Open Thread: Nobody Wants Uday & Qusay Trump Repping Them

Too late! Matea Gold and David A. Fahrenthold, at the Washington Post:

The initial invitation from Donald Trump Jr. and Eric Trump dangled a rare opportunity for donors willing to pony up $500,000 and more: a private reception with the new president the day after his inauguration and a hunting or fishing excursion with one of the brothers.

“Opening Day is your opportunity to play a significant role as our family commemorates the inauguration of our father, friend and President Donald J. Trump,” read the draft obtained by TMZ.

But days after the details about the high-dollar Jan. 21 “camouflage & cufflinks”-themed fundraiser first leaked, a spokeswoman for the president-elect said Tuesday that neither he nor his adult sons were involved in plans for the event. And the organizers of the function — who include close friends of the Trump brothers — dialed back offers of access to the new president and his sons.

The confusion over the family’s connection to the fundraiser showed the degree to which Trump has failed to set rules that would protect his family from allegations of influence-peddling or draw clear lines between himself and the interests of his children, who will take over management of his business empire, watchdog groups said…

The initial outlines for the “Opening Day 45” event seemed to take advantage of the still-blurred lines by allowing donors to buy time with the new president while offering little information about what charity would reap the proceeds. The conservation foundation named Tuesday as the event’s beneficiary told The Washington Post that it is still considering whether to participate.

It is also unclear to what degree the details of the high-priced fundraiser — and its aggressive use of the Trump name — was a surprise to the Trump family. While Trump spokeswoman Hope Hicks said the Trump sons were not involved “in any capacity,” organizers of the event said the two brothers took part in discussions about the fundraiser, for which they are still honorary co-chairmen…

Opening Day 45! The crooks behind the Teapot Dome scandals are about to be displaced from their spot at the nadir of American crony capitalism. They didn’t have the chutzpah to send out public invitations: Come loot while the looting’s good, fellas!








Early Morning Open Thread: This Crappy New Sci-Fi Dystopia Series Needs Better Scripters

Even the entities responsible for Star Wars Holiday Special are going, “Too cartoonish, dudes! You’re gonna lose your audience, dumb and uncritical as they are…”

Per the Washington Post:

A dozen or so technology executives filed into a conference room on the 25th floor of Trump Tower on Wednesday wearing suits not usually seen in Silicon Valley. Their combined net worth — at least $136 billion — was gilded even for the likes of Trump Tower. After months of acrimony that at times felt personal, they had come to make nice with President-elect Donald Trump.

And make nice they did…

But behind the cordiality was a sense of trepidation. While technology companies were among the most critical of Trump on the campaign trail, many understand that he will soon hold power over issues critical to them and their shareholders, including government contracts, high-skilled immigrant visas, Chinese imports and trade deals…

The infotech company with which Trump is most familiar didn’t get a seat:

But of course Peter Thiel did. Per the Post, again:

The president-elect also heaped praise on Facebook board and transition team member Peter Thiel, shaking his hand and calling him a “special guy.”

Trump made a point of saying that Thiel, who convened the meeting, nixed companies that were too small from attending. But one relatively small company with ties to Thiel made the cut: Palantir. Unlike the other companies in attendance, the data-mining start-up, which Thiel founded in 2004, is private and had revenue last year of less than $300 million, according to a person familiar with the matter. A large portion of Palantir’s business involves contracts with federal agencies, and the company is currently engaged in a lawsuit with the Department of Defense over the right to compete for more contracts…



Open Thread: “It Was A Corruption Election”

A shonda for the neighbors!, my (impeccably lace-curtain NYC Irish) Nana would say. Sarah Chayes, in Foreign Policy:

In the past 10 years, populations have rejected “rigged systems” that had stood for decades. They have risen up in mass protests in Brazil, Guatemala, South Africa, and South Korea. They have overthrown their governments in open insurrections like the Arab Spring and Ukraine’s Maidan. Or they have fallen in behind self-proclaimed Robin Hoods such as Venezuela’s Hugo Chávez. Occasionally, they have joined violent religious movements like the Islamic State or Boko Haram.

With Trump’s election, the United States just joined this list….

Whatever our affiliation or walk of life, we must also, each of us, discover and hold on to that dividing line that marks off the reasonable compromises from the unacceptable.

For, like the people of Mosul in Iraq or northern Nigeria, who traded intolerably corrupt regimes for Islamist crusaders who were worse, Americans will wake up in January under a system that is more corrupt than the one that fueled their rebellion. That is the irony of resorting to a wrecking ball to bring down a corrupt regime. Too often, the kleptocratic networks prove resilient, while those who revolted end up with crushed heads.

Already, President-elect Trump’s questionable affiliations and potential conflicts of interest — as genteel vocabulary would have it — are making headlines. The issue is not one of technical legality or poor vetting. His actions and associations are deliberate. While tweeting out distractions to disguise the fact, he will unleash a feeding frenzy. Our laws and institutions will be bent to the purposes of personal enrichment. Industry lobbyists will draft the bills. He will negotiate business deals with foreign counterparts, confusing his personal interests for the good of the nation. Agencies that try to hold the line will see their budgets slashed, their officials belittled in public. Law enforcement will be even more selective than it is today. The labor of human beings, the land, and what’s on it or under it will be converted to cash as efficiently as possible. And what can’t be converted will be bulldozed out of the way.

And what will Americans do in the face of this exacerbation of our own brand of corruption? Will we further relax our standards, shrugging our shoulders and referring to the letter of ever-changing laws? Or will we reach for a definition of corruption that is in line with common sense and rebuild our foundations upon that bedrock?…








Open Thread: Trump’s Chosen Secretary-of-(Exxon)-State

From Ioffe’s Politico article:

It’s hard to imagine Tillerson publicly chiding Putin today because he is now so very dependent on that friendship. In 2011, he negotiated a multibillion-dollar deal between Exxon Mobil and Rosneft, the Russian state oil giant cobbled out of Khodorkovsky’s seized empire and run by Putin’s former KGB buddy, Igor Sechin. The deal would have allowed Exxon access to the Russian Arctic shelf—which, according to U.S. government estimates, is thought to contain some 22 percent of the world’s undiscovered oil and gas deposits—in exchange for helping Rosneft, which didn’t have the technological capabilities, drill for the stuff.

In 2014, Russia invaded Ukraine, seized the Crimean peninsula and started an insurgency in Eastern Ukraine, triggering a wave of American and European sanctions. But that summer, Tillerson thought it best to stay away from the St. Petersburg Economic Forum and instead sent his deputy, who, acting on behalf of Exxon Mobil, signed another energy deal with Rosneft and Sechin, who had ended up under sanctions…

… Russia had become an international pariah, and its economy—to say nothing of its rule of law or judiciary—was in shambles, but Western companies were bowing and scraping before a man who had just shocked the world by violating international law. Tillerson was at the head of that line. Instead of using their deep ties to Russia—by this point, it is said Tillerson had become buddies with Sechin—to push the Kremlin on the “rule of law” that had so bothered Tillerson six years prior, Russia’s new friends pushed on the White House. Shortly before sending his emissary to St. Petersburg to sign the deal, Tillerson told reporters in Texas that he was lobbying Washington against sanctions…

The lesson of Putin’s 16-year tenure is a lesson that all businesspeople, foreign and domestic, have learned: To do business in Russia, you have to be on good, personal terms with Putin and Sechin. And you have to understand that those two gatekeepers to Russia’s riches are fickle and sadistic, and, as former KGB operatives, know little of real friendship. To do business in Russia—both for Exxon Mobil and for Tillerson’s own massive retirement fund, whose fortunes would rise significantly if a Trump White House lifted sanctions—you have to dance to Putin’s tune, and take whatever favors and humiliations he sends your way. Putin may act a friend and pin state medals on your breast, but he is, ultimately, a cynic. And to play ball with him, you have to be a cynic, too. Forget your honor, your rule of law, your independent judiciary, your human rights, your international law, and focus on the gold coins he throws to your feet. And forget looking dignified as you gather them up.


Read more








The Trickster God Is Toying With Us

There really can’t be any further doubt:

On Friday night, Mr. Trump’s transition team insulted the American intelligence community by saying that officers had misrepresented the threat of weapons of mass destruction ahead of the Iraq War, meaning that they should not be trusted with their conclusion of Russian meddling in the presidential election.

In a new twist, Mr. Trump will meet on Monday with Carly Fiorina, the former Hewlett-Packard chief executive, to discuss the job of director of national intelligence, a senior transition official said. [h/t TPM]

The sound you hear is every H-P veteran shrieking in shock and despair.  This is screaming-of-the-lambs scale horror, Ph’nglui mglw’nafh Cthulhu R’lyeh wgah’nagl fhtagn madness.

cthulhu_sketch_by_lovecraft

Fiorina’s picture is in the dictionary next to “Fail Upward.”

To speak the obvious: she has, as far as I know, exactly zero professional intelligence training, and nothing in her work (or, for the last several years, unemployment) record suggests she’s mastered what you’d want America’s eyes on the secret world to possess.  There’s no way to justify appointing Fiorina to this position unless you take Trump at his word and believe that he believes there’s simply no reason to bother with anything so frivolous as data, information, or knowledge of the world, our friends and adversaries alike.

Coyote is laughing…but at least this gives us all an excuse to revisit an old favorite:

ETA:  I’m just hoping our Adam isn’t drowning himself in a butt of sack right now.

Image: H. P. Lovecraft, Cthulu sketch1934