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The Market has Spoken

djia
The crash that a lot of commentators have been predicting doesn’t seem to have materialized. Pharma and prison stocks are leading this rally, buoyed by certain knowledge that none of the banking shenanigans of the mid-2000s will ever be punished.



You’re The Puppet – Updated at 8:15 PM EDT

Franklin Foer is up with an almost-incendiary new piece at Slate on Trump’s secret email link to a Russian bank. And here’s what Foer has found:

The irregular pattern of server lookups actually resembled the pattern of human conversation—conversations that began during office hours in New York and continued during office hours in Moscow. It dawned on the researchers that this wasn’t an attack, but a sustained relationship between a server registered to the Trump Organization and two servers registered to an entity called Alfa Bank.

russian-puppet

Alfa Bank deep and old ties to Vladimir Putin in an admittedly complicated history described in part (as Foer cites)in this work.

Yesterday, when Senator Harry Reid posted his letter suggesting that FBI Director Comey was sitting on “explosive” information about Trump’s ties to Russia, some serious people suggested that was just Reid blowing smoke — the way he provoked Romney with his claim that the 2012 GOP nominee hadn’t paid taxes in a decade (which wasn’t true, at least for the two years the RomBot deigned to release his partial returns.)  I got into a twitter fight about that with Tom Nichols, who many (including me) see as a smart and honest-broker conservative.  Reid’s tactics pissed him (and many others) waaaaay off, and the default was to assume that this latest was more of the same.

Well, perhaps, not so much.

One of the interesting aspects of Foer’s stories is that the New York Times is on it too.  Foer writes:

Around the same time [September], the New York Times’ Eric Lichtblau and Steven Lee Myers began chasing the story. (They are still pursuing it.)

I have been (today! on Twitter) extremely critical of the Times‘ coverage of this election, particularly its disastrous refusal to accept the sunk cost of their dry-hole Clinton email investigation. This would be a good moment to redeem, in part, the institutional failure there to follow up on Trump stories with the kind of in-depth reporting that the Post’s David Fahrenthold and Newsweek’s Kurt Eichenwald, among some others, have produced.

But leave aside the press wars for a moment, and contemplate what Foer has uncovered, partial and circumstantial as it is.  For months, with communication peaking at politically significant moments, Donald Trump maintained a secret communication link with the highest levels of the Russian kleptocracy.

Throughout this election one of the core unanswered questions has been “Who owns Donald Trump.” The single real failure of journalism in this campaign has been the lack of a sustained effort to crack that query.  Now we have a partial answer, circumstantial, inferential, but more solid than all the months-long Trump denials of connections between his organization and Russian institutions.

Absent any better information, the prudent response is that the possibility that Putin owns Trump is non-trivially real — and hence makes it waaaaaay too risky to allow him and his associates anywhere near power.

And, of course, we are within days of the choice that could make him President of the United States.

Mind boggling.

PS:  Bat signal for Adam. I’d love some actual knowledgeable commentary on this. (Feel free to attach to this or a new front page item, if you’re so moved, btw.)

Image: Big Philanthropic Puppet Bazaar Saint Petersburg, 1899

Update at 8:15 PM EDT by Adam L. Silverman

Tom asked me to weigh in here, so here goes. I am not a computer scientist and while I’ve taught one criminology course on cyber based crime and terrorism way back in 2006, wrote a paper with a computer science specialist on how the Internet can be used to transmit extremist ideology and promote terrorism back in 2003, other than reading up, as necessary for work, on what the US is doing within the cyber domain, I can’t comment on the technical aspects of Foer’s reporting. I do, however, have expertise with both link and social network analysis; especially to determine who is connected to who to understand an operating environment. In this case, based on Foer’s reporting and the work of the subject matter experts he’s citing, there appears to be a confirmed connection (link) between two nodes (with a weaker link between one node and a third node). And that connection runs two ways and based on what the technical subject matter experts indicate that two way connection is for the purpose of electronic communication. The two nodes are a Trump Organization server and a Russian oligarch owned bank who’s owners have ties to Vladimir Putin.

At this point there are only two real questions: 1) Is the appearance of a two way communicative connection between the Trump Organization (node 1) and Alfa Bank (node two) actual or an digital artifact? Foer’s reporting seems to settle this that it is actual/real. And 2) What was the purpose of the communication? Was it simply for mundane business purposes – that the Trump Organization has accepted investment from Alfa Bank or those that keep their money there or that the Trump Organization has accepted loans to keep its operations going from Alfa Bank in order to maintain liquidity? Or was the purpose of the communications for something else? There is insufficient information to answer those questions based on Foer’s reporting. Hopefully the NY Times or some other enterprising journalists such as David Farenthold or Kurt Eichenwald might be able to shed some light on that before election day.



There’s Never Just One…

This, via TPM:

A 41-year-old lawyer has accused Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas of groping her in 1999 when she was a young foundation fellow in Washington, D.C., National Law Journal reported Thursday.

The lawyer, Moira Smith, said that Thomas repeatedly touched her rear multiple times as he pleaded for her to sit next to him at a dinner party hosted by the head of her scholarship program. The alleged incident occurred, Smith said, when just the two of them were alone near the table she was setting for the party.

corisca_and_the_satyr_by_artemisia_gentileschi

It’s been clear since her testimony (at least to me) that Anita Hill was a truthful and courageous witness to Clarence Thomas’s craptastitude, and hence his unfitness to be a Supreme Court justice.  There were rumors at the time that there were more women, with more stories.  But they never testified.  So Thomas survived on the “he-said; she-said; who knows?” defense.

But if there’s anything the intervening decades have taught us, it’s that powerful men who use their positions to impose their sexual demands on women don’t stop at just one.  See, of course, Mr. Donald Trump.

And now this.  Thomas is blanket denying, of course:

“This claim is preposterous and it never happened,” Thomas said in a statement to National Law Journal.

That’ll keep him securely in place, until and unless the next woman comes forward, and the next, and the next…

My bet?

Well, there’s never just one.  But keeping Thomas in his seat is so important to so many of the worst people in the country that I would be utterly unsurprised if (a) Moira Smith gets hit by a world of hurt and (b) anyone else who might have knowledge of any misdeeds by Trump receiving that message loud and clear.

We’ll see.

Image: Artemisia Gentileschi, Corisca and the Satyr, betw. 1630 and 1635.



A Prediction for the SCOTUS and the next GOP trifecta

Let’s assume that Hillary Clinton appoints at least one new net liberal to the Supreme Court during her term in office. In that scenario, the minimal composition would be five center left jurists, one idiosyncratic moderate conservative, one corporate conservative who has a fascination with “sovereign dignitude” and a pair of justices who think Lochner should be good law. The following scenario also works if any of the last four is replaced by another center left judge.

Let us assume that to get to that point it is fairly like that the Senate will go nuclear and abolish the filibuster as McCain indicated (and since walked back) that the Republicans consider a left of center Supreme Court majority to be fundamentally illegitimate even if it resulted from Democrats winning a lot of presidential elections in a generation or more.

Let us assume that at some point in the future there is a GOP trifecta. Let us also assume that a significant chunk of the future GOP’s base will be made up of people who strongly desire either an economically or culturally reactionary court.

With those assumptions, the following prediction is very easy to make.

When there is a GOP trifecta in Washington and a liberal leaning Supreme Court, the Supreme Court will see an increased number of justices equal to the difference between liberal and reactionary justices plus one.



Early Morning Open Thread: Ted Cruz Slinks ‘Home’ to Trump

Principles! Character!… (craven careerism)

Remember when? The good old days, four months ago?…


Read more



#NotallAssholes

Besides either pointing and laughing or cringing and looking at our fellow countrymen with abject fear and uncertainty, what is on the agenda today

#NotAllAssholes



@WikiLeaks: Patchouli-Scented Breitbart.com

One positive thing about the Trump candidacy is that it has a way of confirming long-held suspicions, such as that the GOP base’s yearning for white nationalist politics remains strong and extends well beyond Dixie. Another is that Green Party favorite Julian Assange of WikiLeaks is basically the Milo Yiannopoulos of the tie-dyed set. Consider:

Unskews polls to predict glorious Trump victory — check:

Links to The Gateway Pundit, aka, the Stupidest Man on the Internet, as if he were a credible source — check:

Promotes wingnut fever-swamp conspiracy theories about the Clinton body count — check:*

Seems like there’s very little “Wiki” involved in WikiLeaks anymore, so what we’re getting is information filtered through Assange’s anti-Clinton bile. Jill Stein recently called Assange a hero, which underscores her poor judgement. Whatever good will the organization generated by publishing material that exposed war criminals in Iraq is now being squandered by a founder who is, like Roger Stone and Breitbart.com, functioning as a oppo research and propaganda outlet for the Donald Trump campaign. Good to know.

*After strongly implying in an interview earlier this week that murdered DNC staffer Seth Rich was a WikiLeaks source, Assange walked it back a bit yesterday by reissuing a statement that neither confirmed nor denied a link to Rich. But the hint was picked up by the kooks as Assange intended, much as Trump’s dogwhistles find receptive ears.