WSJ: “We cannot recall a more absurd misstatement of history by an American President.”

I mean…they’re not wrong, except perhaps for a half dozen other thing Trump has said. Still though, for my entire adult life, conservative foreign policy experts have insisted that the Russian invasion of Afghanistan and our subsequent intervention on behalf of the anti-Soviet forces there was one of the key drivers in the collapse of what Saint Ronnie called “the Evil Empire.” So for Trump to suddenly and it of nowhere parrot the community party lie that the invasion was a smart move aimed at preventing domestic terrorism….I mean…yeah, that IS pretty absurd.

www.wsj.com/articles/trumps-cracked-afghan-history-11546560234

Tariffs are taxes paid by American businesses on the purchase of foreign products

Although it’s incredibly simple, I feel like this cannot be repeated enough:

Tariffs are taxes paid by importers on imported goods. So, for instance, the cost of a US-imposed tariff on a Chinese product is paid by the US company purchasing that product from China; it is not paid by the Chinese government.

www.vox.com/policy-and-politics/2019/1/4/18168860/trump-news-conference-shutdown

Tariffs are taxes paid by Americans when buying foreign products. They are a tax. Not by the strained logic Republicans have used to declare things a tax these past four decades, but a straightforward “government imposing a mandatory financial charge” tax. I don’t know if the President doesn’t understand or if he thinks his base doesn’t, but thats entirely irrelevant. He raised taxes on American businesses, and they are passing that cost on to us.

Not even hard.

Bad earnings by US firms puts pressure on China? I mean, OK, but…

This is, I suppose, true so far as it goes. The problem is that it doesn’t go nearly far enough in the right direction.

White House economic adviser Kevin Hassett said Thursday that “it’s not going to be just Apple” that faces revenue shortfalls as a result of the trade tensions initiated by President Donald Trump between the United States and China.

“It’s not going to be just Apple,” Hassett, the chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers, said. “I think that there are a heck of a lot of U.S. companies that have a lot of sales in China that are basically going to be watching their earnings be downgraded next year until we get a deal with China. And I think that that puts a lot of pressure on China to make a deal.”

Source: WH Economic Adviser: ‘Not Going To Be Just Apple’ Feeling Effects Of China Trade War – Talking Points Memo

Yeah, over time this would put pressure on China’s political system. But much more quickly, it’s going to put pressure on the parts of America’s political system that began this trade war, including but not limited to the White House this dude is advising. So, like…I mean, OK, but also…?

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: time.com/5490169/paul-manafort-victor-boyarkin-debts/

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.

Got a tip? You can email tips@buzzfeed.com. To learn how to reach us securely, go to tips.buzzfeed.com.
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 www.buzzfeednews.com/amphtml/anthonycormier/russian-agents-sought-us-treasury-records-on-clinton-backers

“Nothing formal, just tweets.”

As you probably could’ve guessed by now, Trump hasn’t issues any orders, so neither the civilian nor military leadership has any idea what’s going on. For example:

The Marine Corps’ top officer has faced questions about what the recent drawdown orders and the resignation of Defense Secretary Jim Mattis mean for Marines. His answer:“I have no idea.”
— Read on www.wsj.com/articles/marines-deployed-abroad-seek-answers-amid-washingtons-turmoil-11545573601

A ludicrous self-own

If the Presidebt doesn’t even know his own pointman in the fight against ISIS, then how can he possibly know ISIS has been defeated?

twitter.com/realdonaldtrump/status/1076655729820471296

I try not to say it too often, but just imagine the Republican reaction had Obama said he did not know the man leading the fight against ISIS. Just imagine what they would have said and done.

And then never, EVER forget that feeling, because they will be right back at it in a couple of years as if none of this ever happened. It won’t work if you don’t forget and then act accordingly.