Wednesday Morning Open Thread: GOP Portraits in Custard


Apart from waiting for the next blizzard of falling shoes, what’s on the agenda for the day?


A little feel-good nostalgia, from a brighter era:

Late Night Open Thread: KING LEER (Winter Is Coming)

In the Godfather fantasies that delight would-be GOP tough guys, you don’t bring in a made man just to pick up your dry cleaning…

The first to leave the West Wing on Tuesday was senior assistant press secretary Michael Short, who resigned after a report emerged in Politico hours earlier saying that he would be fired in Scaramucci’s quest to uproot leakers.

Scaramucci, wearing blue-tinted aviator sunglasses and speaking to a small group of reporters in the White House driveway Tuesday morning, gestured to the guard booth on the outskirts of the complex to emphasize his threat.

“If they don’t stop leaking, I’m going to put them out on Pennsylvania Avenue — it’s a very clear thing,” he said. “You want to sell postcards to the tourists outside the gate or you want to work in the West Wing? What do you want to do? If you want to work in the West Wing, you’ve got to stop leaking.”…

Despite publicly claiming that he and Priebus have a long and respectful working relationship, Scaramucci has made one of his first moves the launch of a broad overhaul of the press office, singling out Priebus allies, many of whom previously worked at the Republican National Committee, for further scrutiny.

An unofficial list of Priebus loyalists has been circulating among Scaramucci allies as those most likely to lose their jobs or be reassigned to somewhere else in the administration…

Meanwhile, Grampa’s sundowning on camera again…
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In Memoriam: Emmett Till Was Born on 25 July 1941

Had Emmitt Till not been brutally murdered for a crime he didn’t commit he would have been 76 today. I don’t mean to step on AL’s post, but I think it is appropriate to not let the anniversary of his birth, and the memory of a life cut tragically short by racism, hatred, and intolerance.

From the FBI:

In the summer of 1955, 14-year-old African-American Emmett Till had gone on vacation from Chicago to visit family in Money, Mississippi. He was shopping at a store owned by Roy and Carolyn Bryant—and someone said he whistled at Mrs. Bryant, a white woman.

At some point around August 28, he was kidnapped, beaten, shot in the head, had a large metal fan tied to his neck with barbed wire, and was thrown into the Tallahatchie River. His body was soon recovered, and an investigation was opened.

It took fewer than four weeks for the case to go to trial: Roy Bryant and his half-brother J.W. Milam were accused of the murder, and an all white, all male jury acquitted both of them. No one else was ever indicted or prosecuted for involvement in the kidnapping or murder. Bryant and Milam, though, later confessed and told a magazine journalist all the grisly details of their crime. They are both, now, long deceased.

In May 2004, the FBI reopened the investigation to determine if other individuals were involved, working with the Mississippi District Attorney, U.S. Attorney, federal attorneys, and local law enforcement. Till’s body was exhumed for an autopsy in 2005. In March 2006, the FBI announced that information developed in its exhaustive investigation confirmed the Department of Justice’s earlier conclusion that the five-year statute of limitations on any potential federal criminal civil rights violation had expired, thereby precluding federal prosecution of this case. The FBI reported the results of its investigation to Joyce Chiles, the District Attorney for the Fourth Judicial District of Mississippi.

Although justice has not been served in the case, the tragic murder helped galvanize the growing civil rights movement in this country in the 1950s and beyond.

Here are the links to the FBI’s 2006 investigative report. Part 1. Part 2.

We now know, thanks to a recently published biography of Till/history of the Till case that his accuser lied.

The effect of Tyson’s wide-angled framing is especially pronounced in the bombshell revelation that Carolyn Bryant—the white woman who originally claimed Till grabbed and sexually harassed her in her husband’s store—lied about those claims. Media coverage has focused on that explosive admission and the conversation around redemption that it seems to spark, but Tyson’s book, in the end, is largely unconcerned with that line of inquiry. Bryant’s testimony on the stand and her later admission have little to do, in this narrative, with her own battle with guilt; rather, they serve to advance Tyson’s thesis that culpability for Till’s death rests on millions of shoulders. The unlikely thing, he argues, was not that Emmett Till was lynched, but that his lynching actually stirred a national response.

And goes on to level a searing indictment against America – both at the time of Till’s murder and today.

Perhaps most importantly, Tyson considers all the ways in which an American populace was complicit in its acceptance of violence against black people—and then considers all the ways in which it is still complicit in the deaths of people of color today. For instance, in his examination of the Citizens’ Councils’ literature, which fomented mass fears of black criminality and fantasies of rampant black sexual deviancy, Tyson also shows how poor white “peckerwoods” were loathed by wealthier white people, and manipulated into doing the bloody business of physical violence. In this, he provides a thinly veiled parable for today’s politics in how the rhetoric of white supremacy—even in its subtlest dog-whistle form—is used to radicalize people, and how the uneasy detente between classes of white people is often maintained by propaganda built around the threat of the other, even as the culpability is passed to the lowest rungs. “We blame them,” Tyson writes about those radicalized perpetrators of physical violence, “to avoid seeing that the lynching of Emmett Till was caused by the nature and history of America itself and by a social system that has changed over the decades, but not as much as we pretend.”

Open Thread: MOMENTUM! (More on Trump’s Jamboree at the BSA)


I’ll tell you a story that’s very interesting for me. When I was young there was a man named William Levitt. You have some here. You have some in different states. Anybody ever hear of Levittown?…

And he was a very successful man, became unbelievable — he was a home builder, became an unbelievable success, and got more and more successful. And he’d build homes, and at night he’d go to these major sites with teams of people, and he’d scour the sites for nails, and sawdust and small pieces of wood, and they cleaned the site, so when the workers came in the next morning, the sites would be spotless and clean, and he did it properly. And he did this for 20 years, and then he was offered a lot of money for his company, and he sold his company, for a tremendous amount of money, at the time especially. This is a long time ago. Sold his company for a tremendous amount of money.

And he went out and bought a big yacht, and he had a very interesting life. I won’t go any more than that, because you’re Boy Scouts so I’m not going to tell you what he did…

So look at you. Who would think this is the Boy Scouts, right? So he had a very, very interesting life, and the company that bought his company was a big conglomerate, and they didn’t know anything about building homes, and they didn’t know anything about picking up the nails and the sawdust and selling it, and the scraps of wood. This was a big conglomerate based in New York City.

And after about a 10-year period, they were losing a lot with it. It didn’t mean anything to them. And they couldn’t sell it. So they called William Levitt up, and they said, would you like to buy back your company, and he said, yes, I would. He so badly wanted it. He got bored with this life of yachts, and sailing, and all of the things he did in the south of France and other places. You won’t get bored, right? You know, truthfully, you’re workers. You’ll get bored too, believe me. Of course having a few good years like that isn’t so bad.

But what happened is he bought back his company, and he bought back a lot of empty land, and he worked hard at getting zoning, and he worked hard on starting to develop, and in the end he failed, and he failed badly, lost all of his money. He went personally bankrupt, and he was now much older. And I saw him at a cocktail party. And it was very sad because the hottest people in New York were at this party. It was the party of Steve Ross — Steve Ross, who was one of the great people. He came up and discovered, really founded Time Warner, and he was a great guy. He had a lot of successful people at the party.

And I was doing well, so I got invited to the party. I was very young. And I go in, but I’m in the real estate business, and I see a hundred people, some of whom I recognize, and they’re big in the entertainment business.

And I see sitting in the corner was a little old man who was all by himself. Nobody was talking to him. I immediately recognized that that man was the once great William Levitt, of Levittown, and I immediately went over. I wanted to talk to him more than the Hollywood, show business, communications people.

So I went over and talked to him, and I said, “Mr. Levitt, I’m Donald Trump.” He said, “I know.” I said, “Mr. Levitt, how are you doing?” He goes, “Not well, not well at all.” And I knew that. But he said, “Not well at all.” And he explained what was happening and how bad it’s been and how hard it’s been. And I said, “What exactly happened? Why did this happen to you? You’re one of the greats ever in our industry. Why did this happen to you?”

And he said, “Donald, I lost my momentum. I lost my momentum.” A word you never hear when you’re talking about success when some of these guys that never made 10 cents, they’re on television giving you things about how you’re going to be successful, and the only thing they ever did was a book and a tape. But I tell you — I’ll tell you, it was very sad, and I never forgot that moment.

And I thought about it, and it’s exactly true. He lost his momentum, meaning he took this period of time off, long, years, and then when he got back, he didn’t have that same momentum.

In life, I always tell this to people, you have to know whether or not you continue to have the momentum. And if you don’t have it, that’s OK. Because you’re going to go on, and you’re going to learn and you’re going to do things that are great. But you have to know about the word “momentum.”…

It’s the James-O’Keefe-style sex boat hints that got attention last night, but Trump’s whole meandering old-white-man-rap is seriously weird. Momentum — he’s afraid he’s losing it, taking long years off, has lost it, but that’s okay he’s going to go on… I’ve said it before, will no doubt be forced to say it again: If Grampa started rambling in this vein, his adult kids would be hiding his car keys and checkbook.

We need to get hecklers following the Trump Fools’ Flotilla around to yell “LOSING YOUR MOMENTUM, DONNY!”
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Fee fee fi fi fo-fo fum

I’m of the opinion that establishment media doth protest too much about its powerlessness in the face of Trump and the right-wing echo chamber. Atrios:

Those of us with long memories remember how, at best, you would find one lonely Clinton defender against 3 or more rabid antagonists during Monica Madness (at best, as often that lonely defender was basically saying, “Well, I’m not sure why should actually have him executed…”). Remember, of course, that the public was against impeachment and Clinton was popular during this time. Or during the Iraq war, when there was a similar dynamic. Or during the Bush administration, when the Republicans/Conservatives were over represented on the Sunday shows because they ran the government, and then during the Obama administration they were over represented because they didn’t.

I don’t think it’s the case that Trump gets good press… I mean, even that would be an effort too far… But there have been about 15 events which for a Democratic president would have inspired a return to Monica Madness (including, as keeps being hinted at, Trump’s own Monica, about which I know nothing and I don’t really care but who reporters keep dropping clues about), an OJ-level feeding frenzy of endless coverage from which the only conclusion allowed would be “he must be resign.”

For several months in 1998, we were told, by “straight” journalists, wingers, and even-the-liberals alike that Bill Clinton needed to resign because he lied about getting a blow job from an intern. That happened.

Has even one person on cable tv said that Trump needed to resign for firing Comey, tweeting about firing Mueller, lying about a million different things, etc. etc. etc.?

No, and they never will. Not even if they find a tape of him agreeing to lift sanctions on Russia if Putin agrees to not to drop the pee pee tape.

REPUBS IN DISARRAY! Open Thread: Rooting for Injuries, Trump / Sessions Edition

More IMAX-level projection, of course…

“It’s not like a great loyal thing about the endorsement,” Mr. Trump said in an interview with The Wall Street Journal. “I’m very disappointed in Jeff Sessions.”

Asked whether he would remove Mr. Sessions from office, Mr. Trump said he was unhappy with the attorney general’s decision to recuse himself from the probe into Russia’s meddling in the 2016 presidential election.

“I’m just looking at it,” the president said when asked how long he could continue to criticize Mr. Sessions without firing him. “I’ll just see. It’s a very important thing.”…

In the interview, he was joined by his daughter and White House adviser Ivanka Trump, National Economic Council Director Gary Cohn, Chief of Staff Reince Priebus, Communications Director Anthony Scaramucci and Hope Hicks, the White House director of strategic communications…

Mr. Sessions was the first U.S. senator to back Mr. Trump, a decision that was seen as a major blow to rival Sen. Ted Cruz (R., Texas). The endorsement came ahead of a handful of primary contests in Southern states with large numbers of evangelical voters—including Alabama, Mr. Sessions’s home—that Mr. Cruz’s campaign had banked on winning.

Mr. Sessions’s endorsement came at a rally in Alabama, one of the biggest of the campaign.

“When they say he endorsed me, I went to Alabama,” Mr. Trump said on Tuesday, recalling the endorsement. “I had 40,000 people. He was a senator from Alabama. I won the state by a lot, massive numbers. A lot of the states I won by massive numbers. But he was a senator, he looks at 40,000 people and he probably says, ’What do I have to lose?’ And he endorsed me. So it’s not like a great loyal thing about the endorsement. But I’m very disappointed in Jeff Sessions.”…

During a Rose Garden press conference Tuesday afternoon, Mr. Trump repeated the comments made in his interview that he is “disappointed” in Mr. Sessions and said “time will tell” whether his attorney general is ultimately fired.

Mr. Trump said that he wants Mr. Sessions “to be much tougher on the leaks from the intelligence agencies.”

They’re beginning to scare the children!

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Media Outlet Interviews Clinton Voter

Haha, not really! They’re still holding panels with Trump-voting idiots as if — instead of being the mush-brained goobers who have plunged our country into an interminable series of political, international and moral crises that they are — they were founts of homespun political wisdom.

But fuck it; instead of cursing the darkness, I’ll light a candle by interviewing a Clinton voter in a state that went for Trump. She is someone I know rather well — me. Here are her fascinating insights:

Q: It has been a little over six months since Trump was sworn in as president. Do you think the country has changed, and if so, are things worse or better?

A: Christ on a pony, so much worse! Not only is an addled, unqualified narcissist occupying the Oval Office and embarrassing us as a nation on a daily basis, the Republican Party — elected officials and base of voters both — have failed to live up to even my rock-bottom expectations for them.

An entire network of media outlets, chief among them Fox News, is devoted to excusing collusion with a hostile foreign power.

So-called “values voters” devote 100% of their social media output to constructing apologies for an admitted degenerate.

Alleged “fiscal hawks” are going to bat for an epically corrupt tax cheat.

And pretend-moderates are signing on for racist immigration policies, voter suppression schemes and a radical and cruel gutting of the social safety net, leaving their constituents to the tender mercies of insurance corporations. It’s an ongoing disaster.

Q: Since you live in a heavily Republican district, you must find common ground with your friends and neighbors, right?

A: Fuck no! A so-called “friend” who voted for that pussy-grabbing piece of shit is no friend of mine! If a Trump-voting neighbor stops by to borrow a cup of sugar, I’ll happily oblige — after I hock a loogie into their cup.

Q: Gross! What do you say to people who are disillusioned with the political system — folks who believe there’s really no difference between the two parties?

A: I say, “You’re a goddamned idiot who shouldn’t leave the house until your mommy pins a note with your name and address on your shirt.”

Q: Are you at all comforted by he fact that moderates like Ivanka Trump and husband Jared Kushner have the president’s ear?

A: Are you fucking kidding me? That pair of worthless dilettantes are just as corrupt and clueless as the old man. They open their stupid yaps, and torrents of meaningless corporate buzzwords stream forth while they subvert our democracy for their personal gain. I’d love to see the two of them building a global brand from a medium-security prison.

Q: Do you think America can recover from this period of heightened partisanship?

A: Depends on whether actual patriots outnumber the arrogant shitheads in MAGA hats. The MAGAts are the minority, but they’ll press their advantage at every turn. Will the people keep opposing them? Will they stay strong and not lose heart? I hope so. The resistance so far gives me hope.

Q: Thank you, Clinton voter, a species more rare than the reticulated naked Dalmatian mole-bat, despite having won the popular vote by some three million. Are you willing to be interviewed by other media outlets?

A: You bet your ass I am! Call me!

The end. Open thread!

Opportunity Space now and in the future

I could go all wonky and technical right now. Intellectualizing has always been one of my favored coping systems. But I just want to highlight two short threads on Twitter. The first is between me and my sister.

This is a vote to make our country a whole lot nastier and crueler and sicker. As I’ve mentioned a few times before, my mother is a zebra full of odd medical edge cases. Whenever she goes to Mass General Hospital, the interns are called into her exam room so that they can see some unusual scenario. My family has a history of a variety of genetically linked cancers, asthma, a potpouri of mental illness and other things.

I want to come back to a post that I wrote when Obergfall became the law of the land and my kids:

I don’t know much about how my kids will turn out when they get older. I know a few things though.

I know my daughter will be a massive dork (as she cried last night that she missed school as she was not learning enough new things at summer camp, and could we buy her some new math workbooks). I know she will be a goof ball with a massive amount of empathy and a strongly developed sense of fairness. I know that when she is adult, her possibility space will be massive….

Their possibility space just widened a little bit this morning. Being their dad, that makes my day.

Today is a contraction of the possibility space.

Now, the other vignette I want to highlight is an economic success story. Tim Williams covers the Pittsburgh Pirates. He runs a profitable small business website, Pittsburgh Prospects that tracks the Pittsburgh Pirates minor league system. I am a subscriber as the writing that he and his team of paid writers produce every day is great. Pittsburgh Prospects started as a labor of love and turned into a great and geeky resource.

Underwritten insurance in the individual market shuts down a lot of dreams that can turn into viable businesses such as Pittsburgh Prospects as well as keep people from taking a risk.

I’ll have more to say including something about the most recent round of Byrd droppings tomorrow morning. We’ll also start talking about what else can be done.

Mavericky Maverick Mavericks

But it was a really mavericky party vote he cast followed by some real straight talk.

Anyone for some tire swinging?

Fuck that worthless scumbag.

Oh, and Capito decided to screw her state. As did Heller and Portman.

Afternoon Update

The Senatortoise from Kentucky shamelessly played the McCain card, and The Washington Post says Republicans are close to moving forward on renewing the wealthcare debate:

Senate Republican leaders appeared close to securing the support they needed Tuesday to begin debate on their plan to rewrite the Affordable Care Act, according to lawmakers and aides, though the proposal they would consider could change dramatically once senators begin voting.

Republican leaders now see a scaled-down version of the bill as perhaps their best chance of winning final passage on some kind of measure to overhaul Obamacare. If senators passed this stripped-down version — which some Republicans refer to as “skinny repeal” — they would set up a House-Senate conference to resolve the differences between the two proposals, buying Republicans more time.

The new strategy will allow Republicans to sustain their years-long effort to unwind the 2010 health-care law, though they have yet settle on a replacement for it. But it is also is a tacit acknowledgment that more sweeping efforts to revise or even simply repeal the law cannot succeed, even as Republicans control both Congress and the White House.

They’ll probably pass the motion to begin debate — and hail it as a great victory. Celebrating truly basic shit is what they do now that President Poopy-Star is on the Golden Throne. But as the article above notes, agreeing to debate a face-saving compromise is a far cry from the grandiose promises the pack of lying grifters, including Donald “I’ll Repeal Obamacare on Day One” Trump made to the donor class.

Every day we thwart these greedy, mendacious pricks is a victory — never forget that. Infighting is on the rise, the Purge has begun, and cracks are appearing in the facade. I’m willing to talk to the bored shitheads at Rubio’s office every weekday for the rest of my life to keep that going.

Site Maintenance Update

Just a quick update and test. This post will appear and then disappear, and then reappear again. Kind of like the health care travesty in the Senate.

Last night, our hosting company updated a lot of the back-end server stuff and that was why the site was a bit twitchy. It should be fine now.

I’m testing this theory by posting a picture to see if it errors out.

And the errors didn’t happen!

This was on a Reservation, forget which one  thanks to Adam, I’ve determined that it’s from my visit to the Taos Pueblo – thanks! I’ve visited a few out West over the years, but never stepped foot into a casino. Should you ever have the chance, visit a Reservation, tour and ask questions, and spend some money in non-casino settings, they can use it.

Open Thread

Hello Juicers

Been busy with real life stuff for the last 48 hours so I haven’t been able to check the news, and the amazing thing is that I have exactly the same amount of information about what the Senate will be voting on today in regards to health care as do the members of the Senate. What a way to run a country!

Drove down from CT with ABC and the kids on Sunday, got in around midnight, and yesterday a colleague came up for a couple day visit with her three kids, so it has been a flurry of energy and activity. We went to the Good Zoo at Oglebay yesterday, and apparently Mondays are as hard on the animals as they are on the adults:

After that, there was swimming, then spaghetti and meatballs and garlic bread, not one but TWO Men in Black movies, and then brownies and ice cream. I was in bed at 9:45. I don’t know about the kids.

Made some waffles and am now checking up on the news before unstickifying the downstairs and then we are all headed to heaven on earth, aka Barn With Inn for some quality time at the pool and pond and with the animals. We were supposed to go fishing but there has been a lot of flash flooding so I don’t want to take the risk- the creek is high and angry looking and it’s not worth it.

Also, fuck John McCain.

Rotten PEARS

Consumerism and patient directed insurance design is predicated on the assumption that pricing is transparent enough and choices are clear enough that patients can make reasonable decisions about cost effective treatment. There are a number of problems with that assumption, but I want to look at one today regarding the Pathology, Emergency Medicine, Anesthesiology and Radiology specialties.

These PEAR specialties are known as “invisible” providers. Invisible providers are seldom chosen by the patient. Invisible providers were intermittently listed in provider directories when I maintained the provider directory at UPMC. Invisible providers are part of the care team but they may not be employed by the same group that employs the visible providers.

Visible providers are the doctors that a patient can choose. My primary care provider is a visible provider. My wife’s Ob-Gyn is a visible provider. My former orthopedist is a visible provider. My mom’s neurologist is a visible provider. The hospital down the street with an ER is a visible provider. These are the providers where clear in and out of network designations occur.

The New York Times had a great article a study that examined the deliberate business strategy of a PEAR staffing agency to increase the number of out of network ER bills:

the new Yale research, released by the National Bureau of Economic Research, found those bills aren’t randomly sprinkled throughout the nation’s hospitals. They come mostly from a select group of E.R. doctors at particular hospitals. At about 15 percent of the hospitals, out-of-network rates were over 80 percent, the study found. Many of the emergency rooms in that fraction of hospitals were run by EmCare.

It is a deliberate business strategy to exploit the rottenness of the PEAR billing arrangements for profitability. Patients don’t know that the hospital is in network and most of the docs who work there are in network but the ER doctors or anethesologists are not.

The thing that leaped out at me was the deliberateness of the business strategy:

n addition to its work in emergency rooms, EmCare has been buying up groups of anesthesiologists and radiologists.

This is an exploit of the inability of people to make informed decisions in order to jack up rates.

What is a solution?

There are two common solutions. The first is to have states adapt out of network pricing limitations and dispute resolution systems. If out of network charges are capped at a multiplier of Medicare or a multiplier of usual and customary, the incentive to exploit a crack like this goes down dramatically. The other solution is to adapt a general contractor model for all emergency room services where the hospitals’ contractual obligations cover all service providers working under that roof. If someone presents to the emergency room with a broken arm, anyone who treats that patient, under this model, is assumed to be in-network if the hospital is in network.

As we move to a shopping model of health care, we need to get rid of the amazingly and glaringly obvious exploits and hacks to the system that do nothing for patient care but add significant expense and frustration.

You know what to do

And that is call the Senate.

I don’t know if it will help beyond not not doing nothing.

Tuesday Morning Open Thread: Banana Republicans

(Tom Toles via

Oh, how I would love to see Catherine Rampell’s Washington Post suggestion in action! “Jared Kushner ‘forgets’ to disclose his assets? Seize them.:

For the 39th time, top presidential adviser (and son-in-law) Jared Kushner has revised his financial disclosure forms. Kushner disclosed 77 additional assets, collectively worth millions of dollars. These items were “inadvertently omitted” from previous versions of his federal forms, according to a document the White House released Friday…

Maybe Kushner really did forget all those assets, including a stake in a start-up valued at $5 million to $25 million. Just as maybe he really did accidentally submit a security-clearance form that left off more than 100 contacts with foreign nationals…

It’s true that willfully omitting an asset on one’s federal financial disclosure form comes with the risk of criminal action. But how motivating can a threat of prison possibly be if Kushner knows he can just go back and add anything that the press happens to dig up?

That’s exactly why we need the banana republic rule (named for the lawless state, not the store).

Above a certain value — let’s say $1 million — any assets that are “forgotten” on federal disclosures can be seized by Uncle Sam. If they weren’t memorable enough for these forms, then clearly you’re rich enough that you don’t really need them.

Treasury gets to take them, without compensating you.

“That’s socialism!” you might protest. But really, it’s not so different from another policy that the definitely-not-socialist Trump administration already backs enthusiastically: civil asset forfeiture.

This is when law enforcement seizes private property without proving the owner is guilty of a crime, often without even charging the owner with a crime. Just last week, Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced he was restarting a federal forfeiture program the Obama administration had shut down.

“Civil asset forfeiture takes the material support of the criminals and instead makes it the material support of law enforcement,” Sessions explained, even though the stuff being seized is not necessarily providing “material support” for any crime or any criminal.

With such tenuous logic, why shouldn’t Sessions support appropriating possibly-innocent-but-still-kinda-suspicious financial disclosure omissions, too?…


Apart from (gleefully) imagining a more just world, what’s on the agenda for the day?