My First Reactions to Elizabeth Warren’s Run

Looks like the Senator from this great Commonwealth has officially tossed her hat into the ring. Great! Some initial reactions, in no particular order:

  1. She’s got about as progressive a domestic policy agenda as any congress in the next five to ten years is ever likely to pass. That’s fantastic.
  2. She has very little foreign policy experience, and although she sits on the Armed Services Committee, she hasn’t really even begun to outline a vision for her foreign policy. That’s not so fantastic, but there’s still plenty of time to take care of that. Worth watching how she does it, as it will be the most obvious tell as to whether she’s running to win the presidency or win something else.
  3. She’s handled the stupid “controversy” around her family’s story of Native American heritage about as stupidly as the controversy itself. Given that Trump only has one move per opponent, however, I don’t think that much matters. He’ll scream Pocahontas, his base will cheer, and everyone else will think “seriously guy?” That said, if her reaction to this is a model for her reaction to other similarly stupid things, it doesn’t bode well at all for her run.
  4. She’s likely to be a top contender for the spot, and that’s likely to have really positive policy consequences for the party, but she isn’t likely to win the primary. If I were betting money, I’d put it on her as the VP. Like Biden before her, I think she would make a truly fantastic Veep.

Sources: Washington Monthly | Warren’s 2020 Candidacy Will Center on New Rules for Corporate America ; Kevin Drum’s Elizabeth Warren is In


They Don’t Care About Information Security

The behaviors that dominated the campaign continue deep into the administration. Because of course they do.

People who are genuinely concerned about these sorts of things will focus on the flaws in the underlying policies while also pursuing the misuse or misapplication of currently policy. They pursue a non-zero-sum both/and strategy rather than a zero-sum either/or one. I made this point over and over and over again during the campaign, and it appears now I’ll have to start making it over and over again here too:

The President and his TV lawyer continue to spin a contractor’s failure as an attempt on Mueller’s part to obstruct justice. Perhaps it’s time the focus shifted to the contractor who still continues to fail 10% of the time?

…The government contractor whose “bug” was responsible for the text messages that weren’t originally archived (but which were later recovered) still can’t ensure more than 90% of FBI’s texts are recovered

…If Trump really cared that FBI wasn’t archiving all its texts and continues to fail to do so, he should command Big Dick Toilet Salesman Matt Whitaker to ensure that FBI make purchasing decisions (perhaps starting by replacing the Samsungs with more secure iPhones) that will result in full archival records.

But he didn’t do that. Perhaps it’s time for journalists to start asking why he’s not demanding better of DOJ and FBI going forward?

Source: If Trump Is So Concerned that a DOJ Contractor Failed to Archive Texts, Why Not Hold the Contractor Accountable? | emptywheel

New player, same pattern

Some interesting new details on Manafort’s work on behalf of Russian interests around the world. When you step back and take it all in, what you see Manafort engaging in a series of near-identical interventions on behalf of Russia, of which his work with Trump was only the last in a long series.

At the time, the fact that a guy with tons of experience working on behalf of Russian oligarchs would suddenly who up and volunteer his services to Trump for free made no sense. No one chooses to become a volunteer campaign manager, not at that level, and especially not after having spent decades working elsewhere. And yet Manafort did. Then, all of a sudden and out of nowhere, the GOP reverses its official position on Ukraine, and Russians suddenly start reaching out with both covert and overt offers of support for the campaign. And then, when Manafort’s role in all that starts to get attention, he leaves his official campaign role while his deputy and partner stays behind.

You can think that’s all random happenstance if you want, but given how utterly unprecedented and illogical it all is in the absence of the Russian explanation….

Anyway. Interesting new details in this story from Time:

Imagine your boss lied to your face like this at a company meeting…

What would you think? How would you react? What would it make you think about him? And the company? And your role in it?

Speaking to members of the military during his surprise trip overseas this week, President Trump spoke about the raises they received.

“You haven’t gotten one in more than 10 years — more than 10 years,” he said Wednesday. “And we got you a big one. I got you a big one. I got you a big one.”

He continued:

“They said: ‘You know, we could make it smaller. We could make it 3 percent. We could make it 2 percent. We could make it 4 percent.’ I said: ‘No. Make it 10 percent. Make it more than 10 percent.’ ”

The problem with those statements? They’re not true.

Is it worse that he’s lying to the military? Sure. But set that aside and imagine it was your boss and your friends and the place where you work. How would it make you feel about your boss? And about the next set of things that he asked you to do?

America on Christmas: “it’s a disgrace”

In President Donald Trump’s Christmas Day telling, the drugs are flowing over the border, the Federal Reserve is imperiling the economy and the Democrats are preparing to harass him with oversight requests.

“It’s a disgrace, what’s happening in our country,” Trump fumed, seated behind the Resolute Desk on Tuesday, after decrying Democrats as hypocrites and recalling — unprompted — his firing of former FBI Director James Comey.

“But other than that,” he said, his hands gesturing outward, “I wish everybody a very merry Christmas.”

They say there’s a “war on christmas,” right? That we’ve forgotten the reason for the season and all that, yeah? Does that mean this is part of how they are fighting back?

“Poor Me”

I want to say “can you imagine if Obama had openly expressed self-pity in such a spectacularly pathetic manner,” except that this is so ridiculous that you cannot even imagine Obama or any other president doing something so pathetic. Up until now. Even as a joke, before one of y’all tries that nonsense.

I am all alone (poor me) in the White House waiting for the Democrats to come back and make a deal on desperately needed Border Security. At some point the Democrats not wanting to make a deal will cost our Country more money than the Border Wall we are all talking about. Crazy!

Man Baby Screams At Clouds

This may be an all-time great:

The only problem our economy has is the Fed. They don’t have a feel for the Market, they don’t understand necessary Trade Wars or Strong Dollars or even Democrat Shutdowns over Borders. The Fed is like a powerful golfer who can’t score because he has no touch – he can’t putt!

The Fed is like a powerful golfer who can’t putt. Right. I see.

Russian Agents Sought Secret US Treasury Records During 2016 Campaign

“Wouldn’t it be great if we could get along with Russia,” they said.

US Treasury Department officials used a Gmail back channel with the Russian government as the Kremlin sought sensitive financial information on its enemies in America and across the globe, according to documents reviewed by BuzzFeed News.

The extraordinary unofficial line of communication arose in the final year of the Obama administration — in the midst of what multiple US intelligence agencies have said was a secret campaign by the Kremlin to interfere in the US election. Russian agents ostensibly trying to track ISIS instead pressed their American counterparts for private financial documents on at least two dozen dissidents, academics, private investigators, and American citizens.

Most startlingly, Russia requested sensitive documents on Dirk, Edward, and Daniel Ziff, billionaire investors who had run afoul of the Kremlin. That request was made weeks before a Russian lawyer showed up at Trump Tower offering top campaign aides “dirt” on Hillary Clinton — including her supposed connection to the Ziff brothers.

Russia’s financial crimes agency, whose second-in-command is a former KGB officer and schoolmate of President Vladimir Putin, also asked the Americans for documents on executives from two prominent Jewish groups, the Anti-Defamation League and the National Council of Jewish Women, as well as Kremlin opponents living abroad in London and Kiev.

In an astonishing departure from protocol, documents show that at the same time the requests were being made, Treasury officials were using their government email accounts to send messages back and forth with a network of private Hotmail and Gmail accounts set up by the Russians, rather than communicating through the secure network usually used to exchange information with other countries.

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Analysts at an elite agency within Treasury first warned supervisors in 2016 that the Russians were “manipulating the system” to conduct “fishing expeditions.” And they raised fears that the Treasury’s internal systems could be compromised by viruses contained in emails from the unofficial Russian accounts. But staff continued using the Gmail back channel into 2017, despite repeated internal warnings that Russia could be trawling for sensitive financial records — including Social Security and bank account numbers — to spy on, endanger, or recruit targets in the West.
— Read on

Bernie vs Beto

I’ve longer wondered what it would take for people to move on from Bernie. I’m hoping maybe this, at least for some, will be one of the things that does it.

Forces loyal to Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders are waging an increasingly public war against Texas Rep. Beto O’Rourke, the new darling of Democratic activists, as the two men weigh whether to seek the party’s presidential nomination in 2020.

The main line of attack against O’Rourke is that he isn’t progressive enough — that he’s been too close to Republicans in Congress, too close to corporate donors and not willing enough to use his star power to help fellow Democrats — and it is being pushed almost exclusively by Sanders supporters online and in print.
— Read on

Bernie has never cared about anyone other than Bernie. Given his position, he could’ve worked an inside-outside game to move the Democratic Party left, but that would’ve been hard, and it would’ve required humility. More directly, he could’ve used his 2016 campaign to develop an entire generation of new leaders, but that too would’ve been hard and would’ve required humility. And now, here we are, with a new star rising on the left, and what is he doing? Having his people undercut him rather than build him up. Why? Because although Bernie’s rhetoric has always been about the cause of unity, his actions have always been about advancing the cause of Bernie.

Beto will win this war with Bernie. I cannot imagine a more fitting end to Sanders’ career than to be made irrevant by a punk rock activist.