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Oh, Jared, you scamp! Last week you took a secret trip to Saudi Arabia, and this week all hell is breaking loose over there! COINCIDENCE????? Did you maybe tell your BFF Mohammed bin-Salman (MBS) that your father-in-law doesn't care who they arrest as long as they round up that one Saudi billionaire who tweeted mean shit at Poppy Trump during the campaign? Did you tell them that they could kill all the Yemenis they want if Saudi Arabia will just use the New York Stock Exchange for the IPO of its sovereign wealth fund??


And when you and MBS were staying up giggling until 4AM, were you like, "Mo, how do you grow such a lush, manly beard? And do you maybe have a spare billion in the seat cushions so that my family business doesn't go under?" Because it would be insanely reckless to solicit funds from a foreign government while Bob Mueller is all over you like white on rice. Nobody would be stupid enough to do that, right? RIGHT????

The Back Story

Saudi Arabia was founded 115 years ago by Abdulaziz Ibn Saud, a man with 45 sons and infinity oil. Because the country is basically a giant oil well in the middle of the desert, it never developed a diverse economy -- money comes out of the ground whether people show up to work or not. And because the royal family is so large, everyone is getting paid by the government, and the line of succession is murky. In June, King Salman demoted the heir apparent and gave sweeping powers to his 32-year-old son Mohammed to clear out the deadwood and bring KSA into the 20th century.

So, we don't know for sure what went down at Jared and MBS's secret sleepover party. But if we had to guess, MBS said, "You guys cool if I take out all the locals who threaten my power so that I can modernize the economy and gear up for a regional war with those assholes in Iran?" And Jared said, "Whatevs, Bro! You know Vanky's dad has a hard on for Iran. Plus Rex Tillerson's busy canning everyone at the State Department so he can run through the halls naked. Dude's into some weird shit!" And then they did some more manly sword dancing.

Consolidating Power

This weekend, dozens of Saudi princes and other leaders were arrested in an ostensible crackdown on corruption. Also this weekend, the Ritz Carlton in Riyadh evicted all its guests and cleared the calendar for November.

Members of the royal family are barred from leaving the country, and many of them are currently "guests" of MBS at the Ritz Carlton.

Among those booked at the hotel is billionaire Prince Alwaleed bin Talal, who owns stakes in Twitter, Lyft, Apple and Citigroup. Unlike many of his fellow residents at the Ritz, he doesn't appear to have been a rival to MBS. But there was this.

Let's not dwell on Donald Trump criticizing someone for making his fortune off "Daddy's money." This way madness lies. All we're saying is that Alwaleed bin Talal pissed off Trump, Jared had a secret meeting with MBS, and now the guy is in jail. You do the math.

Also ALSO this weekend, Prince Mansour Bin Murquin, who had been crown prince in 2015 before being demoted by Prince Salman, was killed in a helicopter crash. Nice of Prince Mansour to wait until after Jared was wheels up to crash his helicopter in the middle of the desert. AHEM.

Welcome to the 20th Century

It's hard to modernize your economy if the rest of the world thinks you're a medieval backwater with public floggings and women forced to walk around dressed like beekeepers. The prince can't turn Riyadh into Dubai with the morality goon squad arresting people over pop music and alcohol while courts refuse to enforce "un-Islamic" contracts. This summer MBS reined in the clerics and issued edicts allowing women to drive and attend soccer games. With his conservative cousins taking a rest cure at the Ritz, MBS is ready to present the world with a new, modern Saudi Arabia just in time for the planned IPO of KSA's ginormous sovereign wealth fund Aramco.

SUBTLE. Safe to assume Jared mentioned this to his buddy Mohammed.

So, Who's Excited For Total War?

In the past, Sunni-led Iraq and Shiite Iran kept each other more or less in check. But then George Bush decided to take revenge for a handful of Saudi hijackers in September 2001 by destroying Iraq. Which made no fucking sense, and also unleashed a wider regional conflict between Sunni Saudi Arabia and Shiite Iran that is still ripping apart Iraq, Syria, Yemen and Lebanon. Well-played, America!

(Yes, we are aware that Saddam Hussein and Bashar al-Assad were murderous despots. But the entire ME is on fire, and we're going to abandon the Kurds AGAIN. So we fail to see how this is better.)

In May, Kush agreed on a $110 billion arms deal between KSA and the US. And he made clear we don't give a shit which civilians they shoot. Which is good because Saudi Arabia is busily inserting itself itself into the Yemeni civil war and turning it into a proxy conflict with Iran. Yemeni kids are starving, cholera is spreading, and there's no functioning government. Saudi Arabia has responded with humanitarian aid in the form of UK-made cluster bombs dropped in civilian areas.

Iranian-backed Houthi rebels have seized Yemen's capital Sana'a, and yesterday they fired a ballistic missile at Riyadh's airport. The Saudis managed to intercept the missile, which they insist was supplied by Iran. The whole thing is a humanitarian catastrophe with no end in sight.

And in case you're still with us here, Lebanon's Prime Minister Saad Hariri just happened to resign this weekend while on a visit to KSA, ceding control of the government to Iranian-backed Hezbollah. We can't tell you what will happen now that Bashar Assad has regained control in Syria, sending hordes of ISIS fighters over the border into Lebanon. But it is NOT going to be good.

In sum, we know that Donald Trump is an existential crisis here in the US. But if you have any extra bandwidth, maybe pay attention to this. Because the Saudi-Iran conflict is reaching the boiling point, and if that fuckwit Jared doesn't get indicted first, he's going to lead us into yet another endless ground war in the Middle East.

[WaPo / WaPo, again / New York Times / New York Times, again / CNN / CNN, again]

Holy shit this stuff is complicated! Please give us money for more goodtime splainers!

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!

Follow your FDF on Twitter!

Money us, PLEASE! Throw a tip in the jar, or click here to keep your Wonkette snarking forever.

[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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