When I said "rape," what I meant was ...

No sooner had we finished typing yesterday about Donald Trump's about-face on Chinese telecoms company ZTE, the other shoe dropped like a $500 million sack of Chinese cash.


A mere 72 hours before Trump tweeted that he was instructing Wilbur Ross to reverse the Commerce Department's ban on American exports to ZTE, the Trump Organization got a big boost from Chinese state banks. The Trump Organization has been working on a hotel project in Indonesia since 2015, and Hosanna!, Sinosure and the Bank of China decided to pony up the $500 million in financing to get the project going!

As the South China Morning Post reported,

The park – expected to be backed with up to US$500 million in Chinese government loans – is part of an “integrated lifestyle resort”, known as MNC Lido City.

The project includes Trump-branded hotels, residences and a golf course, as well as other hotel, shopping and residential developments.

Referring to its subsidiary, MCC [Metallurgical Corporation of China] described the theme park as “the first culture and tourism industry project by the Central Research Institute of Building and Construction” and was “in response to” China’s Belt and Road Initiative.

Let's unpack this one for a second. China's Belt and Road Initiative is a massive infrastructure program that aims to connect China to Europe, Africa and the rest of Asia. China's government will finance transportation and building projects as a way to increase China's soft power and bring all of Eurasia into its orbit. Here, have a little video.

Now you may or may not buy into the idea that China's increasing clout necessarily diminishes America's power in the world. But Donald Trump campaigned by shouting to crowds of pitchfork-wielding rubes that China was "eating our lunch" and "taking advantage of us."

But if he can make a cool $10 or 30 million by helping to increase China's reach, well, WHO WOULDN'T, RIGHT?

And it's just a coincidence that three days after China agreed to finance Trump's Indonesia project, he issued a lifeline to ZTE, which was effectively put out of business by the Commerce Department's export ban on phone parts?

Yeah, sure it is.

HuffPo quotes government ethics expert Richard Painter,

“You do a good deal for him, he does a good deal for you. Quid pro quo,” said Richard Painter, the White House ethics lawyer for former President George W. Bush and now a Democratic candidate for Senate in Minnesota.

“This appears to be yet another violation of the emoluments clause of the Constitution,” Painter said, referring to the prohibition against the president receiving payments from foreign governments.

To which the White House replies,

Reporter: Can you tell or explain the administration's perspective on A) How this wouldn't violate the Emoluments Clause, and B) How it wouldn't violate the president's own promise that his private organization would not be getting involved in new foreign deals while he was president?

Raj Shah: I'll have to refer you to the Trump Organization on that one.

I refer you to Uday and Qusay, noted experts on the Constitution's Foreign Emoluments Clause. Is that really what we're going with here?

You're asking about a private organization's dealings that may have to do with a foreign government. It's not something that I can speak to.


Meanwhile, Trump's staff are desperately trying to backpedal, insisting that Trump would never order the Commerce Department to kill a law enforcement action as a part of trade negotiations. Particularly when the Senate Intelligence Committee heard testimony today from the nominee to the National Counterintelligence and Security Center on the inherent insecurity of ZTE phones.

Plus, there's that whole thing about bribery being against federal law.

Looks like they forgot to loop in the big guy, though.

Yes, tell us more about how you're taking "official acts" because of your "personal relationship" with the guy who just authorized half a billion dollars in loans to your company's project. Keep tweeting, Poppy!

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[South China Morning Post / HuffPo]

Five Dollar Feminist

Your FDF lives in Baltimore under an assumed identity as an upstanding member of the PTA. Shhh, don't tell anyone she makes swears on the internet!

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Republicans are devouring each other's carcasses, and we are here for it! Especially when one of those Republicans is King Kris of the Kansas Votefucker Klan ... errr, Clan! It's been a week since Kansans cast their votes in the gubernatorial primary, and the GOP looks to be rolling up its sleeves for a slugfest.

As we type, Kobach leads by 298 votes out of more than 314,000 cast -- a whopping 0.00095 percent, if you round up! The Kansas GOP begged Donald Trump to stay out of the race and leave the field clear for sitting governor Jeff Colyer, who took over when Sam Brownback wandered off to bring Jesus to the Hottentots on behalf of the US government. Safe bet that Colyer would be gearing up for the general election now if President Twitterthumbs hadn't flapped his yap. So thanks for that, Donny!

No, really, THANKS!

Remember the hanging chad debacle in Florida? Now picture it in a landlocked state with more cows than people. It's like fantasy island for Devin Nunes, ALLEGEDLY.

Oh, but we are to kid!

After first insisting he wasn't going to recuse from the counting, Secretary of State Kris Kobach (one and the same!) wrote Colyer a fabulously bitchy letter agreeing to hand off the tabulation to his deputy, Eric Rucker. Colyer had made the shocking suggestion that Kobach delegate responsibility to the Kansas attorney general, rather than his own political appointee, and Kobach was stretched out on the settee with a fit of the vapors at the gross impropriety of it all!

I will not breach the public trust and arbitrarily assign my responsibilities to another office that is not granted such authority by the laws of Kansas.

After several anguished paragraphs, Kobach closed by remonstrating that Colyer was betraying his office by destroying the faith of Kansans in the sacred integrity of their electoral process.

As governor of Kansas, your unrestrained rhetoric has the potential to undermine the public's confidence in the election process. May I suggest that you trust the people of Kansas have made the right decision at the polls and that our election officials will properly determine the result as they do in every election.

Said the guy whose entire adult life has been dedicated to whipping up panic about millions of imaginary illegal alien voters.

So now these two princes can kick the crap out of each other WITH VOTES, specifically, provisional ballots cast by unaffiliated voters under the supervision of poorly trained poll workers. Kansas holds closed primaries, meaning only registered Republicans can vote to select the GOP candidate, BUT an unaffiliated voter can cast a vote by checking a box identifying as a Democrat or a Republican at the polling place. This was news to some poll workers, who mistakenly directed over one thousand unaffiliated voters to use provisional ballots without checking the box indicating party preference. Whoops!

So, will those provisional ballots be counted based on voter intent? Or tossed based on strict interpretation of the statute? And does Kansas law mandate tossing mail-in ballots that arrive without a postmark on Wednesday, since there's no forensic proof that they were mailed before midnight on Tuesday? And how disgusted will the Kansas electorate be when one of these assholes emerges from the melée holding the other one's scalp? And how many millions of dollars are going to be spent on litigating the Republican primary while this nice lady Laura Kelly, the Democratic minority whip of the Kansas Senate, is out campaigning for November?

Even before this debacle, Kobach looked significantly weaker against Kelly than Colyer, with self-funded Libertarian Jeff Orman threatening to throw a wrench in the works. The Wichita Eagle reports on a Remington Research Poll conducted in July:

In a Kelly-Orman-Kobach race, the poll puts Kelly and Kobach effectively in a dead heat — 36 percent for Kelly and 35 percent for Kobach, with Kelly's lead within the margin of error. Orman has 12 percent.

Colyer leads in a three-way race with Kelly and Orman, according to the poll. In that scenario, Colyer receives 38 percent of the vote, while Kelly gets 28 percent and Orman receives 10 percent.

Which is ONE POLL, in a deeply red state, but ... Kobach is a crap candidate who's likely to emerge from this fight with two black eyes and a pissed off base. If there's anyone who can blow this election, it's Kris Kobach.

Keep fighting, Kris! You can do it! (And now we need a shower.)

And YOU need an OPEN THREAD!

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[Kobach letter / Wichita Eagle / Mother Jones / Kansas City Star]

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While most people spent this weekend telling Nazi punks to fuck off, a couple 11-year-olds were in Las Vegas hacking into voting machines. Why? BECAUSE IT'S FUN!

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