Notes and Comment Blog

He’d blab all the secrets if only he knew anything about them

Oct 24th, 2018 4:44 pm | By

But her emails department:

When President Trump calls old friends on one of his iPhones to gossip, gripe or solicit their latest take on how he is doing, American intelligence reports indicate that Chinese spies are often listening — and putting to use invaluable insights into how to best work the president and affect administration policy, current and former American officials said.

Mr. Trump’s aides have repeatedly warned him that his cellphone calls are not secure, and they have told him that Russian spies are routinely eavesdropping on the calls, as well. But aides say the voluble president, who has been pressured into using his secure White House landline more often these days, has still refused to give up his iPhones. White House officials say they can only hope he refrains from discussing classified information when he is on them.

But her emails! But her emails! But her emails! But her emails!

American spy agencies, the officials said, had learned that China and Russia were eavesdropping on the president’s cellphone calls from human sources inside foreign governments and intercepting communications between foreign officials.

The officials said they have also determined that China is seeking to use what it is learning from the calls — how Mr. Trump thinks, what arguments tend to sway him and to whom he is inclined to listen — to keep a trade war with the United States from escalating further. In what amounts to a marriage of lobbying and espionage, the Chinese have pieced together a list of the people with whom Mr. Trump regularly speaks in hopes of using them to influence the president, the officials said.

Lock her up! Lock her up! Lock her up! Lock her up!

China’s effort is a 21st-century version of what officials there have been doing for many decades, which is trying to influence American leaders by cultivating an informal network of prominent businesspeople and academics who can be sold on ideas and policy prescriptions and then carry them to the White House. The difference now is that China, through its eavesdropping on Mr. Trump’s calls, has a far clearer idea of who carries the most influence with the president, and what arguments tend to work.


Mr. Trump typically relies on his cellphones when he does not want a call going through the White House switchboard and logged for senior aides to see, his aides said. Many of those Mr. Trump speaks with most often on one of his cellphones, such as hosts at Fox News, share the president’s political views, or simply enable his sense of grievance about any number of subjects.

Yeah that’s cool. It’s all about what he wants and not at all about the bigger picture.

Administration officials said Mr. Trump’s longtime paranoia about surveillance — well before coming to the White House he believed that his phone conversations were often being recorded — gave them some comfort that he was not disclosing classified information on the calls. They said they had further confidence he was not spilling secrets because he rarely digs into the details of the intelligence he is shown and is not well versed in the operational specifics of military or covert activities.

Snerk. In other words they have a lot of confidence he’s not spilling secrets because he’s too stupid and ignorant to spill any. Whew!

Index on Censorship will no longer support this event

Oct 24th, 2018 1:11 pm | By

Index on Censorship withdraws from Truth to Power events:

Earlier today, Index on Censorship became aware that the organiser of an event, of which we are a media partner, disinvited Julie Bindel as a speaker after other participants accused her of inciting hatred towards transgender people and complained about her involvement.

We recognise that the event organiser Jeremy Goldstein has apologised for his mistake and offered to reinstate Bindel on the panel and she has refused.

Index believes that all speech – eccentric, contentious, heretical, unwelcome, provocative, bigoted – should be protected unless it directly incites violence.

Index on Censorship will no longer support this event.

For what it’s worth, I don’t believe exactly what Index believes in that list. Almost, but not quite. I have reservations about speech that indirectly incites violence. That means I don’t think frothing hate-sessions aimed at Other Races or That Dumb Sex or Those Filthy Foreigners should be protected…but it is a massive grey area and it’s hard to pin down exactly what speech makes the cut and what doesn’t.

That’s beside the point here, though. It’s just a big lie that Julie “incites hatred towards transgender people.” She doesn’t, and inviting her and then dumping her is just bullshit.

The cost for resisting terrorism

Oct 24th, 2018 12:42 pm | By

Speaking of real telling truth to power…Gulalai Ismail an hour ago:

3 years ago when I received Common Wealth Youth Award for Democracy, Dr. Arif Alvi now the president of Pakistan was proud of my work. I was appreciated by many in the power corridors. Today, I’ve been framed as anti-state for the very same work and very same narrative and been put on ECL; this is the cost one has to pay for showing solidarity to local Pashtun’s Resistance movements against terrorism.

Image may contain: 2 people, including Gulalai Ismail, text

Truth to Power! Unless…

Oct 24th, 2018 12:28 pm | By



Uh oh – what’s this?

I will email you now to explain how it’s about free speech BUT

And it goes on that way, with Julie being blunt about being dumped from the lineup and Jeremy Goldstein frantically trying to justify himself without admitting anything.

Ah that fear – how familiar it is. Let me guess – “Drop Bindel from the lineup this instant or we will call you a transphobe all over London and social media and the universe.”

The volume and duration of their screaming?

On to the bombing phase

Oct 24th, 2018 11:12 am | By

So this is where we are.

Authorities said Wednesday they had intercepted packages containing “potential explosive devices” addressed to former secretary of state Hillary Clinton in New York and former president Barack Obama in Washington, while another possible bomb was discovered at CNN’s offices in Manhattan.

These devices and other suspicious packages were located after an explosive device was found this week in a mailbox at the Bedford, N.Y., home of George Soros, the liberal philanthropist who is a frequent target of criticism from far-right groups.

Not a “target of criticism” so much as a bogey-man, a scarecrow, a hate-figure, a protocol of the elders of zion in one person.

Anyway. This is where we are. Not yet two years of Trump playing president and they’re trying to kill us off.

Authorities were quick to label the string of packages terrorism, something that is often debated after attempted or successful violent attacks. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell released a statement “condemning today’s attempted acts of domestic terrorism.” New York Mayor Bill de Blasio (D), speaking alongside O’Neill and Miller at a news briefing near CNN, used similar language.

“This clearly is an act of terror, attempting to undermine our free press and leaders of this country through acts of violence,” de Blasio said.

And who has done more than anyone else to foster and inspire and promote this kind of thing? The president of the US. You could say people like Mike Cernovich spend more time at it, but if you combine time and effort and reach, Trump wins by miles.

These devices were sent to people and an organization that have all prompted anger among the far right. Soros, an 88-year-old Holocaust survivor, has funneled much of his fortune into liberal projects around the world and is the focus of considerable conspiracy theories. Clinton and Obama have also long been the focus of intense far-right anger, while CNN has repeatedly come under intense criticism from a range of figures on the right, including President Trump.

Including President Trump, who detests free journalism and critical reporting, and feels no responsibility to restrain his public explosions of rage at them.

Another law enforcement official said the packages sent to the public officials this week shared similar markings, and at least one of them had a return address from Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-Fla.). Authorities do not believe she is involved, an official said. Law enforcement officials were also investigating a suspicious package sent to her. Her office did not immediately respond to a request for comment Wednesday.

A similarly-constructed package addressed to former attorney general Eric Holder Jr. was intercepted by law enforcement officials, according to people familiar with the investigation.

So that should have been in the headline and the lede. Soros, Obama, the Clintons, CNN, and Holder.

Unlike the packages intercepted before reaching Obama and Clinton, the device sent to CNN was found while its building was teeming with employees. CNN’s headquarters at the Time Warner Center in New York evacuated suddenly Wednesday morning after the suspicious package was discovered there.

Will Trump stop screeching about “fake news”?


Tribal leaders and activists are working around the clock

Oct 23rd, 2018 5:19 pm | By

Deb Haaland on the voter suppression in North Dakota:

On Oct. 9, our U.S. Supreme Court green-lighted voter suppression of Native Americans in North Dakota in a move that should outrage all of us. It comes just two short years after the Native American environmental movement skyrocketed into the national spotlight through the fight against the Dakota Access Pipeline on the Standing Rock Sioux Indian Reservation. Now, those same Water Protectors are under attack again.

As a Pueblo Indian woman, I traveled to North Dakota and stood with the Water Protectors to protect land and water. Now, I support them and Native Americans across North Dakota as they organize to keep their right to vote during a contentious election year.

As a country, we should be moving forward, but instead conservative lawmakers keep dragging us back. As an organizer in the most underrepresented communities in my state, I have felt the frustration that so many voters must feel when other states limit polling locations, require photo IDs, and put unnecessary barriers in front of voters. In this case, targeting Native American voters is shameful and wrong.

This moral bankruptcy is exactly what November’s “blue wave” candidates seek to correct. The stark number of women candidates, primarily women of color, seek to change the trajectory of our country and offer leadership that is both compassionate and fierce.

And that’s why conservatives are so determined to suppress the vote: it will be mostly Democratic voters who will be suppressed.

Tribal leaders and activists are working around the clock to ensure our sister nations in North Dakota can vote.

The Turtle Mountain Band is printing free IDs for anyone who needs one to vote—demand has been so high that the machines have melted the IDs. The Native American Rights Fund, according to their latest news update, “is working in conjunction with the Spirit Lake Tribe, Standing Rock Sioux Tribe, Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa Indians, and the Three Affiliated Tribes (‘MHA’), as well as community organizations Four Directions and Western Native Voice, to ensure tribal members living in North Dakota who come to the polls on Election Day will be provided voter identification free of charge.”

We all have work to do. I joined dozens of New Mexicans to knock doors and educate voters on how and when to vote. Join us. Knock doors, make phone calls, donate. If our friends at Standing Rock and Turtle Mountain are giving this their all, we should too. Together, we can fight back by ensuring more, not fewer, people vote.

This is the spirit I want to carry with me to Congress. There is no higher patriotic duty than when we exercise our right to vote, ensure others do the same, and fight so that all of us are represented. Come November, let’s elect fierce candidates who will melt the machines, fighting for equity and justice for all.

Unite and fight.

Actually you aren’t free to believe that

Oct 23rd, 2018 5:04 pm | By

Hangin’ with Hannah:

Awww – sister!


Oct 23rd, 2018 11:59 am | By

Oh no.

Business Insider:

The son of murdered journalist Jamal Khashoggi was pictured with Saudi Arabia’s King Salman and Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman, the man widely believed to have orchestrated the journalist’s death.

The state-run Saudi Press Agency reported that Khashoggi’s son, Salah Khashoggi, met the king and crown prince on Tuesday in Riyadh.

The journalist had four adult children, all of whom were US-educated, NPR reported. It is not clear whether Salah, who was pictured with the Saudi monarchs, has US citizenship. His siblings were neither mentioned nor pictured on Tuesday.

Karen Attiah, Khashoggi’s editor at The Washington Post, has tweeted concern about Khashoggi’s family. She said that Saudi Arabia had imposed a travel ban on his children to put pressure on him for his writing.

But I’m sure he went in for that photo op completely voluntarily.

More bullying

Oct 23rd, 2018 10:36 am | By

There was this guy on a plane in Barcelona the other day.

Police say they have identified a man filmed racially abusing an elderly woman on a Ryanair flight.

The woman, Delsie Gayle, 77, said she had been left stunned and depressed after a man shouted at her to move seats as they boarded a plane last Friday.

In footage shared on social media, Gayle’s daughter tries to stand up to the man and tells him her mother is disabled. The man says he does not care “whether she’s fucking disabled or not. If I tell her to get out, she gets out”.

I watched the clip a couple of days ago; it’s horrible.

In the footage, the man appears to call Gayle an “ugly black bastard” and shouts: “Don’t speak to me in a foreign language, you stupid ugly cow.” The incident is believed to have taken place on Ryanair flight FR015 at Barcelona airport before it left for London Stansted.

Bafflingly, Ryanair did not call security and have the man removed from the plane.

In an interview with ITV News, Gayle, from east London, said the incident had left her feeling very low. “He pays his fare, I pay mine. So why did he abuse me for that? Because of the colour of my skin … If I had done that to him, I’m sure they would have called the police,” she said.

Ryanair apparently did not remove the man from the flight, instead moving Gayle from her seat. Gayle said it had put her off flying with the airline in the future. “I feel really depressed about it. I go to bed and say ‘what have I done?’,” she said.

Her daughter, Carol, 53, criticised Ryanair’s response and claimed they had not yet received an apology from the airline. “He should have been moved or taken off the plane and nothing was done … Nobody has apologised. We’ve not had nothing. We just want an open apology from Ryanair,” she said.

The guy should be on a no-fly list forever. Ryanair should apologize to Delsie Gayle and her daughter and fly them free forever.

Policing the norms, kindergarten branch

Oct 23rd, 2018 10:12 am | By

Speaking of gender and stupid rules about gender and stupid cruel bullying about stupid rules about gender – a thread.

Kids do that. I suppose it’s part of the process of learning to live in the social world – they police each other and are policed in turn. It’s awful.

A sincerely held moral conviction that women are public property

Oct 22nd, 2018 4:09 pm | By

Trump thinks women don’t get enough shit yet, he wants to make sure they get more.

The Trump administration is expected to soon issue regulations that would expand religious and moral exemptions for covering birth control in employer health insurance plans, a move that critics say would limit women’s access to contraception.

“a move that critics say would limit women’s access to contraception” – why do news outlets say stupid things like that? Of course it would limit women’s access to contraception, by definition; if you remove an item from insurance coverage, then access to that item becomes limited. That’s like saying if you cut workers’ pay then workers have less money.

The exact details of the exemptions, and when they would take effect, remain unclear. But women’s health advocates are bracing for a legal fight. They expect the rules to mimic earlier regulations enacted by the Trump administration last year before being blocked by federal judges.

The rules allowed nearly any employer — nonprofit or for-profit — with a religious or moral objection to opt out of the Affordable Care Act provision requiring the coverage of contraception at no cost for the employee. The rules vastly expanded which companies could be exempt from the mandate and why, including a broad exemption for a “sincerely held moral conviction” not based in any particular religious belief. Perhaps most significantly, it required employers to provide no other accommodations for employees seeking birth control coverage.

Or, to put it more simply, fuck women. Take everything away from women; load women with every burden; make women responsible for everything; ignore the fact that it takes two people to create a pregnancy; just fuck fuck fuck women. Beat them into the ground and then dance a tarantella on the dirt.

The birth control rules are part of a broader effort by conservatives inside and outside of the White House to prioritize what they call religious liberty.

And what “religious liberty” means is sticking it to women. Making women second-class and subordinate, forcing women to stay home and have 43 children apiece; denying women education and freedom of movement; keeping women broke barefoot and pregnant until they drop dead during the last childbirth.

Load-bearing filaments

Oct 22nd, 2018 3:12 pm | By

I saw a thing today. I was out in the neighborhood, walking to and fro in the world and up and down in it; it’s very foggy here so there is heavy condensation on the bushes and trees and everything else. What happens when there’s condensation like that? You see how many spider webs there are everywhere. I stopped to look at one, because a spider web beaded in condensation is a damn pretty thing, and I looked so closely that I noticed a thing new to me. Webs have long radial lines, like spokes, and short lines between them. At the sides of the web, but not top and bottom, the short lines make a Y – they have 2 tiny lines to meet the radial line instead of just one – but only at the upper end.

I walked on and looked at another web and saw the same thing, then a bigger one and that had three lines on many of the short lines, a fork instead of a Y.

I searched Google images and found a perfect illustration:

Image may contain: plant and outdoor

See? Both Ys and forks on that one. Isn’t that interesting? Charlotte would be proud.

All the webs I looked closely at had a spider sitting placidly at the center, waiting for lunch.

Fake or real?

Oct 22nd, 2018 11:12 am | By

This is a thing from October last year but I’m curious about it. A friend posted it on Facebook yesterday (probably not noticing the date – it happens to all of us), and there are a lot of angry comments and a lot of comments saying it looks fake. My reaction when first reading it was it’s fake. I still think it’s fake. I’m curious about what others think.

A daycare center received this letter. This is trump’s America. 😥😡

Image may contain: text

The text of the letter:

Hello I am writing this as a concerned parent and friend!

So most of us noticed you have a black girl working for the daycare. Our problem is she’s too dark most of the kids is scared of her. I am only telling you this because some of us are planning to pull our kid form the daycare shes an eye sore. I see you’re trying to touch all of the nationalities but maybe hire a light skinned black she would blend more and not look like a “NANNY”. She’s not the first thing a child nor the parents want to see soon as they walk in the daycare. So the choice is yours! Choose wisely remember WE THE PARENTS PAY YOUR MORTAGE. I hope you make her aware shes not wanted. I’m sending her a copy as well. However if she needs a job Mcdonalds is always hiring her kind. So work your magic and make it disappear!!!


Why do I think it’s fake? I’m not sure. Partly I think because the tone is wrong – too perky for what it’s saying. Too facetious for what it’s saying. It sounds too Milo-like, too 4chan-like. Not that the racism is fake, but I think the note is a provocation of some kind rather than a serious request.

Snopes reports the day care center confirmed getting the note:

Although it is not uncommon for nasty letters and other controversies to be faked by social media users for attention or viral fame, this appears to be genuine — at least to the extent that we reached out to the daycare center, who averred that they received the letter but didn’t know who sent it or why.

Sarah Wojcik, a reporter for the local Morning Call, told us that that police were also aware of the letter:

Whitehall police Chief Michael Marks said he has never seen a letter so offensive in his 20 years in police work.

“It’s disturbing. This is not something you want to see in your community,” Marks said. “This is something we as a police department are going to take very seriously.”

Marks said such a letter could carry harassment and ethnic intimidation charges, though he conceded locating the sender is tricky. He said there’s been no similar incidents reported in the township.

The day care already has security measures in place for the safety of its children, but McKelley said staff is on added alert.

If it is a fake that doesn’t make it any better – it’s a “real” fake and doubtless made the staff at that day care center feel horrible and threatened.

A person who can keep things under check

Oct 22nd, 2018 10:25 am | By

Aaron Blake at the Post points out that Trump’s abject hero-worship of dictators is a tell:

President Trump has once again given away the game on Saudi Arabia and his reverence for authoritarians. But his soft stance on the Saudis’ killing of Washington Post contributing columnist Jamal Khashoggi also betrays this irony: By going easy on them, he’s conceding his own weakness.

Despite ostensibly putting pressure on Saudi Arabia this weekend to come clean, Trump in an interview with The Post’s Josh Dawsey seemed to marvel at that same government’s ability to snuff out unrest.

“He’s seen as a person who can keep things under check,” Trump said of Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. “I mean that in a positive way.”

It’s a bad time to mean it in a positive way, Blake points out. Yes, it is, and it’s also a bad time to drool wishfully about Keeping Things Under Check. That’s not actually the goal. We’re supposed to value open discussion and freedom of thought, not battening everything down whether or not there’s a storm.

While this might be the most poorly timed bit of Trumpian admiration for authoritarians, it’s hardly the first example of it. Trump has praised Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte for doing an “unbelievable job” with his drug war, an initiative that has resulted in thousands of extrajudicial killings. He has praised North Korea’s Kim Jong Un for seizing power at the young age of 27, saying: “It’s incredible. He wiped out the uncle, he wiped out this one, that one.” He has praised stiflers of dissent such as China’s Xi Jinping, Turkey’s Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Egypt’s Abdel Fatah al-Sissi for consolidating power.

He’d like to keep us under check, but he can’t…yet.

We’re in a National Emergy

Oct 22nd, 2018 10:07 am | By

Good morning Don.

In case it gets corrected, it reads

Sadly, it looks like Mexico’s Police and Military are unable to stop the Caravan heading to the Southern Border of the United States. Criminals and unknown Middle Easterners are mixed in. I have alerted Border Patrol and Military that this is a National Emergy. Must change laws!

Vote…if they’ll let you

Oct 21st, 2018 4:11 pm | By

Jelani Cobb on the resurgence of voter suppression:

Decades ago, amid the most overt privations of Jim Crow, African-Americans used to tell a joke about a black Harvard professor who moves to the Deep South and tries to register to vote. A white clerk tells him that he will first have to read aloud a paragraph from the Constitution. When he easily does so, the clerk says that he will also have to read and translate a section written in Spanish. Again he complies. The clerk then demands that he read sections in French, German, and Russian, all of which he happens to speak fluently. Finally, the clerk shows him a passage in Arabic. The professor looks at it and says, “My Arabic is rusty, but I believe this translates to ‘Negroes cannot vote in this county.’ ”

But that was in the old days, when people were so much less hip than we are now. This year it’s all “exact match” and purges and “your polling place is ten miles away and there’s no bus service, have a nice day.”

The race between the Republican, Brian Kemp, Georgia’s secretary of state, and the Democrat, Stacey Abrams, the former minority leader of the state House of Representatives—who, if she wins, will be the first black female governor in the country—is a virtual tie. But Kemp has invoked the so-called exact-match law to suspend fifty-three thousand voter-registration applications, for infractions as minor as a hyphen missing from a surname. African-Americans make up thirty-two per cent of the state’s population, but they represent nearly seventy per cent of the suspended applications. Kemp’s move is particularly questionable given that Abrams’s electoral strategy hinges on mobilizing the six hundred thousand unregistered black voters who have long been seen as the holy grail of Democratic politics in the state.

It’s still amazing me that Kemp is both in control of these voter suppression tricks and running for governor.

According to the Brennan Center for Justice, ninety-nine bills designed to diminish voter access were introduced last year in thirty-one state legislatures. Many of the recent Republican-led efforts stem from the Supreme Court’s 2013 decision in Shelby v. Holder. In an opinion that eviscerated the Voting Rights Act of 1965, Chief Justice John Roberts wrote that discrimination still exists, but not sufficiently to warrant the “extraordinary” remediation measures that the act imposed on the states of the former Confederacy. That argument is roughly equivalent to saying that a decline in the prevalence of an infectious disease means that we should stop vaccinating against it. Within hours of the decision, Texas announced a strict new voter-I.D. law. Mississippi and Alabama shortly afterward began enforcing similar laws that previously had been barred.

And there’s this.


The Saudis blithely assume abhorrence

Oct 21st, 2018 12:08 pm | By

Maureen Dowd on the role of Saudi bribery:

Hollywood, Silicon Valley, presidential libraries and foundations, politically connected private equity groups, P.R. firms, think tanks, universities and Trump family enterprises are awash in Arab money. The Saudis satisfy American greed, deftly playing their role as dollar signs in robes.

I’ve long thought there should be a great deal more reporting on this.

Donald Trump, who may be the only person more fond of lavish displays of arriviste gilt than the Saudis, is bedazzled by a Saudi pledge to buy billions worth of American weapons, just as he was flattered by the Saudi sword dance and weird luminescent orb séance on his visit to the kingdom.

Bedazzled and flattered and utterly helpless to counter any of that with scruples or rational thought or information or anything else that might prompt him to resist. He’s too stupid, too greedy, too corrupt, too ignorant, too mindless, too impulsive, too narcissistic…with nothing at all to pull the other way.

The Saudis blithely assume abhorrence at their inhumane behavior — from beheadings to forcing teenage girls without head scarves back into a burning school to die, as the religious police did in Mecca in 2002, to the brazen murder of Khashoggi, a Washington Post columnist — can be lubricated away with oil and money.

And they’re right, too.

Our Faustian deal was this: As long as the Saudis kept our oil prices low, bought our fighter jets, housed our fleets and drones and gave us cover in the region, they could keep their country proudly medieval.

It was accepted wisdom that it was futile to press the Saudis on the feudal, the degradation of women and human rights atrocities, because it would just make them dig in their heels. Even Hillary Clinton, as secretary of state, never made an impassioned Beijing-style speech about women in Saudi Arabia being obliterated under a black tarp.

And that hasn’t changed.

Trump threatens voters

Oct 21st, 2018 11:22 am | By

The president of the US engaged in active, blatant, highly visible voter suppression.

He has privately grimaced

Oct 21st, 2018 8:40 am | By

The Post called Don for a chat about Saudi Arabia last night.

President Trump strongly criticized Saudi Arabia’s explanation for the death of journalist Jamal Khashoggi late Saturday, saying that “obviously there’s been deception, and there’s been lies.”

At the same time, Trump defended the oil-rich monarchy as an “incredible ally” and kept open the possibility that Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman did not order Saudi agents to kill Khashoggi.

That is, Trump talked his usual incoherent contradictory bafflegab late Saturday.

Trump had told reporters Friday that the Saudi explanation was credible, but U.S. officials said he has privately grimaced that his son-in-law Jared Kushner’s close relationship with the crown prince has become a liability and left the White House with no good options.

You can’t “grimace that.” You can “grumble that” but you can’t grimace that. A verb for making a facial expression is not a verb for saying.

But putting accuracy in language aside, what is Trump doing complaining about Jared Kushner as if giving him a job in the White House had been someone else’s idea? He’s Trump’s daughter’s husband, not anyone else’s. It’s Trump who has put his family members in administration jobs, not anyone else. It’s Trump who has broken laws against nepotism from the outset, not anyone else.

In the interview, Trump defended Kushner as doing a “very good job” but acknowledged that he and the crown prince, both in their 30s, are relatively young for the amount of power they wield.

Well yes, they are, and in Kushner’s case at least also callow and ignorant and unqualified. Whose fault is that?! Whose idea was it to put callow young Kushner in that job? Trump’s, not anyone else’s.

“They’re two young guys. Jared doesn’t know him well or anything. They are just two young people. They are the same age. They like each other, I believe,” Trump said.

As is Princess Ivanka. Neither Princess Ivanka nor Prince Jared should be anywhere near the White House.

On Saturday, King Salman increased his support for the crown prince, putting him in charge of the official review of the Saudi intelligence apparatus.

The decision raised questions about the quality of Saudi Arabia’s review and investigation of its actions, which Pompeo touted as a key achievement of his trip.

“We talked about the importance of the investigation, completing it in a timely fashion, and making sure that it was sufficiently transparent that we could evaluate the work that had been done to get to the bottom of it,” Pompeo told reporters on the tarmac in Riyadh before leaving the country. “So that was the purpose of the visit. In that sense it was incredibly successful.”

Oh yes, hugely successful, with the crown prince now in charge of the review.

One U.S. official expressed dismay that Kushner’s close relationship with the crown prince was not enough to provide guardrails against the killing and now leaves the administration vulnerable to criticism that the United States is beholden to the Saudis.

The official said Trump is annoyed by a sense that he was blindsided and by what he sees as Kushner’s misjudgment. Kushner has in recent days been sidelined from the Khashoggi case, which many in the administration see as beneficial.

Blah blah blah; all this normalizing talk, as if there were nothing corrupt or incompetent about making stuffed dummy son-in-law responsible for the Saudi Arabia beat.

Trump suggested on Saturday that the crown prince was a stabilizing force in Saudi Arabia, despite the view of critics who note his government’s slaughter of civilians in Yemen, crackdown on dissent and jailing of political opponents.

“He’s a strong person. He has very good control,” Trump said. “He’s seen as a person who can keep things under check, I mean that in a positive way.”

Well of course he does; he’s a bully himself.

Don’t distract him

Oct 20th, 2018 11:27 am | By

Trump is pretending to believe the Saudis.

President Trump broke with his own intelligence agencies on Friday, appearing to accept Saudi Arabia’s explanationthat the journalist Jamal Khashoggi was killed by accident during a fistfight, while the United States’ spy agencies are increasingly convinced that he was assassinated on high-level orders from the Saudi royal court.

A fistfight for godsake. Right because journalists in their 50s always fling themselves into fistfights with 15 or 18 young beefy hit men and get accidentally beheaded as a result.

The growing evidence that Mr. Khashoggi, a Virginia resident and a columnist for The Washington Post, was killed on orders from the Saudi royal family has put Mr. Trump in an increasingly untenable position.

On Friday evening, the president praised the statement issued by the Saudi government, which confirmed Mr. Khashoggi’s death, as a “good first step” and a “big step.” Earlier, the prince and other senior Saudi officials had denied any role in Mr. Khashoggi’s disappearance.

Kushner has been leaning on his daddy-in-law to stay tight with MbS.

But as Turkish officials leaked details of the grisly killing of Mr. Khashoggi and of the dismemberment of his body, the White House has become increasingly isolated in its defense of Saudi Arabia.

A stream of prominent Wall Street and tech executives canceled plansto attend an investor conference convened by the prince next week in Riyadh, the Saudi capital.

Yes yes yes but Trump is busy holding rallies.

For Mr. Trump, who is on a three-day swing in the West before the midterm elections, the Khashoggi affair has become a distraction during a period in which he had hoped to campaign for Republican congressional candidates on a message of economic growth and the recent confirmation of Justice Brett M. Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court.

Just after answering questions about the Saudi announcement, Mr. Trump flew to a “Make America Great Again” rally in Mesa, Ariz.

Dude’s got important business to take care of.