Saturday Morning Open Thread: Been A Long Week…


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Apart from hoping for a news respite, what’s on the agenda for the day?



Late Night Cartoon Villains Open Thread: “Media Mogul” Jared

Kushner told Time Warner executive Gary Ginsberg that CNN should fire the employees because they were so wrong in their analysis of how the election would turn out, The Wall Street Journal reported Friday, citing people familiar with the matter.

A White House official said Kushner didn’t intend for the comment to be taken seriously and was only trying to make a point, according to the Journal, which reported that the remark “wasn’t taken lightly” inside Time Warner…

CNN and its parent company Time Warner were in the spotlight this week over reports that the Trump administration wanted CNN sold as a condition of a merger between AT&T and Time Warner.

Justice Department sources told The Hill and other outlets earlier this week that AT&T had offered to sell CNN from the combined company to get the merger approved by regulators. Other outlets reported that the Trump administration had demanded the sale.

Speculation among Wall Street insiders and people within the companies has risen over whether the administration’s feelings about CNN could be influencing the decision, the Journal reported…



Friday Morning Open Thread: How Low Can the GOP Go?

(Mike Luckovich via GoComics.com)
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I know: How deep is down? Per Politico, they’re stuck either way:

GOP leaders desperately want Roy Moore off the ballot. But they have neither the legal nor the political leverage to force the defiant ex-judge out of the race…

But some absentee ballots have already been sent to voters, which appears to make it impossible to install someone in place of Moore on the Republican Party line…

Apart from the legal considerations, Moore owes no loyalty to Republican leaders in Washington, who backed another candidate in the primary and spent millions of super PAC dollars to defeat him while Moore won the nomination on an anti-McConnell platform.

Though Republicans have begun looking into options to replace Moore, Alabama law requires the candidate roster on the ballot to be set 74 days before an election. If Moore does withdraw, however, any votes cast for him would not count.

Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) and other Republicans have suggested that GOP Sen. Luther Strange, the appointed senator who lost to Moore in the special primary, could put himself forward as a write-in candidate. State law bars a candidate who lost in a primary from appearing on the general election ballot as an independent, but it does not appear to forbid a write-in campaign…

Earlier in the day, White House legislative affairs director Marc Short said on CNN that “there’s no path forward” for Moore if the allegations were true… Short raised the possibility of legal action to get a new candidate in the race if Moore drops out.

“Remember that the president supported Luther Strange in that primary,” Short said. “I think what’ll happen is that there’s options for write-in candidates and there’s also options for lawsuits I think will arise about [the] path forward. But I don’t think we should begin going down that pathway until we give Roy Moore the chance to defend himself and defend his character.”…

Mr. Pierce. at Esquire:

I may be entirely too cynical but I think, if Moore has the sand for it, he will follow this up with an explanation of how he had sinned, as all fallen humans do, but that Jesus has forgiven him and washed him in the blood of the Lamb, and now it’s time for him to bring his redeemed hindquarters to godless Washington to show the heathen the path to glory that he’s been blessed to follow. That might work…

As a devout Cynic my own self, I wonder: When exactly did Moore turn into a rabid public Bible-humper? Just as some ex-drunks become raging teetotalers, convinced that no human could possibly enjoy the occasional alcoholic beverage without sinking into helpless addiction, there are more than a few “reformed” sexual criminals who re-focus their addicts’ energies on their particular version of Holy Writ. Mere speculation — barring further reports of his behavior during the last thirty years — but ‘Judge Roy’ would not be the first aging predator who seized upon the Bible as the best defense for him, and by his restrictive logic everyone else, against the temptations of the flesh.
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America’s Foundational Sin Open Thread: “The Country of Futility Is A Very Real Place”

“Six months to a year,” catering company owner Joey Del Signore told me when we met days after the election. “A couple months,” retired nurse Maggie Frear said, before saying it might take a couple of years. “He’s just got to follow through with what he said he was going to do,” Schilling said last November. Back then, there was an all-but-audible “or else.”

A year later, the local unemployment rate has ticked down, and activity in a few coal mines has ticked up. Beyond that, though, not much has changed—at least not for the better. Johnstown and the surrounding region are struggling in the same ways and for the same reasons. The drug problem is just as bad. “There’s nothing good in the area,” Schilling said the other day in her living room. “I don’t have anything good to say about anything in this area. It’s sad.” Even so, her backing for Trump is utterly undiminished: “I’m a supporter of him, 100 percent.”…

Johnstown voters do not intend to hold the president accountable for the nonnegotiable pledges he made to them. It’s not that the people who made Trump president have generously moved the goalposts for him. It’s that they have eliminated the goalposts altogether…

Michael Kruse’s story is getting a lot of (well-deserved) attention. But the related story that really depressed me was by Matt Viser, for the Boston Globe“A year after Trump’s election, York, Pa., is forever changed”:

Barbara Estep kept texting her daughter, Nylaya Way, who was not responding. Donald Trump had stunned the nation by winning the presidency the night before, and now frightening things were happening at Nylaya’s vocational high school, York County School of Technology.

Racial tensions had been building in the school’s corridors, cafeteria, and parking lot throughout the historically divisive campaign. Then, hours after Trump claimed victory in the election, they boiled over as a group of white students held aloft Trump campaign signs and chanted in a hallway, “White power!’’

A brief video clip of the incident shot across the social media feeds of York Tech students and their parents.

“I just thought it was going to be this big race riot,” Barbara Estep said. “The country-fed boys, they’re hunters. I’m sorry, that’s what I thought. These city kids, they have guns. I thought it was going to be a big shootout.”…

Trump’s election a year ago profoundly altered the United States in ways that continue to reverberate, but perhaps most visibly and disturbingly in how we talk to one another, especially about the hardest things, like the nation’s racial divide. The volume is up; the edge is sharp. Old grievances feel new, and civility is being sorely tested.

Certainly, that’s how it went down in York County along the southern border of Pennsylvania. York went big for Trump in the election, with a 63 to 33 percent margin over Hillary Clinton that helped the billionaire reality TV star capture the state and vault into the White House. Yet, the morning after, Trump’s win seemed less like a victory for democracy — the kind celebrated in high school civics classes — than a trigger for tensions felt across York County and the rest of America…
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Russiagate Excellent Read: Did Wilbur Ross Also Lie… About His Fortune?

(Jeff Danziger via GoComics.com)
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Wilbur Ross seems to have been involved in many embarrassing, potentially criminal enterprises. Yet — continuing the trope that nobody who gets near Donald Trump comes away unwounded — the one revelation that he probably finds most embarrassing is the proprietors of the Forbes 400 list calling him a mere hundred-millionaire, with not even a single billion to his name!

Dan Alexander, Forbes, on “The Case Of Wilbur Ross’ Phantom $2 Billion”:

Fresh off a tour through Thailand, Laos and China, United States Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross Jr. picked up the phone on a Sunday afternoon in October to discuss something deeply personal: how much money he has. A year earlier, Forbes had listed his net worth at $2.9 billion on The Forbes 400, a number Ross claimed was far too low: He maintained he was closer to $3.7 billion. Now, after examining the financial-disclosure forms he filed after his nomination to President Donald Trump’s Cabinet, which showed less than $700 million in assets, Forbes was intent on removing him entirely.

Ross protested, citing trusts for his family that he said he did not have to disclose in federal filings. “You’re apparently not counting those, which are more than $2 billion,” he said. When asked for documentation, the 79-year-old demurred, citing “privacy issues.” Told that Forbes nonetheless planned to remove him from the list for the first time in 13 years, he responded: “As long as you explain that the reason is that assets were put into trust, I’m fine with that.” And when did he make the transfer that allowed him to not disclose over $2 billion? “Between the election and the nomination.”

So began the mystery of Wilbur Ross’ missing $2 billion. And after one month of digging, Forbes is confident it has found the answer: That money never existed. It seems clear that Ross lied to us, the latest in an apparent sequence of fibs, exaggerations, omissions, fabrications and whoppers that have been going on with Forbes since 2004. In addition to just padding his ego, Ross’ machinations helped bolster his standing in a way that translated into business opportunities. And based on our interviews with ten former employees at Ross’ private equity firm, WL Ross & Co., who all confirmed parts of the same story line, his penchant for misleading extended to colleagues and investors, resulting in millions of dollars in fines, tens of millions refunded to backers and numerous lawsuits. Additionally, according to six U.S. senators, Ross failed to initially mention 19 suits in response to a questionnaire during his confirmation process….
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Russiagate Open Thread: Carter Page, International Man of Mystery

The mystery being: Why would any serious person, having spent even fifteen minutes in his company, trust Carter Page with so much as the mid-afternoon Starbucks run?

Former Trump campaign volunteer Carter Page, who has come under scrutiny in the investigation of Russian election interference, told a House committee that he sought permission for a July 2016 trip to Moscow from senior Trump campaign officials, and reported to other Trump officials about the trip when he returned…

Page, whose sworn testimony was released Monday night, told the House Intelligence Committee last week that he sought permission to make the trip from campaign manager Corey Lewandowski, and also notified Hope Hicks, who is now the White House communications director.

Lewandowski told Page he was clear to go on the trip as long as the travel was not associated with his work on the campaign, Page told the committee.

Page also acknowledged that he had been aware that another volunteer campaign adviser, George Papadopoulos, had been meeting with a professor with links to the Kremlin, according to the committee’s ranking Democrat, Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Calif.

Both men served on a campaign foreign policy advisory committee under the supervision of Jeff Sessions, who was then a senator and is now the attorney general. Page testified he told Sessions about the July 2016 Moscow trip, it has been previously reported.

Sessions “advised nothing” when Page told him about his plans to travel to Russia, Page said in the transcript…

Page told the committee he wrote to Mueller on Oct. 5, explaining that he intends to plead the Fifth Amendment and keep documents related to his work in Russia to himself…

Page revealed during his testimony that he met with both members of Russia’s presidential administration and with the head of investor relations at the state-owned Russian oil giant Rosneft during his trip to Moscow last July.

He also congratulated members of the Trump campaign’s foreign policy team on July 14 for their “excellent work” on the “Ukraine amendment” — a reference to the Trump campaign’s decision to “intervene” to water down a proposed amendment to the GOP’s Ukraine platform.
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TX Massacre Open Thread: Thots and Prey-ers

At approximately the same time as the shooting…