Not A Puppet!

Today’s essential read on Trump and Russia is in the Washington Post, by Greg Miller, Greg Jaffe, and Philip Rucker.

Nearly a year into his presidency, Trump continues to reject the evidence that Russia waged an assault on a pillar of American democracy and supported his run for the White House.

The result is without obvious parallel in U.S. history, a situation in which the personal insecurities of the president — and his refusal to accept what even many in his administration regard as objective reality — have impaired the government’s response to a national security threat. The repercussions radiate across the government.

The piece frames Trump’s reaction to Russia as an outcome of his ego needs to believe that he and he alone won the election bigly and his wishful thinking that he and Putin, working together, could solve the world’s problems. That’s fair enough, and those two factors are certainly sufficient to produce the effects reported – the biggest of which is that Presidential daily briefings have to be tailored to avoid irritating the Master on the subject.

But a great many people around Trump, including Donald Junior, who testified another nine hours to Congress yesterday, have had extensive contacts with Russia, so it appears there is more there. The question is “What did the President know, and when did he know it?”

Lots of tidbits in the piece. Trump thought Fiona Hill, one of his competent advisors on Russia, was a clerk and got angry at her when she didn’t act like one, with H.R. McMaster compounding the problem by admonishing her. He took a leak during his pre-briefing for his meeting with Angela Merkel. His obsession with NATO as a protection racket continues.

He’s got it half right – we could do a lot of good if we could work with Russia. But that can’t come at the cost of ignoring the load of bad Russia’s doing now.

Update: Here’s a good companion piece by James Goldgeier about Republicans and Russia.

If Trump were a realist, he would be seeking to deal with Russia from a position of strength, not looking to accommodate Putin from the get-go.  If he were a neoconservative, he would be pressing Putin on his abysmal human rights record. Instead, he is praising Putin for being strong and being tough. And it is unimaginable that any other president would have merely accepted Putin’s denial of election interference and moved on.

So why hasn’t the GOP spoken up? Yes, there are occasional remarks by Republican Sens. John McCain and Lindsey O. Graham suggesting Donald Trump is getting hoodwinked by Russian President Vladimir Putin, whose efforts working with the Trump campaign to swing the 2016 presidential race are under daily scrutiny.

For the most part, however, GOP voters and GOP elites have shrugged off behavior that would have led to outrage in the past. Since it is hard to imagine that a Jeb Bush or Ted Cruz or even John Kasich would have been this accommodating of Putin, is the party of Ronald Reagan really prepared to become the party of Trump on foreign policy, especially in America’s relations with Russia?

 






207 replies
  1. 1
    Roger Moore says:

    The question is “What did the President know, and when did he know it?”

    No. The question is “What did the President and his campaign do, and when did they do it?”

  2. 2
    BC in Illinois says:

    It’s not his “personal insecurities.”

    He is indebted to Putin and Putin’s cronies. Financially indebted (as his sons have said, on the record) and politically indebted to — as the mid-campaign email to Don Jr said it — “Russia and its government’s support for Mr. Trump.”

    He owes Putin. Big time.

  3. 3

    @Roger Moore: A good addition. As I wrote that question out, I realized that there is a lot more this time around.

  4. 4
    LurkerNoLonger says:

    Tick tock, motherfuckers.

  5. 5
    Mike in DC says:

    The big reveal is that it sounds like the IC had actual communications intercepts of Putin ordering the hacks. Which puts the issue of interference beyond all dispute, and highlights all of the president’s subsequent denials as driven by either sheer ego, an effort to cover up the conspiracy, or both.

  6. 6
    Corner Stone says:

    But a great many people around Trump, including Donald Junior, who testified another nine hours to Congress yesterday

    DJTJ: No Congressman, I am not saying we have any deals in Russia. What I am saying is that we have a great amount of deals with Russians. There. See the difference?

  7. 7
    japa21 says:

    @BC in Illinois: Yes, he owes Russia big time, but he also needs to believe he and he alone was responsible for his victory. Even members of his campaign were only his lackeys and not really responsible for his victory.

    He’s got it half right – we could do a lot of good if we could work with Russia.

    Very true. But working with as equals, not as being subservient to them, which is what is happening now.

  8. 8

    What do the McMaster fans have to say now?

  9. 9
    Corner Stone says:

    @Mike in DC: How do they know it was Putin on the line? It could have been 400 pound Ivan in New Jersey. You don’t know. Nobody knows, really.

  10. 10
    Bobby Thomson says:

    @BC in Illinois: without those tax returns, I feel comfortable assuming that every single rumor is true. Every single one.

    Same with Wilmer. That guy is dirty AF.

  11. 11
    charluckles says:

    The argument they are putting forward is ludicrous and without precedent. Yes, a hostile foreign power launched a massive cyber attack against us, but we shouldn’t attempt to punish them and we should move forward as friends. Forget the collusion for a second, someone attacks you and your response is “lets be friends?”

  12. 12
    oatler. says:

    It sounds like a SNL cold-open.

  13. 13
    rp says:

    For some reason (masochism?), I’ve been reading Greenwald’s twitter feed a lot recently. You almost have to admire his ability to downplay every aspect of the Russia investigation while blaming the Democrats for all of society’s ills. It’s almost like performance art.

  14. 14
    bystander says:

    @BC in Illinois: I heard Bump discussing this article on Moanin’ Joe this morning. and it was all couched in this silly narrative crafted out of a hack’s fantasy world.

    The reason Trump has done nothing to secure the next election is NOT because it might give lie to his election. It’s because he is in cahoots with Putin. The reason Trump was angry about the new sanctions was NOT because he wanted “warmer relations” with Russia. It’s because he owes Putin and he agreed to lift the sanctions in exchange for help/money and his Congressional vestal virgins are not doing his bidding.

    It’s sickening how these hacks like Bump get by with their childish fantasies disguised as journalism.

  15. 15
    BC in Illinois says:

    From the article:

    Trump has never convened a Cabinet-level meeting on Russian interference or what to do about it, administration officials said. Although the issue has been discussed at lower levels at the National Security Council, one former high-ranking Trump administration official said there is an unspoken understanding within the NSC that to raise the matter is to acknowledge its validity, which the president would see as an affront.

    To even “raise the matter” of “Russian interference” in the 2016 election, would be seen [by Trump] as “an affront” to Trump. He considers that anyone talking about what the Russians have done, is attacking him. He sees no distinction between what the Russians did and what he has done.

    I think that he is right. There is no separation between the agents of Vladimir Putin and the campaign of Donald Trump. They are, if not one-and-the-same, closely identified.

  16. 16
    magurakurin says:

    @Bobby Thomson: I wonder what the fallout what actually be if it was found out Wilmer worked with the Russians? That would be something to see.

  17. 17
    Corner Stone says:

    @oatler.: Especially the part about using the restroom. They should do the old Frank Drebin from Naked Gun movies and have him go to the urinal miked up. No telling what Piss Trump might say.

  18. 18
    Mike in DC says:

    @magurakurin:
    He’d be thrown out on his ass. Resignation would be demanded immediately. Anyone who tried to defend him would wind up buried by the shitstorm themselves.

  19. 19
    bystander says:

    @Corner Stone: I actually attended a CLE marathon and one of the speakers forgot his lavalier mike. Made for the funniest review of upcoming corporate governance guidelines ever.

  20. 20
    GregB says:

    I think it is time to consistently refer to Trump as an illegitimate President.

    Over and over in public and private.

  21. 21
    Amaranthine RBG says:

    Some more solid journalism from the Washington Post

    People who like democracy should subscribe.

  22. 22
    The Thin Black Duke says:

    @magurakurin: The hard-core Bernistas wouldn’t believe it, in spite of the indisputable evidence. They’re addicted to “fake news” too.

  23. 23
    Roger Moore says:

    @japa21:

    He’s got it half right – we could do a lot of good if we could work with Russia.

    Very true. But working with as equals, not as being subservient to them, which is what is happening now.

    I don’t think it’s even half right. We could only do a lot of good working with Russia if they were interested in doing a lot of good. That’s not the case, and it’s unlikely to be as long as Putin remains in charge. The guy who’s main geopolitical goal is to recreate the Russian Empire and is willing and eager to subvert the government of any country that gets in his way is never going to be a reliable partner in doing good in the world.

  24. 24
    Chyron HR says:

    @Amaranthine RBG:

    Have you considered the possibility that a certain US senator is not, in fact, a divine being? Is your brain even capable of processing that idea at all, or do you just see random letters when you look at this post?

  25. 25

    @Roger Moore: CR thinks that Rs are still redeemable, she is an optimist.

  26. 26
    Mike in DC says:

    3 dots still to be connected:
    1. Proof of a deal between Russia and the Trump campaign, explicit or implicit
    2. Proof of coordination or efforts to coordinate
    3. Proof that Trump knew, approved and authorized 1 and 2

    Prove those 3 and it matters not what Trump or the GOP do. The push for justice will be steady and, ultimately, overwhelming.

  27. 27
    Roger Moore says:

    @magurakurin:

    I wonder what the fallout what actually be if it was found out Wilmer worked with the Russians? That would be something to see.

    His followers’ denial would make the Trumpists’ look tame in comparison.

  28. 28
    ET says:

    I am not a fan of George Will. But I do enjoy watching such a stalwart of the conservative establishment get worked up over tRump and in Moore. Today’s Op-ed in the Post caught my eye – Trump is now the worst-ever president – though the online version isn’t quite so blunt.

    Although the president is not invariably a stickler for precision when bandying factoids, he said the Everest of evidence against Moore did not rise to his standards of persuasiveness. This fleeting swerve into fastidiousness about facts came hard on the heels of his retweeting of a video of a Muslim immigrant in the Netherlands beating a young man holding crutches. Except the villain was born and raised in the Netherlands.
    ….
    Moore was such a comprehensive caricature — Sinclair Lewis could not have imagined this Elmer Gantry — that the acid rain of reports about his sexual predations, and his dissembling about them, almost benefited him by distracting attention from: the remunerative use he made of a “charitable” foundation. And his actions as a public official that by themselves sufficed to disqualify him from any public office. He is an anti-constitutional recidivist, twice removed from Alabama’s highest court for his theocratic insistence that his religious convictions take precedence over U.S. Supreme Court decisions, so he could not have sincerely sworn to “support and defend the Constitution” and to “bear true faith and allegiance to the same.”
    ….
    Moore has been useful as a scythe slicing through some tall stalks of pretentiousness: The self-described “values voters” and “evangelicals” of pious vanity who have embraced Trump and his Alabama echo have some repenting to do before trying to reclaim their role as arbiters of Republican, and American, righteousness. We have, alas, not heard the last from them, but henceforth the first reaction to their “witness” should be resounding guffaws.

    Guffas indeed. He ended by saying:

    By joining Stephen K. Bannon’s buffoonery on Moore’s behalf, the 45th president planted an exclamation point punctuating a year of hitherto unplumbed presidential depths. He completed his remarkably swift — it has taken less than 11 months — rescue of the 17th, Andrew Johnson, from the ignominy of ranking as the nation’s worst president.

    So. Guess Will isn’t a fan.

  29. 29
    tobie says:

    Trump thought Fiona Hill, one of his competent advisors on Russia, was a clerk and got angry at her when she didn’t act like one, with H.R. McMaster compounding the problem by admonishing her.

    Stuff like this makes my blood boil. One of the most consistent forms of sexism is treating accomplished women like secretaries. It almost never gets any attention.

  30. 30
    Amaranthine RBG says:

    @Chyron HR:
    Hey, you sickles wonder, how many days did YOU spend knocking on doors for Clinton?

  31. 31
    Steve in the ATL says:

    @Roger Moore: bingo

    @BC in Illinois: bingo

  32. 32
    BC in Illinois says:

    @ET:

    George Will:

    [Trump] completed his remarkably swift — it has taken less than 11 months — rescue of the 17th, Andrew Johnson, from the ignominy of ranking as the nation’s worst president.

    A thought:
    Abraham Lincoln — one of our greatest Presidents — was preceded and followed by two of the worst.

    Barack Obama, who is one of the best President of my lifetime, has been preceded and followed by two of the worst Presidents of my lifetime. [Nixon I would count as worse than Bush; Trump is worst of all.]

  33. 33
    Steve in the ATL says:

    @schrodingers_cat:

    CR thinks that Rs are still redeemable, she is an optimist.

    Are you using “optimist” as code for “crack addict”?

    Cheryl, we love you, but we have been Charlie Brown trying to kick the football too many times. These clowns have proven over and over that they are not redeemable.

  34. 34
    coozledad says:

    The entire party is compromised. Otherwise they wouldn’t be rallying to defend him when he’s at 32% in polls with an inbuilt 5% Republican lean. He’s down to the homebound and mentally damaged.

    The Russians beat our ass with our own ugly stick.

  35. 35
    A Ghost To Most says:

    I see Amaranthine RBG is still showing fealty to the other Russian candidate(s) in last year’s election.

    Bernie is as rotten as Jill Stein and Rump.

  36. 36
    Spanky says:

    Has geg6 checked in since yesterday? I think this is her campus.

    This is a developing story. Please check back for updates.

    Two people died in a shooting at Penn State Beaver on Wednesday afternoon.

    No students were involved in the on-campus shooting at 100 University Drive in Monaca, university spokeswoman April Johnston-Smith said.

    State police Lt. Eric Hermick identified the victim as Lesli Kelly, 49, of Ohioville and the shooter as William Kelly, 52, of Hopewell.

    The Kellys were recently divorced and were having child custody issues, Lt. Hermick said. Investigators were unaware of any active protection from abuse order against Mr. Kelly, he said.

    The lieutenant said Mr. Kelly came to the campus under the guise of dropping off a Christmas package. Instead, when he got to the campus he pulled out two .45-caliber handguns and shot his ex-wife then himself.

    Lt. Hermick said the couple had three children, all of whom are safe and with relatives.

    Ms. Johnston-Smith said the woman was employed at the school. The man was not.

    The shooting was reported at 3:38 p.m. at the school’s food services building, which is adjacent to the student union and includes a kitchen and area for students to sit and eat.

    Ms. Johnston-Smith said the shooting occurred outside the building in a parking lot.

  37. 37

    @Steve in the ATL: I was trying to be diplomatic because I have pissed off one too many FPers.

  38. 38
    Steve in the ATL says:

    @Spanky: yes, she broke the story here yesterday. Was quite upset, naturally, but safe, physically if not mentally.

  39. 39

    @Steve in the ATL: I’m unwilling to write off an entire country as irredeemable.

    Further, I’ve seen Russian-American cooperation work during the 1990s, as we dealt with their nuclear weapons and materials to make them safer in the wake of the breakup of the Soviet Union and the consequent breakup of their security in that area. I’ve been thinking a lot about that lately.

    Just as not all Americans are Trump (or Wilmer) addicts, nor are we all itching for war with North Korea or Iran, not all Russians think that invading Ukraine was a good idea. Do both our countries have crappy leaders now? Indeed. But I’ve seen things operate differently.

  40. 40
    chris says:

    Uh oh, they’re on to us. Run!

    .@TomFitton: "I think the FBI's been compromised. Forget about shutting down Mr. Mueller. Do we need to shut down the @FBI because it was turned into a KGB-type operation by the Obama administration?" pic.twitter.com/zBParrU9QJ— Fox News (@FoxNews) 14 December 2017

    ETA: Project much?

  41. 41
    Amaranthine RBG says:

    @A Ghost To Most

    How many days did YOU spend knocking on doors for Clinton in 2016?

  42. 42
    Amir Khalid says:

    @Mike in DC:
    You left this bit out:
    Wilmeristas would go into massive denial. They would heatedly accuse Killary of planting the evidence and colluding with Wall Street and the Trump administration to ratfuck poor innocent widdle Bernie.

  43. 43
    Lapassionara says:

    @Mike in DC: what about that time when Trump went on television and said, to the effect, “Putin, if you are listening, please find Hillary’s missing emails.”

    What I am agitated about (in addition to a lot of other things he is doing) is his failure to see that “the laws are faithfully executed.” He violates his oath of office daily, and evidently that is not a basis for impeachment.

  44. 44
    Tim C. says:

    @rp: One might say he’s a real…. asset to the Russians?

  45. 45
    The Moar You Know says:

    He’s got it half right – we could do a lot of good if we could work with Russia.

    This is true and is something I have advocated in favor of for a long time. However, that was predicated on Russia and the US working together as equals with mutual interests. What we have right now is a situation you find in most dysfunctional workplaces; Russia is trying to make us useless and irrelevant, sabotaging us. I’d say Putin’s managed to do more and longer lasting damage to the US/Russia relationship than the Soviets ever did, by successfully fucking with our internal politics.

    I certainly will be vehemently against working with them in any substantive way until Putin is out of the picture, and by that I mean dead.

  46. 46
  47. 47
    A Ghost To Most says:

    @Amaranthine RBG: Goddamn, you are a slimy piece of shit.

    Only bigots use “retard” as an insult.

  48. 48

    @Spanky: She posted about this yesterday. She was unhurt but traumatized. She heard the shots, looked out the window, and saw the bodies. I believe she may have known the woman who was killed.

  49. 49
    Tim C. says:

    @Cheryl Rofer: Effing A-men. Nationalism is the cancer we have to fight!

  50. 50
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    @Amaranthine RBG: No one here believes your claims of knocking on doors for Hillary. Peddle your horseshit somewhere else, Ivan.

  51. 51
    Roger Moore says:

    @Spanky:

    Has geg6 checked in since yesterday?

    Yes. She was close enough to hear the gunshots and knew the killer.

  52. 52
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    @Lapassionara: Not when the Rethuglicans need their own puppet in the WH to sign off on massive tax cuts for the parasite overclass…phase I of destroying the social safety net and plunging this country into chaos.

  53. 53
    RandomMonster says:

    Saw this from the Daily Beast (but was reading it elsewhere): “While most eyes on AL, Trump added signing statement to defense bill undercutting Russia provisions”.

    Why does Trump go out of his way to make signing statements about Russia? It’s almost like we’re seeing a pattern here.

  54. 54

    @Cheryl Rofer: Rs here are not Russians but Republicans in power, although they are behaving like Russian puppets would.

  55. 55
    Amaranthine RBG says:

    @Villago Delenda Est:

    I guess you weren’t reading this blog back before the election when I was posting from on the ground in Reno. Look it up, dumbass

    So how many days did YOU spend knocking on doors for Clinton?

  56. 56
    Spanky says:

    One place we’re currently working with Russia (as part of a larger team) is on the International Space Station. Granted, the Russians have us by the short hairs a bit, since we let our heavy lift capability whither and die. Terrible, terrible planning (see funding: Congressional). Anyway, they’re our only ride up or down for the time being.

    And, of course, there is collaboration on board the ISS, although I couldn’t tell you the extent to which that happens these days.

  57. 57
    A Ghost To Most says:

    @Amaranthine RBG: Stop lying. I’ve been here since the Harriet Myers (sp?) kerfuffle in 2005.

  58. 58
    Boatboy_srq says:

    @GregB: Exactly.

    #NotPatriotic

  59. 59
    Amaranthine RBG says:

    @A Ghost To Most:

    Go back and read the threads in the two weeks befor the election

    So, how many days did YOU spend knocking on doors for Clinton? Any? Any at all? Or did you help her efforts mainly via your incisive blog commentary!

  60. 60
    Sister Rail Gun of Warm Humanitarianism says:

    Way off topic, but this is why this blog will never use Disqus or anything similar:

    Disqus commenting platform sold to big data and analytics firm Zeta Global

  61. 61
    lollipopguild says:

    @The Moar You Know: The problem is that once Putin is gone the person or persons who replace him could be worse and Russia drops into chaos. I do not like Putin at all but what replaces him could be worse.

  62. 62
    A Ghost To Most says:

    @Amaranthine RBG: One trick pony. Believe me, the Democrats don’t want me knocking on doors. I’m liable to tell people exactly what I think of them. Running the DNC computer center, fine, but you do not want me knocking on doors.

    You’re an ass.

  63. 63
    Lapassionara says:

    @Villago Delenda Est: Yes. But Pence would sign their garbage bills too. That they take no steps to address Trump’s many derelictions of duty suggests to me that Trump is blackmailing them with info the Russians got from hacking their emails. Exhibit A being one Lindsey Graham.

  64. 64
    Jim, Foolish Literalist says:

    @A Ghost To Most: Only bigots use “retard” as an insult.

    Dwight, aka GoBlow72, liked to toss that one around. He also claimed to be the most bloodiest knuckled, well-connected true progressive activist in the Bay Area. An in-demand grassroots organizer and legislation writer on a first name basis with governor “Jerry”.

    But Betty, who can see signs and runes we mere commenters can’t, says this one is the erstwhile Gun Nut Steve

  65. 65
    Jeffro says:

    @GregB:

    I think it is time to consistently refer to Trump as an illegitimate President.

    Over and over in public and private.

    Or maybe as “the other Russian president”?

  66. 66
    The Moar You Know says:

    I wonder what the fallout what actually be if it was found out Wilmer worked with the Russians?

    @magurakurin: It’s an absolute outrage that both he and Stein are not being investigated. I can’t imagine why not.

  67. 67

    @schrodingers_cat: As usual, there are a couple of discussions in progress. I was responding to those saying that there will never be a way to work with Russians.

  68. 68
    Jeffro says:

    @Mike in DC:

    3 dots still to be connected:
    1. Proof of a deal between Russia and the Trump campaign, explicit or implicit
    2. Proof of coordination or efforts to coordinate
    3. Proof that Trump knew, approved and authorized 1 and 2

    Aren’t we just about there on #1 (implicit = easy, explicit = not yet), definitely there on #2, and just waiting on #3?

  69. 69
    Yarrow says:

    But a great many people around Trump, including Donald Junior, who testified another nine hours to Congress yesterday, have had extensive contacts with Russia, so it appears there is more there. The question is “What did the President know, and when did he know it?”

    He’s been involved with the Russians since the 1980’s. They own him. He knows and has known for decades.

    Last December, when Mitch McConnell looked like he’d seen a ghost when he suddenly changed his position from “No investigations into Russian interference” to “Okay we’ll investigate” it has been clear to me that this whole thing is huge and involves a massive number of people in our government. As for Trump himself, his family, top GOP leadership, a whole bunch of lower level people, they’re all traitors. And they’re all going to go down for it. Tick tock, motherfuckers.

  70. 70
    Amaranthine RBG says:

    @A Ghost To Most:
    People like you are the reason Trump won.

  71. 71
    tobie says:

    @Lapassionara: I’ve thought this for some time, too. The Russians must have lots of kompromat on Republican elected officials to keep them in line. Lindsay Graham may be exhibit one but Chuck Grassley is running a close second. Why don’t these seat warmers just retire? They’ve all managed to use their office to make millions.

    @RandomMonster: Didn’t know about the signing statement. Thanks for the tip.

  72. 72
    Spanky says:

    @Jeffro: Well, there’s the “President of Russia”, and then there’s the “Russian President”.

    Totally different people.

  73. 73
    A Ghost To Most says:

    @Amaranthine RBG: Blah, blah, blah, BernieBro. I’ve been a solid Democrat since the 70s. Keep lying.

  74. 74
    Amir Khalid says:

    @Cheryl Rofer:
    I have no doubt whatsoever that the Russian engineers and scientists you worked with are good and decent people who want to make the world a safer place. That’s how most people are, anywhere you go. The Russian government, it seems to me, is run by a quite different sort: greedy for wealth and power, and heedless of the damage they do in seeking both. Trump, himself greedy ang power-hungry, is to them as Mundungus Fletcher is to the former Tom Riddle.

  75. 75
    rikyrah says:

    @A Ghost To Most:
    The pie filter is your friend :)

  76. 76
    Jim, Foolish Literalist says:

    @tobie: Lindsay Graham may be exhibit one but Chuck Grassley is running a close second. Why don’t these seat warmers just retire? They’ve all managed to use their office to make millions.

    Mike Royko explained Boss Daley’s triumph over a bunch of other pols like him, some of them smarter and some of them meaner, to the theory that they wanted to use their power to get rich, but Daley only wanted to use power to get more power.
    ETA: that’s why I find people like Collins baffling. She could exercise power, she could make McConnell dance for her, but she doesn’t. Why is she there? True of Flake to some degree, but a bunch of people have said what you have to understand about Flake is, he views taxes much as Ryan does. That’s why he’s there.

  77. 77
    Leto says:

    @tobie:

    Why don’t these seat warmers just retire?

    The order hasn’t been given yet.

  78. 78
    Yarrow says:

    But a great many people around Trump, including Donald Junior, who testified another nine hours to Congress yesterday, have had extensive contacts with Russia, so it appears there is more there. The question is “What did the President know, and when did he know it?”

    Also, this whole thread is worth reading, but key tweets:

    After Trump's USSR visit in 1987, he was viewed as a KGB "agent of influence" to use the proper Chekist term. Widely known in CI circles. /4— John Schindler (@20committee) December 13, 2017

    John Schindler‏
    @20committee

    From 1987, Trump was — at best — a Useful Idiot of the Kremlin’s. Not a “spy” in a conventional sense, but not a loyal American either. /5

    John Schindler‏
    @20committee

    Coupled with Trump’s shady financial ties to Russian mobsters since the 1990s — which CI folks knew about too — this was disturbing. /6

    The president is not a loyal American.

  79. 79
    Spanky says:

    @Amir Khalid:

    Trump, himself greedy and power-hungry, is to them as Mundungus Fletcher is to the former Tom Riddle.

    Meh. Let’s not over-estimate Putin, please. I think he’s quite average intelligence, but perhaps above average cunning and certainly ruthless. More like the elder Malfoy, perhaps.

  80. 80
    Amaranthine RBG says:

    @A Ghost To Most:
    It’s not enough to vote for democrats

    Maybe you could spend a few hours less insulting people on the internet and actually get out there and get involved?

  81. 81
    SiubhanDuinne says:

    @Roger Moore:

    Has geg6 checked in since yesterday?

    Yes. She was close enough to hear the gunshots and knew the killer.

    I believe it was the victim (the estranged wife) that she knew — a colleague on campus, chef for Food Services.

  82. 82
    raven says:

    @Amaranthine RBG: You’re a fucking jackass, crawl off somewhere.

  83. 83
    Amir Khalid says:

    @Spanky:
    There’s a big difference between Lucius and Putin: Putin has a spine.

  84. 84
    Jeffro says:

    @tobie:

    The Russians must have lots of kompromat on Republican elected officials to keep them in line. Lindsay Graham may be exhibit one but Chuck Grassley is running a close second. Why don’t these seat warmers just retire? They’ve all managed to use their office to make millions

    Well, under normal circumstances they might be hanging on because
    – they like the power that comes with being a Senator (world’s most exclusive club, right?)
    – they’re sticking around to keep their staff happy & employed
    – they like using their influence to make their friends rich (and potentially set themselves up for lucrative deals, pre-/during/post-service as well)
    – they can’t imagine anything else they’d rather be doing than working? NOTE: I do not have this problem in the slightest, but not everyone is me. =)

    But with kompromat, with serious stuff on them, part of the blackmail could include, “You stay right where you are, comrade, and keep voting the way we tell you too…or else we’ll tell your family/constituents/national media that you’re really a __________ in secret”

  85. 85
    lamh36 says:

    What’s is this about?

    Speculation Grows that Paul Ryan Will Step Down (via @politicalwire)
    https://twitter.com/politicalwire/status/941297599180627969

  86. 86
    Mnemosyne says:

    @Amaranthine RBG:

    Why don’t you tell us what today’s claim is for how many days you spent so we can check it against your last claim? Because it seems like the number grows every time you desperately flourish it as a shield.

  87. 87
    A Ghost To Most says:

    @rikyrah: Pie filters are for censors.

  88. 88
    rikyrah says:

    @Jeffro:
    1&2 have been proven.
    Hope Hicks is #3.

  89. 89
    Brachiator says:

    Nearly a year into his presidency, Trump continues to reject the evidence that Russia waged an assault on a pillar of American democracy and supported his run for the White House.

    Trump filters all this as tainting his election victory. He is blind to any other implication.

    His supporters see this through Trump’s eyes. They will never care about any of this, and see it purely as Democratic Party sour grapes.

    Lots of tidbits in the piece. Trump thought Fiona Hill, one of his competent advisors on Russia, was a clerk and got angry at her when she didn’t act like one, with H.R. McMaster compounding the problem by admonishing her.

    Damn. This has got to be so terribly demoralizing.

    He’s got it half right – we could do a lot of good if we could work with Russia. But that can’t come at the cost of ignoring the load of bad Russia’s doing now.

    I have no confidence in this administration’s ability to pursue foreign policy objectives with any competence at all. Worse, Trump may not only be in the employ of the Russians, he seems to have some psychological quirk that compels him to go weak in the knees when dealing with a presumably powerful white male leader like Putin.

  90. 90
    MattF says:

    Not to go all psychological on this… but Trump’s view of Putin isn’t rational. I understand that facts don’t matter to Trump, but it goes well beyond that, IMO.

  91. 91
    Uncle Cosmo says:

    @Tim C.:

    Tribalism is the cancer we have to fight!

    FTFY. “Nationalism” is just tribalism with flags. “Not my people, therefore not human.”

  92. 92
    tobie says:

    @Jim, Foolish Literalist: I think Collins is uncomfortable standing her ground vis-a-vis Republican party bigwigs. On occasion she’ll do it but mostly she sticks with her party. Look at her votes for judicial appointments. It’s horrifying. She’s not a profile in courage, though she seems to like playing one on TV.

  93. 93
    Jim, Foolish Literalist says:

    @lamh36: I think the source of this is a HuffPo article by a pretty good reporter, Matt Fuller, who says Ryan never really wanted the job (which I to some degree believe, he didn’t want to be weakened in pursuit of the presidency), he going to get what he’s been dreaming of since the first time he read Rand, and he can, like Boehner, walk away from the growing mess he created.

  94. 94
  95. 95
    A Ghost To Most says:

    @Amaranthine RBG: You’re an idiot, and a fool. I’ve given thousands of dollars and all my votes to the Democrats for 40 years. I know myself better than to think it would be wise for me to knock on doors. I plan on volunteering my time to back room work when I retire next summer. A man’s got to know his limitations. At least I do, fool.

  96. 96
    trollhattan says:

    @A Ghost To Most:
    Au contraire, he worships pie, delicious, more or less round pie.

  97. 97
    Yarrow says:

    @lamh36: Paul Ryan is up to his eyeballs in the Russian treason stuff.

  98. 98
    MattF says:

    @lamh36: Con artists know that, at some point, they have to get out of town.

  99. 99
    Yarrow says:

    @MattF: The one thing Trump is pretty good at is being a con artist. Wonder when he’ll decide he needs to get out of town. Problem for him, there really aren’t a lot of places he can hide now, unless he decides to defect to Russia and even then…

  100. 100
    Spanky says:

    Outgoing aide to President Trump Omarosa Manigault Newman said on Thursday that she observed things in the White House during her tenure that made her uncomfortable and that upset her.

    There were a lot of things that I observed during the last year that I was very unhappy with, that I was very uncomfortable with,” Manigault Newman, who led communications at the Office of Public Liaison told Michael Strahan on ABC’s “Good Morning America.”

    Reds under the beds?

  101. 101
    tobie says:

    @Jim, Foolish Literalist: Yup, this tax bill is his life’s dream. If he gets it done, he might want to step down from leadership given the shitstorm that’s coming for the Republicans in 2018. I guess he feels he can tout the bill as an achievement when he runs for POTUS in 2020.

  102. 102
    Miss Bianca says:

    @Amaranthine RBG: This is such your knee-jerk go-to “take THAT!” to any criticism of your more ridiculous posts that I’m starting to wonder how many days YOU spent “knocking on doors for Clinton”. Methinks thou dost protest too much.

    And before you start on ME about it, I’ll own up to saying I didn’t knock on any doors for Clinton. Because in my deep-red, extremely rural county, that would have been not only exhausting and futile, but risky, because of conservative gun nuts out here who lurves them some firearms just as much as you do. So I drove 60 miles to the nearest Democratic Party phone banking station and did that instead.

  103. 103
    A Ghost To Most says:

    @trollhattan: Pie filters are for censors.

  104. 104
    trollhattan says:

    O/T Republicans are weird.

    A Kentucky lawmaker accused of sexual assault appears to have committed suicide. According to local authorities, Republican state representative Dan Johnson shot himself on a bridge in Mt. Washington, Kentucky, early Wednesday evening. WDRB reports that police officers went looking for Johnson after he made a Facebook post indicating that he intended to take his own life.

    The full DENIAL farewell Facebook post is a thing to BEHOLD as a confession dipped in DENIAL. Sure feel sorry for his family.

  105. 105
    MattF says:

    @A Ghost To Most: Speaking of which, the pie filter isn’t working for me. I want some pie!

  106. 106
    Amir Khalid says:

    @Spanky:
    Upon further consideration, Dung Fletcher was never actually an ally of evil. Maybe I should say that Trump is to Putin as Peter Pettigrew is to Voldemort.

  107. 107
    trollhattan says:

    @A Ghost To Most:
    And cardiologists.

  108. 108
    A Ghost To Most says:

    @Miss Bianca:

    “Sometimes you wonder why you’re still talking,
    I passed that point long ago”.

  109. 109
    trollhattan says:

    @MattF:
    It’s been hit or miss with Firefox lately. Mine’s currently in the kitchen, however.

  110. 110
    Jeffro says:

    @Spanky: If firing Omarosa ends up being what brings this gang of morons down in the end, I can think of no fitter way for it to all come crashing down. Tell us, O – what did you see? What’d you hear?

    Reality-show prez* brought down by testimony from reality-show contestant…details at 11! LOL

  111. 111
    Brachiator says:

    @Yarrow:

    The one thing Trump is pretty good at is being a con artist. Wonder when he’ll decide he needs to get out of town. Problem for him, there really aren’t a lot of places he can hide now, unless he decides to defect to Russia and even then…

    Right now, Trump is fat and happy, and looks to get even fatter and happier. Once tax “reform” passes, Trump could position himself so that he never pays a dime of income tax again for the rest of his life. And then, gravy on top, he will be able to pass his estate on, intact, to his children.

    As a bonus, he will be able to pocket whatever additional loot is funneled to him via Putin, and retire from the presidency as a happy man indeed.

    For Trump, winning the presidency is Grifter Paradise.

  112. 112
    trollhattan says:

    @Jeffro:
    I can’t imagine how, even if it would be sweet. How could anybody believe her with the inside scoop?

  113. 113
    magurakurin says:

    @The Moar You Know:

    It’s an absolute outrage that both he and Stein are not being investigated. I can’t imagine why not.

    I guess the truth is we don’t actually know that they aren’t. I would say the chance Stein at the least is being looked at is very high. and… where is Tad these days?

  114. 114
    john b says:

    @Sister Rail Gun of Warm Humanitarianism:

    Way off topic, but this is why this blog will never use Disqus or anything similar:

    Disqus commenting platform sold to big data and analytics firm Zeta Global

    Thanks for the motivation to delete my disqus account.

  115. 115
    Sister Rail Gun of Warm Humanitarianism says:

    Huh. Informed Electorate just called for the first time since last November. I’ll wager he’s using the Jones win to scam, uh, fundraise more money out of the gullible. (I didn’t answer, and he doesn’t talk to voicemail.)

  116. 116
    trollhattan says:

    @Brachiator:
    This isn’t a prediction, but I could envision Trump signing the tax bill then saying “Well America, my work here is done.” and quitting to go spend more time with his…hat collection? He’s got a lot in common with Sarah Palin.

  117. 117
    RandomMonster says:

    @tobie: Multiple signing statements recently. The excerpt I read looked pretty interesting.

  118. 118
    germy says:

    @trollhattan: I liked what Robin Roberts said at the end of the Omarosa segment:

    “She has a story to tell and I’m sure she’ll be selling that story. Bye, Felicia.”

  119. 119
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    @Amaranthine RBG: As usual, you miss the point. No one believed then you were knocking on doors for Hillary, and no one believes it now.

    You have no credibility here. The tone of your posts undermines your claims.

  120. 120
    divF says:

    @A Ghost To Most:

    Pie filters are for censors.

    You are mistaken. Censors control what is said / can be heard by everyone. The pie filter allows an individual to not listen to someone.

  121. 121
    MattF says:

    @john b: Ugh. ‘Big Data’ wants to correlate my blog comments with my thermostat settings. And who’s to say that there’s no connection?

  122. 122
    trollhattan says:

    @germy:
    Newspeople don’t get many mic-drop moments, she earned that one!

  123. 123
    catclub says:

    so they are showing this polling trend:

    Trump favorability among Fox viewers (%):

    Jun: 90
    Oct: 74
    Dec: 58

    Can anyone figure out which things ( that we think are vile) that Trump has done that have actually lowered his popularity with the base?
    Is it actually a tell that FOX News and the GOP House are supporting him so strongly (Lynch Mueller calls simultaneously from Fox News and House GOP) that means they have to do that in order to counter the base’s declining favor?
    I guess it is just that he is widely unpopular with the reality based community and that is affecting the base’s opinion of him?

  124. 124

    @Yarrow: A caution on Schindler. I distrust him because he claims more for himself than an intelligence person should. Also, he’s blocked me for no reason I can see. Probably bought one of those block lists.

  125. 125
    catclub says:

    @trollhattan:

    and quitting to go spend more time with his…hat collection? He’s got a lot in common with Sarah Palin.

    Nope. His only motivation is to be in the media spotlight. That would take him out of the spotlight. PLus, he chas converted the Presidency into a job that allows him to go play golf whenever he wants to. And Ride AF1. What is not to like?

  126. 126
    Yarrow says:

    @Brachiator: He may think that but the legal bills are going to eat up the little money he does have. He’s owned by Russia and he isn’t nearly as rich as he wants people to think. The kids are also up to their eyeballs in the Russian treason stuff and have their own legal bills. Don’t think going to be all that much left for any of them.

  127. 127
    trollhattan says:

    @catclub:
    Will speculate not killing Obummercare, not throwing out Mooslims and Mexicans and not building a bigass wall are his primary sins. That’s a hellova drop and it’s worth pondering what they were seeing when he was polling 90%.

  128. 128
    catclub says:

    @Cheryl Rofer: I thought it was a good thing to be on Schindler’s list. Those were the ones who were saved.

  129. 129
    Amir Khalid says:

    @Yarrow:
    Trump believes he has the unique smarts and power to ignore the rules. I imagine him, the day after his removal from office, standing before the White House gate, claiming he is the President, dammit, and demanding to be let back in.

  130. 130
    MattF says:

    @catclub: Hmm. Maybe the connection goes ‘Trump says he supports the little guy’ to ‘But Trump is a liar who actually supports Republican policies’ to ‘Republican policies are anti-Medicare’. And so, therefore, ‘Trump is anti-Medicare’. Making that connection would kill him with the Fox demographic.

  131. 131
    Mike in DC says:

    @Jeffro:
    Somewhat. I think we’re there the first time charges directly related to the conspiracy (cyber espionage, accepting in kind foreign contributions, et al) are brought in open court. If/when that happens, all hell will break loose.

  132. 132
    Matt McIrvin says:

    @ET: George Will complaining about “tall stalks of pretentiousness” is pretty funny.

  133. 133
    Amir Khalid says:

    @catclub:
    Not that Schindler, some other guy.

  134. 134
    Uncle Cosmo says:

    @A Ghost To Most: Major props for “The Late Show” reference!

    Many moons ago I spent a disastrous year in grad school at Cornell, boarding at a frat house just down the hill from Cascadilla Gorge. A few years later it occurred to me that if a mildly depressed person went up to sit at the gorge’s edge with a boom box, a cassette[1] of Late for the Sky, & a copy of Selected Poems of W. H. Auden, by page 20 or the fourth track (whichever came first) s/he would have jumped[2].

    [1] Yeah, that long ago; LFTS was released a year or two after I washed out of the astronomy program.
    [2] In those days (if not now) the local term for Selbstmord “far above Cayuga’s waters” was “gorging out.”

  135. 135
    Yarrow says:

    @Cheryl Rofer: I take all of the online “experts” with dose of skepticism. I think he’s right about his analysis in this regard. Weird that he blocked you. I think people get blocked inadvertently sometimes, or as you said, as part of a list. I also think Twitter itself messes up stuff too when they modify things with their whole program or database. I’ve seen people say they have no idea why someone was blocked on their account as they don’t use blocklists and didn’t block them personally.

  136. 136
    Citizen Alan says:

    @Amaranthine RBG:

    No one here seriously believes you knocked on doors for Hillary Clinton. Knocked on doors for Jill Stein? Maybe but if you knocked on doors for Hillary Clinton it was to urge people not to vote for her because something emails something Corporate speeches something evil castrating bitch. but no one believe you when you say you try to help her get elected.

  137. 137
    🌎 🇺🇸 Goku (aka The Hope of the Universe) 🗳 🌷 says:

    Trump thought Fiona Hill, one of his competent advisors on Russia, was a clerk and got angry at her when she didn’t act like one, with H.R. McMaster compounding the problem by admonishing her.

    Yeah. This reminds me of a person with dementia and McMaster doing what he did makes it worse by playing along. What a toady.

  138. 138
    MattF says:

    @Uncle Cosmo: My recollection is that one of the boulders at the bottom of the gorge had a bulls-eye painted on it.

  139. 139
    Brachiator says:

    @trollhattan:

    This isn’t a prediction, but I could envision Trump signing the tax bill then saying “Well America, my work here is done.” and quitting to go spend more time with his…hat collection? He’s got a lot in common with Sarah Palin.

    Sorry. This is an ongoing fantasy or wish of quite a number of people, ongoing since Trump announced his candidacy. Trump is always going to quit, move on, etc.

    Nope. Sorry.

    Trump loves being president. Loves it. He has people whose job it is to feed his ego. He can regularly go out and organize rallies filled with worshipful dupes, uh, I mean supporters. He cannot get the same jones anymore in private life.

    He has made the Republican Party his bitch. They support him in everything. Plus, he has judges to appoint, including possible vacancies on the Supreme Court. He has a few more Obama era policies to demolish.

    The Donald has practically turned the United States into a Trump property. He won’t be done until he has entirely covered it in gold plated shit, in his own image.

  140. 140
    Jim, Foolish Literalist says:

    @Cheryl Rofer: I saw that thread yesterday and I know that a lot of people are skeptical of Schindler, but I do think he’s onto something there: Why the FBI feared a trump victory is a thread Republicans might regret pulling on.

    And Jonathan Chait has a column about why asking about the political motives of the FBI around 2016 might backfire, too.

    That was the conclusion of the New York Times’ deep dive from April explaining why Comey allowed Clinton to be treated as a putative criminal but not Trump. “In my mind at the time, Clinton is likely to win,” Comey aide Michael Steinbach told the paper. “It’s pretty apparent. So what happens after the election, in November or December? How do we say to the American public: ‘Hey, we found some things that might be problematic. But we didn’t tell you about it before you voted’? The damage to our organization would have been irreparable.”
    That assumption, “there’s no way he gets elected,” is the one Strzok criticized in his offending text. The policy he appears to have been arguing against is one of treating Clinton more harshly than Trump on the grounds that Trump was bound to lose anyway. Of course, we now know Strzok’s concern about a Bureau strategy premised on Trump losing for sure was completely correct.

    Also, my personal white whale (a small whale, a small ugly whale that should be hunted) Rudi Giuliani

  141. 141
    magurakurin says:

    @Citizen Alan: give him a break… it’s cold this time of year in Moscow.

  142. 142
  143. 143
    Yarrow says:

    @Sister Rail Gun of Warm Humanitarianism:

    Way off topic, but this is why this blog will never use Disqus or anything similar:

    Disqus commenting platform sold to big data and analytics firm Zeta Global

    I didn’t like Disqus before and like it even less now.

  144. 144
    SiubhanDuinne says:

    @Amaranthine RBG:

    Your monomania is becoming tiresome.

  145. 145
    Amaranthine RBG says:

    @Miss Bianca:
    If you will scroll up, you will see that one of the resident trolls who follows me from thread to thread, said something stupid about The blessed Bernie Sanders in an off topic reply to me

    That’s why I reminded him/her that while I initially supported Sanders, I went all in for Clinton after she beat Sanders. That’s the only reason I raised it.

    With that in mind md maybe you can inderstand why it is a bit annoying for me (after I drove from SF to Reno and lived in a crappy La Quinta Inn for two weeks for Clinton GOTV EFFORTS) to have some stupid shits who did nothing but carp in comment threads that I was insufficiently committed to the cause

    Good on you for participating in a phone bank. Involved citizens is what wins elections.

  146. 146
    The Moar You Know says:

    Pie filters are for censors.

    @A Ghost To Most: A few weeks back, on looking at my Facebook feed, I had the thought: “what we need is some good old-fashioned heavy-handed censorship in this country.” Then I blocked about half the people on it. A good start.

    Way off topic, but this is why this blog will never use Disqus or anything similar:

    Disqus commenting platform sold to big data and analytics firm Zeta Global

    @Sister Rail Gun of Warm Humanitarianism: Thus endeth Wonkette. First, Amazon cut off their money flow, now this will insure most of their commentors flee for their lives after frantically trying to scrub their Disqus history. Seriously, this will fuck them over but good. Doing your backend on the cheap for a monetized blog always ends badly. Their IT people should have known better. You bring that shit in house, even though it costs.

  147. 147
    No Drought No More says:

    ROT = Russia Owns Trump.

  148. 148
    Yarrow says:

    @Jim, Foolish Literalist:

    Also, my personal white whale (a small whale, a small ugly whale that should be hunted) Rudi Giuliani

    Remember how Gliuliani was always in front of a TV camera? Where has he gone? Why so quiet, Rudy? Oh, on advice of your lawyers for your illegal activities? Funny, how that works.

  149. 149
    Yarrow says:

    @The Moar You Know:

    Thus endeth Wonkette. First, Amazon cut off their money flow,

    What do you mean? Why?

  150. 150
    magurakurin says:

    @Yarrow: Rudy was spotted in Ukraine a few weeks ago.

  151. 151
    Uncle Cosmo says:

    Stop thinking of Putin as the New Tsar & start thinking of him as First-Among-Oligarchs with a flag & nuclear-equipped armed forces. IMHO things make a lot more sense then. Inter alia, Vlad-the-Paler is doing the work the Mercers & Kochs & Adelsons want done: Destroying democratic governance in any nation (or combination of nations) strong enough to put limits on their wet dream of financial-feudalism-on-steroids. So naturally the Thuglicans fall right into line – he’s just another one of their liege lords.

  152. 152
    Yarrow says:

    Just ran into Sen. Scott, who had this caveat on tax: Media is reporting this is done. It’s not done. Wouldn’t say what sticking points are.— Ylan Q. Mui (@ylanmui) December 14, 2017

    Call your Senators and Representatives if you haven’t already.

  153. 153

    @Jim, Foolish Literalist: Schindler gets things right some of the time. But so does a stopped clock. I got tired of his puffery long before he blocked me.

    That said, there is indeed a question about what was going on in the FBI before the election, particularly the New York office, where Giuliani had connections. But it’s not that one agent sent another emails indicating a dislike for Trump.

  154. 154
    Brachiator says:

    @Yarrow:

    He may think that but the legal bills are going to eat up the little money he does have. He’s owned by Russia and he isn’t nearly as rich as he wants people to think. The kids are also up to their eyeballs in the Russian treason stuff and have their own legal bills. Don’t think going to be all that much left for any of them.

    We have tax information from Trump’s 2005 tax return. He earned about $150 million, but seems to have had $100 million in net operating loss. Of his total tax liability $31 million was alternative minimum tax (AMT). One of the tax proposals would eliminate AMT. That’s a chunk of money freed up for other purposes such as legal bills. And that’s just one year.

    Also, in 2005, Trump earned $9 million in interest income. What do you think the principal must have been?

    And I am sure that the Russians are going to pay him very handsomely for services rendered.

    Trump will make out OK.

    Unless, of course, he is impeached, convicted and thrown out of office like the con man he is. That will extract some punishment.

  155. 155
    rikyrah says:

    A WSJ investigation has uncovered thousands of fraudulent posts on agencies’ dockets, in areas like net neutrality and payday lending, some using what appear to be stolen identities posted by computers programmed to pile comments onto the dockets. https://t.co/PJr9YjWaHA

    — Kyle Griffin (@kylegriffin1) December 14, 2017

  156. 156
    rikyrah says:

    Devastating investigative report by @BuzzFeed connecting the $230m theft Sergei Magnitsky exposed and was killed over to Russian funding for ISIS and Syrian chemical weapons. All done through Cyprus https://t.co/aMRJEN34rX

    — Bill Browder (@Billbrowder) December 14, 2017

  157. 157
    magurakurin says:

    @Brachiator: I believe the most likely scenario is that he dies in office like Harding. Trump has to be really unhealthy.

  158. 158
    Matt McIrvin says:

    @catclub: His popularity with Republicans hasn’t dropped nearly as much, but that may be because the remaining self-identified Republicans are now the loyal Trumpists, and the right-wingers who don’t like him are going “independent”.

    Probably, it’s just that he’s not winning. He was supposed to be universally beloved and MAGA-ing and so winning we got tired of winning by now. Obamacare was supposed to be gone. Political correctness was supposed to vanish. Liberals were supposed to get banished to the outer darkness and shut up forever, and they haven’t. If the tax bill passes, that’ll be theoretically a major policy win, but it’d be his first one (and an unpopular one that even many conservatives don’t like).

  159. 159
    ET says:

    Looks like GOP Rep Farenthold may not run again. Good. Won’t necessarily be a Dem. pick up but he doesn’t need to be in the House.

  160. 160
    Brachiator says:

    @Yarrow:

    Just ran into Sen. Scott, who had this caveat on tax: Media is reporting this is done. It’s not done. Wouldn’t say what sticking points are.

    Here’s where we are on the tax plan:

    Changes

    The new tax reform plan would reportedly propose a 21 percent corporate tax rate that would take effect in 2018. Currently, the tax reform bills approved in the Senate and House both propose a 20 percent rate, but with the Senate’s amendment not starting until 2019. Further, the top income tax rate on the individual side would fall to 37 percent from its current 39.6 percent rate, according to several reports.

    Additionally, the income deduction rate for passthrough businesses would reportedly be set at 20 percent. The increase will likely gain the vote of Sen. Ron Johnson, R-Wis., who has previously refused to back the proposal until it raised the deduction rate for passthrough income.

    Despite Hatch’s confirmation that an agreement has been reached, there are still reportedly various nuances that need to be worked out

    Timeline

    The final version of the committee conference report is reportedly still being drafted and is expected to be filed by Friday, December 15. A Senate and House vote on a unified tax reform bill are expected next week and could begin as soon as December 18 in the Senate. Republicans remain optimistic of having tax reform legislation enacted before Christmas.

    The clock is ticking. But there is still some time to rally efforts to stop this thing.

  161. 161
    trollhattan says:

    @catclub: @Brachiator:
    Like I said, “not a prediction” but…do not make the mistake of ignoring his underlying impulsiveness. He ran on impulse, campaigned on impulse and despite the struggles of a few in the administration, governs on impulse.

    There is no plan, there are no overarching strategies or tactics, there’s only what’s in front of his nose.
    This is why he cannot be predicted with any reliability and why, like Palin, one day he can just get out of bed and say “Fuck it.”

    My actual prediction is he doesn’t serve the entire term, Mueller is only part of the reason.

  162. 162
    Matt McIrvin says:

    @Brachiator:

    Trump loves being president. Loves it. He has people whose job it is to feed his ego. He can regularly go out and organize rallies filled with worshipful dupes, uh, I mean supporters. He cannot get the same jones anymore in private life.

    I think he’s miserable–except when he’s doing these stupid rallies and being fawned over by sycophants. Everything else, he hates.

    So would he voluntarily resign? No, you’re right about that. His ego wouldn’t let him.

  163. 163
    B.B.A. says:

    @ET: And I think that means all of the sexual harassers (that we know of) are out, with one giant orange exception.

  164. 164
    catclub says:

    @MattF: That sounds logical. But, I am almost certain that if logic dominated their preferences, it would be a different world.
    They would hate Paul Ryan for wanting to cut their Medicare, AND all of the Republican party. Since they have not made that logical connection for Paul Ryan and the rest of the GOP, why would they make it for Trump?

    But thanks for cogitating on it.

  165. 165

    I just added a companion piece on the Republicans and Russia to the OP.

  166. 166
    The Moar You Know says:

    What do you mean?

    @Yarrow: Amazon used to handle their payments. They have stopped doing so. It’s a problem for them.

    This is in the article about Blake Farenthold and other srticles I was looking at last night:

    Are you a good Wonker who sends us money by Amazon? Well not anymore you’re not, because Amazon done fucked our payment system. Would you be so great as to re-sign with Paypal or Stripe? K we love you bye. (All you others can too.)

    Why?

    No freakin’ idea. It’s Paypal or Stripe there only now. But the Disqus thing…I don’t know how they’re going to deal with that. Either lose a decade’s worth of comments when they move to a new system, or just fold the whole enterprise.

  167. 167
    MattF says:

    @Matt McIrvin: Maybe if we all got together and gave him a medal. A really big gold medal with stars on it.

  168. 168
    hueyplong says:

    @Yarrow: I like to think Mueller has turned Giuliani. It’s the romantic in me.

  169. 169
    Yarrow says:

    @Brachiator: That tax return was the one he wanted us to see. I do not take it as an example of what every year is like for him.

    And I am sure that the Russians are going to pay him very handsomely for services rendered.

    The Russians have paid him handsomely. They are now beginning to toss him under the bus. He may be too stupid to see it but it is happening. I don’t think they’ll reward him once he’s out of office.

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    catclub says:

    @Brachiator:

    Additionally, the income deduction rate for passthrough businesses would reportedly be set at 20 percent. The increase will likely gain the vote of Sen. Ron Johnson, R-Wis., who has previously refused to back the proposal until it raised the deduction rate for passthrough income.

    something, which i cannot follow is happening with the passthrough income tax rates. They are now being converted into some sort of deduction rate. And all the articles now talk about some deduction, after which, I guess, the usual income tax rates apply. It is an credibly complicated kludge.
    and it never is brought up as evidence that they are doing anything BUT simplifying the tax system with it. Under it, some passtrhough businesses will be treated as real passthrough businesses, while others will just be treated as ordinary income – the rules are being made up for this as we speak – in secret.

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    cosima says:

    @rikyrah: Would these be Cyprus accounts that Manafort was tangentially related to? That was his bailiwick, correct?

    I was very happy to see the Jones win (it was, truly, the first thing I checked on when I woke yesterday morning). But then lately I’ve also been seeing all of these pieces that say orange fart cloud will fire Mueller and nothing will be done about it because craven GOP etc etc.

    BUT then I see something like what you linked to and I think ‘ha fuckers! warning shot across the bow to complicit GOP evilpeople and Russians!’ and it makes me a bit more optimistic. Rightfully or not. Feeling sort of schizophrenic about politics… Which is why I definitely have been keeping off the internet as much as possible lately.

  172. 172
    catclub says:

    @Brachiator:

    One of the tax proposals would eliminate AMT. That’s a chunk of money freed up for other purposes such as legal bills. And that’s just one year.

    reporting now no longer mentions the personal tax AMT and its status. Does anybody know. After the big goof on the corporate AMT, I guess it was no longer sexy. But it is a big deal, and if it is not included I bet Trump would balk at signing, saying he thought he was getting that ( cause he hates it).

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    Yarrow says:

    @Cheryl Rofer: From the added article:

    is the party of Ronald Reagan really prepared to become the party of Trump on foreign policy, especially in America’s relations with Russia?

    I think Adam had a post in the last week or so talking about Putin’s long game, the “penetration at all levels” thing. One of the avenues used to infiltrate the Republican party was creating ties between the US evangelical community and Russia. Since Evangelicals vote GOP almost 100%, it was an easy way to create ties between the party and Russia. I think since evangelicals make up such a significant portion of the GOP voting base, it’s harder for Republican elected officials to oppose Russia than it would seem.

    Related, I found this voting data interesting:

    A very interesting piece of data from Alabama exit polls: While White women overall voted for Moore 63 to 34, when you break out evangelical vs non you get evangelical white women 76 – 22 Moore; non-evangelical white women 74 – 21 Jones!— Matthew Dowd (@matthewjdowd) December 13, 2017

  174. 174
    Yarrow says:

    @The Moar You Know: Interesting. Thanks. That’s weird.

    @hueyplong: Depending on who you want to believe, there are rumors that Giuliani begged for a deal from Mueller and was turned down because Giuliani has nothing worthwhile to offer Mueller. If true, that makes me even happier.

  175. 175

    @Yarrow: It’s beginning to look like the NRA could have been a conduit for Russian money too.

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    hueyplong says:

    @Yarrow: Love it.

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    Dmbeaster says:

    There has to be a reason why from Day 1 the Trumpies pursued an I heart Russia policy. The starting premise has to be that the entire crowd saw big money in Russian deals. Manafort, Flynn and the info re Russian financing for Trump business activities – they all point to this corrupt motive. How Pence figures in is interesting, since how can this apparent pinhead end up being connected to everything.

    The Russian interference in the election appears to be of purely Russian origin, and is just the Russian state weaponizing the Russian credit card scammers. If anything, the Russian meddling was overplaying it, and has created a problem for Trump since they would have been happy to perform favors for the Russians for business deals without regard to election meddling. The Russians dangled election meddling as additional bait, and the naturally corrupt Trump crew jumped at that. Just how much they jumped is unclear, but they were clearing willing to collude. Someone came up with the idea of using Wikileaks as the intermediary in order to give everyone deniability, and Assange was more than happy to give cover to Russian espionage in order to fuck with Clinton.

    I dont think the Trumpies gave much thought to the blowback that would result from Russian election meddling, or their involvement in it. Like many craven business people, they were nosing for deals, and pulling on threads to see what profit might result from it. Blowback is just not a concern cause its almost never an issue in their world.

    Winning the election meant pursuing these Russian deals in exchange for lifting sanctions on Russia. They knew this was radioactive. Its why Kushner was caught trying to set up secure communications through the Russian embassy. They knew they had to keep this secret from US intel. It shows the corrupt motive. What I wonder is who gave Kushner the idea to do this – Kushner was acting pursuant to someone elses plan.

    Its also why they have lied non-stop about endless contacts with Russians. They knew they were persuing dirty deals, and assumed they could just lie their way out of it. After all, that usually works in their business world. Flynn had to go first cause he got caught – not because anyone was surprised or unaware of the lie. Imagine what Kushner thought, since he repeated the same lies endlessly for his security clearance.

    Trump himself knows all this, and went into damage control with Comey. When he realized Comey would not heel like an obedient dog, the Trumpies started to freak. They decided jointly to fire him, and its clear Kushner was part of this obstruction since he could clearly see that he had the same problem as Flynn, only much worse.

    Trump gleefully acted like this act, akin to a mafia hit, solved his problem. And who does he brag to about this? The Russian foreign minister the very next day in the Oval Office. You can sense the Russians waiting with some unease for the Trump promise of sanctions rollback to come to fruition, and the Trumpies saying wait until the smoke clears.

    This issue exposes the corruption and lying of the Trumpies right to the core. They would sell out US interests for Russian money, and claim that is good policy.

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    Steeplejack (phone) says:

    @trollhattan:

    That’s a hellova drop and it’s worth pondering what they were seeing smoking when he was polling 90%.

    Fix’d.

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    Villago Delenda Est says:

    @Cheryl Rofer: Makes sense that this country’s premiere terrorist organization would fall in line with Putin’s oligarchy.

  180. 180
    Jeffro says:

    @Matt McIrvin:

    So would [Trumpov] voluntarily resign? No, you’re right about that. His ego wouldn’t let him.

    But…BUT…his ego won’t allow his ’empire’ to crumble, leaving him (and Ivanka!) penniless. Show him that you can make RICO charges stick, and he’ll confess to everything in exchange for being allowed to keep some of his millions.

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    Enhanced Voting Techniques says:

    @Amir Khalid: I think Moore’s senate loss will shows how it end; Trump will blame someone else for how it goes down.

  182. 182

    I wonder if McMaster failed to recognize Fiona Hill. In my experience of professional situations, men can’t always distinguish between two women to whom to they are not sexually attracted, especially if they are middle aged or older.

  183. 183
    Mary G says:

    I can’t imagine how many times Hillary would have been impeached by now if she had blatantly ignored the new sanctions against Russia Congress passed months ago. Tillerson even shuttered the State Department office that handled them. Yet nobody has said boo about it.

  184. 184

    @Dorothy A. Winsor (formerly Iowa Old Lady): Good point.

    Or he could have felt that she handled the situation badly, should have played along and acted like a clerk. This part of the anecdote bothers me a lot.

    Later he and a few close staffers met to explore ways to repair Hill’s damaged relationship with the president.

    So the President thinks one of his aides is a clerk. The way something like this is usually handled is that he is corrected and graciously apologizes. It doesn’t wreck a working relationship.

    But yeah, it’s Trump.

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    🌎 🇺🇸 Goku (aka The Hope of the Universe) 🗳 🌷 says:

    @Dmbeaster:
    This sounds like what happened

  186. 186
    Jim, Foolish Literalist says:

    Gabriel Sherman‏Verified account @ gabrielsherman
    Trump spoke with Murdoch ahead of Disney deal to make sure Murdoch wasn’t selling Fox News, person briefed on the call said

  187. 187
    🌎 🇺🇸 Goku (aka The Hope of the Universe) 🗳 🌷 says:

    @Cheryl Rofer:
    It is Trump. Trump is never wrong in his mind and probably reacts explosively when corrected. MM wanted to keep his job and did not want to anger Trump so he played along with Trump’s delusion. Pretty scary and pathetic.

    Fiona Hill also happens to be a Putin expert from the Brookings Institute. She’s on the NSC and other stuff atm. Trump appointed her himself. He should know who she is.

    No offense to Hill, but her not having supermodel looks probably didn’t do her any favors with Trump either.

  188. 188
    B.B.A. says:

    @Mary G: I can’t imagine how many times Hillary would have been impeached by now, regardless of what she did. Just being Hillary Clinton is an impeachable offense to the Repugs.

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  190. 190
    rikyrah says:

    @Dmbeaster:

    Yeah, that’s about it.

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    Yarrow says:

    @Cheryl Rofer: Yep. Such an easy way for them to launder money. Same with church organizations and donations.

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  193. 193
    les says:

    @MattF:

    Speaking of which, the pie filter isn’t working for me. I want some pie!

    Same here. Rank discrimination!!!

  194. 194
    MCA1 says:

    @catclub: Last I heard yesterday, individual AMT was back in. No details about whether it had a different rate, trigger points for things, what might be deductible within that regime, or anything else.

    The AMT is the one thing I think does need to be changed in U.S. individual income tax. It massively disadvantages upper middle class people who actually work for their money vs. exceedingly high income rent takers. Effective tax rate for someone in management, law, medicine, whatever who makes $300k/year is significantly higher than investor class people pulling in multiple millions, but manage to have most of it come through as capital gains or unearned income or offset by depreciation deductions, etc. AMT was not intended to ensnare everyone in the top 8-10% of individual earners, but that’s what it does.

  195. 195
    catclub says:

    @MCA1:

    The AMT is the one thing I think does need to be changed in U.S. individual income tax. It massively disadvantages upper middle class people who actually work for their money vs. exceedingly high income rent takers.

    once you classify the income that only the massively rich get as to be taxed at half the rate for EARNED income, everything else is inconsequential.
    I would be happy to drop AMT IF in exchange they also raised the tax rate on interest, and capital gains to be the same as on earned income.

    Given that the present GOP wanted to remove the AMT and LOWER taxes on the very rich, I would argue to keep the AMT.

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    ruemara says:

    @Dorothy A. Winsor (formerly Iowa Old Lady): We’re a little bit invisible if their dicks don’t notice us.

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    WaterGirl says:

    @rikyrah: I learned everything I know about Sergei Magnitsky from Peet’s podcast. What was done to him was absolutely heartbreaking and beyond despicable. Now when I hear the bullshit lie that “we were just talking about adoptions” I am enraged. Putin is truly evil.

  198. 198
    WaterGirl says:

    @Yarrow:

    A very interesting piece of data from Alabama exit polls: While White women overall voted for Moore 63 to 34, when you break out evangelical vs non you get evangelical white women 76 – 22 Moore; non-evangelical white women 74 – 21 Jones!— Matthew Dowd (@matthewjdowd) December 13, 2017

    Holy crap, that’s huge!

  199. 199
    WaterGirl says:

    @ruemara:

    We’re a little bit invisible if their dicks don’t notice us.

    I nominate this for a rotating tag.

    edit: I see that I am talking to myself. Dead thread.

  200. 200
    Yutsano says:

    @catclub: Keep the AMT but peg it to inflation. Which it should have been in the first place.

  201. 201
    PPCLI says:

    @Yarrow: I don’t know — it would be kind of sweet to know that Giuliani was singing like a bird to sell out the NYC FBI office people who leaked to him.

  202. 202

    @Dorothy A. Winsor (formerly Iowa Old Lady): He is a Balloon Juice favorite, though! Much noble, so smart wow.

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    A Ghost To Most says:

    @divF: A distinction without a difference.

  204. 204
    ruemara says:

    @WaterGirl: Can’t be dead. I’m still here. Dammit, invisible again.

  205. 205
    divF says:

    @A Ghost To Most:
    You’re too annoying to me, so you get pied by me. Goodbye.

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    CapnMubbers says:

    @MattF: @trollhattan: Pie filter a miss for me since Firefox 57.0.1. Really would like to have it work again.

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    cwmoss says:

    @Matt McIrvin: For crimes against writing, George Will should be shot at dawn.

Comments are closed.