Weekend Links: No One Else Was in the Room Where it Happened

“After all, the best part of a holiday is perhaps not so much to be resting yourself, as to see all the other fellows busy working.” 
― Kenneth Grahame, The Wind in the Willows

Guys, it’s my last officially day of holiday (weekends are just lovely bonuses) so I’m dropping the links post early. I’m spending the day reading, writing, and generally goofing off.

My second week of holiday did not include a glamorous vacation, but it DID include fantastic calls and chats with friends, some insanely good vintage shopping, a bit of a health reset, and general errand running. It’s been a very good break. Let’s catch up on the week that was together, shall we?

Even by 2018 standards, this week’s political news was nuts. In one week, President Trump destabalized the NATO alliance, trashed and undermined a key ally, legitimized and supported an adversarial leader, and disputed the analysis of his entire intelligence community on the world stage. The statements at the joint press conference in Helsinki were so bad that his team had to spend a day in the Situation Room to develop a media clean up operation and the best they could come up with was the claim that the president misspoke…a claim which he managed to bungle further by ad libbing statements that basically mirrored the ones that got him in hot water in the first place.

I’m completely unsure what to say about this week’s political news that isn’t uselessly “shouty.” I don’t expect to be able to convince anyone who thinks the administration’s sloppy summit, sloppy attempts clean up, and internal consistency problems are acceptable that they aren’t. that ship has sailed. But if some of the more extreme parts of the internet are already road testing the idea that “it’s fine for Russia to have interfered because a democratically elected opponent who I disagree with would have been worse,” then I genuinely fear for the next few years of the country.

The tacit agreement between Mr. Trump and the GOP (they wink at his outrageous behavior and probable personal enrichment in exchange for getting their legislation signed) has worked domestically. It’s breaking down spectacularly internationally. At some point, they will have to make a call as to whether or not this bargain continues to be worth it. Conscious tool, or useful idiot doesn’t matter if both options are awful for the country.

The July 17th episode of The Weeds is fairly measured and thoughtful discussion on the wider situation with the President and Russia, and what the actual range of potential issues are ranging from outright kompromat to the (far more probably and likely) that both parties have kind of ended up in this situation through a years’ long series of events and relationships that neither party dreamed would end up where it has.

Out of curiosity, how dumb does does the White House think the rest of the world is? It is absurd to say that the president misspoke one word in one line and take that explanation at face value, when he’s been parroting the same lines for years at rallies, in interviews, at (rare) press conferences, and across his Twitter feed. Here, the NPR Politics desk breaks this story down.

Finally, the New York Times published a pretty amazing article claiming that the president was briefed on the intricacies of the Russian operation to spread disinformation well before his inauguration, and also claiming information from sources connected to the Russian president himself. Which makes Mr. Trump’s continued muddying even stranger and frankly suspect. Here’s the thing, since the beginning of this investigation, I haven’t thought it likely that Mr. Trump ordered “collusion” or cooperation with foreign governments during the election (I believe his business ties to Russian oligarchs are of far more interest and a potential source of opinion influsence). I think it’s far more likely that people around him may have done so more blatantly, the question being was Mr. Trump aware of it and to what extent. But he certainly makes things worse for himself at almost every turn. He’s made the Mueller investigation personal when its remit is Russian interference in the election and not Mr. Trump; if he stopped tweeting about it, it wouldn’t get nearly as much airtime. He goes on stage and flatters the dictator who his own intelligence community says is waging information warfare. He flounders his own half-hearted corrections. He has connected the idea of his presidency being legitimate to Russian interference. He’s a walking self created crisis.

I love Gillian Flynn.

There is a lot of ugliness in the world

UNLESS.

With my past work in the property industry, I am fascinating by reporting into this aspect of the Trump Organization. What property it’s bought, how, and with whose money. This piece on his investment in the Turnberry golf property is particularly interesting for all of those reasons.

I am very curious to follow this pilot project, as there is very interesting research about there about the positives and negatives about this concept. It’s one I support in theory but want some real world evidence on.

A deep dive into the decision by the Obama administration to not make a bigger deal, either internally or internationally, of presumed election interference. Interesting that they use the same excuse as Mr. Comey: the best of the bad options. In both instances, I’m not sure I agree.

This bonkers story dropped the same day as the bonkers news conference in Helsinki. Bonkers. The official paperwork.

Royal watchers have a jewel-based theory about the Queen’s inner workings on Mr. Trump’s recent visit. It’s an entertaining thread if nothing else.

In related news, oh please, you narcissistic windbag.

British politicians aren’t in the clear here. I present you this story of “things getting out of hand.”

They fill the stage and that’s not even all of them. Their bravery is inspiring.

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