Breaking News: There Appears To Be An Assault On The Saudi Royal Palace Going On!

At this point it is unclear if this is a coup attempt or something related to Crown Prince Muhammed bin Salman’s purge from last November or something else entirely. Moreover, as far as I can tell it isn’t being covered by any of the western news stations or platforms. I’ve just checked CNN, MSNBC, BBC, and Fox – no one is covering this. Neither are their social media feeds.

I honestly have no idea what is actually happening as none of the news media outlets we’d expect to be covering this are.

I’ll update if more information becomes available.

The Jerusalem Post has this brief report:

Gunfire and explosions have been reported outside the home of the Saudi king in Riyadh, the country’s capital. Sources on Twitter have posted photos and videos of the situation and have said that the gunfire is part of a coup attempt. The king has reportedly been evacuated.

The Jerusalem Post has not been able to independently verify these claims.

This is a developing story.

Open thread!

The NYTimes, Just Trying to Be the Paper of Record for the “Best” People

I have a theory (which is hardly original) that the owners of the NYTimes have never gotten over their multi-generational case of Imposter Syndrome. They have always wanted to be the news organ for the right people, the best people, while never quite feeling sure that those much-admired Best People consider the Timesmen as “top drawer” fellow plutocrats. When the paper goes badly off the rails — as when it soft-pedaled Hitler’s crimes and applauded American isolationists well after WWII was inevitable — it’s because the owners paying its reporters mistake the loudest bigots in Wall Street and Washington DC for the most important people.

So IMO, David Roberts makes an excellent point:

Read more

A Caution About That CIA Arrest

Jerry Chun Shing Lee, a former CIA agent, has been charged with possession of classified information in the form of notebooks containing the names and other information about undercover agents. The notebooks were found in searches carried out in 2012.

Most of the stories connect Lee to the loss of American agents in China around 2010. The CIA seemed to have a mole, and the search for that mole has been intensive. The New York Times makes the connection more closely than the Washington Post, but both mention it.

It’s not an unreasonable surmise, but a surmise is all it is right now. Lee is accused of keeping notebooks with information that he shouldn’t have taken outside of properly protected areas. That is all. There may be more to come.

Jeffrey Lewis reminds us of Wen Ho Lee, who was accused of more than the evidence could bear – and part of what he was accused of was definitively refuted by another Los Alamos weapons scientist. The Times eventually had to run an explanation of their coverage.

This review showed how, in constructing a narrative to fit their unnerving suspicions, investigators took fragmentary, often ambiguous evidence about Dr. Lee’s behavior and Chinese atomic espionage and wove it into a grander case that eventually collapsed of its own light weight.

Keep this in mind when reading about Jerry Lee, and keep asking yourself if the evidence being presented by reporters is adequate to sustain their stories.

How Can We Miss You If You Won’t Go Away

White House adviser Stephen Miller was escorted off the set of CNN’s “State of the Union” on Sunday after a contentious interview with host Jake Tapper.

Two sources close to the situation told Business Insider that after the taping was done, Miller was asked to leave several times.

He ignored those requests and ultimately security was called and he was escorted out, the sources said.

CNN declined to comment.

The White House did not respond to Business Insider’s request for comment.

So anti-chain migration (whose family escaped/survived the Holocaust because America allowed them to chain migrate to the US) enthusiast Stephen Miller is as obnoxious off the air as he is on the air. Good to know.

This is also a good way to get arrested. And be on the receiving end of a restraining order. Creep gonna creepy.

Open thread!

Not A Puppet!

Today’s essential read on Trump and Russia is in the Washington Post, by Greg Miller, Greg Jaffe, and Philip Rucker.

Nearly a year into his presidency, Trump continues to reject the evidence that Russia waged an assault on a pillar of American democracy and supported his run for the White House.

The result is without obvious parallel in U.S. history, a situation in which the personal insecurities of the president — and his refusal to accept what even many in his administration regard as objective reality — have impaired the government’s response to a national security threat. The repercussions radiate across the government.

The piece frames Trump’s reaction to Russia as an outcome of his ego needs to believe that he and he alone won the election bigly and his wishful thinking that he and Putin, working together, could solve the world’s problems. That’s fair enough, and those two factors are certainly sufficient to produce the effects reported – the biggest of which is that Presidential daily briefings have to be tailored to avoid irritating the Master on the subject.

But a great many people around Trump, including Donald Junior, who testified another nine hours to Congress yesterday, have had extensive contacts with Russia, so it appears there is more there. The question is “What did the President know, and when did he know it?”

Lots of tidbits in the piece. Trump thought Fiona Hill, one of his competent advisors on Russia, was a clerk and got angry at her when she didn’t act like one, with H.R. McMaster compounding the problem by admonishing her. He took a leak during his pre-briefing for his meeting with Angela Merkel. His obsession with NATO as a protection racket continues.

He’s got it half right – we could do a lot of good if we could work with Russia. But that can’t come at the cost of ignoring the load of bad Russia’s doing now.

Update: Here’s a good companion piece by James Goldgeier about Republicans and Russia.

If Trump were a realist, he would be seeking to deal with Russia from a position of strength, not looking to accommodate Putin from the get-go.  If he were a neoconservative, he would be pressing Putin on his abysmal human rights record. Instead, he is praising Putin for being strong and being tough. And it is unimaginable that any other president would have merely accepted Putin’s denial of election interference and moved on.

So why hasn’t the GOP spoken up? Yes, there are occasional remarks by Republican Sens. John McCain and Lindsey O. Graham suggesting Donald Trump is getting hoodwinked by Russian President Vladimir Putin, whose efforts working with the Trump campaign to swing the 2016 presidential race are under daily scrutiny.

For the most part, however, GOP voters and GOP elites have shrugged off behavior that would have led to outrage in the past. Since it is hard to imagine that a Jeb Bush or Ted Cruz or even John Kasich would have been this accommodating of Putin, is the party of Ronald Reagan really prepared to become the party of Trump on foreign policy, especially in America’s relations with Russia?