A glimmer of promise
Sheryl Gay Stolberg of The New York Times reports that the Senate will hold competing votes on Thursday on President Trump’s proposal to spend $5.7 billion on a border wall and on a Democratic bill that would fund the government through Feb. 8 without a wall. But Greg Sargent notices, “The WH deliberately got poison pills inserted in Senate GOP bill reopening govt, NYT confirms. ‘WH officials conceded privately they had tacked on controversial proposals anathema to Dems that would block many migrants from seeking asylum.’”
John Brummett says, “i think what this means is that neither the trump nor house bill can get 60 votes thursday, signaling to everybody that, damnit, let's cut this thing down the middle and move on with our crumbling republic.” Adds Gabriel Snyder, “there isn't much of a ‘path’ to reopening the government here, but it is a glimmer of progress in that McConnell has concluded he can't duck and cover on the shutdown anymore.”
Do not miss
As for McConnell, Charles Homans profiles him in The New York Times Magazine, and as Susan Dominus tweets, “In addition to being an ace editor, @chashomans is one of the most astute and stylish political writers in town. Lucky readers, do not miss his profile of Mitch McConnell.” The piece is titled, Mitch McConnell Got Everything He Wanted. But at What Cost? For a taste of what’s in store, Ann Colwell shares, “This.... is just a helluva description: ‘Like a spy or a pinto bean, McConnell has used this blankness to his advantage, made it a carrier for designs greater than himself.’” And Ali Weinberg says, “Looks like a great story but mostly 👏 to @chashomans for getting ‘gyre’ in the first sentence of something not titled Jabberwocky.”
The latest in the twisting, turning saga of Trump Tower Moscow
For that, Heidi Blake directs you to Azeen Ghorayshi’s piece for BuzzFeed News, Trump’s Lawyer Said There Were “No Plans” For Trump Tower Moscow. Here They Are. Behold: The Spa by Ivanka. The 250 luxury condos. The 15-story hotel. The Class A offices. A show-stopping $50 million penthouse apartment reserved for a special guest named Vladimir Putin.
Ghorayshi writes that the details come from “hundreds of pages of business documents, emails, text messages, and architectural plans, obtained by BuzzFeed News over a year of reporting.” Amos Zeeberg gives us one more detail that’s not in the BuzzFeed News piece: “Funny thing about Trump Tower Moscow: It was reputedly planned to go in Moscow City, a running joke of an area with embarrassingly high vacancy rates. Sounds like a Trump-style swindle/project.” And one more detail about this piece: Tweets Edmund Lee, “Ah, the link in that first graph.”
Rudy doing what Rudy does
Moving on to other things Trump’s lawyer has said, you may recall that Giuliani told the New Yorker’s Isaac Chotiner that “Even if [Trump] Did Do It, It Wouldn’t Be a Crime” — among other claims, including that Giuliani heard the tapes, but he didn’t, actually, because there are no tapes, but sure, there are tapes, but those are different tapes, and even if his tombstone calls him a liar, at least he’ll be dead. Something along those lines. Anyway, POLITICO’s Eliana Johnson and Darren Samuelsohn report that Trump is exasperated by gaffe-prone Giuliani. In fact, “Rudy Giuliani led to a rare F bomb dropped in Politico,” as Hunter Walker points out. But don’t worry about Rudy. On Twitter, Maggie Haberman tells us, “Trump is definitely frustrated with Giuliani but Giuliani isn’t going anywhere. Overall Trump likes what he does.”
Thinkin’ ’bout Trump-Russia-NRA
On this next one, Joshua Benton says, “I understand the framing but it’s always strange to see these stories that Mueller ‘wants to know about’ something or ‘is interested in’ something. Like he just reads blogs all day and then gets curious a couple months later or something.” And now we’ve got that mental image in our heads as we read that Mueller wants to know about 2016 Trump campaign’s ties to NRA, which is the new scoop from Sara Murray at CNN. Christopher Orr thinks, “Trump - Russia - NRA. That third shoe is going to drop.”
With everything that’s going on, a new CBS News polls finds that Pelosi has the edge over Trump on budget negotiations. Anthony Salvanto, Fred Backus, Jennifer De Pinto and Kabir Khanna of CBS News take a look at those numbers. Seven in 10 Americans don’t think the issue of a border wall is worth a government shutdown, and 66 percent want Trump to agree to a budget without wall funding. Trump’s overall approval rating has dipped three points from November to 36 percent today.
And according to a new POLITICO/Morning Consult poll, the shutdown and Russia are driving Trump to an all-time high disapproval, reports POLITICO’s Rebecca Morin. This poll finds that 57 percent of voters believe it’s likely that Russia “has compromising information“ on Trump. Referring to that statistic, Tim Steller says, “I find this particular poll result shocking.”
Meanwhile, Danielle Paquette, Lisa Rein, Jeff Stein and Kimberly Kindy of The Washington Post report that Hundreds of IRS employees are skipping work. That could delay tax refunds. Tweets Mike Madden, “IRS employees are getting hardship waivers from going back in for unpaid work because they can’t afford the gas to commute to their offices, among other reasons.” So if you’re counting on that refund, be prepared to wait. As IRS customer service representative Marissa Scott told The Post, “it’s going to be a disaster all around.”
Of course, surely there are people around to spin all this. But as Jay Rosen says, “Anyone who can read this and still think of him as a media (or marketing) wizard needs their own psychiatrist. He has no clue what he is doing.” He’s referring to Power struggle paralyzes ‘irrelevant’ White House press shop, by Kaitlan Collins and Kevin Liptak of CNN. Chris Megerian highlights, “‘I think Bill Shine is having fun being the President's buddy at work every day.’ And that's from a supposed Bill Shine ally!” Lindsay Beyerstein uses her super sleuthing skills to detect, “When your source is Sarah Sanders.” Be sure to read the whole thing, because, as Nancy Cook tweets (and many are highlighting), “‘Get me Tidley.’ The best part of this story comes at the end.”
This particular bad news cycle
Back to the Covington Catholic controversy, at The Atlantic Adam Serwer writes about Covington Catholic and the Trump-Era Overcorrection. Tweets Jonathan M. Katz, “As always, @AdamSerwer is really good.” Adds Radley Balko, “This by @AdamSerwer is a spot-on review of the two big train wreck media controversies this week.” Julia Reinstein agrees: “This particular news cycle has been so bad and disorienting in a way I couldn’t totally pinpoint. I’d been having trouble synthesizing why the MAGA kids story and the response to the BF News story similarly shook me up, and this @AdamSerwer piece nails it.”
Meanwhile, Ben Kesslen of NBC News spoke with Christian Bales, the gay valedictorian banned from speaking at Covington graduation (103,000+ shares), who told him he was ‘not surprised’ by the D.C. controversy.
And at Esquire, Dave Holmes explains why, like many, I Saw the Smirk With My Eyes, But Felt It in My Gut. Ben Boskovich highlights part of that piece on Twitter, noting, “I pulled out this graf from @DaveHolmes's piece on the human embodiment of menacing privilege, but you should really read the rest of them, too.”
This is horrific
Jodi Kantor says, “If you enjoyed ‘The Usual Suspects,’ ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’ or any of the X-Men films, please read this. Not because you did anything wrong. But to ignore these men's stories now? That would be very wrong indeed.” She’s referring to The Atlantic’s Bryan Singer investigation, Bryan Singer’s Accusers Speak Out, by Alex French and Maximillian Potter. Tweets Siddhant Adlakha, “The story Esquire was working on last year, about Bryan Singer, fellow abusers and the people who enabled them, has been published at The Atlantic. Over 50 sources. Keep in mind, the details are disturbing; some of these men were 13 or 14 at the time.” Put simply, “This is horrific,” says Erica Orden. Adds Kevin Fallon, “Let the floodgates finally open.”
John Schwartz of The New York Times reports that Record Numbers of Americans Say They Care About Global Warming, according to a new Ipsos poll. “Fires in the west, powerful hurricanes, unusual deep freezes in the northeast -- I wonder why,” tweets Patrick LaForge. “The needle? It budged,” says Schwartz, while Max Rosenthal headlines it, “Area Humans Increasingly Aware They Are Screwed.”
Meanwhile, at Bloomberg, Christopher Flavelle writes of Muggy Disney Parks, Downed AT&T Towers: Firms Tally Climate Risk. On Twitter, he points out, “You may not believe in climate change—but your bank does. And your phone provider. And your hardware store. And your credit card company. And they’re all thinking about how to use it to sell you more stuff.” For example, Home Depot says climate change will help sell more air conditioners. So, what have we learned? “The soul crushing depravity of capitalism is only magnified by climate change,” tweets Rose Eveleth.
As brilliant as it is disturbing
Gizmodo’s Andrew Couts tweets, “Excited to publish the first in a 6-part series by @kashhill, who is a maniac and spent weeks attempting to completely block the tech giants from her life using a custom-built VPN. First up, Amazon.” For that, read I Tried to Block Amazon From My Life. It Was Impossible, by Kashmir Hill. Tweets Tim Marchman, “If you want to read (and/or watch) something as brilliant as it is disturbing, try @kashhill's experiment in trying to cut Amazon out of her life (part of an ongoing series).” As Silvia Killingsworth says, “this is cool/depressing.”
Add this one to your “#neologismwatch ‘selfie dysmorphia.’” Christopher Mims links to Elle Hunt’s story in The Guardian, Faking it: how selfie dysmorphia is driving people to seek surgery. Commenting on the heavily filtered image one patient showed him, Dr. Wassim Taktouk told Hunt that it was flawless – “without a single marking of a normal human face.” For the record, Jameela Jamil says she has “BEEN 👏🏻 SAYING 👏🏻THIS 👏🏻 SHIT👏🏻 FOR 👏🏻A👏🏻YEAR👏🏻 This article is great.”
RIP Russell Baker
Robert McFadden writes the New York Times obituary for Russell Baker, the two-time Pulitzer Prize-winning author and humorist, who died at 93. Baker’s “Observer” column appeared in The New York Times and hundreds of other newspapers for 36 years. Wendy Benjaminson highlights, “(Journalism) students should be required to stand outside a closed door for six hours. Then the door would open, someone would ... say, ‘No comment.’ ...And the students would be required to write 800 words against a deadline.’ RIP Russell Baker.” Tweets Peter Baker, “The only thing as exquisite as a column by the legendary Russell Baker is an obituary of Russell Baker by the equally legendary Robert McFadden. RIP Russell Baker. No relation but I wish there were.”
For more on Baker, read the obituary by Colin Campbell for the Baltimore Sun, Baltimore-raised Pulitzer Prize winner Russell Baker dies at 93.
Carol Morello of The Washington Post reports that A. Wess Mitchell, the top diplomat in charge of European affairs, will resign from the State Department next month.
Wondering why that company you hated working for has such great reviews on Glassdoor? Well, a Wall Street Journal investigation by Rolfe Winkler and Andrea Fuller shows how Companies Manipulate Glassdoor by Inflating Rankings and Pressuring Employees. Tweets Scott Austin, “The meticulous reporting + data analysis from @RolfeWinkler and @anfuller is extraordinary and worth a deep read. The article highlights yet another pocket of the internet vulnerable to manipulation.”
- Steve Warmbir links to the “Bombshell @Suntimes scoop from the best City Hall reporter in the business @fspielman and @SeidelContent.” Fran Spielman and Jon Seidel of the Chicago Sun-Times report that Chicago Ald. Danny Solis secretly recorded fellow Ald. Edward Burke to help feds in criminal investigation.
Howard Blume of the Los Angeles Times has the latest on the LAUSD teachers’ strike, Day 6: All-night bargaining session leads into week two of strike.
Rupert Neate of The Guardian reports that Brexiteer billionaire Sir James Dyson is moving his company HQ to Singapore. Of course, that’s leading to tweets like this one, courtesy of Tim Walker, “Need a moral vacuum? Get a Dyson.” He adds, “People are becoming legitimately angry about the sheer hypocrisy of the Brexiteers. We see them for what they are.”
The Financial Times says, If parliament cannot resolve Brexit, a new referendum is needed.