Late Night Spy-vs-Spy Open Thread: How Badly Did Ivanka Want A Divorce?

She had a nice lifestyle, a profitable brand, the envy of all her Park Slope peers, until somebody talked Daddy into running for President…

Yes, “Melania’s pre-nup” would be the obvious joke, but who believes Melania was paying that much attention to what the old man’s cronies were up to?

(General speculation, if you click on the tweets and read the replies, seems to be that Trump should’ve had the smarts to be nicer to Christie.)

Apparently Fox News had a really frantic evening, looking for substitute target for the evening’s Ten Minute Hate…

(You probably don’t want to read the replies to that tweet… )

Today in Domestic Terrorism: Anti-Muslim Attack in Portland Oregon

Earlier this evening two people were killed and another wounded attempting to intervene with a man who had been bullying a pair of women for being Muslim.

Portland’s KATU News reported that:

Witnesses told KATU’s Joe Douglass the stabbing suspect was hurling racial insults at two women with dark skin, one of whom was wearing a headdress. Two men who came to the woman’s defense had their throats slashed by the suspect, witnesses said.

Another witness says she saw two women who appeared to be of Middle Eastern-descent get on the train. At least one of them was wearing a headdress. The suspect was asking them questions when he got belligerent. When another bystander tried to calm him down, the man took out a knife and began stabbing people.

“He said, ‘Get off the bus, and get out of the country because you don’t pay taxes here,’ [he said he] doesn’t like Muslims, they’re criminals,” Evelin Hernandez said.

Portland’s KGW News also reports that:

Portland police spokesman Sgt. Pete Simpson said the man was yelling hate speech on the train. While Simpson said the rants weren’t exclusively anti-Muslim, he said at some point the man began directing his speech towards two younger women are believed to be Muslim. One was wearing a hijab, Simpson said.

While the man was yelling, other passengers began trying to calm him down. That’s when the man attacked three of the people who intervened, Simpson said. One person died at the scene and one later died at a hospital. The third victim is expected to survive. They have not yet been identified.

The suspect then ran from the train into a nearby neighborhood, where police took him into custody. Simpson said it’s not yet known what prompted the man’s behavior.

None of the news reports identify who the suspect is or provide a description of him.

(H/T: Timurid)

Kushnergate Open Thread: The Trickster God Is Not A Subtle Scripter

As Donald Trump surged in the Republican primary polls in the early months of 2016, his outsider campaign faced growing pressure to show that the former reality-TV star and noted provocateur was forming a coherent and credible world view.

So when Carter Page, an international businessman with an office near Trump Tower, volunteered his services, former officials recall, Trump aides were quick to make him feel welcome.
He had come with a referral from the son-in-law of Richard Nixon, New York state Republican Party Chairman Ed Cox, who had conveyed Page’s interest to the campaign, Cox said.

A top Trump adviser, Sam Clovis, then employed what campaign aides now acknowledge was their go-to vetting process — a quick Google search — to check out the newcomer. He seemed to have the right qualifications, according to former campaign officials — head of an energy investment firm, business degree from New York University, doctorate from the University of London.

But what the Google search had not shown was that Page had been on the FBI’s radar since at least 2013, when Russian officials allegedly tried to use him to get information about the energy business…

The circumstances that led to Page’s easy access to the Trump campaign represent one of the main questions facing investigators: Were Trump’s connections to multiple Russia-friendly advisers mere coincidence, or evidence of a coordinated attempt to collude with a foreign government? Or were they the result of incompetent vetting that left a neophyte candidate vulnerable to influence from people with nefarious agendas?…

(Spoiler: That ‘crack idea’ is how Chris Christie eventually put Kushner Senior in federal prison)

Friday Night News Dump Part Two

And then you have this:

The Senate Intelligence Committee, which is investigating Russian interference in the 2016 presidential race, has asked President Trump’s political organization to gather and produce all Russia-related documents, emails and phone records going back to his campaign’s launch in June 2015, according to two people briefed on the request.

The letter from the Senate arrived at Trump’s campaign committee last week and was addressed to the group’s treasurer. Since then, some former staffers have been notified and asked to cooperate, the people said. They were not authorized to speak publicly.

The demand follows a Senate request months earlier for the campaign committee to preserve documents.

I’m warning you right now, when they get in deep shit because they can’t find their emails or they used sketchy servers (because you just know the fucking clueless numpties have no idea where any of this shit is- if they haven’t been destroyed already) I am going to become physically aroused.

The Friday Evening News Drop Begins

Russian ambassador told Moscow that Kushner wanted secret communications channel with Kremlin

Ambassador Sergei Kislyak reported to his superiors in Moscow that Kushner, then President-elect Trump’s son-in-law and confidant, made the proposal during a meeting on Dec. 1 or 2 at Trump Tower, according to intercepts of Russian communications that were reviewed by U.S. officials. Kislyak said Kushner suggested using Russian diplomatic facilities in the United States for the communications.

The meeting also was attended by Michael Flynn, Trump’s first national security adviser.

Neither the meeting nor the communications of Americans involved were under U.S. surveillance, officials said.

The Post bolded that last. So the information came from…?

This is kind of stunning. They didn’t want to be surveilled by the Americans, but they were okay with Russian communications? And this was for the campaign.

The entire idea, he [senior intel official] said, “seems extremely naïve or absolutely crazy.”

“Believe in Yourselves”

Hillary Clinton gave the commencement address at Wellesley today, and she used the occasion to righteously roast Trump’s ass. At one point, referring to her own graduation from that institution, she pointedly mentioned that the class of 1969 was “furious about the past presidential election of a man whose presidency would eventually end in disgrace with his impeachment for obstruction of justice. After firing the person running the investigation into him at the Department of Justice.”

The crowd went wild. Here’s the full speech:

Here’s an excerpt in which Clinton calls out the Republican con in no uncertain terms:

You are graduating at a time when there is a full-fledged assault on truth and reason. Just log on to social media for ten seconds. It will hit you right in the face. People denying science, concocting elaborate, hurtful conspiracies theories about child abuse rings operating out of pizza parlors. Drumming up rampant fear about undocumented immigrants, Muslims, minorities, the poor. Turning neighbor against neighbor and sowing division at a time when we desperately need unity. Some are even denying things we see with our own eyes. Like the size of crowds.

And then defending themselves by talking about “alternative facts.” But this is serious business. Look at the budget that was just proposed in Washington. It is an attack of unimaginable cruelty on the most vulnerable among us, the youngest, the oldest, the poorest, and hardworking people who need a little help to gain or hang on to a decent middle-class life. It grossly underfunds public education, mental health, and efforts even to combat the opioid epidemic. And in reversing our commitment to fight climate change, it puts the future of our nation and our world at risk.

And to top it off, it is shrouded in a trillion-dollar mathematical lie. Let’s call it what it is. It’s a con. They don’t even try to hide it. Why does all this matter? It matters because if our leaders lie about the problems we face, we’ll never solve them. It matters because it undermines confidence in government as a whole which in turn breeds more cynicism and anger. But it also matters because our country, like this college, was founded on the principles of the enlightenment. In particular, the belief that people, you and I, possess the capacity for reason and critical thinking. And that free and open debate is the life blood of a democracy.

Bet she never thought she’d be urging a Wellesley class to use their elite educations to resist the New Dark Ages in 2017! The full transcript is here.

In other Hillary Clinton news, Rebecca Traister’s fascinating piece on Clinton was published in NY Mag today. Here’s a stark warning about the lessons of 2016:

“Whoever comes next, this is not going to end. Republicans learned that if you suppress votes you win … So take me out of the equation as a candidate. You know, I’m not running for anything. Put me into the equation as somebody who has lived the lessons that people who care about this country should probably pay attention to.”

Yep. Also, this will launch a thousand angry tweetstorms from all points on the compass:

There are plenty of people who yearned for Clinton to get mad; during the campaign, an imagined litany of Clinton’s fury entitled “Let Me Remind You Fuckers Who I Am” went viral. “Oh, I am [pissed],” she says. But as a woman in public life, “you can’t be angry for yourself. You just can’t. You can be indignant, you can be annoyed, you can be frustrated, but you can’t be angry … I don’t think anger’s a strategy.”

You mean it’s not a strategy for you, I clarify. “For me, yeah.” She pauses. “But I don’t think it’s a good strategy for most people.”

But this was an election that was, in many ways, about anger. And Trump and Sanders capitalized on that.

“Yes.” Clinton nods. “And I beat both of them.”

Anyhoo, fascinating stuff.

As you wish

Responding to Hovercraft:

Could a front pager give us an open thread, this is very interesting, and not the place for normal jackal behavior,so could you please give us a place to play, please.

Please snarl here.

Open thread

James Comey’s Open Thread

Valued commenter clay posted this CNN article on the previous thread. Let’s keep that thread on oceanography for Boussinesq and mess around with the politics here.

The CNN story continues a Washington Post story that didn’t make a whole lot of sense to me the other day. It still doesn’t make much sense, although this tweet may help:

So I still haven’t figured it out. And here’s an open thread.

Experts In Our Midst: Oceanography

This is the beginning of what I hope is a new feature sharing contributions by our commenters in areas of their expertise. Late last September, Boussinesque reached out to me because his comments were disappearing into the aether. We solved that problem, and in doing so, solved similar issues for others. You can’t ask for a more satisfying resolution!

In chatting with him, I found out about his field of study, and after we talked a bit more in-depth, I asked if he’d like to do a guest post and answer questions. He said yes, and we planned to do it right after the election, while the world was celebrating and returning to normal. And then……

Image from Yahoo

So, months later, not so much recovered as resigned, here we are: I present to you, Boussinesque’s Introduction to Oceanography, Part One.

You can ask him questions in the comments, or submit them to me anytime using the Contact a Frontpager form and I’ll forward them to him.

Read more

I started a joke

I’ve been thinking about fun topics for Friday posts but haven’t come up with anything too brilliant. A friend posted this on twitter and I thought it would make for a good one:

I will specify that while I truly can’t take David Foster Wallace or much of Stanley Kubrick, I only didn’t like Thomas Pynchon as much I hoped to. And I’ll admit there are some Boss songs I can deal with. Just hate his voice and think his songs mostly all sound the same.

Time to call the Senate

We know the AHCA is horrendous policy.

We know the AHCA is extraordinarily unpopular.  We know that it is unpopular even among Republican voters.  We know that the Senate is far thinner margins than the House and we almost won there.  So the goal this week is to let your Senators know that this is a very bad bill with very real consequences for their constituents.

Trump Crime Cartel Open Thread: They Went to Jared

The Washington Post, under its ‘National Security’ subhead:

Investigators are focusing on a series of meetings held by Jared Kushner, President Trump’s son-in-law and an influential White House adviser, as part of their probe into Russian meddling in the 2016 election and related matters, according to people familiar with the investigation.

Kushner, who held meetings in December with the Russian ambassador and a banker from Moscow, is being investigated because of the extent and nature of his interactions with the Russians, the people said…

FBI agents also remain keenly interested in former Trump national security adviser Michael Flynn and former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort, but Kushner is the only current White House official known to be considered a key person in the probe…

Kushner has agreed to discuss his Russian contacts with the Senate Intelligence Committee, which is conducting one of several investigations into Russian meddling in the 2016 election.

In many ways, Kushner is a unique figure inside the White House.

He is arguably the president’s most trusted adviser, and he is also a close member of the president’s family. His list of policy responsibilities is vast — his foreign policy portfolio alone includes Canada and Mexico, China, and peace in the Middle East — yet he rarely speaks publicly about any of them…

As far as those who’ve dealt with him longest can tell, Jared Kushner is a slumlord and a legal corner-cutter who’ll make a deal with anyone who’s got money, ethics be damned. He’s a spoilt-rich-kid MBA whose commitment to screwing every last dollar out of his “investments” is rivaled only by his family attachments — to his father, real-estate developer & convicted felon; his father-in-law, real-estate performance artist / politician; and his spoilt-rich-kid MBA wife. And I wouldn’t bet a broken cookie on the odds that, should it come down to Jared suffering or his daddy/sponsor-daddy/wifey going to jail, that trio should be ready to get their affairs in order before the authorities show up. Just business, Ivanka — you of all people know how it is!

Tidbit from Vanity Fair:

Last week, New Jersey Governor Chris Christie told people that Jared Kushner, President Donald Trump’s 36-year-old senior adviser and son-in-law, asked him if Trump should hire a lawyer, according to two people familiar with the conversation. A spokesman for Christie, who was responsible for prosecuting Kushner’s father, denied that the governor talked to Kushner about anything related to seeking outside counsel. An administration source said that the conversation about retaining counsel “simply did not happen.” Both sides confirmed that a phone call between them took place, as the two talk frequently…

How hard was Christie laughing?

Have that conversation

We’re all going to die someday.

Let’s talk about how you as an individual want to die. Some people won’t make the choice. They will be slicing onions in the kitchen and suffer a massive cerebral hemorrhage that will effectively kill them before they are on the ground. Most of us will have time to face death and decide how we meet our deaths though.

The Conversation Project has a good set of resources for people who want to start these discussions. What type of care under what types of conditions, prognoses and hopes do you want? Who do you want to make decisions when you can’t decide or communicate?

Read more

Friday Morning Open Thread

What’s on the agenda as we wrap up another busy week?

Also, Kay alert! —

On The Road

Good Morning All,

This weekday feature is for Balloon Juicers who are on the road, travelling, etc. and wish to share notes, links, pictures, stories, etc. from their escapades. As the US mainland begins the end of the Earth day as we measure it, many of us rise to read about our friends and their transient locales.

So, please, speak up and share some of your adventures, observations, and sights as you explore, no matter where you are. By concentrating travel updates here, it’s easier for all to keep up-to-date on the adventures of our fellow Commentariat. And it makes finding some travel tips or ideas from 6 months ago so much easier to find…

Have at ’em, and have a safe day of travels!

Should you have any pictures (tasteful, relevant, etc….) you can email them to or just use this nifty link to start an email: Start an Email to send a Picture to Post on Balloon Juice

Happy Friday all – today is Asia day!

Read more