United States of Authoritarianism: July 9-July 15

1. Well, the GOP seem to have finally found their ass — with one hand tied behind their backs no less.

“Putin & I discussed forming an impenetrable Cyber Security unit so that election hacking, & many other negative things, will be guarded and safe,” he said following their talks at a summit of the Group of 20 nations in Hamburg, Germany.
Republican Senators Lindsey Graham, an influential South Carolina Republican who is a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, and Marco Rubio of Florida, who opposed Trump for their party’s presidential nomination, blasted the idea.
“It’s not the dumbest idea I have ever heard but it’s pretty close,” Graham told NBC’s “Meet the Press” program, saying that Trump’s apparent willingness to “forgive and forget” stiffened his resolve to pass legislation imposing sanctions on Russia.
Rubio, on Twitter, said: “While reality & pragmatism requires that we engage Vladimir Putin, he will never be a trusted ally or a reliable constructive partner.
“Partnering with Putin on a ‘Cyber Security Unit’ is akin to partnering with (Syrian President Bashar al) Assad on a ‘Chemical Weapons Unit’,” he added.

Because oh yes, Russia will help us keep our votes safe. Goddammit, what does it take for the GOP to give this fuckwit the boot? Lots of words here but no actual reigning in.

2. Getting ready for his own turn? Man, this nobody has-been from Indiana must be laughing himself silly these days.

3. Hello boys and girls, can you say COLLUSION? Yes, that’s right…

For an interesting analysis of the collusion story, start here.

4. Sure, why not?

5. Collusion is on the WH’s side of the gov’t but at this point, you have complicity on the Congressional side.

6. I have to say, it’s a golden era for snarky headlines.

Interesting. Look what daddykins was doing that very same day Junior was playing footsies with the Kremlin lawyer.

Also

And Vox asks some good questions here.

First, the fact that these are White House advisers makes this story’s sourcing appear to differ from many other Trump/Russia investigation-related stories, which often seem to have been leaked from Congress or from law enforcement or intelligence agencies.
Second, these sources were apparently okay with being identified as White House advisers rather than demanding a more vague attribution to better hide their identities, such as “US officials.” That seems to suggest a strategic leak.
Third, there’s the number — this isn’t just one White House adviser, it’s coming from three. Again, that suggests a coordinated leak. It’s rare that three separate White House advisers would separately go rogue to leak about something, especially something that appears to be damaging information about the president’s son.

And, OH THE BURN. Junior is Fredo? Ouch.

People who worked and interacted with “Junior” during his father’s political rise in the Republican Party aren’t entirely surprised that the oldest Trump son would find himself in this mess. Current White House officials and former Trump campaign staffers recall Trump Jr. as a recurring liability and a chronic headache for the presidential campaign, prone to unforced errors and ill-advised activity on social media and elsewhere, and the precise “opposite of political savvy,” as one official put it.

7. Worth reading.

Using words to lie destroys language. Using words to cover up lies, however subtly, destroys language. Validating incomprehensible drivel with polite reaction also destroys language. This isn’t merely a question of the prestige of the writing art or the credibility of the journalistic trade: it is about the basic survival of the public sphere.
In Russia, first they came for the words of politics, value, and passion. Then they came for the words of action, the words that describe buildings, the numbers that denote dates. And then there were no words left to speak. Not that this is a Russian phenomenon.

8. My attention was perked a few weeks ago when he picked up an international specialist in money laundering. Sounds like he’s going to go the full stretch.

Plucked from the Justice Department and white-collar law firms by special counsel Robert Mueller, the attorneys boast years of experience prosecuting cases involving national security, fraud, money laundering, cybercrime and espionage. There are experts in witness-flipping, Russia, organized crime and public corruption.

9. Amateur hour with amateur president.

10. This. Everytihng in this article.

Shaub said he always thought federal ethics rules were sturdy enough “to protect the integrity of the government’s operations.” But his experience during the Trump administration has convinced him that the rules need strengthening, he said, and that he had accomplished all he could in his role.
“When the opportunity at the Campaign Legal Center came up, I wanted to seize it before it was gone because I really think I may be able to have more impact from outside the government than inside at this point, because I’ll have a lot more freedom outside the government,” he said.

11. You might think her blunt statement is a refreshing bit of truth but it comes with such a fantasy of “what he was really doing” as to make my eyes roll back in my head.

12. I’ve had jobs like this …

Aiming to satisfy a hard-to-please boss, many senior administration officials have sacrificed their personal reputations by making dubious or even false statements — only to be undercut by President Trump himself just hours later.

13. We’re essentially being DDoS’d on fake news to the point we can’t trust most news, and that our resources are tied up in debunking them.

14. Gah. Not normal! Not normal. NOT NORMAL. I want that entire suite of carpet bagging nepotic assholes OUT OF THERE.

15. Assuming she’s a reliable witness…

16. Now watch the GOP sanctimoniously claim that collusion is OKAY while simultaneously draining the government of anything effective other than lining their pockets. Because you just know they would have already impeached any one else not GOP.

Donald Trump has now announced through his attorneys, and again through a White House press briefing, that he had no idea his son Donald Trump Jr. met with a Kremlin representative during the campaign to discuss dirt on Hillary Clinton. But in what essentially amounts to a public confession in hindsight, during a public speech just before his son’s meeting, Donald Trump bragged during a speech that he was just days away from having dirt on Clinton.
Donald Trump Jr. met with the Kremlin representative on June 9th, 2016, according to the New York Times. The Kremlin rep had told him in advance that they meeting would be to discuss dirt on Hillary Clinton. Two days before that meeting, on June 7th, Donald Trump said the following during his New Jersey primary victory speech: “I am going to give a major speech on probably Monday of next week and we’re going to be discussing all of the things that have taken place with the Clintons. I think you’re going to find it very informative and very, very interesting.”
The Russian intermediary who met with Trump Jr., Kushner and Manafort last June is a top-flight lawyer, Natalia Veselnitskaya. According to The Times, she represents Russian state-owned businesses and members of the Moscow elite, whose questionable activities had attracted the FBI’s dogged attention long before the encounter with Trump’s team. (Indeed, one of the strangest — hilarious, even — aspects of all this is that operatives in Trump’s sphere kept meeting Russians whose every move, meeting and communication were already being tracked and transcribed by the U.S. intelligence community.) Typically, given Trump’s pre-politics career, Veselnitskaya was referred to Trump Jr. by a wheeler-dealer connected to Trump’s Miss Universe 2013 contest in Moscow, a man named Rob Goldstone from an outfit called Oui 2 Entertainment.

I do wonder 1) how reliable Veselnitskaya’s testimony is, 2) why she is saying anything at all and 3) assuming her info’s good, how much longer she has to live.

And as Bill Clinton found, once a special prosecutor — in this case, special counsel — starts an investigation, there’s no telling where it’ll go. Back in the Nineties, when Kenneth Starr, the bulldog special prosecutor empowered to look into Whitewater, got going, he soon expanded into the Monica Lewinsky blow-job scandal. This time around, Mueller, hired to investigate the Russia-Trump affair, conceivably could expand his unrestricted inquiry to include the Trump real estate/hotel empire, and not just the Russian-connected part of it, but the whole, tangled ball of twine. (Mueller has already hired, among his still-assembling top-notch team, Andrew Goldstein, a former Manhattan assistant U.S attorney who knows more than a little about New York City’s raucous real estate operations.)

This would be absolutely delicious. I just wonder/fear whether or not any thing at all will come about as a a result of Mueller’s investigation, or if it will be shelved or ignored?

However, the real reason Junior Fredo is being so “transparent” is that the NYT is publishing them anyway.

Besides the usual news churn and spec, the twitter snark is strong:

Bus throwing commencing

And excuses starting (“Poor Fredo, he’s such an idiot.”)

Yes. But wait until prominent GOP MoC are saying this.

17. This is kinda why I hold T voters in pretty low regard, yeah.

And if you’re thinking, “How could one short experimental manipulation really change how much participants like Trump?” know that other research shows it’s possible. Notably, studies conducted during the election found that just reminding white voters they may be a racial minority one day increased support for Trump.

That all said, there’s more optimism than you might expect in this article:

18. OH FOR FUCKING FUCKS SAKE.

19. I’m sorry, what? They should fucking explain this.

Eventually this o.O:

20. Boom. Boom. BOOM. The fucking BOOM is TODAY.

21. If this wasn’t all national level theater I’d laugh a lot more.

And since Trump Jr. is not a White House employee and is represented by his own lawyer, the White House communications operation has had to take a back seat, while holding its breath for the next batch of revelations.

22. Lines up with the Steele dossier, too. Oh myyy.

23. RINO is country before party, maybe? But I’m entirely too entertained by this HEADLINE.

Huh. Here’s how it looks on the ticker. I hate this kind of mismatch. But lookit that: Today in Entertainment…

24. In all of this, however, let’s not overlook the TrumpCare Train Wreck. With all the attention directed elsewhere, McConnell may slip something through to kill us all in order to pocket money.

In deciding to forgo at least the first two weeks of their regular summer getaway, Senator Mitch McConnell and his colleagues essentially admitted that they could not afford to go home to face constituents without making a concerted effort to pass contentious health care legislation and put some other points on the board.
“It is time to get results for the American people,” said a group of 10 Republican senators who had pressed Mr. McConnell, the Kentucky Republican and majority leader, to force the Senate to stick around.

Except that NOBODY FUCKING WANTS TRUMPCARE. They would have done better to work on ANYTHING else. Even REPUBLICANS don’t want fucking Trumpcare.

12% support. That’s it. If they are really thinking “it’s time to get results for the American people,” then they would fucking work on ANYTHING BUT Trumpcare. This is how you know it’s really the $$$ whirling madly behind McConnell’s eyeballs that is motivating him.

25. Interesting.

26. Can we have one between him and the entire U.S.A too?

27. NOTHING TO SEE HERE MOVE ALONG NOW!

28. I mean, in the end, she likely got some kind of visa approved. She’s a little too high profile for the coyotes to smuggle her in. But wow, that they have to ask these questions in the first place. Interesting.

29. Corrupt president, corrupt WH, and suprise! corrupt AGUS…

30. And PAY ATTENTION. Here’s your voter suppression.

31. No one likes this.

32. I can only hope they trip over each other. Can’t decide if this is for real, is theatrics, or if McConnell has more thumbs in pies than is visible.

The three senators’ continued opposition, coupled with the move by Sens. Bill Cassidy (R-La.) and Lindsey O. Graham (R-S.C.) to debut their health-care proposal on CNN moments before McConnell was set to brief members, demonstrated how divided the majority remains in its quest to overhaul Obama’s signature health-care law.

33. No opt-out, eh?

34. Jesus.

In the note recovered by police, Smith apologized to authorities and said that “NO FOUL PLAY WHATSOEVER” was involved in his death. He wrote that he was taking his own life because of a “RECENT BAD TURN IN HEALTH SINCE JANUARY, 2017” and timing related “TO LIFE INSURANCE OF $5 MILLION EXPIRING.”

Don’t life insurance policies bail on suicides?

35. /facepalm Doesn’t Kushner have a law degree somewhere?

36. o.O

37. Christ. Talk about chilling discussion. Talk about the potential for vengeful doxxing here… just… wtf??

38. POTUS can take vacation almost all of August cos he’s “crushing it.” WTF? I am torn between how on earth can he take that much time off without everything crumbling down and well that way maybe he won’t destroy as much. But OMG, it’s going to take the USA a LONG time to recover from this Russian-spawned disaster.

39. Pretty sure it’s not. But wouldn’t that be a lovely way to bankrupt the RNC?

40. I am constantly amazed at how authoritarian types (whether fundamentalist xian, GOP, etc) believe that they will ONLY behave IF someone/something ELSE FUCKS them over for stepping off the line — and if they don’t, then it’s like, kinda okay ya know? This is the exact same mindset that thinks humanity would be a depraved cesspool if they weren’t afraid of ol’ Gee Oh Dee ripping them a new one otherwise.

Which says a fuckload more about THEM than it does anyone who doesn’t happen to think that morality is externally enforced…