A TPM Reader wrote in on Friday and asked a simple, but for me, unexpected question: what do the fees for Prime pay for? Not in the sense of what do you get but what do we use the subscription fees for? This question caught me off-guard because to me the answer is obvious: everything. Prime today is the backbone of our entire business model, our largest single source of revenue and almost half of total revenue. But perhaps it’s not as obvious on the other side of the screen. So I thought I’d explain it all in a bit more detail. Some of this will probably seem like inside baseball. But you may find it interesting if you’re a Prime subscriber or if you’re interested in the economics of digital publishing or both. Read More
Apparently off the radar of the US press, the President’s lawyer Rudy Giuliani is headlining a oligarch-funded conference in Armenia celebrating the so-called Eurasian Economic Union, a so far low-energy Russian-backed counter to the EU. Joining Rudy there is Sergey Glazyev, an adviser to Russian President Vladimir Putin who was sanctioned in March 2014 for his role in the annexation of Crimea.
Here’s the bottom line out today from The Cook Report, which has been a bit less friendly to Democrats this cycle than Nate Silver’s forecasting. “We continue to believe anywhere from a 20 to 40 seat Democratic gain is possible, but right now the likeliest outcome is a Democratic gain of between 25 and 35 seats.”
40 would be a great result for Dems. So would 30. Even 25 would be good enough. But these numbers are way too close for comfort with what’s on the line in two weeks.
Key paragraphs in new Times piece on Erdogan’s handling of the Khashoggi crisis …
Mr. Erdogan has long publicly treated the crown prince as a respected ally to maintain good relations with Saudi Arabia, an important regional power. But it was an open secret that the two men were bitter rivals in a feud over Arab democracy and political Islam that has divided the region.
Evidently sensing Saudi weakness after the skeptical reception that greeted the latest claims from the kingdom, Mr. Erdogan over the last two days has gone on the attack.
This is so bizarre I’m wondering if it’s simply not true. But Rudy Giuliani is claiming that the Joint Defense Agreement his client, President Trump, had with Paul Manafort has continued even after Manafort pleaded guilty and became a cooperating witness in the Mueller investigation. That beggars belief. But Giuliani says he has continued to have discussions with Manafort’s lawyer Kevin Downing and he insists Manafort hasn’t provided anythijg incriminating against President Trump.
This week I’m excited to introduce TPM Inside.
Inside is TPM’s inner circle membership. It is for TPM Readers who want a closer, deeper look at the most important news stories and policy questions. It brings you inside operations at TPM and gives you a voice in guiding our future. Inside is also for TPM Readers who want to and are able to support TPM at a higher level than a base Prime membership. Read More
As we come up on two weeks before the election, I’d like to throw out a question. What race are you excited about? A house race, a governor’s race, a local race. Anything. It’s not an absolute rule but I’m most interested in ones that you have some connection to. Either you live in the district or state or perhaps you’re volunteering in the race or maybe it’s next door. I like getting an up close view of how you’re seeing races in your area and I’m sure other readers will too. Drop me a line.
Here are a few thoughts on the still unfolding Khashoggi scandal and story.
First, I think critics of Saudi Arabia should take some solace from the fact that the Saudis I believe had and perhaps still have a narrow window in which they could depose Mohammed bin Salman and wash their hands of Khashoggi’s murder. Yet they show no sign of doing so. Saudi Arabia has long been a brutal and utterly repressive regime. But in the last few years it’s become a different kind of brutal and utterly repressive regime. Saudi Kings – all sons of state founder ibn Saud since 1953 – have generally ruled by consensus within the upper echelons of the al Saud clan. That’s one reason so many longstanding challenges have gone unresolved or postponed. It’s not a system which makes room for dynamic leadership. It’s a highly conservative ruling circle which doesn’t do a lot of dangerous or crazy things. Until now. Read More
This week at TPM we’re kicking off a major four part series on social insurance and risk in the US economy. This is a topic that has always been central to TPM’s editorial concerns. And though we couldn’t have known it when we first planned the series, the timing is fortuitous since last week Sen. McConnell incautiously let slip that Republicans plan to use the expanded deficits driven by the 2017 tax cut bill as a reason to push through big cuts to programs like Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid and more. We’ll be talking about this a lot in the coming weeks. Please look out for the series.
One thing to watch closely now as we’re coming near to two weeks before the election is that results for individual races can start to bounce around rather dramatically. That should be less so with national polls like generic ballots. But a critical fraction of voters only start focusing late in the cycle. That can drive rapid changes. In House races, that should generally even out across scores of competitive races. But in governor and senate races, where there are comparatively few, it can be a bigger deal.
I’ve been a bit behind on my election updates, in part because an election brings up so many things we have to work on here at TPM beyond writing about it. But it’s also been because of the contrariness of the polls and other election indicators. In the nature of things, I get asked a lot to predict the political future. In the last two weeks I’ve felt a creeping anxiety about the outcome of the November election. But it is less because of what I think is likely than the stakes that are involved. Let me try to explain what I mean. Read More
No one but Trump and those he associates with can better manage the combination of the horrific with the absurd. Which brings us to the latest in the Jamal Khashoggi story. Most you can see everywhere in the news. But there is one key point I want to note. Read More
Here’s key new information on the Khashoggi front. CNN just reported that the Turks had reason to believe or perhaps even certainty Khashoggi had been murdered within hours of his disappearance. They were even able to place Turkish security services personnel or police on the plane they took back to Saudi Arabia. This strongly suggests they had the alleged tapes almost immediately. The critical question now is when the Turks communicated this knowledge to the US. Video after the jump. Read More
We’re about to start drilling very deep into the details of the final weeks of the election. Just two and half weeks to go. We have a lot of reporting coming. More Inside Briefings. More commentary and analysis from yours truly. But I wanted to flag one thing. This is my curated list of polling and election data experts on Twitter. I make no claim to it being definitive or encyclopedic. It’s something I’ve just cobbled together for my own use over time. But when we get near elections and especially on election nights, it’s a good concentrated feed of people who really bring knowledge, expertise, experience and numeracy to figuring out what the flood of data actually means.
This is a brief note and is in no way a defense of the Saudis. But I think we can see another common pattern between our relationship with the Saudis and the Russians. In both cases, because President Trump is not only resistant to taking action against Saudi Arabia but apparently under some kind of corrupt influence by Saudis there is a tendency to propose more and more extreme responses. This is a manageable but dangerous tendency we should all be mindful of, with both countries. Read More
We’ve seen months of clues that Roger Stone is in the crosshairs of the Mueller investigation. We heard yesterday that Mueller may be preparing a report and a new round of indictments for soon after the election. Now we hear that Stone is high on the list of what Mueller’s investigators have wanted to know about in their post-cooperation agreement meetings with Manafort. Read More
We did some software upgrades overnight. As part of that, a setting got changed so that some Prime members are now seeing an alert about ad blockers. That was unintentional and we are working to roll back that change this morning. Thanks for being members.
TPM Reader JL is right. This is a big deal.
Based on 538’s forecast which just got posted, if every race goes the way 538 is calling it (insert caveats here), the following states among others will have a Democratic governor: WI, MI, PA, FL. That’s a whopping 75 electoral votes right there.