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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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Nancy Pelosi is making news again today after her weekly press conference, mostly because she said this about yesterday's nutbag performance from President Stable Genius:

[T]his time, another temper tantrum — again — I pray for the President Of The United States. I wish him and his family, his administration and staff would have an intervention for the good of the country.

She prays for him. And she's just kind of suggesting that maybe the president is unwell, in his brain. She's being very subtle!

When Glenn Thrush asked afterward what kind of "intervention" she might be talking about, she suggested that Article 25 would be just fine.

But many folks out there right now are saying "BUT WHAT ABOUT INPEACH! They are not going to do an intervention, because the intervention is called INPEACH!" (They are taking her words very literally, it would seem.) Every other damn day lately, there is news about how "NANCY SAID INPEACH IS BAD" or "NANCY SAID TRUMP'S ACTIONS IS SELF-INPEACH-ATORY, WHAT DOES THAT EVEN MEAN, NANCY!" and whatever else, we don't know, because we have muted all of Twitter until further notice. (Here is some news about the House Democrats' weekly meeting yesterday, most of which was about Democrats yelling INPEACH! while Nancy Pelosi gave them cold showers.)

Here's the thing:

In today's presser, Pelosi was clearer than ever about her feelings on impeachment -- she doesn't like it, and she'd really hate for the nation to get to a place where that's inevitable, she is just saying it would be truly terrible for them to have to do that -- but they might just be FORCED to go there. And wouldn't that be just terrible? Nancy Pelosi is praying about that just like she is praying for Trump, under a big oak tree that casts all the shade she threw at Donald Trump for her entire fucking presser.

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Happy Throwback Thursday! Remember Paul Manafort? He's still in jail, don't worry. But it looks like he might be getting some company soon from his old pal Stephen Calk, who just got indicted today by the Southern District of New York.

Calk was a simple CEO and COB at the Federal Savings Bank of Chicago, but he had big dreams. He'd been an army pilot and a money guy, so he figured he was competent to be either Secretary of Treasury or Secretary of Army. He'd take Commerce or HUD, or even a cool ambassadorship to France, or the UK, or the UN -- he wasn't picky. Just any old position befitting a guy who is 100 percent going to be played by Michael McKean in the movie version of this nightmare.

Luckily Calk knew a guy on the inside. Sure that guy had recently been You're Fired from the Trump campaign for ratfucking the Ukrainian election, but Paul Manafort was still waving his bits all over Trumpland in the summer and fall of 2016, so Paul Manafort had the hookup that Calk needed. Luckily, Calk had what Manafort needed, which was MONEY. Manafort's fountain of untaxed cash had dried up since the Ukrainians gave his guy Viktor Yanukovych the boot, and he was in danger of losing multiple investment properties to foreclosure. So naturally Calk stepped up to the plate with $15 million in loans to keep the wolves at bay, because what are friends with more political ambition than scruple for, right?

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