Late Night Horrorshow Open Thread: Aren’t They All Just Proud Boyz, Though?

Per the original story, in the Washington Post:

In an interview with a website associated with the party, King (R-Iowa) declared that “Western civilization is on the decline,” spoke of the replacement of white Europeans by immigrants and criticized Hungarian American financier George Soros, who has backed liberal groups around the world.

King spoke to the Unzensuriert site Aug. 24 in Vienna, a day after concluding a five-day journey to Jewish and Holocaust historical sites in Poland, including the Auschwitz-Birkenau death camp. The trip, including airfare to and from Europe, was financed by From the Depths, an international nonprofit group that seeks to educate lawmakers about the Holocaust.

Unzensuriert, which translates as “Uncensored,” is a publication associated with Austria’s Freedom Party, which was founded by a former Nazi SS officer and is now led by Heinz-Christian Strache, who was active in neo-Nazi circles as a youth. While the party has distanced itself from those connections, it recently embraced a hard-line anti-immigration stance while seeking ties with other far-right parties and leaders abroad.

“What does this diversity bring that we don’t already have?” King said in the interview. “Mexican food, Chinese food, those things — well, that’s fine. But what does it bring that we don’t have that is worth the price? We have a lot of diversity within the U.S. already.”…

In an interview Thursday, King… accused his “political opposition” of “ginning this up” ahead of the Nov. 6 election…
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Late Night History Notes Open Thread

Open Thread: Watergate History Lesson

Repub Horrorshow Open Thread: Ginning Up His Angry Mob

Steve Scalise was the guy shot and almost killed at the Congressional baseball practice:

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Donald Trump, Tax Fraud, and His Fellow GOP Thieves/Enablers

Bess Levin, at Vanity Fair, “Republicans: If Dems Release Trump’s Tax Returns, No One Will Be Safe”:

Unsurprisingly, in the wake of the Times investigation, Democrats renewed their calls for transparency, with Representative Richard Neal telling The Wall Street Journal his party would use the authority of the Ways and Means Committee to commandeer a taxpayer’s records for confidential review—something that can be done without full approval from the House and Senate. And Republicans are having none of such talk. “This is dangerous,” an incensed Representative Kevin Brady tweeted… “Once Democrats abuse this law to make public @realDonaldTrump tax returns, what stops them from prying/making public YOUR tax returns for political reasons?” For good, fear monger-y measure, he concluded by hashtag-ing “#AbuseofPower” and “#EnemiesList.”

And, sure, Democrats could go after your tax returns for political reasons, but that would probably require you to be a sitting president who’s refused to release them on your own, and who’s been accused of “outright” tax fraud based on an investigation by The New York Times. If that describes you, you might have reason to worry! On the other hand, Congress has had this power for nearly 100 years and has not seen fit to “abuse” ordinary Americans with it it for political gain. One time it was used? In 1974, when Congress investigated Richard Nixon’s returns and determined that he was, in fact, a crook. But we’re sure that’s totally not what Brady & Co. are worried about here…

Professor Krugman, “Trump and the Aristocracy of Fraud”:

Until recently, my guess is that most economists, even tax experts, would have agreed that tax avoidance by corporations and the wealthy — which is legal — was a big issue, but tax evasion — hiding money from the tax man — was a lesser one. It was obvious that some rich people were exploiting legal if morally dubious loopholes in the tax code, but the prevailing view was that simply defrauding the tax authorities and hence the public wasn’t that widespread in advanced countries.

But this view always rested on shaky foundations. After all, tax evasion, almost by definition, doesn’t show up in official statistics, and the super-wealthy aren’t in the habit of mouthing off about what great tax cheats they are. To get a real picture of how much fraud is going on, you either have to do what The Times did — exhaustively investigate the finances of a particular family — or rely on lucky breaks that reveal what was previously hidden.

Two years ago, a huge lucky break came in the form of the Panama Papers, a trove of data leaked from a Panamanian law firm that specialized in helping people hide their wealth in offshore havens, and a smaller leak from HSBC. While the unsavory details revealed by these leaks made headlines right away, their true significance has only become clear with work done by Berkeley’s Gabriel Zucman and associates in cooperation with Scandinavian tax authorities.

Matching information from the Panama Papers and other leaks with national tax data, these researchers found that outright tax evasion actually is a big deal at the top. The truly wealthy end up paying a much lower effective tax rate than the merely rich, not because of loopholes in tax law, but because they break the law. The wealthiest taxpayers, the researchers found, pay on average 25 percent less than they owe — and, of course, many individuals pay even less.

This is a big number. If America’s wealthy evade taxes on the same scale (which they almost surely do), they’re probably costing the government around as much as the food stamp program does. And they’re also using tax evasion to entrench their privilege and pass it on to their heirs, which is the real Trump story.
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That 1850s Feeling: Brett Kavanaugh, for the Record

Very few people, when Preston Brooks assaulted Charles Sumner on the Senate floor, foresaw that Books’ supporters would declare war against their own country just a few years later. We’ve got the advantage of history to demonstrate where the kind of violent intransigence that just put Brett Kavanaugh on the SCOTUS bench can lead, so I devoutly hope we’ll be able to ringfence his future before he and his GOP co-conspirators can lead us down a similar path. But I’ve been accumulating a stack of links over the past couple of weeks, and I’m going to tack some of them up to this virtual wall just so we have them at hand.

Kavanaugh’s (former) friend Benjamin Wittes, in the Atlantic, “I Know Brett Kavanaugh, but I Wouldn’t Confirm Him”:

Faced with credible allegations of serious misconduct against him, Kavanaugh behaved in a fashion unacceptable in a justice, it seems preponderantly likely he was not candid with the Senate Judiciary Committee on important matters, and the risk of Ford’s allegations being closer to the truth than his denial of them is simply too high to place him on the Supreme Court.

We are in a political environment in which there are no rules, no norms anymore to violate. There is only power, and the individual judgments of individual senators—facing whatever political pressures they face, calculating political gain however they do it, and consulting their consciences to the extent they have them.

As much as I admire Kavanaugh, my conscience would not permit me to vote for him.

Charles Pierce, at Esquire, “A High-End Legal Ratf*cker Is Still a Ratf*cker”:

… I believe most of what has been alleged about Brett Kavanaugh from the people who knew him back in the day. His demeanor before the committee last week made him look like every privileged lace-curtain Irish inebriate with whom I grew up. I believe everything Dr. Christine Blasey Ford said about him, not because I oppose his nomination, but because she was human and he was a wind-up rage doll. Those charges and that temperament are enough to keep him off the Supreme Court. Hell, they’re enough to keep him out from behind the counter at Costco.

But, even if these most recent charges never emerged, I want him kept off the Supreme Court, even though his attitude last week is a damned good reason. (And, as The Washington Post reported, it was what gave the American Bar Association pause regarding Kavanaugh’s demeanor during the judge’s first go-round in the Senate.) I want him kept off the Supreme Court because, up until C-Plus Augustus rammed him onto the bench in 2006, Kavanaugh’s career was not that of a lawyer, but that of a partisan ratfcker. If he gets confirmed, we will have a vengeful partisan ratfcker on the Supreme Court for the rest of my lifetime, and that’s not a legacy I want to leave behind.
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The Ambassador To NATO Should Know Better Than This

Another day, another run at nuclear war by the Trump administration.

The U.S. ambassador to NATO set off alarm bells Tuesday when she suggested that the United States might “take out” Russian missiles that U.S. officials say violate a landmark arms control treaty. (Washington Post)

Her words were

The question was what would you do if this continues to a point where we know that they are capable of delivering [the banned missiles.] And at that point we would then be looking at a capability to take out a missile that could hit any of our countries in Europe and hit America in Alaska.

This is ambiguous, and Nuclear Twitter lit up. The words are ambiguous, not clearly signaling that the bombers and missiles are flying or might any time soon. But “take out a missile,” particularly since the discussion of North Korea’s nuclear capability has been phrased that way recently, are dangerous words. It could refer to a preventive attack, or it could be a brag about more than our missile defense system is likely to be able to do. Either way, probably not a good idea to threaten our nuclear equals on the other side of the globe.

It turned out that she was talking about a threat that Tom Cotton and a few other warmonger senators have made: If Russia builds a missile that violates that Intermediate Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty, and we think they may be doing that, then we will build something equivalent. This is a dumb response to a treaty violation, but that is the timeline we are living in now.

I’ve had some respect for Kay Bailey Hutchison in the past. What bothers me is that the US Ambassador to NATO should understand the current status of missiles relevant to the INF Treaty, Russian sensitivities about the possibility of a first strike, and how to handle the English language. It appears that all three of these were absent from the speech.