• Hushmoneygate? Stormygate? Whatever. It’s Getting Deeper, Faster.

    Stormy Daniels: Clinton Wallace/Globe Photos/ZUMA; Michael Cohen: Tom Williams/Congressional Quarterly/Newscom via ZUMA

    While we all wait to see what happens with the #ShitholeShutdown, the Wall Street Journal tells us more about the hush money paid to porn star Stormy Daniels during the 2016 presidential campaign:

    President Donald Trump’s lawyer used a private Delaware company to pay a former adult-film star $130,000 in return for her agreeing to not publicly discuss an alleged sexual encounter with Mr. Trump, according to corporate records and people familiar with the matter.

    The lawyer, Michael Cohen, established Essential Consultants LLC, on Oct. 17, 2016, just before the 2016 presidential election, corporate documents show….[To] mask the identities of the people involved in the agreement, the parties used pseudonyms, with [Daniels] identified as “Peggy Peterson,” according to a person familiar with the matter. Part of the draft settlement pact was published by Slate.

    Let’s just repeat this: Trump’s lawyer paid hush money to a former mistress in the middle of a presidential campaign. But Trump refuses to talk about this and Cohen refuses to tell us where the money came from. How is it that the Wall Street Journal is the only paper chasing this story?

    But fine. It’s a porn star and the president. You want the titillating gossip, don’t you? Fine. Our own Daniel Friedman writes that a few years ago Stormy Daniels considered running for the Senate in Louisiana. She gave all her cell phone contacts to a political consultant, who then emailed about it to Andrea Dubé, a Democratic political consultant based in New Orleans:

    “Donald Trump?” she wrote. “In her cell phone?”

    “Yep,” the other consultant replied. “She says one time he made her sit with him for three hours watching ‘shark week.’ Another time he had her spank him with a Forbes magazine.” Dubé and the other consultant confirmed to Mother Jones they exchanged these emails.

    The campaign consultant who wrote the email to Dubé tells Mother Jones that Daniels said the spanking came during a series of sexual and romantic encounters with Trump and that it involved a copy of Forbes with Trump on the cover.

    A fall 2006 cover of Forbes does feature Trump and two of his children, Donald Jr. and Ivanka.

    benjamin_collectibles/eBay

    Really, Donald? Such a naughty, naughty boy.

  • FAKE NEWS Poll Results!

    I know you’ve been waiting with bated breath for the results of yesterday’s FAKE NEWS poll. So here it is:

    WKRP won in a landslide. Who knew there were so many Les Nessman fans out there? It was the turkey episode that put him over the top, wasn’t it?

    Not much love for the classics here, I’m afraid. It just goes to show the pitiable state of modern culture. There were also more fans of The Name of the Game than I would have guessed. Did 24 of you guys actually watch that show?

  • Lunchtime Photo

    I asked Marian to curate today’s photo, and to my surprise she picked this one. It is, obviously, a London bus passing Trafalgar Square. That’s Nelson’s column in the background. The bus itself is the #9 that formed our primary link between downtown and our home in Kensington.

    It’s worth saying that if you visit London and haven’t used the buses, you’re missing out. Not only can you see the city, especially from the upper deck, but the right bus can often get you closer to your destination than the tube. If nothing else, get to know two or three of the main bus routes that pass near your hotel or house. Or download an app like CityMapper that will figure out a bus route for you based on where you happen to be. Buses use the same Oyster card you use for the tube.

    Marian was a little bit skeptical at first, but she quickly became a great fan and took the bus everywhere. They’re mostly not very crowded, even at rush hour, and if you can snag the front upper seat, you get a great view.

  • Republicans Control Everything, But Still Can’t Pass a Budget

    Chris Hayes has a question:

    Probably never. But it’s worth pointing out why it’s happening now. It’s because appropriations are normally handled via reconciliation, which allows the majority party to pass them with only 51 votes. This year, however, Republicans decided to use the 2017 reconciliation bill for repealing Obamacare and the 2018 reconciliation bill for passing their tax bill. So there’s nothing left, and that means they need 60 votes in the Senate.

    This is the only reason they have to negotiate with Democrats in the first place. Their top priorities were taking away health insurance from poor people and giving a big tax cut to corporations and the rich. So now they’re stuck, and they’ve got a president who changes his mind so frequently that nobody can figure out what kind of deal he’d support anyway.

    Lots of people will suffer if the government shuts down because Trump is insisting on a huge increase in the military budget and a wholesale change to immigration laws. But it will mostly be the poor who suffer, and the rich already have their tax cut. So I guess it’s all good.

  • 2017 Set an Astonishing New Temperature Record

    The 2017 temps are in, and NASA reports that 2017 was the second-hottest year on record. On a global basis, 2017 was 0.9ºC hotter than the 20th century average. More importantly, it was the hottest by far outside of El Niño years. 2017 was an astonishing 0.26°C hotter than the previous hottest non-El Niño year.

    Just for a change of pace, though, let’s take a look at temperatures in the northern hemisphere, since that’s where most of us live. For the last couple of decades, the northern hemisphere has been heating up considerably more than the planet as a whole: in 2017, the northern hemisphere was a full 1.11ºC hotter than the 20th century average. Here’s the 50-year temperature record for the northern hemisphere:

    And here are northern hemisphere temps solely for years without an El Niño event. 2017 was 0.28°C hotter than the previous record holder:

    Just more fake news, I suppose.

  • Trump Wants to Hold Little Kids Hostage in Budget Battle

    The latest from President Trump:

    Sure. Let’s hold little kids hostage to our stupid political gameplaying. Just for the record, CHIP is the easiest thing in the world to pass. Everyone is in favor of it. The legislative language is ready to go. And it would cost nothing. There is literally no reason not to reauthorize CHIP unless you think that threatening health care for poor children is an appropriate way to get more leverage in your big-boy games against a party that’s vulnerable because it actually cares about people.

    Then again, Trump is the guy who threatened to cut off health care for his nephew with cerebral palsy as an act of revenge. So I guess we know how he feels about this stuff.

  • Quote of the Day: Anyway, I Like Cars

    Jay Godwin/Planet Pix via ZUMA

    From Vice President Joe Biden:

    I’m a hell of a good driver, man. For eight years, I wasn’t allowed to drive. But I got one chance when Jay Leno said would I drag-race out at their test track Colin Powell in his big Corvette. I actually was able to take him. Then I tried a Porsche and got it up to 182 miles per hour. Anyway, I like cars.

    This is one of the most Biden things ever.

  • Nobody Knows What Trump Wants to Keep the Government Running

    At last week’s big immigration meeting, President Trump said he’d sign whatever bill Congress sent him because he trusts them so much. A lot has changed in the past seven days:

    I guess Trump doesn’t trust Congress anymore. What happened?

  • In the Era of Trump, Everybody Hates Us

    Our official foreign policy these days is not just “America First,” but “Who Cares What All Those Other Weenie Countries Think?” Given that, I suppose there’s no reason to care about the views of the rest of the planet. But just in case you do care, here is Gallup’s latest.

  • Kelly: Trump Has “Evolved” on the Wall

    K.C. Alfred/San Diego Union-Tribune via ZUMA

    Wut?

    President Trump’s chief of staff privately told a group of Democratic lawmakers on Wednesday that Mr. Trump had not been “fully informed” when promising voters a wall along the Mexican border last year, and said that he had persuaded the president it was not necessary….[John F. Kelly] told members of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus that he had educated the president about the issue of immigration, adding that Mr. Trump had “evolved” on the wall.

    The comments were an unusual instance of a White House chief of staff seeming to undercut public statements made by the president, in the process contradicting the central message of “Build the wall” that defined Mr. Trump’s presidential campaign. The president has recently begun to temper his own statements about the wall, telling a group of Republican and Democratic lawmakers at the White House last week that a 2,000-mile structure would not be needed because parts of the border would be impassible.

    I have no idea what to say about this. True or not, what could possibly have prompted Kelly to say it?