More neo-neo-cons taking over high places

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Everywhere you turn in Trumpland, you’ll find a slew of Thomas’ former clerks in high places. They are serving in the White House counsel’s office (Greg Katsas, John Eisenberg, David Morrell); awaiting appointment to the federal judiciary (Allison H. Eid, David Stras); leading the departments of the Treasury (Heath P. Tarbert, Sigal Mandelker) and Transportation (Steven G. Bradbury); defending the travel ban in court (Jeffrey Wall); and heading the White House Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs (Neomi Rao). Thomas clerks are also working with dark money groups to execute Trump’s agenda (Carrie Severino) and boosting him in the far-right media (Laura Ingraham).

pub. 08/2017

You should read at least something about Bill Browder’s testimony to the Senate Judiciary Committee

The video is here.

A few choice quotes:

“What you need to understand about the Russians is there is no ideology at all. Vladimir Putin is in the business of trying to create chaos everywhere.”

“First, since 2012 it’s emerged that Vladimir Putin was a beneficiary of the stolen $230 million that Sergei Magnitsky exposed. Recent revelations from the Panama Papers have shown that Putin’s closest childhood friend, Sergei Roldugin, a famous cellist, received $2 billion of funds from Russian oligarchs and the Russian state. It’s commonly understood that Mr. Roldugin received this money as an agent of Vladimir Putin.”

“There are approximately ten thousand officials in Russia working for Putin who are given instructions to kill, torture, kidnap, extort money from people, and seize their property. Before the Magnitsky Act, Putin could guarantee them impunity and this system of illegal wealth accumulation worked smoothly. However, after the passage of the Magnitsky Act, Putin’s guarantee disappeared. The Magnitsky Act created real consequences outside of Russia and this created a real problem for Putin and his system of kleptocracy.”

all from 07/2017

A written version, from the Atlantic:

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NPR’s coverage:

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The light Huff Po version, in part focusing on the administration’s probable attempts to distract the public from the testimony:

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The similar Metro version:

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The latest Koch strategy

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“Comprehensive tax reform has been a long-standing priority for our network, and the election of Donald Trump, coupled with pro-freedom majorities in the House and Senate, offers us a once-in-a-generation opportunity to restore prosperity by enacting reforms,” the document, obtained by The Intercept, declares.

pub. 07/2017

When for-profit loan companies partner with “government by the people, for the people”

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“There is an uncanny resemblance between the foreclosure crisis and our student default dilemma,” said Chopra, the Consumer Federation senior fellow.

He and others said that in both instances, loan servicers did not act in the best interest of borrowers, directing them into more expensive payment options, providing them with misleading information and mishandling paperwork — all with the aim of driving up borrowers’ costs and the servicers’ own income.

pub. 07/2017

A short history of Trump’s political ambitions and personality

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Trump has, in fact, been involved politics for over thirty years. But it has been crucial for Trump to position himself as a neophyte – initially, to gain an audience as he ran as a “political outsider” tapping into disillusionment with the two-party system; and now, to dodge prosecution, as he feigns ignorance to excuse his disregard for law.

pub. 07/2017

Why Facebook’s censorship rules protect some speech you condemn and forbid some speech you condone

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The headline is misleading, as the article is really about the nuances and challenges Facebook must consider in trying to regulate speech, as the subheadline suggests. A more accurate version would be “Why Facebook’s Secret Censorship Rules…”

The rules developed considerable nuance. There is a ban against pictures of Pepe the Frog, a cartoon character often used by “alt-right” white supremacists to perpetrate racist memes, but swastikas are allowed under a rule that permits the “display [of] hate symbols for political messaging.” In the documents examined by ProPublica, which are used to train content reviewers, this rule is illustrated with a picture of Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg that has been manipulated to apply a swastika to his sleeve.

pub. 06/2017

 

What is the special counsel doing, anyway?

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Possible financial crimes

We know less about this prong than the other two. The Post reported last month that “in addition to possible coordination between the Kremlin and the Trump campaign to influence the 2016 presidential election, investigators are also looking broadly into possible financial crimes — but the people familiar with the matter, who were not authorized to speak publicly, did not specify who or what was being examined.”

pub. 06/2017