I am so not surprised

Over the summer, there were plenty of headlines declaring major pharmaceutical companies either holding off on price increases or rolling back list prices on some of their drugs.

This news generated Trump positive headlines within the framework that he could convince Pharma to give better deals than anyone else. And Pharma went along as it was a cheap give until the election. And now that the election is over; shocking events have occurred.

This is the same PR play that Fortune 500 companies played last December where they rolled out regular bonus programs and attributed the cause to the tax cuts that were just passed. And then they kept on doing whatever it was that they were going to do without regard to the tax cuts. It was cheap PR and a political favor that they could bank at low cost beyond a press release.

The Khashoggi Affair: A View From 40,000 Feet

In this post, I’m going to take a 40,000-foot view of the Khashoggi affair, to clarify some things as the Trump propaganda machine swings into action.

Jamal Khashoggi was a citizen of Saudi Arabia and resident of the United States. He was a critic of the Saudi regime and a columnist for the Washington Post. On October 2, he entered the Saudi consulate in Istanbul and has not been seen since. A 15-man Saudi group, including a forensic pathologist with a bone saw, entered Turkey just before Khashoggi disappeared and left just afterwards. The Saudi consul has left Turkey and has not been available to the press. Evidence is available that suggests that Khashoggi was tortured, killed, and dismembered.

Official statements from the Saudi government have denied that they had anything to do with Khashoggi’s probable murder. Government statements have also threatened economic and political retaliation.

The Turkish government has some information about what happened in the Saudi consulate. They have been dribbling it out with the apparent intention of embarrassing the Saudis.

The United States might be expected to be a mediator between Turkey and Saudi Arabia and to press for information about Khashoggi’s fate. President Donald Trump has now almost admitted that it is probable that Khashoggi is dead, but he has vacillated about how that might have happened, bringing in the implausible idea that “rogue killers” might have been responsible. He has said he accepts the Saudi denials.

Trump dispatched Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to Riyadh to speak to King Salman and his son, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (MBS), who runs the country. Pompeo has said that he did not see Turkey’s evidence, but media reports are that he did and brought copies back to the United States. Trump has now tweeted that this is “FAKE NEWS.” Other media reports conflict with Pompeo’s words and each other as to what was said in the meeting with MBS. Pompeo’s jolly smiles and exuberant handshakes in the official photos seem out of place.

Conservatives have started a whispering campaign to the effect that Khashoggi was a bad guy. Whispering campaigns of this type have been precursors to justifying otherwise unjustifiable Trump stands. Read more

Open Thread: You’re Never So Old That Your Parents Can’t Embarrass You

Without Twitter, there would be no Trump. And given what we’ve learned about Russian troll farms, there would certainly be no President Trump…

But this week gave us one of those rare occurrences when humanity in all its weirdness shines through the internet. Perhaps because of the relentlessly dark nature of how this all went down, a delightful twist on the #HimToo hashtag brought some joy to the Twittersphere earlier this week.

It was the work of @MarlaReynolds3, a.k.a. “BlueStarNavyMom3” a.k.a. former marine Pieter Hanson’s mother. In a now-deleted Tweet, Hanson’s mama wrote a note filled with self-pity for her son, who won’t go on dates because of all the false accusations out there against noble boys from terrible, lying women…

…To the delight of many, it turned out that Mama Hanson had embarrassed her son, the aforementioned marine, badly.

Amazingly, Pieter Hanson himself dissented in a delightful response, also on Twitter:

And with that, Twitter went to work. We did what we do best on Twitter, made memes and tweets that corresponded to the hashtag that inspired more people to make memes and tweets to troll these poor guy’s mother who eventually deleted the tweet, which is very much a rookie move because someone’s always got a screenshot…

Since I am an Old, can I get away with describing the cited trolling-tweets as on fleek?

Late Night Open Thread: Speaking of Arrogant White Men…

I know, I know, but still…

Per Ars Technica, “Elon Musk isn’t on his Twitter leash yet, so he’s taunting the SEC”.

Per the staid BBC:

Elon Musk has mocked a US financial regulator just days after reaching an agreement with it over fraud charges.

The Tesla boss tweeted the “Shortseller Enrichment Commission”, as he dubbed the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), was doing “incredible work”.

Last weekend Mr Musk agreed to step down as Tesla Chairman and pay a $20m (£15m) fine over tweets that he had funding to take Tesla private.

The deal followed the SEC’s decision to sue him for alleged securities fraud.

The SEC declined to comment on Mr Musk’s latest tweet…

The BBC’s North America technology reporter Dave Lee said many people had expected Mr Musk would “rein in his Twitter habit”.

Shares in Tesla closed down 4.4%, and fell further in after hours trading following Mr Musk’s tweet.

Also on Thursday, District Judge Alison Nathan in Manhattan gave Mr Musk and the SEC until 11 October to explain why the deal they had struck was fair and reasonable and would not hurt the public interest.


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Respite Open Thread: LOOK! ANIMAL MEMES!

What a terrible day for Paul Bronks’ twitter feed to go to ‘protected status’. (I sincerely hope it’s temporary.) Apart from @BoringEnormous, which are your favorite sources for fauna-related respite japes?

Rosenstein Update #2

and John subtweets the entire country:

Thursday Morning Open Thread: Graphic Evidence

(Walt Handelsman via GoComics.com)

One could wish that the Oval Office Resident weren’t quite such a gift to America’s hard-working editorial cartoonists…

(Matt Davies via GoComics.com)

(Tom Toles via GoComics.com)

(Mike Luckovich via GoComics.com)

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