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December 01, 2017

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James Comey's tweet. Bet he's been waiting a while to be able to do that.

Jake, why didn't you include the text?

"'But let justice roll down like waters and righteousness like an ever-flowing stream,' Amos 5:24"

As someone tweeted in response "you realize this is all your fault, right?"

Also, too, "if the pee tape is real, this is the best subtweet of all time"

--wj--

I figured it was like a christmas present people could open for themselves

one of my FB friends just swore off FB until after the movie comes out because he can't take all the speculation and possible spoilers.

he reeeeeeaallly likes SW.

Some say Trump ordered Flynn to contact, some say Kushner did. Sources close to Ivanka say she barely knows Trump or Kushner.

This made me cackle at a time when I needed a good laugh.

Ivanka's probably safe. Personally.

Flynn would take orders from Kushner, or from Trump himself. But other than those two, neither she nor anyone else in the campaign had the standing (place in his chain of command) to tell him what to do.

Also, to get as minor a charge as he has (apparently) bargained for, he has to be providing the goods on someone at the top of the chain. Solid, verifiable, evidence to nail someone. And there just aren't a lot of "someone"s to nail.

i must be missing something.

the "contact Russia" thing is about contacting them to do some premature, but fairly standard, diplomacy. it wasn't about the election since the dates cited in Flynn's charge documents were post-election.

and if Kushner or Trump asked Flynn to do that ... so what?

can someone essplain it to me?

the "contact Russia" thing is about contacting them to do some premature, but fairly standard, diplomacy.

Seems reasonable. But raises the obvious question: If it's routine diplomacy, why lie about it? Just say (this is to the FBI, after all, not a press conference): "Yeah, so?", shrug, and that's the end of it. But he didn't.

As so often, the questions are far more interesting than the actual facts in evidence so far. Not just why did Flynn feel compelled to lie, but why has Trump been so hysterical about shutting down any investigation into why Flynn did . . . whatever he did? What did Trump and the rest of them do, that Flynn can testify to, which has their knickers in a twist?

(i get that they all lied about it to the FBI and that's a crime. but.. meh?)

Not exactly meh - they knew they were committing a crime when lying to the FBI; this isn't some inadvertent mistake. Why would they do that ?
... certainly not just for the lulz.

And Flynn got a very generous deal, one which exempts him from any other prosecution related to any of the more serious activities he might have engaged in.
It seems highly unlikely that a prosecutor of Mueller's experience would have agreed to this without some pretty compelling evidence offered in return.

Kushner is likely next in line for some close attention.

sorry, wj. that parenthetical was posted before i refreshed.

Trump et al lie about everything, for no reason. maybe it's just another one of those things.

still, i'd hate to see the Russian interference in the election get settled - in the public's mind - by a couple of trivial pointless lies about something that isn't actually a huge deal in the grand scheme of things.

I agree with cleek. But I don't think that he had to provide anything info in his guilty plea beyond what applied to it.

I suspect he didn't get charged for some otheries because they didn't want them public yet.

Why the hell do y'all trust Mueller? Don't you know his history? I can remember way back when Comey was considered an honorable man.

They're Republicans, specifically experienced establishment bureaucratic Republicans. They are smarter than you, and evil. They will do what it takes to protect the system, power, and wealth, and do it a way that is hard to attack. If that means taking down Trump, or Kushner, or whomever.

But what it probably means is that Mueller will find and charge just enough to wreck Trump's independence, move the Wild Cards away from the White House, and move the Deep State in in time for the War.

Never ever say or think anything nice or complimentary about Republicans.

They will do what it takes to protect the system, power, and wealth, and do it a way that is hard to attack. If that means taking down Trump, or Kushner, or whomever.

this seems... unfalsifiable.

PS: The idjuts at LGM are comparing Trump to Napoleon I when a minimal amount of literacy would supply the obvious parallel with Napoleon III, including his brain-damaged foreign policy in Mexico and the humiliation of Sedan. But they don't read Marx, or apparently history.

I don't think that he had to provide anything info in his guilty plea beyond what applied to it.

I suspect he didn't get charged for some otheries because they didn't want them public yet.

But the stuff he was charged with (and pleaded guilty to) is stuff the everyone has known about for almost a year. Which doesn't suggest any particular reason to have it happen now, if there is nothing more.

Three other details to consider:
- It was barely a week ago that Flynn's attorney told Trump's attorneys that he had to stop working with them,
- Part of the plea deal involved an explicit statement that he was cooperating,
- The deal also explicitly mentions other offenses, for which he isn't being charged.
Taken together, that says that he has something threatening, legally threatening, to say. And is now prepared to say it, which he previously was not.

It doesn't tell us exactly what testimony, or evidence, he is providing or about what. Hence all the speculation. But while we don't know if it's grass, newspapers, or buildings burning, it isn't a huge leap from smoke to thinking something is burning.

"it isn't a huge leap from smoke to thinking something is burning."

There's always something burning in the dumpster fire.

"Sources close to Ivanka say she barely knows Trump or Kushner."

I read a lot of coverage of this and that is the money comment of the day.

Watch out, Andy Borowitz, Ugh is coming for your job.

ugh: As someone tweeted in response "you realize this is all your fault, right?"

Actually, it's all the fault of Sandra Day O'Connor. When she yielded to tribal loyalty and gave the White House to Dick and Dubya, she set America's course for the 21st century.

I find bob mcmanus sometimes opaque, sometimes bonkers. But this ...

They're Republicans, specifically experienced establishment bureaucratic Republicans. They are smarter than you, and evil. They will do what it takes to protect the system, power, and wealth, and do it a way that is hard to attack.
... is neither of those. Comey did his Republican duty in July 2016, and the rest was inevitable. Mueller may yet redeem the last shred of pretense to honor for "principled Republicans", but bob's admonition is not to be dismissed lightly.

Just for curiosity, does anybody know whether Mueller plays golf? I ask because He, Trump has tipped me over the edge: I now have the same prejudice against golfers as He has against Muslims, Mexicans, and blacks -- though some, I admit, may be good people.

--TP

Tony, perhaps you could just take that negative view of people who play at Trump facilities. That way you avoid painting with too broad a brush.

No, I'm with Tony - golfers are just not to be trusted.
:-)

Btw, this is rather a good article which goes some way to explaining our current politics (or at least puts it in a clear context):
https://medium.com/basic-income/the-real-story-of-automation-beginning-with-one-simple-chart-8b95f9bad71b

I'm not completely anti-golfer, but there does seem to be something wrong with people who are obsessed with "putting a small ball into a small hole with tools unsuited to the purpose".

Nigel, the thing is, we've been thru this before. Weavers were extremely highly skilled workers. The folks who ran automated looms needed far less skill, and could turn out vastly more cloth. Automation destroyed jobs left and right through out 19th century.

Which probably suggests where the politics will (eventually) go: our current Gilded Age will generate the same Trust Buster politicians that the last one did. I don't know enough about the politics of the late 1800s to know if it saw a conman set himself up as the champion of the working man, only to trash them even worse. But if it happened, I wouldn't be surprised if it ended up badly for him.

Never ever say or think anything nice or complimentary about Republicans.

I couldn't agree more, and I liked the Napoleon III comparison...very apt.

I now have the same prejudice against golfers as He has against Muslims, Mexicans, and blacks -- though some, I admit, may be good people.

As somebody who grew up with the game, and tries to play often, I can only say I understand, and let this pass.

I'm not sure we have been through this before, wj.

The scale and rate at which well paid skilled jobs are being destroyed and replaced only by poorly paid ones is unprecedented.
One must also consider if this means that China and India will never escape the middle income trap.

The implication s for societal stability are global - and at the moment our societies are debating other issues. Brexit is a good example of looking for a solution in completely the wrong place.

So it passed the Senate. I give the bill as is a 70% chance of being passed by the House, with 30% getting changed in reconciliation, passed by Senate, and moving to Trump's desk. Then they will move on to Medicare and SS.

If and when Democrats regain enough power, which in itself is unlikely, it will not be completely or even mostly reversed or repealed, just as the Reagan tax cuts were not reversed, or the Bush I tax cuts were not reversed. We have two completely plutocratic parties, the "left" one wanting a more diverse and multicultural plutocracy.

Great Recession is Still With Us ...Annie Lowrey in Atlantic, 12/01

“[It is] a tale of two recoveries: among families that owned homes, white households have started to rebound from the worst effects of the Great Recession while black households are still struggling to make up lost ground. The divergent recoveries are important in the immediate term, but they are also an especially ominous sign for the future.”

The Obama administration was also about channeling wealth upwards (and toward the coasts) at the expense of the bottom 60+%.

Should Dems get the trifecta, something will get passed, maybe clawing half of the Trump tax cuts back, maybe a VAT. But the rich will get richer, albeit a slightly different rich. I see not enough reason to vote to make Silicon Valley and Hollywood richer and myself poorer.

3) The Russia stuff is real simple: #notClintonsfault, #notherfault, #notDemocratsfault. They will run on pussy-grabbing, Putin, and immigration, because the Democratic Party is opposed to economic justice and redistribution, save moving money toward the black, women, LGBTQ etc UMC.

Sanders, the only man with a chance, will get accused by women in the primaries. Forget him. Gillibrand vs Harris is a little interesting, Wall Street vs Silicon Valley, but Michele O would steamroll them both.

golf

a good walk, spoiled

The Obama administration was also about channeling wealth upwards

the united states, as a political, legal, and institutional entity, is basically about channeling wealth upwards. not much point in singling out one administration or another on that count.

i share your opinion that Obama was entirely too friendly to the banks, but to a fairly large degree presidents are epiphenomena. a reflection, and not a driver, of a larger reality.

we have the presidents, and more broadly the government, that we ask for.

as a people, we are willing to let a lot of people suffer so that a relatively small number can become absurdly wealthy. other folks don't put up with that. we do.

this crap is not something that has been imposed on us by force. we have chosen it.

“this crap is not something that has been imposed on us by force. we have chosen it.”

I can’t decide if I agree with this or not. It’s a yes and no.

Look at net neutrality, the tax billl, our environmental policies, our health care system, civil rights and yes, our frequently murderous and barbaric foreign policy. There are always things to be outraged by and sometimes, like now, they come too quick and fast and all at once. The average person has no desire and little time to be a political activist and if he or she did you have to pick your issues. Energy gets spread out. And the people on the wrong side usually have very rich people pushing them in that direction.

And then there is the lesser evil choice that always confronts us. Republicans, with a few stray exceptions on particular issues, tend to be awful on everything, so a Democrat just has to be better on some to win liberal support while still raking in big donor dollars. Third party voting doesn’t work for various reasons and all you get from it are people on the left screaming at each other, one side imagining that their third party voting is doing some good somehow and the other side whitewashing the record of the Democrats and sometimes defending the indefensible.

The system depends on having politicians who are honorable even if they disagree and we have a shortage of those. I think it used to be less bad. We were never good on foreign policy. Democracy fails miserably because people in a superpower have the luxury of ignoring the people in small powerless countries if we kill them. But I think it used to work a little better on domestic issues where our own lives were affected.

This is too long and I didn’t read ( all of) it, but it seems relevant and yes, I should question my own views.

http://slatestarcodex.com/2017/11/30/book-review-inadequate-equilibria/

i think the system depends on people giving a crap.

make a basic effort to be informed. actually show up and vote. have at least a rudimentary interest in the world beyond your personal daily life.

there are always going to be greedy venal opportunistic power-seeking bastards. when nobody else really gives a crap about what happens, they win.

I still expect Kushner's story will go something like this:

"Fluctuating collateral values hit one of the trigger conditions and the Russian banks could have called their loans. All their loans. And if that happened, the Trump Organization was bankrupt. The whole house of cards would have come tumbling down. So we talked to the Russians, to every Russian in power that we could, using every channel that we could, and the banks didn't call the loans. All that nonsense about Clinton's e-mails was just a cover story -- it was all about the loans.

"So we've been running around the world, jiggering this, restructuring that. You think we took the Trump name off things just for fun? Borrowed a bit more from China, and a couple of the Saudis, and today the loans aren't callable. None of it illegal because we were private citizens -- Ivanka and I never took actual government positions. We didn't tell the old man any of it -- you've noticed he's about half senile, and would have made a bigger mess of it.

"You can't stick money laundering, or emoluments, or anything else on the old man -- we didn't tell him. Trying to put Ivanka and I in jail doesn't do anything about your real problem -- how are you going to get the Donald out of the Oval Office?"

I suspect Kushner is every bit of fond of his own liberty as is Flynn.
I expect nothing quite so self sacrificing from him - though people do surprise you from time to time.

Michael Cain,

even if your take on Kushner's defense were true, it would still be politically extremely troublig. The point is: Russian private money ain't private. The main feature of Putin's regime is that all Russian oligarchs àre also Putin's made men. There are no "independent" Russian plutocrats. All Russian money ìs - ultimately - controlled by FSB or GRU. For example, Sperbank has a relationship with Putin that is almost as close as the one between Trump Organisation and the POTUS.

So, confessing you were engaging is shady business deals with Russian oligarchs means confessing cooperation with Russian intelligence.

Lots of people can give a crap,but be misled. They can show up and vote and only have lousy choices. They can think they are informed and not be. I think the elites in America have become steadily and gradually more venal and we have been subjected to about 40 years of “ the market does everything right” propaganda and it has its effect. I remember the beginnings of this, when Milton Friedman had an entire series on PBS before Reagan. And then we have had decades of constant drumbeat about the deficit with the subtext that we had to bring entitlement programs under control and nearly every Serious Person echoing it. The elites in politics, business and the media bear the brunt of the blame for the situation where our choices are between the freakish Dickensian caricature the Republicans represent and the “ you have to vote for us “ lesser evil of the Democrats.

Propaganda works. I think it works on all of us, especially if we think we are immune to it.

Kushner has enough experience with Trump's loyalty and support for others (nonexistent) that he is unlikely to volunteer to fall under the bus like that, Michael.

Look for his flipping to be limited only by the evidence he can actually manage to produce. Which may be a serious constraint for him, but that doesn't mean he won't do everything he can to save his own skin.

At this point, I'd say the likeliest straw for Trump to grasp is a nice war. If we're lucky, he picks Iran. Not because it won't be a disaster. But just because, if he attacks North Korea, we're looking at some nukes landing here. Few enough to be survivable, probably, but enough to do enormous damage.

I suspect Kushner did not lie to the FBI, which may have been a problem for Flynn. Which leaves the prosecutor a more difficult case.

More difficult only in that it removes a potential low-penalty charge to use in a deal. After all, in a plea deal, you have to plead guilty to something.

Meanwhile, on another topic, anyone have speculation on whether the House tries to do reconciliation with the Senate tax bill? Or just passes what the Senate did, in order to guarantee that they have a win to celebrate?

More difficult in that it isn't clear he broke a law.......

we have been subjected to about 40 years of “ the market does everything right” propaganda and it has its effect

See also the first paragraph of my 5:19.

Voter turnout, even for presidential elections, hovers around 60%. Voter turnout in the 2014 mid-term was around 36%. Barely above one third of eligible voters even showed up.

IMO we're at an inflection point. Things could go really, really wrong. Or, they could get better.

If people don't take responsibility for their own governance, and the basic ground conditions of their own public lives, then things won't get better.

It's true that lots of folks consider themselves to be well informed. Lots of those folks get their "well informed" status from Facebook, or Breitbart, or similar. Those folks aren't well informed. If their participating in public life based on what is, frankly, propagandistic bullshit, things will not get better.

So, we'll see what happens.

What I will say is that the United States is a fairly consequential actor. If things go really badly here, it's going to make a really big mess.

As far as Kushner, Trump, et al, any damned thing is possible. Everybody might skate, or everybody might either go to jail or be tossed out of office.

Nobody knows what Mueller knows except Mueller and a pretty close-knit set of colleagues.

Trump is a crook, has been a crook, ditto Kushner. If the investigation gets into money laundering and other business malfeasance, there is plenty to find. If it gets into emoluments-clause-ish acts of self-dealing and plain old abuse of office, there's plenty to find.

It all depends on what Mueller wants to go after, and on how careful the principals have been about not stepping over any really egregious bright lines.

I have no idea how it will come out. However it comes out, the approximately 1/3 of the nation who love Trump will be utterly unchanged in their opinion of him.

I am less concerned about North Korean nuclear missiles hitting the US. Until now they have not managed to have re-entry without breaking apart and I assume that their nukes are not yet minituarized enough to fit on the missiles they have. That will still take some time.
That does not mean a war with North Korea would not be a disaster of epic proportions with likely hundreds of thousands dead on the first day (when the North fires everything available on Seoul in one go maybe including a nuke on a short range vehicle). And putting a nuke into a shipping container and blowing it off near a harbour of choice is of course a possibility too.
We better hope that Trump has big assets in Korea and Japan, so he is disincentivized from going that way.

I should have also said that I expect that to be Kushner's story because I think it's likely to be true. Certainly as likely as a bunch of political dilettantes deciding to play espionage games with the Russians without getting a competent legal opinion first.

I spent years in the cable and telecom business, and people who have built themselves into an arrangement where a single loan getting called will bring the whole billion-dollar empire down do weird stuff.

And it is, unfortunately, a more and more common thing. In 2007, the biggest banks in the world had put themselves in the situation of owing so much to each other, and no one knew which collateral was good and which wasn't, that the whole finance industry was on the verge of at least locking up and perhaps crashing down. The various QEs were the Fed replacing what might (or might not) have been valueless paper with cash to avoid that.

I am less concerned about North Korean nuclear missiles hitting the US.

Here is my opinion about NK.

They have little to no interest in attacking the US or anyone else. They, or at least Kim, are *extremely* interested in not being invaded or being subject to forcible regime change.

They can now claim to hold a gun to the head of the party most likely to attempt regime change.

It sort of doesn't matter if their stuff works perfectly, or even really well. It just has to appear to work well enough that we can't say for sure that it doesn't.

Goal achieved.

Also my opinion: the most logical next step for us is to accept them as a likely nuclear power, stand down from threats of invading or trying to overthrow Kim, and begin talking to them about how to rejoin the community of nations.

With all of the responsibilities that that incurs.

Life surely sucks in NK, and Kim is surely a tyrant. There's only so much we're going to be able to do about that, and even less that we're going to be able to by force or threat of force.

I would put much of the blame for low turnout on elites as well. Poor people often don’t vote because it is hard ( here one could get into what Republicans have been up to) or because they see no reason to.

However, I think I have had my say on this and will shut up or switch to different topics later.

The various QEs were the Fed replacing what might (or might not) have been valueless paper with cash to avoid that.

For "the Fed", read "us". Directly, or otherwise.

I would put much of the blame for low turnout on elites as well.

I don't disagree with this. I don't actually disagree with any of the points you are making here.

The only point I'm making is that "the elites" aren't likely to fix things, either. Not on their own initiative, anyway. We're going to have to make them.

I guess I'd also like to point out that Michael Cain's hypothetical Kushner defense is not at all unlikely. And, he may not have broken any law, or violated any governmental standard of ethics.

His hands, Trump's hands, may be completely clean, at least as regards legal liability.

All of that could be so, and it would nonetheless be utterly corrupt. Because the financial entanglements of the POTUS and his family will have made them vulnerable to manipulation by foreign actors. Not only vulnerable, but in actual fact manipulated.

That is why we have the standard practice of folks holding the office of POTUS setting up a stout wall between their personal finances and the responsibilities of their office.

None of this registers in any way with Trump personally or with his family members. Other than as an annoying but legally non-binding request, agreed to while he was running for office and then promptly and thoroughly ignored thereafter.

Trump is a corrupt, venal, lying SOB. Whether he stays or goes, that is who he is and has always been.

It will be good for us to not forget that, whatever the outcome of Mueller's investigations.

russell, I think you are right about the NK regime but I believe that in case they get attacked (or believe such an attack to be imminent) they will try to exit with as much destruction as they can manage. Their top goal is survival but if that is not an option it will be 'I'll take you with me'.
And Trump is one who could persuade NK to believe that the latter is the case (and is one who would care about the lives of South Koreans only insofar as it could hurt himself). Earlier presidents were 'wise' enough to ignore the bluster of certain leaders because they know it was for domestic consumption. Trump lacks that wisdom and is thinskinned, just the guy to get into a bluster arms race with such an opponent and being the first to go from angry words to deeds.

And, he may not have broken any law, or violated any governmental standard of ethics.

He lied on federal forms when applying for a security clearance, forms that informed him of the crime as he was doing it.

His hands, Trump's hands, may be completely clean, at least as regards legal liability.

Not plausible. He just tweeted a confession to obstruction of justice. I'm sure there's more. Not sure what smoking gun people are waiting for, although it's fun to watch people being indicted.

You're right, though, that the Republicans don't care. They're mobsters too, and are happy as long as they get their money.

Until now they have not managed to have re-entry without breaking apart and I assume that their nukes are not yet minituarized enough to fit on the missiles they have.

From what I've read, they do have warheads that will fit on the missiles that they have.

they will try to exit with as much destruction as they can manage

Yes. That is how this particular game is played.

Trump is one who could persuade NK to believe that the latter is the case

Yes. Trump appears to see all human interactions as pissing matches with him as the necessary victor. And, he does not appear to recognize an inch of daylight between himself, personally, and his office. L'etat, c'est moi, at least as far as he can get away with it.

So, yes.

Here is my opinion about NK.

They have little to no interest in attacking the US or anyone else. They, or at least Kim, are *extremely* interested in not being invaded or being subject to forcible regime change.

Russell, I agree, Kim has not the least desire to attack us. But if Trump attacks them, that's an entirely different deal.

Yes, obviously. And in that case a lot of people will die, and depending on what NK's actual capabilities are, nations (including ours) could be thrown into utter chaos and calamity.

Certainly South Korea will be more or less toast. Seoul, certainly. Maybe Japan, at least some cities in Japan.

If there's an upside, I'm not seeing it.

So, yes. Let's hope he doesn't go there.

He lied on federal forms when applying for a security clearance, forms that informed him of the crime as he was doing it.

Then I hope Mueller squeezes him until he pops.

"More difficult in that it isn't clear he broke a law......."

Well, as conservative principles spread throughout government at all levels and the view that we have too many laws and rules and regulations, except those laws that enable arms-carrying republican gummints to harass and intimidate anyone deemed the OTHER, and that those laws should be radically pared, pruned .... why take half-measures .... eradicated root and branch at all costs, the sociopaths running the show, personified by the rump family and their enabling coterie of republican and corporate Tommy Devitos, Rasputins, Iagos, Bill Sikeses, Lady Macbeths, Gollums, Nurse Ratcheds, Annie Wilkeses, Hans Grubers, Adam Goeths, Ernst Blofelds, Keyser Sozes, Begbies, and Sexy Beasts, by simple legal alchemy, become ever more innocent by the minute, by the day.

No Rule of Law. The Law of Rule.

It's no accident that we are observing conservative criminals released from prison and immediately viewing elective office at the highest levels as the halfway house where instead of peeing into a cup they can shit on the American people.

The Republican Party will kill more human beings than North Korea and ISIS combined, but the murders will be more aesthetically pleasing and gradual, like death by lead paint poisoning, (if the leader of North Korea launches nuclear warheads while suffering from a brain tumor, he inspires no sympathy, nor should he, but if a republican with a brain tumor and top of the line taxpayer medical insurance murders the poor suffering from brain tumors via so-called tax legislation, his obituary will cite his noble use of the word "welfare") even to those in the process of being murdered.

I am not in any way defending Democrats or even the complicated Rubik's Cube of Obamacare here.

Haplessness will be punished later.

Once the lowest burning rungs of Hell on Earth are chock full of the truly Evil, we can assign the cheap seats in the other rungs in good time.

Both Nigel's and Donald's links are important reads.

Thought-provoking, which is unfortunate because MY thoughts are now provoked.

http://www.esquire.com/news-politics/politics/a14000041/cia-private-armies/

If a North Korean nuke could reach the town of Whitefish Montana, I'm having more trouble than I rightly should seeing the downside.

OK, Glacier National Park would be impacted. But more than republican bugs are impacting it?

Maybe the grizzlies in the area would undergo genetic mutations and lope, glowing and zombie-like, down the streets of Whitefish, dragging republicans out of their beds at night, and making a meal of them.

Either way, the glaciers will melt, so that's a toss-up.

Tree-hugger that I am, I demand an environmental impact statement to weigh the relative impacts of both catastrophes.

More on automation:

https://www.marketwatch.com/story/automation-could-impact-375-million-jobs-by-2030-new-study-suggests-2017-11-29?siteid=bigcharts&dist=bigcharts

I don't golf much anymore. Russell pretty much summed up my attitude regarding that game up thread.

But if I did, I would automate my putting game. Hit a drive or two, chip the little ball on to the green, and then loose my robot, ironically referred to as Yip, from the golf cart to finish with one in to alleviate my aggravation with that part of the game.

However, even with flawless automated putting, I would retain the part of my game wherein I fling the expensive putter, once the robot is done with it, twirling over a stand a trees into a body of water on the other side and then stalk off in the direction of the drink caddy.

The most fun I ever experienced golfing was with some dozen baseball teammates years ago and one of my fellow outfielders shanked a drive that took three quick bounces and dropped dead about 30 feet into the weeds near the tee and he, all in one movement from his follow-through, spun around three times and hammer-threw, like a Scotsman, his driver high into the air and it sailed over a fence about a hundred feet farther away than his ball traveled and landed with a splash in a kids backyard free-standing swimming pool, somehow missing the two little kids IN the pool at that moment, and one of the kids got out of the pool and carried the wicked implement into his house, probably to show his mother, whose reaction we didn't stick around to witness.

We skipped the rest of that hole and skedaddled to the next tee, and when it came time for the guilty party to borrow a driver from one or the other of his fellows, I was prepared and drew my Hillerich Bradsby baseball bat, since shattered by a fastball in on the hands, out of my golf bag, which I was carrying in case my game deteriorated to a certain level and handed it to him, which he then used for the rest of the day, tossing the golf ball in the air and knocking it straight and true the center of the fairway.

I used it to putt the last couple of holes.

In short:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TMM_LNcNV-E

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TUZ_rGMygL0

Forbes hates America.

Forbes ? Notorious bunch of lefties.

The estimable Dahlia Lithwick has some cheery thoughts, too...
http://www.slate.com/articles/news_and_politics/jurisprudence/2017/12/is_it_too_late_for_robert_mueller_to_save_us.html

The estimable Dahlia Lithwick has some cheery thoughts, too

I love Dahlia Lithwick, and follow her every article. This time, no. We need to keep up our spirits, and have a plan. Dahlia is a Canadian, not that there's anything wrong with that, but she can't vote here. All of us who can need to figure out a strategy. No naysayers or purity ponies on this bus either.

...and drew my Hillerich Bradsby baseball bat... out of my golf bag, which I was carrying in case my game deteriorated to a certain level...

Lee Trevino used to tell the story of playing with a tape-wrapped Dr. Pepper bottle for money. I always loved his answer to the question about the pressure of leading the US Open: "If I win I get $100K; if I lose I get $50K; real pressure is playing for $20 against a guy who has people's knees broken for bad debts, and you've got $10 in your pocket."

When I was young, the starter at the local course let me play in ratty clothes and beat-up gear on Wednesday afternoons with the doctors and dentists because I was unfailingly polite to them. Hustling golf -- an ongoing small con -- kept me in beer money for a couple of summers when I was in college.

Generally, I'm inclined to the Oldest Member in Wodehouse's golf stories, who says that everything you need to know about a person's character is revealed when you play golf with them.

Generally, I'm inclined to the Oldest Member in Wodehouse's golf stories, who says that everything you need to know about a person's character is revealed when you play golf with them.

Golf seems like a lovely sport. I played only once with some very close friends on an empty golf course. I'm already old, but it seems like even now it's something I could get into if I had time.

The trouble is, time. Which is one of many reasons why it's a wealthy person's sport. Not that I resent wealthy people - I've made it very clear that I don't! But do I want to spend my late years meeting wealthy, predominantly white people? No, I'll exercise quickly, and if my free time involves meeting people, I'm going to try to step outside. Hard to find a plan to do that, but golf probably isn't it.

But do I want to spend my late years meeting wealthy, predominantly white people?

Public courses in urban areas, or in small towns. Stay the hell away from the spiffy courses in the suburbs. Get there around 8:30, 7:30 in late June or early July, tell the people in charge that you're a single and will be happy to play with anyone. Occasionally you'll get stuck with assholes, but not for the most part. Being the fourth with a group of three grandmothers was almost always fun. In my experience, they were the epitome of "there are more important things than winning or losing".

I gave up the sport because I couldn't deal with an aging body that simply couldn't do the job. Interestingly, I wasn't ever so... engaged with fencing, and am perfectly happy to go out and do that badly.

Interestingly, I wasn't ever so... engaged with fencing, and am perfectly happy to go out and do that badly

That's so funny, Michael Cain! I would have thought that fencing is way more exhausting. I row (in a single) for an hour during the warmer months (there are about 7 of those months where I live). That seems like plenty of exercise until various classes in the off months.

Many of my dear friends play golf, and what you're saying makes a great deal of sense. Maybe in my next life. I don't hate golfers because I love too many of them.

Sanders, the only man with a chance,

After I finish singing Messiah tomorrow - the third of this season, the 39th with this choir - I would appreciate some of whatever bob mcmanus is smoking.

Been away for the weekend at 2 different conferences, small one day affairs. Of possible interest (and by way of opening) one of the talks was about the buraku community in Fukushima cho, Hiroshima, which was discriminated against even after the destruction of wrought by the first atomic bomb: even after the virtual elimination of societal networks, the prejudice against the buraku remained.

Anyway, bob mcmanus wrote
Why the hell do y'all trust Mueller? Don't you know his history? I can remember way back when Comey was considered an honorable man.

I dunno, I think that if conscience kicks in at some point, we can't really say 'well, you were a Republican'. What if we had done that with John Dean?

Russell
They have little to no interest in attacking the US or anyone else. They, or at least Kim, are *extremely* interested in not being invaded or being subject to forcible regime change.

Yes, yes and yes.

On the discussion about golf, I have come to learn that there are people for whom pain is something that they believe is pleasurable and actually seek it out. I think this explains a lot.

Sapient and Dalia Lithwick
I love Dahlia Lithwick, and follow her every article. This time, no. We need to keep up our spirits, and have a plan. Dahlia is a Canadian, not that there's anything wrong with that, but she can't vote here.

[cringe] That's not really an argument I think you want to make. While her Wikipedia page doesn't give her age, it does note that she came to the US and graduated from Yale, studied law at Stanford University, where she received her J.D. in 1996, clerked for Judge Procter Hug on the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit. I have a feeling that perhaps someone could confirm that law degrees are among the least portable between countries, and I'm sure her J.D. and a few loonies would buy her a cup of coffee at Tim Hortons.

It also seems that this sort of reasoning is not as far removed from Trump supporters explanations for deporting Dreamers. They too can't vote, so why should we listen to their arguments? While you can make whatever argument you want, if I were you, I wouldn't be making that one. I admit, this strikes a bit close to home for me, I'm taking Japanese citizenship, so I'd prefer that you not dismiss what I have to say based on the fact that I have decamped, but I also don't see it as a way forward, though ymmv.

I didn’t agree with Lithwick. I don’t expect Russiagate to change that many minds. What might change some minds at least outside the hardcore supporters are policies that hurt some Trump voters, such as this tax bill and the next step, which will be attempts to cut Social Security and Medicare.

Personally I don’t care much about Russiagate either. You can guess why. It is a basic unwritten rule of American politics that our truly terrible crimes, the type we associate with international trials for deposed dictators, are never investigated or treated as crimes, but as policy mistakes at worst. We save all our apocalyptic political talk about impeachment and so forth for the equivalent of getting Al Capone on tax evasion.

I have no idea how you keep saying the tax bill will hurt Trump voters. The bill lowers taxes for almost every American. With the 10k crumble to let whiny homeowners deduct up to 10k of mortgage interest I can't find a loser.

They keep making a big deal out of taxing student loans, which isn't happening. Taxing forgiven loans is pretty reasonable. In fact, every objection is some twisted almost untrue misconstruing of the actual bill.

Nattering around the edges isn't going to hurt Republicans, padding landmark legislation helps.

They too can't vote, so why should we listen to their arguments?

That's not what I said. I had assumed that the preface to my comment would have conveyed my admiration for her. I read everything she writes. She lived in my town, and I gratefully attended her public speaking events. I thoroughly trust her opinion on legal matters.

Her point was that Mueller will not save us, therefore we will descend into chaos. Nowhere does she mention the Virginia elections. That's because "taking to the streets" seems more useful to her than organizing a strategy to take back the country through votes. (I'm not against taking to the streets, by the way.)

I'm not saying that I think she's wrong in how she evaluates the impact of Mueller's work. I'm sad that she may be correct. I mean, we already know that Trump committed crimes, and he is still in office because Rs don't care. Mueller isn't going to "save" us - in that she is probably correct (although his work is essential anyway).

I think she ignores the prospect of an electoral strategy, possibly because she isn't involved in that aspect of our civic life. For her to have recently lived in Virginia, but not mentioned the overwhelming rejection of Trumpism there at the polls says to me that elections aren't her focus. I attribute that to the fact that she doesn't vote. That's a far cry from dismissing her altogether.

My comment rejecting her article was more about her pessimism. We can't afford to be pessimistic. Mueller's investigation is one of the essential things that needs to happen. There are many more.

note that the reporter who came up with the "made contact with Russians" line in his bombshell tweet has been suspended because it was so misleading.

https://www.cbsnews.com/news/brian-ross-abc-news-suspends-reporter-four-weeks-without-pay-for-botched-flynn-report/

I have no idea how you keep saying the tax bill will hurt Trump voters.

The things that are likely to help them are intended to go away in a couple of years. So that the bill can be passed via reconciliation.

If it doesn't result in the claimed levels of economic growth, we can expect cuts to entitlements.

All of that assumes what actually gets passed is more or less what the CBO scored. Which is unclear, because nobody has really seen the freaking bill in its final form.

Lithwick

Two thoughts about Lithwick.

First, she seems to see the reliance on the special prosecutor as some kind of weird Hail Mary pass appeal to the rule of law. It's not. It's a matter of following correct procedure, whether Trump et al do or not.

For good or ill, Trump is the duly elected POTUS. We don't have votes of confidence here, the president once elected will hold that office for four years, barring impeachment. And impeachment is a fairly large step, requiring quite strong justification.

Thus, Mueller.

It's not a matter of hoping that Superman Mueller will come and save us all. It's a matter of wanting to respect and preserve proper and legal form.

Which was kind of part of her point, but she seemed to see this as some kind of weakness. I disagree.

The alternative is burning it all down. There's enough of that going on already, we don't need more.

My other thought is about her questions about "where we are now as a nation". Have we really gotten ourselves to some irretrievable place?

We elected Donald J Trump as POTUS. I'm sure most folks will respond by saying "Not me!", but electing a president is a collective national action. We did it.

So hell yeah, we are in a really weird freaking place. Q.E.D.

In my opinion, the things we already know about what went on merit, at a minimum, censure of the president. The most charitable reading of Flynn's excellent adventure is that, on the day that sanctions were put into place as a response to Russian interference in a US national election, Flynn called the Russian ambassador to tell him not to react, the sanctions would go away. Flynn did this at the direction of the president's son-in-law and others in his closest circle of advisors.

That is *the most* charitable reading. The fact that this has been seized upon as some kind of "no harm no foul" scenario - which it has - is FUBAR.

Mueller's investigation will proceed, one way or another, to a conclusion. He will discover whatever he discovers. Presumably we will all find out whatever part of what he discovers is disclosable, which will probably not be all of what he finds out.

It's possible that whatever is discovered will clear Trump of all wrong-doing. I find that unlikely. We'll see.

And then we will see who, if anyone, gives a shit. We'll see if Lithwick is right, or wrong.

Winners: The rich.
Losers: The poor.

same old, same old.....

https://www.forbes.com/sites/anthonynitti/2017/12/02/winners-and-losers-of-the-senate-tax-bill/#4f28b68e254d

https://www.pbs.org/newshour/politics/who-wins-and-who-loses-in-the-gop-senate-tax-plan

note that the reporter who came up with the "made contact with Russians" line in his bombshell tweet has been suspended because it was so misleading.

Ross stated that Flynn had contacted the Russians at the direction of Trump, personally. Which is not in evidence. And, which is an error about an issue of extreme consequence.

Four weeks no pay seems like an OK response, to me.

Ditto Mueller's canning of the agent who was making anti-Trump comments on social media.

This is fairly important stuff. Whatever happens, it has to be clean and above board.

With the 10k crumble to let whiny homeowners deduct up to 10k of mortgage interest I can't find a loser.

As an aside:

Whether it's fair, unfair, or just plain stupid to let people deduct mortgage interest, it's a policy that has been around a long long time. And plays a significant part in many folks' financial planning, and a significant part of how many folks build a modest pile of personal wealth over a lifetime.

Drop the mortgage deduction, and lots of folks would find it hard to keep their homes. And, the market value of their homes would drop. So, they'd get screwed both ways.

It's similar to proposals to do things like remove the tax-deferred status of 401K's. You can do it or not do it, but getting rid of it is going to screw over a lot of folks who have used it as the basis of their saving and wealth-building strategies.

It's not cool to f*** people over. It's probably a pretty damned good idea they put the deduction back in.

Ditto Mueller's canning of the agent who was making anti-Trump comments on social media.

The comments were made in private texts, not social media. It's fine with me that the guy was taken off the team though. Not sure how the texts were discovered. Has that been reported?

The private texts were found during the inquiry into why Clinton wasn't locked up because of the email server.

I happen to know how Mueller found those "private texts"; transcript follows:

rm@specinv$ ssh Universe.nsa.gov
passord: *********************************
rm@Universe$ grep /* -r -e Trump
....

presto!

It will be interesting to see how the GOP tax bill will pan out politically. It is unpopular now, but to the extent it provides an up front tax cut and deferred tax increase for most individuals, and those individuals will suddenly see a decrease in withholding starting on Jan 1 2018 (assuming it passes), they are going to wonder what the Democrats were complaining about.

And of course those cuts won't expire until after the 2020 POTUS election.

So, we'll see about the short-medium term popularity of the bill, even if it's terrible from a medium-to long term, and of course horrid on the repeal of the individual mandate penalty (although that is not in the House bill - so will see what happens).

Marty— I was going to link to that Forbes piece that bobbyp already linked. The ending of the mandate will be the worst thing about this bill, or one of the worst. But it is also part of a bigger strategy— give massive amounts of money to the rich, cry and moan about the deficit, and then impose pain on the poor and middle class with cuts to Social Security and Medicare. They aren’t even bothering to conceal it.

The question is whether some Trump voters will see this. I think some will.

some will see it. but it won't matter.

being a "Trump voter" is a good sign that what really matters to you is not wanting to give any liberal an inch anywhere.

I have no idea how you keep saying the tax bill will hurt Trump voters. The bill lowers taxes for almost every American.

Marty, suppose we enter into a business arrangement. It pays you $10 per year for the first two years, and pays me $100. Then, starting the third year, you have to start paying in $20 per year, but I still get my $100. Can anyone say, with a straight face, that the conditions the first two years are sufficient to make this a good deal for you?

Because that's the deal most of the country is looking at. Which may account for why over 2/3 of the country opposes it.

The comments were made in private texts, not social media

my error! thank you for the correction.

some will see it. but it won't matter.

correct.

Cleek's Law is like the 2nd Law of Thermodynamics: it perfectly explains how the world works on the macro scale, despite the fact that unbelievers can always narrowly focus on some microscopic phenomenon to "prove" that the Law is merely librul whining.

In the Republican worldview, when dollars flow into the coffers of the rich like scent molecules "diffusing" back into the bottle, there is no vacuum pump hidden in the apparatus. Tax policy doesn't affect how dollars flow back and forth -- just look through a microscope!

And now for a completely different metaphor:

When you go shopping for a used car, you understand (even if you are "conservative") that the cheaper car the salesman is offering you comes with fewer features: it won't serve you as well, but the salesman will carefully avoid saying so. When a nation goes shopping for a government, the sales pitch is the same: "Look how much cheaper this one is!"

Whether the car, or the government, that you choose is more likely to leave you, personally, in a ditch precisely because it is cheaper ... well, you can't expect the salesman -- or his acolytes -- to bother you with concerns like that.

--TP

Since Trump won by narrow margins in a few states, it actually does matter if a small fraction of Trump voters regret their votes.

https://www.politico.com/story/2017/09/06/trump-obama-voters-poll-242334

Literarily Hitler

This is pretty smart and not too heady or long;about the style and intended audience of Mein Kampf; probably pertinent to some of Trump's style and following; remember Trump had MK by his bedside; maybe he does have a high IQ.

Sample:

"As a matter of calculation, even drifting off into seeming absurdity may prove advisable insofar as the “base” puts a premium on flights of enthusiasm, which signal initiation to insiders and confirm that the consensus of others does not matter … the leader need not believe all that he says. Nor does his audience have to either. All that is necessary is for both sides to come to an understanding that they will base their community on ostentatious adherence to extreme pronouncements, embrace the transports of self-intoxication, and trouble outsiders with their triumphal displays."

Naw, 2/3 of the country opposes anything called the Trump plan. The tax plan is we thought out, the I individual tax cuts expire in ten years, not a few, and either party so not let that happen. So if you have to make one expire to stay inside the numbers for 50 votes that's the right one to do.

Individual taxe cuts aren't going to expire Dems could throw in ten votes and make them permanent now.

But then they couldn't do the normal omg crap.

IOW, f the deficit.

Making the already large deficit larger in order to cut already low taxes for rich people is about the stupidest thing the US government could do. So no surprise that it's the one thing Republicans can agree on.

individual tax cuts expire in ten years

eight

Individual taxe cuts aren't going to expire

EGTRRA

Marty: Naw, 2/3 of the country opposes anything called the Trump plan. The tax plan is we thought out, the I individual tax cuts expire in ten years, not a few, and either party so not let that happen.

I assume the grammar and typos will be corrected in conference committee. Until then, all I can figure out is that Marty thinks the tax "reform" will not cost him, personally, money.

--TP

Pro Bono: increasing the deficit with tax cuts for the super-wealthy may be stupid, but it is FAR from the stupidest thing that could be done.

Such as: destroying graduate STEM education, encouraging speculative asset bubbles, pulling the rug out from under people who have made (personal) long-term retirement arrangements in the expectation of stability, penalizing via extra taxation the people who are actually doing the work of a productive economy (e.g., not the banksters and similar parasites).

But Trump's term of office is still young, so there's still time to immanetize the escaton.

I assume the grammar and typos will be corrected in conference committee. Until then, all I can figure out is that Marty thinks the tax "reform" will not cost him, personally, money.

So many reasons for the pie filter.

I honestly think we'll get through this. I have to think that way, because the alternative really sucks.

I am revisiting the situation with the fired FBI investigator. I'm sure that Mueller did the right thing - he can't afford any controversy whatsoever. Snarki's comment about the NSA is right on, although maybe they didn't need to resort to those methods if the texts were on an FBI issued phone.

In any case, the witch hunt involving the Clinton email investigation (let's remember, lock her up, that she isn't President now) is looking pretty ugly with this revelation.

What's been reported is that the FBI investigator made fun of then candidate Trump in a text to an intimate partner. I don't know what kind of automatons we expect to be working in the government. Lots of people here used to be all about privacy.

these CBO scores for the bill measure the total net effects of the tax bill, for different income groups, including both loss or increase in tax revenue and decreases in federal spending.

so, in my comments here, 'better off' means the feds are getting less of your money and/or spending more on you, 'worse off' means the opposite.

as scored by the CBO, individuals making less than $30K a year will, as a group, be no better off at any time under this bill, and will in general be worse off.

beginning in 2021, everyone making less than $40k will be, as a group, worse off.

by 2027, everyone making less than $75K will, as a group, be worse off than they are now.

for all income groups, the benefits of the bill will go down, not all at once in 2027, but incrementally over the entire period.

if you're a C-corp, big big upsides. if you're an S-corp, big upside.

if you are not incorporated, but deduct work-related expenses, you lose.

and, of course, the individual changes are scheduled to go away, although the existing deductions and exemptions that they replace will not return.

but, marty tells us that will never happen.

as an aside, I'll add that a tax reform that is net negative for poor people but good=ish to very good for everyone else is bizarrely cruel.

TP, you are right I should not comment while watching football, I simply don't pay enough attention.

Simply, all the tax cuts will be permanent. Not really much to complain about.

I have not tried to do the math to decide if it helps me. I assume based on its construction it diesnt hurt me petsonally.

All of the tax cuts that are scheduled to expire were written that way because, even with the dynamic scoring that Republican Congressmen have been calling for for years, if they don't expire the deficit explodes. To the point that they couldn't ram through the cuts under reconciliation.

So if you believe that the cuts won't expire, you necessarily believe that big deficits into the future are good for the country.

No wj, they don't explode the deficit with dynamic scoring. Only by the CBO scoring which is used for reconciliation.

The whole discussion is moot, the economy is likely to run North of 3% without the stimulation, so the growth assumptions are very conservative.

So no, I don't have to believe big deficits are good.

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