Saturday, October 20, 2018


This is what our country is to the rest of the world.

Friday, October 19, 2018

Just what I wanted to read

The best thing about the fundraising figures being "scary for... our model" is because it gives me permission to take at face value the 538 predictions I like and assume that the predictions I don't like are probably more favorable than they look because they do not sufficiently account for the unprecedented fundraising edge the Democrats have this year.

The cover up is happening right in the open

If the Saudis go with this "plan to assign blame," why would anyone believe them? They are deliberating about who should take the fall on the front page of the New York Times. Once they settle on a story, why would anyone go along with it?

And in a related story, I'm surprised they haven't tried to blame the whole thing on this guy who just died:

Thursday, October 18, 2018

Trump has made himself an accessory to murder

As the Trump Administration continues to trudge along we risk losing our sense of perspective about some of the truly horrible things that it is doing. For example, the President of the United States is currently conspiring with a foreign dictator to cover up the brutal murder of a journalist. This being reported, not as something remarkable, but as just a regular old fact to be reported.

The President is helping a dictator murder a journalist. It is appalling. But these days, it surprises absolutely no one. It won't be long before this stuff isn't even considered to be news.

Tuesday, October 16, 2018

Marijuana is not fully legal anywhere in the U.S.

This somewhat tongue-in-cheek letter to Canada totally misses the mark. California's experience with legalized marijuana does not tell us much about how Canada's legalization will go. That's because marijuana is not fully legal in California. The plant is still criminalized under federal law in the U.S. This causes all sorts of problems for legal (at least under State law) growers in CA. For example, they can't get access to the banking system because banks do not want to take the risk of financing what is still a criminal enterprise under federal law. Those kinds of problems probably accounts for much of the reason why black market marijuana is so much cheaper than retail marijuana in California. It is not just the bureaucracy costs of legalization as the article implies. Because legal growers are not fully legal, they operate in a gray area of the economy where they can't fully access the institutions that other businesses use on a regular basis.

When pot becomes legal in Canada, it will be fully legal in Canada. Because the change is coming from the federal government, there will be no reason for banks to treat marijuana growers differently from growers of any other crop. Outside investors will be able to fund pot farms without fear of federal prosecutors.

There is no reason for Canada to look to California to find out how their legalization effort will go. It is more likely that the U.S. will some day look to Canada to see how legalization on the federal level plays out.

Merely a felony-murder

So it looks like the Saudis will go with the old "we didn't try to murder him, he just tried to kidnap him and torture him, but in the process we accidentally murdered him, so that's okay, right?" excuse.

Will the world care when some random Saudi bureaucrat takes the fall and is summarily executed for what is a clearly fake story designed just to protect the prince?

Monday, October 15, 2018

holy shit, someone should warn the Saudis?!?

There might be "rogue killers" inside the official Saudi consulate in Istanbul.

I bet MBS is breathing a sigh of relief that these rogue killers have only hit someone he happened to not like, and not his diplomats or other trusted personnel in the consulate. What a lucky break.

Friday, October 12, 2018

MBS is stuck

Saudi Arabia finally seems to be suffering some consequences for its bad behavior. The disappearance of Jamal Khashoggi has turned into a public relations disaster for the Kingdom which is starting to hit the Saudis in their pocket. Apparently, Mohammed bin Salmon's strategy to deal with this (other than trying to pin the blame on Qatar, which is not very plausible considering that Khashoggi disappeared in the Saudi embassy) is to try to get Jared Kushner on the phone. But what can Jared do? If MBS thinks he can single-handedly end the media attention and investors from pulling out, MBS has a serious misunderstanding of how non-Saudi government and societies work.

So what can he do to make this problem go away? I'm assuming that Khashoggi is dead, not detained. So MBS can't just release him (like he did with Saad Hariri to resolve a prior reckless stunt last year). If Khashoggi is dead, I don't see any way out. He can try to arrest some fall guys. Maybe blame it on rogue factions within the Saudi government. But it would have to be someone really high up, who still has enough influence to dispatch a murder team from Riyadh even though MBS has marginalized anyone who isn't really close to him. So the only ones with such influence are MBS's own people. He would have to give them up, plus give up all the members of his murder team, while still keeping them in KSA so that no foreign governments can question them. But I'm not even sure that would work. Short of resigning or being deposed, MBS can't get out of this.

On the other hand, maybe he can if he just waits. A lot of the world wants Saudi oil. So if he just ride out the storm it might fade. Sure, everyone will still blame him for doing the unspeakable. (No not killing all those children in Yemen. No one cares about that. I mean assassinating Tom Friedman's friend.) But once the immediate frenzy dies down, people will start quietly doing business with his regime again. But no matter what, I think MBS's reputation as a western-leaning reformer is over. He is going to be hounded by allegations of human rights abuses and murder, and the beautiful people won't want to be associated with him anymore.

Thursday, October 11, 2018

Prominent Republican and Soon-To-Be Senator Thinks the Procedure in the Constitution for Removing a President from Office Should Not Apply to Someone in Office as the President

In a just world, extraordinarily stupid remarks like this would mark the end of a political career.

Nothing matters

It has been more than a week since the New York Times released its massive report documenting that Trump's entire fortune is based on tax evasion and fraud. The Times even gave us a handy summary for those who don't want to read the massive article.

Has any member of Congress called for investigation or hearings? Has there been any effort at all to hold Trump accountable for what the article documented?

My most optimistic side is thinking that maybe the Democrats are waiting until after they get a majority in the House before they launch an investigation. But why would they wait? They can rail about Trump's corruption now and pound Republicans who refuse to investigate for defending a deeply unpopular President.

Lindsay Graham needs to take a chill pill

On the sexual assault allegations against Brett Kavanaugh: "I’ve never been so pissed in my life."

On Saudi Arabia's likely murder of Jamal Khashoggi: "I’ve never been more disturbed than I am right now.”