Did The Saudis Kill Jamal Khashoggi?

 

On Tuesday, October 2, Saudi journalist and activist Jamal Khashoggi went to the Saudi consulate in Istanbul to pick up paperwork for his upcoming wedding. He never came out alive.

Turkey says that they have recordings of his interrogation, torture, and murder by Saudis inside the consulate. Additionally, there is photographic evidence of a 15-man Saudi team arriving in Istanbul just before Khashoggi disappeared, including special forces officers, intelligence officials, and a forensics specialist. Turkey is now upping the pressure on Saudi Arabia.

A story has been floated that Khashoggi’s Apple watch picked up the audio and sent it to the cloud, which is where Turkey got it. But this is probably a cover story to allow Turkey to deny it has listening devices inside the Saudi consulate. Of course, every country bugs every other country’s consulates and embassies. Hard to see why the Turks are being so coy.

David Ignatius has written a long backgrounder on Khashoggi. Khashoggi was devoted to his country, Saudi Arabia. He took some big chances, including joining the Muslim Brotherhood when he was in his 20s, where he met Osama bin Laden. He grew to feel that bin Laden was moving in too radical a direction. He managed to maintain backing by prominent Saudis, which allowed him to continue his truth-telling journalism.

But now Mohammed bin Sultan (known as MBS) is now effectively ruler of Saudi Arabia. Ben Rhodes has written a backgrounder on MBS and US – Saudi relations. He has pursued a bloody war in Yemen to show his opposition to Iranian influence there. American backing for Saudi Arabia dates back to the 1950s, when the United States took over the United Kingdom’s role in the Middle East and Saudi oil was essential.

Fracking has greatly downgraded the importance of Saudi oil. Meanwhile, Saudi Arabia has maintained an extreme religious conservatism, supplying Osama bin Laden with his warriors who took down the World Trade Center in 2001 and spreading an extreme form of Islam to other countries. Although MBS presents himself as a reformer, little of this has changed. He saw Khashoggi as a threat to his power.

Any other American President would have issued a strong statement by now that Khashoggi must be produced, or evidence given of his safety. The statement would have condemned the intimidation of reporters and might have mentioned a Bulgarian reporter’s death at about the same time Khashoggi disappeared. But Donald Trump is not any other American President.

Trump’s first trip after becoming President was to Saudi Arabia. The first trips of other American Presidents have been to our neighbors Canada and Mexico. Saudis have been big investors in Trump properties and supporters, or perhaps originators, of his agenda against Iran. The visit was replete with sword dancing, Trump’s picture projected on a building, and the laying of hands on a glowing green globe.

Trump’s public reaction has been one of his standard go-tos, “Nobody knows.” That is a ridiculous thing for the President to say. His daily intelligence briefing must include at least what is in the media about the Turkish claim to have recordings and the comings and goings of that apparent Saudi hit team. And there’s probably more.

The United States historically has stood up for human rights, but Trump has stated that arms sales to Saudi Arabia are important enough that he must tiptoe carefully with the Saudis. “The arms order from the Saudis is a tremendous order, we would be doing a service to ourselves if we gave it up now.”

Trump seems to think (or wants us to think) that Saudi Arabia could easily have turned to China or Russia for its arms sales. However, Saudi Arabia’s current military equipment is American. It would be difficult to integrate Chinese or Russian equipment into its armed forces.

Transforming the Saudi military to employ Russian, much less Chinese, weapons would cost a fortune even by Gulf standards, would require years of retraining and would greatly reduce its military power for a generation. Russia cannot produce next-generation fighter aircraft, tanks and infantry fighting vehicles for its own armed forces, much less for the export market. China has not produced, never mind exported, the sophisticated aircraft and missile defense systems Saudi Arabia wants. (New York Times)

Trump used the figure of $110 billion as American arms sales to Saudi Arabia, but last year’s sales were $5.5 billion, quite a bit less. Boeing lost a $20 billion contract with Iran when Trump pulled out of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action. But that was okay with Trump, because it was Iran.

As the President plays dumb, Congress is acting.

A bipartisan group of 11 Democratic and 11 Republican senators sent a letter to President Trump this week, calling for an investigation and a determination of whether to impose sanctions on foreign government officials because of Khashoggi’s reported disappearance, “including with respect to the highest ranking officials in the Government of Saudi Arabia.” (Washington Post)

The President now has 120 days to decide whether to impose sanctions under the Global Magnitsky Act. The act is intended to deal with gross violations of human rights. More here.

There is no American ambassador to Saudi Arabia. Jared Kushner has been practicing his personal diplomacy with MBS and seems to have been the main point of contact.

A number of companies are withdrawing from participation in “Davos in the Desert,” a business conference to be held in Saudi Arabia later this month. Those who have announced they will not be attending include Uber chief executive Dara Khosrowshahi, tech investor Steve Case,  Bob Bakish, chief executive of Viacom and owner of MTV and movie studio Paramount Pictures, and Virgin Group founder Richard Branson. Media companies that will not be attending include the Los Angeles Times, the New York Times, CNN, and Bloomberg.

Fred Hiatt, the Washington Post’s editorial page editor, penned a blistering editorial. Khashoggi wrote for the Washington Post.

Even if we still needed Saudi Arabia’s oil, which we do not; even if Saudi Arabia was a strong and principled ally in the region, which it is not; even if it helped push the Palestinians toward peace, or kept its promises in Yemen, or bought the weapons that Trump thinks it is going to buy. . . . No matter what Saudi Arabia offered, could its supposed friendship be worth shrugging off the ensnaring and killing of a critic whose only offense was to tell the truth?

Is that the country we want to be?

The situation points up Donald Trump’s many conflicts of interest, both his business with the Saudis and his animus toward Iran. There has been little to no interest in the American people in the war with Iran that many of Trump’s advisors want. If the Saudis are found to have killed Khashoggi, that further alienates the American public from Iran’s main adversary. We are also beginning to see how many think tanks have taken Saudi money and kept quiet about their questionable activities.

 

Photo: Khashoggi enters the Saudi consulate.

 

Cross-posted to Nuclear Diner.






136 replies
  1. 1
  2. 2
    Baud says:

    Is that the country we want to be?

    We want to be a country that wants to punish the failure to follow email best practices. Maybe that will change in the next few years.

  3. 3
    MazeDancer says:

    Saw Ben Rhodes on TV saying, basically, everything MBS touches fails.

    No wonder Trump and Kushner like him.

    Hope the Apple Watch has everything. This is just too horrific to let stand. May it bring down MBS. And Jared, too.

  4. 4

    @Baud: Has MoU weighed in with his hot take?

  5. 5
    Corner Stone says:

    @MazeDancer:

    Hope the Apple Watch has everything.

    IMO, that does not pass the smell test on its face.

  6. 6

    It sure as hell sounds like the Saudis did it and Trump et al at best don’t care and at worst greenlighted it.

  7. 7
    Corner Stone says:

    @schrodingers_cat: Surprisingly, no one in the House of Saud seem to be taking his calls at the moment.

  8. 8

    IIRC, wasn’t there an infamous arms dealer called Adnan Khashoggi? Wikipedia tells me Jamal is his nephew. Was that a factor in this incident?

  9. 9
    Corner Stone says:

    Cheryl, and I guess anyone else who cares to chime in, ISTM that some of the best inside perspective/analysis available on this incident comes from people with Iranian ties/background. But given the two country’s blood feud and proxy wars, what are we supposed to make of any of it? I guess my question goes to who in a sea of unreliable narrators are we supposed to give credence to?

  10. 10

    @Dorothy A. Winsor: Did they give Saudis the intel to carry out this deed is the question.

  11. 11
    WaterGirl says:

    Even if we still needed Saudi Arabia’s oil, which we do not; even if Saudi Arabia was a strong and principled ally in the region, which it is not; even if it helped push the Palestinians toward peace, or kept its promises in Yemen, or bought the weapons that Trump thinks it is going to buy. . . . No matter what Saudi Arabia offered, could its supposed friendship be worth shrugging off the ensnaring and killing of a critic whose only offense was to tell the truth?

    Is that the country we want to be?

    This travesty is so different in every way from the Kavanaugh travesty of the past few weeks, yet it all feels the same. There’s a horrifying and awful disregard for people that is the same in both — inconvenient people are nothing more than trash to be discarded with little thought or concern.

    That’s the Inconvenient Truth of the Trump Administration.

  12. 12
    Corner Stone says:

    @Dorothy A. Winsor: Trump basically wrote Kashoggi off at the presser. It doesn’t matter what fat lies he tells that sad sack Leslie Stahl in their interview. He ain’t doing shit.*

    *Except holding his hand out for more cash money in his pockets.

  13. 13

    @Corner Stone: That’s what I’ve tried to do above with a lot of links. What I’ve given you is what looks the most reliable to me. I haven’t seen that much Iranian commentary, but I would take it with a grain (at least) of salt.

    I am sticking with the mainstream of the mainstream press for now. There are too many people with too many axes to grind. And, to be honest, I haven’t seen much from less formal sources, and I follow a fair number of Middle East commenters on twitter.

  14. 14
    WaterGirl says:

    @schrodingers_cat: I can barely believe that is a question. I read that a saudi prince was bragging that he got intel from Jared.

    edit: hoping that didn’t come off as an insult to you. I don’t know if Jared actually did that, but I have no trouble believing that he would offer that if he thought it would be helpful and/or would deliver that if anyone asked for it.

  15. 15
    Corner Stone says:

    Well, I mean, if you can’t trust Erdogan’s govt then who can you trust, amirite?

  16. 16

    @Corner Stone: yeah, that’s… not how Apple Watches work.

  17. 17
    WaterGirl says:

    @Major Major Major Major: I don’t have an Apple watch, but it doesn’t seem unreasonable that the watch could record video and automatically upload it to your account. You can’t do that with an Apple watch?

  18. 18
    Jeffro says:

    He’s totally dead and they’ll never find the pieces, either. I think it was Twitter Dick Nixon noting that the reason the Turks know is that they had the place bugged, and heard every word, action, etc.

    That MBS is one crazy dude. Would be nice if we had a president who could stand up to him and draw the line, instead of line the pockets.

  19. 19
    Corner Stone says:

    What a small time grifter clown. Like $110B means anything in the scope of our economy. Even if that number were accurate.

  20. 20

    @WaterGirl: no, the watch just hooks up to your phone and does the uploading through the phone.

  21. 21
    WaterGirl says:

    @Major Major Major Major: We don’t think he could have had a phone on his person?

  22. 22
    Corner Stone says:

    a 15-man Saudi team arriving in Istanbul just before Khashoggi disappeared, including special forces officers, intelligence officials, and a forensics specialist.

    I still don’t get this part. You need this many specialists to get what you want from a civilian? Seems like they would be getting in each other’s way more than anything.

  23. 23
    StringOnAStick says:

    I was wondering why he went to the Saudi embassy, it seemed like a dangerous thing to do. Now we know why. I can’t imagine how distraught his fiancee must be.

  24. 24
    WaterGirl says:

    @Corner Stone: I shuddered when I read:

    a forensics specialist

    Totally unpremeditated accidental death and dismemberment.

  25. 25
    Baud says:

    @Major Major Major Major: I thought the phone was outside the embassy.

  26. 26
    WaterGirl says:

    @StringOnAStick: The sad thing is that we can imagine it, seeing as how we have hearts and souls and some humanity left. Unlike Rs in power.

  27. 27

    @WaterGirl: Sorry, minor correction: Apple watches don’t have data connections in Turkey. The Turks are claiming that his watch was bluetoothed to his phone, which his fiancée had outside the building. Have you used Bluetooth? Because …yeah, no.

  28. 28
    gene108 says:

    I am of the belief Trump does not want to do anything, because he is jealous of MBS. Trump wishes he could silence his critics, with a bit of murder. He admires and craves the ability to be a dictator.

  29. 29
    WaterGirl says:

    @Baud: The fiancé was calling him on his cell phone and he wasn’t answering, so I assume he had his phone with him.

  30. 30
    Jay says:

    @WaterGirl:

    It was MBS who claimed that Jared provided him with a CIA sourced list of Saudi dissidents and opponents.
    “What exactly Kushner and the Saudi royal talked about in Riyadh may be known only to them, but after the meeting, Crown Prince Mohammed told confidants that Kushner had discussed the names of Saudis disloyal to the crown prince, according to three sources who have been in contact with members of the Saudi and Emirati royal families since the crackdown. Kushner, through his attorney’s spokesperson, denies having done so.”

    https://theintercept.com/2018/03/21/jared-kushner-saudi-crown-prince-mohammed-bin-salman/

  31. 31
    WaterGirl says:

    @gene108: You are not alone in that belief.

  32. 32
    dmsilev says:

    @MazeDancer:

    Hope the Apple Watch has everything.

    Take with grain of salt. The Watch certainly can record audio, but it’s set up to sync with its mating phone primarily via Bluetooth, which is a very short range radio system. Since Khashoggi supposedly handed his phone over to someone else for safe-keeping before going into the embassy, there doesn’t seem to have been much of an opportunity for the two devices to be in close proximity after the fact.

  33. 33
    gene108 says:

    @WaterGirl:

    I am assuming Jared would sell US intelligence, in order for the Saudis to bail him out of the financial mess he is in.

  34. 34
    WaterGirl says:

    @Jay: Thanks. It seems that the articles are including more specifics than they were just a couple of days ago.

  35. 35
    WaterGirl says:

    @gene108: Of course. There would be money involved. What was I thinking? Jared giving something valuable away for free?

  36. 36
    Jay says:

    @Corner Stone:

    Round the clock, multi day torture sessions require shift work.

    So 15 is three shifts of 5.

  37. 37
    WaterGirl says:

    @Jay: And you still only need one forensics specialist.

  38. 38
  39. 39
    JoyceH says:

    @WaterGirl:

    The fiancé was calling him on his cell phone and he wasn’t answering, so I assume he had his phone with him.

    The Apple watch includes a phone function so presumably she was trying to call the watch.

    Sort of a peripheral issue, but I’m becoming morbidly fascinated by noting how many different ways Trump gets out of having to say Khashoggi’s name. I can’t decide if he’s trying not to personalize and humanize the tragedy, or he hasn’t bothered to learn the name of the alleged victim, or if he just figures he’ll butcher the pronunciation. (Butcher turns out to be a poor word choice – sorry.)

  40. 40
    Martin says:

    @dmsilev: It could work, though. But Khashoggi would have had to plan carefully. There are certainly apps that allow you to record large amounts of audio and send them out with the cellular model of the Watch. Turkcell was supposed to support the Watch this year, but I’m not sure if thats running yet or not. It’s possible the Watch connected to the wifi in the consulate, but that would probably have to be set up on a prior visit since the Watch gets the credentials from the phone.

    It’s unlikely the Watch story is true, but technologically, I think it’s all possible. Requires a fair bit of planning, but being a journalist and being suspicious, that’s not a stretch either.

  41. 41

    @Martin: CNN says that Turkey doesn’t currently support watch data.

  42. 42
    Martin says:

    @JoyceH: Most Watch models require the phone to be in Bluetooth range, but the cellular ones don’t. They can take the phone call without the phone even being nearby.

  43. 43
    trollhattan says:

    @schrodingers_cat:
    Every time I see the name I immediately have Robin Leach in my noggin excitedly saying, “Attended the Party on Adnan Khashoggi’s yacht!”

  44. 44
    dmsilev says:

    @Martin: Not sure if it’s completely up to date, but Apple’s list of supported countries doesn’t mention Turkey.

  45. 45
    Woodrow/Asim says:

    @JoyceH: “The Apple watch includes a phone function”

    To be pedantic, some Apple Watches connect to some networks and their cell towers (called LTE).

    A couple things are unclear around this:

    1) The LTE/cell function requires specific networks, and Turkey isn’t listed in above countries with supported Networks for an LTE-enabled Apple Watch to connect to.

    2) Assuming I’m wrong and/or the LTE Apple Watch supports roaming on a Turkish cell network, I don’t see where an “sync audio/video with iCloud” function is mentioned. Like many Apple products, there appears to be a restricted set of things the LTE watch can do. It can do calls without the phone present, stream music from iCloud/iTunes, and a couple of other things. Maybe there’s a watch app I’m missing?

    All in all, I have to concur this story about the Watch recording stuff and streaming it “on the fly” doesn’t fly with me — but I also confess I’m not an Apple expect by any means.

  46. 46
    Robert Sneddon says:

    @dmsilev: The latest iterations of Bluetooth have a 10-metre plus range but they suck power and slim devices like the Apple Watch are very parsimonious with power to extend their useful time between recharges.

    Any consulate or embassy operated by a half-decent nation will have it shielded from radio in both directions. It’s unlikely phones, never mind Bluetooth devices would be able to communicate from within the core of the building and especially the secure areas. I’d presume that basic security would require all phones and electronic devices owned by visitors to be surrendered at the door before entry.

    Hard-wired mikes might have been gotten into the structure by the host nation, it’s a constant see-saw battle of attack and defence. Really the base assumption should be that the areas deemed secure have actually been compromised and that no-one on the staff discusses anything important out loud anywhere, unless of course you want the Other Side to know what you’re talking about. Of course They will discount anything they hear as disinformation because they know you wanted them to hear it so you salt what you say with occasional nuggets of verifiable intelligence to muddy the waters. And so on.

    If the Saudis did in fact do what they’re being accused of then it sends a chilling message to other opponents of the Saudi regime, much like Putin’s attempt to kill Skripal in the UK with nerve poison. We can get to you, we will kill you, shut up or else. That might be worth the short-term inconvenience of finger-wagging and tut-tutting they will have to endure but if what they did to Qatar, Yemen and Bahrain didn’t get them shunned then nothing will. See also Vietnam and America passim.

  47. 47
    trollhattan says:

    @WaterGirl:
    Thinking of “The Americans” (r.i.p.) and a certain suitcase.

  48. 48
    MisterForkbeard says:

    @germy: This is the same thing as the Kavanaugh investigation. We’ll have a severely curtailed investigation that just throws up its hands and Trump will say (again): “I don’t know. But we can’t punish Kav/MBS for something they might not have done, so we have go give them everything they want instead.”

  49. 49
    trollhattan says:

    @Woodrow/Asim:
    Am with the comments upthread that it’s a feeble smokescreen for Turkey’s actual surveillance resources.

  50. 50
    Mary G says:

    I’ve been bitching about MBS’s war in Yemen for a couple of years now. He framed it as being against Iran, but Daniel Larison at the American Conservative has made a pretty good case that Iran couldn’t have cared less in the beginning; it was Yemen’s audacity in electing Shites to government on the Arabia peninsula, which they think should all be Sunni, and MBS’s desire to play war with the toys he’s been buying from the US.

    Iran, of course, was happy to jump in to troll the Sunnis, and the ground war has been at a bloody stalemate for three years. Saudis are shit fighters, and hire mercenaries, the Shites hide in the mountains, and Al Qaeda has been happy to take over about a third of the country for training camps since Afghanistan got too hot for them. There are also theories that the Saudis have been funding and supporting Al Qaeda to help hit the Shites from both sides.

    Meanwhile, the only effective thing the Saudis are doing is blockading the ports and airports, so eight million Yemenis are in near danger of starvation and a huge cholera epidemic, and bombing whatever targets they feel like, such as schools and hospitals and markets, despite US efforts to help targeting only military sites. The UN, Doctors without Borders, Oxfam, and every other NGO trying to help have been complaining for three years and been ignored by the US administrations of both Obama and Trump.

    Chris Murphy of Connecticut, Rep. Ro Khanna (D-Silicon Valley),and I think McCain before he got sick, are the only people who’ve been trying to stop the Saudis until now, but I hoped this Khashoggi abomination will get more going on this. It seems to be doing the trick, with Rand Paul and Wilmer Sanders getting on the bandwagon, and I think about 20 other senators signing onto Murphy’s bill.

    I’m glad. I am so sick of seeing pictures of starving babies and children like these. Don’t look if you will be triggered.

  51. 51
    trollhattan says:

    @MisterForkbeard:
    “I have given the CIA seventy-two hours to investigate this possible incident. That should be plenty.”

    Something like that.

  52. 52

    @trollhattan: If that lasts for over 4 hours, see a medical professional.

  53. 53
    Martin says:

    @dmsilev: Those lists are a little tricky to parse. Usually it means you can’t buy it in that country as the carrier doesn’t have things set up to assign a number to the soft SIM in the Watch, but it’s still a valid GSM device so if it has a US number it can still receive calls to the US number (international roaming rates apply). Pretty sure a cellular Watch carrying an AT&T assigned number will work anywhere with GSM if you are calling that US number.

  54. 54
    Mike in NC says:

    His daily intelligence briefing must include at least what is in the media about the Turkish claim to have recordings and the comings and goings of that apparent Saudi hit team.

    Uh, he doesn’t pay any attention to those intel briefings. Too boooooring for his giant brain!

  55. 55
    Emma says:

    Guys in all honesty, concentrating on the technology aspects of the watch misses the point by a subcontinent or two. The bigger point is this: pretty much everyone knows embassies get bugged. Killing him in the embassy means the Saudis aren’t worried about blowback. I wonder why.

  56. 56
    JGabriel says:

    Cheryl Rofer:

    Of course, every country bugs every other country’s consulates and embassies. Hard to see why the Turks are being so coy.

    Diplomacy, isn’t it? Everyone knows everybody bugs everyone else’s consulates and embassies, but nobody wants to have it rubbed in their faces. Lying about it is how governments tell other governments, “We don’t want any trouble with you. We still care what you think of us.”

    Only countries that are actively hostile to each other dispense with the fiction of trust.

  57. 57
  58. 58

    @MisterForkbeard:

    We’ll have a severely curtailed investigation

    One very important thing I got from Adam and Cheryl during the Kavanaugh farce was that Trump was able to limit that investigation the way he did because it’s a very unusual kind of investigation. It’s not like IC terrorism work, or FBI criminal investigations. So thankfully, it does not mean that from here on we can expect Trump to dictate to the FBI how much to investigate things.

  59. 59
    Gin & Tonic says:

    @schrodingers_cat: “Yes” is the answer, IMO.

  60. 60
    debbie says:

    So the trend in international politics now is to murder your enemies on foreign soil. First Russia, now Saudi Arabia. Who will be next? Knowing Trump and his I-wanna-be-in-the-cool-group, Trudeau and Macron better have really good security.

    Despots are lazy. No chess moves, no cat-and-mouse games, no mind games, just whack ’em.

    This whole affair is horrifying. The only thing that comes close are those damn Jewish settlers stoning that Palestinian woman who later died. And ironic. Who knew Jewish settlers were Taliban wannabes?

  61. 61

    @JGabriel: True. But the watch story seems awfully elaborate as a cover.

  62. 62
    JGabriel says:

    WaPo via Cheryl Rofer @ Top:

    No matter what Saudi Arabia offered, could its supposed friendship be worth shrugging off the ensnaring and killing of a critic whose only offense was to tell the truth?

    Is that the country we want to be?

    I’m pretty sure that’s exactly the country Donald Trump wants us to be.

  63. 63
  64. 64
    oatler. says:

    Oil Rules Everything And Me

  65. 65
    Bill Arnold says:

    From OP:

    Trump’s first trip after becoming President was to Saudi Arabia.

    Trump went to Saudi Arabia to touch the Orb. [0] Perhaps Trump (thought :-) that) there were other reasons, and perhaps there were, but I’m sure that the Saudis has this photo-op planned.
    [0] Trump Touched A Glowing Orb In Saudi Arabia And Folks Found It Just A Bit Odd (May 21 2017)

  66. 66
    jc says:

    It’s hard for the average American to know what’s true and what’s misdirection in this story. The Saudis look especially dirty. But what’s most disturbing here is that anything our own government says is now totally untrustworthy. This is the problem with lying all the time, Mr. Trump. You’ve reach the point where nothing you claim can be trusted.

  67. 67

    @JGabriel:

    I’m pretty sure that’s exactly the country Donald Trump wants us to be.

    That’s a good point. Trump has been quite clear that he thinks having your political enemies murdered, especially journalists, is awesome and he envies anyone who gets to do it. It’s not just that someone he’s making money off of did it.

  68. 68
    Bill Arnold says:

    @Frankensteinbeck:

    Trump has been quite clear that he thinks having your political enemies murdered, especially journalists, is awesome and he envies anyone who gets to do it.

    It is really irritating (strong word ) to me that this is so easy to believe, and that it is so hard to believe the inverse.

  69. 69
    Cookie Monster says:

    @Martin: if we wish to go really outlandish, I suppose it’s possible Khasoggi had a mifi-type device he’d paired with his phone, and the watch was using that to go wifi to cellular. Seems exceedingly unlikely…

    Is it normal for radio signals to not be attenuated inside consulates?

  70. 70

    Cruz must be in trouble. Vichy Times reporters are out in full force dissing Beto and the Ds.

    Alex Burns

    All kidding aside I think it says something interesting about Swift that she’d get involved in politics to endorse a very bland but very important candidate in Tennessee, rather than joining a celeb stampede into a faddish, personality-driven race somewhere (say, Texas)

    Jonathan Martin

    Beto O’Rourke’s War Chest Bothers Some Democrats as He Struggles Against Ted Cruz

  71. 71

    @schrodingers_cat: I mean, the polling out of Texas is pretty crushing. 538 has Beto at around a 20% chance.

  72. 72
    SFAW says:

    @schrodingers_cat:

    Has MoU weighed in with his hot take?

    I’m sure I’ll slap myself when you tell me, but … “MoU”? The only phrases I can think of with that abbreviation (or close to it) is “Memorandum of Understanding” and “Master(s) of (the) Universe.”

    I assume it’s something/someone else, but apparently am having a Senior Moment.

  73. 73
    SFAW says:

    @Major Major Major Major:

    I mean, the polling out of Texas is pretty crushing. 538 has Beto at around a 20% chance.

    What happened to the “within low single digits” numbers we were hearing about a few weeks ago? Did all the RWAs wake up? Or did the Tejas SecState disenfranchise a bunch of likely-Dem voters? Or am I just mis-remembering?

    ETA: I see the Quinnipiac poll has Zodiac up by 9 points, but I don’t recall Q’s accuracy track record

  74. 74
    Jay says:

    @SFAW:

    The Moustache of Understanding

  75. 75

    @Major Major Major Major: @SFAW: My guess is that the things on the ground haven’t changed but the polling models have. They are polling people who have voted or a likely to vote in the midterms.
    @SFAW: Mustache of Understanding, Tom Friedman of the NYT.

    ETA: GOTV is going to be key, and of course a D winning in Texas was always an uphill task.

  76. 76
    Achrachno says:

    @SFAW: Moustache of Understanding, I’d guess. Extra level of cryptic.

  77. 77
    SFAW says:

    @schrodingers_cat:

    Mustache of Understanding, Tom Friedman of the NYT.

    [Sound of me slapping myself]

    Thanks.
    PS: Yeah, I know Tejas was always going to be a heavy lift, but I was getting my hopes up more than was reasonable, I guess. Yes, I know it’s still possible.

  78. 78
  79. 79

    @schrodingers_cat: @SFAW: short answer, Latino D turnout is expected to be as low as normal.

    @Jay: better to link to the overall look https://projects.fivethirtyeight.com/2018-midterm-election-forecast/senate/texas/

  80. 80

    @Major Major Major Major: How is this expected value calculated?

  81. 81
  82. 82
    TS (the original) says:

    @schrodingers_cat: They really hate anyone with a (D) behind their name. Is trump their boy because he is New York? I will never understand how the media – any media – continues to support this administration. Can’t believe it is just for tax cuts.

  83. 83
    guachi says:

    Beto has not led in any poll, ever (IIRC). Some polls in early to mid-September had Cruz up by low single digits and recent polls have Cruz up by high single digits. There probably was movement, but it’s not obvious that there was. Good polling, however, is probably why Cruz cancelled any more debates.

    Beto can probably get to -5 but that last 5 is going to be near impossible in Texas. Clinton lost by 9 and that’s better than 2012 when Obama lost by 16 or 2008 when Obama lost by 12.

  84. 84

    Beto may well lose. If he wins that will be seismic. He should continue doing what he is doing and so should other Ds. And they should tune out NYT reporters who are clearly not their friends.

  85. 85
    JaySinWA says:

    @Martin: While I doubt the Apple Watch scenario, it doesn’t seem outlandish to have a recorded session on the device upload after the team takes all the personal effects outside the embassy. I doubt the tradecraft is so bad that someone would take it as a personal trophy, but it would make sense to collect and remove any identifying jewelry or equipment. It does look like newer Apple Watches can connect over data connections other than bluetooth. Unlikely, but it allows some plausible deniability to Turkey for having bugged the embassy.

  86. 86
    rikyrah says:

    Is water wet?
    YES, they killed him😠😠😠

  87. 87
    gene108 says:

    @TS (the original):

    I will never understand how the media – any media – continues to support this administration. Can’t believe it is just for tax cuts.

    Preserving the white patriarchy and all the benefits it accrues to white men, and by association whites women, is a hard thing to give up.

  88. 88

    @TS (the original): I think many are tribal R voters.

  89. 89
    Miss Biancs says:

    @schrodingers_cat: OMG, handsome TV news dude squeeing over a tray full of kittens is almost enough to make me forget how mad I still am at my dogs for disappearing all day yesterday!

  90. 90
    SFAW says:

    With all this “parsing” (so to speak) and analysis regarding the AppleWatch/Bluetooth/WiFi/Flip-phone, I’m a little surprised that no one has thought to check the kerning.

  91. 91
    Miss Bianca says:

    @Miss Biancs: Stupid – misspelled my nym!

  92. 92
    rikyrah says:

    @schrodingers_cat:
    I am a Democrat and his warchest doesn’t bother me at all

  93. 93

    @schrodingers_cat: likely voter calculation is a constantly-shifting dark art in polling. History, interviews, guesswork, current events, suppression activity…

  94. 94

    @rikyrah: Ds in disarray is their perennial story. They just have to make some minor corrections in their word processing software, template is ready and pre-written.

  95. 95

    @Major Major Major Major: All polling, is a snap shot in time. The only poll that matters is the election day. We work hard to win that one.

  96. 96
    debbie says:

    @Jay:

    Is your link reliable? Sherrod Brown cannot have lost 15% in a day or two.

  97. 97
    Emerald says:

    @debbie: Amazing how Israel and Saudi Arabia finally agree on something: they both like trump.

    How things change . . .

  98. 98

    @Emerald: All despotic and quasi despotic regimes love T.

  99. 99
    SiubhanDuinne says:

    @rikyrah:

    I am a Democrat and his warchest doesn’t bother me at all

    That always looks like a superlative to me.

    Warch…Warcher…Warchest.

  100. 100
    Ruckus says:

    @schrodingers_cat:
    They are going to save the country. Just ask them.
    They don’t know how any of it will work but they do believe in magic politics so they have that going for them. IOW, It will all work out because, republicans have always saved the day. I’m sorry that I am unable to provide any proof of this whatsoever from the last at least 100 yrs but they believe it so it must be true.

  101. 101

    Journalists are being handed over to despots to be slaughtered and still NYT political team is laser focused on Ds in disarray, after a D candidate in question raises a record amount of money.

  102. 102
    Jay says:

    @debbie:

    It’s 538.

    Keep in mind that it’s reporting recent published polls by others, so one has to look at each published poll for methodology, and the history of the pollster.

    It’s really only useful for trendlines over time in a generalized sense.

    The only poll that matters is the vote.

    And I posted it to show that Beto is still polling close to Canada Cruz, which in Texas, is a big deal.

  103. 103
    Emerald says:

    @Major Major Major Major: Indeed. Frankly I doubt the pollsters have any idea about whom to poll this year.

    Although I would believe that Hispanics in Texas won’t turn out, as usual. If Beto has any chance it will be because of women.

  104. 104
    SFAW says:

    CNN.com tells me that Uday is tweeting that Khashoggi was a terrist sympathizer.
    [NB: I only scanned the headline, did not read the story, primarily because the fewer times I see the names of any members of the Shitgibbon Crime Family, the happier I am.]

    Christ, what an asshole. I’m starting to think that he’s a bigger asshole than Senior was at the same age — and that’s saying a lot.

  105. 105
    SFAW says:

    @schrodingers_cat:

    Journalists are being handed over to despots to be slaughtered and still NYT political team is laser focused on Ds in disarray, after a D candidate in question raises a record amount of money.

    Well, it’s not as if Khashoggi wrote for the FTFTFNYT. If it had been someone like MAGAt, they might’ve gotten upset.

  106. 106

    @SFAW: She is giving T hugs and being his mouthpiece, the unofficial WH spokeswoman. More valuable alive than dead.

  107. 107
    Jay says:

    @SFAW:

    Uday’s a Nazi.

  108. 108
    Kay says:

    @schrodingers_cat:

    What if they’re just bad at covering politics? The evidence for that is overwhelming at this point. I mean, why do they do this? Why do this “Beto is THIS so that means Democrats ARE…” bullshit. What is that? It’s not political coverage. I don’t know what it is.

    There’s plenty of “politics” to cover. The United States is having this huge political battle over health care. All of the Democratic candidates are talking about it, but not the NYTimes – they’re talking about how some Democratic consultants view the Texas senate candidate’s fundraising. It’s not “political coverage”, as the public sees “politics”. It’s coverage of the political campaign industry.

    The NYTimes political coverage sucks. It’s not ideological. It’s just bad. If you want to read about the midterm races don’t bother looking there- they’re covering something else, some meta theme of an echo of an interpretation of political coverage.

  109. 109
    Kay says:

    If the NYTimes wants to know where Democrats “are” in the great scheme of things they don’t have to analyze that thru the lens of the Texas Senate race and come up with a working theory. Instead they could just cover Democratic candidates and their races. Then they’ll know. Luckily there’s more than one race so we don’t have to extrapolate from Texas. We could just go without a Grand Theory of the Democrats and instead just cover the thousands of elections until they’re over. No one will even miss it.

  110. 110

    @Kay: Their savvy take always amounts to one thing, Ds suck.

  111. 111
    Jay says:

    @Kay:

    The FTFNYT, also known as Vichy Times, has a model where 50% of their political ” reporting” is ideological and attacks Democrats along several pre-written memes,

    25% of their political “reporting” is just hacks writing horseracing,

    and 25% Cletus Safari’s normalizing Nazi’s and other extremists.

    They try to hide their agenda behind incompetence.

  112. 112
    Kay says:

    Matthew Yglesias

    Verified account

    @mattyglesias
    52m52 minutes ago
    More
    To complain that inspiration-driven, largely expressive small dollar donors don’t act like tactically-oriented transactional ones just seems misguided.
    It’s like complaining that your doctor didn’t fix your car.

    It’s worse than that, though. It’s political coverage viewed thru a very specific and narrow lens- the lens of campaign professionals and the industry.

  113. 113
    Steve in the ATL says:

    @schrodingers_cat: exactly. Fuck those people.

  114. 114
    Kay says:

    @schrodingers_cat:

    I think they believe straight political coverage isn’t fancy enough so they’ve decided to plow this new ground, where they cover a theory of political campaigns :)

    The funniest part if they have more and more data! They poll constantly. The more they poll the more they exclude any coverage of the actual candidates and voters. It’s like the polling substitutes for real coverage, leaving them free to develop theories .

  115. 115
    WaterGirl says:

    @Kay: The 24-hour “news” channels are totally worthless. They have 24-hour coverage, for god’s sake, why do they squander it blathering on and on and on.

  116. 116
    Ruckus says:

    @Kay:

    It’s coverage of the political campaign industry.

    Eureka! This is really what they are about. The political campaign industry is about money. What could be more money than the FTFNYT? We’ve called it a horse race in the past and while that comes close it’s not the same thing. There is money to be made talking about money. What could be more money than politics in this country?

  117. 117
    Fair Economist says:

    I find it disturbing that the Turkish government apparently are the good guys in this story. Really, they’re the most decent player?

  118. 118
    SFAW says:

    @Kay:

    You may be right, but I’m thinking it’s more along the lines of “Pinch was a Clinton-hating asshole, and his son, Pinche is just picking up where Dad left off.”

    [In case you’re wondering — probably not, but just in case — “Pinch” Sulzberger was the publisher of the FTFTFNYT from 1992 until the end of last year, when his son Pinche took over. (Pinche is my nickname for him, not one that has been popularized. And, no, its use/meaning is not the “scullion” translation.)]

  119. 119
    WaterGirl says:

    @Fair Economist: I had a similar thought earlier in the week. If you’re looking to Turkey to be the one who does the right thing, that’s not a good sign.

  120. 120
    debbie says:

    @Jay:

    I’m not defending NYT, but in which of your three categories would you place that 8-page article on Trump’s bullshit finances?

  121. 121

    @Kay: Polling has replaced reporting the issues, politics, politicians and voters. Plus their interpretation of the said polls is not always great because they are fucking innumerate, can barely calculate percentages. Even so called econ bloggers like Megan Himalayan Salt McCardle.

  122. 122
    catclub says:

    @schrodingers_cat:

    All despotic and quasi despotic regimes love T.

    except for Turkey and Syria. How about Pakistan?

  123. 123
    catclub says:

    @WaterGirl: Yeah, usually Turkey wins for worst NATO Ally, and then is in the running with Saudi Arabia for worst ally in general.

  124. 124
    mainmata says:

    @Dorothy A. Winsor: There was some speculation that Kashoggi was about to release a story about the Saudis, Trump and Kushner. Maybe oney laundering or other nastiness. I have no iidea whether there is anything to this. As for the Apple Watch, this is just a cover story for the Turks having bugged the consulate.

  125. 125

    @catclub: No idea. But some of the more cretinous Modi bhakts love them some T.

  126. 126
    SFAW says:

    @mainmata:

    There was some speculation that Kashoggi was about to release a story about the Saudis, Trump and Kushner. Maybe oney laundering or other nastiness. I have no iidea whether there is anything to this.

    It would be irresponsible NOT to speculate

  127. 127
    TomatoQueen says:

    The storm kittens are with fosters via the Panhandle Animal Welfare Society of Ft Walton Beach, and are eating nicely. Whereabouts of their mother unknown.
    https://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/kittens-rescued-ceiling-hurricane-michael_us_5bbcc3ebe4b028e1fe41e591?akp
    https://www.facebook.com/PanhandleAnimalWelfareSociety/

    I woke up this morning from a dream about Mr Khashoggi, which I can’t remember now.

  128. 128
    sdhays says:

    @debbie:

    So the trend in international politics now is to murder your enemies on foreign soil. First Russia, now Saudi Arabia.

    Now, now, that’s being really unfair. Both Putin and MBS have shown no compunction about also murdering their enemies inside Russia and Saudi Arabia, respectively. Their murderous thuggery has no borders!

  129. 129
    Captain C says:

    @debbie: I can’t speak for Jay, but I’d call it “another department entirely.”

  130. 130
    NotoriousJRT says:

    @jc:
    what’s most disturbing here is that anything our own government says is now totally untrustworthy. This is the problem with lying all the time,
    That is the feature and objective of lying all the time, not the bug.

  131. 131
    NotoriousJRT says:

    @Kay:
    That’s some good commentin’.

  132. 132
    NotoriousJRT says:

    @WaterGirl:
    It’s cheaper and easier.

  133. 133
    Procopius says:

    Of course, every country bugs every other country’s consulates and embassies.

    Errrmmm. I seem to remember a certain level of outrage when we discovered that the Soviet Union had used the occasion of a renovation to implant microphones in the walls or our embassy in Moscow. I think it is considered not polite to do that. When was that, back in the ’70s? My memory is fallible, but I think we demanded that they demolish the whole damned building. If the Turks are revealing the existence of such a valuable intelligence source they are playing a very high level of hardball. This is on the level of moving Turkish troops to their base in Qatar after Saudi imposed the blockade. Worth watching.

  134. 134
    Procopius says:

    @Mary G:

    … despite US efforts to help targeting only military sites.

    Hahaha! You make the comedy.

    You are right, though about the lack of Iranian support. Although the Houthi are Shi’a they follow a different sect than the majority in Iran. Col. (ret) Pat Lang gave an excellent explanation over three years ago. If you look at a map of the region you will see that it is not really feasible for Iran to provide assistance to the Yemenis. The constant repetition by the American media is pure lies.

  135. 135
    Burnspbesq says:

    @WaterGirl:

    You can’t do that with an Apple watch?

    The new Series 4 watches have a Walkie-Talkie app that might work for that, but they’ve only been on sale in the US for a few weeks. AFAIK, Series 3 and prior had no such capabilities.

  136. 136
    tokyokie says:

    @schrodingers_cat: Beto’s path to victory has always been through getting people who historically don’t vote (young people and Hispanics) excited enough to register and go to the polls. I seriously doubt such people figure into the models the polling companies employ. I detect no enthusiasm for Cruz whatsoever (and I live in the most Republican major city in the state), but he’s obviously decided that he’s got the election won, and such overconfidence could prove deadly for him by depressing his turnout. And it won’t take that much of a boost in the traditional piss-poor election participation in the Rio Grande Valley, where Beto will clobber Tailgunner Ted, for Beto to win.

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