Editor’s Blog

Annals of Curious Defenses

In the first of what will certainly be many attacks today, Rudy Giuliani is out with a round of attacks on Michael Cohen. A central one is that Cohen was “connected to Russian organized crime” and that – relatedly – he got his money from his Ukrainian immigrant father-in-law Fima Shusterman. You’ve seen me writing for months about Trump’s odd gambit and history with Shusterman. I’ve been writing for two years about Cohen’s ties to Russian/Ukrainian organized crime. Rudy is not making this up. But in the nature of things, with the current questions before the public, accusing Trump’s former fixer of being tied to Russian organized crime seems like a perilous line of attack.

Four Key Pages In Cohen’s Prepared Remarks

Before we get started, here are some key passages in Cohen’s testimony. There’s a lot of stuff in there. But here are four key pages. Read More

Informed Speculation

This bada boom bada bing style threat from Rep. Matt Gaetz is so specific and so careful to invoke Cohen’s father-in-law it is highly, highly likely that it originates from Trump or the Trump family.

An even more probable connection, as someone just flagged to me: Where do you think Enquirer Tablord David Pecker fits into this?

Latest: Even better, Gaetz tells Sam Stein that his gangster threat is “what it looks like to compete in the marketplace of ideas.”

Responses on MMT, Pt 3

Printing some responses from readers to my post from yesterday about the slippery politics of MMT. From TPM Reader MO

What we have now is a fiat currency pretending it’s still on a gold standard. That is, we have a financial system designed around using the natural scarcity of commodity commodity money, but we’ve abandoned commodity money. oddly, we persist in acting like money is in natural limited supply, and we can only get more of it by taking taxes, say.

Read More

Responses on MMT, Part 2

Printing some responses from readers to my post from yesterday about the slippery politics of MMT. From TPM Reader A

Hi, Josh. I’m an economist and Prime member (hoping to upgrade soon but have to convince hubs of necessity of expense first…). I read you every day, and the work you and your staff do is indispensable.

I just read your MMT post, and it is spot on. I would go even further. I consider MMTers to be the left-wing equivalent of Hayek/gold standard acolytes. Both of them defy what we know about how the economy works, theoretically and empirically.

Read More

Responses on MMT, Part 1

Printing some responses from readers to my post from yesterday about the slippery politics of MMT. From TPM Reader PJ

I read with interest your thoughts on MMT, and am in the kind of academic circles where people will give talks where they think about and discuss MMT as part of some suite of solutions to the excesses or problems of late capitalism (or even straight up liberalism, in the conventional sense). I think perhaps both you and Matt are focusing too much on the practicalities of MMT rather than its rhetorical function, though there might be reasons to maintain the skepticism, there’s another possibility about policy facilitation therein.

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Ivanka: People Want To Earn Their Way

Is This The Break?

British PM Theresa May has announced today that if her latest Brexit proposal fails Parliament will vote on delaying Brexit or proceeding to a no-deal Brexit. The failure of her latest plan seems highly likely, if not certain. That would simply match every other plan she’s cobbled together. I have not followed the inner workings of each of these deals to have much ability to predict. The basic issue has been clear for a while. There’s no majority for any actual deal since the whole thing was sold on false pretenses, with false promises and none of the challenging obstacles in view.

But if Parliament votes for a delay, it’s hard for me to see how that doesn’t sound the death knell of Brexit altogether. It has been crystal clear that there’s no parliamentary majority for any actual Brexit plan, though perhaps the concept could get a bare majority. Without the hammer of a deadline, why will it move forward at all? Read More

Manafort’s Swan Song

In a plea for a lenient sentence Paul Manafort’s lawyers told Judge Amy Berman Jackson today that Manafort had spent “a lifetime promoting American democratic values and assisting emerging democracies to adopt reforms necessary to become a part of Western society.” Read More

Senate Kabuki

Chances of Senate GOPs bucking President Trump on emergency declaration slip from unlikely to all but impossible.

It’s Good To Have an Army

Roger Stone paramilitary group continues posting on his behalf even post-gag order.

Thinking about the Magical Elixir of MMT

I find that as often as not I agree with Matt Bruenig on policy matters. But those points of agreement can be obscured for me by differences of temperament and politics. Here though I find myself entirely in agreement with him on something called Modern Monetary Theory. You may not even have heard this phrase before. But you should and probably will soon. If you haven’t, you should familiarize yourself with it because it bulks very large in many current debates within the Democratic Party that you have heard about. It’s a big deal. Bruenig aptly describes it as “about using word games to make people believe that the US can have Northern European levels of government spending without Northern European levels of taxation.”

It’s not easy to simply explain what MMT is because it operates at several distinct and not always closely related levels. Read More

Morning TV

A Key, Critical Part of Our Operation

I write a lot about our membership programs and how subscriptions are now the core of our business. There is a subset of our readers who are both interested in and have the means to support our operation at a higher level than a Prime or Prime AF membership. We know because a lot of you have told us. But first, if you are a Prime or Prime AF subscriber you are 1000% good with us! Your subscription is what makes TPM possible. Literally. Prime and Prime AF memberships make up over 50% of our revenue. This message is solely for those who would like to and easily can support what we do at a higher level. If you’re in that category please click to read more and join me after the jump. Read More

What’s the Point?

The Post has an article about how the Trump National Security Council plans to set up a new committee of scientists basically to refute climate science. It will be spearheaded by an NSC senior director named William Happer. He ran a right-wing “pro-carbon” group before entering the administration and got another round of attention last week for once comparing the “demonization of carbon dioxide [to] the demonization of the poor Jews under Hitler.” Read More

CLEVELAND, OH - JULY 21:  Paul Manafort speaks to Ivanka Trump,  daughter of Republican nominee Donald Trump at the Republican Convention, July 20, 2016 at the Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland, Ohio. (Photo by Brooks Kraft/ Getty Images)

Short time ago, Judge Jackson gave the Special Counsel the go-ahead to release the redacted version of the Manafort sentencing memo. So that should be out very soon.

Pro-KKK Publisher Says He’s Off to ‘Sex Young Women’

Earlier this week, Goodloe Sutton, the editor and publisher of a small local paper in western Alabama published an editorial calling for the “Ku Klux Klan to night ride again” and “clean up” Washington DC with a few choice lynchings.

Sutton later clarified: “It’s not calling for the lynchings of Americans. These are socialist-communists we’re talking about. Do you know what socialism and communism is?” Read More

Sounds Confident

Trump says Mueller Report will show “no collusion” if it’s “honest.”

If It’s Good We’ll See It Right Away

I think this is right. We’ll know how good or bad the Mueller ‘report’ is for Trump by how quickly and completely it’s released. From TPM Reader RS

I just read “More Thoughts on the End of the Mueller Probe,” and thought I’d share a reaction that came to me — not necessarily because it directly follows from anything you wrote, but something that was probably implicit.

As you’ve written previously, it seems likely that AG Barr is going to try to do what he can for President Trump, within certain limits of professional reputation, responsibility, etc. It probably wasn’t that surprising, therefore, when he made public comments that suggested that he wouldn’t necessarily make the Mueller report (whatever there is) public in its entirety, particularly if there was information that was derogatory about uncharged individuals (e.g. President Trump or members of his family).

Read More

An Important Lesson About Election and Voter Fraud

As Republicans have played a rearguard defense in what turns out to be an egregious instance of election fraud in the 2018 congressional election in North Carolina’s 9th district, they’ve sometimes resorted to the curious claim that at least they’re vindicated. Contrary to Democrats’ claims, voter fraud really does happen! Even if it’s our candidates doing it. This is not only too clever by half. It is an intentional conflation. What Democrats and voting rights advocates say is that voter impersonation fraud is rare to the point of non-existence. Voter and election fraud is rare but not unknown. (The distinction is critical because voter ID laws, the top voter suppression method justified by claims of fraud, only has any relevance to voter impersonation fraud.) And that gets us to a critical lesson or rather a series of them from this incident in North Carolina. Read More

Stone Judge Not One Bit Happy

Looks like Roger Stone will escape the Instagram post fiasco without having his bail revoked, but will now be subject to a tighter gag rule, and runs the very real risk of going to jail if he violates the terms of the new gag order.

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