from NBC Live blog for tonight
Well, it’s that Time again!!
From the NBC: link under the photos:
“The largest group of candidates to take the stage will face off Tuesday night at Otterbein University in Westerville, Ohio. They include front-runners Joe Biden and Elizabeth Warren; Bernie Sanders, who returns to the campaign after suffering a heart attack; billionaire activist Tom Steyer, who’s joining a debate for the first time; and Hawaii Rep. Tulsi Gabbard, who missed the September go-round after failing to qualify.”
How to watch the Democratic debate Tonight
- Date: Tuesday, October 15, 2019
- Time: 8 to 11 p.m. ET
- Location: Otterbein University – Westerville, OH
- TV Channel: CNN, CNN en Español and CNN International
- Online stream: Watch the debate on CNN.com or watch CNN on fuboTV (free trial offer)
- Analysis: Watch CBSN for live coverage of the debate before, during and after
We will be live blogging tonight so join us!!!
Good Morning Sky Dancers!
The Acting President* of the United States has just handed a military and diplomatic win to Russia’s Putin, the Iranian Regime, and Putin’s murdering hand puppet in Syria the brutal dictator Assad.
ISIS and former Al Quaeda fighters for Turkey are committing war crimes galore as they slash and murder their way south into Syria in a land grab we haven’t seen for some time. The Assad government is now moving into the area to back up their new allies the Kurds. Did I mention they’re Russian-backed? So, our dumped allies the Kurds are now going to try to stop Turkey who is still a NATO member.
Meanwhile, our troops are in the process of retreating from a hot war in relatively small numbers and scattered in various pockets where they’ve been in embedded with the Kurds with Assad Regime and Russian Forces headed straight at them from one side and Turkey on the other.
From Foreign Affairs and William Burns: “The Demolition of U.S. Diplomacy. Not Since Joe McCarthy Has the State Department Suffered Such a Devastating Blow.”
Our diplomacy is longer carried out by a dedicated, trained and skilled corps of career diplomats, but by the gut feelingd of an autocracy-curious madman.
That Senator McCarthy’s chief counsel, Roy Cohn, was also Donald Trump’s lawyer and mentor is one of history’s sad ironies. Trump’s scorched-earth tactics, casual relationship with truth, and contempt for career public service bear more than a passing resemblance to the playbook that Cohn wrote for McCarthy. And when Trump cried out for a “new Roy Cohn” to replace the late original, it was hardly a surprise that former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani appeared—or that he dove into the muck of the Ukraine scandal and agitated for the removal of a career ambassador whose integrity and expertise proved to be an obstruction.
One might imagine that the State Department’s leadership would stand up to the president and for its personnel—so many of whom are doing hard jobs in hard places around the world. If only that were the case.
Instead, today’s leaders have shown no more spine than Dulles did. Secretary Pompeo apparently worked around the embassy in Kiev to advance the president’s private agenda, allowed specious opposition research about Yovanovitch to circulate around the department, and sat on his hands as Trump slandered Yovanovitch on the infamous call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky and warned ominously that “she’s going to go through some things.” The ghost of Roy Cohn was smiling somewhere.
Even before the Ukraine mess, the Trump administration had been waging a war on diplomacy for nearly three years. The White House regularly pushes historic cuts to diplomacy and development spending, which is already 19 times smaller than the defense budget. Career diplomats are sidelined, with only one of 28 assistant secretary-rank positions filled by a Foreign Service officer, and more ambassadorships going to political appointees in this administration than in any in recent history. One-fifth of ambassadorships remain unfilled, including critical posts.
Not coincidentally, applications to join the Foreign Service have declined precipitously, with fewer people taking the entrance exam in 2019 than in more than two decades. The pace of resignations by career professionals is depressing, the pernicious practice of retaliation against individual officers just because they worked on controversial issues in the last administration is damning, and the silence from the department’s leadership is deafening.
This is news analysis from the New York Times and David E. Sanger.
President Trump’s acquiescence to Turkey’s move to send troops deep inside Syrian territory has in only one week’s time turned into a bloody carnage, forced the abandonment of a successful five-year-long American project to keep the peace on a volatile border, and given an unanticipated victory to four American adversaries: Russia, Iran, the Syrian government and the Islamic State.
Rarely has a presidential decision resulted so immediately in what his own party leaders have described as disastrous consequences for American allies and interests. How this decision happened — springing from an “off-script moment” with President Recep Tayyip Erdogan of Turkey, in the words of a senior American diplomat — likely will be debated for years by historians, Middle East experts and conspiracy theorists.
But this much already is clear: Mr. Trump ignored months of warnings from his advisers about what calamities likely would ensue if he followed his instincts to pull back from Syria and abandon America’s longtime allies, the Kurds. He had no Plan B, other than to leave. The only surprise is how swiftly it all collapsed around the president and his depleted, inexperienced foreign policy team.
Day after day, they have been caught off-guard, offering up differing explanations of what Mr. Trump said to Mr. Erdogan, how the United States and its allies might respond, and even whether Turkey remains an American ally. For a while Mr. Trump said he acted because the Islamic State was already defeated, and because he was committed to terminating “endless wars” by pulling American troops out of the Middle East. By the end of the week he added 2,000 — to Saudi Arabia.
One day he was inviting Mr. Erdogan to visit the White House; the next he was threatening to “totally destroy and obliterate” Turkey’s economy if it crossed a line that he never defined.
Mr. Erdogan just kept going.
Mr. Trump’s error, some aides concede in off-the-record conversations, was entering the Oct. 6 call underprepared, and then failing to spell out for Mr. Erdogan the potential consequences — from economic sanctions to a dimunition of Turkey’s alliance with the United States and its standing in NATO. He has since threatened both, retroactively. But it is not clear Mr. Erdogan believes either is a real risk.
The drama is nowhere near over.
The use of the word ‘drama’ here is probably one of the most serious understatements I’ve ever read as I now wake up and go to bed watching mass slaughter that appears to be part of a planned Genocide of the Kurds. It hearkens back to Turkey’s approach to Armenians in the 1920.
Well, it looks like if Trump won’t do it, Putin will.
Moving us out of its client state, Syria, has been a Russian objective for some time. Trump has given him this deliverable.
Key Takeaway: Russia has finished an advanced anti-access/area denial (A2AD) network in Syria that combines its own air defense and electronic warfare systems with modernized equipment formerly commanded by Syria. Russia can use these capabilities to mount a long-term strategic challenge to the U.S. and NATO in the Eastern Mediterranean Sea and the Middle East. Russia is currently positioned to disrupt the U.S. Anti-ISIS Coalition, constrain future military options for the U.S. in Syria, and increase the cost of deterring future malign action by Iran and Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.
Jackson Diehl of WAPO writes “In a month, Trump has destroyed ‘America First’.”
I have one more story that I’d like to highlight with a lot of righteous anger and grief. A young Fort Worth black woman was murdered in her home while babysitting her nephew when a policeman called to make a wellness check open fired with no reason. This is–once again–the dangerous intersection of poor police training, ineffective screening before hiring, and institutional racism. Did I also mention this horrifies me?
From the Dallas Morning News: ; “The outrageous death of Atatiana Jefferson: What was Fort Worth cop possibly thinking when he shot?. It’s a decision that ripped an innocent woman from her family and one that will forever scar her 8-year-old nephew who was with her at the time.”
Atatiana’s life MATTERS and we must work as a country to hold our police to higher standards and to accountants for the number of black lives they take needlessly and without regard.
Video from the cop’s body-camera as he roamed the backyard with a flashlight at 2:30 a.m captures him hollering “Put your hands up. Show me your hands” and then — almost immediately — firing his gun into Jefferson’s window.
Fort Worth police acknowledged Sunday that the cop never identified himself as a police officer before he fired. Along with the video, police released a fuzzy photo of a gun, apparently found in a bedroom, but did not connect it to Jefferson’s death. Their reason for releasing that photo without context provides no confidence in the department’s credibility.
The episode began when James Smith, a concerned resident who, in the middle of the night, spotted open doors and lights on, called the police nonemergency number and asked an officer to check on the household.
The well-meaning Smith is just the sort of neighbor we all would like to have nearby. He followed the common sense that crime watch groups and law enforcement repeat again and again: If you see something, say something. Smith simply wanted the cops to do a “welfare check” to ensure that the family was safe.
A person shouldn’t die as a result of a caring neighbor. In a killing that is sickeningly similar to the one for which fired Dallas police officer Amber Guyger was just sent to prison, the Fort Worth cop seems to have acted without thinking first. In the Dallas case, Guyger killed Botham Jean after mistaking his apartment for her own and thinking he was an intruder.
I awake daily to thinking that we keep going backwards to days that should be well behind us. I will leave you with a bright spot. There are so many ways that we are reminded that people of color are still provided second class citizenship. Montgomery, Alabama–the city at the very root of the Civil Rights Movement–elected its first black mayor with a plurality that should uplift us all. CNN’s Faith Karimi and LaRell Reynolds write “Montgomery elected its first black mayor in 200 years. This is why it matters”. The struggle continues but it achieved something special with this.
In the two centuries since its founding, Alabama’s capital of Montgomery and the birthplace of the civil rights movement has never had a black mayor.
That changed Tuesday when Montgomery County probate judge Steven Reed won a runoff election to become the first black mayor of the city founded in 1819. He defeated television station owner David Woods by more than 16,000 votes.
“Let the record show tonight, above all … what we can do when we come together in this city and we build around positivity, around opportunity, and all the things that tie us together versus those things that keep us apart,” Reed told supporters at a rally turned victory party.
Alabama’s second-largest city is a city of contrasts. While it’s the birthplace of the civil rights movement, it was also the first capital of the Confederacy early in the Civil War, and many streets and schools still bear Confederate names.
Montgomery later became the site of Rosa Parks’ famed bus boycott in 1955 and Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s Dexter Avenue Baptist church, as well as the destination of the 1965 Selma-to-Montgomery protest marches that were met with brutal police violence and led to the Voting Rights Act.
On Tuesday evening, 67 percent of voters backed probate judge Steven Reed, who was up against David Woods, a white television station owner, according to unofficial results. In August, the two received the most votes in the city’s mayoral election (Reed was one of 10 black candidates), but neither candidate captured a 50 percent majority, leading to this month’s nonpartisan runoff election.
Reed will be sworn into office in November, replacing current mayor Todd Strange, who has held office since 2009 and did not run for reelection. According to the Montgomery Advertiser, prior to the October election, Montgomery was one of three cities with a population over 100,000 in the Deep South that had never elected a black mayor.
During his mayoral campaign, Reed said he plans to help Montgomery’s poorest communities by addressing issues like food deserts and poor water quality. Reed also wants to improve economic conditions in the city in the hopes of making Montgomery more attractive to younger people and businesses. Montgomery is also currently dealing with a limited city budget, and city officials have dedicated resources in recent years to reduce crime rates in the city.
Reed’s historic win has drawn national attention and praise from civil rights groups. Other politicians have also praised Reed’s victory, with Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Kamala Harris tweeting, “The birthplace of the civil rights movement has a new era of leadership for the first time in its 200-year history.”
Another Democratic Candidates debate is open us with a significant number of women and POC still standing and in good position to take the lead.
Here’s hoping we can still make progress eve though I have a feeling that those Trumpers HateFests are going get worse and the news from Syria will be gruesome. Here’s some news that may or may not shorten it.
On Tuesday night, the top dozen Democratic candidates are set to appear at the party’s fourth 2020 primary debate, set at Otterbein University in Westerville, Ohio, starting at 5 p.m. Pacific. The debate, co-hosted by CNN and the New York Times, will be broadcast on CNN and streamed online at http://www.cnn.com and http://www.nytimes.com, as well as on the outlets’ apps.
Still going, stay with us …
New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker, former Rep. Beto O’Rourke of Texas; former Housing Secretary Julián Castro; Rep. Tulsi Gabbard of Hawaii; Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar … and (deep breath) businessmen Andrew Yang and Tom Steyer.
We will have a live blog and I’m certain BB will have some pre-debate news for us. Frankly, I plan to sip my well iced white wine every time I hear some one say “Impeach him”!!! My glass will first be raised to a toast to whoever!
So, let’s keep keeping on and tell me, what’s on your reading and blogging list today?
And I’ll end by sharing the words of the late Great Curtis Mayfield who wrote and recorded this while I was in high school living the Watergate hearings reality and watching the Vietnam carnage on the nightly news. Still rings true, sir …
I’ve only got one
Don’t run from the burdens of women and men
Continue to give, continue to live
For what you know is right
Withdraw from the darkness and look to the light
Where everyone’s free
At least that’s the way it’s supposed to be
We just keep on keeping on
But they too will soon admit
That there’s still a lot of love among us
When we keep on keeping on
When you have your young, remember this song
And our world surroundings, its leaps and bounds
Ups and downs, is reality
Good Morning Sky Dancers!
We’re beginning to see just how wrapped up Republicans are with Russians. I ran across this from bellingcat this morning by Casey Michel. And we thought only the NRA was awash in Russian money and influence!!! “Money Talks: Len Blavatnik And The Council On Foreign Relations”.
Last month, the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR), one of America’s leading think tanks, announced that it had received a substantial donation that would help round out the organization’s upcoming budget. As a statement on the CFR’s website detailed, a CFR member had graciously decided to help facilitate funding for CFR’s intern program. The donation, as CFR’s statement detailed, would provide “paid internships to over one hundred interns each year,” and would help “cultivat[e] the next generation of leaders in government, academia, and the private sector.” CFR President Richard Haass, as he wrote on Twitter, was “[g]rateful” for the “generous gift.”
It’s easy to see why CFR’s brass would express gratitude for the gift. After all, issues surrounding paying interns have circulated among any number of American institutions over the past decade, from media to civil society to, as CFR’s announcement noted, think tanks. A CFR spokesperson told Bellingcat that the donation totaled $12 million.
There was one problem, though. As CFR noted, the donation had come from the Blavatnik Family Foundation — and was specifically facilitated by CFR member Len Blavatnik.
Blavatnik may not be a household name in the United States and has not been sanctioned by any Western governments, but the involvement of Blavatnik, born in the USSR in what is now southern Ukraine, has already sparked a firestorm of internal controversy at CFR.
CFR’s willingness to accept the donation from Blavatnik’s foundation has been a case study in the “soft enabling of kleptocracy,” Sarah Chayes, one of the leading anti-corruption voices in the U.S., told Bellingcat. It also fits into Blavatnik’s previous history of working with what she described as “image launderers,” all of whom have helped Blavatnik — who has worked closely over the years with figures now sanctioned specifically by the U.S. for their role in spreading the Kremlin’s kleptocracy — in shaping the reputation of someone who accrued substantial wealth in the mad scramble for post-Soviet resource and industry.
The pushback over the previous weeks has culminated in an unprecedented protest against CFR’s move to accept and publicize the donation from Blavatnik’s foundation. One letter, addressed to Haass and signed by dozens of the most prominent anti-corruption activists in the U.S. and Ukraine, leading experts on post-Soviet kleptocracy, and former members of the Treasury Department, State Department, and National Security Council, condemned the move as a means of helping “Blavatnik [export] Russian kleptocratic practices to the West.”
Haass and CFR, however, haven’t expressed any concern about the donation, nor about the fact that the U.S.’s leading anti-kleptocracy voices have condemned the move. There’s no indication that CFR will walk back the donation, despite the unprecedented pushback they’ve received.
Blavatnik’s donations to US institutions run a lot deeper than you’d think and the article is worth your time to read. Follow this author. He’s part of the Kleptocracy Initiative and keeps track of these sorts of things.
Along the way, Blavatnik kept a relatively low profile politically, and made efforts — both personal and financial in nature — to retain friends all across the political spectrum, especially in the U.S. Having gained U.S. citizenship, Blavatnik has made a concerted effort to financially back both Democratic and Republican candidates over the years. In 2016, though, Blavatnik split with his prior precedent, and poured some $6 million into Republican coffers, as well as donating $1 million directly to President Donald Trump’s inaugural committee. Over the past year, Blavatnik has returned to his old habits, and begun donating across the aisle, according to data from the Federal Election Commission.
But in the aftermath of Russia’s 2016 interference efforts, new questions began to swirl about Blavatnik’s funding. Not only did the U.S. sanction individuals like Vekselberg, figures with whom Blavatnik had previously been close, but last year it emerged that Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s office had specifically investigated Blavatnik’s donations to Trump’s inauguration. Vekselberg also told the Financial Times that he attended Trump’s inauguration at a table Blavatnik paid for, although Blavatnik’s spokesperson denied this.
Kenneth Vogel–writing for the NYT–has the byline for this important read “Giuliani’s Ukraine Team: In Search of Influence, Dirt and MoneyThe president’s lawyer was paid by Lev Parnas, who with Igor Fruman worked on behalf of President Trump in Ukraine.”
When Rudolph W. Giuliani set out to dredge up damaging information on President Trump’s rivals in Ukraine, he turned to a native of the former Soviet republic with whom he already had a lucrative business relationship.
Lev Parnas, a Ukrainian-American businessman with a trail of debts and lawsuits, had known Mr. Giuliani casually for years through Republican political circles. Last year, their relationship deepened when a company he helped found retained Mr. Giuliani — associates of Mr. Parnas said he told them he paid hundreds of thousands of dollars — for what Mr. Giuliani said on Thursday was business and legal advice.
Even as he worked with Mr. Parnas’s company, Fraud Guarantee, Mr. Giuliani increasingly relied on Mr. Parnas to carry out Mr. Trump’s quest for evidence in Ukraine that would undercut the legitimacy of the special counsel’s investigation into Russia’s interference on his behalf in the 2016 election and help him heading into his 2020 re-election campaign.
Mr. Giuliani dispatched Mr. Parnas and an associate, Igor Fruman, a Belarusian-American businessman, to Kiev, the Ukrainian capital, where, despite fending off creditors at home, BuzzFeed reported, they ran up big charges at a strip club and the Hilton International hotel. Their mission was to find people and information that could be used to undermine the special counsel’s investigation, and also to damage former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr., a prospective Democratic challenger to Mr. Trump.
Here’s a brief take of the Josh Chafetz piece from Common Dreams: “Law Professor’s Advice to House Democrats: Arrest Rudy Giuliani.”
Faced with an intransigent White House unwilling to cooperate with an impeachment inquiry into President Donald Trump’s pressuring of the Ukrainian government to investigate his political rival former Vice President Joe Biden, the House should take aggressive action including arresting Rudy Giuliani, a law professor argues in a column for The New York Times Thursday.
“The answer is unlikely to be found in a courtroom,” writes law professor Josh Chafetz.
The White House has repeatedly refused to answer subpoenas and on Tuesday afternoon, as Common Dreams reported, announced in an eight page letter that the administration will flatly refuse to cooperate in the inquiry, a move that could set up a constitutional crisis.
“There is no legal basis for Trump’s position,” NBC analyst Katie Phang said on Twitter Tuesday. “Hard stop.”
House Democrats need to think outside the box, Chafetz argues.
“The House should instead put back on the table the option of using its sergeant-at-arms to arrest contemnors—as the person in violation of the order is called—especially when an individual, like Rudy Giuliani, is not an executive branch official,” Chaftez writes.
Chafetz acknowledges that the move was extreme, but said that the net benefits of taking things to that level would outweigh the possible negatives of such an action and allow for the House to open the door to other punitive actions seen as less radical.
“The House arresting someone would be explosive and clearly should not be undertaken lightly,” says Chafetz. “But the very explosiveness of it would be a way for the House to signal the seriousness of White House obstructionism to the public.”
The State Department is getting into the spotlight more and more on the entire Ukrainian situation as a Senior Advisor to Pompeo resigns. This is from WAPO. And an Ambassador removed by Trump speaks out.
Among the many issues in which he played a role, McKinley has been closely involved in administration policy on Venezuela, Mexico, Southeast Asia and Afghanistan, where last month President Trump abruptly canceled U.S. peace negotiations with the Taliban that both sides had said were near an agreement.
There seems to be a large number of career professionals in various departments ready to testify and go to Congress as well as the press. And it’s about time.
Which also means that Trump needed a hit from a Hatefest Bong. This time the Orange Plague went to Minneapolis home of Minnesota Nice.
Musicians from Queen to Prince’s estate are suing Trumpto quit using their music. It probably will do as much good as trying to bill the campaign for the public safety issues surrounding every Trump Rally where attendees are none to bully press and public alike and fights frequently break out with encouragement of the Orange Snot Blob. More people protested the visit than attended the rally.
And, as usual Trump lied his fat ass off as well as spewed the usual racist, misogynistic, bigoted crap. He made a point of attacking Somali Refugees in a place where they are an integral part of the community and recently sent Congresswoman Ilhan Abdullahi Omar to serve as the U.S. Representative for Minnesota’s 5th congressional district in 2019. The district includes all of Minneapolis and some of its suburbs.
Safe places from Trumpists in any place will always be bookstores, universities, and libraries were no Trumper dares go. Facts and knowledge are to them what garlic and wooden stakes are to Vampires.
Here’s a look at his claims at a Minneapolis rally, his first since Democrats opened an impeachment inquiry of Trump’s actions as president:
TRUMP: “If our opponent had won that election, you know what would have happened? Right now, China would be the No. 1 economy anywhere in the world. And right now, I can tell you, they’re not even close.”
THE FACTS: No matter who got elected in 2016 — Trump or Democrat Hillary Clinton — China’s economy could not have caught up to America’s.
Even if the U.S. economy had not grown at all since 2016, China’s gross domestic product — the broadest measure of economic output — would have had to have surged a fantastical 79% in three years to pull even with America’s. That comes to growth of more than 21% a year — something even China’s super-charged economy has never approached.
The Chinese economy continues to slowly narrow the gap because every year it grows much faster than America’s. In 2019, for example, the International Monetary Fund expects Chinese GDP to increase 6.2%, more than double the 2.6% growth it expects for the United States. But it’s got a long way to go to surpass the U.S.
TRUMP: “We have totally defeated the ISIS caliphate.”
THE FACTS: His claim of a 100% defeat is misleading as the Islamic State still poses a threat.
IS was defeated in Iraq in 2017, then lost the last of its land holdings in Syria in March, marking the end of the extremists’ self-declared caliphate.
Still, extremist sleeper cells have continued to launch attacks in Iraq and Syria and are believed to be responsible for targeted killings against local officials and members of the Syrian Democratic Forces.
IS controlled large swaths of northern and eastern Syria, where they declared a caliphate in 2014 along with large parts of neighboring Iraq.
U.N. experts warned in August that IS leaders are aiming to consolidate and create conditions for an “eventual resurgence in its Iraqi and Syrian heartlands.”
But, most importantly, Congress heard from Marie Yovanovich today. This is from WAPO “Ousted ambassador Marie Yovanovitch tells Congress Trump pressured State Dept. to remove her.”
We’ve definitely gotten to a watershed here. I’ll end with this from Jonathan Lemire of the Associated Press: “Analysis: In impeachment fight, it’s Trump vs. Constitution ”
Donald Trump has spent his time in office trying to bend the conventions of the American presidency to his will. Now he appears to be trying to override a core principle of democracy: that no one is above the law.
Faced with an impeachment inquiry, Trump has openly defied the core constructs of the Constitution. He chafes at the idea of co-equal branches of government and rejects the House’s right to investigate him.
He has deployed a convoluted logic in which he has declared that the courts can’t investigate him because as president he cannot be charged with a crime but also that Congress cannot impeach him because its inquiry is politically illegitimate.
It’s a “heads he wins, tails you lose” formulation.
“It’s anathema to his character and his life story to be checked and balanced by anything,” said presidential historian Jon Meacham, a professor at Vanderbilt University. “The Constitution was formed to contain appetite. And we now have the president who is driven entirely by appetite.”
In a scathing eight-page letter this week, the Republican president’s lawyers served notice there will be no cooperation with the impeachment inquiry.
Trump’s White House has ignored document requests and subpoenas. It readily invokes executive privilege — going so far as to argue that the privilege extends to informal presidential advisers who never held White House jobs. And his team all but dares Democrats to hold them in contempt.
The impeachment standoff follows a pattern Trump has established throughout his presidency as he has jettisoned experienced advisers and flouted conventions.
The fact that he survived the special counsel’s Russia investigation without paying much of a political penalty left him all the more emboldened.
One day after Robert Mueller’s faltering testimony brought an end to that threat, Trump unleashed a new one by asking Ukraine’s president to investigate his political foe Joe Biden. That prompted the fast-moving impeachment inquiry that Trump now resists.
After two weeks of a listless and unfocused response to the impeachment probe, the White House letter to Democratic House Speaker Nancy Pelosi this week was a declaration of war.
While it was filled with dubious legal arguments, its intent was clear: Trump would not play ball, claiming that the game was rigged against him.
It’s time to shut the Trump Circus down and send him and the monkeys to jail.
What’s on your reading and blogging list today?
Turkey is bombing the shit out of the Kurds.
Our President is a lawless monster who only cares about himself and his interests.
Good Morning Sky Dancers
Well, it’s Monday and it wouldn’t be a Messed up Monday morning without the “Human Tornado” doing something completely idiotic and self-serving. I have no idea what’s being said between our NATO allies and our allies in the Middle East but I was not prepared to see what I saw this morning. I assume that they’re trying to figure out if it would do any good to call our idiot Preznit. Last night, a press release came out of some kind of agreement between Erdogan of Turkey and KKKremlin Caligulia. This morning Turkish Troops are on the move into Northern Syria and we’re suddenly outta there.
This is from Michael Weiss at The Daily Beast and the headline says it all: “SHORT-SIGHTED. Trump’s Crazy Syria Move Will Wipe Out America’s Allies and Set Up a Big ISIS Comeback. With Trump’s permission, Turkey will now ethnically cleanse the Syrian Kurds, who fought ISIS on behalf of the U.S., leaving no one to hold off the terror group.”
Turkey is about to invade the part of Syria the U.S. invaded to defeat the so-called Islamic State. Except Turkey is invading it to defeat the Kurdish proxy force the U.S. relied on to defeat ISIS, because Turkey considers that proxy a terrorist group. And U.S. President Donald J. Trump, apparently, is fine with that.
This according to a White House announcement released late Sunday evening that reads as if it were written by someone who wants absolutely nothing to do with a part of a world as fucked up as the Middle East and doesn’t care if the whole place burns to the ground.
The move came after Trump, in yet another decisive phone call that probably will be locked away, spoke with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. Trump’s decision was to have the United States accede to a NATO ally’s invasion of a de facto U.S. protectorate—an invasion which has been long in the making and is expressly designed to gobble up a crucial U.S. ally.
This sounds crazy and it is. But before you turn on your cable news show to find all manner of pundits filtering this Alice-in-Wonderland development through the narrow prism of a domestic news cycle, let me assure you of the following. It has nothing to do with Trump’s manifold domestic crises or the fact that his Twitter feed now resembles that of a homeless man barking at oncoming traffic. What is happening now derives from the inherent contradictions built right into America’s war on terror that are coming to the fore and threatening to precipitate the very thing that the fight against ISIS was meant to reduce.
Since 2014, the Pentagon has disproportionately relied upon one faction of armed Kurdish guerrillas who, in a sticky little turn of fate, have been fighting the Turkish state for over 40 years. Ankara has been none too pleased that America’s preferred battering ram against jihadism has a long history of blowing up Turkish army bases and police stations, albeit on secular marxisant grounds rather than apocalyptic religious ones.
In other words, Trump just stabbed another set of allies in the back and made several Dictators very happy in the process. And of course, the fattest and happiest one is Putin. From CNBC: “Trump handing northern Syria to Turkey is a ‘gift to Russia, Iran, and ISIS,’ former US envoy says” by Natasha Turak.
The Trump administration is facing a torrent of criticism Monday after it unexpectedly announced a full U.S. troop withdrawal from northern Syria to effectively allow a long-planned military operation by Turkey against Kurdish ground forces, who had battled to uproot ISIS.
“Turkey will soon be moving forward with its long-planned operation into Northern Syria,” a White House statement late Sunday said, noting that President Donald Trump had spoken to his Turkish counterpart Recep Tayyip Erdogan by phone. “The United States Armed Forces will not support or be involved in the operation, and United States forces, having defeated the ISIS territorial ‘Caliphate,’ will no longer be in the immediate area.”
Security experts on the region and former U.S. officials are calling the decision harmful and a gift to America’s adversaries, while some members of the Kurdish forces on the ground in Syria are calling it betrayal.
“The WH statement tonight on Syria after Trump spoke with Erdogan demonstrates a complete lack of understanding of anything happening on the ground,” Brett McGurk, the former U.S. special envoy to the global anti-IS coalition, said Monday on Twitter.
“Trump tonight after one call with a foreign leader provided a gift to Russia, Iran, and ISIS.”
So, here’s some Republican blowback but will they do anything?
And yes, that last guy used to work for the Orange Snot Blob (h/t to BB).
So, ABC reports the immediate response this morning: “Turkey begins mobilizing against Syria; US begins removing forces from area”.
The Turkish move is likely to put the Kurdish forces that helped the U.S. defeat ISIS in peril. Turkey considers the Kurdish forces — the PKK and YPG — terrorist organizations.
The news came late Sunday after President Donald Trump spoke to Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan by phone earlier in the day.
The White House also confirmed that Turkey will take possession of all captured ISIS fighters from the past two years.
In other news:
Federal judge rules Trump must turn over his tax returns to Manhattan DA, but Trump has appealed — The request for eight years of records relates to the DA’s investigation into hush-money payments during the 2016 election. Bylines by WAPO’s David A. Fahrenthold and Ann E. Marimow
From Nancy Cook at Politico writes that : Impeachment tentacles spread throughout Trump’s team — The tentacles of the Democratic impeachment investigation are extending far beyond the arms of President Donald Trump. — The vice president’s office, acting chief of staff’s office, State Department, Energy Department ..
From David Leonhardt at the New York Times: “The Rich Really Do Pay Lower Taxes Than You ” — Almost a decade ago, Warren Buffett made a claim that would become famous. He said that he paid a lower tax rate than his secretary, thanks to the many loopholes and deductions that benefit the wealthy. — His claim sparked a debate about the fairness of the tax system.
Well, this is like all those memes about upsetting apple carts only this is central to world peace.
What’s on your reading and blogging list today?
Good Morning Sky Dancers!
Before you do anything today follow the link on this Twitter from Congressman Adam Schiff. Then ask yourself, is Felonious Trump “self impeaching?”
Here Comes the Sun!
There’s nothing I cant think of more today than the bright rays of sunlight pouring into a den of thieves.
The Daily Beast calls these tweets “damning”.
Democratic committee chairmen released a stunning cache of text messages late Thursday night detailing exchanges among senior U.S. diplomats as they went to great lengths to play along with President Trump’s campaign to pressure a foreign government to launch an investigation into his political rival.
The texts laid bare, with great specificity, a coordinated effort among State Department officials and Trump attorney Rudy Giuliani to compel the new Ukrainian government of Volodymyr Zelensky to publicly commit to investigating a firm tied to former Vice President Joe Biden’s son, thereby making foreign aid contingent on the Ukrainians helping Trump’s re-election efforts.
By September, that effort so alarmed the recently appointed chargé d’affairs at the U.S. Embassy in Kyiv, Bill Taylor, that he called it “crazy” and spiraling toward a “nightmare scenario.” Another Trump appointee, U.S. Ambassador to the European Union Gordon Sondland, insisted Taylor was “incorrect” about Trump dangling a “quid pro quo” before Zelensky—the same quid pro quo that Sondland and his colleagues, from Trump on down, had spent months orchestrating.
“As I said on the phone, I think it’s crazy to withhold security assistance for help with a political campaign,” Taylor said in a message dated Sept. 9, 2019, referring to the White House decision to mysteriously withhold nearly $400 million in military assistance that Ukraine needs to fight back against Russian forces waging war against the country in the east.
The Washington Post reported that Trump ordered the funds withheld nearly a week before his July 25 phone call with Zelensky, the contents of which were presented in a memo released last week by the White House.
With the Ukrainians alarmed over having their military aid from Washington suddenly frozen, Taylor grew urgent. “The message to the Ukrainians (and Russians) we send with the decision on security assistance is key,” he texted Sondland. “With the hold, we have already shaken their faith in us. Hence my nightmare scenario.”
The letter, which included the text messages, was written jointly by the chairmen of the House committees on intelligence, Oversight and Reform, and Foreign Affairs, and was circulated publicly following a marathon deposition on Capitol Hill from one of the pressure campaign’s key participants, the Ukraine envoy Kurt Volker, whom Secretary of State Mike Pompeo pushed into resigning last week.
“These text messages reflect serious concerns raised by a State Department official about the detrimental effects of withholding critical military assistance from Ukraine, and the importance of setting up a meeting between President Trump and the Ukrainian president without further delay,” the chairmen wrote. “He also directly expressed concerns that this critical military assistance and the meeting between the two presidents were being withheld in order to place additional pressure on Ukraine to deliver on the president’s demand for Ukraine to launch politically motivated investigations.”
As to the “self-impeaching” question, here’s some thoughts on that from Susan Glasser at The New Yorker. Today’s headlies are filled with takes on the calls from Trump on the White House Driveway for both Ukraine and China to investigate the Bidens. Glasser documents the Orange Snot Blob’s further descent into madness. We need to get rid Felonious Trump and all his thugs.
In the ten days since the House of Representatives launched its impeachment inquiry, President Trump has spoken and tweeted thousands of words in public. He has called the investigation a “coup” and the press “deranged.” He has demanded that his chief congressional antagonist, the California representative he demeans as “Liddle’ Adam Schiff,” be brought up on treason charges. He has attacked the “Do Nothing Democrats” for wasting “everyone’s time and energy on bullshit.”
There have been so many rationales coming from the President that it’s been hard to keep them straight. “How do you impeach a President who has created the greatest Economy in the history of our Country, entirely rebuilt our Military into the most powerful it has ever been, Cut Record Taxes & Regulations, fixed the VA & gotten Choice for our Vets (after 45 years), & so much more,” he complained via tweet last week, in a less-than-accurate recap of his Administration’s record. He called the charges against him a “hoax” and, quoting his lawyer Rudy Giuliani, said that he was “framed by the Democrats.” He has blamed the “#Fakewhistleblower” and the “fake news” for the impeachment investigation, which has now replaced the Mueller investigation in Trump’s rhetoric as “the Greatest Witch Hunt in the history of our country.” Trump has also insisted, over and over again, that there was nothing at all wrong with his July 25th phone call with the President of Ukraine. The call—in which he asked for the “favor” of having Ukraine investigate his 2020 political rival, the former Vice-President Joe Biden, even as he was holding up hundreds of millions of dollars in U.S. military aid—triggered the impeachment inquiry in the first place. But Trump says it was “perfect.”
On Thursday morning, Trump appeared to dispense with excuses altogether, no longer even bothering to contest the charge that he leaned on Ukraine to investigate Biden and his son Hunter. How do we know this? Because Trump did it again, live on camera, from the White House lawn. In a demand that is hard to interpret as anything other than a request to a foreign country to interfere in the U.S. election, Trump told reporters that Ukraine needs a “major investigation” into the Bidens. “I would certainly recommend that of Ukraine,” the President added, shouting over the noise of his helicopter, as he prepared to board Marine One en route to Florida. He also volunteered, without being asked, that China “should start an investigation into the Bidens,” too, given that Hunter Biden also had business dealings there while his father was in office. Trump, minutes after threatening an escalation in his trade war with China, suggested that he might even personally raise the matter of the Bidens with the Chinese leader, Xi Jinping.
Even the NYT editorial board considers his actions to be self-impeaching. Trump seems to think if he admits it enough in broad daylight that we’ll become immune to the idea that it’s illegal. Or perhaps he thinks–like Nixon–it’s not illegal when the President does it.
Federal law expressly states that it is illegal for “a person to solicit, accept, or receive” anything of value from a foreign national in connection with a United States election.
Yet there stood President Trump outside the White House on Thursday, openly soliciting help from a foreign government for his re-election prospects by declaring to the assembled press that “China should start an investigation into the Bidens.” This, of course, after Mr. Trump has already become subject to an impeachment inquiry after implicating himself in a scheme to seek foreign help for his campaign in a conversation with the Ukrainian president, Volodymyr Zelensky.
This might seem self-defeating — “self-impeaching,” even. A United States president urging a foreign government to investigate his political rival would seem to be flagrantly violating the law, along with American notions of fair play and decency.
But this president is a master at what Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan called defining deviancy down. One baldfaced presidential lie, once exposed, is an outrage; a thousand such lies is a statistic.
Today, horrible legislation signed by the Democratic Louisiana Governor will be heard by a Supreme Court that may go directly for Roe. V. Wade. This is from Robert Barnes of WAPO.
The law is almost identical to a Texas law that the Supreme Court struck down in 2016. But in that case, now retired justice Anthony M. Kennedy joined the court’s four liberals to form a majority. Since then, President Trump has added two new justices who were enthusiastically supported by antiabortion groups.
Hospitalization after an abortion is rare, all sides agree, and the lack of admitting privileges by the doctor who performed the procedure is not a bar to the woman getting needed medical care. Roberts was one of the dissenters in the 5 to 3 decision.
Mark Joseph Stern–writing for Slate– believes that the 2020 court will take a hard right to “launch a conservative revolution.” I’m not surprised the American Women will be its first victims as white men start asserting their property rights over every one that’s not them.
After Brett Kavanaugh joined the Supreme Court in October 2018, most of the justices seemed eager to do whatever they could to keep SCOTUS out of the limelight. Less than two weeks earlier, Christine Blasey Ford had declared on live TV that Kavanaugh sexually assaulted her as a teenager; Kavanaugh, in response, accused Democrats of orchestrating a “grotesque character assassination” driven by “pent-up anger about President Trump” and “revenge on behalf of the Clintons.”
The Supreme Court’s legitimacy rests in large part on the perception it is a nonpartisan institution, but Kavanaugh joined the bench engulfed in a toxic cloud of political rancor. In the year after the ugly confirmation hearing, the justices mostly kept their heads down, ducking many controversial cases for no apparent reason. They decided only two bona fide blockbusters, throwing partisan gerrymandering claims out of federal court and blocking the census citizenship question. Meanwhile, they dodged cases about Dreamers, abortion, religious freedom, and discrimination, effectively deciding not to decide.
But the Supreme Court has amassed far too much power to avoid any contentious issue for long. As Congress remains deadlocked and the White House melts down, SCOTUS has become the only fully functioning branch of the federal government. It has taken on the role of policymaker, obligated to resolve many of the battles that engulf the political branches. Republicans understand this fact, and it is a key reason why they fought so hard for Kavanaugh’s confirmation. With lawmakers paralyzed, momentous disputes wind up at the Supreme Court. And now, thanks to Kavanaugh’s vote, many of these battles will be decided by a 5–4 conservative majority.
A slew of potentially earthshaking cases has already piled up on the court’s docket for the upcoming term. Multiple transformative decisions will come down in June, thrusting the court into the middle of the 2020 presidential campaign. And the full impact of Kavanaugh’s appointment will become clear as the court is dragged further to the right. This jurisprudential bloodbath will heighten the stakes of the 2020 race, amplifying the power of the president and the role of the judiciary in the most explosive political fights of the day.
I just need to remind you that three of these judges do not belong on the court. There’s not enough sunlight in the world that will change that.
What’s on your reading and blogging list today? I am assuming more stuff is out there and will be out there. Post what you find down thread! Thanks
Impeach Felonious Trump!
Good Afternoons Sky Dancers!
The Force Awakens!
Thought we’d throw up an open thread here because there’s so much coming out that it’s hard to keep up with!
Some of this stuff is so outlandishly illegal and outrageous that if it were any one but Trump I’d think we’d popped into the Twilight Zone.
Catherine Philp / The Times & The Sunday Times:
President Trump personally contacted Boris Johnson to ask for help as he tried to discredit the Mueller investigation into possible connections between Russia and his 2016 election campaign, The Times understands.
Mr Trump also contacted the leaders of countries including Australia and Ukraine to ask them to help William Barr, his attorney-general, to gather evidence to undermine the investigation into his campaign’s links to Russia.
Robert Mueller, the special counsel, refused to exonerate Mr Trump of wrongdoing when he released his findings in April, prompting the president to set up his own investigation in an effort to prove that the inquiry was politically motivated.
Erin Banco / The Daily Beast:
Giuliani waved his phone on air, flashing text messages between himself and State Department representatives and saying it was the department that connected him to a close adviser to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky. Giuliani’s on-air appearances threw the department into a tizzy, forcing Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to try to put a lid on the crisis of confidence bubbling up under him, according to three senior U.S. officials. For Pompeo, solving the problem meant finding someone to blame—and there was only one individual who fit the mold, according to those same sources: Kurt Volker, former U.S. representative for Ukraine negotiations.Volker resigned Friday. Despite his resignation, the State Department has scrambled to correct course, according to these same officials, especially after news that Pompeo was on the now-infamous call between President Trump and Zelensky in July. Pompeo had previously denied knowing about it on national television. On top of that, three congressional committees subpoenaed Pompeo for documents related to Trump and Giuliani’s work in Ukraine and demanded that five current and former department officials appear for depositions.In response, Pompeo tried a time-tested Trump White House strategy: stonewalling Congress. The secretary said Tuesday that Congress was “bullying” career officials and suggested they would not appear for questioning. (The State Department’s inspector general is currently investigating members of Pompeo’s department for pushing career officials out of their posts for perceived political bias.)
Under the heading, “it’s the economy, stupid!”
Keep adding to the thread down there because there’s a cray cray presser from Trump and more Impeachment news from Nancy and Adam to stir the pot. Here’s Nancy!!!
What’s going on ?