Here is what I am thankful for. It’s not the only thing I’m thankful for. It’s not what I’m most thankful for. But it is something I’m very thankful for and it is the thing I’m thankful for that relates directly to this site. So this seems like the place to give thanks.
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With the holidays upon us and with a long Thanksgiving weekend for the lucky among us, I thought I’d recommend some books for your reading pleasure. In the distant past I did a lot of book reviews on TPM. But in recent years I get hung up because I often don’t have the time to do a proper review or I didn’t read the book with the thought of doing a review in mind. In other cases, I loved a book but I read it two years ago so I’m rusty on all the particulars. So I’m just going to recommend these eight books, with just some brief notes about why I found them interesting rather than a comprehensive review. But each of these books is one that I found engrossing and learned a great deal from. A number of them had a transformative effect on how I think about and understand a given topic.
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The Pentagon has announced that on November 12th the Army recovered additional remains of Army Sgt. La David Johnson, a month after his body was found. Remember that Johnson’s widow was not permitted to view his body and she even publicly speculated about what was really in her husband’s coffin. It now seems they didn’t tell her that what was in the casket was not her husband’s entire body.

Obviously, terribly things happened to bodies in war, mutilation, dismemberment, decapitation. That is war. The issue here is that it seems the Pentagon kept this information from Johnson’s wife and family.

We now know that in 2015 Rep. John Conyers (D-MI) settled a sexual harassment claim with a former staffer. The story originated when the notorious alt-right figure Mike Cernovich provided settlement documents to Buzzfeed. Buzzfeed, rightly, independently confirmed the story. The story was thus based on the documents but no longer relied on the documents or their authenticity. Conyers’ office has now confirmed the key details of the story. Conyers denies the underlying accusations and notes that he admitted no wrongdoing in the settlement. But that’s really beside the point since that’s in the nature of confidential settlements.
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Yesterday the CEO of AT&T came out in response to the just-announced DOJ lawsuit and said in CEO-speak that they are going to court and ready to use full discovery powers to determine whether President Trump’s animus toward CNN is what is driving this dispute. That makes me really wonder if the Trump White House knows what it’s getting into. Are they really ready for the exposure of discovery and do they realize it could and likely will go directly to the President.

But I wanted to flag a note from an anonymous TPM Reader, TPM Reader AN. He’s an antitrust lawyer. And while I think he agrees that the government’s argument in this case represents a dramatic reversal of recent decades of antitrust enforcement (especially for a GOP administration) he notes some technical factors that may put the government in a better position to win this case than people realize.
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CNN is reporting that DOJ has decided to sue to block AT&T’s acquisition of Time Warner, which owns both CNN and HBO. You may have read what I’ve written about this before. I generally oppose all mega-mergers like this for a host of reasons. But I have very little doubt that what is driving this is President Trump and his feud with CNN. There’s abundant evidence to that effect, which makes this highly dangerous.

Buzzfeed reported this morning that multiple sources claim that National Security Advisor H.R. McMaster called President Trump an “idiot” and a “dope” in a private dinner with Oracle CEO Safra Catz. McMaster also criticized Steve Bannon, Rex Tillerson and said presidential son-in-law Jared Kushner has no business being involved in national security issues at all. According to Buzzfeed, Catz told one source “[the conversation was so inappropriate that it was jaw-dropping.”
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As the Russia story again heats up, let’s remember the ties between Russia and the US evangelical right as a critical backdrop and predicate for the entire story. Here’s my backgrounder on the topic (sub req.)

The NRCC, the campaign committee charged with electing Republicans to the House of Representatives is holding a lottery to send a “lucky conservative (and a friend)” for an all expense paid weekend at the Trump Hotel in Washington, DC. You just have to contribute a minimum of ten dollars.

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When I first saw this, I was stunned. A big piece of the Russia puzzle. In a little watched campaign video from Sam Clovis’s failed 2014 Senate run, Clovis stated staunchly pro-Russian views about the Ukraine crisis. This was on March 17th, 2014, a day before the annexation of the Crimean Peninsula and more than a year before Donald Trump even announced his candidacy. At one point in the video Clovis says that “Russia, [by] placing forces on the ground in Ukraine, will help assist them in moving back into the Russian empire.” Read our report here.

Yesterday I appeared on a panel about digital publishers who are ‘pivoting to video’. I’ve written about this before. But in case you’re new to it, there have been numerous cases over the last six months to a year in which digital publishers have announced either major job cuts or in some cases literally fired their entire editorial teams in order to ‘pivot to video.’ The phrase has almost become a punchline since, as I’ve argued, there is basically no publisher in existence involved in any sort of news or political news coverage who says to themselves, my readers are demanding more of their news on video as opposed to text. Not a single one. The move to video is driven entirely by advertiser demand.
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You’ve probably seen the new Fox poll which has Doug Jones with an eight point lead over Roy Moore in Alabama. I’m skeptical. This isn’t a criticism of the particular poll. I’m just skeptical whether Roy Moore has suffered that much of a decline. This doesn’t mean Democrats shouldn’t put everything they have into winning this race. They should. They should be all in. But I think we are fooling ourselves if we think that Jones has now opened up a substantial lead over Moore. Winnable? Yes. But I don’t think Jones has anything like an eight point lead.

Keep an eye on this …

A gold trader who is close to Turkish President Recep Erdogan is now cooperating with federal prosecutors in a money-laundering case, according to two sources with knowledge of the matter, and legal experts say prosecutors may be seeking information about any ties between the Turkish government and former National Security Advisor Mike Flynn.

More here.

President Trump’s Obamacare sabotage campaign triggers even more renewal/enrollment confusion. Here’s the story.

Over the last 48 hours, Republicans have been abandoning Roy Moore in droves. Last night on his Fox News show, Moore dead-ender Sean Hannity put Moore under a 24-hour deadline to prove his innocence or drop out of the race. In this climate it’s now widely assumed that should he be elected Moore either will be or should be expelled from the Senate over the multiple accusations of pursuing and in some cases assaulting teenage girls in the 1980s.

This is a very questionable idea.
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A few moments ago on MSNBC, Roy Moore’s lawyer Trenton Garmon brought in host Ali Velshi’s “diverse” background as a partial explanation of why Moore dated underaged girls. The clear gist seemed to be ‘who are you to judge since they do this in your country too.’ For the record, Velshi is from Canada.

TPM Reader MM asks a pretty good question …

Everyone seems to think it’s most likely Don Jr. passed on the link that his dad tweeted.

Lord knows his dad is on the twitters a lot.

Why the automatic presumption that Assange hadn’t been in contact with Sr.?


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Last night on CNN, Hill reporter Phil Mattingly explained how and why Republicans have decided to raid Obamacare to help make the numbers work for their tax cut. 13 million are estimated to lose coverage.

Here’s our report on why the Senate is going back to partial Obamacare repeal to get its big upper income tax cut over the finish line.

I can tell by how many of you are NOT clicking on the feature that you are skeptical any form of Obamacare repeal is really happening AGAIN. Some skepticism is understandable given the GOP’s track record this year, but this is very much for real.

FILE - In this Feb. 18, 2016 file photo, Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump listens to his mobile phone during a lunch stop in North Charleston, S.C. Trump’s approach to Twitter has been as unorthodox as his presidential campaign.The billionaire’s use of the social media service has been unpredictable and unfiltered, sometimes brilliant and occasionally typographically challenged. He has celebrated the support of scores of accounts that appear almost solely dedicated to him. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke, File)

Many Americans have feelings of shock, embarrassment or just serial cringing watching Donald Trump’s presidential tweets. But intelligence professionals have noted for months that it also provides a priceless channel of information for foreign intelligence services trying to understand the President’s state of mind. All countries diplomatic personnel and intelligence analysts devote immense time and resources to understanding the views, motivations, weaknesses and agendas of key foreign leaders. Trump’s often erratic and impulsive tweeting patterns reveals sleeping patterns, moods, what makes Trump angry, what he’s focused on, who he’s hating or cuddling up to at a given moment. In some cases, his tweets actually having geolocations turned on. So they know precisely where he was. But there’s yet another dimension to Trump’s tweeting and generally impulsive nature and it bears on the Russia investigation.
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