Monday Morning Open Thread: Just Another Week of International Embarrassment (At Best)

But seriously, folks…


Singapore is twelve hours ahead of the US-Eastern time zone, so the next item on the public agenda seems to be a one-on-one meeting between Trump and Kim scheduled for 9am Tuesday local time (9pm Monday from our perspective). Per the Washington Post:

The two men, joined only by their interpreters, could talk as long as two hours, depending on how well their conversation goes, according to a senior U.S. official who spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss private details.

Following their one-on-one time, Trump and Kim will hold an expanded bilateral meeting along with senior members of their delegations, the official said.

The private meeting without aides represents an risky attempt by Trump to build a personal rapport with the young authoritarian leader. Trump has said he believes he will be able to determine quickly whether Kim is serious about taking steps to denuclearize…

Meanwhile, it’s Duck Facepalm & Cover Time…


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Repub Venality Open Thread: Jefferson Davis Beauregard III Lives Out His Authoritarian Dreams

If “rule of law” meant anything other than “people with power should have a free hand to do what they like to people without power”, the rule-of-law people would be screaming themselves blue over this. As if we needed any further proof they’re acting in bad faith…

Sessions has stepped into the immigration system in an unprecedented manner: giving himself and his office the ability to review, and rewrite, cases that could set precedents for a large share of the hundreds of thousands of immigrants with pending immigration court cases, not to mention all those who are arrested and put into the deportation process in future.

He’s doing this by taking cases from the Board of Immigration Appeals — the Justice Department agency that serves as a quasi-appellate body for immigration court cases — and referring them to himself to issue a decision instead.

Sessions isn’t giving lawyers much information about what he’s planning. But he’s set himself up, if he wants, to make it radically harder for immigration judges to push cases off their docket to be resolved elsewhere or paused indefinitely — and to close the best opportunity that tens of thousands of asylum seekers, including most Central Americans, have to stay in the United States. And he might be gearing up to extend his involvement even further, by giving himself the authority to review a much bigger swath of rulings issued in the immigration court system…

Immigration courts aren’t part of the judicial branch; they’re under the authority of the Department of Justice. Their judges are supposed to have some degree of independence, and some judges are certainly harsher on immigrants and asylum seekers than others. But their decisions are guided by precedent from the Board of Immigration Appeals, which is basically the appellate court of the immigration system and which also answers to the DOJ and the attorney general.

If the attorney general doesn’t like that precedent, he has the power to change it — by referring a case to himself after the Board of Immigration Appeals has reviewed it, issuing a new ruling, and telling the immigration courts to abide by the precedent that ruling sets in future…

In theory, Sessions’s office is supposed to make its decision based on amicus briefs from outside parties, as well as the immigrant’s lawyer and the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) prosecutor. But advocates and lawyers’ groups say they can’t file a good brief if they don’t know what, exactly, the cases Sessions is getting involved in actually are — and Sessions is withholding that information.

In one of the cases Sessions has referred to himself, the DOJ refused to provide a copy of the decision that Sessions is reviewing or any information about where the case came from and who the immigrant’s lawyer was. In another case, congressional staff happened to find the decision under review on a DOJ website days before the deadline for amicus briefs.

That opacity makes it basically impossible to know whether Sessions is planning to issue relatively narrow rulings or very broad ones. In the case in which the decision under review was discovered by congressional staffers, both the immigrant’s lawyer and the Department of Homeland Security (serving as the prosecution) asked Sessions’s office to clarify the specific legal question at hand in the review — in other words, to give them a hint of the scope of the potential precedent being set. They were denied…

Sessions and the Trump administration claim they’re trying to restore efficiency to a backlogged court system that poses the biggest obstacle to the large-scale swift deportation of border-crossing families and to unauthorized immigrants living in the US. But lawyers are convinced that Sessions’s diktats, if they’re as broad as feared, would just gum up the works further.

“If the attorney general were seriously concerned about the backlog, as opposed to a desire for quick deportations, he would be focused on transferring as many cases away from” immigration judges as possible, attorney Jeremy McKinney told Vox — not forcing them to keep cases on their docket that they would rather close, or that could be rendered moot by other decisions. It’s “not smart docket control.”

And Sessions isn’t simply planning to issue these rulings and walk away. His office is planning to give itself even wider power over the immigration court system. A notice published as part of the department’s spring 2018 regulatory agenda says, “The Department of Justice (DOJ) proposes to change the circumstances in which the Attorney General may refer cases to himself for review. Such case types will include those pending before the Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA) but not yet decided and certain immigration judge decisions regardless of whether those decisions have been appealed to the BIA.”

In other words, even when a DOJ judge makes a ruling in an immigrant’s favor and ICE prosecutors don’t try to appeal the ruling, the attorney general’s office could sweep in and overrule the judge…

If the Attorney General believes this is an improvement over the current system, why is he so determined to keep the mechanisms secret?

I personally suspect Mr. Sessions’ ambitions have something to do with last weekend’s flurry of reports about “President” Trump screaming at Homeland Security Secretary Nielsen. If the blond chick can’t throw enough brown people out of “our country” fast enough, Judge Jeff assures Lord Smallgloves, then by Christianist Jeebus he’ll roll up his sleeves and git ‘er done. It’s not as if Trump calling him nasty names has deterred his zeal for enforcing the “Just Us” of Justice in the past…



The Conservatives’ Nightmare: ‘Respectful Disagreement’, But Between Social Equals

The NYTimes recently hired the “provocative” Bari Weiss (as far as I can tell, because Bret Stephens was getting screechy about being the punchline to every ‘reactionary FTFNYT columnist shows his arse in public again’ joke). Earlier this week, Weiss produced her longest, most provocative piece so far, and boy did it get the hate-clicks!

Lots of the responses are funnier, and far better thought out, than the original piece. I’ve been collecting links to share, but it was a twitter side-spat that sparked my chain of thought…

Andrew Sullivan, once again being cruelly repressed with a highly-compensated platform at a widely-read center-liberal print/media publication:

I remember a different time — and it wasn’t so long ago. A friend reminded me of this bloggy exchange Ta-Nehisi and I had in 2009, on the very subject of identity politics and its claims. We clearly disagreed, deeply. But there was a civility about it, an actual generosity of spirit, that transcended the boundaries of race and background. We both come from extremely different places, countries, life experiences, loyalties. But a conversation in the same pages was still possible, writer to writer, human to human, as part of the same American idea. It was a debate in which I think we both listened to each other, in which I changed my mind a bit, and where neither of us denied each other’s good faith or human worth.
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Breaking, Literally: Cambridge Analytica Skitters Away


 
TIME FOR A STRATEGIC REBRANDING, BOYZ!

Cambridge Analytica, a political consultancy that worked for the Trump campaign and had come under attack for its use of personal Facebook data in other elections, announced on Wednesday it would cease operations and declare bankruptcy in the United States and United Kingdom.

The firm said it had lost clients because of revelations in March that it had improperly obtained the personal information of millions of Facebook users. “It is no longer viable to continue operating the business,” Cambridge Analytica said in a statement.

Cambridge Analytica defended its use of Facebook, saying it was “vilified for activities that are not only legal, but also widely accepted as a standard component of online advertising in both the political and commercial arenas.”

The decision by the firm comes as it continues to face potential investigations and sanctions from regulators around the world for charges…

Cambridge Analytica was born of as an American offshoot of London-based SCL Group, whose affiliates had worked in campaigns around the world, including Kenya, Nigeria and India. Initial funding for Cambridge Analytica came from Republican financier Robert Mercer, who invested at least $10 million in the company as it sought to help exclusively GOP candidates across a range of U.S. congressional and state legislative elections beginning in 2014. His daughter Rebekah Mercer was the company’s president for a time. Neither Mercer responded to requests for comment on Wednesday…

Even as it maintained its innocence, Cambridge Analytica acknowledged that the “siege of media coverage has driven away virtually all of the Company’s customers and suppliers.” SCL Elections, its parent, as well as Cambridge Analytica began insolvency proceedings in the UK, and said they would soon start bankruptcy proceedings in the United States.



Useful Idiot, a Picture Story Featuring Chris Cillizza

Michelle Wolf is not the problem.



Open Thread: Yes, Kill the NerdProm

It must’ve had some utility at some point, back when it was a standard trade-association awards shindig. But ever since it became a fantasy evening for the Media Village Idiots to work out their adolescent traumas — mostly by Vast! Performative! OUTRAGE! cheerleading each other, over the ensuing week, concerning whichever horror the other side was averred to have committed — it’s become both tedious *and* aggravating.

Every year, sensible press people suggest it be shitcanned entirely; every year, the sensible people have been ignored. But since we’re now in the “Everything Trump Touches Dies” era, perhaps we’ve actually seen the last of this farce?

Margaret Sullivan, at the Washington Post:

It never has been a particularly good idea for journalists to don their fanciest clothes and cozy up to the people they cover, alongside Hollywood celebrities who have ventured to wonky Washington to join the fun.

But in the current era, it’s become close to suicidal for the press’s credibility.

Trust in the mainstream media is low, a new populism has caught fire all over the Western world, and President Trump constantly pounds the news media as a bunch of out-of-touch elites who don’t represent the interests of real Americans…

Its defenders say that it’s perfectly all right to have “just one night” to enjoy a break from the supposedly adversarial relationship between government and press. But that relationship isn’t always as arms-length as it should be in a town noted for its mutual back-scratching.

Talev and her cohort certainly are dedicated reporters and editors. But this festive night, always unseemly, is now downright counterproductive to good journalism’s goals. It only serves to reinforce the views of those who already hate the media elite…

Can’t the correspondents’ association come up with better ways to do its good work, ways that show journalists at their best?

That they are in the trenches digging out the truth.

Not schmoozing in the swamp while the president hustles the heartland.


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Sunday Evening Open Thread: Another Nerdprom SCANDAL!!!


 
One good thing about last night: Seems like Trump’s latest Fox & Friends call-in set such a high bar, only the most professionally committed media folk could force themselves to pay attention to last night’s ‘Revival Tour: All Your Greatest Hits Live’ rally in Michigan. Which will further aggravate Donny Dollhands, once he comes down off the post-gig high.

Meanwhile, at the NerdProm…

Deadline Hollywood:

Wolf gave the room full of press a thrashing, as Stephen Colbert had done so many years ago in a WHCD Dinner appearance that TV news talking heads were still talking about tonight, in the walk-up to Wolf’s appearance, as if Colbert’s speech had been the one that could not be topped.

They were wrong.

“I know a lot of you want me to talk about Russia, Putin and collusion,” she said, but would decline because “I never wanted to know what any of you look like when you orgasm.”

“Except for you, Jake Tapper,” Wolf enthused. Tapper’s network, CNN, which loves to cut to its table at the clambake whenever their networks is referenced, held off for maybe the first time in WHCD history.

Wolf credited CNN with loving to “break news. You did it. You broke it. Good work. The most useful information on CNN is when Anthony Bourdain tells me where to eat noodles.”

“Fox News is here, so you know what that means, ladies: Cover your drinks,” Wolf warned.

“People want me to make fun of Sean Hannity. I cannot do that. This dinner is for journalists,” the comic said, getting some applause in the massive ballroom.

“We’ve got MSNBC here,” she said, noting its new slogan is This Is Who We Are.

“This is not a good slogan,” she advised, telling them it’s what their mom thinks that “new sad show on NBC is called.”…


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