Monday Before The Storm Reads

Zhang Daqian (1899-1983), Mountain Living in Autumn. 23⅝ x 17¾ in (58.4 x 43.2 cm). Estimate $200,000-300,000. This lot is offered in Fine Chinese Paintings on 19 March 2019 at Christie’s in New York

Zhang Daqian (1899-1983), Mountain Living in Autumn.

Good Morning Sky Dancers!

A busy week is in store for us!  It includes yet another stage packed with Democratic candidates “debating” and more impeachment hearings.  The impeachment hearings are especially BFDs because the star witnesses are central to the plot Trump cooked up to get the Ukrainians to chase down a conspiracy theory and interfere in the 2020 election for him.

Here’s a new story from CBS in keeping with all the Trumpist Corruption surrounding US Foreign Policy: “Possible pay-to-play scheme for ambassador role in Trump administration uncovered by CBS News”.

A CBS News investigation has uncovered a possible pay-for-play scheme involving the Republican National Committee and President Donald Trump’s nominee for ambassador to the Bahamas. Emails obtained by CBS News show the nominee, San Diego billionaire Doug Manchester, was asked by the RNC to donate half a million dollars as his confirmation in the Senate hung in the balance, chief investigative correspondent Jim Axelrod reports.

When Hurricane Dorian ravaged the Bahamas in September, Manchester wanted to help. So the San Diego real estate developer, who prefers the nickname “Papa Doug,” loaded up his private jet with supplies and headed for the hard-hit Caribbean country where he owned a home – and hoped to soon be serving as U.S. ambassador.

A Trump supporter, Manchester donated $1 million to Trump’s inauguration fund. He was offered the Bahamas post the day after Mr. Trump was sworn in. Manchester said Trump told him, “I should probably be the ambassador to the Bahamas and you should be president.”

Then, for two and a half years, Manchester’s nomination stalled in the Senate.

His Bahamas relief trip caught the attention of the President. Trump tweeted, “I would also like to thank ‘Papa’ Doug Manchester, hopefully the next Ambassador to the Bahamas, for the incredible amount of time, money and passion he has spent on helping to bring safety to the Bahamas.”

Three days after the tweet, RNC Chairwoman Ronna McDaniel hit up Manchester for a donation. It was no small sum. In an email, obtained exclusively by CBS News, she asked Manchester, “Would you consider putting together $500,000 worth of contributions from your family to ensure we hit our ambitious fundraising goal?”

Shin – Hanga Hasui Kawase Japanese Woodblock Print 1946 Snow Storm At Shiobara

Well, there’s a situation that should be looked at by the FBI.  But how far will it go with Trump Fuckboi Bill Barr as AG?  The vast majority of Americans, however, know wrong when they see it as suggested by this ABC Poll: “70% of Americans say Trump’s actions tied to Ukraine were wrong: POLL”.  However, move on down to the idea of punishing the illegitimate POTUS and the results are less enthusiastic.

An overwhelming 70% of Americans think President Donald Trump’s request to a foreign leader to investigate his political rival, which sits at the heart of the House of Representatives’ impeachment inquiry, was wrong, a new ABC News/Ipsos poll finds.

A slim majority of Americans, 51%, believe Trump’s actions were both wrong and he should be impeached and removed from office. But only 21% of Americans say they are following the hearings very closely.

In addition to the 51%, another 19% think that Trump’s actions were wrong, but that he should either be impeached by the House but not removed from office, or be neither impeached by the House nor convicted by the Senate. The survey also finds that 1 in 4 Americans, 25%, think that Trump did nothing wrong.

Still, nearly 1 in 3, 32%, say they made up their minds about impeaching the president before the news broke about Trump’s July phone call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy, in which Trump urged his Ukrainian counterpart to investigate former Vice President Joe Biden and his son, Hunter.

John Constable RA, Rainstorm over the Sea

Rainstorm over the Sea, ca. 1824-1828 John Constable RA (1776 – 1837)

Meanwhile, Trump continues to be a tempest in a teapot when it comes to attacking every one that doesn’t share his view of his “perfect” calll.  This is from NBC News: “Trump’s impeachment ire turns on Pompeo amid diplomats’ starring roles. Impeachment hearings have created a rift between the president and one of his staunchest allies in the administration.”

The impeachment inquiry has created the first rift between President Donald Trump and the Cabinet member who has been his closest ally, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, according to four current and former senior administration officials.

Trump has fumed for weeks that Pompeo is responsible for hiring State Department officials whose congressional testimony threatens to bring down his presidency, the officials said. The president confronted Pompeo about the officials — and what he believed was a lackluster effort by the secretary of state to block their testimony — during lunch at the White House on Oct. 29, those familiar with the matter said.

Inside the White House, the view was that Trump “just felt like, ‘rein your people in,’” a senior administration official said.

Trump particularly blames Pompeo for tapping Ambassador Bill Taylor in June to be the top U.S. diplomat in Ukraine, the current and former senior administration officials said.

Taylor has provided the House Intelligence Committee with some of the most damaging details on the White House’s effort to pressure Ukraine into investigating one of the president’s potential rivals in the 2020 election, former Vice President Joe Biden, and his son, Hunter Biden.

A crack in the seemingly unbreakable bond between Trump and Pompeo is striking because Pompeo, a former Kansas congressman, is viewed as the “Trump whisperer” who has survived — and thrived — working for a president who has routinely tired of and discarded senior members of his team.

But the impeachment inquiry has put Pompeo in what one senior administration official described as an untenable position: trying to manage a bureaucracy of 75,000 people that has soured on his leadership and also please a boss with outsized expectations of loyalty.

Chiura Obata (American, b. Japan, 1885–1975), Dust Storm, Topaz, March 13, 1943, watercolor on paper

US Ambassador Gordon Sondland is also taking the heat as seen in this Daily Beast analysis: “Gordon Sondland Stepped In ‘and Things Went Really Off the Rails’. “Erratic,” “very emotional,” and “lots of yelling.” Those are some of the words used to describe Sondland’s performance in a White House meeting with top Ukrainian officials. ‘  Sonderland will testify on Wednesday and has had to adjust his story and testimony as the folks who witnessed his acts and words testified.

Ukrainian officials arrived at the White House on July 10 expecting something approaching normal. They were in Washington for a scheduled meeting with then-National Security Adviser John Bolton with a plan to propose a new path for U.S.-Ukrainian relations under the umbrella of energy and security cooperation. All seemed to go well—until U.S. Ambassador to the European Union Gordon Sondland stepped in. “That’s when things really went off the rails,” one person in the room said.

It’s been widely noted in testimonies by multiple House impeachment witnesses that Sondland interrupted the conversation between Bolton and the Ukrainians when he suggested that the Kyiv officials open investigations into Hunter Biden and the gas company he worked for if they wanted President Volodymyr Zelensky to land a White House meeting with Donald Trump.

Ukrainian officials arrived at the White House on July 10 expecting something approaching normal. They were in Washington for a scheduled meeting with then-National Security Adviser John Bolton with a plan to propose a new path for U.S.-Ukrainian relations under the umbrella of energy and security cooperation. All seemed to go well—until U.S. Ambassador to the European Union Gordon Sondland stepped in. “That’s when things really went off the rails,” one person in the room said.

It’s been widely noted in testimonies by multiple House impeachment witnesses that Sondland interrupted the conversation between Bolton and the Ukrainians when he suggested that the Kyiv officials open investigations into Hunter Biden and the gas company he worked for if they wanted President Volodymyr Zelensky to land a White House meeting with Donald Trump.

Bolton immediately cut the get-together short, witnesses said, in an attempt to save what had until then been a normal meeting. But what’s been less clear—until now—is what happened moments later, when Sondland guided the Ukrainians into the White House’s Ward Room. Three individuals familiar with the conversation described what happened next.

Sondland continued to not just relay, but demanded ferociously, that the Ukrainians open the Biden investigations, saying it was the only chance for Washington and Kyiv to develop any further meaningful relationship, two individuals with knowledge of Sondland’s overtures said.

Sondland raised his voice several times in his attempt to persuade the Ukrainian officials sitting across from him, including Andriy Yermak, a close aide to Zelensky, and Zelensky’s then-national security adviser Oleksandr Danylyuk. One individual told The Daily Beast that Sondland “got very emotional,” adding that “there was lots of yelling.” Another individual called the meeting “erratic” and said the Ukrainians began to ignore Sondland and instead turned to Fiona Hill, who ran the National Security Council’s Russia desk at the time, for clarification on Washington’s messaging.

Biss, Earl (1947-1998) “Storm Riders” Oil on Canvas

Fiona Hill also testifies this week.  The AP has found some evidence of the stress and duress experienced by the Ukrainians over the Trumpist Regime’s demands.

Despite his denials, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy was feeling pressure from the Trump administration to investigate former Vice President Joe Biden before his July phone call with President Donald Trump that has led to impeachment hearings.

In early May, staff at the U.S. Embassy in Kyiv, including then-Ambassador Marie Yovanovitch, were briefed on a meeting Zelenskiy held in which he sought advice on how to navigate the difficult position he was in, according to two people with knowledge of the briefings.

He was concerned that Trump and associates were pressing him to take action that could affect the 2020 U.S. presidential race, the people said. They spoke only on condition of anonymity because of the diplomatic and political sensitivity of the issue.

The briefings show that U.S. officials knew early that Zelenskiy was feeling pressure to investigate Biden, even though the Ukrainian leader later denied it in a joint news conference with Trump in September. The officials said in their notes circulated internally at the State Department that Zelenskiy tried to mask the real purpose of the May 7 meeting __ which was to talk about political problems with the White House __ by saying it was about energy, the two people said.

Congressional Republicans have pointed to that public Zelenskiy statement to argue that he felt no pressure to open an investigation, and therefore the Democrats’ allegations that led to the impeachment hearings are misplaced.

So, this week’s hearings should send the Russian Potted Plant back to Walter Reed for another fake physical for sure. While several Dem candidates have been able to purchase their way to a ticket to the debate stage on Wednesday night, one voice will be missed.   So far, he’s still in.  This analysis is by New York Magazine’s Zak Cheney-Rice.

The great tragedy of Julián Castro’s presidential campaign is that it’s happening during Donald Trump’s presidency. Democratic strategists and voters alike are so fixated on ousting the commander-in-chief that panic has consumed the primary, driven above all else by anxiety about which candidate is the most likely to defeat him. Joe Biden has benefitted in an outsized manner from this worry. He’s coasted to the top of most polls on sheer familiarity and goodwill generated by his relationship with Barack Obama, despite signs of mental decline exacerbating his well-documented tendency toward gaffes. Meanwhile, Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren have cornered the market on leftists and progressive voters, respectively, who feel that class warfare from below will not just oust Trump but upend the society that gave him rise.

These three candidates combined command the allegiances of more than half of prospective primary voters, according to most polls, leaving little room for the remainder of an unprecedentedly vast, diverse, and perpetually expanding field to gain traction. Which is a shame, because a different cycle might’ve been more amenable to a candidate like Castro, whose singular perspective on racism and justice would, in a better world, find him in the upper tier of candidates. Alas, it looks increasingly like it wasn’t meant to be: Politico reported late Wednesday that the former Housing Secretary and San Antonio mayor has failed to qualify for the November debate, making him the only active candidate to participate in last month’s debate in Ohio who won’t make the trip to Atlanta. The deadline to qualify was midnight, and the threshold was receiving donations from 165,000 unique contributors, plus hitting 3 percent in four DNC-approved polls or 5 percent in two conducted in the early states. Castro reached the fundraising goal but didn’t eclipse 3 percent in a single poll. This is emblematic of his broader campaign, which has consistently found him hovering around 1 percent.

There’s been no announcement yet about Castro’s next move, though failure to qualify for a debate has been a death knell for other campaigns this cycle, like that of Kirsten Gillibrand. Beto O’Rourke’s low polling numbers similarly prompted him to drop out of the race last month. One can attribute Castro’s shortfall to several factors — his relatively low national profile, his specificity of vision in a cycle where mass appeal is prioritized, his identity as a Mexican-American at a time when candidates are vying for support from a majority-white electorate that backed Trump, whose animus toward Latinos was a vital part of his success. But his failure to gain traction also belies the most admirable feature of his campaign: He’s sought to differentiate himself not by convincing voters of his attractiveness to white suburban Wisconsinites or sanctimonious Never Trumpers, but by promising to advocate on behalf of the most vulnerable among us, particularly black and brown people caught up in the criminal-legal system.

Image result for paintings by masters storm


Has Louisiana shown us a way to beat Trump and his cronies in upcoming elections?  I was part of the GOTV actions and it was huge and effective.  I have to say that Bel Edwards winning a second term was a relief. But, he’s not the candidate I’ve been most aligned with or most proud of supporting. I did know that he was the right candidate for this crazy state.

I’d like to thank every single African American Voter in the state and the massive support by the Black community organizers. It wouldn’t have happened with out them.   Getting out the black vote is key which is why every Dem pol needs to realize #BlackVotesMatter.

Another key  to victory was the suburbs in the large cities.  It’s pretty clear that a number of voters in suburbs are not enthusiastic about Trump.  The black vote and suburban vote in three key Louisiana Cities–New Orleans, Shreveport, Baton Rouge–virtually disappeared on the Republicans.  Again, I’d like to say that JBE is not what we would consider a Democratic Candidate.  He reminds me a lot more of middle of the country Republicans prior to the takeover of the party by White Evangelical religions nutters.  He’s a small town son of its sheriff who hunts and supports the second amendment.  He is one of the worst governors ever on Reproductive Rights but he did expand medicaid and overall, he was definitely the only choice we really had.  Rispone gave speeches like an unrepentant racist at a KKK rally.  His ads were far worse.  The Caddo Parish Magrat rally undoubtedly turned out the high Caddo Parish AA vote.

Experience in both Louisiana and other races like Kentucky might prove useful in planning for 2020.  I suggest candidates and the party itself take very good notes.

Not only were Republicans less likely to vote for a candidate endorsed by President Donald Trump, but African-Americans voters were more motivated to turnout. From the New York Times:

“Forcing Trump down people’s throats in television, mail and radio produced a backlash among Democratic voters, especially African-Americans,” said Zac McCrary, a pollster on Mr. Edwards’s campaign, alluding to Mr. Rispone’s Trump-centric message. “The intense negatives outweigh the intense positives for Trump, which speaks to the turnout.”\

State and local Democrats were more careful targeting their message, linking Mr. Rispone to Mr. Trump on radio stations with black audiences and in tailored mailers.

Over at The Resurgent, Erick Erickson makes two points worth considering. First, we now have two cases in which suburban voters have been selective their displeasure, discerning the Trump-like from the traditional conservative:

Like in Kentucky, the GOP swept the state except that race. That race was, in fairness, most closely identified with the President and some voters did react there. But this also gives a path forward for the GOP. Consider that in Louisiana, the state legislature is now the most conservative legislature it has ever had. The GOP disconnected from Trump did just fine in the state.

Secondly, the GOP has a substance abuse problem — in that a party built around a single personality has no use for substantive policy that allows voters to think well of themselves:

Voters want a reason to vote for someone, not against someone else. President Trump needs to spend way more time giving voters reasons to vote for him, not just against the Democrats. The GOP needs to as well. The party seems out of ideas and that is in large part because the President can turn on a dime so no one wants to stake out a position on public policy.

So, that’s it for me today!

What’s on your reading and blogging list?


26 Comments on “Monday Before The Storm Reads”

  1. dakinikat says:

  2. dakinikat says:

    Stock up on popcorn and beverages!!

    It’s going to be a bump ride of week!

    We’ll be dong live blogs I’m sure!!!


  3. dakinikat says:

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  6. NW Luna says:

    I really like the illustrations you picked, dakinikat. The Mountain painting and the Storm Riders are my favorites.

  7. NW Luna says:

    Pence, too!

    Two senators are looking into a whistleblower’s allegations that at least one political appointee at the Treasury Department may have tried to interfere with an audit of President Trump or Vice President Pence

  8. Ann Onima says:

    Why are you celebrating the election of an anti-choice white man?

    • bostonboomer says:

      No one is actually “celebrating.” It’s just that the alternative would have been so much worse. Also any kind of Democratic win in Louisiana (and Kentucky) looks very very bad for Trump.

    • dakinikat says:

      Not celebrating … relief we didn’t get a Donald Trump Wannabe

  9. dakinikat says:

  10. bostonboomer says:

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  12. dakinikat says:

    • NW Luna says:

      Trump’s been having word-finding problems for decades, especially with words of more than 1 syllable. He was a lying corrupt mob boss when he was 40.

      If one doesn’t do an exam on the patient oneself, or lacks detailed records by impartial good clinicians, one can’t accurately make a diagnosis. That being said, I don’t doubt at all that he may be having TIAs.