Thursday Reads: Is Trump Abusing Amphetamines?

Good Morning!!

Poor sad sack Trump is feeling sorry for himself this morning. He’s likely beginning to realize that he would have been better off if he had just continued his criminal career in New York and never run for president.

Now Trump is totally screwed. If he had half a brain, he would try to make a deal now to resign in return for not going to prison. He could work out an agreement with Pence to pardon him, along with Ivanka, Don Jr., and Eric for Federal crimes; but they would still be on the hook for state charges in New York. And Pence cannot pardon the Trump Organization.

Poor old guy. He should really, really start thinking about resigning before it’s too late.

 

I came across some interesting information this morning on Twitter that could explain some of Trump’s behavioral issues. A man named Noel Casler who spent six years working on Celebrity Apprentice claims that Trump frequently chopped up Adderall tablets and snorted them.

This could explain some of Trump’s weird speech problems and his loud sniffing in the presidential debates and in other appearances.

From a site called Polipace last year: Are Stimulant Drugs Messing Up Trump’s Mind and Speech? Doctor Claims He’s on Drugs. (Obviously, I can’t vouch for this accuracy of this piece, but as a strong rumor, it’s quite interesting.)

This morning I got a weird phone call after the Trump speech ended announcing the US Embasy Moving to Jerusalem, from a Psychiatrist in New York, who claimed that Donald Trump was taking Adderall and other psycho-stimulants. He didn’t want to have his name used, but he checked out as a Psychiatrist who had been working in Manhattan for over 20 years. He  said that Trump had been taking all types of stimulants for years and it was one of the reasons that Trump was, according to him, suffering from Dementia, as it causes permanent brain damage.

He also claims this is why Trump slurred, “God Blesshh the United Shtakes” in his speech….

The Doctor said that it was “obvious” that Trump has been popping speed of some sort, and this would explain his weird speech patterns, and even the “crashes” he seems to have where he starts slurring his words suddenly and has severe dry mouth.

Back in the day, Spy Magazine claimed that Trump was using amphetamines. Gawker published articles about this in 2016.

Gawker, 2/11/16: The Best Theory of 1992: Donald Trump Took Amphetamine-Like Diet Pills, by Sam Biddle.

Two decades ago, Donald Trump wasn’t a fascist lightning rod, hick idol, reality star, or political entity. He was just a high-profile rich schmuck and evergreen victim of Spy magazine, which used him as a peg for a February 1992 feature on Dr. Joseph Greenberg, whom they alleged was prescribing powerful stimulants to anyone with a checkbook. Stimulants, Spy’s John Connolly speculated, that might explain how Donald Trump maintains his infinite, inexhaustible arrogance:

Have you ever wondered why Donald Trump has acted so erratically at times, full of manic energy, paranoid, garrulous? Well, he was a patient of Dr. Greenberg’s from 1982 to 1985…Dr. Greenberg diagnosed both of the Trump brothers as suffering from a “metabolic imbalance.”

According to Spy, Dr. Greenberg believed the cure for “metabolic imbalance” (not an actual medical disorder) was Tenuate Dospan, a diet drug similar to dexedrine with known side effects that include “confusions” and “hallucinations,” according to the NIH. It also gives you an amphetamine-like buzz. This is all probably why it’s only supposed to be prescribed on a short-term basis, as opposed to the multiple-monthlong regimens Dr. Greenberg allegedly dosed out, according to Spy:

Dr. Greenberg’s program included no set caloric limit, and Tenuate was prescribed or five months. The long-term use of Tenuate can, according to the medical literature, lead to psychosis—delusions of grandeur, say, like the belief that by simply putting your name on real estate properties, you will double their value.

Or, say, like running for president without a platform beyond “look at that yonder Muslim, what’s he up to?” Most juicily, Connolly included what purports to be the Trump brothers’ medical charts, “indicating many, many visits” to Greenberg. Over email, Connolly told me that the image was in fact a direct photocopy of the Trump brothers’ medical records, and not merely a reproduction from information or an illustration.

Donald Trump’s medical record from the office of Dr. Greenberg, as published by Spy in 1992

Gawker, 7/1/16: Rumor: Doctor Prescribes Donald Trump “Cheap Speed,” by Ashley Feinberg.

Back in December, Donald Trump’s personal doctor declared to the world that Trump would be “the healthiest individual ever elected to the presidency.” While that particular claim is unfalsifiable (although almost certainly incorrect), according to a source with knowledge of Trump’s current prescriptions, that letter isn’t telling the whole story. Most notably: Donald Trump is allegedly still taking speed-like diet pills.

In addition to referencing the Spy story, Feinberg quotes from Harry Hurt’s biography of Trump, Lost Tycoon.

In 1993, Harry Hurt’s unauthorized biography on Trump, Lost Tycoon, corroborated the rumors and went one step further:

The diet drugs, which [Trump] took in pill form, not only curbed his appetite but gave him a feeling of euphoria and unlimited energy. The medical literature warned that some potentially dangerous side effects could result from long-term usage; they included anxiety, insomnia, and delusions of grandeur. According to several Trump Organization insiders, Donald exhibited all these ominous symptoms of diet drug usage, and then some.

The supposed drug Trump took back then was Tenuate Dospan, a drug with speed-like effects that’s not unlike dexedrine.

These rumors say Trump stopped seeing Dr. Greenberg decades ago. But according to our source, the Donald Trump of today is on a diet drug called phentermine—and has been since at least April of 2014.

Phentermine first gained notoriety in the U.S. under the name Fen-Phen, a “miracle” combination of phentermine and fenfluramine, another established anti-obesity drug. The only problem with it was that patients taking the drug began reporting damage to their hearts and lungs. Apparently, the combination destroyed patients’ bodies’ abilities to regulate the amount of serotonin.

Phentermine on its own, however, is still prescribed. And while the U.S. National Library of Medicine notes that most people take phentermine for a month or so at a time, since the drug is addictive, Trump has supposedly been taking it continuously for over two years .

C. Richard Allen, the director of the Georgia Drugs and Narcotics Agency, called phentermine “cheap speed” to The New York Times. Side effects of phentermine include:

  • Trouble with thinking, speaking, or walking
  • Decreased ability to exercise
  • False or unusual sense of well-being
  • Insomnia
  • Nervousness
  • Increase in sexual ability, desire, drive, or performance
  • Confusion

Readers can determine for themselves if these symptoms remind them of anyone.

So . . . that would certainly explain a lot about Trump.

I know this is a strange post, but I have a nasty cold and I’m not thinking clearly enough to deal with real news. Here are a few links to check out in case you’re in the mood to do it.

NBC News: Trump confides to friends he’s concerned about impeachment.

The Washington Post: Federal judge seeks documents related to Michael Flynn’s January 2017 interview with FBI agents.

The Daily Beast: Get Ready for Mueller’s Phase Two: The Middle East Connection.

The Washington Post: Russian Maria Butina pleads guilty in case to forge Kremlin bond with U.S. conservatives.

The Daily Beast: Trump Cancels White House Christmas Party for the Press.

Associated Press: As protectors abandon Trump, investigation draws closer.

David Corn at Mother Jones: Did Michael Flynn Try to Strike a Grand Bargain With Moscow as it Attacked the 2016 Election?

What stories are you following today?

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Wednesday Reads: Pelosi, The Wall

 

 

 

12/12 Mike Luckovich: Wall protecting America

That has to be the best representation of the theatrics played out before the cameras yesterday, during the stage show given in the Oval Office.

 

Trump’s heated meeting in the Oval Office – CNN Video

 

(Something is up with WordPress…Images are not loading correctly. Hopefully you can see these cartoons.)

 

This next cartoon from Eric Garcia hits home if anyone has seen the latest series of Narcos: Mexico…

Bury Bush: 12/12/2018 Cartoon by Eric J Garcia

Cartoon by Eric J Garcia - Bury Bush

12/12/2018 Cartoon by Signe Wilkinson

Cartoon by Signe Wilkinson -

12/07/2018 Cartoon by Signe Wilkinson

Cartoon by Signe Wilkinson -

Clay Bennett editorial cartoon: 12/12/2018 Cartoon by Clay Bennett

Cartoon by Clay Bennett - Clay Bennett editorial cartoon

Clay Bennett editorial cartoon: 12/11/2018 Cartoon by Clay Bennett

Cartoon by Clay Bennett - Clay Bennett editorial cartoon

Clay Bennett editorial cartoon: 12/07/2018 Cartoon by Clay Bennett

Cartoon by Clay Bennett - Clay Bennett editorial cartoon

 

Chief of Staff: 12/12/2018 Cartoon by Rob Rogers

Cartoon by Rob Rogers - Chief of Staff

Market Plunge: 12/10/2018 Cartoon by Rob Rogers

Cartoon by Rob Rogers - Market Plunge

Redacted: 12/06/2018 Cartoon by Rob Rogers

Cartoon by Rob Rogers - Redacted

Gut Reaction: 12/01/2018 Cartoon by Rob Rogers

Cartoon by Rob Rogers - Gut Reaction

Tips for holiday cheer: 12/12/2018 Cartoon by Jen Sorensen

Cartoon by Jen Sorensen - Tips for holiday cheer

The Refugee Cycle: 12/05/2018 Cartoon by Jen Sorensen

Cartoon by Jen Sorensen - The Refugee Cycle

Duterte Squashing Dissent: 12/12/2018 Cartoon by Angelo Lopez

Cartoon by Angelo Lopez - Duterte Squashing Dissent

12/11/2018 Cartoon by Bob Gorrell

Cartoon by Bob Gorrell -

Blood Brothers: 12/11/2018 Cartoon by Deb Milbrath

Cartoon by Deb Milbrath - Blood Brothers

SHUT DOWN: 12/12/2018 Cartoon by Deb Milbrath

Cartoon by Deb Milbrath - SHUT DOWN

President Potty Mouth: 12/09/2018 Cartoon by Deb Milbrath

Cartoon by Deb Milbrath - President Potty Mouth

December 7: 12/07/2018 Cartoon by Deb Milbrath

Cartoon by Deb Milbrath - December 7

Federal court filings: 12/11/2018 Cartoon by Adam Zyglis

Cartoon by Adam Zyglis - Federal court filings

12/11/2018 Cartoon by Matt Wuerker

Cartoon by Matt Wuerker -

12/11/2018 Cartoon by Nate Beeler

Cartoon by Nate Beeler -

12/11 Mike Luckovich: Shipmates

 

And…the latest news:

Former Trump attorney Michael Cohen sentenced to 3 years in prison

A federal judge in New York sentenced President Donald Trump’s former long-time attorney Michael Cohen to 36 months imprisonment on Wednesday after he pleaded guilty to several charges earlier this year, according to multiple reports.

This is an open thread.

 


Tuesday Reads: The Humiliation of the Fake “President”

Good Morning!!

 

As if the fake “president” didn’t have enough humiliations to deal with this morning, Time Magazine has delivered a crushing blow to his ego, announcing Jamal Khashoggi and other journalists as their “Person of the Year.”

The Washington Post: Time’s Person of the Year: ‘Guardians’ of the truth, including slain journalist Jamal Khashoggi.

Time magazine has announced its 2018 Person of the Year is “The Guardians,” four individuals and one group — all journalists — who this year helped expose “the manipulation and the abuse of truth” around the world.

They are the journalist Jamal Khashoggi, the Washington Post contributing columnist who was killed inside Saudi Arabia’s consulate in Istanbul in October; the staff of the Capital Gazette newspaper in Maryland; journalist Maria Ressa, the CEO of the Rappler news website, who has been made a legal target in the Philippines; and journalists Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo, who have been jailed in Myanmar for nearly a year for their work exposing the mass killing of Rohingya Muslims.

“As we looked at the choices, it became clear that the manipulation and the abuse of truth is really the common thread in so many of this year’s major stories, from Russia to Riyadh to Silicon Valley,” Time magazine editor Edward Felsenthal said on the “Today” show Tuesday morning, where the announcement was made.

“The manipulation and abuse of truth” is a pretty clear reference to Trump’s governing style.

Here’s Time’s cover story: The Guardians and the War on Truth.

The stout man with the gray goatee and the gentle demeanor dared to disagree with his country’s government. He told the world the truth about its brutality toward those who would speak out. And he was murdered for it.

Every detail of Jamal Khashoggi’s killing made it a sensation: the time stamp on the surveillance video that captured the Saudi journalist entering his country’s Istanbul consulate on Oct. 2; the taxiway images of the private jets bearing his assassins; the bone saw; the reports of his final words, “I can’t breathe,” recorded on audio as the life was choked from him.

But the crime would not have remained atop the world news for two months if not for the epic themes that Khashoggi himself was ever alert to, and spent his life placing before the public. His death laid bare the true nature of a smiling prince, the utter absence of morality in the Saudi-U.S. alliance and—in the cascade of news feeds and alerts, posts and shares and links—the centrality of the question Khashoggi was killed over: Whom do you trust to tell the story?

Khashoggi put his faith in bearing witness. He put it in the field reporting he had done since youth, in the newspaper editorship he was forced out of and in the columns he wrote from lonely exile. “Must we choose,” he asked in the Washington Post in May, “between movie theaters and our rights as citizens to speak out, whether in support of or critical of our government’s actions?” Khashoggi had fled his homeland last year even though he actually supported much of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s agenda in Saudi Arabia. What irked the kingdom and marked the journalist for death was Khashoggi’s insistence on coming to that conclusion on his own, tempering it with troubling facts and trusting the public to think for itself.

Such independence is no small thing. It marks the distinction between tyranny and democracy. And in a world where budding authoritarians have advanced by blurring the difference, there was a clarity in the spectacle of a tyrant’s fury visited upon a man armed only with a pen. Because the strongmen of the world only look strong. All despots live in fear of their people. To see genuine strength, look to the spaces where individuals dare to describe what’s going on in front of them.

Trump and his gullible son-in-law Jared Kushner won’t be happy about this. Plus, yesterday CNN published quotes from the transcript of the recording of the Kashoggi murder: ‘I can’t breathe.’ Jamal Khashoggi’s last words disclosed in transcript, source says.

“I can’t breathe.” These were the final words uttered by Jamal Khashoggi after he was set upon by a Saudi hit squad at the country’s consulate in Istanbul, according to a source briefed on the investigation into the killing of the Washington Post columnist.

The source, who has read a translated transcript of an audio recording of Khashoggi’s painful last moments, said it was clear that the killing on October 2 was no botched rendition attempt, but the execution of a premeditated plan to murder the journalist.
During the course of the gruesome scene, the source describes Khashoggi struggling against a group of people determined to kill him.

“I can’t breathe,” Khashoggi says.

“I can’t breathe.”

“I can’t breathe.”

The transcript notes the sounds of Khashoggi’s body being dismembered by a saw, as the alleged perpetrators are advised to listen to music to block out the sound.

And, according to the source, the transcript suggests that a series of phone calls are made. Turkish officials believe the calls were placed to senior figures in Riyadh, briefing them on progress.

Nick Ayers and John Kelly

In other humiliations, the fake “president” decided to humiliate Chief of Staff John Kelly by announcing his firing without any warning, and then the fake “president” was in turn humiliated by his choice to replace Kelly. Gabriel Sherman at Vanity Fair:

On Friday night, members of Donald Trump’s West Wing gathered for drinks at the Trump International Hotel following a holiday dinner at the White House. As they mingled in the lobby, Bill Shine, Stephen MillerKellyanne Conway, Sarah Huckabee Sanders, and others grappled with the latest West Wing upheaval: Trump had changed the plan and fired Chief of Staff John Kellyearlier that afternoon. “It got back to Trump that Kelly was bad-mouthing him and Trump had decided he’d had enough. His attitude was, ‘fuck him,’” an attendee told me.

Kelly’s defenestration surprised few people—Trump had wanted to fire him for months—but the lingering problem had been finding a replacement whom Trump felt comfortable with (and who wanted the job). “The president really wanted someone he knows. He didn’t want to gamble,” a former West Wing official said. After weeks of lobbying by Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner, Trump had been convinced that Mike Pence’s 36-year-old chief of staff, Nick Ayers, was the best candidate. On Friday afternoon, Trump met with Ayers, Pence, and Kelly and finalized the transition, a source briefed on the meeting said. A press release announcing Ayers’s hiring was reportedly drafted and ready to go for when Trump planned to announce Kelly’s departure on Monday.

But Trump’s frustration with Kelly boiled over after Kelly pressed him to name his deputy Zachary Fuentes interim chief of staff. “Trump didn’t like how Kelly was trying to dictate the terms of his departure,” a Republican briefed on the discussions told me. Trump blew up the carefully orchestrated announcement and told reporters on Saturday as he walked to Marine One that Kelly would be leaving by the end of the year. “John wanted to announce his own departure. This was a humiliation,” a former West Wing official said.

Trump’s impulsive announcement quickly became an even bigger problem when it turned out that Kelly’s replacement was not sewn up; Ayers surprised Trump later that day by insisting that he only wanted the job short term. “Trump was pissed, he was caught off guard,” a former West Wing official briefed on the talks said.

And to make sure the humiliation of the fake “president” was complete, Ayers announced his departure on Twitter.

Now Trump is left with no one to humiliate in the formerly prestigious Chief of Staff job. The Washington Post: ‘There was no Plan B’: Trump scrambles to find chief of staff after top candidate turns him down.

After announcing the exit of his chief of staff, John F. Kelly, and being turned down by his pick to replace him, Nick Ayers, Trump found himself Monday in an unexpected predicament — scrambling to recruit someone to help run the executive branch of the federal government and guide the administration through the political tumult and possible legal peril ahead.

“Will you be my Chief of Staff?”

In any White House, the chief of staff is arguably the most punishing position. But in this White House — a den of disorder ruled by an impulsive president — it has proved to be an especially thankless job. The two people to hold the job were left with their reputations diminished after failing to constrain the president, who often prefers to function as his own chief of staff.

Three members of Trump’s Cabinet who have been discussed inside the West Wing as possible chiefs of staff — Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, Office of Management and Budget Director Mick Mulvaney and U.S. Trade Representative Robert E. Lighthizer — each signaled Monday that they were not interested in the position.

Considerable buzz has centered on two other contenders. Rep. Mark Meadows (R-N.C.) noted his interest in the job by issuing a statement saying that “serving as Chief of Staff would be an incredible honor.”

“It is not something I have been campaigning for,” Meadows told reporters Monday on Capitol Hill, adding that his phone “blew up” after the Ayers news broke. “The president has a good list of candidates. I’m honored to be one of those.”

And acting attorney general Matthew G. Whitaker, who traveled with Trump to Kansas City, Mo., last week , is seen by the president and his allies as a loyalist.

But Trump’s advisers and aides cautioned that there was not yet a front-runner.

Although aides said the president is committed to finding a replacement for Kelly before the Christmas holiday, they said he has been vacillating — casting about in all corners for potential picks and frustrated by news coverage depicting his White House as a place where talented people do not want to work.

Why would anyone want to work for Trump? I guess it will have to be someone whose reputation is already in tatters. I can’t imagine anyone who has hopes for a future career being interested. That description could apply to Whitaker, but how could he get a security clearance when he’s associated with a company that is under investigation for fraud?

Of course Trump is claiming he has multiple applicants for the job.

Hahahahahahahaha!

That’s it for me today. What stories are you following?


Monday Reads: Out with the Old or a Change is Gonna Come

Minnesota’s new Congresswoman Ilhan Omar

Good Morning Sky Dancers!

I want to start off with the one change that is coming that will hopefully bring some fresh air to desperate circumstances.  There’s a whole lot of diversity coming to the House of Representatives and there’s a whole lot of trash being sent back to the states from which it came.  Let’s start with the Granny Starver who enabled a huge, historic deficit while preaching austerity.  Austerity is for grannies and not real estate and finance high rollers.  Bye Bye Paulie Boy!  Just remember: Proportion of Democrats who are white men will drop from 41% to 38% while Republican figure will climb from 86% to 90%”  These dudes will finally be the minority they are.

Change is gonna come.  I can see it in the bright pages of places hidden from corporate media.

Ryan’s defenders portray him as a principled legislator trapped by the coalition he managed.

“Donald Trump was president of the United States, and that circumscribed Paul Ryan’s choices,” says Brooks. “You can dispute what he did, but he got as much of the loaf as he thought he could get given the factions of his caucus and Trump’s peculiarities. Did he like being speaker of the House? The results speak for themselves: He’s leaving.”

In this telling, Ryan’s principled vision was foiled by Trump’s ascendancy. Faced with a Republican president he had never expected, and managing a restive majority that mostly agreed on being disagreeable, Ryan defaulted to the lowest common denominator of Republican Party policy: unpaid-for tax cuts for the rich, increases in defense spending, and failed attempts to repeal Obamacare.

This is more or less the defense Ryan has offered of his tenure. “I think some people would like me to start a civil war in our party and achieve nothing,” he told the New York Times. Trump had no appetite for cutting entitlements, so Ryan got what he could, and he got out.

But would it have started a civil war in the Republican Party if the most publicly anti-deficit politician of his generation had simply refused to pass laws that increased the deficit? And even if it had, isn’t that the war Ryan had promised?

The question here is not why Ryan didn’t live up to a liberal philosophy of government; it’s why he didn’t live up to his own philosophy of government.

What’s more, Trump was clearly flexible when it came to policy. On the campaign, Trump repeatedly promised he wouldn’t cut Medicaid; as president, he endorsed legislation Ryan wrote that did exactly that. After winning the election, Trump promised he’d replace Obamacare with a plan that offered “insurance for everybody” with “much lower deductibles,” but he ultimately backed Ryan’s bill to take Obamacare away from millions and push the system toward higher-deductible plans. For Ryan to claim he was not driving the policy agenda in the Trump years is ridiculous.

Ryan proved himself and his party to be exactly what the critics said: monomaniacally focused on taking health insurance from the poor, cutting taxes for the rich, and spending more on the Pentagon. And he proved that Republicans were willing to betray their promises and, in their embrace of Trump, violate basic decency to achieve those goals.

Rep.-elect Ayanna Pressley (D-Mass.)

Just as we’re about to see the start of a promise of a legislative body that has the look and feel of America we see the media trying to push us right back into that old corner. Andrew O’Hehir asks a brilliant question today in Slate: “First wave of 2020 panic: Is Biden vs. Bernie really the best Democrats can do? After the sweeping, female-fueled victories of the midterms, a battle of old white dudes could spell disaster.”  Why won’t they just go away?

In case you thought the Democrats’ big win in the midterms — a pickup of 40 House seats, and counting — meant that the weirdness and bitterness of the 2016 primary was behind us, and that the party is ready to come together and banish the Twitter-troll-in-chief to the doghouse (or to prison) two years hence, you have a number of other thinks coming. Consider this: The leading contenders for the 2020 Democratic nomination, by far, are Joe Biden and Bernie Sanders.

Speaking as a friend, kind of: That should be avoided at all costs. It’s a tragicomic farce waiting to happen, one that threatens to undermine much of what the Democrats have apparently accomplished over the last two years. Both of them are profoundly decent men who have done a lot for this country. But, just, please no.

But right now we’ve got Joe and Bernie, who both look extremely likely to run and could easily end up as the principal antagonists. What in hell did we do to deserve this? I take no position on which of them is most likely to win, or even which of them should win — as Bill Moyers told me years ago, those are always the least interesting questions in politics. I do know that this could be disastrous for the Democratic Party, and not just because it opens the door for the re-election of What’s His Name. (Although that too.)

A Sanders-Biden throwdown would rip the scabs off old wounds, inflame entrenched divisions and cast the party in the worst possible light, making clear on a bunch of levels that it doesn’t know who it represents or what principles it stands for. At a moment when Democrats finally seem to be moving toward the future, this would make them appear stuck in the past.

I suspect that many political pros in and around the party feel similarly, which is why they keep trying to construct alternate scenarios that will make this one go away. So we have had the Oprah Winfrey boomlet (do you remember it fondly?), the Kirsten Gillibrand ponder, the Michael Avenatti moment, the Michael Bloomberg trial balloon, the Elizabeth Warren mini-wave and most recently Betomania, in which a guy who lost a Senate race in Texas has abruptly been inflated into the latest liberal dreamboat messiah.

Maybe lover-man Beto or one of those other people I mentioned will be elected president two years from now, and we’ll all look back and say, Of course! We should have seen it coming. But also maybe not. At the moment, Joe Biden and Bernie Sanders are starting out amid a crowded field of unknowns and semi-knowns, with huge advantages in terms of name recognition, fundraising ability and being generally liked more than the incumbent. (Which is admittedly not difficult.)

I think those two face a version of the Prisoner’s Dilemma: It would be better for the country, arguably, if both of them concluded they’d had their shots and run their races and done their part, and it was time to let a scrum of younger Democrats fight it out, with unpredictable results. But if only one of them runs, he becomes the prohibitive favorite and a central focus of media attention — and each has concluded that he’ll be damned if he lets the other guy be the hero who un-Trumps America. So we lurch toward a battle of the dinosaurs that’s a bad idea to start with, and likely to get worse.

Rep.-elect Colin Allred, D-Texas., arrives for orientation for new members of Congress, Tuesday, Nov. 13, 2018, in Washington. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)

I love the snark in this piece but really, do we have to do the least sensible thing to excite the country to the polls?  Haven’t we learned anything?

Politico covered some of the new Congress Critters right after Thanksgiving and I have a hankering to see something different heading off to Iowa and New Hampshire.  And, I want some action now before we face another presidential campaign season filled with MAGA Hatefests.  Can we just let these folks do something first?  And there’s a hell of a lot of them which begs the question why the focus on the new woman from NYC?  There’s plenty more that are headed east from other parts of the country.

Colin Allred: A former NFL linebacker and civil rights attorney, Allred knocked off GOP Rep. Pete Sessions, an entrenched North Texas incumbent. But Allred says there’s a lot more behind his congressional victory than just a flashy professional football résumé. “The impression that people have gotten, I think, around the country is that I was elected because I was a football player. And that’s not it,” he said. “Football is an icebreaker… but the other things that I’ve done and the story that I have growing up in North Texas is really what resonated.”

Allred told POLITICO his goal in Congress is to continue to be a moderate voice in the Democratic Caucus, even as he senses some liberal colleagues are trying to pull the group further to the left. “All of us who come from the red-to-blue districts, we are the closest to where the American people are,” he said. “We’re trying to make sure that our new members coming from safer districts and the members that are already there understand why we have the majority.”

Rep.-elect Sharice Davids, D-Mo., walks past members of the media after checking-in for orientation for new members of Congress, Tuesday, Nov. 13, 2018, in Washington. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)

See, there’s some life in Democrats from all over the country. Why focus on the old white dudes from Maryland and Vermont and the outspoken lady from Queens Rep-elect Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez  who reminds my republican friends of a Democratic Sarah Palin which is not a really good thing?  I mean my cousins from Kansas City sent a nice Lesbian Native American Rep-elect Sharice Davids. Can’t we all do better?

Davids will be part of a record number of women and a historic number of female candidates of color elected to Congress. “The time for people to not be heard and not be seen and not be listened to or represented well changes now,” she saidon election night.

So far we see some movement from other Dems, but today’s headlines focused on Senator Elizabeth Warren.

Sen. Elizabeth Warren has the core of her 2020 team in place if she runs for president. She has the seed money — there’s $12.5 million ready to go, left over from her recent Senate run — and a massive email list she’s amassed over years, boosted by a $3.3 million investment in digital infrastructure and advertising in the last election alone. Her aides have been quietly shopping for presidential campaign headquarters space in the Boston area in recent weeks, according to a source with knowledge of the move.

All that’s left is for her to give the green light.

I’m not sure she’s got what it takes either but again, why not focus what these folks that are coming in can do now?  Politico has named “19 to watch” in 2019.

NEW … THE PLAYBOOK POWER LIST — “19 TO WATCH IN 2019” is up. This list features politicians, activists and operatives across the country who are positioned to play a critical role in the political landscape leading up to 2020. From the new generation reshaping the Democratic Party to the behind-the-scenes players who keep Congress moving and those with their eyes on the presidential election, these are the people to watch over the next 12 months. The full list

THE LIST (in alphabetical order): Jarrod Agen … Aimee Allison … Anne Caprara … Saikat Chakrabarti  Rep. Liz Cheney (R-Wyo.) … Justin Clark … Gary Coby … Michael Dreeben  Lauren Fine  Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.)  Lisa Goeas  Drew Hammill  Patti Harris … Tish James  Brendon Plack  Angela Ramirez  Juan Rodriguez … Rep.-elect Mikie Sherrill (D-N.J.)  Rep.-elect Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich.)

But what’s the agenda? Julie Wittes Schlack from NBUR believes the focus should be on legislation.

In contrast to the early and deep partisan divide in the country over health care, there is already a good deal of public agreement over some of the most crucial challenges facing us. A majority of Americans across political parties think that big money has too big an influence in government, and wants to see both greater transparency and constraints on campaign spending. A majority of Americans favor increasing the minimum wage and implementing some common-sense gun control. And though only 50 percent of Republicans believe that global warming is real (versus 90 percent of Democrats), the fact is that Americans who recognize the dangerous reality of climate change outnumber those who don’t by a ratio of 5:1.

Those four issues — voting rights and ethical leadership, a higher minimum wage, gun control and serious, radical measures to fight climate change — should comprise the muse and the mandate for the House for the next two years.

With HR1, their first planned bill of the year, the Democrats are off to a good start. This legislation calls for greater public funding of campaigns (making them more feasible for candidates who lack or don’t wish to take money from wealthy or corporate donors), requires super PACs and “dark money” organizations to reveal their contributors, requires the president to disclose his or her tax returns, strengthens the Office of Government Ethics, and most importantly, restores the Voting Rights Act and creates a new, automatic voter registration system. Will it pass in its entirety? Of course not; probably not even in pieces. But if the loud, clear, undistracted battle leads voters to question why Republicans oppose it, that may be enough to force some candidates to have an ACA-like change of heart or be voted out of office.

The Green New Deal — an audacious proposal to rapidly cut carbon emissions and move the U.S. to 100 percent reliance on clean energy in 10 years and guarantee every American a job building a sustainable food and energy infrastructure — is equally unlikely to win passage in anything resembling its current (still embryonic) form. But if educating the public and agitating for its passage succeeds only in putting the climate change deniers and fossil fuel profiteers on the defensive, that will at least create the conditions in 2020 for the kind of radical, urgent action we need to save jobs, homes, lives and, ultimately, the planet.

More suggestions at the link.

I have two notable international events to end with today. First is the Nobel Peace Prize. Both Winners came to prominence seeking justice for war rape victims Please read their compelling stories.

Denis Mukwege, a doctor who helps victims of sexual violence in the Democratic Republic of Congo, and Nadia Murad, a Yazidi rights activist and survivor of sexual slavery by Islamic State, are joint winners

Then, there is this news.

 

We also lost a woman who was a human Rights activist in Russia which is also not an easy place to extol Human Rights. “The extraordinary life of Lyudmila Alexeyeva. Meduza remembers a Russian human rights icon.”

The “Strategy 31” movement in 2009 belonged to Limonov’s National Bolsheviks. That year, on the 31st day of any month with so many days, a crowd of journalists would burst from the Mayakovsky subway station and descend on Triumfalnaya Square to watch the same spectacle unfold: protesters gathered to honor the Russian Constitution’s 31st article (which guarantees freedom of assembly), with some dragged into police vans, while officers shouted into megaphones: “Disperse! This is an unlawful assembly.” It was especially amusing to watch passersby, running late for a play at the next-door Moscow Satire Theater, completely perplexed by what was happening. Some of the least patient of these theatergoers also ended up in police vans.

Lyudmila Alexeyeva, “For Human Rights” head Lev Ponomarev, and several other activists then formed a temporary and enormously fragile union with Eduard Limonov, the leader of “Other Russia.” At first, they simply provided assistance to detained demonstrators, but on December 31, 2009, Alexeyeva attended the meeting in person, dressed self-deprecatingly as Snegurochka (the mythological character commonly depicted as the granddaughter and helper of Old Man Frost, whose cultural role in Russia is similar to Santa Claus in the West). She was detained and shockingly manhandled by police. “They’ll probably charge me with swearing at them,” she told me in a call that night (this time from a mobile phone), citing the grounds most often used back then to detain demonstrators. Despite the holiday celebrations, the police released Alexeyeva with blinding speed, just as the outcry from state officials around the world started pouring in.

The falling out with Limonov didn’t take long. As always, Alexeyeva and the other human rights activists sought compromises and common ground with the authorities, and eventually they found some. The “31” rallies starting winning permits, but this approach didn’t appeal to the National Bolsheviks, and so they parted ways.

 

So, I guess there are some inspirational stories out there that have nothing to do with Bernie or Biden.  Let’s aspire to make all these voices count in 2019.  Out with the old white dudes.  In with the rest of us.

What’s on your reading and blogging list today?

 


Sunday Reads: Power Outage Post

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New revelations show undeniable evidence of republican voter fraud in North Carolina. That’s not even counting numerous occasions of voter suppression and redistricting in other states. Hopefully Scooby and the gang showed who the real monsters are. • #voterfraud #electionfraud #absenteeballot #northcarolina #scooby #scoobydoo #zoinks #danmccready #markharris #flipthehouse #bluewave #electiontampering #election2018 #midterms #scoobydoobydoo

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Hello, from a cold icy Banjoville. We lost power yesterday evening. It has come back to us but…it seems to be intermittent, to say the least. So let’s make this a quick open thread!

 

 

So I take it John Kelly is out?

And then there’s Maude:

Fucking hell…

Post your thoughts and other news updates in the comments below.


Lazy Caturday Reads: The “President” Is A Crook.


Good Morning!!

After the release of three court filings yesterday (a sentencing recommendation for Michael Cohen from SDNY, another Cohen sentencing recommendation from Robert Mueller, and a statement from the Special Counsel of the lies from Paul Manafort that justify ending his plea agreement) the consensus of legal and political pundits is that Trump is essentially finished. How long he will continue as fake “president” is unclear, but he has been credibly accused of a crime by his own Justice Department.

I’ve gathered a number of opinion pieces that I think are very good. It’s difficult to excerpt these long pieces, so I’m just giving you the highlights. You’ll have to go to the sources for more details.

Jonathan Chait: The Department of Justice Calls Donald Trump a Felon.

Federal prosecutors released sentencing recommendations for two alleged criminals who worked closely with Donald Trump: his lawyer Michael Cohen, and campaign manager Paul Manafort. They are filled with damning details. But the most important passage by far is this, about Trump’s fixer: “Cohen himself has now admitted, with respect to both payments, he acted in coordination with and at the direction of Individual-1.”

The payments in question, as the document explains, concern a payoff to two women who claimed to have affairs with Trump. The payments, according to prosecutors, were intended to influence the campaign, and thereby constituted violations of campaign finance law. They have not formally charged Trump with this crime — it is a sentencing report for Cohen, not Trump — but this is the U.S. Department of Justice calling Trump a criminal….the fact that he is being called a felon by the United States government is a historic step. And it is likely the first of more to come…..

Cohen is providing helpful information on other crimes. Cohen reportedly gave the special counsel “useful information concerning certain discrete Russia-related matters core to its investigation that he obtained by virtue of his regular contact with Company executives during them.” And this contact continued into 2018. Cohen was not locked out and probably has access to some secrets….

The special counsel sentencing recommendation for Cohen also reveals that Russian contact with the Trump campaign began as early as 2015, not the following spring. And Russians promised “political synergy” — which is essentially a synonym for campaign collusion — and “synergy on a government level.” That means a quid pro quo in which Russia would help Trump win the election and Trump, if elected, would give Russia favorable policy. This is the heart of Mueller’s very much ongoing investigation.

There are suggestions in both the Cohen filings that The Trump Organization was involved in crimes, and that is very significant. As Emptywheel pointed out recently, even if Trump were to pull a Nixon and make a deal with Pence–the presidency in return for pardons–Pence could not pardon Trump’s company.

Marcy writes that the sentencing memorandum released by Cohen’s attorneys on November 30,

…puts Trump’s eponymous organizations — his company and his foundation — squarely in the bullseye of law enforcement. The known details of all those puts one or the other Trump organization as an actor in the investigation. And we’ve already seen hints that the Trump Organization was less than responsive to some document requests from Mueller, such as this detail in a story on the Trump Tower deal:

According to a person familiar with the investigation, Cohen and the Trump Organization could not produce some of the key records upon which Mueller relies. Other witnesses provided copies of those communications.

If there’s a conspiracy to obstruct Mueller’s investigation, I’m fairly certain the Trump Organization was one of the players in it….

But the Trump Organization did not get elected the President of the United States (and while the claims are thin fictions, Trump has claimed to separate himself from the Organization and Foundation). So none of the Constitutional claims about indicting a sitting President, it seems to me, would apply.

If I’m right, there are a whole slew of implications, starting with the fact that….it utterly changes the calculation Nixon faced as the walls started crumbling. Nixon could (and had the historical wisdom to) trade a pardon to avoid an impeachment fight; he didn’t save his presidency, but he salvaged his natural person. With Trump, a pardon won’t go far enough: he may well be facing the criminal indictment and possible financial ruin of his corporate person, and that would take a far different legal arrangement (such as a settlement or Deferred Prosecution Agreement) to salvage. Now throw in Trump’s narcissism, in which his own identity is inextricably linked to that of his brand. And, even beyond any difference in temperament between Nixon and Trump,  there’s no telling what he’d do if his corporate self were also cornered.

In other words, Trump might not be able to take the Nixon — resign for a pardon — deal, because that may not be enough to save his corporate personhood.

Head over to Emptywheel for more details.

Ken White (AKA Popehat) at The Atlantic: Manafort, Cohen, and Individual 1 Are in Grave Danger.

White provides a very good summary of the yesterday’s three court filings, which you can read at the link. Here’s his conclusion:

The president said on Twitter that Friday’s news “totally clears the President. Thank you!” It does not. Manafort and Cohen are in trouble, and so is Trump. The Special Counsel’s confidence in his ability to prove Manafort a liar appears justified, which leaves Manafort facing what amounts to a life sentence without any cooperation credit. The Southern District’s brief suggests that Cohen’s dreams of probation are not likely to come true. All three briefs show the Special Counsel and the Southern District closing in on President Trump and his administration.  They’re looking into campaign contact with Russia, and campaign finance fraud in connection with paying off an adult actress, and participation in lying to Congress. A Democratic House of Representatives, just days away, strains at the leash to help.  The game’s afoot.

Another very good summary of the filings can be read at Lawfare, this one by Victoria Clark, Mikhaila Fogel, Quinta Jurecic, and Benjamin Wittes: ‘Totally Clears the President’? What Those Cohen and Manafort Filings Really Say. Here’s a short excerpt on Trump’s culpabililty:

In short, the Department of Justice, speaking through the acting U.S. attorney for the Southern District of New York, is alleging that the president of the United States coordinated and directed a surrogate to commit a campaign finance violation punishable with time in prison. While the filing does not specify that the president “knowingly and willfully” violated the law, as is required by the statute, this is the first time that the government has alleged in its own voice that President Trump is personally involved in what it considers to be federal offenses.

And it does not hold back in describing the magnitude of those offenses. The memo states that Cohen’s actions, “struck a blow to one of the core goals of the federal campaign finance laws: transparency. While many Americans who desired a particular outcome to the election knocked on doors, toiled at phone banks, or found any number of other legal ways to make their voices heard, Cohen sought to influence the election from the shadows.” His sentence “should reflect the seriousness of Cohen’s brazen violations of the election laws and attempt to counter the public cynicism that may arise when individuals like Cohen act as if the political process belongs to the rich and powerful.”

One struggles to see how a document that alleges that such conduct took place at the direction of Individual-1 “totally clears the president.”

Garrett M. Graff at Wired: The Mueller Investigation Nears the Worst Case Scenario.

WE ARE DEEP into the worst case scenarios. But as new sentencing memos for Trump associates Paul Manafort and Michael Cohen make all too clear, the only remaining question is how bad does the actual worst case scenario get?

The potential innocent explanations for Donald Trump’s behavior over the last two years have been steadily stripped away, piece by piece. Special counsel Robert Mueller and investigative reporters have uncovered and assembled a picture of a presidential campaign and transition seemingly infected by unprecedented deceit and criminality, and in regular—almost obsequious—contact with America’s leading foreign adversary.

A year ago, Lawfare’s Benjamin Wittes and Quinta Jurecic outlined seven possible scenarios about Trump and Russia, arranged from most innocent to most guilty. Fifth on that list was “Russian Intelligence Actively Penetrated the Trump Campaign—And Trump Knew or Should Have Known,” escalating from there to #6 “Kompromat,” and topping out at the once unimaginable #7, “The President of the United States is a Russian Agent.”

After the latest disclosures, we’re steadily into Scenario #5, and can easily imagine #6.

Read a detailed analysis at the link. Graff is the author of a book on Robert Mueller’s time as FBI Director.

Another highly recommended analysis from Ryan Goodman and Andy Wright at Just Security: Mueller’s Roadmap: Major Takeaways from Cohen and Manafort Filings. Goodman and Write offer eight “takeaways.”

1. SDNY Prosecutors named the President of the United States as a direct participant, if not the principal, in felonies….

2. Other Trump Campaign and Trump Organization officials may face criminal charges for the hush money scheme….

3. The Special Counsel ties Trump directly to possible Russia collusion….

4. Russian contacts began during the GOP Primary….

5. The Special Counsel targets many Manafort lies but is silent on the infamous Trump Tower meeting with Russians….

6. Some potential hints of obstruction and suborning perjury….

7. Mueller’s M.O.: What he’ll do with lying to the public (and lies in writing)….

8. Why Cohen was more forthcoming with Mueller than SDNY, and SDNY wants him to serve a significant prison sentence.

I’ll just share one interesting excerpt from point 7, on lies that are put in writing and lies to the public. Both of these could apply to Trump himself.

In terms of perjury and false statements, Mueller seizes on fact that Cohen lies were in written testimony rather than arising “spontaneously from a line of examination or heated colloquy.” That’s a danger sign for people like Trump, who may have thought they had greater safety in written responses to Mueller, and people like Roger Stone, whose apparent lies to Congress are on the face of his written testimony.

Another important insight is how Mueller seizes on Cohen’s lies made to the public.

First, Mueller’s theory of the case recognizes that public statements are methods of communication with other witnesses. That’s important for potential conspiracies to commit perjury or otherwise obstruct justice. This also increases the likelihood that Mueller will regard public statements by President Trump and his lawyers as signals to other witnesses–such as publicly dangling pardons and favoring the “strength” of uncooperative witnesses.

Second, Mueller considers lies to the public can be an attempt to undermine the investigation. The memo states, “By publicly presenting this false narrative, the defendant deliberately shifted the timeline of what had occurred in the hopes of limiting the investigations into possible Russian interference in the 2016 U.S. presidential election.” That sounds awfully similar to the creation of a cover story about the June 9 Trump Tower meeting, which the President himself reportedly directed from aboard Airforce One.

Third, Mueller considers Cohen’s false statements to be even more significant because he “amplified” them by “by releasing and repeating his lies to the public.” That approach spells trouble for several Trump campaign associates including Roger Stone, Donald Trump Jr., Erik Prince, and Michael Caputo.

Barry BerkeNoah Bookbinder and Norman Eisen at The Washington Post: Is This the Beginning of the End for Trump? A brief excerpt: 

The special counsel focuses on Mr. Cohen’s contacts with people connected to the White House in 2017 and 2018, possibly further implicating the president and others in his orbit in conspiracy to obstruct justice or to suborn perjury. Mr. Mueller specifically mentions that Mr. Cohen provided invaluable insight into the “preparing and circulating” of his testimony to Congress — and if others, including the president, knew about the false testimony or encouraged it in any way, they would be at substantial legal risk.

Mr. Trump’s legal woes do not end there. The special counsel also advanced the president’s potential exposure under the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act for activities relating to a potential Trump Tower Moscow. Mr. Mueller noted that the Moscow project was a lucrative business opportunity that actively sought Russian government approval, and that the unnamed Russian told Mr. Cohen that there was “no bigger warranty in any project than the consent” of Mr. Putin.

If recent reports that Mr. Cohen floated the idea of giving Mr. Putin a $50 million luxury apartment in a future Trump Tower Moscow prove true, both the president and his company could face substantial jeopardy.

There’s much more analysis at the WaPo link.

It has been quite a week, ending with a bang yesterday. As Trump often says, “we’ll see what happens.” What stories have you been following?


Friday Reads: Waiting on Justice


Chip Bok, Akron (Ohio) Beacon Journal

Good Morning Sky Dancers!

We’re beginning to see the fruition of really bad policy as we’re far enough into the Trump Reign of Terror to see both the economy and the foreign sector spin into a dead zone.  We’ve already had repeated constitutional crises and threat to rule of law.  Those aspects showed up almost immediately in tweets and executive actions.  But, it takes a nearly two years for fiscal policy actions to start grinding their way onto the edges of our economy and the results are not pretty and are likely to get uglier.  We just witnessed the uselessness of Trump at the G20 and his inability to even pull off another state funeral with grace.  His foreign policy team is lean and getting more ineffective by the day.

How much more can we take?  Well, we’ll see shortly as bad policy actions in the economic arena are shoving us towards recession. Even the Toddler’s advisers can see it coming now.  Trade man has botched up the nation’s longest recovery/boom.  Don’t say I didn’t warn you. Don’t say I didn’t tell you to bail from the market earlier this year.  It’s not often you see the Dow Jones fall 1400 points in two days.

But many economic analysts also predict the recent economic boom will soon fizzle, with growth plunging below 2 percent by 2020, according to an analysis by S&P chief U.S. economist Beth Ann Bovino. Currently, the economy is growing at a rate of 3.5 percent. That squares with cyclical trends suggesting the U.S. is due for an economic downturn soon.

Friday’s job numbers provided little reassurance, with the Labor Department reporting that employers added 155,000 jobs last month, a figure well below expectations of 198,000.

Compounding the worry is Trump’s trade showdown with China, which poses a risk to the global economy. Over dinner at last weekend’s G-20 summit, Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping agreed to pause their escalating trade fight for 90 days as they search for a long-term agreement. But since then, Trump has shaken markets with bellicose trade talk.

That means stress for Trump aides and allies planning a 2020 message they hope to build, in part, around economic growth and greater prosperity for Americans. Former Presidents Ronald Reagan, Bill Clinton and, to a lesser degree, Barack Obama all vaulted to reelection with the help of a growing economy. The last one-term president, the late George H.W. Bush, is widely considered to have been doomed by a recession which struck midway through his tenure.

While top officials like Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin argue that gross domestic product and inflation are the most important metrics to track, and that those figures remain healthy, other advisers say voters are focused on more tangible indicators, including wages, unemployment, and the housing and stock markets.

“They know it could be a very dangerous situation if the market volatility is hurting workers in key battleground states through their pensions, investments, you name it,” said one Republican close to the White House. “The concern is probably at a DEFCON 3 at this point, but it will definitely spike in 2019 if there’s no real solution [to the trade dispute with China] during this 90-day period.”

Part of the problem for a president obsessed with the stock market is that no one can pinpoint what exactly is causing the drops — uncertainty about trade deals, fear about rising debt, or slowing economic growth.

Kudlow is baffled which is what you’d expected from a disgraced coke-raged trader with no economic chops. Mnuchin is far up in the stratosphere of asshole that he’s unlikely to say anything useful.  Meanwhile, Never Trumper Jennifer Rubin minces no words.

Understand that Trump inherited a very strong economy. He has had a Republican-controlled House and Senate. And he got his tax plan, a mammoth supply-side cut that disproportionately benefited the rich and corporations. Oh, and he has been on a protectionist tear since his first day in office, and already has inflicted pain on U.S. consumers and farmers. His promised resurgence of manufacturing and of coal (the latter quite laughable considering the alternative sources of energy) have not panned out.

Put differently, the Obama recovery is wearing down and huge debt, trade wars, rising interest rates and a slowdown in China’s economy are pushing us toward a setback, if not a full-blown recession.

Magnifying the market freakout is the inversion of the yield curve (when short-term bond rates exceed long-term rates, sometimes considered a precursor to a recession). It’s not clear if this is the flashing red light for a recession or a result of “other factors, such as a recent reversal of large speculative bets on declining bond prices and the Federal Reserve’s large holdings of Treasuries,” according to Reuters.

This is not 1929, and as bad as Trump’s trade policies may be, he has not brought back the Smoot-Hawley Tariff Act (which raised average tariffs on thousands of imported goods to 48 percent). However, there is a reason that credible economists who may disagree on other matters almost uniformly oppose protectionism.

There is reason to be skeptical that a negotiated settlement will conclude within the 90 days China and the United States decided upon, and even less reason to think Robert E. Lighthizer, the hard-liner U.S. trade representative who will head the U.S. bargaining team, has the ability to close a deal. “He will be taking the reins from [Treasury Secretary Steven] Mnuchin, who led previous rounds of negotiations with the Chinese but could not close a deal that satisfied the president,” the New York Times reported. “That choice could rattle the Chinese, who have cozied up to Mr. Mnuchin, viewing him as more moderate.”

Mike Peters

Trump’s judicial nominations, choices for the DOJ, and just overall wrecking of the criminal justice system in the country is an ongoing war on the rule of law and democracy.  We have a AG nomination but do we actually want him? (Via NYT)

President Trump on Friday said he intended to nominate William P. Barr, who served as attorney general during the first Bush administration from 1991 to 1993, to return as head of the Justice Department.

“He was my first choice since Day 1,” Mr. Trump told reporters as he walked from the White House to a helicopter for a trip to Kansas City, Mo. “He’ll be nominated.”

Mr. Trump’s focus on Mr. Barr, who supports a strong vision of executive powers, had emerged over the past week following the ouster last month of Jeff Sessions as attorney general and the turbulent reception that greeted his installation of Matthew G. Whitaker as the acting attorney general.

The move at the Justice Department is one part of a larger staff shake-up underway.

Mr. Trump also announced that Heather Nauert, the chief State Department spokeswoman, is his pick to be the next ambassador to the United Nations.

William Barr is not the man to pick to lead the fight for criminal justice reform.  He is the one to pick if you want a runaway executive branch.  (Via Vox).

Much of the attention is focused on what Barr’s nomination may mean for the Russia investigation, given his previous remarks that he thought it was okay for Trump to fire FBI Director James Comey and that Hillary Clinton should be investigated.

But as head of the US Department of Justice, Barr would also have a lot of control over the federal criminal justice system more broadly. Ames Grawert, senior counsel at the Brennan Center, which supports criminal justice reform, tweeted, “Barr is one of the few people left in policy circles who could reasonably be called as bad as, or worse than, Jeff Sessions on criminal justice reform.” And make no mistake: Sessions had a very bad record on criminal justice reform.

In fact, Barr praised Sessions’s record at the Justice Department, including some of his work dismantling criminal justice efforts by President Barack Obama’s administration.

In short: If you were hoping that Sessions’s replacement would be better on criminal justice reform, Barr’s nomination should be of great concern.

He has been part of the DOJ establishment so that’s likely to smooth him through the Senate. Will it help the chaos at the DOJ?

Former SOS Rex Tillerson has gone public on what he really things of the placeholder in the White House.  Via WAPO: “Rex Tillerson on Trump: ‘Undisciplined, doesn’t like to read’ and tries to do illegal things”.  I imagine Trump will spend executive time tweeting crap about this.

The fired secretary of state, who while in office reportedly called Trump a “moron” (and declined to deny it), expounded on his thoughts on the president in a rare interview with CBS News’s Bob Schieffer in Houston.

It wasn’t difficult to read between the lines. Tillerson said Trump is “pretty undisciplined, doesn’t like to read,” and repeatedly attempted to do illegal things. He didn’t call Trump a “moron,” but he didn’t exactly suggest Trump was a scholar — or even just a steady leader.

“What was challenging for me coming from the disciplined, highly process-oriented Exxon Mobil corporation,” Tillerson said, was “to go to work for a man who is pretty undisciplined, doesn’t like to read, doesn’t read briefing reports, doesn’t like to get into the details of a lot of things, but rather just kind of says, ‘This is what I believe.’ ”

Tillerson said Trump believes he is acting on his instincts rather than relying on facts. But Tillerson seemed to suggest that it resulted in impulsiveness.

“He acts on his instincts; in some respects, that looks like impulsiveness,” Tillerson said. “But it’s not his intent to act on impulse. I think he really is trying to act on his instincts.”

Well, just when you think things couldn’t get worse on the diplomatic front we get a whacky nomination for our UN Ambassador.  I’m getting a little tired of seeing Fox News sending us their worst.

Nauert, 48, is an unusual choice for the UN role given that she had little experience in government or foreign policy before joining the administration in April 2017 after several years as an anchor and correspondent for Fox News, including on the “Fox and Friends” show watched by Trump. Haley also lacked foreign policy experience when she took the UN posting, but she had twice been elected governor of South Carolina.

Nevertheless, Nauert’s candidacy had the strong support of Secretary of State Michael Pompeo, who came to trust her as a reliable voice and advocate for Trump’s agenda. It was a stark turnaround from the era of Pompeo’s predecessor, Rex Tillerson, who shut her out from his inner circle. She had threatened to quit several times under Tillerson but, thanks partly to her alliance with Trump’s daughter, Ivanka Trump, and her husband Jared Kushner, she ended up outlasting her former boss.

Here’s some more bombast if you’d care to read it.

And some judge just went back to “but her emails” …we’ll never hear the end of the tweets on this.  Via The Chicago Tribune:

A U.S. judge ordered the Justice and State departments Thursday to reopen an inquiry into whether Hillary Clinton used a private email server while secretary of state to deliberately evade public records laws, and to answer whether the agencies acted in bad faith by not telling a court for months that they had asked in mid-2014 for missing emails to be returned.

The order risks reopening partisan wounds that have barely healed since Clinton’s unsuccessful 2016 presidential bid, but in issuing the order Thursday, U.S. District Judge Royce Lamberth said the spirit of the Freedom of Information Act required it.

In a narrow but sharply worded 10-page opinion, Lamberth wrote that despite the government’s claimed presumption of transparency, “faced with one of the gravest modern offenses to government openness, [the Obama administration’s] State and Justice departments fell far short” of the law’s requirements in a lawsuit for documents.

Lamberth added that despite President Donald Trump’s repeated campaign attacks against Clinton for not making her emails public, “the current Justice Department made things worse,” by taking the position that agencies are not obliged to search for records not in the government’s possession when a FOIA request is made.

And , of course Comey is testifying today about them again before the House today via USA Today.

Former FBI Director James Comey is scheduled to testify in private before members of two House committees on Friday.

Before Democrats take control of the House in January, GOP leaders want to question Comey about his July 2016 decision not to prosecute former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton for her use of a private email server and about his role in the investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 election.

Comey, who President Donald Trump fired in May 2017, has already testified that he didn’t coordinate with the Democratic administration at the Justice Department or White House. But some Republicans have questioned whether investigators were biased. Trump himself has suggested that Comey wanted a job in a potential Clinton administration.

Comey will appear before members of the House Judiciary Committee and the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform on a revelatory day in Justice Department special counsel Robert Mueller’s closely held investigation into Russia electoral interference.

Lord Trump: February 9, 2018

And despite a bomb threat during Don Lemon’s broadcast last night, CNN managed to come out with this: Kelly expected to resign soon, no longer on speaking terms with Trump.” Here we go again.

Seventeen months in, Kelly and President Donald Trump have reached a stalemate in their relationship and it is no longer seen as tenable by either party. Though Trump asked Kelly over the summer to stay on as chief of staff for two more years, the two have stopped speaking in recent days.
Trump is actively discussing a replacement plan, though a person involved in the process said nothing is final right now and ultimately nothing is final until Trump announces it. Potential replacements include Nick Ayers, Vice President Mike Pence’s chief of staff, who is still seen as a leading contender.
Kelly has been on the verge of resigning or being fired before, only to bounce back every time. But aides feel the relationship can’t be salvaged this time. Trump is becoming increasingly concerned about Democrats taking over the House in January, and has privately said he needs someone else to help shape the last two years of his first term, which he predicts will be politically focused. He has complained repeatedly that Kelly is not politically savvy.

Well, I’ll end here.  It’s way too early for all of this kinda news and I’m waiting again for Mueller Time!  Only the best and brightest folks!

What’s on your reading and blogging list today?