Link Roundup, 9/14/2019

From Lawfare: Did Andrew McCabe’s Grand Jury just no-bill his indictment?

From Politico: What’s in the whistleblower report that the Acting Director of National Intelligence is illegally refusing to share with Congress?

From The Guardian: Former PM David Cameron unloads on current Tory leadership over Brexit.

From The New York Times: An appeals court reinstates one of the Trump emoluments lawsuits.

From ReadWrite: Researchers have taught an AI to argue.

20 Comments

  1. Interesting side note on the Ukraine Investigation story is a series of very large trade deals China has finalized with Ukraine. Between engines/military, grain and soybeans all total 7 billion dollars. Some of these deals initiated back in 2014 when China bought an old Ukrainian aircraft carrier but recently expanded for engines and other military equipment. The grain and soybeans is to circumvent the loss of US trade for these items but the money has had quite an impact on Ukraine.

    https://asia.nikkei.com/Politics/International-relations/Ukraine-is-new-battleground-in-US-China-fight-for-influence

    The more cynical side of me can’t help but wonder if Trump hasn’t been out smarted by the Chinese and if China isn’t advising Ukraine to be less helpful to the Trump administration. I don’t think they are going to investigate Biden’s son and the military aid package the US finally sent (substantially higher than originally announced) won’t have any effect on its decision to investigate or not.

  2. So, regarding that travesty in Congress yesterday, I have a question:

    Just exactly what powers does Congress have when dealing with someone like that thug from the tyrant’s regime who refuses to answer questions?

    Do they have the authority to immediately cite him for contempt of Congress and have the Sergeant in Arms drag him off in chains?

    Are they utterly powerless?

    Or does the scope of their powers lie somewhere in between?

    I truly want to know, because I have no clue.

    1. Thanks for posting the link. This is the first academic study that mathematically confirms that Republicans currently have a structural advantage in the Electoral College. Nate Silver and Nate Cohn (NY Times) have been debating as to how great an advantage it is. I’ve not paid much attention to that because to me it’s an academic exercise.

      The advantage that the Republicans have has been apparent for years. It stands to reason with the misrepresentation between the populous states and the less populous states. For many years before the political polarization was so great between urban areas and the rural areas, the Electoral College misfires only occurred occasionally in very close elections. Now with the urban-rural polarization being so great the likelihood of an Electoral College misfire is much greater at greater Democratic – Republican differences in the popular vote. This study indicates that with a difference of as much as 6% in the popular vote favoring the Democrats there is still a chance of an Electoral College misfire. That is the reason we have seen two Electoral College misfires in 16 years and the last two Republican presidents lost the popular vote in their first term. The Trump campaign is structuring their entire effort towards another Electoral College misfire.

      This Electoral College structural advantage is going to continuously increase until such time as the political urban-rural polarization decreases, by some miracle the Senate can be restructured to account for population differences or the Electoral College is effectively eliminated as a factor in the Presidential elections. The most promising method of doing that is the National Popular Vote Interstate Compact.

  3. Wow, my phone made a right mess of the previous post. Please delete it and I’ll try again:

    Another breaking story happening – the youthful sexcapades (allegedly) of everyone’s favorite beer aficionado are back in the news. Honestly, had I been a Senator voting on Kavanaugh’s confirmation, I couldn’t go by those allegations. They are horrid and disgusting, yes, but too hard to prove at this point. However I saw other reasons for shit-canning him. His hypocrisy as Ken Starr’s gleeful hatchet man who now suddenly is all about executive privilege makes me retch. Then there’s the even more damning questions about his finances- he hasn’t explained to quite a few people’s satisfaction how some of his loans got paid off. His blatant lying about his youthful drinking habits is also suspicious. Heavy alcohol consumption interferes with memory formation, so it is possible that he did the things he’s accused of, but can’t remember because his brain was pickled at the time. That’s still not conclusive proof, so barring any more conclusive bombshell reveals, I can’t see him getting impeached on that. But if these new allegations/ corroborations have a collateral effect of shining more light on those financial questions, have at it media!

    1. EJ

      Wasn’t that the point of him becoming a supreme court justice, though? There are plenty of doctrinaire party-line Right-wing lawyers who could have been appointed to the role who weren’t rapists. Trump appointed a rapist because he wanted a rapist.

      A key aspect of Right-wing philosophy is always and has always been “putting the lesser people in their place.” The way this is most commonly done is to insult or injure said “lesser people” in ways that demonstrate their incapacity to prevent it.

      Trump, and most of his predominantly-male party, believe that women are lesser people. Women respond by voting against him. He responds to this by putting a rapist on the supreme court to demonstrate his power and to put them in their place. Kavanaugh was not appointed despite being a rapist, he was appointed for explicitly that reason. It isn’t like he’s famously a brilliant legal scholar or anything.

      What can be done to respond to this? A few things. Firstly, this can be used effectively as a teaching tool to help explain concepts of patriarchy and privilege to those straight men who are human enough to be opposed to rape. Secondly, this can be used to remind centrists who are anxiously waiting to appease the Right, what happens when you appease the Right. Thirdly, there is a chance (although I don’t want to overstate this, as it generally doesn’t happen) that this can be used to break some moderate Right-wing people away from their ideology.

  4. Timing is everything Chris. Think you missed out on the biggest story because it filtered out after you had done your posting.

    If the math is right, 5% of the oil supply was shut down with the Houthi rebel attacks on teh Saudi oil facilities. West Texas Intermediate futures closed around 54 bucks before the attacks. Expect that to spike at least 10 bucks. Fill your gas tank early today.

    And if Pompeo keeps saying that Iran attacked the Saudi’s, that is not going down soon.

      1. There are no angels anywhere in this scenario, except for the Yemenese citizens starving.

        U.S. supplies Saudi’s with weapons, who use them on the Houthi rebels.
        Iran supplies the rebels with weapons, who use them on the Saudi’s and Yemenese military.

        Butchers all around, though the U.S. hypocrisy and exceptionalism are staggering.
        “We can supply our allies with weapons, but you can’t supply their enemies with weapons.”

      2. “In a tweet on Sunday, Trump declared the US was “locked and loaded”, but left it to the Saudi government to confirm Iranian involvement and the nature of the US reaction, in an apparent attempt to make the monarchy take full responsibility for any reprisal action.”

        Finally! it was said out loud…The Saudi Royal Family determines the US reaction. You know because we elected them.

        https://www.theguardian.com/world/2019/sep/16/iran-trump-saudi-arabia-oil-attack-assessment-latest

      3. The thing is, the tyrant being a chicken-shit is exactly what the world needs right now. The U.S. bombing Iran would be disastrous on so many levels.

        Oil prices would skyrocket, as Iran would close the Strait. And yes, they have the military tech to do it, and there is zero the U.S. can do about it. That would most definitely trigger a global recession. The only thing that might slow down the Iranian response would be China telling them “no”, as so much of China’s oil passes through the Strait.

        An attack on Iran guarantees they build the bomb. No if’s about it. It might take 2 years, it might take 20 after the U.S. flattens parts of the country, but Iran will most certainly build them, or buy them. (Chinese nukes for Iranian oil?)

        Anyone who can understand at a topographical map (which precludes most Americans), would instantly recognize that Iran is NOT Iraq. To attack Iran triggers a war. That war means the Strait being closed. To mitigate that, the U.S. then needs land forces…fighting in mountains…..without Abrams tanks. You think Afghanistan or Vietnam was bad?

        And then there is the Israeli wild card. Their polls opened a few hours ago. What happens if their own tyrant wins big (extremely unlikely) or holds on with a razor thin minority? Israel has always vowed that Iran will never have a nuke, and would most certainly use their own nukes to ensure that the Iranian enriching program under that mountain is stopped, at least in the short term.

    1. The oil price shock will last about a week. We’ve been in a state of persistent oversupply for about 15 years, to the extent that one of the biggest economic problems in the US oil & gas industry is storage. As soon as this story disappears from headlines oil prices will continue their long term downward trajectory.

      1. Agree from the standpoint that oil supply in US is not a serious problem although China and Japan may be more vulnerable.

        The bigger issue is whether or not trump’s saber rattling, “locked and loaded threats” will become irreversible justification for this irresponsible president to launch a war against Iran. That’s been my fear about trump for some time, that he would embroil America in a war of ego. I have zero confidence in any of his “advisors “ (and I use this term very loosely), dissuading him.

        https://www.nbcnews.com/news/world/attacks-crucial-saudi-oil-sites-threaten-renew-gulf-tensions-n1054561

      2. Chris, I agree with both yours and Mary’s comment. Oil futures opened about 11-15% higher, and that will come down fast, as other suppliers fill the gap, short term or long term, depending on repairs.

        That is, unless the tyrant attacks Iran, and they respond by nailing a tanker or two in the Strait using truck mounted missiles.

  5. Re: McCabe. There is only one ending here that makes sense- drop the investigation.

    Re: DNI refusal to withhold whistleblower allegation? I am waiting to see what grounds the trump administration will use to block Chairman Schiff’s demand that he appear. The involvement of DOJ Barr is troubling.

    These two articles reinforce the lengths this administration will utilize in their pursuit of their vindictive agenda.

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