRA.

    In response to a question in the comments on the second tweet, Davis describes Russian state TV as “Much more unhinged since 2014, borderline hysterical.”

  66. says

    “Feinstein ‘Absolutely’ Supports Revisiting Kavanaugh Allegations, She Says in Debate”:

    California Democratic Sen. Dianne Feinstein said Wednesday she “absolutely” supports reopening an investigation into allegations of sexual assault against Supreme Court Justice Brett M. Kavanaugh.

    Kavanaugh was confirmed to the high court earlier this month following a heated battle over allegations that he sexually assaulted Christine Blasey Ford when they were in high school. House Democrats have said they might launch investigations into Kavanaugh should they take control of the chamber next month.

    Asked at a San Francisco debate — likely her only one with Democratic challenger Kevin de Léon — whether she supported an effort to reopen an investigation into Kavanaugh, Feinstein, the ranking member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, initially did not answer directly, saying the panel’s investigation powers were “limited.”

    Asked again, she said, “Oh, I’d be in favor of opening up the allegations. Absolutely.”…

  67. says

    “McGahn exits as White House counsel”:

    White House counsel Don McGahn departed the Trump administration on Wednesday, leaving the counsel’s office without a head as the midterms approach and the prospect of a deluge of subpoenas from a new House Democratic majority looms.

    McGahn, who had a contentious relationship with the president, met with Trump on Wednesday for about 20 minutes, according to a source familiar with the exchange, who described it as a respectful but not friendly gathering. While the president has said he favors Washington attorney Pat Cipollone as McGahn’s successor, Cipollone is still going through his background check and that process could take weeks, meaning there may not be anyone in the post immediately or through the election next month….

  68. says

    This is a wild and terrifying story – “Secret recordings give insight into Saudi attempt to silence critics”:

    Omar Abdulaziz hit record on his phone and slipped it into the breast pocket of his jacket, he recalled, taking a seat in a Montreal cafe to wait for two men who said they were carrying a personal message from Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.

    When they arrived, Abdulaziz, a 27-year-old Saudi opposition activist, asked why they had come all the way to Canada to see him.

    “There are two scenarios,” one of the emissaries said, speaking of Abdulaziz in the third person. In the first, he can go back home to Saudi Arabia, to his friends and family. In the second: “Omar goes to prison.”

    Which will Omar choose? they asked.

    To drive home what was at stake, the visitors brought one of Abdulaziz’s younger brothers from Saudi Arabia to the meeting. Abdulaziz appealed to his brother to keep calm.

    The clandestine recordings — more than 10 hours of conversation — were provided to The Washington Post by Abdulaziz, a close associate of the missing Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi. They offer a chilling depiction of how Saudi Arabia tries to lure opposition figures back to the kingdom with promises of money and safety. These efforts have sharply escalated since Mohammed became crown prince last year, rights groups say….

    Much more at the link.

    (Tangential and utterly frivolous comment: Juliette & Chocolat in Montreal, where the report says Abdulaziz met with the Saudi envoys, is lovely. They make a delicious double chocolate vegan brownie.)

  69. says

    Statement by Sen. Leahy:

    Credible, detailed reports from the Turkish government and the international press that Washington Post journalist Jamal Khashoggi was tortured and murdered after entering the Saudi consulate in Istanbul on October 2nd have shocked the world. While we do not yet have definitive proof, neither is there any other plausible explanation.

    Saudi authorities first insisted that Mr. Khashoggi left the consulate unharmed, without offering any evidence of that. No video footage, nothing. After no one believed it, they concocted a completely different story. King Salman and Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman denied any knowledge of what happened – self-serving denials that President Trump and Secretary of State Pompeo seemed eager to accept at face value – and the Saudi government suggested it was an interrogation gone wrong by rogue agents. That story is becoming increasingly implausible by the hour.

    The world should take note that it is the free press, not the Saudi government or the White House, that has doggedly searched for the truth about what happened to Mr. Khashoggi. It reminds us, once again, that a free press is an essential check against tyranny, dishonesty, and impunity.

    If the reports are true, that Mr. Khashoggi was tortured and murdered with the knowledge of the Saudi royal family, it is an outrageous crime for which those responsible in the Saudi government – at the highest level – must be held accountable. The Saudi government – that is, the Saudi royal family – has long acted with near total impunity for corruption and repression, to which the United States has too often turned a blind eye. In fact, the extrajudicial killing of a critic of the regime would not be an aberration in Saudi Arabia.

    Our government’s willingness to ignore – and to even tacitly encourage – the abusive and reckless policies of the Saudi government – most recently its war crimes in Yemen – is again being tested. That history of excuses is exacerbated by the fact that the first foreign country President Trump visited was Saudi Arabia, with whom he and his family have conducted business deals totaling many tens if not hundreds of millions of dollars. That speaks volumes.

    In March, the Saudi Crown Prince, despite his dubious label as a “reformer,” was received here by President Trump and others, including American corporate executives, like a global celebrity. Why? Because of the vast petro-chemical wealth that he and his family control. There is no other reason. That is why the arrogance and crimes of the Saudi government, including since Mohammed Bin Salman’s ascension to Crown Prince, have been tolerated.

    The case of Mr. Khashoggi illustrates once again not only the ruthlessness of the Saudi government. It highlights the threats posed to journalists around the world. Journalists are regularly targeted with harassment, threats, and assassination because they expose the corruption and other crimes of despotic governments. It also illustrates the corrosive threats to longstanding international norms and laws that are essential to diplomacy and global stability. Democracies cannot survive without a free press, which is why autocratic governments resort to arbitrary arrest, torture, and murder to silence the press. Yet President Trump has demonized the press, calling it “the enemy.” He has belittled reporters who are guilty of nothing more than doing their jobs, calling any criticism of him “fake news.” His attacks on the press are a threat to our democracy, and they have provided an excuse to the world’s dictators – like the Saudi royal family – to crack down on the press.

    Being a journalist is now one of the most dangerous jobs in the world, and it is the responsibility of all of us to defend freedom of the press.

    I have long called for an end to U.S. support for Saudi Arabia’s war in Yemen, and for an end to U.S. military assistance for Saudi Arabia. I opposed the recent decision by the Trump Administration to sell billions of dollars in U.S. military equipment to Saudi Arabia, for use in its war in Yemen. If Mr. Khashoggi was tortured and murdered by, or with the knowledge of, the Saudi government, it will be long past time to treat the Saudi royal family as the criminal enterprise that it is.

  70. KG says

    Re Kushner communicating with MBS on WhatsApp…
    That’s in violation of federal law for a US government official… – SC@82

    But surely Kushner’s not a government official, as a member of the Imperial Family! Laws only apply to him if the Emperor says so.

  71. says

    SC @78, sounds like Putin is backing Trump in 2020.

    SC @74

    Wow – “Just now realizing: Khashoggi was banned in KSA was not because he was critical of Mohammad bin Salman, the devastation of Yemen, Wahhabism, or the Salafi movement. It was because, ON NOVEMBER 10, 2016, in DC, Khashoggi mildly criticized…Donald Trump.”


  72. says

    Marissa van Eck @64, I understand the despair behind that statement. I share the disappointment and sense of impending trouble brought on by the Kavanaugh confirmation.

    We have very few rules for posting in this thread, but we do have a rule that asks commenters to refrain from suggesting violence or violent acts. No industrial shredders here. No screams of agony.


  73. says

    Fox News poll results:

    The Affordable Care Act (“Obamacare”): 53% favorable, 42% unfavorable
    The Democratic Party: 49% favorable, 46% unfavorable
    The #MeToo Movement: 48% favorable, 32% unfavorable
    Donald Trump: 44% favorable, 53% unfavorable
    The Republican Party: 44% favorable, 51% unfavorable
    The Republicans’ 2017 tax cuts: 44% favorable, 35% unfavorable

  74. says

    Steve Benen discussed the results published by the Pew Research Center this week:

    […] Among Democratic voters, several issues were seen as “very important” national challenges: the affordability of college education (named by 71% of Dems), how the criminal justice system treats racial and ethnic minorities (71%), climate change (72%), the wealth gap (77%), ethics in government (80%), gun violence (81%), and the affordability of health care (83%).

    Among Republican voters, only one issue was of comparable significance: illegal immigration. It was named by 75% of GOP voters as a “very important” national issue. […]

    From Slate’s Leon Krauze:

    […] There is no evidence to support the idea that illegal immigration has become an urgent problem for the United States, much less a national security emergency. As pro-immigration advocates have repeated ad nauseam, various studies suggest that immigrants are considerably less prone to engage in criminal activity than native-born Americans. […]

    Immigration is also not the economic scourge nativists claim it is. On the contrary: Various industries would collapse in the United States without the reliable low-skilled workforce long provided by undocumented immigrants.

    Trump has demonized immigrants, and that ploy is working.

    […] Most of all, though, the Pew’s poll results are disturbing because immigration is not one of the country’s most pressing problems. Not by a mile.

    Consider two of the options that Republican voters chose to dismiss—inequality, for example. With wage growth stagnant, income disparity in America is rising at an alarming rate. The gap between the 1 percent at the top of the county’s income ladder and the 50 percent at the bottom couldn’t be more dramatic. As David Leonhardt has explained, social mobility for low-income Americans has become a fantasy (for the rich, though, living in the United States is quite fantastic). The economic, social, educational, and psychological effects of income inequality are well-known and dramatic. Still, only 22 percent of potential Republican voters identified it as a big problem for the United States. […]

  75. militantagnostic says

    Sen. Leahy via SC @85

    it will be long past time to treat the Saudi American royal family as the criminal enterprise that it is.


  76. says

    Follow-up to comment 93.

    Trump tweeted today:

    I must, in the strongest of terms ask Mexico to stop this onslaught – and if unable to do so I will call up the U.S. Military and CLOSE OUR SOUTHERN BORDER!

    He also complained about “the assault on our country at our Southern Border.”

    In reality, as the New York Times reported, illegal border crossings have decreased in number. Immigrants caught trying to cross the southern border in 2017 was the lowest number in about five decades. Republican voters are concerned because Trump rants about immigration constantly, and because some media outlets, like Fox News, repeat the fear-mongering. Trump’s followers believe him, but he is wrong.

    Dairy farmers in Iowa, as just one example, are really worried about Trump closing the border. Dairy farmers need those workers to survive.

  77. says

    Follow-up to comments 10 and 25.

    About that “Horseface” insult that Trump hurled at Stormy Daniels. He sort of focus-group tested it before he used it:

    Trump put a lot of thought into how best to insult Stormy Daniels before landing on the nickname “horseface” and subsequently deciding to tweet it. […]

    Before he posted a tweet mocking Daniels’s tossed lawsuit against him, and giving her the new nickname, he workshopped the monicker with friends, advisers and even acquaintances, according to sources close to Trump who spoke to the Daily Beast. One person told the Daily Beast that Trump muttered “that fucking horseface” during their conversation.

    Asking aides and friends for advice on new nicknames for his adversaries is common practice for Trump, according to the Daily Beast’s sources. One person who’s witnessed this particular Trump habit called “horseface” “one of the wildest nicknames so far, that’s for sure.”

    Trump also reportedly thought the insult of Daniels’ looks was a politically brilliant dig. […]


  78. says

    Follow-up to comment 39.

    A mayor in Georgia responded with a racist rant.

    The mayor of a Georgia town in the same county where administrators blocked Black Voters Matter from bringing elderly black voters to the polls said on Facebook Wednesday that the group’s work is “utterly reprehensible.”

    Barstow, Georgia Mayor Robert Morris, whose Facebook includes a number of racist posts, shared a status on Facebook two days after the county decided to prevent Black Voters Matter from bringing seniors to the polls.

    “It is utterly reprehensible that your group maintains that all black voters should vote for a black candidate just because they are the same color as you,” he wrote.

    “A man named Jim Jones once ran an organization like that. Better check that Koolaid you are serving up.”

    Think Progress link

    Black Voters Matter co-founder LaTosha Brown responded to the comment by the mayor:

    Please tell us what Black candidate you heard us tell them to vote for on this video? This was a non partisan event. […] If you knew our work you would know we have supported and continue to support both white and Black candidates. We support the best candidate for us. Your message makes an assumption based on your own racial bias. we are currently supporting several white candidates. You are the one that should check yourself and your own racial bias. Have a blessed day.

    On his Facebook page, the Mayor posted other racist and/or Islamophobic statements. For example:

    If a fox came to your home, would you put him in your chicken coop hoping he would integrate? Didn’t think so. Stop the invasion of Islam into the free world.

  79. says

    “New York Attorney General’s Probe Into Fake FCC Comments Deepens”:

    The New York attorney general’s office has subpoenaed more than a dozen advocacy groups, lobbying firms and consultants as part of an investigation of fake comments filed with the Federal Communications Commission over its proposal to scale back its regulation of the internet.

    The civil subpoenas are aimed at determining who was behind millions of comments sent using the names of real people who didn’t authorize them, according to a person familiar with the investigation. New York Attorney General Barbara Underwood said in a statement that her office found up to 9.5 million comments that appear to have been filed using the names and addresses of real people who had no idea they were being cited in the comments.

    An investigation by The Wall Street Journal last year found thousands of people who said their names were used without their permission to post comments about FCC rules.

    The attorney general’s yearlong investigation is targeting fake comments filed on both sides of the issue. Among the entities subpoenaed are Broadband for America, a group backed by AT&T Inc. and other internet-service providers who sought the repeal of the Obama-era internet rules known as net neutrality, as well as consumer groups that supported the Obama rules, such as Fight for the Future and Free Press….

    Despite the WSJ’s both-sides presentation, contemporary analyses showed that the fake comments were overwhelmingly pro-repeal.

  80. says

    From Eric Trump, in an interview on Fox News:

    There’s zero investments in Saudi — we have absolutely nothing to do with that country.

    From Aaron Rupar, writing for Think Progress:

    […] the Trump family’s financial stake in Saudi Arabia isn’t about investments in the country. Instead, it’s about investments Saudis have made in Trump properties.

    As NBC details, in 2001, the Saudi government bought an entire floor in Trump World Tower for $4.5 million. Years before that, Trump sold a yacht to a Saudi prince for $20 million.

    More recently, as the Washington Post reported in August, the Saudi regime has been pumping money directly into Trump’s pockets through his hotels.

    “After two years of decline, revenue from room rentals [at the Trump International Hotel in Manhattan] went up 13 percent in the first three months of 2018,” the Post reported. The increase was largely due to Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s patronage of the hotel during a visit to New York City during which he and his entourage didn’t even end up staying there.

    The Trump family hasn’t always been so reluctant to acknowledge their business dealings with the Saudis. The month after Trump launched his presidential campaign, he gave a speech in which he boasted that “likes the Saudis” because “I make a lot of money with them” — an admission that directly contradicts the claim he’s now making about having “no financial interests in Saudi Arabia.” […]

  81. says

    From David Corn:

    […] Elections are always crucial. But this year, it really, really is the most important contest in decades. Or at least since 2016.

    The most recent election ushered in not only a president who has pushed an extreme policy agenda—handing out huge tax breaks to the well-to-do, reversing climate change action, engaging in trade wars, assaulting the social safety net, nominating die-hard conservative judges, and undermining health care protections—but one who adopted an erratic and destabilizing approach to, well, everything. It created a political crisis, because Donald Trump has waged a war on norms of governance, the rule of law, productive discourse, and the media, as he has set a record for uttering false statements, overseen a regime riddled with corruption, given comfort to racists, misogynists, and wacko conspiracy theorists, and displayed a disturbing affinity for autocracy.

    As Trump daily launches crass and bullying tweets that disseminate disinformation, and as he seeks to forcibly reframe the political culture of the nation, the 2018 midterm elections boil down to one overarching question: Will he and his GOP lackeys—who have enabled his assault on decency, his fact-free and haphazard method of policymaking, and his narcissism-­driven leadership—be rewarded for their actions? And to be more specific: Will the candidate who captured the White House in part because he aided and abetted the Russian attack on the 2016 election (by falsely claiming this assault was not real) continue to get away with this act of betrayal? […]


  82. says

    More corrupt action taken by Trump:

    […] Trump was more directly involved in canceling plans to sell the FBI headquarters in Washington, D.C., than Congress was previously aware of, House Democrats alleged on Thursday.

    They pointed to new documents they say suggest a more expensive proposal to rebuild the headquarters in D.C. instead of relocating to the suburbs was approved during an Oval Office meeting with Trump and General Services Administration (GSA) officials on Jan. 24.

    The documents, released by the House Democrats on Thursday, include a picture of the meeting in question and emails that describe the project as what “the president wants” and “what POTUS directed everyone to do.” GSA officials are also quoted in emails saying that they were operating “per the President’s instructions.” […]

    Critics argue that Trump wanted to prevent commercial developers from building a new property that would compete with the Trump Hotel, which is located across the street from the FBI headquarters. The administration has maintained that it was the FBI’s decision to remain closer to the Department of Justice.

    Now, after obtaining the new batch of documents, Democrats say GSA Administrator Emily Murphy misled lawmakers about Trump’s role in the decision-making process. […]

    The Hill link

  83. says

    Another black man locked up without a good reason:

    […] Patrick Beadle, 46, of Oregon, was sentenced by Madison County Circuit Judge William Chapman [in Mississippi] on Monday after a jury convicted him in July of drug trafficking.

    The sentence stems from an incident in March 2017 when Beadle was found with 2.89 pounds of marijuana concealed in his vehicle after being stopped by a Madison County deputy.

    Beadle, who says he has a medical marijuana card to treat chronic pain in his knees, said he obtained the marijuana in Oregon, which legalized the use of medical marijuana in 1998. The state also approved the recreational use of marijuana in 2014.

    Beadle was not in possession of a large sum of money, drug paraphernalia, a scale or any other items to suggest he was a drug trafficker. He was initially stopped by police for crossing a fog line in the road, something Beadle disputes.

    The Jamaican-born musician said he believes his dreadlocks and out-of-state license plate made him a target for racial profiling.

    Beadle’s mother, Tommy Beadle, pleaded with the judge not to sentence her son to prison.

    “Judge, I’m asking for mercy for my son,” she said. “I wouldn’t stand here before you if my son was trafficking in drugs. As a mother, I’m asking you to please don’t lock him up behind bars.”

    Chapman said he will not reduce Beadle’s charge to simple possession because the jury already convicted him under the state’s drug trafficking law. He also said Beadle would have to serve the entire eight-year sentence since the state does not permit parole or probation. […]


  84. says

    Follow-up to comment 95.

    It is illegal for U.S. military troops to detain or arrest anyone at the border. Trump tried sending troops to the border before. Trump remains ignorant.

    […] Trump just threatened to send the military to the southern border to stop an incoming group of immigrants from entering the United States.

    If you’re wondering, yes, he can technically do this — but US troops will have little ability to actually do what he’s asking of them, which is halt an influx of people from entering the country.

    It’s the latest escalation in Trump’s rhetoric about a caravan of up to 4,000 immigrants who are heading northward from Honduras in part to flee persecution. Trump also spared no anger for the Mexican government — which is also trying to stop the caravan — and said he might end a newly signed trade deal with the country if the immigrants make it to the US.

    Immigration “is far more important to me, as President, than Trade,” Trump tweeted on Thursday morning, adding that he thinks Democrats are mostly responsible for the “onslaught” of people trying to enter the country. […]

    The call for using the military to stop immigration isn’t new for Trump. In April, the Department of Defense authorized 4,000 National Guard troops to go to the southern border and help US Customs and Border Protection.

    The military can’t literally fight off immigrants — that’s illegal — and it can’t detain or arrest anybody.

    What it can do, though, is provide aerial surveillance or other support. […]

    what Trump’s tweets show is that he has no problem escalating a relatively small matter into a massive one — and putting the military at the center of it all. […]


  85. says

    More the latest immigration-related tantrum from Trump, as discussed by Dara Lind, writing for Vox:

    Donald Trump blamed the Democratic Party on Thursday morning for opening the borders to criminals from Central America and threatened to use the US military to seal the US-Mexico border — the latest threat in an ongoing Twitter temper tantrum Trump has thrown over a caravan of as many as 4,000 Honduran migrants making its way toward the US.

    The caravan crossed into Guatemala on Monday. While it hopes to reach the United States, the caravan hasn’t even reached Mexico yet, and it seems likely that Mexican authorities will stop most of its members from ever reaching the US-Mexico border. But it’s already drawn heavy coverage on Fox News’s morning show Fox & Friends, which appears, as usual, to be the way the president learns about the world. […]

    To be clear:

    – No elected Democrat wants “open borders,” the total absence of any immigration restrictions.

    – The current flow of migrants toward the US from Central America — many of them children or families, and many of them seeking asylum — isn’t the product of Democratic encouragement; it’s a complicated mix of economic and humanitarian migration, which others in the Trump administration have been struggling to disentangle.

    – Current US law offers extra protections to children and families entering the US without papers because Congress decided that was a good idea.

    – Current US law makes it legal for people without papers to seek asylum — either by presenting themselves at an official US border crossing, or even after crossing illegally and being apprehended by Border Patrol — because it’s required to under international law. […]

    Again, to be clear:

    – Countries can’t forcibly stop people from emigrating under international law.

    – “Closing the border” would stop all legal immigration (and flows of goods) into the US; it would be economically ruinous and is not going to happen.

    – The use of the US military on US soil is severely restricted under the Posse Comitatus Act.

    – In general, apprehensions of people crossing illegally to the US are still in line with the past several years, and much lower than pre-recession levels. There has been a spike in the number of families crossing illegally into the US, but it’s been offset by an ongoing decline in the number of single adults.

    – A large number of families coming into the US are seeking asylum.

    – Mexico was already preparing to stop the caravan before Trump started yelling at them.

  86. says

    From Wonkette’s coverage of Trump’s upcoming rally in Montana:

    […] Trump is coming to Missoula, Montana, tonight! There, he will be greeted by the fewer than 2000 people who will fit in an airplane hangar, while Missoula’s hippies protest far away, from 2:30 to 6 p.m. at Playfair Park. […]

    The Native community will open the event. We will sing, educate ourselves on the ballot initiatives, candidates, and sign up to canvass and volunteer. We will participate in community art, sharing in food, making signs and t-shirt printing. There will be bouncy houses for kiddos and time for us to meet, talk and connect in person. We will be together.

    Then there will be a rally, followed by a march, followed by VOTING. You can see why a former Montana state party chair offered to shoot everyone up, because oh shit, TIN SOLDIERS ANTIFA COMIN’.

    In his first Facebook post, [former Montana GOP chair Will] Deschamps wrote: “For all the prospective attendees to the Trump event. Come early. Also all you protesters, show up as well. This is a concealed and open carry state and we know how to use em. USMC trained.”

    He elaborated in a second, longer Facebook Post, writing that “… protesters have become more and more brutal. They are in fact, now carrying fire arms, hardened gloves and other violent articles with them that can kill, or harm those they disagree with. Apparently, those of us that want peacful (sic) marches, are not allowed to suggest we defend ourselves.”

    You know what they have in Missoula? The Jeanette Rankin Peace Center, where you can buy fair-trade weavings from Guatemalan widows while contemplating the first woman in Congress, and the only member of the body to vote against entry into both World War I and World War II. You know what they don’t have in Missoula? Antifa. Not even a little. […]

    Anyway, Will Deschamps seems to have forgotten to cut his […] Fox with anything resembling reality; Fox did indeed report that “Antifa” was out swinging swords and shitkickin’ last weekend, when in fact that was white nationalist “Proud Boy” Gavin McInnes and his white power street gang; Fox really should have recognized from all his manifold guest appearances on Fox. […]

    Deschamps is confusing neo-Nazis and Antifa again, probably because Sebastian Gorka says “there’s no violence on the Right.” But Antifa are the annoying people who break windows sometimes, which is stupid and counterproductive; the neo-Nazis are the ones with the guns. You can see why Deschamps, with his “fire arm,” would be confused as to who has “fire arms” and does the beatdowns and also murder. […]

  87. says

    From Wonkette’s coverage of Dave Bratt claiming to be a victim:

    RULE NUMBER 1: Republicans are always, always, always the victims. Even in a room full of incarcerated addicts wondering how to put their lives back together, the real victim is actually the […] Republican congressman in the plaid sport jacket. […]

    No, seriously. Dave Brat just told a female inmate worried about how to take care of her family when she is paroled, that he has a lot of shit to deal with, too, because, “I’ve got $5 million worth of negative ads coming at me. How do you think I’m feeling?” […]

    Oh, really, snowflake? The guy who knocked off former House Majority Leader Eric Cantor in 2014 by calling the Jewish Republican a “crony capitalist” is whining about attack ads in a congressional campaign? Dave Brat’s pals got his opponent Abigail Spanberger’s leaked personnel file and are are running spots calling the former CIA agent a terrorist. Dave Brat’s own campaign is running bullshit ads pretending that Abigail Spanberger shouted him down at a town hall, […] because he tried to murder healthcare. […]

    Ben Paviour, the public radio reporter who covered Brat’s visit with inmates in the Chesterfield County Jail yesterday, posted a longer clip of the exchange on Twitter. Brat’s mention of the mean negative ads came in response to a law enforcement official’s request to fund halfway houses so that recovering addicts don’t have to immediately return to their old neighborhoods and old habits. […]

    Dave Brat is the real victim here. […] (Ben Paviour’s twitter feed, with video of Brat.)

  88. says

    Some more Saudi financial connections to Trump:

    […] Influential Saudis appear to have cultivated a financial relationship with National Enquirer publisher David Pecker, a longtime Trump ally whose publication was involved in efforts to suppress allegations during the 2016 campaign that Trump had affairs with adult entertainers Stormy Daniels and Karen McDougal while he was married to Melania Trump. […]

    • The Saudis and Emiratis reportedly committed to making $1 billion in “consulting” payments to George Nader and Elliott Broidy, two ex-cons who reportedly then engaged in lobbying on those countries’ behalves in personal meetings with Trump, his son Don Jr., and former White House adviser Steve Bannon. Broidy also happens to be a major Trump-campaign fundraiser who employed Michael Cohen to handle his own embarrassing adult-entertainer affair hush-money situation.

    • Kushner and ex-national security adviser Michael Flynn appear to have planned, before Flynn got forced out of his position, to broker a new balance of power in the Middle East between the U.S. and Russia in part by jointly building a bunch of Saudi/UAE-funded nuclear plants, a project in which Flynn appears to have had a financial stake. […]

    Slate link

  89. says

    Is Fraud Part of the Trump Organization’s Business Model? The New Yorker article is by Adam Davidson.

    […] The Trump Organization is unusual in that it doesn’t appear to do the same thing for very long. It was a builder of apartments for the lower middle class, then a builder of luxury buildings and hotels, then a casino company, and, most recently, a brand-licensing firm, selling its name to anybody who wanted “trump” emblazoned on a building, bottled water, or whatever else. These are wildly different businesses. The way a company raises money, plans projects, and gains profit are entirely different in each of these fields. Middle-class housing, for example, is typically a slow, steady business in which profits come from careful cost control; luxury housing, by contrast, is riskier, with bigger and faster rewards but a higher chance of failure. One hires different sorts of accountants and salespeople and construction managers. Casinos are something else entirely, and licensing is entirely different from any of those other businesses.

    It is becoming increasingly clear that, in the language of business schools, the Trump Organization’s core competency is in profiting from misrepresentation and deceit and, potentially, fraud. […]

  90. says

    Chris Hayes presented a great segment covering Republican campaign ads.

    On the same subject:

    Republicans are running ads that claim George Soros is paying mobs of Democratic protestors to wreak havoc. Truth plays no part in these ads. Facts play no part. It’s a total disinformation campaign.

    There are also disinformation ads focused on immigration. George Soros is, they say, paying immigrants to swarm the Mexico/USA border.

    In one of her segments, Rachel Maddow pointed out that Republican candidates are claiming that they and only they will the availability of insurance to protect healthcare for people with preexisting conditions. Republican candidates are literally doing the opposite of what they are claiming in ads.

  91. says

    Conservatives are now pushing a disinformation campaign against Khashoggi, a campaign that identifies him as a member of the Muslim Brotherhood, a bad guy who deserved to be tortured and killed. This is how Trump’s followers are defending him. This is how they are making excuses for Trump’s behavior .

    In the meantime, Trump dissed reporters … again … at his rally in Montana.

  92. says

    Daniel Dale livetweeted Trump’s Montana rally.

    From the thread:

    ! Trump praises Rep. Greg Gianforte at length for assaulting reporter @Bencjacobs.

    Trump on Gianforte assaulting reporter Jacobs: “Never wrestle him. You understand that. Never. Any guy that can do a bodyslam, he’s my kind of” — crowd cheers — “he’s my guy. I shouldn’t say this.”

    Trump: “I had heard that he bodyslammed a reporter. And he was way up…and I said…I said oh this is terrible he’s gonna lose…then I said wait a minute, I know Montana pretty well, I think it might help him. And it did.”

    This is truly horrible. The president is gleefully applauding violence against a journalist.

    …amid an international controversy over the apparent murder of another journalist who lived in the U.S.

    Trump is constantly escalating. He did a veiled reference to Gianforte’s assault at a September Montana rally, saying the congressman is a fighter in more ways than one. This time, just came out with it.

    Video of the moment, in which the crowd whoops and cheers and laughs.

    Official statement from the Guardian US.

  93. says

    Here’s A Running List Of Racist Attacks On Candidates Of Color

    […] Some attacks are coded. Some are frankly stated. To keep track, we’ve begun a running list, limited to attacks made on candidates of color by their opponents, by opposing political organizations or by opposing campaign surrogates. […] For each candidate we’ve graded the attacks on their subtlety using a scale of one to five white hands, in honor of the infamous Jesse Helms ad — five being the most explicit. […]

    Sri Preston Kulkarni, Democratic candidate for Texas’ 22nd Congressional District

    — During a small campaign event, U.S. Rep. Pete Olson called Kulkarni a “liberal Indo-American who is a carpetbagger” and wondered if his funding is “coming from overseas.” During the post-Civil War Reconstruction, carpetbaggers were Northerners who moved to the South to get wealthy or acquire political power. Today it’s seen as a slur for opportunistic candidates seeking election in areas where they lack a local connection.

    — The Fort Bend County Republican Party used a cartoonish version of Lord Ganesha in an ad urging Hindu American voters to support the Republican Party. “Would you worship a donkey or an elephant?” the ad asks. “The choice is yours.” The 22nd Congressional District includes a chunk of Fort Bend County.

    Stacey Abrams, Democratic candidate for governor of Georgia

    — A Photoshopped image shows Abrams holding a sign that declares her a “communist” who supports the Muslim Brotherhood. She is standing next to Palestinian-American activist Linda Sarsour, who is wearing a hijab. The real photo was taken at a rally marking the one-year anniversary of the Women’s March, and the sign they’re holding reads simply “STACY ABRAMS” and “GOVERNOR.”

    — An August ad from the Republican Governors Association attacks Abrams for “dancing around the truth” and shows a pair of tap-dancing feet. The advertisement loops the dancing feet in the background while the narrator attacks Abrams’ personal finances. The ad evokes minstrelsy in service of an argument that a black woman is simple-minded and irresponsible. […]

    Much more at the link.

  94. says

    Representative Jason Lewis, a Republican from Minnesota, said this:

    I don’t want to be callous here, but how traumatizing was it? How many women at some point in their life have a man come on to them, place their hand on their shoulder or maybe even their thigh, kiss them, and they would rather not have it happen, but is that really something that’s going to be seared in your memory that you’ll need therapy for?


    And that was not Jason Lewis’s only clueless remark:

    Back in July, CNN surfaced two more clips. In one, Lewis questions why a woman can’t be called a “slut” if she’s “acting like” one. In another, Lewis suggests that women tend to vote for liberals because they are emotional and bad with finances.

    There’s an audio clip of Lewis’s remarks at the link.

  95. says

    We’ve been talking about voters being purged from voting rolls in Georgia, and about voter-registration forms not being properly handled (particularly for voters of color). Well, something similar is going on in Alabama.

    Congressional candidate Mallory Hagan said Thursday that a worrisome number of Alabama voters have been removed from active voter lists, prompting her to create a committee to assist people who encounter problems before and on Election Day.

    Hagan’s campaign said more than 55,000 voters in the 3rd Congressional District have been disqualified or labeled inactive since February 2017, according to numbers they obtained. […] the large number is of concern and echoes questions across the country about voting access, stringent voter ID requirements and policies she said are “riddled with discrimination.”

    “Across the country, voters are seeing their rights slip through their fingers,” said Hagan. “According to our most recent findings, more than one in 10 voters here in east Alabama have been removed from the active voter rolls, Hagan said, adding that those voters are either removed completely or have been marked inactive on voting rolls.

    She announced the creation of a committee of lawyers who will volunteer their assistance to voters. In addition, her campaign will staff a hotline for voters to report any concerns.

    People can also check their voting information at the secretary of state’s web site […]


    More at the link, including details related to the use of “inactive voter status” lists.

  96. says

    Follow-up to comment 117.

    The Brennan Center for Justice at New York University School of Law sent Merrill [Secretary of State John Merrill] a letter in July saying the state was not giving voters required notice before removing them if an interstate database flagged them as being registered in another state.

  97. says

    How do conservatives groom people, like they did Kavanaugh, for prominent judicial posts? How unethical is the practice? How much does it depend on payoffs from wealthy donors?

    Heritage Foundation’s Ethically Dubious Law Clerk ‘Training Academy’ Suspended

    The Heritage Foundation’s “training academy,” set up to groom law clerks for prominent judicial posts, has been suspended after the New York Times published the questionable requirements of the program, including secrecy about the teaching participants received there in exchange for the financial backing of “generous donors” who allowed them to complete the program.

    Some legal experts told the Times that it is inherently problematic for a very conservative group to secretly train future judges to have loyalty to its ideals and practices.

    Some of the questions on the application materials — since removed from the Heritage Foundation’s website — reportedly inquired about potential participants’ stance on originalism and ideological alignment with current or former Supreme Court justices. As the Times points out, it is unclear if a participant who took liberal stances on those two essay questions would have been admitted.

    “Law clerks are not supposed to be part of a cohort of secretly financed and trained partisans of an organization that describes itself on its own web page as ‘the bastion of the American conservative movement,’” Stanford Law professor Pamela Karlan told the Times. “The idea that clerks will be trained to elevate the Heritage Foundation’s views, or the views of judges handpicked by the foundation, perverts the very idea of a clerkship.”

    Supreme Court justices Brett Kavanaugh and Neil Gorsuch were picked from a list of contenders curated by the Heritage Foundation and the Federalist Society, another conservative organization focused on the judiciary.


  98. says

    Nikki Haley seems to feel free to tell bad jokes with a racist tinge:

    During a speech at the Alfred E. Smith Memorial Foundation Dinner on Thursday evening, outgoing UN Ambassador Nikki Haley made a joke about her own ethnicity, while jabbing at Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) and President Donald Trump’s ongoing feud over Warren’s Native American heritage.

    “Last year you went with Paul Ryan, who’s a Boys Scout, and that’s fine, but a little boring,” she said. “So this year you wanted to spice things up again. I get it, you wanted an Indian woman, but Elizabeth Warren failed her DNA test. Actually, when the President found out that I was Indian American, he asked me if I was from the same tribe as Elizabeth Warren.” […]


    Not funny. Not even factually correct.

    From the readers’ comments section:

    Har-har-har. More right wing “humor.” Like their policies, it’s always rooted in vindictiveness and an almost pathological need to belittle others. There’s never any self-awareness.
    The problem is that we’re still making it acceptable to denigrate people for their ethnicity. It shouldn’t matter in the slightest.
    I actually thought that she was making fun of Trump for not knowing the difference between Indians and Native Americans.
    Wow, Nikki Haley has left the Trump administration, but she displays any tacky nastiness she picked up with gusto.

  99. says

    Oh, FFS. Really?

    In a radio ad supporting Rep. French Hill [a Republican Congressman], the narrator says that black Arkansans should vote Republican because if Democrats could accuse white Supreme Court justice Brett Kavanaugh of sexual assault with “no evidence,” white Democrats in charge would start “lynching black folk again.”

    The commercial, paid for by a group called Black Americans for the President’s Agenda, seems to be narrated by two black women who punctuate their talking points with “girllll” as they trade statements.

    Hill disavowed the commercial in a tweet.

    Some may have heard an appalling ad on the radio. I condemn this outrageous ad in the strongest terms. I do not support that message, and there is no place in Arkansas for this nonsense.

    […] “I’m voting to keep Congressman French Hill and the Republicans, because we need to protect our men and boys,” one of the women says at the end of the ad. “We can’t afford to let white Democrats take us back to the bad old days of race verdicts, life sentences and lynchings when a white girl screams ‘rape’.” […]

    According to the Arkansas Times, a North Carolinian man named Vernon Robinson is behind the ad. Robinson is a conservative activist and takes far-right stances on social issues like gay rights and immigration. […]


    Even with the denial from the candidate, this ad makes Republican voters and some residents of Arkansas look bad.

  100. says

    The Trump administration prolonged cruelty towards immigrant families. A federal court judge had to call the government on the carpet … again.

    The federal judge who ordered the reunification of migrant kids and parents separated at the southern border is now ordering the administration to move forward on dozens of pending asylum claims from some of these families. “In an Oct. 10 emergency motion to force the government to comply with the settlement,” CBS News reports, “civil rights attorneys said the delay had already led to the deportation of dozens of families who had been detained.”

    In a major victory for families late last month, the administration had agreed to give as many as 1,000 parents affected by the barbaric “zero tolerance” policy a second chance at asylum. Some deported parents could even win a chance to return to the U.S. However, “the government has since argued that it did not have to begin processing the asylum claims until the deal is formally approved at a federal court hearing scheduled for Nov. 15.”

    Oh, that is one sneaky, sleazy move.

    The delay was having dire results. “Over 40 detained families decided to accept removal—instead of receive due process—because they simply could not wait in detention any longer,” attorneys told Judge Dana Sabraw. “In the order Thursday,” the San Diego Union-Tribute reported, “Sabraw said the process should move forward as agreed upon, starting with the 60 or so people in immigration detention who have already signed forms and are ready to proceed with orientations and interviews.”

    Stalling on these possible protections is par for the course for this administration, which has stomped on the asylum process under the watch of Attorney General Jefferson Beauregard Sessions III, earning the rebuke of numerous immigration judges, active and retired.

    While Judge Sabraw has so far, inexplicably, refused to hold officials like Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Sec. Kirstjen Nielsen in contempt for continuing to violate his family reunification order, this urgent order could result in life-saving protections for families.


  101. says

    Voter suppression efforts in Kansas:

    Imagine being in a city with 27,000 people—13,000 voters—and just one polling place. Imagine if you were one of the 60 percent of the people in the city who are Latino, and the only polling place was in a wealthy white neighborhood … and then it got moved to an even more difficult location, outside the city limits altogether and more than a mile from the closest bus stop. Insert your “get out of Dodge to vote” joke here, because that’s the situation in Dodge City, Kansas. […]



    In a stark contrast with the 13,000 voters this one polling place outside the city limits is expected to service in a majority Latino city, the average Kansas polling site has 1,200 voters.

  102. says

    EPA move to revoke California vehicle emissions waiver generates bipartisan outrage

    A bipartisan group of nearly 70 lawmakers are asking the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to preserve a waiver allowing California to regulate its own vehicle efficiency standards, which the Trump administration has threatened to revoke.

    In a letter sent to acting EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler on Tuesday, 68 House members urged the agency to halt plans they say could severely impact public health, […]

    Under the Clean Air Act, California has historically been allowed to set its own air pollution standards for new motor vehicles if granted an EPA waiver. The state’s stronger standards have been adopted by 12 states and the District of Columbia, which the letter’s signatories argue collectively represent more than 35 percent of the U.S. population and 1 in every 3 cars sold in the country. […]

    “Thanks to these high standards, many states have significantly reduced pollutants like health-threatening smog and soot, in addition to reducing greenhouse gas emissions to help combat climate change,” the letter continues. “Automakers and their suppliers have risen to the challenge of achieving technology-driving standards.” […]

    Widespread outrage has greeted the Trump administration’s intention to revoke California’s popular waiver. In addition to harming public health, experts and advocates have expressed concern that the rollback will benefit oil companies, many of whom have lobbied against harsher fuel standards over fear that they will cut into current oil consumption. Under the new rules, U.S. oil demand is expected to increase by 500,000 barrels per day. […]

    Sounds like lots of litigation will follow if the Trump administration insists on revoking the California vehicle emissions waiver.

    Knowing Trump, this move is probably a way for Trump to attack California (because they voted overwhelmingly for Hillary Clinton), and a way to reward oil companies.

  103. says

    These 32 Republicans Voted to Kill Obamacare. Now They Say They’ll Protect Preexisting Conditions.

    House members in tight races try to run from their records.

    As the midterm elections approach, Republicans have been ramping up their claims that they want to protect insurance coverage for people with preexisting conditions—essentially endorsing a popular Obamacare provision they’ve repeatedly tried to repeal.

    House Republicans have voted to repeal, replace, or wreck the Affordable Care Act more than 50 times since 2011. According to recently released data from the Center for American Progress, a liberal think tank, 67 Republican members of Congress in close reelection races have voted for at least one of those efforts to undermine Obamacare. Of those, 32 have also said they want to defend the act’s protections for people with preexisting conditions. […]

    A chart of the Republicans trying to run away from their legislative record is available at the link. It includes Dana Rohrabacher, Peter King, French Hill, David Young, Mike Bishop, Dave Brat, and many more.

  104. says

    “All Americans should recoil from the president’s praise for a violent assault on a reporter doing his Constitutionally protected job,” White House Correspondents’ Association president Olivier Knox said in a statement. “This amounts to the celebration of a crime by someone sworn to uphold our laws and an attack on the First Amendment by someone who has solemnly pledged to defend it. We should never shrug at the president cheerleading for a violent act targeting a free and independent news media.”

  105. says

    A joint statement from the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, Justice Department, FBI and Department of Homeland Security was issued to warn everyone about election meddling by foreign countries.

    […] “We are concerned about ongoing campaigns by Russia, China and other foreign actors, including Iran, to undermine confidence in democratic institutions and influence public sentiment and government policies,” the statement said. “These activities also may seek to influence voter perceptions and decision making in the 2018 and 2020 U.S. elections.” […]

    It was quickly followed by a Justice Department announcement that a Russian woman has been charged with making fraudulent social media postings intended to “sow division and discord” among U.S. voters, the first case brought against a Russian over alleged interference in the midterm elections.

    The charges, which were announced separately from the statement, nonetheless drove home U.S. officials’ fears that Russia may be trying to reprise its efforts to interfere in the 2016 election, which is being investigated by special counsel Robert Mueller. […]


  106. says

    Eric Trump weighed in regarding the murder of Jamal Khashoggi:

    I think it’s tough. You can’t have journalists getting murdered. And the way they did it was obviously savage.

    At the same time, I think we have to be honest with ourselves. As America, we face a little bit of a problem in that we don’t have all that many friends in the Middle East.

    You cannot be executing journalists or anybody else. [But] what are you going to do? You’re going to take all of [America’s history of trade and agreements with Saudi Arabia] and throw it away?

  107. says

    From Wonkette’s coverage of the Fox News fear-mongering campaign about immigrants:

    As we head toward the midterm elections, Donald Trump and his pals at Fox News are doing all they can to hype fears of an unstoppable mass of dangerous criminal aliens (in other words, families seeking asylum from crime and gang violence) from Central America.

    Fear is always good to excite the base, and since panic over a migrant “caravan” in April led to Trump’s stupid border military deployment and the disastrous family separation policy, why not ramp up that fear all over again, this time so Trump can implement Family Separation 2.0? OK, sure, the caravan panic is a bullshit, and it’s bullshit that resulted in documented human rights violations. But it’s exciting bullshit, so Trump’s running with it, […]

    Trump State TV’s Laura Ingraham offered a typical scare-the-hell-outta-Uncle-Clyde story on the frightening caravan Thursday night, speculating that while it might have only started with a few hundred people, now it’s in the thousands, and who know, by election day it will probably be FOUR MILLION IMMIGRATION ZOMBIES knocking down the entire border, why not? Funny how migrants all “swarm” or “infest” or other scary vermin-y verbs, huh? […]

    No American should suffer or be brutalized in order to fulfill the Democrats’ fantasy of a borderless society […]

    Now, the Democrats talk [of] taking the house will ensure that this caravan of 4,000 eventually becomes a flow of 4 million, 4 million plus, before we know it. This cannot happen.

    […] the network’s viewers in the White House know this caravan thing enrages the Great Man, which is why John Kelly and John Bolton had a knockdown dragout over the matter yesterday, with Bolton accusing Kelly’s former aide Kirstjen Nielsen, now DHS secretary, of not taking stern enough measures to dissuade the dusky hordes. Let’s not forget, the Trumpers are convinced — evidence be damned — that only “toughness” can keep asylum-seekers from coming to the US, which is how Kelly came up with family separation in the first place. […]

    Video available at the link.

  108. says

    Police arrested a member of the Proud Boys. Geoffrey Owens (also known as Geoff Young online?) is also noted for beating up a woman.

    Last night, the NYPD finally got around to arresting one of the “Proud Boys” responsible for assaulting several activists this past weekend. Said “Proud Boy” was 38-year-old New York City resident Geoffrey Owens, who was charged with “riot and attempted assault” — an odd choice given that there is actual video of these people surrounding the activists and beating and kicking them […]

    Reportedly, there is an NYPD investigation into the rest of the Proud Boys involved in this weekend’s assault. […]

    Young is, it turns out, not an unknown entity. Prior to his arrest, while the police were still “looking” for him, an anonymous woman published an essay on Medium saying that she was the young Muslim woman Young had previously bragged about beating on Facebook.

    “Tourists have videos for sure I saw them while bashing that terrorist breeder I adjusted my hat for a picture [sic, sic, sic],” Young wrote in conversation with fellow Proud Boy Jovi Val […]

    From the Muslim woman’s account of the attack:

    […] On my [way] to my train station I encountered a group of 4 men wearing “Make America Great Again” hats and “Proud Boys” shirts, who then began harassing me because I was wearing a shirt with Arabic writing on it. One of the men singled me out and repeatedly yelled Islamophobic and misogynistic comments. He told me that my family and I should “go back to our country.” He called me a “terrorist” and said that a “Muslim slut” like me should be killed, along with my family.

    Alone, surrounded, and fearing for my safety, I threw my iced coffee toward him and tried to get away.

    He became instantly enraged and lunged toward me. He grabbed me by the throat and pushed me up against the wall. He held me there in a choke-hold, but because I was struggling he slammed me to the ground and tried to put his whole body on top of mine. I kept fighting back so he slammed me again on my left side and pushed my face into the sidewalk, and then slammed me one more time before he put his knee on the back of my head while he kept trying to choke me. During all of this I remember telling him to stop and that he was choking me, but he said “I can still hear you breathing” and choked me even harder. While I was being attacked, one of the other men stole my phone, slammed it on the concrete, and then threw it into the street. It was completely destroyed.


    Following that assault, Young changed his bio on Facebook to note that he was now a “Fourth Degree Proud Boy.”

    How does one become a Fourth Degree Proud Boy, you ask? By shedding blood. By engaging in conflict at a protest. By beating up a small Muslim woman. This — along with the fact that the Proud Boys were filmed chasing activists down the street in order to bludgeon them — really goes against the whole “Oh! We’re only defending ourselves! Can’t blame us for that!” line that Proud Boy leader Gavin McInnes is trying to float. […]

    These people have no qualms about going around assaulting people, including women — but not only that, as you can see in the videos, they take joy in it. They are smiling and laughing as they surround and kick another human being. This, for them, is a fabulous, joyous time. And meanwhile, just as Trump hailed Greg Gianforte for having body slammed a reporter last night, few on the Right are doing much to try and distance themselves from them or their violence. Many of them, like Sean Hannity, are even trying to defend them. Because this is the kind of shit they are into. […]

  109. says

    More detail about that smear campaign against Jamal Khashoggi:

    […] the “whispering campaign against Jamal Khashoggi is designed to protect President Trump from criticism of his handling of the dissident journalist’s alleged murder.” Reportedly, House Republicans have been quietly sharing emails about Khashoggi’s background, but as the article [in the Washington Post] notes, quite a few prominent conservative voices have hardly been whispering.

    U.S. Senate candidate Corey Stewart of Virginia said on a local radio program that Khashoggi was “not a good guy himself.” Fox news anchor Harris Faulkner said on her show that Khashoggi was “tied to the Muslim Brotherhood.” The president’s son, Donald Trump Jr., retweeted a post about Khashoggi “tooling around Afghanistan with Osama Bin Laden.”

    It is true that Khashoggi first made a name for himself by interviewing a young bin Laden and that he supported the jihad against the Soviets in Afghanistan during the 1980s. Back then, of course, the United States supported it as well. It is also true that for at least a time early in his career [he was really young at the time] he was associated with the Muslim Brotherhood and that he expressed support for political Islam as well as democracy. Far from a lifelong dissident, he had a complicated and at times close relationship to the Saudi royal family before emerging as one of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s most prominent critics.

    This is all fascinating background about a complex person, but not really relevant to the questions of whether a journalist and U.S. resident was tortured and murdered by an authoritarian regime and whether the U.S. administration is helping that regime cover it up.


    From the Washington Post:

    While Khashoggi was once sympathetic to Islamist movements, he moved toward a more liberal, secular point of view, according to experts on the Middle East who have tracked his career. Khashoggi knew bin Laden in the 1980s and 1990s during the civil war in Afghanistan, but his interactions with bin Laden were as a journalist […]

    Khashoggi, a Saudi citizen, left his home country last year and was granted residency in the United States by federal authorities. He lived in Virginia and wrote for The Washington Post.

    Nevertheless, the smears have escalated. Donald Trump Jr., the president’s eldest son and key political booster, shared another person’s tweet last week with his millions of followers that included a line that Khashoggi was “tooling around Afghanistan with Osama bin Laden” in the 1980s, even though the context was a feature story on bin Laden’s activities.

    A Tuesday broadcast of CRTV, a conservative online outlet founded by popular talk-radio host Mark Levin, labeled Khashoggi a “longtime friend” of terrorists and claimed without evidence that Trump was the victim of an “insane” media conspiracy to tarnish him. The broadcast has been viewed more than 500,000 times.

    A story in far-right FrontPage magazine casts Khashoggi as a “cynical and manipulative apologist for Islamic terrorism, not the mythical martyred dissident whose disappearance the media has spent the worst part of a week raving about,” and features a garish cartoon of bin Laden and Khashoggi with their arms around each other.

    The conservative push comes as Saudi government supporters on Twitter […]

    Support for the Saudis includes an army of bots on Twitter, as other reports have noted. The Saudi’s are backing, paying for the bots according to some reports. Link

    “Trump wants to take a soft line, so Trump supporters are finding excuses for him to take it,” said William Kristol, a conservative Trump critic. “One of those excuses is attacking the person who was murdered.” […]

    Fred Hiatt, The Post’s editorial page editor who published Khashoggi’s work, sharply criticized the false and distorted claims about Khashoggi, who is feared to have been killed and dismembered by Saudi operatives.

    “As anyone knows who knew Jamal — or read his columns — he was dedicated to the values of free speech and open debate. He went into exile to promote those values, and now he may even have lost his life for his dogged determination in their defense,” Hiatt said in a statement. “It may not be surprising that some Saudi-inspired trolls are now trying to distract us from the crime by smearing Jamal. It may not even be surprising to see a few Americans joining in. But in both cases it is reprehensible.” […]


  110. says

    Some details regarding the blatant corruption in which Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke engaged:

    […] Zinke sought to skirt or alter department policies to justify his taxpayer-funded trips with his wife, the agency’s inspector general said in the latest critical report on travel practices by President Donald Trump’s Cabinet members.

    Zinke’s maneuvers included pressing Interior staffers to research whether his wife, Lola, could become a volunteer at the agency, a move the employees said was designed to enable her to travel with him at taxpayer expense, according to a report obtained by POLITICO that the inspector general’s office will release next week. It said he also violated Interior policy by have her travel with him in federal vehicles.

    Politico link

    More corruption, as detailed by Steve Benen:

    […] In just one week in April, for example, we learned that the Interior secretary made repeated false claims about being a geologist; his department relied on “a top energy industry lobbyist to help draft a list of potential regulatory rollbacks”; and his department inspector general concluded that Zinke “failed to disclose relevant information to ethics officials when he traveled to Las Vegas to speak to the Golden Knights hockey team last year … including the fact that one of his biggest campaign donors owned the team.”

    But that was just the start. Those revelations followed a report from two weeks prior in which we learned the FEC is asking a leadership PAC previously affiliated with Zinke “to account for more than $600,000 of previously unreported contributions from the first six months of 2017.” The same day, TPM reported that a third of the senior Interior Department career officials reassigned under Zinke in a major agency reshuffling “are Native American, even though Native Americans make up less than 10 percent of the Department’s workforce.” […]

    There are the resignations at the National Park System Advisory Board. And his sweetheart deal for Florida on coastal oil drilling. And the story about Zinke mistakenly using wildfire preparedness funds to pay for one of the secretary’s unrelated helicopter tours. And the story about his previously undisclosed shares in a gun company.

    There have also been questions about Zinke’s wife saddling department staffers with extra work. In February, two scientists resigned from Interior after Zinke demanded confidential energy data. Around the same time, a pair of casino-owning American Indian tribes accused Zinke “of illegally blocking their plans to expand operations in Connecticut – a delay that stands to benefit politically connected gambling giant MGM Resorts International.”

    There’s also that weird flag story. And the story about his unusually expensive door. And questions about undisclosed meetings on his official calendar. And for all I know, there are other stories related to Zinke that haven’t crossed my radar.

    In a normal administration, it’s hard to imagine him remaining in a president’s cabinet facing a list of controversies this long. Donald Trump’s tolerance for suspected scandals, however, is not normal.

  111. says

    Oh, FFS. Another person that Trump “barely knows”?

    […] In conversations with allies, the president has begun to distance himself from Prince Mohammed, 33, saying he barely knows him. And he has played down the relationship that Mr. Kushner has cultivated with the Saudi heir. […]

    New York Times link

    Other people that Trump barely knows, or “does not know”:
    George Papadopoulos
    Paul Manafort
    Michael Flynn
    Mohammed bin who?

  112. says

    Julian Assange does not clean up after his cat.

    Earlier this week, the Ecuadorian embassy in the UK told Julian Assange that it would evict him if he didn’t stop being a slob and start taking care of his cat. Assange responded today by announcing he is taking legal action and claiming Ecuador violated his human rights by making him do his own laundry and pay rent. […]

    In a special protocol that’s written entirely en español, the embassy says it’s putting its foot down: Assange has to start following new rules if he wants to keep crashing on their couch. Starting December 1, Assange will have to pay for the food, laundry, and other necessities he seemingly has sponged for the past six years. They also want him to start paying for quarterly medical check-ups, ’cause goddamn does that dude need some sunlight! The embassy says that he can have guests over, but first they have to check in with his landlords (AKA the government of Ecuador), and he can’t have any more than three friends over at a time. Assange fought for his right to party, and lost. Badly.

    Assange is also being asked to start taking better care of his cat, Michi (that’s Ecuadorian for “cat”). Assange, according to the embassy, will now be responsible for the cat’s “well-being, food, hygiene and proper care.” If he can’t, they say they’ll give it to someone who can, or just give it to a shelter. We’re sure there’s PLENTY of people in London that would love a “counter-purrveillance” kitty. Sure, the smell of cat shit is the least of their problems, but why can’t Assange clean a litter box like a normal teenager? […]

  113. says

    More re #127 above:

    Here’s the full criminal complaint against Elena Khusyaynova. The details from p. 13 (document pagination) are amazing. My favorite fake tweet from the Conspiracy posing as a USian on the day of the first IRA indictments: “We didn’t vote for Trump because of a couple of hashtags shilled by the Russians. We voted for Trump because he convinced us to vote for Trump. And we are ready to vote for Trump again in 2020!”

    WaPo article on the announcement and criminal charges: “Justice Dept. charges Russian woman with interference in midterm elections”:

    The Justice Department on Friday charged a Russian woman for her alleged role in a conspiracy to interfere with the 2018 U.S. election, marking the first criminal case prosecutors have brought against a foreign national for interfering in the upcoming midterms.

    Elena Khusyaynova, 44, was charged with conspiracy to defraud the United States. Prosecutors said she managed the finances of “Project Lakhta,” a foreign influence operation they said was designed “to sow discord in the U.S. political system” by pushing arguments and misinformation online about a host of divisive political issues, including immigration, the Confederate flag, gun control and the National Football League national-anthem protests.

    The charges against Khusyaynova came just as the Office of the Director of National Intelligence warned that it was concerned about “ongoing campaigns” by Russia, China and Iran to interfere with the upcoming midterm elections and the 2020 race — an ominous warning just weeks before voters head to the polls.

    In a statement, the ODNI said officials “do not have any evidence of a compromise or disruption of infrastructure that would enable adversaries to prevent voting, change vote counts or disrupt our ability to tally votes in the midterm elections.” But the statement noted: “We are concerned about ongoing campaigns by Russia, China and other foreign actors, including Iran, to undermine confidence in democratic institutions and influence public sentiment and government policies. These activities also may seek to influence voter perceptions and decision making in the 2018 and 2020 U.S. elections.”

    The announcement, which was joined by the Justice Department, FBI and Department of Homeland Security, came on the eve of a trip national security adviser John Bolton is making to Moscow, where he is expected to raise the issue with his counterparts.

    Court papers said Khusyaynova’s operation was funded by Russian oligarch Yevgeniy Prigozhin and two companies he controls: Concord Management and Consulting, and Concord Catering. A criminal complaint filed against the woman charges that she managed the finances of Project Lakhta, including detailed expenses for activities in the United States, such as paying for activists, advertisements on social media, the registration of domain names, the purchase of proxy servers and the promotion of news postings on social media….

  114. says

    “Corker rails against Trump administration’s intel ‘clampdown’ on Khashoggi”:

    Senate Foreign Relations Chairman Bob Corker warned the Trump administration on Thursday that its information “clampdown” on the alleged killing of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi can’t go on.

    The Tennessee Republican said in an interview he sought to view recent U.S. intelligence on Monday and Tuesday regarding Khashoggi’s disappearance and likely murder in Turkey this month but was told by U.S. officials that he could not do so. Corker suggested that the administration’s current opaque position on who may have killed Khashoggi and whether Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman is responsible may be untenable.

    “This is going to come to a head in a very short amount of time. This isn’t getting better over time. It seems to me over the next week or so people are going to know more about what happened,” Corker said. “There has been a clampdown on any further intelligence updates to senators … it can’t go on that long, they need to come out and share their views of what happened and share with us.”

    The Senate Intelligence Committee is continuing to receive intelligence updates on Khashoggi, an aide said. But Corker said he has been able to view only intelligence that’s a week or more old. On Tuesday he asked to view intelligence in a secure compartment in the Capitol and received an “apologetic” call from an official who informed him that no more information would be given to members of Congress….

    It’s been more than two weeks, Corker. Step it up.

  115. says

    Talk about “coming to a head” soon! The Saudi have now admitted that Khashoggi died in their consulate in Istanbul.

    Of course, the Saudis are still putting out an unbelievable story … unbelievable even as a cover story.

    […] In the statement, the kingdom’s public prosecutor claimed that a physical altercation broke out between Khashoggi and men inside the consulate resulting in a “a fistfight that led to his death.”

    Saudi Arabia has been under pressure to explain the disappearance of Khashoggi, a Saudi national who had been critical of the kingdom’s leadership and was living in Virginia. He was serving as an opinion contributor to The Washington Post.

    Khashoggi was last seen entering the Saudi consulate in Istanbul on Oct. 2. Turkish authorities have claimed that he was ambushed and dismembered by Saudi operatives shortly after arriving at the facility.

    In an announcement on Saudi State TV, the Saudi Press Agency said a royal order has been issued to remove Maj. Gen. Ahmed al-Assiri from his role as the deputy of the intelligence services, according to CNN.

    Turkish officials previously said they had audio proving Khashoggi was killed and dismembered by Saudi operatives shortly after entering the consulate in Turkey.

    Saudi officials had denied any knowledge of Khashoggi’s whereabouts and state in the more than two weeks since the journalist’s disappearance.

    President Trump said Thursday that it “certainly looks” like Khashoggi is dead after he previously refused to speculate on the situation. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said Thursday that Saudi Arabia would have “a few more days” to complete its investigation into Khashoggi’s disappearance.

  116. says

    From the Washington Post:

    The Saudi government acknowledged early Saturday that journalist Jamal Khashoggi was killed while visiting the Saudi consulate in Istanbul, saying he died during a fist fight.

    The announcement, which came in a tweet from the Saudi foreign ministry, said that an initial investigation by the government’s general prosecutor found that Khashoggi had been in discussions with people inside the consulate when a quarrel broke out, escalating to a fatal fist fight.

    Right. So a somewhat portly middle-aged man engages in a fist fight with a 15-man Saudi hit squad, one of whom has a bone saw.

    The Saudi government said it had fired five top officials and arrested 18 other Saudis as a result of the initial investigation. Those fired included Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s adviser Saud al-Qahtani and deputy intelligence chief Maj. Gen. Ahmed al-Assiri.

    The announcement marks the first time that Saudi officials have acknowledged that Khashoggi was killed inside the consulate. Ever since he disappeared on Oct. 2 while visiting the mission, Saudi officials have repeatedly said that he left the consulate alive […]

    Turkish investigators had concluded days ago that Khashoggi, a contributing columnist to The Washington Post was killed and dismembered by a Saudi team dispatched to Istanbul. U.S. officials have said that Turkey has audio and video recordings providing evidence that he was interrogated, killed and then cut into several pieces.

    The official Saudi news agency announced early Saturday that King Salman had ordered the restructuring of the country’s intelligence agency. […]

    “The Kingdom expresses its deep regret at the painful developments that have taken place and stresses the commitment of the authorities in the Kingdom to bring the facts to the public,” the statement said.

    In addition to Qahtani and Assiri, the official Saudi statement named several other senior military officials who had been fired. They included Gen. Rashad bin Hamid al Mihmadi, General Abdullah bin Khalef al Shaiyi, and General Mohammed bin Saleh al Rumaih. […]

    The disappearance of Khashoggi has provoked global criticism of Saudi Arabia’s de facto ruler, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, and convulsed the kingdom as it struggles to respond to increasing international pressure to explain the journalist’s fate. […]


  117. says

    As’ad AbuKhalil:

    “Saudi anchorperson seems skeptical on Al-Arabiyya TV: he will be fired. He asked the guest: but what were the 15 people doing in the consulate? The guest answered: the safety of people is important. The Servitor of the Two Holy Sites cares about the truth. Justice will be served.”

    “This is the irony of Saudi regime propaganda right now: the murder of Khashoggi is being billed as yet another ‘reform’ plan by the Crown Prince to restructure the intelligence service.”

    “Al-Arabiya TV anchor person is really visibly skeptical: he will be fired (or worse). He keeps asking: but what was the nature of the mistakes made by the intelligence service? And none of the guests answer him.”

    “The skeptical Al-Arabiya TV anchor kept asking: so he died by mistake? The guest: oh, yes. this happens. It happens on streets and other places during brawls.”

  118. says

    “Moscow bans ceremony honouring victims of Stalin’s Terror”:

    Moscow city authorities have refused permission for an annual ceremony honouring victims of Soviet dictator Josef Stalin, according to Russia’s most prominent human rights group.

    Memorial, the country’s oldest rights group, has held a 12-hour ceremony every year on 29 October for the past 11 years. Hundreds of people read out names of those killed during Stalin-era repressions at a memorial in Lubyanka Square, outside the headquarters of the current security service and its Stalin-era predecessors. Historians estimate about a million people perished in Stalin’s Terror, also known as the Great Purge, in the 1930s.

    Memorial, which also speaks out about current human rights violations in Russia, has come under increasing pressure from the authorities in recent years. In 2016, Russian authorities labelled it a “foreign agent” under a 2012 law that obliges groups deemed to have “political” activities and international funding to submit documents every three months outlining their finances.

  119. says

    Analysis from Lawfare – “Russian Electoral Interference: 2018 Midterms Edition”:

    …The complaint is a rich document and is worth examining in depth—and it raises questions the document itself does not answer. As a preliminary matter, the mechanics of the case are curious.

    First, even though the conspiracy alleged in the complaint is overtly linked to the activities of the Russian troll farm described in the February 2018 indictment brought by Robert Mueller, this case is being handled not by the special counsel’s office but instead by the U.S attorney’s office for the Eastern District of Virginia and the Justice Department’s National Security Division….

    Second, it is notable that the Justice Department charged Khusyaynova in a criminal complaint accompanied by an affidavit laying out the facts of her offense—not an indictment…. As of this writing, it is not clear whether Khusyanynova is in custody, but the decision to proceed in this fashion, particularly in combination with the sealing of the charges for three weeks, suggests that some law enforcement action was anticipated or took place, either domestically or overseas.

    The case docket and the affidavit reflect that authorities obtained an arrest warrant on Sept. 28, the same day that the Justice Department filed the complaint, suggesting that the government may have seen an opportunity to bring Khusyaynova into custody and quick action was thus required. Reporting on Friday indicated that Khusyaynova is not currently in U.S. custody. One possibility is that the anticipated opportunity never materialized. Another possibility is that the situation involves a foreign law-enforcement partner. Still another is that Khusyaynova may be cooperating.

    Third, the document contains an incredibly rich trove of factual information. It reflects a large quantity of documentary material, almost as though investigators had seized a computer or a hard drive or had access to email accounts. The procedural posture of the case combined with the apparent investigative depth of the document indicates, one way or another, that there is at least one more shoe to drop.

    …As the procedural history of this matter unfolds over the next few days, we are likely to learn a lot about why it became public at the time and in the manner that it did.

    Look for the answer to one set of questions in particular: Where is Elena Alekseevna Khusyaynova, and is she a free woman?

    More at the link.

  120. says

    And analysis from Marcy Wheeler.

    Also, I’ve seen several people noting that the complaint at least suggests a strong possibility that the Russian outfit had US accomplices. I had the same sense – the instructions for framing particular articles and “branding” US political figures are highly suspect.

  121. says

    “Sturgeon pulls out of event after BBC invites Trump guru Steve Bannon”:

    First Minister, Nicola Sturgeon, has pulled out of an Edinburgh conference after learning that former Trump strategist, Steve Bannon, has been invited to speak.

    Steve Bannon, a former White House adviser whose far right political views have been widely condemned, is listed as a speaker at an event in Edinburgh called News Xchange 2018.

    Sturgeon was due to speak at the conference, scheduled to take place in the Edinburgh International Conference Centre on 14 and 15 November 2018.

    BBC Scotland is described as “co-hosting the event.” The agenda includes a special edition of BBC Question Time, and the BBC’s Sarah Smith is lined up to interview Bannon.

    A BBC member of staff, Chris Gibson, is also named on the agenda as executive producer of the whole conference.

    Sturgeon is not the only participant to withdraw from the event after organisers announced Bannon’s involvement.

    Ash Sarkar, of Novaramedia, was lined-up as a participant on the special Question Time panel. She said she would withdraw from the event.

    “If @NewsXchange are committed to platforming Steve Bannon, then I withdraw from participating in either of my panels at this conference,” she said.

    “I won’t be complicit in the normalisation of fascism amongst the chattering classes.”

    A spokesperson for the event organisers said: “News Xchange is a journalism conference which seeks to explore the main industry trends and challenges delegates to understand the wider political and social context.

    “Steve Bannon is a key influencer in the rise of populism – one of the dominant political trends of our times. He has been invited to speak at News Xchange this year because his views are relevant to today’s society at large and therefore to the media industry.

    “We also consider it our journalistic responsibility to share and scrutinise a range of relevant viewpoints within the framework of a balanced debate. He will be interviewed about his views by a BBC journalist, followed by an open Q&A with delegates.”

    The BBC has been contacted for comment.


    Sturgeon: “I believe passionately in free speech but as @ScotGovFM I have to make balanced judgments – and I will not be part of any process that risks legitimising or normalising far right, racist views. I regret that the BBC has put me and others in this position.

    The email the BBC sent to my office justifying Bannon’s inclusion described him as a ‘powerful and influential figure…promoting an anti-elite movement.’ This kind of language to describe views that many would describe as fascist does seem to me to run the risk of normalisation.”

  122. says

    “Saudis’ Image Makers: A Troll Army and a Twitter Insider”:

    Each morning, Jamal Khashoggi would check his phone to discover what fresh hell had been unleashed while he was sleeping.

    He would see the work of an army of Twitter trolls, ordered to attack him and other influential Saudis who had criticized the kingdom’s leaders. He sometimes took the attacks personally, so friends made a point of calling frequently to check on his mental state.

    “The mornings were the worst for him because he would wake up to the equivalent of sustained gunfire online,” said Maggie Mitchell Salem, a friend of Mr. Khashoggi’s for more than 15 years.

    Mr. Khashoggi’s online attackers were part of a broad effort dictated by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman and his close advisers to silence critics both inside Saudi Arabia and abroad. Hundreds of people work at a so-called troll farm in Riyadh to smother the voices of dissidents like Mr. Khashoggi. The vigorous push also appears to include the grooming — not previously reported — of a Saudi employee at Twitter whom Western intelligence officials suspected of spying on user accounts to help the Saudi leadership.

    This portrait of the kingdom’s image management crusade is based on interviews with seven people involved in those efforts or briefed on them; activists and experts who have studied them; and American and Saudi officials, along with messages seen by The New York Times that described the inner workings of the troll farm.

    Saudi operatives have mobilized to harass critics on Twitter, a wildly popular platform for news in the kingdom since the Arab Spring uprisings began in 2010. Saud al-Qahtani, a top adviser to Crown Prince Mohammed who was fired on Saturday in the fallout from Mr. Khashoggi’s killing, was the strategist behind the operation, according to United States and Saudi officials, as well as activist organizations.

    Many Saudis had hoped that Twitter would democratize discourse by giving everyday citizens a voice, but Saudi Arabia has instead become an illustration of how authoritarian governments can manipulate social media to silence or drown out critical voices while spreading its own version of reality….

    Much more at the link.

  123. says

    “Mueller Probes WikiLeaks’ Contacts With Conservative Activists”:

    Special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation is scrutinizing how a collection of activists and pundits intersected with WikiLeaks, the website that U.S. officials say was the primary conduit for publishing materials stolen by Russia, according to people familiar with the matter.

    Mr. Mueller’s team has recently questioned witnesses about the activities of longtime Trump confidante Roger Stone, including his contacts with WikiLeaks, and has obtained telephone records, according to the people familiar with the matter.

    Investigators also have evidence that the late GOP activist Peter W. Smith may have had advance knowledge of details about the release of emails from a top Hillary Clinton campaign official by WikiLeaks, one person familiar with the matter said. They have questioned Mr. Smith’s associates, the person said.

    Right-wing pundit Jerome Corsi was also questioned by investigators about his interactions with Mr. Stone and WikiLeaks before a grand jury in September, according to a person familiar with the matter….

    The scrutiny of activities related to WikiLeaks suggests investigators believe the organization’s importance to the Russia probe may extend beyond its dealings with Guccifer 2.0….

  124. KG says

    My wife has been in London at the big march, while I’m just back from the first day of the Scottish vGreen Party conference in glasgow, where we passed, among other things, two anti-Brexit resolutions (one committing us to a “People’s Vote”), and our first policy explicitly challenging the Far Right. Talking of which, I’m sure there’ll be many in Edinburgh (me among them) who will give Steve Bannon the welcome to Edinburgh he deserves (see SC’s #158) – if he comes. The BBC’s description of Bannon as “promoting an anti-elite movement” is a barefaced lie; I’m also sure they’ll be inundated with outraged protests at this shameless pandering to fascism.

  125. says

    SC @166, I don’t know Daniel Dale manages to do that. He diligently notes the lies, debunks the lies, points out Trump’s more ridiculous comments … and then he still goes on and lives his life. That’s a truly strong spirit. That much attention to Trump rallies would depress me. All hail Daniel Dale.

  126. says

    SC @154, I noticed that. It’s likely that the first number is also false, or at least invented by Trump. The rapid inflation, via Trump’s bluster, of job numbers the Saudi arms deal (not a real deal!) would create in the USA is a sure sign that all of those numbers are suspect. Trump lied. He lied directly to his followers.

  127. says

    Follow-up to comment 169.

    Trump clings to a Saudi arms deal that doesn’t actually exist

    This bears repeating, the $110 billion deal does not exist.

    […] Trump has spent the last several days defending his indifference toward Saudi Arabia’s apparent murder of Jamal Khashoggi by pointing to a $110 billion arms deal. […] he referenced it again in his latest Fox Business interview that aired [October 17].

    They have a tremendous order, $110 billion. Every country in the world wanted a piece of that order; we got all of it. And what are we going to do? I’ve had some senators come up, and some congressman, and they say, “You know, sir, what I think we should do is, we should not take that order.”

    Another “Sir” alert. A sure sign that Trump made that up.

    I say, “Who are we hurting?” It’s 500,000 jobs, it’s ultimately going to be $110 billion. It’s the biggest order in the history of our country from an outside military. And I say, we’re going to turn that down? Why would we do that?

    This comes four days after Trump bragged to reporters that he “worked hard” to complete the arms deal, which he added will create “450,000 jobs.” (It’s apparently grown by 50,000 jobs since the weekend.)

    […] By the Republican’s calculus, the White House must be prepared to look the other way on Saudi Arabia murdering a U.S.-based journalist because they’re buying $110 billion worth of military equipment. It’s a posture devoid of morality and principle, but by appearances, the president is comfortable with that. […]

    The trouble, again, is that the $110 billion arms deal that Trump believes he worked so hard to complete doesn’t actually exist. […]

    Josh Rogin added yesterday, “Trump’s claim of $110 billion of arms sales to Saudi Arabia as announced last year is hugely exaggerated, considering that number mostly refers to deals struck during the Obama administration and new deals that haven’t yet materialized.”

    TPM’s Josh Marshall fleshed this out:

    The $110 billion sum, the administration official said, was made up of “Letters of Offer and Acceptance and future defense capabilities under development listed in a Memorandum of Intent to support Saudi Arabia’s defense needs.”

    Think of that as two buckets: letters of offer and acceptance (LOAs), and a memorandum of intent (MOI). Neither represent concluded deals – far from an “immediate investment,” […] and in any case, the $110 billion figure is inflated and takes credit for deals initiated during the Obama administration. […]

    Most of the deals Trump has refused to block in response to Khashoggi’s suspected murder are nascent proposals, at best, and many may never see the light of day.

    I won’t pretend to know what Trump genuinely believes, as compared to what he pretends to believe, but at face value, the president appears to have convinced himself that a $110 billion arms deal that isn’t real must be protected above any moral considerations.

    By any fair measure, that’s ridiculous.

  128. says

    This sounds bad, in part because I don’t trust Trump at all. Why is the real reason for the statement that he is going to pull out of the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty?

    My guess is that Trump wants to build some new nuclear-capable missiles and he needs an excuse to break the treaty.

    […] Trump said Saturday he will pull the United States from the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty because Russia has violated the agreement, but provided no details on the violations.

    The 1987 pact, which helps protect the security of the U.S. and its allies in Europe and the Far East, prohibits the United States and Russia from possessing, producing or test-flying a ground-launched cruise missile with a range of 300 to 3,400 miles.

    “Russia has violated the agreement. They have been violating it for many years,” Trump said after a rally in Elko, Nevada. “And we’re not going to let them violate a nuclear agreement and go out and do weapons and we’re not allowed to.”

    The agreement has constrained the U.S. from developing new weapons, but America will begin developing them unless Russia and China agree not to possess or develop the weapons, Trump said. China is not currently party to the pact.

    “We’ll have to develop those weapons, unless Russia comes to us and China comes to us and they all come to us and say let’s really get smart and let’s none of us develop those weapons, but if Russia’s doing it and if China’s doing it, and we’re adhering to the agreement, that’s unacceptable,” he said. […]

    U.S. officials have previously alleged that Russia violated the treaty by deliberately deploying a land-based cruise missile in order to pose a threat to NATO. Russia has claimed that U.S. missile defenses violate the pact. […]

    “If they get smart and if others get smart and they say let’s not develop these horrible nuclear weapons, I would be extremely happy with that, but as long as somebody’s violating the agreement, we’re not going to be the only ones to adhere to it,” Trump said.


    John Bolton may be behind this.

    Speculation from other readers of this article:

    ‘m assuming Putin told him to pull out of it because Putin doesn’t want to be in it and Trump will always do what benefits Putin over what benefits this country. Always.
    I Trust Putin as much as I do Trump and that is a real problem!
    Why not try bringing China into the treaty?

    The same reason he is promising a massive tax cut if the voters let Republicans have control of Congress.

    He is just a lying asshole, that’s why.
    Wait, this is massive massive news–the realization of one’s worst nightmares. Egged on by the Dr Strangelove John Bolton, Trump is going to start a new nuclear arms race and a new era of nuclear brinkmanship. And he’s an ignorant, reckless sociopath who is precisely the kind of leader to press the button.

    Dems in red states must instantly pivot to this issue–put a check on Trump, avoid nuclear disaster. It’s an existential issue. North Dakota would be a prime target in a nuclear war. Heitkamp has a huge opening. Fear of nuclear disaster would absolutely boost her–everyone knows Trump can’t be trusted with this stuff.
    Best way to alienate our NATO allies, EVAH !

    We (the US) spent most of the 1980s going back and forth with the Soviets over the Intermediate range missile treaty which removed the Pershing IIs and the SS-20s and assorted GLCMs, SLCMs & ALCMs on both sides from the European theater.

    The Russians have the SS-25 (Isklander) which has a 3500 km range scheduled for retirement — and it is versions of this missile (and its replacement) that is in question –as obviously anything that can go 3500 km can target objectives inside its range circle.

    If the US formally withdraws from this treaty; we will see the UK and France increase their nuclear arsenals and delivery systems. Worse, it may lead to Germany and Poland going nuclear, as well as Ukraine to revisit its decision to de-nuclearize back in 1994.

    Ukraine certainly has incentive. She also has the technical know how and industrial base. The old SS-18s (satan) in the Soviet inventory were designed, manufactured and commissioned in the Ukraine.

  129. says

    Sounds dangerous to me:

    […] A pack of protesters, some of whom seemed to identify with the violent far-right group called the Proud Boys, hurled insults at Pelosi as she walked into a building during a campaign stop in Florida.

    After she entered, the crowd reportedly grew, with protesters banging on the locked doors of the venue yelling “commies” and referring to the Democratic women inside as “witches.”

    Talking Points Memo link

    From Benny Johnson:

    Mob rushes Nancy Pelosi on her way into a campaign stop calling her a “F**king communist!”

    Security had to hold back the anti-communism protesters as a frightened Pelosi was rushed into a doorway.

    Mob chanted “Communism sucks!” while beating on the door

    Video available at the Twitter link. It’s shocking.

    For what it’s worth, Pelosi didn’t look frightened. She look composed and determined.

    The Republican view of this is:

    Democrats have embraced mob-like tactics against Republicans and members of the Trump administration for nearly two years.

    It was only a matter of time before these tactics were spun around on Democrats.

    Not true. And even if it were true, not a good excuse for mob-like behavior.

  130. says

    Chris Wallace, a Fox News host, called Trump’s claim that Democrats are behind, and perhaps paying for, the caravan of immigrants from Honduras “preposterous.” Trump’s ridiculousness has gotten pretty bad when Fox News uses descriptors like “preposterous.”

    Let me say first of all the idea that the Democrats were somehow behind this caravan coming from Honduras of these women and children is preposterous and there’s been no evidence offered on that any more than there was evidence that the protestors on Capitol Hill during the Kavanaugh hearings were paid protestors.

    Video available at the link.

  131. says

    From German Chancellor Angela Merkel:

    We received the confirmation of the violent death of Jamal Khashoggi with great shock. We condemn this act in the strongest terms.

    We expect transparency from Saudi Arabia with regard to the circumstances of death and the background. Those responsible must be brought to justice. The information provided about the events in the consulate in Istanbul is not sufficient.

  132. says

    “Trump Administration Eyes Defining Transgender Out of Existence”:

    The Trump administration is considering narrowly defining gender as a biological, immutable condition determined by genitalia at birth, the most drastic move yet in a governmentwide effort to roll back recognition and protections of transgender people under federal civil rights law.

    A series of decisions by the Obama administration loosened the legal concept of sex in federal programs, including in education and health care, recognizing sex largely as an individual’s choice — and prompting fights over bathrooms, dormitories, single-sex programs and other arenas where gender was once seen as a simple concept. Conservatives, especially evangelical Christians, were incensed.

    Now the Department of Health and Human Services is spearheading an effort to establish a legal definition of sex under Title IX, the federal civil rights law that bans gender discrimination in education programs that receive government financial assistance, according to a memo obtained by The New York Times.

    The department argued in its memo that key government agencies needed to adopt an explicit and uniform definition of gender as determined “on a biological basis that is clear, grounded in science, objective and administrable.” The agency’s proposed definition would define sex as either male or female, unchangeable, and determined by the genitals that a person is born with, according to a draft reviewed by The Times. Any dispute about one’s sex would have to be clarified using genetic testing.

    “Sex means a person’s status as male or female based on immutable biological traits identifiable by or before birth,” the department proposed in the memo, which was drafted and has been circulating since last spring. “The sex listed on a person’s birth certificate, as originally issued, shall constitute definitive proof of a person’s sex unless rebutted by reliable genetic evidence.”

    The new definition would essentially eradicate federal recognition of the estimated 1.4 million Americans who have opted to recognize themselves — surgically or otherwise — as a gender other than the one they were born into.

    The move would be the most significant of a series of maneuvers, large and small, to exclude the population from civil rights protections and roll back the Obama administration’s more fluid recognition of gender identity. The Trump administration has sought to bar transgender people from serving in the military and has legally challenged civil rights protections for the group embedded in the nation’s health care law.

    Several agencies have withdrawn Obama-era policies that recognized gender identity in schools, prisons and homeless shelters. The administration even tried to remove questions about gender identity from the 2020 census and a national survey of elderly citizens.

    For the last year, health and human services has privately argued that the term “sex” was never meant to include gender identity or even homosexuality, and that the lack of clarity allowed the Obama administration to wrongfully extend civil rights protections to people who should not have them.

    The Department of Health and Human Services has called on the “Big Four” agencies that enforce some part of Title IX — the Departments of Education, Justice, Health and Human Services, and Labor — to adopt its definition in regulations that will establish uniformity in the government and increase the likelihood that courts will accept it….

    More at the link.

  133. says

    A few recommendations:

    “Trump Inc.” podcast episode “Pump and Trump.” (This goes with the article @ #53 above; it’s useful to hear the audio of some of the quotes in the article.)

    “Deconstructed” podcast episode “Why Won’t Trump Condemn the Saudis? (Hint: It’s Israel. Also, Iran.)”

    Chris Hayes’ podcast episode “Voter Suppression Past and Present with Carol Anderson.”

    How Fascism Works by Jason Stanley. He uses a broad definition of fascism, which I like.

  134. says

    “Canada condemns killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi”:

    The Honourable Chrystia Freeland, Minister of Foreign Affairs, today issued the following statement:

    “Canada condemns the killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi, which the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia has confirmed took place in its consulate in Istanbul.

    “The explanations offered to date lack consistency and credibility.

    “We also express our sincere condolences to Hatice Cengiz and the family and loved ones of Mr. Khashoggi. The pain they are enduring as a result of this tragedy is heartbreaking.

    “We reiterate our call for a thorough investigation, in full collaboration with the Turkish authorities, and a full and rigorous accounting of the circumstances surrounding Mr. Khashoggi’s death.

    “Those responsible for the killing must be held to account and must face justice.”

  135. says

    “Brazil electoral court to investigate pro-Bolsonaro WhatsApp campaign”:

    Brazil’s electoral court is to investigate allegations that Jair Bolsonaro, the far-right frontrunner in the country’s presidential elections, conducted a concerted campaign on WhatsApp to slur his opponent.

    The coalition backing his rival, Fernando Haddad of the Workers’ party, or PT, alleges business people paid for packets of texts on the messenging platform to be sent on behalf of Mr Bolsonaro, which would violate Brazilian laws that ban corporate donations in political campaigns.

    Mr Bolsonaro and others were accused of “abuse of economic power and undue use of vehicles of digital communication”, said the court ruling on the WhatsApp investigation. Mr Bolsonaro and the business people denied wrongdoing. A guilty ruling would render Mr Bolsonaro ineligible for election for eight years.

    Meanwhile, WhatsApp said it was banning “hundreds of thousands” of accounts during the election and was also taking legal action to stop companies sending bulk messages….

    (More background.)

  136. says

    Adam Davidson:

    A thought about Khashoggi, Saudi Arabia, and the future of Trump:

    I have predicted, for some time, that there will be a decisive moment when the full truth of Trump’s nature is laid bare.

    I know many disagree and assume nothing can shake GOP complicity.

    Maybe true.

    But look at Khashoggi. We have known about Saudi Arabia’s brutality and authoritarianism and about our own complicity with it for decades. I wouldn’t have predicted this moment. I can’t explain, precisely, why this–and not killing Yemeni children–did it.

    There is some combination of Khashoggi being a sympathetic sort-of American (despite GOP and Fox’s awful efforts to make him “other”) and the detailed horror of his death and naked absurdity of the Saudi response.

    The story is simple and clear. MBS and the Saudis aren’t just corrupt and undemocratic. They are violent, stupid thugs with no real vision.

    It recasts every other thing about them and those who are complicit with them.

    I don’t think the turning of at least some GOP on Trump will come through complex details (even though those are so, so important). It will come from some specific moment–a recording, a comparatively small story of stupid, crass corruption.

    I’ve often thought it won’t be cruelty or greed or corruption or racism that brings Trump down. It will be people realizing how bad he is at everything, including corruption. How much money he leaves on the table because he’s not slick.

    I know, I know: many of you are convinced that nothing will change, nothing will turn anyone on Trump who isn’t already turned. (And, for that matter, the Saudis will go back to status quo ante soon).

    Maybe. Even: probably.

    But the standard prediction is that everything in the future will be like it has been in the past.

    That holds up until it doesn’t. People are very bad at predicting inflection points. So, I’m sticking with my story: there will be a hockey stick moment.

    There will be something so stupid and lame and weak that people realize who Trump really is. Sure, he’ll keep his 20% or whatever base, but he’ll lose others.

    But I know I might be wrong. The challenge with predicting the future is that it hasn’t happened yet.

  137. says

    Former Soviet Union leader Mikhail Gorbachev weighed in trump’s decision to withdraw from the Intermediate-Range Nuclear forces Treaty. At the time the treaty was first signed, Gorbachev signed for Russia and Ronald Reagan signed for the USA.

    In an interview with the Russian outlet Interfax that was flagged and translated by The New York Times and other outlets, Gorbachev, 87, wondered aloud: “Is it really that hard to understand that rejecting these agreements is, as the people say, not the work of a great mind.

    Gorbachev called Trump’s decision “a mistake” and “very strange.”

    “Do they really not understand in Washington what this can lead to?” he asked.

    “All agreements aimed at nuclear disarmament and limiting nuclear weapons must be preserved, for the sake of preserving life on earth,” he added, per the Times.


    From the readers’ comments section:

    I was an exhibit guide in the Soviet Union, working for USIA, during the zenith of the Gorbachev era, which included the talks leading to the signature of this treaty. It really seemed to herald a new era, a significant lessening of east-west tension, maybe the beginnings of a better world. The Soviet Communist world was mostly ecstatic…the Soviet people saw a possibility for a better life, and the satellite countries an end to Soviet domination coming from sharp cuts in Moscow’s defense budget. It has been so dispiriting, watching the death of that hopeful time, and its replacement with a new generation of perspective-free authoritarians and warmongers.
    This withdrawal from the Nuke Treaty is a decision that seems to be made by a person with a very low IQ! Furthermore, how is this decision making Americans SAFE?
    How is it possible that a treaty which required ratification by 2/3 of the Senate can be annulled by a president? Is this true of all our treaties—that any president can alone decide to end it without any further review?
    Congress has to vote to withdraw from a treaty.
    Trump is behaving like a monarch.
    I’m amazed that this story–the elimination of the Gorbachev-Reagan security pact that ended the arms race–is basically nowhere to be found on the NYT digital front page […] and is being lost in the stream of the Lilliputian culture battles and horserace items with which the news/entertainment industry keeps us busy, much to the GOP’s delight. And of course Dems are not paying attention to it, even though it’s the Reagan treaty and if there’s one issue that could disturb or depress voters inclined to vote for the GOP it is that Trump is now going to lead the country into a new era of nuclear brinkmanship that could end in catastrophe and will certainly bankrupt the treasury still further. Aargh.

  138. says

    Remember how the awesome teens from Parkland, Florida, were being derided as mindless dupes of the Liberal gun grabbers, or maybe even crisis actors deployed by the Deep State? Kids like Emma Gonzalez and David Hogg clearly couldn’t have mobilized a giant school walkout or a national protest on their own, so obviously, sinister forces had paid them. Of course, there was no proof of anything like that (although, yes, national groups did join in after the kids got the ball rolling).

    Then in May, a few wingnut teens held their very own “Stand Up for the Second” (Amendment) demonstrations, and rightwing media cooed about all the brave kids who dared to defy the commie brats (who were, again, all tools of Big Liberalism anyway). Big surprise: the “Stand Up for the Second” thing was pretty much all scripted by the “Tea Party Patriots” group, as documented by a cache of badly-secured online documents uncovered by an internet security firm this week.

    The trove of documents was found in an “Amazon S3 storage bucket” by security company UpGuard, which let the Tea Party crowd know it had left a couple gigabytes of data — including its phone contact list — out on the interwebs without any security or password. That was very nice of the cybersecurity folks, who detailed the find on their blog. […]


  139. says

    “Scandal Over Dead Journalist Jolts Heir to Saudi Throne”:

    Saudi Arabia’s elderly king sent a strong signal this weekend that his handpicked heir, 33-year-old Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, remains in good standing despite the gruesome killing of a prominent government critic that many at home and abroad suspect he set in motion.

    Yet the events of the past few weeks have sharpened differences between the prince and royal family members who were beginning to question his judgment and temperament. And there is no sign that the global backlash over the killing will abate soon, testing Saudi Arabia’s modernization of its economy and its relationship with its most important ally, the U.S.

    On Saturday, King Salman granted Prince Mohammed new powers over the country’s intelligence bodies, to pair with his sweeping authority over Saudi Arabia’s economy and defense. That same day, the Saudi attorney general effectively exonerated the crown prince, blaming the death of journalist Jamal Khashoggi on “a brawl and physical altercation” in the Saudi consulate in Istanbul.

    In the kingdom itself, a number of Saudi royals have tried to reach out to King Salman to discuss the crisis, but have been blocked by associates of the crown prince, said two members of the royal family. They have been secretly meeting in small groups to discuss the issue, they said.

    Among other things, some of these people are challenging the official version of what happened to Mr. Khashoggi. Prince Khalid al Faisal, an envoy of King Salman who was dispatched to Ankara earlier this month, had access to a short audio recording that offers evidence that Mr. Khashoggi was drugged, killed and dismembered minutes after walking into the consulate, these two members say.

    “The audio does not have this nonsense about a fight that broke after an argument,” said one royal member. “This is not what Khalid told the king and his friends. This is absolutely rubbish.”

    In the immediate aftermath of Mr. Khashoggi’s disappearance, there was little sign of alarm in the royal court. “They were relaxed,” said a person close to the royal family. “Then it snowballed. When things started heating up in the States, everybody started getting worried.”

    As the disappearance of Mr. Khashoggi escalated into a diplomatic crisis, Prince Mohammed was shocked by the backlash. He couldn’t understand why Mr. Khashoggi’s disappearance was such a big deal, according to people who recently interacted with the prince.

    On Oct. 10, eight days after Mr. Khashoggi went missing, Prince Mohammed called Jared Kushner, the adviser and son-in-law to President Trump, according to people briefed on the phone conversation.

    Why the outrage, Prince Mohammed asked in English. Government officials and business leaders had turned from lavishing praise on the prince to criticizing him.

    The prince’s confusion soon turned into rage. “He was really shocked that there was such a big reaction to it,” said a person close to the royal court. “He feels betrayed by the West. He said he would look elsewhere and he will never forget how people turned against him before evidence was produced.”

    It seems to me that MBS’ confusion/anger/feeling of being wronged by the global reaction to the murder is essentially a confession of guilt.

  140. says

    “Surveillance footage shows Saudi ‘body double’ in Khashoggi’s clothes after he was killed, Turkish source says”:

    A member of the 15-man team suspected in the death of Jamal Khashoggi dressed up in his clothes and was captured on surveillance cameras around Istanbul on the day the journalist was killed, a senior Turkish official has told CNN.

    CNN has obtained exclusive law enforcement surveillance footage, part of the Turkish government’s investigation, that appears to show the man leaving the consulate by the back door, wearing Khashoggi’s clothes, a fake beard, and glasses.

    The same man was seen in Khashoggi’s clothing, according to the Turkish case, at the city’s world-famous Blue Mosque just hours after the journalist was last seen alive entering the consulate on October 2.

    The man in the video, identified by the official as Mustafa al-Madani, was allegedly part of what investigators have said was a hit squad, sent to kill the journalist at the Saudi consulate during a scheduled appointment to get papers for his upcoming wedding.

    A senior Turkish official told CNN that the video showed that Madani was brought to Istanbul to act as a body double.

    “You don’t need a body double for a rendition or an interrogation,” the official said. “Our assessment has not changed since October 6. This was a premeditated murder and the body was moved out of the consulate.”

    Four hours earlier Madani had entered the consulate by the front door, alongside an alleged accomplice. Saudi’s forensic medicine chief Salah al-Tubaiqi, another key suspect who was identified using facial recognition analysis together with CNN’s timeline of events that day, was also present. The video appears to show Madani without a beard, wearing a blue and white checked shirt and dark blue trousers. When he exited the consulate dressed as Khashoggi, the video then appears to show him wearing the same dark pair of sneakers with white soles that he first arrived in prior to the journalist’s death.

    “Khashoggi’s clothes were probably still warm when Madani put them on,” the senior Turkish official told CNN….

  141. says

    “Germany halts arms deals with Saudi Arabia, encourages allies to do the same”:

    In a move that could put further pressure on President Trump to stop arms sales to Saudi Arabia, German Chancellor Angela Merkel announced Sunday evening that her government would not approve new arms exports to the kingdom until further notice.

    “There is an urgent need to clarify what happened — we are far from this having been cleared up and those responsible held to account,” she said at a news conference. “I agree with all those who say that the, albeit already limited, arms exports can’t take place in the current circumstances,” Merkel said.

    While the move affects future deals, exports that have already been approved to the second-biggest foreign market for German arms equipment will proceed for now but may be suspended in the coming days.

    Germany is the first major U.S. ally to cast doubts on future arms sales after the killing of Washington Post contributing columnist Jamal Khashoggi, and the move is likely to put pressure on bigger exporters to do the same….

    Within the European Union, Britain and France deliver the most equipment to Riyadh, according to the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute. Britain alone sold Saudi Arabia military equipment worth about $1.4 billion in the first six months of last year.

    In London, Theresa May’s conservative government has so far been cautious about any sanctions that could endanger thousands of British jobs amid an already strained pre-Brexit economy. Domestic pressure to put human rights first was already growing before Merkel’s announcement on Sunday, with the opposition Labour party calling for a suspension of arms exports to Saudi Arabia.

    Germany’s export stop will have little impact “if at the same time other countries fill this gap,” Merkel’s ally Altmaier acknowledged Monday.

  142. says

    Trump has been describing Democrats as “mobs” and as “obstructionists,” etc. Now he as added “crazy.”

    They’re only sticking together because they want to make sure that I and we don’t get what they know our country needs. But I think they may be forced politically to do it, because I got to tell you, anybody that votes for a Democrat now is crazy.

  143. says

    Follow-up to SC’s comment 154.

    A timeline showing Trump’s invented job totals:

    Mar. 20, 2018: “We’re talking about over 40,000 jobs in the United States.”

    Oct. 13, 2018: “It’s 450,000 jobs.”

    Oct. 17, 2018: “It’s 500,000 jobs.”

    Oct. 19, 2018: “I’d prefer that we not cancel $110 billion worth of work, which means 600,000 jobs.”

    Oct. 19, 2018 (a few hours later): “600,000 jobs, maybe more than that.”

    Oct. 19, 2018 (a few hours later after that): “So now if you’re talking about — that was $110 billion — you know, you’re talking about over a million jobs.”


    Even more proof that the claims regarding jobs are not just lies, but that those claims are not really relevant even if true:

    […] canceling weapons sales to Saudi Arabia won’t really hurt US jobs much. There aren’t that many American workers making weapons for the Pentagon, much less Saudi Arabia, and MBS isn’t buying enough weapons to put a dent in the US economy anyway.

    Overall, the private US defense industry does directly employ a lot of US workers – about 355,500 in 2016, according to the most the recent estimates from the Aerospace Industries Association. But private-sector defense workers make up less than 0.5 percent of the total US labor force, and that includes every person whose job depends directly on the sale or production of airplanes, tanks, bombs, and services for the entire US military. It’s unlikely that many of them, if any, depend directly on weapons sales to Saudi Arabia, and it’s also unlikely that those jobs would vanish if Saudi money disappeared. […]

    Trump says selling weapons to Saudi Arabia will create a lot of jobs. That’s not true.

    From Steve Benen:

    […] Trump would have Americans believe that a Saudi Arabian arms deal, which does not actually exist, will create up to 1 million jobs in an industry that currently employees a total of 355,500 Americans.

    The president has told a variety of ridiculous lies, but this one has to rank pretty high. […]

    And we’re really only talking about 0.5% of 355,000.

  144. says

    SC @185, MBS sounds like a sociopath.

    Trump, and his supporters like Representative Peter King, sound like they can’t tell which way the wind is blowing.

    […] Why Trump considered the Saudis’ version of events credible on Friday, only to criticize the Saudis’ “lies” and “deception” on Saturday, is unclear.

    What’s more, the American president again finds himself at odds with U.S. intelligence agencies […]

    It’s against this backdrop that Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) said on ABC News’ “This Week” yesterday that U.S. lawmakers “have to determine whether financial motives are motivating the president and the first family. This is the very problem with the president not releasing his tax returns. It leaves the American people wondering. Is the U.S. Saudi policy being driven by something other than national interest?”

    Host George Stephanopoulos then asked Rep. Peter King (R-N.Y.) whether Trump should “release all information related to his financial ties to the Saudi kingdom?” The New York Republican’s answer was kind of amazing:

    Well, first of all, I think it’s wrong to inject partisanship in this right now. Nobody was more supportive of the Saudis than President Obama. The large arms deals under President Obama. He fought us tooth and nail, attacked the Congress when we allowed 9/11 families to sue the Saudis. He went out of his way to shield the Saudis. To be making these type of allegations against the president – if you want to do it three or four months from now, do it.

    But the fact is right now the president is in a very delicate diplomatic spot, the same as President Obama was. And I think at least for this, let’s have a certain time out when it comes to making the partisan shots. Let’s deal with it on the merits. What Saudi Arabia did was savage, was evil, to be condemned, but let’s not be questioning the motives of our president right now. He should be the president of all the people at this moment. When the dust settles, their people can make the allegations they want.

    […] As Obama administration officials have been quick to note, there was a real chill between the White House and Riyadh, especially in the Democratic president’s second term, and Saudi officials made no secret of their hostility toward the international nuclear agreement with Iran.

    But even putting that aside, according to Peter King, as the international controversy over Khashoggi’s slaying continues to unfold, and the American president continues to make decisions and announcements that don’t appear to make a lot of sense, skeptics of the White House can ask questions about Trump’s financial ties to Saudi Arabia – but those questions should wait “three of four months.” […]

  145. says

    “Fox and Friends” host Brian Kilmeade usually spouts stuff (not facts, stuff) that shows he is off the rails. Here is his statement from today:

    [shouting about reports that immigrants are seeking asylum in the U.S.] To think you have somebody organized like this, to march where they get maximum publicity and defiantly say, “I’m coming to America and you can’t stop me.” They have their own chants, they have their own organization. To me this is an “in your face’ to America.”

    Democrats should be just as outraged about this and they should about the Khashoggi killing,. [WTF!] This should be one that brings both sides together to say, “We have to have integrity at our borders.”

    “Fox and Friends” also found a legal immigrant that would say on the air that the caravan of asylum seekers is “an act of war.”

    Minutes later, Trump tweeted:

    Sadly, it looks like Mexico’s Police and Military are unable to stop the Caravan heading to the Southern Border of the United States. Criminals and unknown Middle Easterners are mixed in. I have alerted Border Patrol and Military that this is a National Emergy. Must change laws!

    Every time you see a Caravan, or people illegally coming, or attempting to come, into our Country illegally, think of and blame the Democrats for not giving us the votes to change our pathetic Immigration Laws! Remember the Midterms! So unfair to those who come in legally.

    Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador were not able to do the job of stopping people from leaving their country and coming illegally to the U.S. We will now begin cutting off, or substantially reducing, the massive foreign aid routinely given to them.

    Quite obviously, reducing aid to Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador will likely make the difficulties in those countries worse. More people will be driven to make the long trek north as an attempt to save their lives and the lives of their children.

    Less than 1% of the people crossing the southern border are from the Middle East. And there are no statistics showing that those 0.7% are criminals.

  146. says

    More crap from Fox News, crap that was obviously fodder for part of Trump’s tweets shown in comment 193:

    Trump’s reference to “unknown Middle Easterners” followed baseless speculation on Fox & Friends. Fox News political analyst Pete Hegseth told the hosts of the show on Monday morning, “You’ve got the President of Guatemala saying to a local newspaper down there, just last week, they caught over 100 ISIS fighters in Guatemala.” Hegseth added, “We don’t know—it hasn’t been verified—but even one poison pill is too many in a caravan.”

    Baseless. Fact-free. Lies.

    Guatemalan President Jimmy Morales—a Trump-like figure who went from an entertainer to a scandal-plagued president—said last week that Guatemala has deported about 100 people “completely linked to terrorist issues, with ISIS.” Morales made the claim at a regional security conference attended by Vice President Mike Pence. There is no indication that Morales’ assertion had anything to do with the caravan, and there’s reason to be skeptical of his claim. Morales is trying to gut a widely respected anti-corruption commission, which has accused Morales of accepting about $1 million in illegal campaign contributions and wants to strip him of his legal immunity.

    A Trump clone in Guatemala?


  147. says

    Follow-up to comments 173 and 183.

    Putin seems to be happy that Trump is pulling out of the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty. Putin is all set to “restore balance” as soon as he can. In other words, Putin wants to build and deploy more land-based intermediate-range missiles.

    […] “It means that the United States is not disguising, but is openly starting to develop these systems in the future, and if these systems are being developed, then actions are necessary from other countries, in this case Russia, to restore balance in this sphere,” Russian government spokesman Dmitry Peskov said Monday, according to Reuters.

    “This is a question of strategic security.” […]


    And we know Trump—he always wants to build more military equipment, including missiles and “invisible” planes.

  148. says

    From Wonkette:

    […] And speaking of leaving a trail of breadcrumbs, Al Jazeera reports that the assassins were in regular contact with the Saudi royal palace the day of Khashoggi’s slaying.

    Maher Abdulaziz Mutreb, a well-known travel companion of Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, also known as MBS, made four phone calls to the royal’s office from the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul the day Khashoggi was killed there, a Turkish newspaper has reported.

    Yeni Safak reported on Monday that Mutreb, who was a member of bin Salman’s entourage on trips to the United States, France and Spain earlier this year, made four calls to Bader al-Asaker, the head of bin Salman’s office.

    It said another call went to the US.

    O RLLY? To the US? […]

    You mean like “that was definitely not a bone saw body double walking around in a dead man’s clothes” so we can get back to selling death machines to our good buddies?

    Ah, well. Boys will be boys, as Trump told the Post this weekend.

    They’re two young guys. Jared doesn’t know him well or anything. They are just two young people. They are the same age. They like each other, I believe.

    They’re just two feckless dipshits, drunk on power, rearranging the entire Middle East. Sorry about that journalist. And all those starving civilians who got murdered in Yemen. Anyway, the boys have got their feet under them now. They’re settling in nicely, so the pace of murders should slow down for a bit. Probably.

  149. says

    Maybe Fox News’ Tucker Carlson has been talking to MBS?

    The whole game is people who have no basis for moral superiority sort of impose their moral superiority on you. The outrage is so false.

    They use that to bully you into submission. It’s a game. Don’t play along. Just stop lecturing me. You don’t care enough about Khashoggi!

    Spare us the theatrics now. This is a stunt.

  150. says

    “Funding Blacklists of U.S. Citizens, Playing D.C. Against Iran: Israeli Gov’t Implicated by Shelved Al Jazeera Investigation” (emphasis added):

    The Strategic Affairs Ministry coordinated with a Washington D.C.-based think tank that lobbied against the nuclear deal with Iran, the ministry’s director-general says in a shelved Al Jazeera documentary about the Israel lobby. The documentary was obtained and seen by Haaretz blogger in Hebrew John Brown.

    The documentary, spanning four episodes of 50 minutes each, tracked an undercover Al Jazeera reported who infiltrated the lobby in late 2016. Brown reported that he has obtained all four episodes.

    According to Brown’s report, the first episode is devoted to “secret activities” by the lobby’s organizations, in cooperation with the Strategic Affairs Ministry, tasked with combating the boycott, divestment and sanctions movement and with fighting delegitimization of Israel abroad.

    The report says that these include activities against pro-Palestinian organizations in the United States., collecting information on Palestinian organizations on U.S. college campuses, churches, and labor organizations, and how to thwart them.

    According to Brown, Sima Vaknin-Gil, the director-general at the Strategic Affairs Ministry, describes in the episode the apparatus for collecting information, and admits that it serves de facto as a liaison to Jewish right-wing organizations in the U.S. She also describes the ministry’s collaboration with the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, a D.C.-based think tank that led a wide campaign in the U.S. against the Iran nuclear deal.

    The first episode also reportedly reveals the activity of a propaganda organization called Kela Shlomo, a non-governmental organization created and partially funded by the ministry to combat BDS overseas…. According to Brown, the documentary appears to show that Kela Shlomo serves as a conduit to transfer money to pro-Israeli organizations in the U.S. in order to hide the fact that the funds are government money, which would require the groups to register as foreign agents in the United States.

    …The film also reportedly portrays the ways in which the ministry funds right-wing entities in the U.S.; exploits anti-Semitism to fight claims against the separation policy in the West Bank; and ways with which to make activists pay a price for their activity.

    The blogger says that he big picture that arises from the documentary suggests pro-Israeli organizations collect a great deal of information on American citizens and smears them, all in complete coordination with the Israeli government.

    Last February, Haaretz reported that Qatar had given assurances to U.S. Jewish leaders that Al Jazeera would not air the documentary….

    A day later, the Qatari Foreign Ministry denied it had promised to stop Al Jazeera from airing the documentary. A spokeswoman for the ministry called the Haaretz report “false news” and accused it of conspiring with the Gulf countries, led by Saudi Arabia, that have placed a blockade on Qatar.

    More at the link. I don’t understand this last part – they deny promising to stop the airing of the documentary which hasn’t been aired.

  151. says

    “GOP candidate Ron DeSantis backs out of meeting with USA TODAY NETWORK – Florida”:

    on DeSantis will not sit down today with the editorial boards of the Tallahassee Democrat and USA TODAY NETWORK – Florida.

    A spokesman for the campaign informed the Democrat this morning DeSantis would not be attending the hour-long meeting in Tallahassee.

    Earlier this morning, the campaign said a statement would be forthcoming.

    DeSantis had agreed last week to the hour-long discussion with editors and readers of the six newspapers that make up the USA TODAY NETWORK – Florida.

    Gillum will meet with the editors next week, Oct. 31. The discussion will be broadcast on Facebook Live….

    In this clip from last night’s debate, DeSantis looks…shaken.

  152. says

    Sometimes the courts still protect voting rights: New Hampshire court strikes down GOP’s law that aimed to suppress college student voters who favor the Democratic Party.

    In a victory against Republican-backed voter suppression in a key swing state, a New Hampshire state court struck down a law the GOP had passed in 2017 to impose additional residency restrictions on voters […] This law had required voters who had registered within 30 days of an election to show additional documentation that they indeed lived day-to-day at the residence they claimed as their “domicile” and intended to do so long-term.

    ​Voters who had lacked suitable documentation would have been be able to cast provisional ballots, but they’d still have had to provide documents proving their residency meets the state’s new requirements at a later date. If they hadn’t, this law would’ve empowered state election officials to visit their homes and refer them to the office of Secretary of State Bill Gardner, who has had no qualms about backing these restrictions, for potential investigation, which many voters may have found intimidating. […]

    Of course, this law was simply intended to make it more difficult for Democratic-leaning demographics to exercise their right to cast a ballot, like college students and young adults who are more likely to move frequently. Ironically, though, it could also have unintentionally disenfranchised a group that tends to favor Republicans: active-duty military members who happen to be stationed in New Hampshire.

    This court ruling is also a major victory for preserving same-day voter registration: Since New Hampshire does not permit early voting, same-day registration is only available on Election Day itself. That means election officials would have had to verify all the extra documents provided by new registrations at the same time they would’ve been conducting what’s shaping up to be a historically high-turnout election, which could’ve led to longer wait times to vote—delays that could’ve further hampered voters.

    Unfortunately, state courts upheld another GOP-backed restriction aimed at college students earlier this year by forcing those who are from out of state to obtain in-state residency. That effectively subjects out-of-state students to a poll tax by having to obtain a New Hampshire driver’s license and car registration if they drive, despite state and federal court precedents that should have rendered the law invalid. […]


  153. says

    Another Republican candidate caught in a blatant lie: Representative Dave Brat of Virginia claimed that Trump’s tax cuts were paid for. No they were not.

    […] Days after telling an incarcerated woman in an addiction support group that he has it worse than she does because he is enduring negative attack ads, Brat told host John Fredericks that Republicans do not deserve the blame for massively increasing the budget deficit and national debt. And though the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office has said the massive tax cuts for corporations and the rich that Brat supported last year will increase the debt by almost $2 trillion, he made the absurd claim that the tax cuts were actually fully paid for.

    “Obama doubled the debt from $10 [trillion] to $20 trillion right?” Brat incorrectly claimed. “Obama, the Democrats, they’re the spenders. Our tax cuts, if you grow three and a half to four percent they’re paid for. And we’re growing right now at 4.2.”

    He then boasted that the GOP has done “$150 billion in tax cuts, paid for.”

    In fact, government revenue has declined since the tax cut, despite the unusually high and likely unsustainable economic growth. Given Brat is an economist, it seems he would likely know that this is the opposite of something being “paid for.” […]


  154. says

    Oh – more about the shelving of the documentary @ #201: “Al Jazeera denies Qatari emir censored Israel lobby film”:

    …More than two years after filming began, the four-part documentary has never been aired. But details have leaked out, with The Electronic Intifada and the Grayzone Project releasing clips.

    “The emir never contacted us, or anybody from his office, to tell us what to do, or not to do” about the film, Al Jazeera’s director general Mostefa Souag said, at a National Press Club luncheon in Washington on 2 October.

    Asked at the luncheon if the film had been “suppressed by the Qatari government after pressure from Israel,” Souag denied it, claiming it “has never been canceled. It is delayed. And pending.”

    But the fact remains that the film has still not been aired by the channel, and has no scheduled date of broadcast – a year after the filmmakers first acknowledged the film’s existence and said it would be released “very soon.”

    A source briefed by a high-level individual in Qatar told The Electronic Intifada in June that the film has been delayed indefinitely as “a matter of national security” for the small Gulf emirate.

    The Al Jazeera director general’s account is unconvincing for at least two reasons.

    First, the undercover film was shot in 2016 – beginning more than two years ago.

    Any “editorial and legal” issues the film supposedly had could have been resolved months ago – if not a year ago, when the film was finished.

    Secondly, Souag’s claim of remaining editorial and legal issues flatly contradicts the account of his own journalists – those who actually made the film.

    The head of Al Jazeera’s investigative unit Clayton Swisher wrote in March that since October 2017, “we’ve faced a series of unexplained delays in broadcasting our project, the likes of which I’ve never experienced. I was repeatedly told by everyone I asked to ‘wait,’ and was assured our documentary would eventually see the light of day.”

    Souag’s claim that the film is still “pending” sounds very much like a continuation of that same request to “wait.”

    It stretches credulity that Al Jazeera, which invested considerable resources in the project, would sit so long on a highly newsworthy film, especially when other outlets are starting to leak it. Any news outlet operating without constraints would be rushing to resolve any outstanding issues and get the film to the public.

    It is not hard to see the reasons Qatar has to suppress the film.

    Since the start of the Saudi-United Arab Emirates blockade of Qatar in June 2017, Qatar has poured tens of millions of dollars into lobbying in Washington, in an attempt to persuade the Trump administration to reverse its policies of de facto support for the blockade.

    Since Trump and other Republican politicians are staunchly pro-Israel, the Qataris have increasingly sought to cozy up to Israel as a way to ingratiate themselves in Washington.

    Since the infiltration by Al Jazeera’s undercover reporter became known to Israel lobby groups in Washington in 2017, Qatar has played host to an ever-growing roster of hardline anti-Palestinian politicians and other right-wing public figures from the US….

  155. says

    Ugly, racist comments were flung at a 77 year old woman.

    A 77-year-old disabled widow says she is struggling to eat and sleep after enduring racist abuse on a Friday flight to London.

    Delsie Gayle was returning from a vacation in Spain when a white man seated by the window in the same row began yelling at her, calling her an “ugly Black bastard” and a “stupid ugly cow.”

    “I tell you this: If you don’t go to another seat, I’ll push you to another seat!” he yelled.

    Of course it was a white man. Looking at the photos and video, you can see that man is middle aged-to-elderly. Gray hair, balding, portly, and exuding an unwarranted sense of privilege.

    Gayle’s daughter told ITV News that the trip to Barcelona had been planned to raise her mother’s spirits, since her husband of more than 50 years passed away nearly a year ago.

    David Lawrence, a 56-year-old musician who recorded the racist rant on Friday and posted it to social media the next day, described the incident to CNN.

    When you watch the footage, you’ll see it starts to unfold where this man starts a torrent of abuse, absolutely disgusting, despicable words thrown at this elderly Black woman. If that was another situation where that was a Black man doing that to an elderly white woman, they would have escorted him off the flight. He probably would have ended up in a Spanish jail even today.

    Ryanair reportedly didn’t remove the racist passenger, who remains unidentified, from the flight. Instead, Gayle was the one who was forced to change seats. Ryanair still hasn’t apologized to Gayle. […]


  156. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    SC#202, Still feeling the burn of those remarks. Clenched tentacle salute to both of them.

  157. says

    Daniel Dale: “I’ve fact-checked every word Trump has uttered for two full years. This is one of his most dishonest weeks in political life. He’s lying about so many different things at once, and in big ways — not exaggerating or stretching, completely making stuff up.”

  158. says

    From Steve Benen’s Monday Mini-Report:

    Ties do not appear to have frayed: “U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin met with Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman on Monday, according to the Saudi government, illustrating how the White House is retaining close ties with the embattled Middle Eastern leader despite a growing international outcry.”

    That looks so bad! I don’t know how the Trump administration could still have Mnuchin meeting with MBS.

    “The center of London ground to a halt as an estimated 700,000 people from all over the UK marched peacefully on parliament to demand a second referendum on Brexit. It was the biggest outpouring of public opposition to government policy since the anti-Iraq war protest in 2003.”

    Too late?

    “Saudi operatives have mobilized to harass critics on Twitter, a wildly popular platform for news in the kingdom since the Arab Spring uprisings began in 2010. Saud al-Qahtani, a top adviser to Crown Prince Mohammed who was fired on Saturday in the fallout from Mr. Khashoggi’s killing, was the strategist behind the operation, according to United States and Saudi officials, as well as activist organizations.”

    An autocratic move.

    “A research team including economists from the University of Washington has put out a paper showing that Seattle’s recent minimum-wage increases brought benefits to many workers employed at the time, while leaving few employed workers worse off.”

    Republicans will not like that report.

    “President Trump signaled opposition Saturday to reviving Yucca Mountain as a nuclear waste storage site, even though his administration has allocated millions of dollars to the project that has long been controversial in this state.”

    Once again Trump doesn’t know what he is talking about. Once again he does one thing and says another. Who knows what is going on here.
    Steve Benen link

    Joachim Ronneberg, Leader of Raid That Thwarted a Nazi Atomic Bomb, Dies at 99 New York times link

  159. says

    “Erdoğan to reveal ‘naked truth’ about Khashoggi’s death”:

    Recep Tayyip Erdoğan appears primed to assemble two weeks of leaks, insinuation and police evidence in an explosive speech in the Turkish parliament on Tuesday alleging that the Saudi Arabian government murdered the Washington Post journalist Jamal Khashoggi on Turkish soil.

    After weeks of leaks by Turkish police implying that the Saudi crown prince, Mohammed bin Salman, must have known of a premeditated murder, there was no last-minute sign that the Turkish president would hold back from revealing what he has described as the “naked truth” about Khashoggi’s death. On Monday an aide vowed: “Nothing will remain secret.”

    The White House has been making frantic private efforts to reduce the fallout from Saudi Arabia’s disastrous mishandling of the Khashoggi case, urging Erdoğan not to rub the crown prince’s face in the dirt.

    Reports on Monday suggested Saud al-Qahtani, an influential adviser to crown prince Mohammed bin Salman, participated in a Skype call to the room in the consulate where Khashoggi was held.

    A Turkish intelligence source told Reuters that at one point Qahtani told his men to dispose of Khashoggi. “Bring me the head of the dog,” he said.

    If true, the allegations would confirm reporting in the Guardian on Sunday that Turkey had intercepted the hit squad’s communications. It is understood that Erdoğan has not shared the recording with the US….

    Now CIA director Gina Haspel is en route to Turkey (or has already arrived – not sure what time she left).

  160. says

    “Giuliani visits Yerevan for Eurasian forum”:

    Rudy Giuliani, the personal lawyer of U.S. President Donald Trump, has visited Yerevan for a forum dedicated to the Eurasian Economic Union, a Russia-led economic bloc.

    “I’m here as a private citizen, just to learn some facts in my first time in Armenia,” he told reporters on October 22 during a visit to Yerevan’s genocide memorial….

    The same day, Giuliani visited the Ministry of Defense and met with Defense Minister Davit Tonoyan, who gave him a briefing on Armenia’s security environment.

    He came to Yerevan at the invitation of Ara Abrahamyan, a Russian-Armenian businessman and head of the Union of Armenians of Russia, who prides himself on his ties to Russian President Vladimir Putin. “He gives orders and I carry them out,” Abrahamyan has said of Putin. Abrahamyan also publicly opposed the rise to power of Nikol Pashinyan, claiming that the “real goal” of the protests that swept Pashinyan into office was destabilization and economic damage to Armenia.

    It’s not clear how Abrahamyan enticed Giuliani to Yerevan, but the American has a record of getting involved in other countries’ politics for money. In August, Giuliani spoke out against an anti-corruption effort in Romania, contradicting the official position of the State Department. He later acknowledged that he did so after being engaged by a lobbying firm.

    It didn’t appear that Giuliani took part in any formal events connected to Eurasia Week, which began on October 22 and was the ostensible reason for his visit….

  161. says

    Follow-up to SC’s comment 218.

    […] Justice Neil Gorsuch, joined by Justice Clarence Thomas, said in a partial dissent from the order that he disagreed with the move to allow the deposition of the DOJ official, John Gore, and the additional discovery.

    “[T]here’s nothing unusual about a new cabinet secretary coming to office inclined to favor a different policy direction, soliciting support from other agencies to bolster his views, disagreeing with staff, or cutting through red tape,” Gorsuch wrote. […]

    So, Gorsuch was glad that Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross was not going to be deposed, and furthermore, he didn’t want the DOJ official, John Gore, deposed either. Nor did Gorsuch want to allow additional discovery. JFC indeed.

    No, we don’t need no stinking information or facts.

  162. says

    From comments related to the Talking Points Memo article from which I quoted in comment 219:

    Gorsuch and Thomas’s shamelessly partisan “concurrence” basically saying “hey, we’ve pre-decided this case and think we ought to just shitcan the whole lawsuit!” That was improper and another blow to the Court’s rapidly draining credibility.
    only the Ross deposition was delayed, and it will go forward if the Trump administration fumbles and doesn’t request a full hearing. Odds are the rest of the information will be just as damning in the trial, and they have Ross’ emails and statements about what he did/wanted to point at. It would be better if they allowed the deposition of course, but this almost seems amazing considering what the court is like at the moment…Roberts must have sided with letting all the rest go and trying to say that a Cabinet officer needs extra examination (which doesn’t have any precedence of course).

    Almost every move by the SC from now until the conservative block is broken is going to look like this…right wing assholes making statements that are shameful, the left doing actual juris prudence, and Roberts floating in the middle deciding how much he values the institution of law in the US. We can only hope this is a short chapter in our history.
    Wait a couple months for your subpoena from Congress, Wilbur.

  163. says

    “Trump and Republicans settle on fear — and falsehoods — as a midterm strategy”:

    President Trump has settled on a strategy of fear — laced with falsehoods and racially-tinged rhetoric — to help lift his party to victory in the coming midterms, part of a broader effort to energize Republican voters with two weeks left until the Nov. 6 elections.

    Trump’s messaging — on display in his regular campaign rallies, tweets and press statements — largely avoids much talk of his achievements and instead offers an apocalyptic vision of the country, which he warns will only get worse if Democrats retake control of Congress.

    The president has been especially focused in recent days on a caravan of about 5,000 migrants traveling north to cross the U.S. border, a group he has darkly characterized as gang members, violent criminals and “unknown Middle Easterners” — a claim for which his administration has so far provided no concrete evidence.

    The approach in many ways seeks to re-create the 2016 playbook that lifted Trump to the presidency, in which cultural flash points and controversies, like the specter of mass illegal migration, helped energize Trump’s supporters….

    Stephen Miller, Trump’s senior policy adviser who has long espoused hard-line immigration policies, is one of the chief authors of Trump’s rally messages, though the president often goes further than his prepared remarks.

    But unlike two years ago — when some Republicans were hesitant to follow their nominee’s lead in using divisive rhetoric — Republicans are now more eagerly following the president’s cues, including in their own campaign rhetoric and ads….

    It’s also the standard fascist propaganda playbook, including the gigantic lies and absurd conspiracy theories. Same propaganda playbook used by the Nazis. Same propaganda playbook used by fascists today in Hungary and Italy. Now the playbook not just of Trump but of the Republican Party. Vile racist propaganda. There’s nothing stopping the media from covering it as such. (The NYT in particular should consult its own coverage of fascist propaganda in the 1920s and ’30s in order to avoid continuing to make the same mistakes.)

    “Republicans accuse Democrats of using scare tactics as well. They are warning voters that the president and his party will decimate their health-care coverage by repealing the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare, and arguing, to varying degrees, that Trump is unfit to lead the nation.” ARGH.

  164. says

    A white woman took a racist stance against a Spanish-speaking family in a Virginia restaurant.

    […] The woman can be heard in the video screaming at a Guatemalan woman and her family, telling them to “go back to your f—–g country.” She also tells the family not to “freeload on America” and repeatedly asks for their passports.

    Later in the video, the woman is seen continuing her tirade outside the restaurant, saying, “I’m tired of this shit.” […]


  165. says

    “Why is Rudy Giuliani scheduled to speak alongside a sanctioned Russian official?”:

    Rudy Giuliani, the personal lawyer to President Donald Trump, is scheduled to speak at a conference in Armenia alongside one of the first Russian officials the U.S. sanctioned following Russia’s 2014 invasion of Ukraine.

    …Giuliani is scheduled to speak on Tuesday alongside Sergei Glazyev, a Russian official who has been sanctioned by both the U.S. and European Union for his role in Russia’s 2014 incursion into southern Ukraine.

    Glazyev, identified by the conference as an “adviser to the president of the Russian Federation,” has a distinct history with American far-right activists. As ThinkProgress reported earlier this year, Glazyev was once close with noted American anti-Semite Lyndon LaRouche, even going so far as to use LaRouche to translate one of Glazyev’s books into English. Glazyev was also one of the most vocal Russian officials opposing Ukrainian membership in the European Union, and reportedly helped organize protests across Ukraine in the aftermath of the 2013 EuroMaidan revolution.

    The title of Giuliani’s and Glazyev’s scheduled talk is “Technological Breakthrough and EAEU Potential,” a topic on which Giuliani would seemingly have little expertise.

    This week’s conference, the third of its kind, doesn’t shy away from promoting the EAEU [“the pro-Russia Eurasian Economic Union”]. Describing itself as the “largest international business forum in the Eurasian Economic Union,” the conference not only lists the Kremlin-funded Sputnik outlet as an official “media” partner, but its homepage features Crimea as a part of Russia….

  166. says

    SC @227, Wow! I’m so impressed with some of the Democratic Party candidates this year. I hope that high quality makes a difference at the polls.

    Meanwhile, Trump’s followers continue to believe him when he says that the caravan of migrants now making their way through Mexico is a cover for MS-13 gang members and for Middle Eastern terrorists. Trump offers no proof. He is wrong. He is lying. Still, I think his fear-mongering tactics are encouraging Republicans to vote. It is so depressing to see Trump’s lies working as a political strategy. He is now telling approximately nine lies per day, up from his previous 7.+.

  167. says

    From conservative Ramesh Ponnuru, writing for Bloomberg News.

    Republicans might be able to expand their ranks in the Senate without campaigning to do anything in particular. Perhaps they will even hold a slimmed-down majority in the House. But they will find, as they found in early 2017, that it is difficult to get the party working together on an agenda without having built a consensus before the election.

    I am tempted to say that there is something, if not anti-democratic, at least contrary to the spirit of good government, in a political party so thoroughly abandoning the notion that it will tell us in advance what it will do if it wins an election. If it did that, voters would be able to judge its program in casting their ballots this time, and next time they would be able to look back and see how much of that program was achieved and with what results.

    The Republican policy is power, hold onto power.

    Any policies they might actually have are so unpopular that they can’t run on them: tax policies that result in 3/4 of the benefits going to the top 1%; raising the age for medicare eligibility; getting rid of the requirement that insurance companies cover preexisting conditions; taking children away from their parents at the border; reducing access to abortion and other reproductive healthcare; erasing recognition of transgender people; suppressing the voting rights of people of color, college students, and anyone likely to vote Democratic; supporting scams and ripoffs in the corporate sector; removing environmental protections; doing what Putin wants when it comes to ballistic missiles; etc.

    The Republicans are running on fear immigrants, demonization of Nancy Pelosi, and fear of liberal “mobs.” It’s ridiculous.

  168. says

    Roberta Jacobson, former U.S. ambassador to Mexico, wrote an op-ed for the New York Times:

    […] I had been a diplomat for over 30 years, serving under five presidents, with stints in Argentina and Peru, and as assistant secretary for Western Hemisphere Affairs. I had visited nearly every country in the Americas, mastered the bureaucratic skills needed to get things done and served on crisis task forces for hurricanes, earthquakes and coups. I had always relied on guidance from my State Department superiors, and the White House via the National Security Council. Such guidance was rare after Mr. Trump assumed office.

    Some chaos is normal at the start of an administration. But it has been extreme under Mr. Trump. About 30 ambassadorships remain vacant, including in vitally important countries like Saudi Arabia and Pakistan. Moreover, the disconnect between the State Department and the White House seems intentional, leaving ambassadors in impossible positions and our allies across the globe infuriated, alienated and bewildered. […]

    Despite Mr. Trump’s campaign rhetoric vilifying Mexicans and focusing on a border wall, embassy officials and our Mexican partners felt after his inauguration that we would be able to continue working well together. But it quickly became impossible to know how to influence the mess in Washington. […]

    … I cannot pretend anything less than relief at no longer having to defend the indefensible. But I also feel glad to escape the disorder I witnessed for more than a year. […]

  169. says

    From Rachel Maddow:

    On Friday, federal prosecutors charged the chief bookkeeper of the Internet Research Agency – this troll firm led by [Putin ally Yevgeny] Prigozhin – with interfering in the election that we Americans are having right now. And today, because this is our world now, right after that indictment was unsealed, National Security Adviser John Bolton went to Moscow to start work on scrapping a landmark nuclear treaty that was signed by the U.S. and the Soviet Union back when Mikhail Gorbachev was in charge.

    Bolton also brought a message with him to Russia on the subject of Russia’s ongoing efforts to interfere in our democracy. The Justice Department unsealed this indictment against this accountant to Prigozhin, talking about the ongoing efforts by the Russians to interfere in our elections even now. They unsealed that on Friday, right before Bolton went to Moscow, so he could really take to it ‘em when he went to Moscow. He could confront them with that information and that unsealed indictment.

    Here is how National Security Adviser John Bolton got tough with the Russians on the subject today. Speaking to a Russian radio station, John Bolton said, “The point I made to Russian colleagues today was that I didn’t think, whatever they had done in terms of meddling in the 2016 election, that they had any effect on it.”


  170. says

    From President Obama:

    […] Unlike some, I actually try to state facts. I believe in facts. I believe in a fact-based reality, and a fact-based politics.

    I don’t believe in just making stuff up. I think you should, like, actually say to people what’s true. […]

    The threat to our democracy does not come from one person in the White House or Republicans in Congress or big money lobbyists. The biggest threat to our democracy is indifference. The biggest threat to our democracy is cynicism that says, “We’re just going to stay home because my voice doesn’t matter.”

    […] Here’s the good news, Nevada. Right now we’ve got a chance to restore sanity to our politics. Right now we can tip the balance of power back to you, the American people. Because ultimately, there is only one real check on abuses of power, there’s only one real check on bad policy, and that is you and your vote. You.

  171. says

    About those new tax cuts Trump has been touting:

    […] Q: You said “lower tax cuts.” You said that you wanted tax cuts by November 1st. Congress isn’t even in session. How is that possible?

    TRUMP: No, we’re going to be passing — no, no. We’re putting in a resolution sometime in the next week, or week and a half, two weeks.

    Q: A resolution where?

    TRUMP: We’re going to put in — we’re giving a middle-income tax reduction of about 10 percent. We’re doing it now for middle-income people. This is not for business; this is for middle. That’s on top of the tax decrease that we’ve already given them.

    Q: Are you signing an executive order for that?

    TRUMP: No. No. No. I’m going through Congress.

    Q: But Congress isn’t in session, though.

    Despite the fact that all of this was borderline incoherent — I’m not sure what he thinks a “resolution” is — the president repeated the vow at a rally in Texas last night, boasting that the chairman of the House Ways & Means Committee has been working on a new tax cut “for a few months,” and the proposal is “going to be put in next week.”

    None of this makes a lick of sense. No one in Congress has any idea what this is about — even White House officials are reportedly “mystified” — and since Capitol Hill will be largely empty next week, there won’t be anyone around to unveil a new multi-billion-dollar tax proposal.

    […] there are a couple of substantive angles to this.

    The first is that there’s a growing realization, even inside the Oval Office, that Trump’s original tax cuts were a political dud, which has apparently led the president to believe it’s time to make up new ones before Election Day.

    As the Washington Post’s Catherine Rampell explained overnight, “The Republican tax cut is a big, fat failure. It has achieved none of the things that Republicans promised it would. It didn’t reduce deficits. It didn’t target the middle class. And it didn’t win goodwill with voters.”

    The second angle to keep in mind is that, with just two weeks remaining before the congressional midterm elections, Trump’s closing message is based almost entirely on brazen lies.

    The president is making up tax cuts. He’s making up “riots.” He’s making up racist conspiracy theories. He’s making up health care policies. He’s making up voter fraud. He’s making up a $110 billion arms deal, which in his mind will create 500,000, 600,000, or a million jobs.

    With the pressure on and early voting underway, Donald Trump has decided reality is an opponent that needs to be defeated.

    Well said, Steve Benen.

  172. says

    About all of those GOP candidates, (and Trump), making the claim that Republicans protect people with pre-existing conditions:

    The Trump administration announced a new policy on Monday making it easier for states to circumvent coverage requirements and consumer protections in the Affordable Care Act.

    States could, for example, use federal funds to subsidize short-term insurance plans with skimpy benefits and fewer protections for people with pre-existing conditions.

    Coming two weeks before Election Day, the new policy appeared to be a political gift to Democrats, who are making health care a potent campaign theme.

    Trump Officials Make It Easier for States to Skirt Health Law’s Protections

    I received a robocall today telling me that short-term insurance plans in Idaho could now cover three years, not one year. I was encouraged to buy what is essentially a junk plan that either does not cover pre-existing conditions, or that will cover pre-existing conditions for a payment of up to $30,000 per year.

    As other writers put it, states are now setting up their own alternatives to the health care law. People who have health problems will not be able to find coverage in those alternative plans.

    This may be a “political gift” to Democrats, but I kind of doubt it. The healthcare issue is a bit complicated to explain. It doesn’t lend itself to sound bites like Trump’s, “Republicans protect pre-existing conditions.” Pointing out that Trump is lying, and the nature of the lie, takes time. I doubt that a lot of voters will listen. Hopefully, some more well-crafted political ads can clear this up for voters.

    Look at what Republicans do, not what they say.

    From Larry Levitt, senior vice president at the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation:

    This new guidance allows states to set up parallel insurance markets that may be able to attract healthy people with plans that have lower premiums but fewer consumer protections, leaving ACA plans with a sicker pool and higher premiums.

  173. says

    From caitlin MacNeal, writing for Talking Points Memo:

    […] CNN reports:

    Investigators have been provided recordings of Stone claiming he talked to Trump regularly early in the 2016 presidential campaign, CNN has learned. Later, after various document dumps from WikiLeaks, Stone claimed in separate communications he should receive credit for coordinating with the group, the source said.

    It had not been previously reported that Stone wanted credit for interacting with Wikileaks. Instead, he’s claimed that any communication he had with Wikileaks was benign and that radio host Randy Credico was his main go-between.

    In recent months, the grand jury convened by Mueller questioned Credico, and former Stone aide Andrew Miller has been battling a Mueller subpoena in court.

    The CNN report comes during a time when Mueller’s probe has been relatively quiet ahead of the midterm election. Despite that, over the past week, four major news outlets have published reports that the special counsel team is homing in on Stone and his circle.

    ABC News reported last week that Mueller is looking into whether Stone or his associates communicated with Wikileaks and that Paul Manafort had been questioned about Stone as part of his cooperation with the special counsel’s office.

    A couple of days later, the Wall Street Journal published a report that Mueller investigators were looking at whether Stone and a network of conservative activists, including Jerome Corsi and the late Peter W. Smith, had been in touch with Wikileaks during the 2016 campaign. The Journal also reported that Mueller’s team had obtained telephone records relevant to the Stone branch of the probe.

    Over the weekend, the Washington Post reported that the grand jury has heard more than 12 hours of testimony about Wikileaks’ potential contact with Stone and his associates and that FBI investigators have been examining messages that could offer a window into any alleged communications. The Post’s story also includes an interview with Stone.

    Finally, CNN reported Monday that Mueller’s team is examining whether Stone had extensive contact with the Trump campaign during the election and included the new tidbit that Stone allegedly wanted credit for communicating with Wikileaks.

  174. says

    Anti-gay lawyers just showed up in the Supreme Court with a big ask for Brett Kavanaugh

    They aren’t wasting any time.

    A team of conservative lawyers filed a petition in the Supreme Court on Friday, effectively asking the Court to allow religious conservatives to discriminate against same-sex couples.

    This latest case, Klein v. Oregon Bureau of Labor and Industries, presents many of the same issues that arose last term in Masterpiece Cakeshop v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission. That case, billed as an epic showdown over whether religion can be used to discriminate, wound up being resolved in a nothingburger opinion holding that states must be exceedingly polite to religious conservatives when those states enforce their civil rights laws.

    […] the lawyers behind Klein ask for an even more aggressive decision than religious conservatives sought in Masterpiece. They do not simply ask for a decision permitting their client to discriminate, they ask the Court to completely overhaul its interpretation of the Constitution’s promise that everyone can freely exercise their religion […]

    It’s a stretch to claim that, when a vendor sells a product to a customer — even if that vendor produces a custom product — that this sale conveys any message whatsoever other than “I am a businessperson in the business of selling this product.” Moreover, should the Supreme Court hand down a decision holding that “artists” enjoy a special right to discriminate, they will force courts into the unenviable task of having to determine what is art.

    As Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Elena Kagan noted during the Masterpiece Cakeshop argument, if a baker is an “artist,” why isn’t a florist, a hairstylist, or a makeup artist? And if the definition of an artist is that they make custom works, just how customized much these works be? Does a Subway “sandwich artist” count as an artist because they customize the specific mix of meats and veggies included on each sub? […]

    Team Klein‘s aggressive legal posture suggests that, at the very least, they have a shot at overruling Smith and imposing Hobby Lobby on the entirety of American law. With Kavanaugh entrenched on the Court, they are very likely to win their case, and may, in addition, win a sweeping, transformative victory for the religious right.

    Much more at the link, including Supreme Court decisions, (or rejections to hear federal appeals court cases), dating back to 1980 that may apply.

  175. says

    Pence embarrasses himself defending Trump’s ridiculous lie about migrant caravan

    On Tuesday, Vice President Mike Pence deployed lies and gaslighting to defend […] Trump’s racist, baseless, fear-mongering claim that there are “Middle Eastern” people in the migrant caravan currently heading through Mexico toward the U.S. border.

    “It’s inconceivable that there are not people of Middle Eastern descent in a crowd of more than 7,000 people advancing toward our border,” Pence said, during an event in Washington, D.C. “We apprehended more than 10 terrorists or suspected terrorists per day at our southern border from countries that are referred to in the lexicon as ‘other than Mexico’ — that means, from the Middle East region.”

    Pence’s claim that the federal government “apprehended more than 10 terrorists or suspected terrorists per day at our southern border” is false. It’s even further from the truth than a similar claim he made in February, when he said that he “learned yesterday at the Hidalgo border center that along the southern border of the United States, we actually still apprehend 1,100 individuals a day, who are attempting to enter this country illegally, including seven individuals a day who are either known or suspected terrorists.”

    Poltifact rated Pence’s February claim as “Pants on Fire.” Its fact-check noted that according to government data, Homeland Security does indeed stop about seven people each day on a terrorist watch list from entering the United States, but the vast majority of those cases are people who are prevented from getting on airplanes. Less than one person per day on average was stopped trying to enter by land. […]

    Secondly, Pence’s claim that migrants originating from countries “other than Mexico” are necessarily “from the Middle East region” is transparently false. For instance, Japan and Australia — or Ecuador and El Salvador — are countries that are not Mexico, but are also not in the “Middle East region.” […]

    the vast majority of people traveling with the caravan are mothers, fathers, daughters, and sons from Central American countries like Nicaragua and Honduras who are are making the dangerous journey north to escape desperate conditions in their native countries.

    And above all, both Pence and Trump seem to forget that traveling to the U.S. border and claiming asylum at a port of entry is legal.

  176. says

    I hope Josh Marshall or someone will put up the video clip of what Jeffrey Toobin just said about Trump’s racist lies about the caravan and the fact that the media is devoting attention to it.

  177. says

    Here’s a transcript I just made of Toobin on CNN:

    Toobin: It’s a thousand miles away! A thousand miles! You know how long it take to walk a thousand miles? I mean, this whole thing is absurd. It is a completely manufactured appeal to the ugliest sentiments of Trump’s coalition. The idea that we are under threat from these poor, desperate people is just absurd. And, you know, the lies that he keeps telling about who’s in this group, with no proof at all, I mean, it is just the bottom of the barrel politics that he’s engaged in. And frankly, I wonder about our complicity in just talking about this as if this is some kind of close to immediate threat.

    Blitzer: But he is the president of the United States. You can’t ignore what the president of the United States says.

    Toobin: I understand that. But we can focus on some things more than others, and I think this transparent attempt to create a crisis where none exists… I mean, yes, it is good that we’re calling it out. And this is a struggle that we’ve had with covering Donald Trump from the very beginning – do you cover every tweet, do you cover every lie. I don’t have the answer to that. But this one, on the eve of the election, is so grotesque that it just…there’s something that’s even worse about this, when you… Talking about it at all, but then adding the lies is just unbelievable.

    Not as good as the video but it gets the point across.

  178. says

    “Obamacare could expand after the midterm elections, despite GOP efforts to kill it”:

    Don’t look now, but America’s first Trump-era midterm election could substantially expand Obamacare.

    That’s right, expand Obamacare – implausible as it sounds after the all-GOP government’s near miss on repealing the program and attempts to undermine it. Polls show Democratic calls for improved health insurance continue to resonate with big chunks of the electorate, and may yield Election Day gains.

    Specifically, November balloting could bring half the 18 states that have resisted expanding Medicaid, a key feature of the Affordable Care Act, closer to taking that step. If they do, more than 1 million low-income Americans could gain Medicaid coverage.

    “I don’t think people have put it together,” observed Andy Slavitt, a former top Obama health aide. “Election Day is the biggest referendum on the ACA. These votes will also be a referendum on Trump policies, which have done everything they can to limit Medicaid and access to care.”

    The greatest potential impact lies in two of the three largest states that so far have refused to expand Medicaid despite generous Obamacare subsidies. Democrats Andrew Gillum in Florida and Stacey Abrams in Georgia both back expansion in their competitive campaigns to succeed outgoing Republican governors.

    The same dynamic applies in smaller states. In Wisconsin, anti-expansion GOP Gov. Scott Walker trails pro-expansion Democratic rival Tony Evers in his bid for a third term. In Kansas, Maine and South Dakota, pro-expansion Democrats battle anti-expansion Republicans in toss-up gubernatorial races.

    At the same time, voters will decide Medicaid expansion for themselves through ballot initiatives in Idaho, Nebraska and Utah. Polls show strong prospects for all three measures, and GOP governors have pledged not to obstruct voters’ wishes….

    More at the link.

  179. quotetheunquote says

    @ SC #243:

    I would say, “it should be astonishing, but really, no… not anymore.”

    In Stalinist Amerika, to be opposed to the Party or its agents is de facto criminal behaviour. I wonder if any of these people have read 1984 – or if they’d even recognize themselves if they did.

    People were leaping up and down in their places and shouting at the tops of their voices in an effort to drown the maddening bleating voice that came from the screen. […] The dark haired girl behind Winston had begun crying out ‘swine! Swine! Swine!’ and suddenly she picked up a heavy newspeak dictionary and flung it at the screen.

  180. says

    “Explosive Devices Sent to Clintons, Obama and CNN”:

    Explosive devices were sent to former President Barack Obama and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, as well as to CNN’s offices in New York, sparking an intense investigation on Wednesday into whether a bomber is going after targets that have often been the subject of right-wing ire.

    The three devices were similar to one found Monday at the home of George Soros, the billionaire philanthropist and liberal donor who has come under fierce criticism from conservatives and conspiracy theorists.

    None of the devices harmed anyone. Law enforcement officials said they were investigating whether all the devices were sent by the same person or persons.

    In a statement, the Secret Service said it had “intercepted two suspicious packages addressed to Secret Service protectees,” who were identified as Mrs. Clinton and Mr. Obama.

    The device addressed to Mrs. Clinton in Westchester County was found late on Tuesday by a Secret Service employee who screens mail for her, the statement said. The package addressed to Mr. Obama was intercepted early on Wednesday by Secret Service personnel in Washington, who screened mail for the White House.

    Shortly after the Secret Service made that announcement, the Time Warner Center, a major office complex in Midtown Manhattan, was evacuated after a similar device was discovered to have been sent to CNN’s offices there….

    This, disturbingly, was the original conclusion of the NYT report. Already gone.

  181. says

    Here’s how the paragraph – they’ve now added another at the end, about suspected ricin being sent to the WH recently, which I thought didn’t precisely turn out to be the case, and I’m not sure about its relevance here – now reads. Why any of this would be included in this report I can’t imagine.

  182. says

    Bombs are being sent to everybody Trump has singled out as enemies of the people! Who could be doing this? Where is the pattern??

    Oh, well. It’s a mystery. Come on, let’s go interview some more Trump supporters.

  183. says

    Trump says his tariffs don’t exist. WTF?

    […] “We don’t even have tariffs. I’m using tariffs to negotiate,” the president said, describing the tariffs on steel and aluminum he imposed this year as “small.”

    The U.S. this year imposed tariffs on steel, aluminum, washers and solar panels, as well as tariffs on an additional $250 billion of Chinese imports. Some businesses have supported the tariffs, but many have said they hurt their profits and could lead to higher prices for customers.

    “Where do we have tariffs? We don’t have tariffs anywhere,” Mr. Trump said when asked about the risks tariffs pose to the economy. “You know what happens? A business that’s doing badly always likes to blame Trump and the tariffs, because it’s a good excuse for some incompetent guy that’s making $25 million a year.”

    Wall Street Journal link

    As for all the pipe bombs sent to Democrats and to Brennan (I don’t know if Brennan is a Democrat or not, but he has criticized Trump): that is news in that it shows a new physical manifestation of Trump’s politics of fear, bullying, threats, violence and demagoguery.

  184. says

    Follow-up to comment 252.

    Analysis from Steve Benen of Trump’s weird comments about tariffs not existing:

    […] This is getting a little confusing. Last month, Trump released a video via social media in which he said Americans are “taking in a lot of money” as a result of his tariffs.

    Two weeks earlier, the president said the same thing, arguing at a White House event that thanks to his tariffs, there’s “a lot of money coming into the coffers of the United States of America. A lot of money coming in.”

    Part of the problem, as regular readers know, is that Trump doesn’t seem to understand what tariffs are or how his administration’s policy works.

    There is no money “coming into the coffers of the United States” as a result of the tariffs. As Politico recently explained, “President Donald 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.”

    And yet, there was Trump yesterday morning, arguing via Twitter, “Billions of dollars are, and will be, coming into United States coffers because of Tariffs.” It was just hours later that the same president, talking about the same subject, said, “We don’t even have tariffs…. Where do we have tariffs? We don’t have tariffs anywhere.”

    I imagine much of the country is accustomed to some routine incoherence from Donald Trump, but this latest pitch is head-spinning, even for him.


  185. says

    About those Republicans claiming that they will protect coverage for pre-existing conditions:

    […] the president again this morning, declaring via Twitter:

    “Republicans will totally protect people with Pre-Existing Conditions, Democrats will not! Vote Republican.”

    There’s no way around this: Trump is just straight up trying to gaslight the country.

    This is not a fight in which a complex truth lurks in some gray area in between partisan talking points. Republicans have not only fought for years to strip Americans with pre-existing conditions of their protections, they’re also — right now — trying to get the courts to gut these protections, too.

    What’s more, it was literally just two days ago when the Trump administration announced a new policy through the Department of Health and Human Services that would threaten the position of Americans with pre-existing conditions.

    But in this case, the significance of the president’s shameless lying extends beyond just a simple fact-check. There’s also a political salience to all of this.

    MSNBC’s Chris Hayes said this morning, “I actually think the president lying (again) about pre-existing conditions is a gift for Democratic candidates because it puts the issue front and center.”

    I’m very much inclined to agree. Over the last several days, Trump has invested considerable energy into shining a spotlight on immigration. The strategy has all the subtlety of a sledgehammer: the president wants Americans to be afraid, and so he’s going out of his way to get people talking about – in Trump’s vision – scary brown criminals trying to invade the United States.

    The expectation is that the rest of the political world will simply follow along, either endorsing or refuting Trump’s rhetoric, thereby keeping the spotlight on the issue he believes benefits his party.

    But this morning, it was the easily distracted president who changed the subject, renewing the debate Democrats are eager to have.

    After all, if the midterm elections are going to be about which party is sincere about championing protections for those with pre-existing conditions, Republicans are likely to have a rough year.


  186. says

    Often, when Trump says something outrageous, something that is obviously a lie, his toadies in the administration and in Congress start putting in overtime trying to make whatever Trump said true.

    It’s been five days since Donald Trump first declared publicly that he and congressional Republicans are working “around the clock” on a new tax cut, which would be ready no later than Nov. 1, despite the fact that Congress is effectively out of session. No one in Congress had any idea what the president was talking about, and even White House officials quietly conceded they were “mystified.”

    But then something funny happened. Republicans, reluctant to admit that the emperor has no clothes, started scrambling to find fabric. The Wall Street Journal reported late yesterday:

    Republicans are attempting to turn a vague tax-cut promise floated by President Trump into a campaign plank as they try to hang onto their majority in the House of Representatives. […]

    “We will continue to work with the White House and Treasury over the coming weeks to develop an additional 10% tax cut focused specifically on middle-class families and workers, to be advanced as Republicans retain the House and Senate,” said Rep. Kevin Brady (R., Texas), chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee.

    Brady couldn’t just come right out and say, “Everything Trump said is gibberish,” so the Texas Republican issued a statement that subtly made clear that the proposal […] does not, at present, exist.

    But the entire Republican apparatus apparently finds it necessary to pretend that it does exist. The president himself started adding new details to his imaginary plan, telling the Wall Street Journal that the White House has come up with a framework so that a multi-million-dollar tax break won’t add to the deficit.

    “We have a way,” Trump said. “We’re going to announce it at the time. But we think we can make it revenue neutral based on certain things.”

    What “things”? It’s impossible to say. Because the plan is fictional, the supporting details that bolster the plan necessarily exist only in the presidential fantasy. […]


  187. says

    If you didn’t see it last night, please do watch Rachel Maddow’s presentation that analyzed statements from “Russian president Vladimir Putin declaring the end of the U.S. as a world superpower before a visit from John Bolton who shied away from any confrontation over hacking or election interference.”

    Putin is basically crowing that the U.S. is kaput as a super power. He insinuated that he had a hand in that, and he goes further to indicate that he has Trump on a leash.

    Of course Putin will try to keep Trump around as president and Putin-puppet for as long as possible.

    The video is 4:25 minutes long.

  188. says

    Oh, FFS! Well that didn’t take long. Some rightwing nutcases are already claiming that the pipe bombs sent though the mail are an effort to “deflect attention” from the Left’s mobs.”

    So, yet another “false flag” conspiracy theory is born. Sheesh. Hopefully this one will be put out of its misery soon when it is exposed to facts. It’s already spreading like a virus though.

    A leading anti-Islam activist with close ties to the Trump administration suggested Wednesday that a string of bombs sent to high-profile Democratic figures and newsrooms was an effort “to deflect attention from the Left’s mobs.”

    “None of the leftists ostensibly targeted for pipe-bombs were actually at serious risk, since security details would be screening their mail,” Frank Gaffney, executive chairman of the Center for Security Policy, wrote on Twitter. “So let’s determine not only who is responsible for these bombs, but whether they were trying to deflect attention from the Left’s mobs.”

    That message comes as law enforcement reports that “functional” explosive devices were sent to philanthropist George Soros, Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama, Rep. Debbie Wasserman-Schultz, and the newsrooms at CNN’s New York headquarters and the San Diego Tribune.

    Pipe bombs sent through the mail are considered a terrorism-related crime under federal law, regardless of the motive. […]


    There are no leftwing mobs. That’s an invention that comes straight from Trump.

    As an aside, thank you SC for keeping us up to date.

  189. says

    Josh Marshall stated the obvious:

    People in positions of great power shouldn’t engage in rhetoric of incitement or targeted demonization.

  190. says

    NEWS: Law enforcement sources tell @ABCNews that at least one suspected device has been intercepted at a Congressional mail sorting facility in Maryland. Capitol Hill Police bomb techs are on the scene.”

  191. says

    Trump is pursuing another front in his propaganda war against the Democrats.

    On Tuesday, the White House sent out a series of press releases that might have looked merely ridiculous if they were coming from the Republican, sorry, Nationalist Party. […] the over-the-top insistence of “Congressional Democrats Want to Take Money from Hardworking Americans to Fund Failed Socialist Policies” is much less funny. So are the contents, which repeatedly invoke Venezuela as the “model” for Democratic policies and insist that Democrats want to destroy the economy. The longer version goes even further, accusing Democrats of supporting Karl Marx.

    The proposed solutions include single-payer systems, high tax rates (“from each according to his ability”), and public policies that hand out much of the Nation’s goods and services “free” of charge (“to each according to his needs”).

    The report then goes on to detail the effects of universal health care and a strong social safety net by looking at the most obvious examples “Maoist China, Cuba, and the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR).” The conclusion? Joseph Stalin was bad.

    So, Americans can’t have health care. Both the Twitter-delivered version and the longer report from the Council of Economic advisers also look at the “Nordic countries” which they insist are not that socialist. And which they dismiss with a single swipe by saying: “Living standards in the Nordic countries are at least 15 percent lower than in the United States.” Which is supported by, no evidence at all. Not so much as a footnote. Which makes it worth noting that the World Economic Forum rates Finland as the highest quality of life in the world, with Denmark coming in at number three, Sweden sixth, Norway in the seventh slot and the US nowhere to be found on the top ten list.

    […] Trump is reaching new levels of unsupported, unhinged rage in his attack on the Democratic Party. As the Washington Post reports, Trump’s “rhetoric has turned increasingly darker” as he has condemned Democrats as monsters out to destroy the economy while encouraging crime. […]


  192. says

    Update to #258 – “NBC News: Per a statement from Sen. Kamala Harris’ office and local police there is NO suspicious package at the Senator’s office in San Diego and the item police did check out was not addressed to her and was found to not be a device of any kind.”

    NY governor Andrew Cuomo just said during the press conference that he was just informed that a device was sent to his office.

  193. says

    Follow-up to SC @243:

    This is astonishing: “Ted Cruz says Beto O’Rourke can have ‘double occupancy cell with Hillary Clinton’ after supporter yells ‘lock him up’.”

    The same Ted Cruz that wants to lock up Beto O’Rourke said this today:

    Violence is never OK. Reports of bombs sent to the homes of Obama, Clinton, and Soros are deeply, deeply disturbing. America is better than this. Political disagreements are fine, even healthy, but we should always be civil and respect each other’s humanity.

    Effing hypocrites.

  194. says

    CNN is showing a picture of the package sent to them/Brennan, which has a(n obviously false) return address label from Debbie Wasserman-Schultz. It appears the intercepted package sent to Eric Holder had a return address from DWS as well.

  195. says

    Chris Hayes: “During a news cycle in which conservatives have been arguing the Democrats are a ‘mob’, we’ve seen ultra-rightwing street thugs beat people on the streets of NY and bombs being sent to George Soros and the Clintons.”

    This and Lynna’s #259 reminded me that I’d wanted to post a link to Rachel Maddow’s segment last night “Republicans frantic to cover record of attacking Obamacare.”

    The rightwing mob scenes from 2010 shown here are a small fraction of what happened in these years (also described in Over the Cliff: How Obama’s Election Drove the American Right Insane, which I’ve just begun). I wonder if any of the people involved in the scenes Maddow shows have a different opinion of the ACA now…

  196. says

    More nonsense from Trump today:

    For those who want and advocate for illegal immigration, just take a good look at what has happened to Europe over the last 5 years. A total mess! They only wish they had that decision to make over again.

    We are a great Sovereign Nation. We have Strong Borders and will never accept people coming into our Country illegally!

    No one is advocating for “illegal immigration.”

  197. says

    Richard Spencer, white nationalist and neo-Nazi, was accused of domestic violence.

    In perhaps the least surprising news this week, Richard Spencer […] has been accused of domestic violence by his ex-wife, Nina Koupriianova, in their divorce proceedings. In an interview with Buzzfeed, Koupriianova detailed the ways Spencer (“allegedly”) abused her emotionally, physically and financially.

    The descriptions of Spencer’s abuse are shocking, even knowing full well that the guy is a Nazi.

    Via Buzzfeed:

    Koupriianova said that Spencer’s favorite statement to her was, “The only language women understand is violence.” He also allegedly told her once, “I’m famous, and you are not! I’m important, and you are not!”

    In January 2011, about five months after their civil wedding ceremony and three weeks before their church wedding ceremony, Koupriianova said that Spencer dragged her down the stairs by her “legs, arms and hair” and threw her on a couch, resulting in bruises.

    “I was very sick with the stomach flu, could not keep food or water down, and wanted to stay in bed recovering. Mr. Spencer wanted to watch a movie downstairs and did not take ‘no’ for an answer,” she wrote. “He dragged me out of bed by my arms, legs, and hair, dragged me down the stairs, and threw me onto the couch. At that point he calmed down and turned on his movie. The incident resulted in bruises.”

    Koupriianova also argued in court that Spencer’s continued insistence upon remaining in the spotlight as America’s foremost Nazi puts her family in danger, and that as a result of this danger, he kept loaded weapons around the house in places where their children could find them.

    The documents said that Spencer’s “controversial public life” has led “his entire family to be targets of violence,” and Spencer kept a loaded weapon in his bedroom that was “accessible by children” after he was “assaulted in public” on the day of President Donald Trump’s inauguration.

    “Despite the risk to his family,” Koupriianova argued in court, “[Spencer] continues to engage in extremely polarizing public speech advocating ‘peaceful ethnic cleansing’ and a white-only ‘ethno-state’ which tends to invite passions and violence.”

    “Most, if not all, of [Spencer’s] public speaking events result in violence,” the affidavit states.

    “Peaceful ethnic cleansing.” […]

    This is hardly the first time a white supremacist has had an issue with domestic violence. Earlier this year, Matthew Heimbach — who at the time was the leader of the Traditionalist Worker’s Party — was charged with battery when he assaulted his wife after she caught him having sex with her former stepfather’s wife. Spencer acolyte William Fears was charged with choking and beating his girlfriend.

    There’s a connection there. People are rarely just one kind of asshole. Violence against women, verbal abuse of women very often go hand in hand with extreme right-wing beliefs. You will very rarely encounter a white supremacist who thinks feminism is great, or vice versa. I, certainly, have never heard of one.

    Richard Spencer has denied the allegations.

  198. Saad says

    Lynna, #270

    Hmm, I just posted about that here and the post seems to have disappeared. Is that just on my end? I did have multiple tabs open… I wonder if I posted it in the wrong thread :(

  199. says

    Update to #264 – “The earlier suspicious package at Governor Cuomo’s office in midtown has been cleared by NYPD personnel. It was unrelated. And there was no device of any kind.”

    So by my count, the ones apparently connected are those sent to: Soros, the Clintons, the Obamas, CNN/Brennan, Holder, and Waters. Several seem to have a fake DWS return address (even those thought to have been delivered by hand); not sure if any were sent to her.

  200. tomh says

    @ #15
    Regarding vote by mail, the Washington Post had an article earlier this year on the subject.
    Letting people vote at home increases voter turnout. Here’s proof.

    The challenge in trying to evaluate the impact of vote at home on turnout is that there’s never a control group. Turnout rates in the states where everyone can vote at home — Oregon, Washington and Colorado — have increased since the system was adopted, and they’re now among the highest in the country. But because elections are complicated, and each state’s demographics are unique, it’s hard to prove that vote at home is the cause.

    So they commissioned a study using the Colorado 2014 election, which was implementing vote at home for the first time, created a model based on publicly available voter information, and found that voters that their model rated unlikely to cast ballots turned out in far greater numbers than predicted.

    I admit to being prejudiced since here in Oregon we’ve had vote by mail for 20 years and I swear by it.

  201. says

    “Manafort Associate Firtash Lurches Towards U.S. Extradition”:

    Ukrainian oligarch and Paul Manafort associate Dmytro Firtash is one step closer to seeing the inside of a U.S. courtroom.

    The European Union Court of Justice issued a ruling on Wednesday denying the possibility for Firtash to appeal to the European Court of Human Rights.

    The ruling removes a final hurdle to Firtash’s extradition to the United States, leaving it up to Austria’s Supreme Court to decide on the oligarch’s deportation.

    Firtash’s attorneys wrote in a letter this month that the European court ruling would allow the oligarch’s case to be “quickly” decided.

    “Mr. Firtash’s lawyers believe that the Austrian Supreme Court will move quickly and Mr. Firtash could face extradition in a short time frame following the decision by the Court of Justice,” wrote Firtash lawyer Dan Webb in an Oct. 9 letter to Chicago Federal Judge Rebecca Pallmeyer….

  202. says

    “Judge: No rejecting mail ballots due to signature mismatch”:

    Georgia election officials must stop rejecting absentee ballots and absentee ballot applications because of a mismatched signature without first giving voters a chance to fix the problem, a federal judge ruled Wednesday.

    U.S. District Judge Leigh May ordered the secretary of state’s office to instruct county election officials to stop the practice for the November midterm elections. She outlined a procedure to allow voters to resolve alleged signature discrepancies.

    May’s order comes in response to two lawsuits filed earlier this month allege that election officials are improperly rejecting absentee ballots. The lawsuits said the rejections without first letting voters challenge the determination violated voters’ constitutional rights.

    May gave the parties until noon Thursday to comment on whether the language in her order is “confusing or will be unworkable” for election officials….

  203. says

    Saad, @273, your guess is as good as mine.

    Posts that contain gender-based slurs are automatically kicked out. That include posts that contain: B-word, rhymes with witch; P-word for a woman’s genitalia, F-word to refer to a gay person, C-word for a woman’s genitalia (sometimes used to denigrate a man), etc.

    Sometimes the forbidden words appear in a link to a web page, so those are easy to miss.

    What is perhaps more likely is that you meant to post the comment, but only previewed it? Or you closed the tab before you posted?

  204. says

    Follow-up to comment 260.

    Far-Right Derides Package Bombs As Pre-Election ‘False Flag’ Operation

    Yep. We could see that coming.

    […] Without any evidence, members of the far-right media, think tank heads, and Twitter activists shared their conspiratorial theories on social media.

    Similar “functional” explosive devices this week targeted Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton, former Attorney General Eric Holder and billionaire philanthropist George Soros. CNN’s New York headquarters was evacuated after a package addressed to former CIA director John Brennan, an outspoken Trump critic, was found in the mail room.

    New York Mayor Bill de Blasio and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell were among the politicians to quickly dismiss the bomb threats as “an act of terror” and “attempted acts of domestic terror.”

    But the Twitter critics instead resorted to far-out theories that they’ve leaned on during previous moments of crisis: horrific incidents are just a manufactured effort by Democrats to push their agenda.

    Michael Flynn Jr., son of former Trump national security adviser Michael Flynn, called the bombs “a total false flag operation.”

    Though he later deleted several messages, he said he “hate[s] the timing as it provides a PERFECT narrative for @TheDemocrats going into the mid terms.”

    “If I’m wrong about this being a political stunt, I’ll own up to it,” added Flynn Jr., who was booted from Trump’s transition team for promoting conspiracy theories. “But timing is everything folks. And the timing given how close we are to midterms is HIGHLY SUSPICIOUS!” […]

    More at the link.

  205. says

    Follow-up to comments 260 and 281.

    […] Former FBI Special Agent Chris Swecker has been Fox News’ go-to guy for bashing former FBI head James Comey, over the last year. With a series of “explosive devices,” and mysterious packages, sent to prominent liberals and news outlets, all targets of white supremacist in chief Donald Trump’s tweets and third reich rally speeches the past few weeks (and years), the question has to be asked: is the person or persons attempting to murder liberal politicians…conservative? Swecker doesn’t want to jump to conclusions here, guys,

    Swecker: They’re going to be looking at this as a potential terrorist motive, whether it’s on one side or the other. And as you correctly pointed out earlier, this doesn’t necessarily mean someone is espousing some sort of conservative ideology and targeting Democrats. It could be someone who is trying to get the Democratic vote out and incur sympathy. […]


  206. says

    Follow-up to comments 260, 281 and 282.

    […] “Breaking! Alex Jones Predicted False Flag Attack to Blame Patriots,” read the top headline Wednesday morning on Infowars, which Jones owns and operates. […]

    Conservative columnist Kurt Schlichter said he doesn’t “buy this super convenient turn of events,” […]

    Ann Coulter, another popular pro-Trump commentator, called bombs “a liberal tactic” and invoked domestic terrorist Ted Kaczynski, known as the “Unabomber,” and the 19th-century Haymarket riot, where a labor protest in Chicago turned deadly after a bomb went off. […]


  207. says

    Follow-up to comments 260, 281, 282 and 283.

    Conservative businessman and radio personality Bill Mitchell, a fervent defender of Donald Trump on Twitter, said the packages were “Pure BS.” The incident had “Soros astro-turfing written all over it so the media can paint” the Republican Party as “dangerous,” he said. […]

    John Cardillo, a host on Newsmax, a conservative media outlet run by Trump golfing buddy Christopher Ruddy, said investigators should look at “far left groups” who “know they’re losing.” He later deleted his tweet […]

  208. says

    From Trump:

    […] bring those responsible for these despicable acts to justice […]

    I just want to tell you that in these times, we have to unify, we have to come together, and send one very clear, strong, unmistakable message that acts or threats of political violence of any kind have no place in the United States of America […]

  209. says

    From Wonkette:

    In your “Jesus Christ these People” news today, there’s word from the Daily Beast that Donald Trump’s White House staff and other Republicans know he’s completely full of shit when he lies about that caravan of asylum seekers in southern Mexico, but hey, that’s the base-enervating narrative du jour, so they’re all good with it.

    Never mind that the caravan is a thousand miles from the US border or weeks away from arriving, or that a previous large caravan in April had largely dispersed by the time a few hundred migrants sought legal asylum at legal border crossings — and especially, let’s please ignore that the US and Mexican actions against those migrants posed a real danger to the migrants, not the other way around. It gets the proles worked up and enthusiastic about voting, so let the lies rage on!

    Of course Trump is lying. When has that ever mattered to TrumpWorld?

    “It doesn’t matter if it’s 100 percent accurate,” a senior Trump administration official told The Daily Beast. “This is the play.”

    Trump is doing his best to revive immigrant panics of years past. Remember how in 2014, ISIS was smuggling terrorists into Texas delis, and those terrorists stood around and let people take pictures of them wearing authentic ISIS uniforms? Totally happened!

    Also, Ebola was going to kill us all, and the illegal aliens were bringing in Ebola, too, which never actually happened but we had a good panic about some medical workers, didn’t we? And by golly, Breitbart knew the illegal alien hordes included ISIS terrorists because some dingus found an Adidas soccer shirt near the border in Arizona and decided it was a MUSLIM PRAYER RUG. […]

    More at the link.

  210. says

    Follow-up to comments 260, 281, 282, 283 and 284.

    Talk radio show host Rush Limbaugh and Fox News guest Candace Owens began to spread a conspiracy on Wednesday that Democrats were behind several packages containing explosive devices. Limbaugh suggested on his show on Wednesday that the devices were sent to top Democrats to boost support for Democrats two weeks ahead of the midterm elections.

    “It’s happening in October,” Limbaugh said. “There’s a reason for this.” He added that attempted violent attacks are not in line with conservatives’ usual behavior. “Republicans just don’t do this kind of thing,” he said

    Candace Owens, a prominent conservative commentator and frequent Fox News guest, proclaimed there was a “0% chance that these suspicious packages were sent by conservatives.” According to Owens, “the only thing ‘suspicious’ about these package is their timing.” She then blamed “leftists” of using “fake bomb threats” for political gain.


  211. says

    So, now the “false flag” conspiracy theory about the pipe bombs sent to prominent Democrats, (and to Republican, and Trump critic Brennan via CNN), is so widespread that I can no longer track it. It’s going to take a major cleanup effort to kill that virus.

  212. says

    Re comment 288, I wonder if Russian trolls and bots are going to jump on that conspiracy theory bandwagon?

    No, I don’t wonder. I know they will.

  213. says

    From Josh Marshall:

    […] We shouldn’t forget that there have been violent incidents fueled by hostility to Republicans or President Trump. The horrific shooting last year which grievously wounded Rep. Steve Scalise (R-LA) is the clearest example. Society contains a certain percentage of unbalanced people. A charged and angry political environment will push a thin slice of that population over the edge. But we also shouldn’t pretend that this is an issue with tribalism or polarization or extremism in general.

    One side has a President repeatedly ramping up racist incitement, attacking the press as the “enemy of the people.” One side has a President who routinely leads cheers about imprisoning political opponents. His congressional supporters accept his rhetoric and now increasingly ape it. One side has a President who routinely fabricates outlandish falsehoods intended to generate outrage, fear and hate. One side has a group of rightist paramilitaries operating in various parts of the country. […]

    Violence is not actually rare but endemic in American life. But what we are seeing today has little precedent in our history. We don’t just have civil division and a rise of political violence. We have the ring leader and chief inciter holding the executive power of the state. The calls are coming from inside the house. It is not surprising that it has an effect, effects like we see today.

    The scope and depth of damage that President Trump is doing to the country every day is hard to calculate.

  214. says

    CNN Worldwide president Jeff Zucker issued a strong statement Wednesday after the outlet’s New York headquarters was evacuated due to receiving a bomb in the mail.

    “There is a total and complete lack of understanding at the White House about the seriousness of their continued attacks on the media,” Zucker said. “The President, and especially the White House Press Secretary, should understand their words matter. Thus far, they have shown no comprehension of that.” […]


    Link to statement:

  215. says

    There is a total and complete lack of understanding at the White House about the seriousness of their continued attacks on the media

    I think they understand just fine. I think they know exactly what they’re doing. This is the plan. It was always the plan.

  216. says

    “New York sues ExxonMobil, saying it ‘misled’ investors about climate change risks”:

    New York Attorney General Barbara D. Underwood sued ExxonMobil on Wednesday, accusing the oil giant of defrauding investors about the financial risks of climate change and lying about how it was calculating potential carbon costs.

    Unlike other lawsuits against big oil companies alleging the concealment of scientific studies confirming climate change, the New York lawsuit accuses ExxonMobil of assuring its investors that it was using a theoretical price for carbon in evaluating projects when in fact it often used a different price or none at all.

    The lawsuit said that “this fraud reached the highest levels of the company,” including former Exxon chief executive and former Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, who the lawsuit said knew for years that the company “was deviating” from public statements and was using two sets of calculations about future regulation of greenhouse gas emissions.

    “The attorney general is effectively charging them with keeping two sets of books — one for internal purposes one for external,” said Tom Sanzillo, director of finance at the Institute for Energy Economics & Financial Analysis, which does research on energy and the environment. “The result is a distortion of the value of the company.”…

  217. says

    Informative thread: “Waiting for my flight in Bismarck, so it’s story time. I’ve spent the past three days in North Dakota reporting on the voter ID law here, which requires residential addresses. Many Native Americans, especially those living on reservations, don’t have residential addresses….”

  218. says

    “When Trump Phones Friends, the Chinese Listen and Learn”:

    When President Trump calls old friends on one of his iPhones to gossip, gripe or solicit their latest take on how he is doing, American intelligence reports indicate that Chinese spies are often listening — and putting to use invaluable insights into how to best work the president and affect administration policy, current and former American officials said.

    Mr. Trump’s aides have repeatedly warned him that his cellphone calls are not secure, and they have told him that Russian spies are routinely eavesdropping on the calls, as well. But aides say the voluble president, who has been pressured into using his secure White House landline more often these days, has still refused to give up his iPhones. White House officials say they can only hope he refrains from discussing classified information when he is on them.

    Mr. Trump’s use of his iPhones was detailed by several current and former officials, who spoke on the condition of anonymity so they could discuss classified intelligence and sensitive security arrangements. The officials said they were doing so not to undermine Mr. Trump, but out of frustration with what they considered the president’s casual approach to electronic security.

    American spy agencies, the officials said, had learned that China and Russia were eavesdropping on the president’s cellphone calls from human sources inside foreign governments and intercepting communications between foreign officials.

    he officials said they have also determined that China is seeking to use what it is learning from the calls — how Mr. Trump thinks, what arguments tend to sway him and to whom he is inclined to listen — to keep a trade war with the United States from escalating further. In what amounts to a marriage of lobbying and espionage, the Chinese have pieced together a list of the people with whom Mr. Trump regularly speaks in hopes of using them to influence the president, the officials said.

    Among those on the list are Stephen A. Schwarzman, the Blackstone Group chief executive who has endowed a master’s program at Tsinghua University in Beijing, and Steve Wynn, the former Las Vegas casino magnate who used to own a lucrative property in Macau.

    The Chinese have identified friends of both men and others among the president’s regulars, and are now relying on Chinese businessmen and others with ties to Beijing to feed arguments to the friends of the Trump friends. The strategy is that those people will pass on what they are hearing, and that Beijing’s views will eventually be delivered to the president by trusted voices, the officials said. They added that the Trump friends were most likely unaware of any Chinese effort….

    More at the link. Most fun is the paragraph about how they’re less afraid he’s talking about classified information on the phone because he’s paranoid and because “he rarely digs into the details of the intelligence he is shown and is not well versed in the operational specifics of military or covert activities.”

  219. says

    Latest reports: There’s another package sent to Maxine Waters that looks similar to the others. The first was sent to her office in DC, while this one was sent to California. There’s concern about another package out there that was sent to Joe Biden and might have then been sent to DWS at the return address. If so, it’s somewhere in the mail system.

  220. says

    About those bots and trolls … they are being used to push propaganda and conspiracy theories about the migrant caravan:

    […] Journalists are traveling with the caravan, but even their on-the-ground reporting is competing with so much false information out there, and sometimes being co-opted by it, making it difficult to sort fact from fiction. One viral tweet spreading misinformation takes an ABC News video out of context and uses it as proof that the caravan is part of a liberal agenda to bring migrants into the US. In fact, the clip shows a few Mexican drivers “taking pity” on some in the caravan and picking them up in their trucks, as the reporter on the ground describes. […]

    One online conspiracy theory, pushed by sites like InfoWars, says the migrants in the caravan are getting rides paid for by wealthy bankers, and that they are organized by immigration advocacy groups. Last week, Florida Congressman Matt Gaetz asked on Twitter whether liberal philanthropist George Soros or “US-backed NGOs” are behind it. […] on Monday evening, the Times reported that an explosive device was found at Soros’s home, although the motive is still unclear. There is no evidence that Soros or any other rich liberal is paying for the migrants to reach the US.

    Another inaccuracy being repeated on social media and YouTube is that the caravan will soon merge with more than 40,000 Mexican migrants, and flood over the border just after the midterms. Viral posts, memes, and messages targeted directly at journalists falsely call this an “army.” One copy-paste meme going around Facebook and Twitter, which cumulatively has at least 7,000 likes and shares, spreads the much higher statistic and urges people to get in touch with an anti-immigration militia. […]

    Interest in the caravan has spiked since President Trump started discussing it, according to Google Trends, although searches in the US for the word “caravan” picked up just a day after the first people began walking from northern Honduras. By Monday, it was one of Google’s top trending searches in the US, with more than 200,000 queries. Searches for Soros—relating to the caravan and the bomb—hit more than 100,000 that day. […]

    […] many of the Twitter accounts sharing these talking points are tweeting the exact same phrases hundreds of times a day, which could be an indication of bot activity.

    […] Even when news organization report on misinformation in order to debunk it, research shows that merely repeating the misinformation at all can lead people to believe it. Mainstream news organizations have also been criticized for parroting their alarmist language, such as when the AP referred to the migrants as an “army” in a tweet. […]

  221. says

    Here’s a report on how Trump spoke about the bomb threats tonight:

    […]Trump on Wednesday night opened his rally in Wisconsin with a call for “peace and harmony” in the political arena following a series of bomb threats against prominent Democratic officials, but appeared to blame the media and Democrats for the current political climate.

    The president condemned the explosive devices addressed to former President Barack Obama, Hillary and Bill Clinton, Rep. Maxine Waters (D-Calif.) and others, declaring that such threats are “an attack on our democracy itself.”

    “We want all sides to come together in peace and harmony,” Trump said, without naming those were were targeted. “We can do it. We can do it. It’ll happen.”

    In listing ways the country can ease political hostilities, the president did not refer to any of his own repeated attacks on Democrats and the media, instead appearing to blame both for the current state of affairs.

    “Those engaged in the political arena must stop treating political opponents as being morally defective,” he said. “The language of moral condemnation and destructive routines, these are arguments and disagreements that have to stop.”

    Some critics of the president have suggested Trump is morally “unfit” to be president.

    Trump has regularly insulted his own political opponents, deploying derisive nicknames like “Crooked Hillary [Clinton],” “low IQ [Maxine Waters],” “Cryin’ Chuck [Schumer]” and “Lyin’ Ted [Cruz].”

    The president also urged that citizens should not “mob people in public spaces,” […]

    “There is one way to settle our disagreements. It’s called peacefully at the ballot box,” Trump said. “That’s what we want.”

    “The media also has a responsibility to set a civil tone and to stop the endless hostilities and constant negative and oftentimes false attacks and stories,” Trump added.

    Trump has regularly derided negative coverage as “fake news,” has labeled the press the “enemy of the people” and suggested that coverage of his summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un was “treasonous” because it was not positive enough.

    […] The president on Wednesday night sought to justify his over-the-top attacks on Democrats, whom he has labeled an “angry mob,” accused of “treasonous” behavior, and claimed without evidence are funding a caravan Central American migrants headed for the U.S. border […]


  222. says

    CIA director listens to audio of journalist’s alleged murder.

    CIA Director Gina Haspel listened to audio purportedly capturing the interrogation and killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi, giving a key member of […] Trump’s Cabinet access to the evidence used by Turkey to accuse Saudi Arabia of premeditated murder.

    Haspel […] heard the audio during her visit, according to people familiar with her meetings. […]

    On Tuesday, Trump said Saudi officials had engaged in the “worst coverup ever” and that those behind the killing “should be in big trouble.”

    A person familiar with the audio said it was “compelling” and could put more pressure on the United States to hold Saudi Arabia accountable for the death of Khashoggi, a contributing columnist for The Washington Post.

    “This puts the ball firmly in Washington’s court,” said Bruce Riedel, a former CIA official and scholar at the Brookings Institution. “Not only will there be more pressure now from the media but Congress will say, ‘Gina, we would love to have you come visit and you can tell us exactly what you heard.’ ” […]

  223. says

    FBI Arrests Leader, 2 Other Members of Violent California Neo-Nazi Gang

    The FBI has arrested the leader and two other members of a California neo-Nazi gang known for carrying out brutal physical assaults on their political enemies.

    Rise Above Movement (RAM) founder Robert Rundo was tracked to Central America by U.S. authorities and brought back to the U.S. Sunday, where he was arrested at Los Angeles International Airport, FBI spokeswoman Katherine Gulotti confirmed to TPM.

    Fellow RAM members Robert Boman and Tyler Laube were both arrested Wednesday morning in southern California, Gulotti said. A fourth man, Aaron Eason, was also named in a criminal complaint filed in federal court in Los Angeles, but he has yet to be apprehended by law enforcement.

    All four were charged with rioting and conspiracy.

    “Every American has a right to peacefully organize, march and protest in support of their beliefs – but no one has the right to violently assault their political opponents,” said Nick Hanna, U.S. attorney for the Central District of California. […]

  224. says

    “Explosive device sent to CNN featured parody ISIS flag, ‘Get Er Done’ inscription”:

    An image on the explosive device sent to former CIA Director John Brennan on Tuesday appears to be a parody of an ISIS flag taken from a meme that has been circulating on right-wing corners of the internet since 2014.

    The print-out appears to show a parody flag that replaces Arabic characters with the silhouette of three women in high heels, and a middle inscription reading “Get ‘Er Done” — which is the catchphrase of standup comedian Larry the Cable Guy.

    The “Get ‘Er Done” flag was originally created in 2014 by the right-wing parody site World News Bureau, for an article titled “ISIS Vows Retribution For Counterfeit Flags.” It has since been shared as a meme on right-wing websites and forums….

  225. says

    Also meant to include: “The explosive device also appears to have a picture of a face next to the fake ISIS flag. The identity of the person in that picture is still unknown.”

  226. says

    Excellent thread: “1. In 2009, the Dept. of Homeland Security issued a report warning of a resurgence in domestic right-wing terrorism — white supremacist groups & anti-gov’t militias triggered (if you will) by the election of America’s first black president (among other things)….”

  227. says

    “Saudi Arabia says Khashoggi’s killing was premeditated in latest reversal”:

    Saudi Arabia’s public prosecutor said on Thursday that Jamal Khashoggi was killed in a planned operation, based on information it received from Turkish investigators in Istanbul, according to a statement from the kingdom’s Foreign Ministry.

    It is the latest reversal from Saudi authorities, who last week said Khashoggi was killed accidentally in a fistfight at the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul by “rogue” agents.

    The Foreign Ministry did not say what led the prosecutor to draw that conclusion, only that it was based on information shared by Turkish investigators working with Saudi officials in Turkey. According to the statement, the Saudi prosecutor will continue its investigation based on the new information….

    Yesterday, Khashoggi’s son, who’s prevented from leaving the country, had to meet with MBS. The FII summit featured MBS appearing with Saad Hariri and joking about Hariri’s kidnapping.

  228. says

    “Trump Official Did Undisclosed Work With Scandal-Plagued GOP Fundraiser”:

    A current State Department official helped a top fundraiser for Donald Trump arrange meetings with U.S. senators and Angolan officials in early 2017, according to emails obtained by ProPublica. Neither the official nor the fundraiser registered as a foreign agent.

    Aryeh Lightstone helped plan the January 2017 meetings with U.S. senators, high-ranking Angolan government officials and the Trump fundraiser Elliott Broidy, the emails show. Several months later, Lightstone was appointed by the Trump administration to a top position in the U.S. Embassy in Israel. The involvement of a now-sitting Trump administration official in Broidy’s work has not previously been reported.

    The Washington Post reported in August that the Justice Department is investigating whether Broidy “sought to sell his influence with the Trump administration by offering to deliver U.S. government actions for foreign officials.”…

    In January 2017, Angola paid Broidy’s company $6 million for intelligence services, according to the emails and Broidy’s lawyer. The Angolan defense and intelligence minister were in Washington and were “looking forward to fostering a closer relationship with the United States and the Trump Administration,” Broidy’s assistant said in a Jan. 15, 2017, email to an aide for Sen. Tom Cotton, R-Ark.

    The emails show that Lightstone helped plan the meetings with Cotton and Sen. Ron Johnson, R-Wis.; the Angolan officials; and Broidy. In one email to Broidy under the subject line “Contacts & next steps,” Lightstone lists several senators and advice for how to approach them.

    “Cotton – ideal lunch in Senate dining room,” Lightstone wrote. “My gut is if we can lock in these Senators we have a good showing – plus the group you have on the house side [sic].” He added, “Please advise if I am looking to do anything else?”

    In July 2017, several months after Lightstone helped arrange the meetings for the Angolans, he was appointed to the Israel Embassy post. He is now considered one of the most influential people in the embassy as a top aide to Ambassador David Friedman. Lightstone’s connection to Broidy has not been previously reported.

    Lightstone and Broidy have long been friends and fixtures in pro-Israel advocacy circles. They co-hosted fundraisers focused on pro-Israel advocacy in the 2016 election cycle for Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, and Rep. Devin Nunes, R-Calif. Lightstone also owns a stake in Broidy’s company, Threat Deterrence Capital LLC, as ProPublica previously reported.

    Angola, which is a major oil producer, has military and economic interests with the U.S. government. In May 2017 Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis signed a memorandum of understanding with the Angolan defense minister to “enhance the security cooperation” between the U.S. and Angola. That was the same official, João Lourenço, for whom Lightstone helped arranged meetings with U.S. senators. Lourenço is now president of the country….

  229. says

    “Mueller has evidence suggesting Stone associate knew Clinton emails would be leaked”:

    Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s office has obtained communications suggesting that a right-wing conspiracy theorist might have had advance knowledge that the emails of Hillary Clinton’s campaign chairman had been stolen and handed to WikiLeaks, a source familiar with the investigation told NBC News.

    Mueller’s team has spent months investigating whether the conspiracy theorist, Jerome Corsi, learned before the public did that WikiLeaks had obtained emails hacked by Russian intelligence officers — and whether he passed information about the stolen emails to Donald Trump associate Roger Stone, multiple sources said.

    Mueller’s investigators have reviewed messages to members of the Trump team in which Stone and Corsi seem to take credit for the release of Democratic emails, said a person with direct knowledge of the emails….

  230. says

    “Sir Philip Green named as man at centre of ‘UK #MeToo scandal’ “:

    The retail tycoon Philip Green has been named as the businessman at the heart of the sexual harassment and bullying allegations which the Telegraph was barred from reporting by an injunction.

    Green, the owner of Top Shop, was named by Labour peer Peter Hain, who said he had been contacted by “somebody intimately involved in the case” and was using parliamentary privilege in the public interest….

  231. says

    “Text Messages Show Roger Stone Was Working to Get a Pardon for Julian Assange”:

    In early January, Roger Stone, the longtime Republican operative and adviser to Donald Trump, sent a text message to an associate stating that he was actively seeking a presidential pardon for WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange—and felt optimistic about his chances. “I am working with others to get JA a blanket pardon,” Stone wrote, in a January 6 exchange of text messages obtained by Mother Jones. “It’s very real and very possible. Don’t fuck it up.” Thirty-five minutes later Stone added: “Something very big about to go down.”

    The recipient of the messages was Randy Credico… As Mueller’s team zeroes in on Stone, they have examined his push for an Assange pardon—which could be seen as an attempt to interfere with the Russia probe—and have questioned at least one of Stone’s associates about the effort.

    Credico says that Stone repeatedly discussed his effort to win a pardon for Assange. At one point, he notes, Stone claimed that he was working with Andrew Napolitano, a Fox News personality and former New Jersey Superior Court judge, on a plan in which Napolitano would float the idea on his show or directly to President Donald Trump. Napolitano said in a statement that he “categorically denies” working with Stone to secure a pardon for Assange.

    Stone confirmed the pardon effort, though declined to answer specific questions. “I most definitely advocated a pardon for Assange,” he said in an email. He also said that he had “most certainly urged my friend Andrew Napolitano” to support an Assange pardon.

    It is not clear how far Stone’s effort went, and Credico says he wondered if Stone was being truthful…. A supporter of WikiLeaks and its enigmatic leader, Credico says that Stone’s text messages concerning an Assange pardon were part of a barrage of communications the Republican operative sent him earlier this year in a bid to convince him not to dispute Stone’s description of Credico as his WikiLeaks go-between. “He was trying to get me not to talk,” Credico contends.

    Former federal prosecutors say that Mueller’s interest in Stone’s bid to help Assange may be part of an effort to untangle the relationship between the men and could factor in a potential effort to expose a criminal conspiracy involving the hacked emails released by WikiLeaks….

    More at the link.

  232. says

    Thirty-five minutes later Stone added: “Something very big about to go down.”

    I wonder what this was. This was around the time Trump’s lawyers, in the middle of talks about Trump being interviewed by Mueller, out of the blue sent Mueller that crazy letter:

    …The 20-page letter from Trump attorney Jay Sekulow and then-Trump lawyer John Dowd, which CNN reported on last week and the Times has obtained, says that Trump could not possibly have committed obstruction in the Russia investigation because the Constitution empowers him to “terminate the inquiry, or even exercise his power to pardon if he so desired.”

    Trump’s “actions here, by virtue of his position as the chief law enforcement officer, could neither constitutionally nor legally constitute obstruction because that would amount to him obstructing himself,” Dowd and Sekulow wrote….

    Makes you wonder if there was a plan afoot to try to shut down the Mueller investigation and give mass pardons.

  233. says

    BREAKING Good news for a change: confirming that #JamalKhashoggi son Salah and his family are finally out of Riyadh and on their way to US, travel ban lifted. Too bad Salah had to endure that cruel and bizarre greeting with MBS first.”

  234. says

    From SC’s link in comment 318:

    Trump: “Those engaged in the political arena must stop treating political opponents as being morally defective.” He has recently called Democrats “evil.”

    Trump: “No one should carelessly compare political opponents to historical villains — which is done often…gotta stop. We should not mob people in public spaces or destroy public property.” He’s recently been describing Democrats supporters as a “mob.” [The White House also recently sent out statements comparing Democrats to Maoists, etc. See comment 263.]

    Trump: “The media also has a responsibility to set a civil tone and to stop the endless hostility and constant negative and oftentimes false attacks and stories. Have to do it.” So…he’s using a day in which an explosive device was sent to CNN to bolster his criticism of media. [Trump thinks any news criticizing him is false. And, how is he going to get Fox News to stop demonizing Eric Holder and Hillary Clinton?]

    Trump: “We must accept the verdicts of elections.” That was all new language, and all in a prepared text. He concludes: “Let’s get along.” Then he proceeds with his usual stuff.

    Trump criticizes Democrats over taxes and regulation, then says, “By the way, do you see how nice I’m behaving today?…Have you ever seen this? We’re all behaving very well. And hopefully we can keep it that way. We’re gonna keep it that way.”

    Trump promises that “very soon,” “drug prices will go plunging downward.” The Associated Press found 96 price hikes for every 1 price decrease in the first seven months of this year.

    A “build that wall” chant. Trump describes illegal immigration as the U.S. being “assaulted.”

    Trump repeats his most frequently rally lie, “We’ve started the wall.” That’s the 20th time he’s said this at a rally in 2018, the 47th time overall.

    Trump: “Democrats oppose any effort to secure our border.” That isn’t true. Every comprehensive immigration reform plan, for example, includes big spending on border security.

    Trump falsely claims that once asylum seekers are released at the border for a court hearing, “We never see them again. We never see them.” Even the anti-immigration Center for Immigration Studies says 63% of people have showed up for hearings over the last two decades.

    Trump urges people to vote. He adds, “If you’re going to vote Democrat, don’t bother.”

    Trump promises his imaginary “10% tax cut for the middle class. That’s all for the middle class.” He says it is coming “soon.”

    Trump calls NAFTA “horrible, horrible” and a “disaster.” He touts his “new” USMCA, lies of NAFTA: “I got it terminated.” The USMCA includes numerous significant changes, but most of it is NAFTA, and he did not terminate anything; NAFTA remains in effect.

    Sir Alert: Trump says of Wisconsin dairy farmers: “Farmers came up to me: Sir, sir, can you help me…Sir, sir, Canada just put a surcharge on our dairy product.” This story, unlike almost all Sir stories, is actually more or less accurate.

    Trump decries the treatment of Kavanaugh as “brutal.” He said he originally told Kavanaugh that he was “perfect” and the confirmation process was “gonna go so easy, so fast,” but then “they made him suffer.”

    Trump on Kavanaugh and Democrats: “That’s what we have to get rid of, that kind of treatment. We have to get rid of it.”

    Trump quietly says Tammy Baldwin wants a socialist takeover of health care, then again praises his own tone tonight, saying: “I’m trying to say that very nicely. See normally I’m screaming THEY WANT A SOCIALIST TAKEOVER…I’m trying to be nice, right.”

    It is very weird to watch Trump speak in this tone at a rally, and to avoid most of his gleeful personal disparaging of people. That’s so much of the schtick.

    So now you don’t have to listen to Trump speaking at his rally. Daniel Dale did it for you.

    I did not include all of Dale’s tweets. See the link in 318 if you want the full treatment.

    In the meantime, Trump was not so nice on twitter this morning:

    A very big part of the Anger we see today in our society is caused by the purposely false and inaccurate reporting of the Mainstream Media that I refer to as Fake News. It has gotten so bad and hateful that it is beyond description. Mainstream Media must clean up its act, FAST!”

    It doesn’t even make sense for him to blame the mainstream media. They report what Trump says. They report what Trump does.

    I think the tweet is just Trump’s way of saying that if the mainstream media all lavished praise on him like Fox News does, then no one would be angry.

    The bombs, (now up to 10 explosive devices), were, however, not sent to people trying to defend Trump. A bomb was sent to CNN, not to Fox News.

  235. says

    SC @328, did you see the tension in Jamal Khashoggi’s son Salah’s jaw when he had to shake hands with the leaders of Saudi Arabia? Sarah got through it, but man, that must have been so difficult.

    In other news, the Trump administration is trying to blame the Democrats for the precipitous drop in the stock market:

    The recent sell-off in stocks reflects fear that Congress will be remade in the upcoming election and pro-growth policies will fall by the wayside, according to White House advisor Larry Kudlow.

    Kudlow, speaking to reporters outside the White House on Tuesday, blamed the market decline on the midterm elections. “I think the stock market is worried that Congress will change and will overturn these pro-growth policies,” he said. The “correction has to overcome the uncertainty about this election.”

    CNBC link

    Trump said this two weeks ago:

    Think of that — over 50 percent since my election. Fifty percent. People — the 401(k)s — and they have 401(k)s, and they were dying with them for years. Now they’re so happy.

    Yesterday’s drop of over 600 points put all major Wall Street indexes in the negative for 2018. The Dow Jones Industrial Average was 24,719.22 on January 1, 2018. At the closing bell yesterday, the Average was 24,583.42.

    Trump’s trade wars, tariffs, etc., along with slower growth in other countries and rising interest rates in the USA are more likely to have affected the stock market. The all-powerful, evil Democrats did not do it.

  236. says

    NBC News: At noon multiple senior law enforcement officials say that at this point in the investigation there’s no specific suspect they are looking for.

    Investigators are looking into whether some of the packages were mailed from Florida.”

    I had assumed some were mailed from Florida because of the fake DWS return address.

  237. says

    More discussion of the fallout over Trump’s insistence on using unsecured phones:

    […] In May 2018, roughly 14 months into Trump’s term, Politico reported that the president was still “rebuffing” efforts to secure his communications. The article added that while Barack Obama turned over his devices every 30 days for a security review, the current president believed that would be “too inconvenient.”

    Last night, as Rachel noted on the show, the New York Times took the story to a new level.

    When President Trump calls old friends on one of his iPhones to gossip, gripe or solicit their latest take on how he is doing, American intelligence reports indicate that Chinese spies are often listening — and putting to use invaluable insights into how to best work the president and affect administration policy, current and former American officials said.

    Mr. Trump’s aides have repeatedly warned him that his cellphone calls are not secure, and they have told him that Russian spies are routinely eavesdropping on the calls, as well. But aides say the voluble president, who has been pressured into using his secure White House landline more often these days, has still refused to give up his iPhones. White House officials say they can only hope he refrains from discussing classified information when he is on them.

    Let’s count the ways in which this is a disaster for the president. First, it offers proof of Trump putting sensitive information at risk, not accidentally, but as a result of neglect and laziness. On any given day, the president of the United States knowingly picks up unsecured mobile devices, has private conversations, and remains indifferent to the fact that foreign spies may be listening and recording everything that’s said.

    Second, according to the Times’ reporting, officials in China are using what they’re learning from their surveillance in order to more effectively manipulate the Republican administration to Beijing’s advantage.

    Third, Trump administration officials presented their silver lining to this story in a way that makes the president look even more ridiculous. “They said they had further confidence he was not spilling secrets because he rarely digs into the details of the intelligence he is shown and is not well versed in the operational specifics of military or covert activities,” the Times reported. […]

    Fourth, the level of dysfunction in the White House is so severe that people around the president – officials who’ve warned Trump about using unsecured devices, only to be ignored – have decided they have to go the press in the hopes of embarrassing the president into being responsible. […]

    It’s easy to forget, but the reason Republicans and much of the Beltway press was hysterical about Hillary Clinton’s email server protocols – a story that the American electorate was told to consider of the upmost importance ahead of the 2016 election – was because of the concern that she put sensitive information at risk. It was, voters were told repeatedly, an unforgivable transgression. […]

    just two weeks ago, Trump again told Fox News that Hillary Clinton “should be in jail,” not for leaking sensitive information, but for making it vulnerable to foreign interception. […]

    If even one Republican leader publicly condemns Trump’s approach to IT security, schedules a congressional hearing, or requests an FBI investigation, I will gladly update this post and express my sincere astonishment. […]

  238. says

    SC @328, did you see the tension in Jamal Khashoggi’s son Salah’s jaw when he had to shake hands with the leaders of Saudi Arabia? Sarah got through it, but man, that must have been so difficult.

    I can’t imagine what he must have been going through.

  239. says

    What Trump said when he lied about china interfering in the upcoming election:

    China has been attempting to interfere in our upcoming 2018 election – coming up in November – against my administration. We don’t want to them to meddle or interfere in our upcoming election.

    What Mike Pence said when he lied about China’s interference:

    [A] member of our intelligence community told me that what the Russians are doing pales in comparison to what the China is doing across this country.

    Bloomberg News reported the facts, which are the opposite of what Trump and Pence claimed:

    Facebook Inc. and Twitter Inc. haven’t detected Chinese meddling in the 2018 elections, company officials said, casting doubt on claims by […] Trump that the Asian nation is trying to interfere.

    The social media giants have reported online disinformation campaigns ahead of the Nov. 6 elections that appear to originate from Russia and Iran. But press representatives for both companies, who spoke on condition they not be identified by name, said they haven’t found evidence so far of such activity from China.

    Facebook and Twitter are the latest in a string of tech companies that have made findings undercutting Trump’s claim. Last week, top cybersecurity firms — FireEye Inc., Symantec Corp., and Crowdstrike Inc. — said that, in working to help safeguard the November elections, they haven’t seen evidence of digital interference by China.

    A discussion about what Trump might have been trying to say:

    […] the White House makes a distinction between direct election interference and indirect election interference.

    Direct is what we’ve seen out of Moscow. Indirect is what the president is referring to when he talks about China.

    […] Follow the train of thought: Trump has launched a trade war, imposing tariffs on China, which has led to a series of retaliatory tariffs from Beijing. Many of China’s tariffs have, as you’ve probably heard, targeted U.S. agricultural products.

    And that’s apparently where Trump’s theory kicks in. As the American president sees it, Chinese tariffs have an adverse effect on American farmers, and since rural areas tend to be conservative, the political impact of the trade policy will be a lot of angry Republican voters.

    So, as far as Trump is concerned, China tariffs and China’s election interference are the same thing. As far as the president is concerned, there’s “plenty of evidence” because there are both plenty of tariffs and plenty of angry conservative farmers.

    Of course Facebook and Twitter can’t find any evidence to substantiate the White House’s allegations. The tech companies are assuming the allegations are real, rather than a silly rhetorical/political game.


  240. says

    From Josh Marshall: White House Goes All In Blaming CNN for Attacks

    Pretty clear emerging theme from the White House: CNN brought it on itself. Sanders says CNN calls Trump and his supporters “evil” “day-in, day-out.” Sanders attacks CNN for “chos[ing] to attack and divide” in aftermath of bombs. Trump attacks the media, says “Mainstream Media must clean up its act FAST!”

  241. says

    Former CIA Director John Brennan responded to Trump:

    Stop blaming others. Look in the mirror. Your inflammatory rhetoric, insults, lies, & encouragement of physical violence are disgraceful. Clean up your act….try to act Presidential. The American people deserve much better. BTW, your critics will not be intimidated into silence.

  242. says

    One of Trump’s many tweets from this morning:

    The so-called experts on Trump over at the New York Times wrote a long and boring article on my cellphone usage that is so incorrect I do not have time here to correct it. I only use Government Phones, and have only one seldom used government cell phone. Story is soooo wrong!

    Trump sent that tweet, and many following tweets on the same subject, from his personal cellphone! The tweets were sent using a Twitter application on the iPhone. There are signatures on the messages that show that Twitter app was used.

    Trump doesn’t seem to care if some of his lies are so blatant, and so easily debunked.

  243. says

    From Matthew Yglesias:

    The US-Saudi alliance is longstanding, economically and geopolitically consequential, and it’s been thrown into chaos since the likely assassination of reporter Jamal Khashoggi, a dissident and US resident.

    This is Donald Trump’s biggest diplomatic crisis as president. And based on extended remarks on the US-Saudi relationship Trump gave to a pair of Wall Street Journal reporters in an interview published Wednesday, he’s running the show completely ignorant of even the most basic facts.

    […] much of what Trump says about the Saudis is different. It’s so incoherent that it must be coming from a place of genuine confusion or ignorance. On a whole range of subjects from the disposition of the Iranian military to the volume of Saudi investment in the United States to even something as basic as the number of hijackers involved in the 9/11 plot, Trump gets facts wrong often with no apparent motive and with no demonstrated desire or capacity to learn on his part. […]

    The ship of state is being steered by a man who has no idea what he’s doing and, frankly, it’s terrifying.

    […] the underlying idea he is trying to express — that Saudi Arabia does the United States some kind of favor by opposing Iran’s regional ambitions — is totally mistaken […]

    If you look at what they’re doing, they’ve been a very good ally with respect to Iran and with respect to Israel. And it would be a—it would be an—it would be a very, very big change if we—you know, we have a very, very strong and positive thing going on in the Middle East for the first time in many years.

    Iran is not the same country since I took away the—you know, the—you know, it’s a different country. When I first came here, let’s say the day before—I’ll say the day before I came in, Iran was looking good. They were going to take over everything: Syria, Yemen. They were going for—they were going to take over—who knows where it stopped.

    And since I’ve been here and specifically since I did the move that I wanted to do—people asked me not and I gave them a little time, but ultimately they were wrong—but since I’ve taken—you know, I’ve terminated that deal, the Iran deal—the Iran nuclear deal, to be specific—since I terminated the deal, they’re not the same country.

    I see it in many different ways. Their economy has crashed. Their currency has crashed. They’re having riots every week, big ones, in every city. They’re not the same country. They’re bringing back soldiers from places that would be unthinkable six months ago or a year ago.

    There was a significant wave of protests in Iran this summer, but they most decidedly are not rioting every week. The pro-Iranian side of the Syrian Civil War was, indeed, on track for victory when Donald Trump took office, but since that time they have only moved closer to victory. Iran was never poised to take over Yemen, though there are charges that the Iranians have assisted the Houthi movement that is fighting Saudi-backed forces there. The upshot of that conflict is a huge humanitarian catastrophe that has not yet led to Houthi defeat.

    But most important of all, in Yemen it’s the United States that is helping the Saudis counter what they perceive to be an Iranian-backed plot to increase its influence in the region.

    The Saudis are not a “very good ally with respect to Iran” in the sense that they are helping us out with something. It’s the opposite. The US, first under President Barack Obama and then under Trump, has been helping the Saudis counter Iranian influence in Syria and Yemen.

    And Trump did Saudi Arabia a favor by pulling out of the Iran nuclear deal and harming Iran’s economy. The downside risk is that this will end up re-unleashing an Iranian nuclear weapons program, thus harming some of America’s core interests.

    This kind of persistent overestimating of how useful Saudi Arabia is to the United States seems to be the core of Trump’s thinking about the issue.

    Trump wildly overstates the economic value of Saudi Arabia […]

    More at the link.

  244. says

    Yikes! Sustained winds of 180 mph!

    Super Typhoon Yutu rampaged through the U.S. Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands on Thursday, leaving behind storm damage that residents are calling the worst they have ever experienced.

    Tied for the strongest storm anywhere in the world this year, Yutu packed sustained winds of 180 mph, and its gigantic eye enveloped much of the island of Saipan and all of Tinian, leaving the Pacific islands “mangled,” as one local official described it to The Washington Post. Rescue and relief operations have begun, but officials say their efforts are hampered by dangerous weather conditions and widespread destruction, which includes “extensive damage to critical infrastructure,” […]

    Overall, the escalating impacts on U.S. island territories in the Pacific Ocean and Caribbean Sea underscore that as seas rise and storms worsen in the face of climate change, small islands face some of the most extreme risks on Earth. Many have organized into the Alliance of Small Island States to push for strong action on climate change. Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands, Guam and American Samoa are affiliated with the organization. […]

    Washington Post link

  245. says

    Regarding Trump’s use of his unsecured, personal iPhone, Democrats have requested an investigation. From the Washington Post:

    “We need an investigation to definitively determine whether Trump has compromised classified information,” said Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.), who accused the president of “putting personal convenience ahead of America’s national security.”

    Rep. Don Beyer (D-Va.), who represents D.C. suburbs like Alexandria, reiterated his previous calls for an inquiry into Trump’s cellphone use. “When Trump took office, I warned Republicans about the dangers of his cell phone usage,” he tweeted. “No oversight was conducted under their watch…. His selfishness is jeopardizing our national security.”

    “This is a big problem, if true,” added Sen. Mark Warner (D-Va.), the vice chair of the Senate Intelligence Committee who made his fortune in cellphones. “The intelligence community works hard to defend us against foreign espionage. The last thing we need is for the president to be jeopardizing national security through sheer carelessness.”

    Republicans have not responded.

  246. says

    More about that White House report on “socialism”:

    […] The 72-page document, called “The Opportunity Costs of Socialism,” is rather bizarre. As Vox’s Dylan Matthews explained, “The main task of the document is to draw a precise line between modern democratic socialists like Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) and socialist authoritarians like Lenin, Mao, and Stalin.”

    At one point, for example, the report – more befitting a B-list conservative magazine than an official White House document – told readers, “The socialist narrative names the oppressors of the vulnerable, such as the bourgeoisie (Marx), kulaks (Lenin), landlords (Mao), and giant corporations (Sanders and Warren).”

    It’s lazy, ahistorical blather that would struggle to pass a Political Science 101 course.

    […] it accidentally bolstered the case for a system of socialized health insurance. […]

    Exactly. The White House’s report, likely intended to serve as pushback against proposals for a socialized health care system, shows how incredibly effective Medicare is in the United States. […]

    the right recently got very excited about a study from Charles Blahous of the Mercatus Center at George Mason University, who took a critical look at Sen. Bernie Sanders’ (I-Vt.) “Medicare for All” plan. The examination put a price tag on the proposal – $32.6 trillion — which conservatives considered proof that such a system would be prohibitively expensive.

    The trouble, of course, was that the same study ended up suggesting that the United States would actually spend less under a “Medicare for All” model than we would under the existing system.

    Maybe conservatives should take some time to work out the kinks in their argument and get back to us?


  247. says

    Megyn Kelly has been fired from her job as host of a daytime show on NBC. She’ll still leave with a lot of money in her pocket. NBC is expected to pay out whatever is left of her $69 million contract.

    Kelly recently defended the use of blackface for Halloween costumes. Then she apologized. Then she was fired.

  248. says

    Follow-up to comment 344.

    […] Telling highlights of Kelly’s storied tenure at Fox include, but are not limited to: dismissing of a Department of Justice report finding “rampant racial discrimination” in the Missouri police department that patrolled the neighborhood where Michael Brown was killed; calling a 15-year-old black girl who was pinned down by a police officer at a pool party “no saint”; siding with “All Lives Matter” against Black Lives Matter; insisting that both Santa Claus and Jesus Christ are/were white. […]


    Kelly came to NBC from Fox News in 2017.

  249. says

    This is a weird trend of people at press conferences spending minutes thanking and congratulating their colleagues in the course of the investigation. I mean, it’s thoughtful and all, but maybe catch the bomber first.

  250. says

    “Whites don’t kill whites.” The shooter in a Kroger store in Kentucky supposedly said that to a white man in the parking lot. The shooter killed two black people, one in the store and one in the parking lot.

    The interview is confusing and the person conducting the interview did not help, as she was obviously lacking in skill.

    More in-depth coverage from Salon:

    […] The potential racial motivation for the crime became evident when it was reported that one bystander in the parking lot had a brief conversation with Bush, during which the alleged perpetrator said, “Don’t shoot me. I won’t shoot you. Whites don’t shoot whites.” […]

    Bush [the shooter] had previously been convicted of domestic assault due to an incident in May 2009 when he screamed profanities at and threatened his ex-wife. As a result of that conviction, it is against federal law for him to own a gun. In another case from that year, he was accused of hitting his father and grabbing his mother before fleeing their house with a gun. This incident led to him being convicted of 4th degree assault.

    Bush seems to be aware of the fact that he has mental health issues, posting on Facebook that “my paranoid-schizophrenia finally stopped me from working and not am on mental disability. I’m lucky I made it this far with all the trouble I’ve caused myself when I get off my medicine.” […]

    Riley [Jason Riley, a criminal justice reporter for] also discovered tweets from an account with the same name as Bush’s in which he made racially charged comments. On one occasion, the person who may have been Bush wrote, “Fuck any black man that says fuck that white man.”

  251. says

    SC @347, well, that is, sort of, a statement of fact from Avenatti. Still, JFC, he shouldn’t propagate that kind of prejudice.

    He said the 2020 nominee “better be a white male”! He needs to sit the fuck down.

  252. says

    David Duke responded to Trump’s self-identification as a “nationalist.”

    Trump Embraces Nationalism in a Massive JamPacked 99.9 % White Venue in Houston! Zio Journalists asked him if this is White Nationalism! Of course fundamentally it is as, there is no ethnic or racial group in America more Nationalist than White Americans… So What’s the Problem?

    From Rick Wilson:

    […] Even for a president who loves to disrupt traditional institutions, boundaries, and national mores, Trump’s full and open embrace of nationalism Monday night crossed a bright new line. We’ll likely read about Oct. 22, 2018, in our history books, for as much as Trump has consistently acted like a 70-year-old Queens racist with authoritarian statist leanings clad in nationalist rhetoric, last night was the first time the word escaped his blubbery lips, his quivering seven-pound chin-sack swaying to the roar of a Texas crowd of worshippers.

    After two years of Trump’s shock politics, many Americans have long since despaired that this president has neither the intention nor the ability to honor the fundamental traditions of our Republic. That’s why many are already writing off or normalizing his latest statement as just another example of his impulsive verbal dysentery.

    That could be a fatal mistake for America as we’ve known it. The moment the first American president of the modern era embraced nationalism shouldn’t just prick your conscience, it ought to set every alarm bell inside of your head ringing.

    Daily Beast link to the article “Trump Shoves Nationalist Needle Into His Followers’ Veins.”

  253. says

    “Saudi Spy Met With Team Trump About Taking Down Iran”:

    Gen. Ahmed Al-Assiri, the Saudi intelligence chief taking the fall for the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi, hobnobbed in New York with Michael Flynn and other members of the transition team shortly before Trump’s inauguration. The topic of their discussion: regime change in Iran.

    Mohammed bin Salman, the powerful Saudi crown prince, dispatched Assiri from Riyadh for the meetings, which took place over the course of two days in early January 2017, according to communications reviewed by The Daily Beast. The January meetings have come under scrutiny by Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s office as part of his probe into foreign governments’ attempts to gain influence in the Trump campaign and in the White House, an individual familiar with the investigation told The Daily Beast. A spokesperson for Mueller declined to comment.

    The New York meetings were attended and brokered by George Nader, a Lebanese-American with close ties to leaders in the United Arab Emirates who is currently cooperating with Mueller’s team. Also present at the meetings was Israeli social media strategist Joel Zamel, who has been questioned by Mueller for his role in pitching top campaign officials on an influence operation to help Trump win the election—overtures that could have broken federal election laws.

    Steve Bannon was involved as well in conversations on Iran regime change during those two days in January, according to the communications.

    The communications show that participants in the meetings discussed a multi-pronged strategy for eroding, and eventually ending, the current Iranian regime—including economic, information, and military tactics for weakening the Tehran government. Earlier this year the New York Times reported Nader was promoting a plan to carry out economic sabotage against Iran and pitched the plan in the Spring of 2017 to Saudi, UAE, and American officials. It’s unclear if that plan ever moved forward or if it was part of the larger project for regime change discussed in these January 2017 meetings.

    Either way, former CIA acting director John McLaughlin told The Daily Beast, the get-togethers as described were very unusual.

    “It’s concerning to me as a former intelligence official because of the fact that it smacks of covert action planning, which is the most sensitive thing the U.S. government does and is so uniquely the province of the sitting president,” he said….

    I’d be surprised at this point if Zamel isn’t some kind of Israeli operative. This was interesting: “But it appears Zamel remained close to the Trump team throughout the election and into the transition. Part of the reason? He had an easy in. He had been introduced to Nader, closely connected with the Trump campaign…” I didn’t realize either of them were that tight with the Trump campaign.

  254. KG says

    He [Avenatti] said the 2020 nominee “better be a white male”! – SC@350

    Well the last time a white male won the popular vote was 2004. Why Avenatti should expect that to change in 2020, I don’t know.

  255. says

    “Dining club emails reveal Kavanaugh’s close ties to Trump’s solicitor general”:

    Brett Kavanaugh, the new supreme court justice, counts the Trump administration’s solicitor general, who will be arguing cases before the high court on behalf of the president, as a close professional friend, according to emails that offer new insights into an all-male dinner club that Kavanaugh used to attend.

    Emails obtained by the Guardian show that Kavanaugh, who was narrowly confirmed to the supreme court earlier this month, participated in monthly evening cocktails and dinners from 2001 to 2003 with a group of men that included Noel Francisco, who now serves as the Trump administration’s solicitor general. It is not clear whether the dinners continued after Kavanaugh became a federal judge in 2006.

    Other attendees included a lawyer who is now a top strategic adviser to Rupert Murdoch; the author of the George W Bush-era “torture memos” that were used to justify illegal interrogation techniques; and two lawyers who now frequently appear before the supreme court on behalf of corporate clients.

    The so-called “Eureka” dinners – named after the college that Ronald Reagan attended – were briefly raised in a written question that was submitted to Kavanaugh by senators following his initial confirmation hearing. Asked what the Eureka Club was, Kavanaugh said in a written response: “A group of friends sometimes gathered for dinner. The scheduling emails for those dinners would sometimes be titled ‘Eureka’.”

    What Kavanaugh’s answer did not fully explain was that the dinners were attended by an elite group of men closely associated with the Federalist Society, the rightwing organization that has played a major role in vetting and choosing judicial appointments for Republican presidents since its founding in 1982.

    While Kavanaugh has stated his desire to mentor and promote women to the top ranks of the legal profession, there is no evidence that any woman was ever invited to a Eureka dinner, based on the emails the Guardian obtained.

    While it would not have been improper for Kavanaugh and other like-minded Bush administration officials to regularly meet for dinner and drinks at that time, new revelations about the identity of his circle of professional friends raise questions about how the close-knit relationships Kavanaugh forged with other lawyers might influence his rulings in the future.

    Emails show that the events sometimes included unspecified “special guests”. Several attendees who were approached by the Guardian declined to comment. They did not dispute that judges were among the special guests who were invited….

    Alex Azar, who now serves as the secretary of health and human services, also attended the dinners. Azar has oversight of the Trump administration’s claimed effort to reunite parents with children who were separated from them under the White House’s “zero-tolerance” immigration policies. Azar also has oversight of the implementation of the Affordable Care Act, the healthcare law known as Obamacare. Both issues could come before the court….

    More at the link. Kavanaugh loves all-male clubs.

  256. says

    “Trump changes plans to meet with Putin after Putin summons him”:

    Russian and U.S. officials announced this week that Trump will meet with Russian President Vladimir Putin on Nov. 11, the week after midterm elections and four months after the two world leaders met at the disastrous Helsinki summit.

    The announcement, which came while national security adviser John Bolton was in Moscow for talks with Russian officials, marks a sharp reversal from the Trump administration’s previous position on a bilateral meeting between the two men.

    In July, Bolton announced that the next meeting between Trump and the Russian president would be postponed until 2019, citing the Russia investigation as his rationale for the delay.

    But apparently Putin didn’t want to wait that long.

    As investigative journalist Julia Davis reported in late September, Russian state media — the official mouthpiece for the Kremlin— made a bold prediction about a future meeting between the leaders, saying there is a “great probability” that Trump and Putin would meet in Paris on Nov. 11, 2018.

    And nearly a month to the day later, Bolton announced that Trump wants to meet Putin in Paris on Nov. 11, 2018.

    No rationale was given for the sudden reversal in the Trump administration’s position — perhaps because no rationale was needed, since the move is entirely in line with Trump’s posture toward Putin….

  257. KG says

    Further to my #358, I note that no white male has ever won the popular vote when their main opponent was not also a white male!

  258. says

    CNN is reporting that in the FL sorting facility where the search is centered they’ve found another one of the packages (the 11th), this one addressed to Sen. Booker. Also, there’s police activity at another postal facility in midtown Manhattan.

  259. says

    “University founded by George Soros ‘forced out’ of Hungary”:

    A university founded by the philanthropist George Soros has announced it has been forced out of Hungary by the government of Viktor Orbán.

    Central European University, which teaches in English, has gained a reputation as one of the best universities in central and eastern Europe since it was founded in the early 1990s. CEU’s rector and president, Michael Ignatieff, a former Canadian politician, told journalists on Thursday that as of next year many of its operations would be moved from Budapest to Vienna.

    “We cannot operate legally in Hungary as a free US-accredited institution. We’re being forced out of a country that’s been our home for 26 years,” Ignatieff said.

    “We have repeatedly indicated our openness to find a solution that guarantees our institutional integrity and academic freedom. We have waited as long as we possibly can. Unfortunately, we have been forced into this decision by the unwillingness of the Hungarian government to offer an acceptable solution.”…

  260. says

    All The Incendiary Garbage Fox News Has Broadcast About George Soros Since April: At Fox News, Soros is treated as the Moriarty of liberal America, the spider at the center of a vast web.”

    Most horrifying:

    June 20, “Fox News @ Night With Shannon Bream”: “We underestimate who George Soros is. The Open Society organization has already spent $15 billion in campaigning … This is an organized attempt to undermine nation-states, to undermine democracy and fundamentally change the makeup demographically of the European continent … but if you criticize George Soros, his media friends accuse you of being an anti-Semite, quite extraordinary.”

  261. says

    The FBI covered the van with a tarp, but the tarp blew off, allowing people to get more images. Now they’re taping it again and holding it down.

    A futile effort, since multiple Miami people have pictures of it from the past year because they thought it was nuts.

  262. says

    SC @382, that is funny. What is funnier and more pathetic is that Trump cares that much about the number of Twitter followers he has, and that he wants the number to be high even if it means that a huge percentage of his “followers” are fake.

    Meanwhile, we are slowly finding out more about the middle-aged white man who loves Trump and who sends 12 bombs through the mail. Now that’s a real Trump follower.

  263. says

    Trump’s earlier comment about the bombs sent through the mail:

    Republicans are doing so well in early voting, and at the polls, and now this “Bomb” stuff happens and the momentum greatly slows — news not talking politics. Very unfortunate, what is going on. Republicans, go out and vote!

  264. says

    Follow-up to comment 348.

    The Kentucky man who allegedly went on a shooting rampage in Jeffersontown this week, killing two black seniors, apparently targeted his victims based on their race, according to witness accounts emerging in the wake of the Wednesday shooting.

    Gregory Bush, 51, was arrested minutes after the shooting at a Kroger supermarket, where he allegedly killed Vicky Lee Jones, 67, and Maurice Stallard, 69, according to local station WAVE. Bush, who is white, allegedly shot Stallard in the back of the head with a pistol in the back of the store before exiting into the parking lot and shooting Jones several times, according to a police report obtained by the station.

    But the double murder didn’t really break through to national media until the next day, when the possible racial motivations became clearer.

    Police announced at a Thursday press conference that Bush tried to enter a predominantly black church minutes before the attack, the New York Times reported. A witness also told WAVE that during a brief exchange in the Kroger parking lot, Bush told his father that “whites don’t kill whites.” […]


  265. says

    SC @391:

    What the hell is happening at the White House?

    Trump and his lackey Ben Carson were speaking to a group of conservative, young, mostly black people.

    Trump read a few insincere comments off the prompter decrying “political violence” etc. When he began to talk more directly to the audience, it was kind of like call-and-response. The audience shouted, among other things, “CNN sucks!” and “InfoWars!” and “Fake News.” Effing insane, especially in the White House setting. The crowd was really raucous when Ben Carson was speaking.

    Trump’s from-the-prompter comments:

    We must never allow political violence to take root in America and I am committed to doing everything in my power to stop it and to stop it now. The bottom line is that Americans must unify and we must show the world that we are united together in peace and love and harmony as fellow American citizens.

  266. says

    More on those stickers covering the MAGA bomber’s van:

    […] These stickers celebrate Trump and also include images and phrases directed at some of the targets of the bombs including one that says “CNN sucks” and pictures of President Obama, Bill and Hillary Clinton, and others with cross-hairs over their images. […]


  267. says

    The MAGA bomber was active on social media. He promoted rightwing conspiracy theories and pro-Trump propaganda.

    […] The accounts are packed with a steady stream of images of President Trump and Vice President Pence giving the thumbs up, of memes about the incoming “red tsunami” in the midterm elections, and of Democrats engaging in “bribery” and “corruption.”

    The posts are full of misspellings, run-on sentences, and bizarre stream-of-consciousness word vomit.

    One typical post on a Twitter account belonging to a Cesar Altieri reads: “GoTrump WeUnconquered SeminoleTribe,Hard Rock,MillionsOf our customers,Vets,Current Serving,Seminole American Top TeamMMA,Stand cgreatest President ever shut the boarder down.This our land not theirs May10,1842our chief grandfatherSteve Osceola defeat Pres.John Tyler1,500 troops.”

    Names, addresses and even the state of Florida were misspelled on some of the packages sent to Democratic figures this week.

    The Facebook timeline for Cesar Altieri Randazzo doesn’t show any new content since October 2016. Dozens of videos and photographs show the alleged suspect attending Trump rallies and holding signs with Michael Symonette, head of the “Blacks for Trump” group and a former member of a violent cult. […]

    Sayoc tweeted multiple images involving Hungarian philanthropist George Soros. One image features a large menorah, calling Soros “the Godfather of the Left” with a graphic alleging that he controls the mainstream media.

    Another tweet falsely claimed that the February 2018 school shooting in Parkland, Florida was a false flag operation or “con job” carried out at Soros’ direction. […]

    Other tweets appear to link Rep. Maxine Waters (D-CA) with murders in Los Angeles, while other tweets accuse Rep. Debbie Wasserman Shultz (D-FL) of grand corruption. […]Link

    More at the link, including an explanation of the bomber using different names online.

  268. says

    Good: Georgia GOP tried to stop one bus of elderly black voters—so ten more buses join the fight

    […] As a response to a bus full of black seniors in Georgia who were ordered off a bus while going to go vote, this Sunday, October 28th, Black Voters Matter is fighting back with an event called “No Voter Suppression Sunday.” Together with several other organizations committed to ensuring voting rights for all, they have organized a fleet of 10 buses to take 500 people to vote.

    Here’s what you should know:

    Where: The International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) Building

    501 Pulliam Street SW, Atlanta, GA 30312

    When: Sunday, October 28th

    Time: 11:30am-5pm

    What: 10 buses taking voters around Atlanta and the surrounding counties to go vote plus food, music and fellowship once early voting ends. […]


  269. says

    What? “No plans right now” to shoot at asylum seekers?

    Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen said this:

    We do not have any intention right now to shoot at people. They will be apprehended, however. But I also take my officer and agents, their own personal safety, extraordinarily seriously. They do have the ability of course to defend themselves.

    There are a lot of parents and children in that group Nielsen is talking about.

    Expect Trump administration lackeys to close legal ports of entry, or to slow those ports to a trickle, so that asylum seekers will try to cross the border illegally in other areas.

  270. says

    Fox News blamed Democrats, Cher, and others for fomenting violence in a bizarre evening of programming — even by Fox standards.

    Fox News and Fox Business reached new levels of shamelessness to defend […] Trump on Thursday night, invoking conspiracy theories, and Cher, to claim that Democrats are actually to blame for recent violence. […]

    The White House and their Republican allies have denied that Trump’s rhetoric could have inspired recent violence like the attempted bombings that also targeted Rep. Maxine Waters (D-CA), George Soros, and CNN.

    Fox News and Fox Business followed those conservative cues on Thursday in an evening of programming that was bizarre even by Fox’s standards.

    While DHS Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen was telling Fox News’ Martha MacCallum there are no plans “right now to shoot at people” traveling in a migrant caravan, MAGA man Lou Dobbs, fresh off of deleting tweets that implied this week’s attempted bombings were not real, spoke with Trump religious adviser Robert Jeffress about whether God wants the caravan to come to the U.S.

    Following Dobbs on Fox Business, Trish Regan claimed “the media refusing to take any responsibility” for explosive devices targeting the media and Democrats was “the victim mentality all over again.”

    Then Geraldo Rivera stopped by and started his remarks by saying, “At the risk of sounding like a far right-wing lunatic…” — an inauspicious prelude to, indeed, Rivera indulging in far right-wing lunacy — in which he expressed his belief that the attempted bombings were all “an elaborate hoax.”

    Not to be outdone, Tucker Carlson spent no small amount of time providing a platform to “very smart man” Mark Steyn, who explained how the left’s unwillingness to tolerate conservative misinformation about immigration, gay marriage, climate change, Islam, and “transgender bathrooms” incentivizes violence.

    And that’s when things really got weird. On Fox News, Sean Hannity, who is reportedly one of the parties to regularly receive calls from Trump on his personal phone to which spies from China and Russia reportedly have access, invited viewers down “Hannity Memory Lane” where he attempted to defend the president by running down a laundry a list of supposed “incivilit[ies] of the left” that included musician Cher, actor Billy Eichner, and “Trump’s Hollywood Walk of Fame Star destroyed…again.” […]

    Fox News’ Laura Ingraham closed out this extra-incoherent evening of conservative programming by implying that Waters, Biden, Clinton, and Robert De Niro brought the attempted bombings upon themselves with criticism of Trump. Ingraham then got mad about the staging of a William Shakespeare play. […]

  271. says

    Jordan Fabian:

    Trump hits “globalists” at WH event after call for unity in wake of bomb-scare suspects arrested. Several audience members shout out “George Soros” and others shout “lock ’em up.” Trump chuckles, points and repeats “lock ’em up.”

  272. says

    Shimon Prokupecz: “Authorities are investigating another suspicious package intercepted in Burlingame, CA that was addressed to Tom Steyer, according to a law enforcement source. The source says the package is similar to the other suspicious packages.”

  273. says

    Follow-up to comment 335.

    Democrats ask for proof of Trump’s claims about China election interference, all they get is silence.

    For weeks, Democratic senators have been trying to obtain evidence to back up President Donald Trump’s claim that China was trying to “interfere” in the upcoming U.S. midterm elections. Thus far, they’ve gotten nothing in return.

    Sens. Ron Wyden (D-OR), Kamala Harris (D-CA), and Martin Heinrich (D-NM) have now sent multiple letters to Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats, requesting information about whether Trump’s claims line up with intelligence community assessments. Weeks after Coats’ office said he would respond, an aide for Wyden told ThinkProgress on Thursday the senators have yet to receive an answer.

    The senators first requested information from Coats and his office on October 4. In a joint letter, they noted Trump specifically claimed at the United Nations that he had “evidence” of Chinese “attempt[s] to interfere” in the 2018 election. The senators asked whether that claim was supported by the intelligence community’s own findings. […]


  274. says

    Roy Moore’s Protégé Is Running for Alabama Supreme Court Justice

    And he’s hellbent on obliterating abortion rights.

    Less than a year ago, Alabamans rejected Republican Roy Moore’s bid for the US Senate amid allegations that he had sexual contact with teenage girls while he was in his 30s. But next month, there’s a chance voters will usher in one of Moore’s former aides and judicial acolytes: Republican Tom Parker, an associate justice on the Alabama Supreme Court, is vying to become its next chief justice. Given his reputation for religious zeal and his writings on abortion, many fear that a Parker victory could have major consequences for reproductive rights in the state. […]

    both men have come under fire for their apparent nostalgia for the Confederacy. At a campaign rally in 2017, Moore told a black person in the crowd that America was great during the era when “our country had a direction” and “families were united, even though we had slavery.” Parker was photographed handing out Confederate flags at a funeral in 2004 and posing beside Leonard Wilson, a board member of a white supremacist group called the Council of Conservative Citizens; that year he also went to a party commemorating the founder of the Ku Klux Klan. […]

    Parker hasn’t shied away from his similarities to Moore and his mission to reverse progressive legal precedents. “I’m running for chief justice because we are at a pivotal point in America today,” he said ahead of the June primary. “President Trump is just one appointment away from getting us a conservative majority on the Supreme Court, and they’re going to need cases they can use to reverse what the liberal majorities have done in the past.” […]

    Along with opposing gay marriage, Parker has expressed a desire to restrict access to abortion: Earlier this year, he said the 1973 Roe v. Wade decision, which affirms the constitutional right to an abortion, was “invented out of whole cloth just to satisfy a political agenda.” According to a recent profile by the Montgomery Advertiser, he “proudly displays” a searing 2014 article about him by ProPublica reporter Nina Martin with the headline “This Alabama Judge Has Figured Out How to Dismantle Roe v. Wade.”

  275. says

    In 3 AM Tweet, Trump claimed, without evidence, that CNN Is “blaming” him for the mail bombs.

    Funny how lowly rated CNN, and others, can criticize me at will, even blaming me for the current spate of Bombs and ridiculously comparing this to September 11th and the Oklahoma City bombing, yet when I criticize them they go wild and scream, “it’s just not Presidential!”

  276. says

    From Wonkette:

    […] That is quite a van! Indeed it is the van of literally every crazy Trump MAGA […] who shows up to a Trump MAGA rally. Zoom in and look at all the sniper targets […]! Check out the stickers that almost exactly mirror the things Donald Trump tweets! Also he is into soccer!

    Look, we know liberals are bad too, as they literally pry the chicken fingers out of Sarah Huckabee Sanders’s cold dead hands and call Ted Cruz a piece of shit in restaurants, but this appears to be the van of a biiiiiiiig Trump supporter who TRIED TO ASSASSINATE TWO FORMER PRESIDENTS AND A BUNCH OF FORMER INTELLIGENCE CHIEFS AND SENATORS AND CONGRESSMEN AND ROBERT DE NIRO. […]

    As we type this, Donald Trump is speaking to the Young Black Leadership Summit (a group of black folks who for some weird reason don’t mind that Trump hates black people) and he addressed this “Bomb stuff” he tweeted about this morning, the “Bomb stuff” that’s keeping the media from talking about the midterm elections […] He didn’t say he was very sorry for inciting America’s worst people to try to assassinate Democrats with bombs. (To Trump’s “credit,” he did say that political violence is bad. To Trump’s “not credit,” we don’t fucking believe him.) […]

  277. says

    Thousands pour into National Cathedral as Matthew Shepard, a symbol of gay rights, is interred

    Bells chimed softly, a flute slowly played “Morning Has Broken” and thousands filled the soaring nave of the Washington National Cathedral for the interment service of Matthew Shepard, the young man whose murder 20 years ago horrified the nation and became a milestone in the fight for gay rights.

    The poignant service was at once a funeral and a celebration of life, a moment of closure for Shepard’s loved ones and of remembrance for all those moved by the murder of Shepard, who was pistol-whipped and left for dead in a remote Wyoming prairie. […]

  278. says

    CIA director briefs president on audio purportedly capturing the killing of Jamal Khashoggi

    CIA Director Gina Haspel briefed President Trump on Thursday about her trip this week to Turkey, where she listened to audio purportedly capturing the killing of Jamal Khashoggi, as Saudi Arabia appeared to acknowledge that its agents had murdered the dissident Saudi journalist in a “premeditated” operation. […]

    Trump initially described the Saudi explanation Saturday as credible. But in recent days he has expressed doubt, calling it “the worst coverup ever,” although he has not directly pointed the finger at the Saudi leadership. Instead, Pompeo announced that visas held by the arrested Saudis were being revoked, and the White House on Monday dispatched Haspel to Turkey […]

    The recording is the central piece of evidence Turkey has used to assert that the killing was planned. After listening to it and talking with Turkish officials, Haspel returned to Washington. The White House declined to provide details of her Thursday briefing, saying only that she had informed the president on her “findings and discussions.”.

  279. says

    From Trump’s speech today in the White House as he talked to a conservative group at the Young Black Leadership Summit:

    Every citizen benefits when we stop foreign countries from cheating our workers, that’s what they’ve been doing, you know? They’re called globalists, they like — they like the globe. I like the globe, too. I like the globe, too, but we have to take care of our people. We have to.

    People in the audience shouted “George Soros,” and “Lock ’em up” in response. Trump chuckled.

    This comes after the MAGA bomber’s van was shown on TV with crosshairs over an image of George Soros.

    Trump also told the audience:

    Democrat policies have led to unsafe communities, failing schools, over-incarceration…. Where the Democrat Party has failed, Republicans have delivered.

    So much for lowering the temperature of political discourse.

  280. says

    Geraldo’s version of walking back his false statements on Fox News:

    Never mind; outsmarted myself in conjuring false flag operation designed to hurt @realDonaldTrump & #GOP. Actual alleged perp 56-year old #CesarSayoc is apparently stereotype most media assumed: a middle-aged, rabid, extreme right winger w a troubled past & long criminal record.

    Last night Geraldo described the pipe bombs sent though the mail as “heavy-handed” and as an “elaborate hoax.” Last night, Geraldo and most of his Fox News peers made the case that the pipe bomb mailings were meant to make Trump look bad. Doofuses and dunderheads.

  281. says

    Voting snafus in Texas that will hurt Beto O’Rourke?

    Some Texas voters are complaining that machines flipped their straight-ticket selections to the other party in key races during early voting […]

    The secretary of state’s office said […] “The Hart eSlate machines are not malfunctioning, the problems being reported are a result of user error — usually voters hitting a button or using the selection wheel before the screen is finished rendering,” said Sam Taylor, spokesman for the office of Secretary of State Rolando Pablos, who was appointed by Republican Gov. Greg Abbott. […]

    An advisory to county clerks and elections administrators issued Tuesday by Keith Ingram, the secretary of state’s office’s director of elections, said, “We have heard from a number of people voting on Hart eSlate machines that when they voted straight ticket, it appeared to them that the machine had changed one or more of their selections to a candidate from a different party.”

    The Texas Democratic Party called the issue “a malfunction” and said it was causing Democrats to inadvertently vote for Cruz. It also accused the secretary of state’s office of not doing enough to warn voters of potential issues.

    Party chairman Gilberto Hinojosa said in a statement that “Texas’ Republican government blamed voters and did nothing.” He called for a statewide public service announcement to warn voters, training for poll workers on the issue and removal of “all malfunctioning machines.” […]

    Taylor also said his office “has no legal authority whatsoever to force any” voting machine vendors “to make upgrades if their voting systems are otherwise in compliance with federal and state law,” and that Hart eSlate’s system was certified in 2009. He said counties are responsible for purchasing their own new voting equipment.

    “We will continue to educate Texas voters using existing resources,” Taylor said, “and urge all Texans casting a ballot to take their time, slow down, and carefully review their ballot before casting one.”


  282. says

    From Steve Schmidt:

    1. Whether Cesar Sayoc is sick or evil or maybe a bit of both will become clearer in the days ahead. […] His failures could be explained by the conspiracies and minorities who

    2. were stealing his entitlement. He fell in line behind his avenger, a dime store Mussolini who assaults the institutions of our country, divides the American people, demagogues every issue, emboldens white supremacists and lies thousands of times a year.

    3. They were not lies though. Objective reality crumbled in his mind. What was true was what his leader believed or said. That was enough. It was he, that the billion dollar anger and propaganda industry was targeting. When Gingrich smirked into the camera that it was all about.

    4. Kavanaugh and the Caravan it was the Sayocs of the world he was talking to. Trump ignited a passion in him to serve. He decided to be a soldier and a terrorist and strike back against the enemies, criminals and saboteurs who were stealing America. They were Trumps enemies.

    5. And so they were his. He would strike at the traitors, the enemies of the people. Trump winked at the violence. He knew Trump was right. There were good people on both sides in Charlottesville. The country was soon to be invaded by the Caravan. He decided to become

    6. An assasin. He would do what had to be done to enemies of the people. He would kill them by mailing bombs to them. All of them. All of Trumps enemies. He launched a massive assassination plot and tried to kill 2 former Presidents and many more. It was not enough

    7. For him to drive around in his van festooned with images of Trump anymore. He heard the message. Trump incites and inflames. He is a tribal chief at war. He is as illiberal as he is vile, corrupt and inept. He created the dystopian alternate reality where this loser lived.

    This is reality.

  283. says

    Just because a right-wing Trump supporter is in custody don’t expect the conspiracy theories to stop.

    “Republicans don’t do things like this!” that was Rush Limbaugh’s widely repeated claim […] Where “things like this” doesn’t include bombing over 40 abortion clinics, or the Atlanta Olympics, or the Murrah Federal Building.

    […] Trump jumped on the same conspiracy train Friday morning, with a tweet where he disparaged the use of the word “bombs” and called it “very unfortunate” that this “stuff” had come along just as Republicans were “doing so well in early voting.”

    Throughout the whole affair, Trump has supported the conspiracy theorists by 1) refusing to call devices containing explosive material “bombs,” 2) refusing to name those targeted by the bombs, 3) continuing to blame the media for the “anger.” […]

    Gateway Pundit [has] been joined by a whole squadron of keyboard warriors from the laughably named Project Veritas, who are certain—certain—that that the false flag is still flying in the false breeze. And their conversation has the scary/hilarious tone of something scooped from a notebook on paranoid psychosis.

    Laura Loomer: This is the Florida #SuspiciousPackage suspect’s van. Why does it look brand new? These stickers also look like they were printed yesterday.

    Big Linz: For a homeless person living in a van its very clean not a scratch on it methinks cesar was paid big dollars to do this SOROS or the DNC or fake news CNN. they are my 3 suspects for this conspiracy.

    Merica: If he was driving around in that it would of been destroyed by the DUMRATS!! You cannot even walk around with a MAGA hat without harassment!!! […]

    Dana Loesch is continuing to carry the water of the “they’re not real bombs” theory that’s been supported on Fox by Lou Dobbs and on Twitter by Trump. […]

  284. says

    Fox News blamed Democrats, Cher, and others for fomenting violence in a bizarre evening of programming — even by Fox standards.

    Somebody must have told them that they share the blame, and they got it backwards.

  285. says

    How is it possible that they just discovered this?

    The Trump administration said it recently discovered 14 more migrant children who had been separated from their parents at the border and were not in the official count of separated minors.

    The discovery raises the official number of children separated from families when the administration carried out its zero-tolerance policy to 2,668.

    The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) acknowledged the miscount Thursday night in federal court. In a court-ordered filing, the department’s Office of Refugee Resettlement stated it learned this during a “review of case management records.” […]

  286. says

    Arizona’s state school board approved by a 6-to-4 vote a new draft of science and history standards on Monday, capping a tumultuous few months of policymaking.

    The final draft restores language related to the teaching of evolution and climate change, some of which had been removed or weakened in earlier versions of the science standards. […]


  287. says

    Trump tells reporters:

    Well I think I’ve been toned down, if you want to know the truth. I could really tone it up because, as you know, the media’s been extremely unfair to me and the Republican Party.

    Clueless. Totally clueless.

  288. says

    More details:

    […] The 11-page complaint, which included only the information the FBI needed to obtain a warrant for Sayoc’s arrest, confirms that the 56-year-old Florida resident shared conspiratorial memes against his targets on social media. An affidavit provided by FBI special agent David Brown also confirms basic biographical info about Sayoc, who is currently in federal custody in Florida.

    Sayoc’s middle name is Altieri. Sayoc used the name in several of his social media accounts, including a now-deleted Facebook page under the name Cesar Altieri and a Twitter account under the same name.

    The white van papered with inflammatory material that was captured by local media outlets during Sayoc’s arrest did in fact belong to him. Images of the van—which is covered in pro-Trump paraphernalia, photos of Hillary Clinton and progressive filmmaker Michael Moore with their face obscured by rifle sights, an image of former president Barack Obama in a diaper, and a sticker reading “CNN sucks”—circulated on Twitter on Friday morning before Sayoc’s identity was confirmed. The complaint mentions that he was arrested “in the vicinity of his white van,” which had windows “covered with images including images critical of CNN.” CNN reported Sayoc has been living in the van.

    Some of the bombs were sent along with photos of the “target-recipient marked with a red ‘X.’” Billionaire George Soros, Obama, former CIA Director John Brennan, and Rep. Maxine Waters (D-CA) were among the individuals sent these images.

    The FBI considered the package mailed to Brennan, which was addressed care of CNN, a threat to him rather than the news network. Brennan actually serves as a contributor to MSNBC and NBC, not CNN. Both the former CIA director and various CNN personalities have clashed publicly with Trump.

    All of the bombs were made the same way and sent in identical packaging. They consisted of “approximately six inches of PVC pipe, a small clock, a battery, wiring, and energetic material,” which “gives off heat and energy” when initiated by “heat, shock or friction.” They were sent in manila envelopes with the mailing and return addresses typed in black font on white paper. Each was posted with six American flag stamps.

    Sayoc’s poor spelling helped law enforcement catch him. The complaint confirmed that Sayoc maintained the Cesar Altieri Twitter account, and that the page featured “various posts with misspellings consistent with the Packages, including ‘Hilary, rather than ‘Hillary,’ ‘Shultz rather than ‘Schultz.’”

    The FBI also used that Twitter account to help confirm Sayoc’s alleged antipathy towards the targets in the mail bombings. A post dated Oct. 24, “after the recovery of the Soros package” is critical of both President Barack Obama and George Soros.

    FBI agents found a “latent fingerprint” on the envelope containing the explosive that he sent to Democratic Rep. Maxine Waters that they identified as Sayoc’s. Sayoc has a decades-long criminal history in Florida for charges ranging from battery to making a bomb threat against a Florida utility company.


  289. says

    “Of Course Donald Trump Inspired Cesar Sayoc’s Alleged Terrorism”:

    …Cesar Sayoc isn’t just some loner gone wrong. He isn’t merely a one-in-a-million Unabomber with a cabin in the woods, a crazed manifesto, and too much black powder. Sayoc is the future. Donald Trump’s famously loyal base has been radicalized, and while only the tiniest fraction will resort to political violence, neither the president nor the hollow shell of the GOP will do anything to stop it.

    This is a president with obvious mental and moral deficits who will say and do anything to retain power. He’s backed by a runaway “conservative” media feeding his rabid base a daily dose of conspiratorial lunacy. There is no mechanism to stop Trump’s division, radicalization, and calls to arms against his enemies.

    America was lucky this week; none of the weapons exploded, and the FBI and state law enforcement moved with amazing speed to apprehend the bomber. We might not always be so lucky, particularly if this president continues to give what future Sayocs see as their marching orders.

  290. militantagnostic says

    SC @429

    Trump is using Stochastic Terrorism It has worked against abortion clinics and providers and it worked for Henry I “Will no one rid me of this turbulent priest?”

  291. says

    Chris Hayes:

    Everyone talks about the President’s immigration policy as a political strength while omitting that he ordered 2000 children kidnapped from their parents. Some as young as six months. Many put into baby jails. Others lost in the system. (They literally just “found” another 14!)

    It provoked a moral crisis in the country and widespread revulsion. And he was forced to reverse course, all while he and and everyone around him lied, day after day after day, about what they were doing. All the while indelibly harming these innoncent children.

    I, for one, have not forgotten it. And I bet a lot of other people haven’t either.