Witness tamper much?

Trump on Twitter* earlier today:

“Michael Cohen asks judge for no Prison Time.” You mean he can do all of the TERRIBLE, unrelated to Trump, things having to do with fraud, big loans, Taxis, etc., and not serve a long prison term? He makes up stories to get a GREAT & ALREADY reduced deal for himself, and get…..

….his wife and father-in-law (who has the money?) off Scott Free. He lied for this outcome and should, in my opinion, serve a full and complete sentence.

“I will never testify against Trump.” This statement was recently made by Roger Stone, essentially stating that he will not be forced by a rogue and out of control prosecutor to make up lies and stories about “President Trump.” Nice to know that some people still have “guts!”

Bob Mueller (who is a much different man than people think) and his out of control band of Angry Democrats, don’t want the truth, they only want lies. The truth is very bad for their mission!

Of course, Cohen once said he’d “take a bullet” for Trump, and Trump was singing a different tune about Cohen in April 2018:

The New York Times and a third rate reporter named Maggie Haberman, known as a Crooked H flunkie who I don’t speak to and have nothing to do with, are going out of their way to destroy Michael Cohen and his relationship with me in the hope that he will “flip.” They use….

….non-existent “sources” and a drunk/drugged up loser who hates Michael, a fine person with a wonderful family. Michael is a businessman for his own account/lawyer who I have always liked & respected. Most people will flip if the Government lets them out of trouble, even if….

….it means lying or making up stories. Sorry, I don’t see Michael doing that despite the horrible Witch Hunt and the dishonest media!

Maybe Trump’s luck will run out with Stone too, if Stone decides his super-villain shtick won’t fly in prison. But here’s my question: isn’t it at least legally…murky for an official with the power to commute sentences and pardon people to so openly telegraph his instructions in a case that directly affects himself? Or is this yet another of those scenarios in which we used to rely on common decency and/or political consequences to regulate behavior until — oops! — they no longer do?

*Continuing my practice of not embedding Trump’s tweets so you won’t have to look at his hideous mug on this page. You’re welcome.

Getting Competent Speakers On Global Warming – Followup

I complained last week about cable tv coverage of global warming by inviting know-nothing antis instead of using interviews they had already done with real climate scientists. Looks like others are taking notice.

The Weather Channel collected links.

The Trump administration released a landmark climate report on Black Friday, but instead of becoming Thanksgiving leftovers, the 1,656-page report, a rigorous outline of the present and near-future hazards climate change poses to the U.S., was featured prominently on TV networks over the weekend and into the next week. Much of the coverage, however, included inaccurate, misleading or outright incorrect misinformation.

….many of the talking heads featured on TV over the weekend contradicted not just the report’s findings, but even the well-established, widely agreed upon basics of climate science. The first sentence of the nearly 2,000 page report reads: “Earth’s climate is now changing faster than at any point in the history of modern civilization, primarily as a result of human activities.” Even that was up for debate. NBC’s Meet the Press, for instance, invited Danielle Pletka of the American Enterprise Institute, a conservative think tank, to share her opinions on the report on Sunday. (AEI, which is known for sowing doubt about climate change, has received millions of dollars in donations from Exxon Mobil and the Koch Foundation.)

And a lot more.

Yesterday, the New York Times chimed in.

As Steven J. Milloy, a skeptic of human-caused climate change and a member of the Trump transition team, said, there had been no need “to stop the deep state” from releasing the report when “this is made-up hysteria, anyway.”

Thankfully, cable news came to the rescue by making sure that those who commented on air about a report produced by scientists across 13 federal agencies were trained experts.

No, wait. That’s not what happened.

On CNN, the former senator Rick Santorum disputed the findings with a canard: “A lot of these scientists are driven by the money that they receive,” he said. The network later came under fire when “AC360” had Mr. Santorum on again but canceled a planned interview with an author of the government report, the atmospheric scientist Katharine Hayhoe of Texas Tech University.

A lot more there too, particularly about red tides in Florida. What is notable is that Jim Rutenberg calls the denialists what they are.

Slow, but progress.

And open thread!

Thoughts and prayers, mofos

Have we gloated about the hardships besetting the death merchant sector and their industry lobbying group lately?

From the Fortune article:

Share prices for some gun manufacturers dropped after the National Rifle Association released that it had lost more than half a billion dollars in income last year.

The gun-rights organization reported $98 million in contributions in 2017, down $55 million from the year prior, according to a report on the organization’s tax records by the Daily Beast.

In the wake of the news, stock prices for gun companies fell…

These companies have typically seen a bump in stock after mass shootings, including a February shooting at a Parkland, Fla. high school that left 17 dead and a shooting at a concert venue in Las Vegas in October 2017 that left more than 50 dead.

But many are also reporting a drop in sales during the Trump presidency…

And as gun manufacturers are seeing a decrease in sales, the NRA is hurting from a loss in dues. The $55 million drop in contributions during 2017 includes a $35 million downturn in dues collected, a sign that hints at dwindling support, the Daily Beast reports.

Looks like at least some NRA execs are riding the grift all the way down. From an 11/28 report at The Trace:

The National Rifle Association paid more than $100,000 in personal expenses for an official who is now leading an austerity campaign within the organization, new tax filings show.

The official, Josh Powell, is the NRA’s executive director for general operations. The Trace and Mother Jones reported two weeks ago that Powell, along with the NRA’s new treasurer, Craig Spray, is seeking to impose steep cuts to the gun group’s budget. The effort is so stringent that the NRA did away with free coffee and water coolers at its Fairfax, Virginia, headquarters, causing consternation among NRA staffers. Today, NRATV staffer Cameron Gray announced on Twitter that he and “several colleagues” had been laid off.

We’re ass-deep in guns in America, and our twisted gun culture will continue to be a deadly problem for the rest of our lives — and probably our children’s and grandchildren’s lives too. A drop in NRA contributions and decline in gun maker profits won’t change that, at least not right away.

But did anyone see this coming — NRA contributions tanking and House Republicans driven from power in a wave election, inspired in part by activists young folks who demand sensible gun safety regulations? The Parkland kids believed they could change things — and they were right. Let us savor the NRA’s cordite-scented tears, comrades.

Cold Grey Dawn Open Thread: Nobody Loves A Failed Kingmaker

Rudy wanted his people to throw him one last big party at somebody else’s expense, but his grab for attention via the Oval Office Occupant has taken a bad turn:

Plans for a party celebrating the 25-year anniversary of Rudy Giuliani becoming the mayor of New York City are “fizzling out” because the 74-year-old politico is “too toxic,” according to a source who was invited.

Ideally, the fete was to have taken place at the New York Hilton hotel where Giuliani celebrated his election win in November 1993. Organizers were aiming for early January…

“Rudy wanted it to appear to come together organically,” according to that source, who said the mayor left party-planning responsibilities to associates who struggled to find supporters willing to pay for tickets.

According to that insider, Giuliani’s position as the embattled President’s personal lawyer has made him “too toxic” to be around right now.

“It’d be like a mafia wedding,” that source joked, referring to mob gatherings where investigators and media members show up to take an inventory of party-goers with close ties to the dubious guests of honor…

According to Giuliani, he’s heard nothing about an anniversary bash in early 2019.

“If there was a party for me, it was a surprise party,” he said. “I don’t know anything about a party. If you find something out, let me know.”…

Former Giuliani communications director Cristyne Nicholas was involved in talks about coordinating a party, the source said. Nicholas did not return requests for comment.

In 2001, Giuliani was christened “America’s Mayor” for his resolute response to the Sept. 11 terror attacks. Time magazine named him its Person of the Year for his efforts.

The former mayor’s popularity has waned since he took over as Trump’s attorney in April…

Christyne Nicholas was alleged, by Giuliani’s second wife, to have auditioned for a position as Giuliani’s third wife (before losing out to Judith Nathan, who has since joined the ranks of his exes). Ya don’t lightly discard old ‘friendships’ like that…

The difference between Rudy and Donald Trump is that Rudy’s old man couldn’t leave him a few hundred million to play with — just the, ahem, subterrean contacts that would power his rise in the Republican party.

Rudy shoulda remembered: Everything Trump Touches, Dies.

That October Surprise From The New York Times

Given the new developments in what we know about Donald Trump’s interactions with Russia, some of us have been kicking around that “Investigating Donald Trump, F.B.I. Sees No Clear Link to Russia” story that the New York Times served up on October 31, 2016.

Our own Tom Levenson has a theory:

James Fallows agreed.

Hillary Clinton tried to get the story out.

Here’s a more recent story on that connection to Alfa Bank.  Still ambiguous.

After the election, Times public editor Liz Spayd blasted the Times for that story. Editor Dean Baquet has given only short, weak responses like this one.

Here’s Southpaw:



The Curse of Cassandra

Hillary Clinton gave this speech just a few days after the Comey letter dropped, an event that prompted The New York Times to publish an edition with this all-caps headline: “NEW EMAILS JOLT CLINTON CAMPAIGN IN RACE’S LAST DAYS” [PDF].

I hope Clinton gets some satisfaction from the knowledge that she was right about everything. I doubt it’s much comfort since Clinton doesn’t seem to be the sort of person who sees herself as the center of the universe.

Of course, Trump thinks the sun rises and sets in his pants, and we can see how disastrous it is to put someone like that in charge of a large, rich, diverse, heavily armed country. But less malevolent manifestations of the same pathology greased the skids toward our present catastrophe.

Comey is one example. Following boring old FBI protocol wasn’t good enough for a world-bestriding colossus such as Comey, so he inserted himself into the race, and disaster followed.

The front page of that infamous Times edition showcased another example of the “I am the cosmos” syndrome that was instrumental in bringing a once-great nation low: Clinton beat reporter Amy Chozick, whose byline appeared on an article entitled “With 11 Days to Go, Trump Says Revelation ‘Changes Everything.'”

As y’all may know, Chozick wrote a memoir of her time covering the Clinton campaigns in 2008 and 2016. Her book has been optioned for a TV series, which I sincerely hope is the biggest flop in history. That’s not just me being catty (though I am) — it’s a desire NOT to see someone rewarded for doing a shitty job because we’ll get even more of that behavior.

Anyhoo, in a Guardian interview/book review published in April but newly relevant in light of the revelations about Trump’s Russia ties, Chozick attempts introspection, but it leads right back to her own goddamned navel, as always:

“It’s dizzying to realize that without even knowing it, you’ve ended up on the wrong side of history,” Chozick writes, highlighting the difficulty of reporting on hacked emails belonging to Clinton’s campaign chairman, John Podesta. There is almost a tacit admission that perhaps there was some fairness to the Clinton campaign’s repeated suggestion that reporters did not take seriously the alarms they sounded over the Russians and their role in the hacks of Podesta and the Democratic National Committee.

Chozick said Chelsea Clinton’s reaction to her book was part of why she often “felt defeated”. “To be immediately greeted with antagonism when you’re writing something that was pretty sympathetic and self-reflective reminded me of the constant state of play in the campaign where you just can’t win,” she said.

“You write a positive story, there’s something they hate about it.”

Yeah, that’s the important thing here — [sob] “Chelsea haaaaaaates me!”

This post was originally intended to be about Clinton’s prescience, and it is. But it seemed incomplete without showcasing the astounding incompetence and hubris that obscured her prescience. It wasn’t just Comey, and her delusions of grandeur aside, Chozick was merely a bit player, but she’s emblematic of a much larger problem.

It pisses a certain type of person off when a woman is right — not just sexist men, but sometimes grown-ass women who still haven’t gotten over their mommy issues or those who see an advantage for themselves in siding with men to oppose a powerful woman. Call it the Curse of Cassandra.

It’s depressing, but here we are, and I don’t know how we solve this problem.

Zombie-Eyed Granny Starver Open Thread: Requiem for A World-Class Fraud

Almost titled this “Respite from A WCF”, because we know he’ll be back on the Very Serious Media no later than Jan. 6 2019 (even sooner, if Trump completely decompensates and/or flees the country before then), making bank to represent whichever batch of oligarchs and kakistocrats offers him a dirty dollar.

But in this happy moment, let us remember the True Paul Ryan: lifelong suckler upon the gubmint teat, devout Ayn Rand fanboi, personage who stood out for unlikeability even in a party figureheaded by Donald Trump and frontlined by such specimens as Ted Cruz, Tom Cotton, and Stephen Miller…

A special panel dreamed up by Speaker Paul Ryan to end the constant cycle of government shutdowns crashed and burned on Thursday.

The special panel tasked with recommending budget fixes overwhelmingly rejected its own set of proposals, even after lawmakers admitted the package included only modest changes to the way Congress approves budgets and funds the government…

Over several months, the leadership-appointed panel swatted down the most ambitious ideas for overhauling the budget process. The final text of the agreement contained changes like requiring Congress to pass a budget every two years, instead of annually. It also would have required a “fiscal state of the nation” report each year.

Sweeping proposals to “de-weaponize” the debt ceiling, tighten spending limits and disband Congress’ budget committees were all voted down or withdrawn…

He’s going out as he came in, attempting to delegitimize votes along strictly partisan lines…

Gee, ZEGS, let’s try to parcel this out, shall we? You fronted for an administration* that was xenophobic to the point of ripping families apart, apparently for sport, and for taking a brutally hard line on all immigrants, legal and otherwise. A somewhat gentler version of that was enough to end Pete Wilson’s political career in California 20 years ago. And Wilson was reasonably popular at the time and not a maniac…

Remember when people thought this guy was smart?

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