So Much News, So Little Time to Laugh it Off

But we’ll do our best with help from the Daily Show’s Trevor Noah.


29 thoughts on “So Much News, So Little Time to Laugh it Off”

  1. new word for today  deepfake plus getting into the weeds with committee critters

    the hill:

    A congressional push to examine the threat of so-called “deepfake” videos was derailed last year after a key House lawmaker blocked a measure that would have provided government funding to study the insidious technology.

    A bipartisan group of House lawmakers — Reps. Stephanie Murphy (D-Fla.), Eric Swalwell (D-Calif.) and now-former Rep. Carlos Curbelo (R-Fla.) — sought to add an amendment to the 2019 Intelligence Authorization Act that would have allowed the use of federal funds to research the threat posed by fake but believable content.

    The amendment would have required the Director of National Intelligence to submit a written report to congressional intelligence panels detailing the impact deepfake technology could have on national security, as well as counter-technologies that could effectively deter or detect such technology, according to a copy of the text obtained by The Hill.

    But the amendment was unexpectedly killed by then-House Rules Committee Chair Pete Sessions (R-Texas) for reasons that are unclear.

    Murphy and two GOP sources familiar with the matter now allege that Sessions, who lost his bid for reelection in the 2018 midterms, spiked the amendment out of political consideration and loyalty to his friend, former Rep. John Mica (R-Fla.), who was defeated by Murphy in 2016.

    “I found it unconscionable that he would punish a friend’s rival,” Murphy told The Hill, calling it a “serious mistake.”


    “Obviously, I was disappointed to see politics play a role in national security,” she added.

    Murphy claims Sessions killed the bill either on Mica’s behalf or because he didn’t want to let her have a “win.”

    “That kind of retribution is what makes this environment so partisan and toxic,” Murphy said.

    Sessions, who failed to win reelection in 2018, described things differently.

    “We don’t take amendments just because you present them,” Sessions told The Hill, while noting he does not recall Murphy’s amendment. “It is a process. You need to work the dang thing, especially with Intel.”

    He said lawmakers on both sides of the aisle need to fight for their amendments and testify before the Rules Committee to make their case.

    “I’m not challenging Stephanie,” he said. “I found in several instances she did not come to the committee or did not work it, and you have to do both.”

    Sessions defended his six-year tenure as committee chairman, saying he conducted the process in a “fair” and “straight-up way” for both Democrats and Republicans.

    He also rejected Murphy’s claims that he killed her amendment for political purposes, noting that Mica is not running for the seat again.

    “I don’t think that is a fair characterization for her to blame somebody for her own frailties,” Sessions said. “If she came up and worked it, that is different. But otherwise, that is a cheap shot.”

    Jonathan Uriarte, Murphy’s communications director, said a bipartisan bill coordinated across parties and the intelligence committee does not require the sort of uphill battle Sessions described.

    “It’s disingenuous to suggest she needed to be physically present in order for the measure to succeed, particularly given Mr. Sessions’s well-documented personal disregard for Congresswoman Murphy. In fact, her making the case in person could’ve been counter-productive to her efforts,” Uriarte said in a statement to The Hill.

    The top Democrat and Republican on the Rules Committee both acknowledged that politics plays a role in the panel’s decisions, but each said they don’t know the specifics about the deepfakes amendment.

    “Being chairman of the Rules Committee, I can tell you that there are a lot of forces pulling you all kinds of different ways and you don’t always get it right,” Rep. Jim McGovern (D-Mass.) told The Hill.

    “But to the extent that you can be accommodating, you better err on the side of being accommodating,” he added. “I like Pete Sessions as a person, but I just I thought that the way they ran this place was a disservice to this institution.”

    Rep. Tom Cole (Okla.), the top Republican on the panel, noted that the committee chairs are selected by House leadership and not a Steering Committee, so they are expected to carry out the wishes of the Speaker.

    “It’s called the Speaker’s Committee for a reason,” Cole told The Hill.

    He said members of the panel can make decisions for personal reasons if they do not conflict with leadership plans, noting that the success or failure of an amendment is a different calculus each time depending on a “unique set of political policy and personal considerations.”

    “If there’s something that’s important to them personally and it’s not disadvantageous the majority then that becomes a factor,” Cole said.

    When asked if Sessions was known for taking into account personal political considerations, Cole said he did so “in the appropriate way.”

    “Pete Sessions was probably as loyal a team player as the Republican Party had, so he certainly would reflect those values,” Cole said.

    “You don’t put people in there that are vindictive by nature or that can get you in a lot of fights that don’t have anything to do with the policy,” he added.

    Bipartisan warnings about the disinformation threat of deepfakes are growing louder ahead of the 2020 election, with lawmakers experts warning that deepfakes will be the next phase in disinformation campaigns.

    And while Congress is in the early stages of pressing the intelligence community to examine the threat, there have been signs of congressional action.

    A committee aide on the House Intelligence Committee told The Hill last month that the panel is planning to hold a hearing in the coming months that will examine a series of national security matters, including deepfakes.

  2. explaining “deepfake” a month ago in usatoday:  What is a deepfake? This video technology is spooking some politicians

  3. this morning on mojo, mika mysteriously referenced distasteful trump huggings but didn’t elaborate.  here’s how

    the hill quoted mika the other day re biden hugs:

    “I think the next time I see Joe Biden and he doesn’t hug me, and give me a kiss and hold my hand while we’re talking to you, that’s the new Joe Biden, and that’s not the Joe Biden I knew,” Brzezinski said on “Morning Joe.”

    “He’s a nice guy, he’s not a predator, and this is ridiculous. Let me just say it, this is ridiculous,” Brzezinski continued.


    “The conversation has gotten out of control,” she said. “And Democrats and those on the left who want to tweet me today and go nuts and get all woke, you’re eating your young. You’re eating those who can beat Trump, you’re killing the very people who have been pushing women ahead, who’ve been fighting for equal pay, who have been doing everything they can to respect women in their lives.”


    and here’s what she and mojo on the view said 2 years ago about trump’s “handsy, pornographic” hugs:

  4. paul Krugman:

    Donald Trump Is Trying to Kill You

    Trust the pork producers; fear the wind turbines.

    There’s a lot we don’t know about the legacy Donald Trump will leave behind. And it is, of course, hugely important what happens in the 2020 election. But one thing seems sure: Even if he’s a one-term president, Trump will have caused, directly or indirectly, the premature deaths of a large number of Americans.


    But the biggest death toll is likely to come from Trump’s agenda of deregulation — or maybe we should call it “deregulation,” because his administration is curiously selective about which industries it wants to leave alone.


    So it’s deregulation for some, but dire warnings about imaginary threats for others. What’s going on?

    Part of the answer is, follow the money. Political contributions from the meat-processing industry overwhelmingly favor Republicans. Coal mining supports the G.O.P. almost exclusively. Alternative energy, on the other hand, generally favors Democrats.


    Whatever the drivers of Trump policy, the fact, as I said, is that it will kill people. Wind turbines don’t cause cancer, but coal-burning power plants do — along with many other ailments. The Trump administration’s own estimates indicate that its relaxation of coal pollution rules will kill more than 1,000 Americans every year. If the administration gets to implement its full agenda — not just deregulation of many industries, but discrimination against industries it doesn’t like, such as renewable energy — the toll will be much higher.

    So if you eat meat — or, for that matter, drink water or breathe air — there’s a real sense in which Donald Trump is trying to kill you. And even if he’s turned out of office next year, for many Americans it will be too late.

    [nytimes op ed]

  5. deepfake will allow trump and the perv wing of the xtian right/rapeblican to brush aside charges about some of his and their rude, crude and criminal behaviors.

    Or, as trump advises his lemmings, you can’t believe what you’re seeing : 

    “Only I am authoritative – except when I’m not hyping my glamor. If I’m not hyping me, it’s a deepfake me you’re seeing, put out by the disgraceful leftist liberal socialist Democrat media, who are all working for Big Sister. Biggley sad.”

  6. Every Thursday Rick and I go to breakfast with a couple of friends…  both males.  They both always exchange hugs with me when we leave the diner.  Yesterday, one of them went to walk away without our ritual hug.  When I said to him “hey, where’s my hug?”….  he answered …  “I didn’t know if I’d get in trouble.”  And even though I knew he was joking…  it really sucks cuz I know that there must be old friends out there that really aren’t sure anymore.

    Awhile ago, GrannyM and I had a kinda heated exchange with Craig about how there would be backlash if the MeToo Movement went too far and made people afraid to touch one another.  Unfortunately, that’s what is happening now.  And what really sucks about it… is that it cheapens the  all too real abusive behavior of some men.

  7. I think Joe should don sack cloth and ashes, rend his garments, cut himself and throw himself to the ground crying “I’m sorry for touching you”.  Maybe that will be enough?  (Probably not?)

  8. from wapo’s “post pundit 2020 power ranking” horse race (donkeys today) round 10

    The Commentary

    Two stories dominated this week: Joe Biden’s handsiness and the money race.


    These numbers mostly point to chaos: Most of the candidates we rank highly are raising a lot of money, and nobody is dominating like Hillary Clinton in 2016. But this stage in the game, at least, chaos is fun!


    — David Byler


    The Ranking


    Ranking not showing? Click here.


    Position Challenger Change Over Last Ranking
    1. Kamala D. Harris UP 2
    2. Bernie Sanders
    3. Joe Biden DOWN 2
    4. Pete Buttigieg
    5. Elizabeth Warren UP 1
    6. Beto O’Rourke DOWN 1
    7. Amy Klobuchar UP 1
    8. Cory Booker DOWN 1
    9. Kirsten Gillibrand
    10. John Hickenlooper UP 1
    11. Julián Castro UP 2
    12. Stacey Abrams DOWN 2
    13. Michael Bennet DOWN 1
    14. Jay Inslee
    15. Michael Bloomberg RETURNS TO RANKING


    Falls off ranking: Howard Schultz


    Also receiving votes: Tim Ryan


    Last week’s ranking: Round 9 | Buttigieg is leaving Beto in the dust

  9. So I see SFB backed off his closing the border bullshit. Now he’s saying he’d rather do it with tariffs. What a moron. Let him tell it to General Motors. One of the most common cars that I’ve ever seen Mexico when I’ve been down there is a very small Chevy. Idiot.

  10. Andrew Yang is the latest to enter the Presidential fray.  Whatever you think of him, he is presenting ideas and policies that truly need to be discussed for the modern age in a time of transition.  His particular emphasis is on the End of Work due to technology and artificial intelligence.

  11. Biden demonstrates again why he is not the one.   He said social norms have changed now it isn’t ok to hug etc.

    It was never ok — just women didn’t have the “right.” to complain.  It is demeaning no matter what anyone says.

    Allegedly someone close enough to know said he was withholding the apology in case this issue goes on. I hope this is not true

  12. I’m back home from my trip to the Virginia/DC area. I’m not going to miss driving on I-95, that’s for sure! Made one quick trip to visit a friend in Maryland as well.

  13. 70 percent of Wall Street thinks Trump will be reelected in 2020

    A new poll of Wall Street insiders shows that a vast majority expect President Donald Trump to win reelection in 2020.

    While Joe Biden was viewed as the most stock market-friendly possible Democratic candidate for the White House, more than 70% of survey respondents told global investment bank RBC Capital Markets that they expect Trump to be reelected.

    “Most expect Trump to win in 2020, but there’s still some nervousness around the event,” Head of U.S. Equity Strategy Lori Calvasina wrote to clients. Sixty-seven percent “of our March 2019 survey respondents believe that Joe Biden is seen as the most acceptable Democratic candidate by the stock market for the White House. No other candidate got a significant number of votes.”

    The survey was conducted after Special Counsel Robert Mueller gave the results of his investigation to the Justice Department; 141 equity-focused institutional investors were polled.

    Presidential elections can have important implications for financial markets based on what traders believe the elected candidate will prioritize while in office. The Dow Jones Industrial Average rallied more than 450 points in the two days after Trump’s election in 2016 and rallied nearly 8 percent into year-end as investors grew confident in future corporate tax reform and big spending.

    That’s not to say that the election of a Democratic candidate in 2020 would necessarily put a damper on the equity market.

    Calvasina added that 40% of investors have already made changes to their portfolio in anticipation of the election or indicated that they plan to do so. Further, the stock strategist said that if Biden does not declare, or the polling data suggests that he won’t win the Democratic nomination, it could weigh on the market because of the anti-business policies of the other contenders.

    “Early polls for 2020 Democratic Presidential Nomination are favoring Joe Biden,” the strategist added. “Bernie Sanders comes in second place, by a 7 point spread relative to Biden, however, Sanders is seen by our Survey respondents as the second least acceptable Democratic candidate by the stock market.”

    Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., is seen by a majority as the least acceptable Democratic candidate for the stock market.

  14. Bloomberg op ed by timothy O’Brien:  I’ve Seen Trump’s Tax Returns and You Still Haven’t


    Trump has already said he isn’t inclined to release his tax returns in accordance with Neal’s request, so this is certain to ignite a legal battle. In the interests of good government and the avoidance of financial conflicts of interest in the Oval Office, I hope Congress wins this one. And I know, for a fact, that it’s not true that you don’t learn much from a tax return. As I noted back in early 2016, I have seen Trump’s tax returns, and I think you should too.


    Trump unsuccessfully sued me in 2006 for libel over a biography I wrote called “TrumpNation,” citing unflattering sections of the book that examined his business record and wealth. He lost the suit in 2011, and during the litigation he was forced to turn over his tax returns to my lawyers.

    As I noted in 2016, I think there are five broad categories of disclosure related to his returns that should matter to voters, politicians, and anyone else interested in making sure the White House is conflicts-of-interest free.

    1) Income: The returns would offer a gauge of how financially robust the president’s businesses actually are and how much of that money flows to him.

    2) Business Activities: Trump has always said that the Trump Organization employs thousands and that U.S. companies shouldn’t relocate overseas and take jobs away from U.S. workers. Tax returns would offer a view of Trump’s global footprint and provide a clearer sense of the size and scope of his company.

    3) Charitable Giving: Trump has often bragged about being a dedicated philanthropist. If that’s true, his returns would prove it. 



    4) Tax Planning: The president uses a lot of shell companies, or LLCs, as part of his business and personal dealings. Some wealthy people have also used shell companies overseas to mask their fortunes and hide the money from authorities. Trump’s returns would show how actively he has used tax havens, if at all. 

    5) Transparency and Accountability: This may be the most important category of all. Trump is now, arguably, the most powerful and influential man in the world. His tax returns would provide a much clearer picture of potential financial conflicts or pressures that would come to bear on him in the White House. They would also provide a way of monitoring whether the president is more interested in his financial self-interest and deal-making than policy-making.

    Neal has only requested six years of Trump’s returns, which is, I think, regrettable. Some of the transactions that may interest investigators the most took place around 15 years ago, when Trump, suddenly flush with cash, went on a shopping spree. He bought and developed golf courses, launched a new hotel and condominium in Chicago, and deepened his involvement with the Trump SoHo Hotel in lower Manhattan.

    It is still curious to me how Trump, who always used to finance his transactions with debt, raised the funds to do all that in the mid-2000s and pay cash. To find out, Neal will have to dig deeper than six years ago.



  15. here’s also an excerpt from the 2016 article O’Brien noted above:

    “You learn very little from a tax return,” he [trump] told Fox News.


    Actually, as someone who saw Trump’s federal tax returns about a decade ago as part of a legal action in which he sued me for libel (the suit was later dismissed), I think there probably are some things to be learned from them.

    The tax returns my lawyers and I reviewed were sealed, and a court order prevents me from speaking or writing about the specifics of what I saw. I can say that Trump routinely delayed — for months on end — producing those documents, and when they finally arrived they were so heavily redacted that they looked like crossword puzzles. The litigation ran on for five years, and during that time we had to petition the court to compel Trump to hand over unredacted versions of the tax returns — which he ultimately did. 








    he Hill-HarrisX survey found that 62 percent of Democratic respondents say the allegations of past behavior should not preclude him from being a 2020 candidate. Eighteen percent of Democrats said he should be disqualified, and 20 percent said they were unsure.

    Thirty-two percent of GOP respondents said Biden should not run in light of the accusations against him, while 49 percent said the allegations should not prevent him from entering the crowded Democratic field of candidates. Nineteen percent said they were unsure.

    Fifty-four percent of women said Biden should be allowed to run, despite the claims of inappropriate contact. Twenty-two percent said he should not launch a campaign, and 24 percent said they were uncertain.

    Fifty-seven percent of men said Biden should not be disqualified, while 25 percent said he should. Eighteen percent were unsure.

    The majority of independent voters — 55 percent — said they were OK with Biden running, even with the accusations. Twenty-one percent said he should be disqualified, with 24 percent voicing uncertainty.

    excerpt above from the hill Poll: Voters say Biden’s conduct with women should not disqualify him

  17. Depends on where the unsure’s end up

    I think the headline is misleading


  18. As you all know I don’t support Joe.  I’m willing to move past this and go on to his other problems but if beating SFB is the goal  take a hard look at the poll.  Joe is not the one. Even if you think it is unfair, the numbers are what they are.

    And by the way what is a Obama-Biden Democrat?  Is Obama endorsing him?

  19. KC, you don’t support Biden?  Who knew?  LOL.

    The latest head to head polls versus SFB have Biden as the strongest candidate by 5 points over any other Dem (that one being Bernie!).  Playing Dem against Dem doesn’t tell you who will do better against SFB.

    I found the “unsure” column to be interesting – and reflective of age rather than anything else.  The older you are the more sure you are of your opinions if that poll means anything.  I’d say that’s pretty well reflected here on the trail.

    Oh, and I forgot to mention, Wall Street insiders are picking SFB to win in 2020? They’ve never gotten any predictions wrong now have they? Stupid poll.

  20. And the Power Index notwithstanding, the polls of Dem candidates have Biden ahead of everyone by 8-10 points in all but the Emerson poll, and in that one he ties for the lead with Bernie!


    But here’s where it gets interesting.  In all the PA & MI matchups, SFB loses no matter which Dem he’s polled against, and in WI he ties Amy and Kamala and loses to every other prominent Dem candidate.  Were every other state to stay the same as in 2016, if those states break Dem SFB is at 258 – 12 points down.  If PA & MI go Dem and WI goes Repug, SFB is at 268 – 2 points down.  Interesting to think the election could come down to those 3 states (Ohio being a lost cause – it’s full of trump idiots anymore)


    And doing a little digging, here’s the text of the law 26 USC §6103(f) that Neal is relying upon to get SFB’s tax returns:

    (f) Disclosure to Committees of Congress.–

    (1) Committee on Ways and Means, Committee on Finance, and Joint Committee on Taxation.–Upon written request from the chairman of the Committee on Ways and Means of the House of Representatives, the chairman of the Committee on Finance of the Senate, or the chairman of the Joint Committee on Taxation, the Secretary shall furnish such committee with any return or return information specified in such request, except that any return or return information which can be associated with, or otherwise identify, directly or indirectly, a particular taxpayer shall be furnished to such committee only when sitting in closed executive session unless such taxpayer otherwise consents in writing to such disclosure.

    That last bit starting with “except that…” would prohibit the release of the return for the Dotard to the public it seems.  That statutory section is very lengthy, so there might be bit of wiggle room, but I hate reading that shit so I won’t.

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