Imminent My Ass Monday Reads

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Good Afternoon Sky Dancers!

So, just in case you’re not of the sportsball persuasion like me, I  thought I’d mention our LSU Tigers have a big game today in the Super Dome and the Orange Snot blob has decided it might be a good place to be cheered at even though outside he will be jeered at. The Tigers are going after their 4th National Championship and, of course, I have no idea what a Clemson is other than some college with another team

Frankly, I’d rather the university my kids went to and the system for which I taught for about 10ish years would stop all the  water leaks in the Library and other buildings.  But, silly me, panem et circenses  always keeps the desperate masses from revolution or so it’s been said.

ImageYes.  We’re getting a visitation from the orange snot blob that either lies continually, says deluded things continually, and just makes up things of the top of his critter festooned head.  He mentioned he’s going to visit his property here to the usual suspects.  So, look to the left and see exactly how realistic, possible, and plausible said visitation would be.

Most of the outstate Yahoos from here included the folks that put into office do not care that he lies and some of them–Yes Senator John Kennedy I’m looking at you–just repeat  the lies with a faux hillbilly vibe.

Even more startling than the sheer number of POTUS lies is how brazen many of them have been. Dig deeper into this political phenomenon and something odd and counterintuitive emerges: Many people know that Trump is lying to them and simply don’t care. This raises a fascinating question: Could the president extricate himself from the Ukraine quid-pro-quo scandal, the linchpin of the current impeachment proceedings, by spewing one lie after another? 

According to the academic paperProcessing Political Misinformation: Comprehending the Trump Phenomenon, the answer is yes. Conducted prior to the 2016 presidential election, the study focuses on credibility experiments. Subjects were asked to rate their belief in eight statements (four true, four false) that Trump made during his campaign. Some were attributed to him: “Donald Trump said that vaccines cause autism.” Others had no attribution: “Vaccines cause autism.” Then came the fact checks. After false items were corrected and true items confirmed, the test subjects rerated the statements. 

One of the findings confirmed what every FOX and MSNBC pundit already knows. When subjects first rated the veracity of true and false statements, Republican supporters of Trump believed the claim more when it was attributed to Trump; the opposite was true of Democrats. Republicans who were not pro Trump also believed less in statements attributed to him (but not to the same degree as Democrats), while their belief in the false statements was not influenced by attribution. 

The other key finding is less obvious. There was a large bipartisan shift in belief after the fact check, suggesting that both conservatives and liberals can change their minds if they’re presented with convincing, unbiased information. But there was a catch: After a one-week delay, subjects partially “rebelieved” the false statements and partially forgot that factual information was true. Or, to quote the study: “Even if individuals update their beliefs temporarily, explanations regarding both fact and fiction seemingly have an expiration date.” 

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So, I’m not the psychologist on the blog so I have no idea what makes him lie so much.  I do know that I have never in my life seen any one even near this level of bull shit swinging and my dad had a car dealership and used car salesmen in his employ.  I can’t even imagine the pathology that would create that circumstance but it’s really so disturbing in needs a new term because pathological lying just doesn’t sound enough  for how he manages to nuclearize obvious whoppers.

So, there are lies and then there are lies that cover up things that every one country needs to realize are dangerous lies. This headline and story from NBC:  “Trump authorized Soleimani’s killing 7 months ago, with conditions.”  So, we know the entire story of four embassies under imminent danger is basically a Lie of Mass Destruction and now we have more and more evidence thanks to Carol E. Lee and Courtney Kube.

President Donald Trump authorized the killing of Iranian Gen. Qassem Soleimani seven months ago if Iran’s increased aggression resulted in the death of an American, according to five current and former senior administration officials.

The presidential directive in June came with the condition that Trump would have final signoff on any specific operation to kill Soleimani, officials said.

That decision explains why assassinating Soleimani was on the menu of options that the military presented to Trump two weeks ago for responding to an attack by Iranian proxies in Iraq, in which a U.S. contractor was killed and four U.S. service members were wounded, the officials said.

The timing, however, could undermine the Trump administration’s stated justification for ordering the U.S. drone strike that killed Soleimani in Baghdad on Jan. 3. Officials have said Soleimani, the leader of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps’ elite Quds Force, was planning imminent attacks on Americans and had to be stopped.

“There have been a number of options presented to the president over the course of time,” a senior administration official said, adding that it was “some time ago” that the president’s aides put assassinating Soleimani on the list of potential responses to Iranian aggression.

After Iran shot down a U.S. drone in June, John Bolton, Trump’s national security adviser at the time, urged Trump to retaliate by signing off on an operation to kill Soleimani, officials said. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo also wanted Trump to authorize the assassination, officials said.

But Trump rejected the idea, saying he’d take that step only if Iran crossed his red line: killing an American. The president’s message was “that’s only on the table if they hit Americans,” according to a person briefed on the discussion.

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Not even his cronies in the cabinet are supporting the stories he’s telling his cult in the Hatefests or to Hate Monger Laura Ingraham on Faux News (via WAPO).

In an interview with Fox News’s Laura Ingraham, excerpts of which were released Friday afternoon, Trump expanded on comments from a day earlier, when he initially told reporters that Soleimani’s forces “were looking to blow up our embassy” in Baghdad. He later said at a rally in Toledo that “Soleimani was actively planning new attacks, and he was looking very seriously at our embassies, and not just the embassy in Baghdad.”

Mike Esper did not carry water for the Liar-in-Chief yesterday on Face the Nation (via Raw Story).  Pompeo is still on the End Times Juice and is hanging in there with each shifting explanation

President Trump has claimed that Soleimani was plotting to  “blow up” the U.S. embassy in Baghdad as well as “four” other embassies, but according to Defense Secretary Mark T. Esper speaking to CBS News, the claim of four embassies being targeted wasn’t based on an intelligence analysis; it was just something Trump “believed” to be true.

Esper confirmed that there was intelligence to support the claim that Soleimani was targeting the embassy in Baghdad and that intelligence was “shared with the Gang of Eight, not the broader membership of the Congress” — a claim that was somewhat contradicted by Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, who told NBC News that the information was indeed shared with Congress. According to Blake, therein lies the contradiction.

“…Esper now says he hasn’t seen intelligence on the threat to multiple embassies, whereas Pompeo said the ‘specific information’ about imminent threats included threats to those embassies,” Blake writes, adding that “even if we’re to accept that Pompeo was speaking loosely and the intelligence was really just about the one U.S. embassy in Baghdad, Esper said that information wasn’t shared with ‘the broader membership of the Congress,’ but only with the Gang of Eight. Pompeo, in contrast, said ‘we did’ when asked if the information about attacks on embassies was shared in that wider briefing. He later deflected when asked to re-confirm, but he did confirm.”

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I remembered Jeremy Scahill–writing for The Intercept--on the connections between Trump, Erick Prince, and ignorance and then a developing obsession on Suleimani.  He’s updated that information and this was his headline on January 3: “WITH SULEIMANI ASSASSINATION, TRUMP IS DOING THE BIDDING OF WASHINGTON’S MOST VILE CABAL”.

On August 3, 2016 — just three months before Donald Trump would win the Electoral College vote and ascend to power — Blackwater founder Erik Prince arranged a meeting at Trump Tower. For decades, Prince had been agitating for a war with Iran and, as early as 2010, had developed a fantastical proposal for using mercenaries to wage it.

At this meeting was George Nader, an American citizen who had a long history of being a quiet emissary for the United States in the Middle East. Nader, who had also worked for Blackwater and Prince, was a convicted pedophile in the Czech Republic and is facing similar allegations in the United States. Nader worked as an adviser for the Emirati royals and has close ties to Mohammed bin Salman, the Saudi crown prince.

There was also an Israeli at the Trump Tower meeting: Joel Zamel. He was there supposedly pitching a multimillion-dollar social media manipulation campaign to the Trump team. Zamel’s company, Psy-Group, boasts of employing former Israeli intelligence operatives. Nader and Zamel were joined by Donald Trump Jr. According to the New York Times, the purpose of the meeting was “primarily to offer help to the Trump team, and it forged relationships between the men and Trump insiders that would develop over the coming months, past the election and well into President Trump’s first year in office.”

One major common goal ran through the agendas of all the participants in this Trump Tower meeting: regime change in Iran. Trump campaigned on belligerence toward Iran and trashing the Obama-led Iran nuclear deal, and he has followed through on those threats, filling his administration with the most vile, hawkish figures in the U.S. national security establishment. After appointing notorious warmonger John Bolton as national security adviser, Trump fired him last September. But despite reports that Trump had soured on Bolton because of his interventionist posture toward Iran, Bolton’s firing merely opened the door for the equally belligerent Mike Pompeo to take over the administration’s Iran policy at the State Department. Now Pompeo is the public face of the Suleimani assassination, while for his part, the fired Bolton didn’t want to be left out of the gruesome victory lap:

CNN picked up the Blackwater Back Channel.  This is a good summary from Raw story on the connection between the assassination and Erik Prince.  Again, the last attack by a Hezbollah proxy killed now American Soldiers but took out a “contractor”.  American soldiers were injured but not killed.

An American defense contractor whose death late last month was cited by President Trump amid escalating violence with Iran was identified Tuesday as an interpreter who was born in Iraq and lived in Sacramento.

Nawres Hamid, 33, became a naturalized citizen in 2017, according to his widow. He was the father of two boys, ages 2 and 8, she said.

In recent years, as an Arabic interpreter for U.S. forces in Iraq, Hamid was known to decorate his living space with pictures of the children, according to a co-worker.

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So, did we do this because of Erik Prince? John Bolton? Mike Pompeo? Who pushed the dementia-addled Dotard to do this outsized attack at mar a lago?

New details continue to emerge about Donald Trump ordering the assassination of Iranian Gen. Qassim Suleimani.

“Erik Prince, the Blackwater-founder-turned-unofficial-2016-Trump-campaign-adviser, advocated to the campaign years ago for the killing of Iranian commander Qasem Soleimani, according to a recently disclosed memo that reveals some of the earliest thinking circulated within Donald Trump’s team regarding his approach to Iran,” CNN reported Saturday.

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The UK version of Business Insider believes Trump made the assassination orders based on GOP Senators.  This is based on Wall Street Journal reporting late last week.

President Donald Trump told associates that he assassinated Iran’s top military leader last week in part to appease Republican senators who’ll play a crucial role in his Senate impeachment trial, The Wall Street Journal reported on Thursday.

In a lengthy piece detailing how the president’s top advisers coalesced behind the strike on Iranian Maj. Gen. Qassem Soleimani, The Journal reported that Trump had told associates he felt pressured to satisfy senators who were pushing for stronger US action against Soleimani and who will run defense for him on impeachment.

One of Trump’s most outspoken supporters, GOP Sen. Lindsey Graham, appears to be the only congressional lawmaker Trump briefed about his plan to assassinate Soleimani in the days leading up to the strike.

“I was briefed about the potential operation when I was down in Florida,” Graham told Fox News. “I appreciate being brought into the orbit.”

The South Carolina Republican, an Iran hawk, celebrated the controversial strike, which the administration did not seek congressional authorization to carry out. After Iran retaliated by hitting US-occupied Iraqi bases on Tuesday, Graham called the move “an act of war.”

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The other shocking part of the Ingraham interview was this via Crooks and Liars: “Trump Blasted For Bragging About ‘Selling’ American Troops To Saudi Arabia And S. Korea. ” Trump boasted to Fox’s Laura Ingraham during an interview last Friday that Saudi Arabia deposited a billion dollars “in the bank” for US troops being sent, and that South Korea is paying $500 million for troops as well.  So is this boast a truth, dare, or lie?

Attacking Nancy Pelosi and making up more threats to our embassies out of whole cloth weren’t the only crazy things to come out of Trump’s mouth during his softball interview with Fox’s Laura Ingraham Friday night. Trump also told Ingraham that both Saudi Arabia and South Korea have deposited money into a “bank account” in exchange for more U.S. troops. Who this supposed “bank account” belongs to, he did not say.

Trump was rightfully taken to task on Twitter for the exchange by former Republican Rep. Justin Amash and others, who went after Trump for treating our troops like mercenaries, and would like to know, as I would, just where this money he’s talking about was deposited.

Rep. Justin Amash Blasts Trump For ‘Selling’ American Troops To Saudis:

Conservative Rep. Justin Amash (I-Mich.) accused Donald Trump Saturday of “selling” American troops to Saudi Arabia after the president boasted that the nation has deposited $1 billion into a bank he did not identify for “more troops.”

“He sells troops,” Amash tersely noted in a tweet.

Other critics erupted on Twitter over a possible future in which U.S. soldiers could be sent as mercenaries to any high-bidding country to risk their lives, regardless of a nation’s ideology or rationale for fighting.

Others argued the country doesn’t deserve American support because of Saudi Arabia’s link to the vicious dismemberment and murder of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi, who was writing at the time for The Washington Post. Some pointed out that most of the hijackers in the 9/11 attack were Saudis.

And some wondered exactly where the Saudi $1 billion is.

Trump clearly saw nothing wrong with the idea. “Listen, you’re a very rich country,” he told Saudi officials, Trump recounted on Fox News. “You want more troops? I’m going to send them to you, but you’ve got to pay us. They’re paying us. They’ve already deposited $1 billion in the bank.”

So, did the US take oil from Syria thereby committing a war crime and  did he send US troops as mercenaries to South  Korea and Saudi Arabia as mercenaries?   Inquiring minds want to know

Just one last item and it’s not related to the Lying Scumbag occupying the Oval Office.  Corey Booker has pulled out of the 2020 Presidential Race leaving former Mass. Governor Deval Patrick as the only black candidate in the race.  We clearly need a change in the way we elect president because it is truly odd that a party with a diverse base can only come up with a slate of mostly white senior citizens which is all the Republicans provide and work hard to ensure.

 

Mike Berbenes of Yahoo News asks this question: “Do Democrats have a diversity problem?”   Why is it that everyone thinks the safest way to get Trump out of the White House is to sic a white man on him?  

Many on the left have expressed concern that an all-white top tier of the Democratic field might alienate voters of color that the eventual nominee will need to defeat Donald Trump in the general election. One of the key reasons Hillary Clinton lost in 2016 was a decline in black voter turnout. Others have argued that the party has a duty to represent its base so issues that matter to the various racial and ideological constituencies are heard.

Castro echoed a popular sentiment among liberals in blaming the primary process for the lack of diversity in the field. Having the predominantly white states of Iowa and New Hampshire vote first, he argued, puts minority candidates at a disadvantage. Part of the criteria for debate qualification is how many donors a candidate has — which some argue disadvantages minority voters who are less likely to have disposable income.

Some analysts say the lack of minority representation in the Democratic field isn’t as big of a problem as it may seem. The top of the field is actually historically diverse if you look beyond race, some argue, with a woman, a Jewish man and a gay man among the top three candidates. There’s also a significant chance that the nominee will choose a person of color as their running mate.

Others have argued that it’s reductive to think black and Latino voters would only be excited about candidates of their own race. Part of the reason Castro, Harris and Booker have struggled is because the demographics they represent have given steady support to white candidates. Joe Biden has a strong advantage among black voters, and Bernie Sanders has been the top choice of Latinos.

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Yeah, right. I forgot. Everything is Hillary’s fault.

So, we have a debate on Tuesday Night, impeachment articles are heading to the Senate, and I’m tired of being bullied and gaslighted by what’s supposed to pass as a leader in the USA.  I’m as confused as any one on this slate of candidates including the sudden interest in Steyer.   This NPR article kinda sums it up for me the kid who grew up in Iowa.  The debate will be at Drake University which is my sister’s Alma mater.

Without Yang or Booker (who failed to qualify for the debate and suspended his campaign on Monday), the debate will not have even one person of color.

Those who remain will, as always, strive to differentiate themselves from each other while proving they have what it takes to defeat President Trump in November. Iowans will have their chance to weigh in on that question in three weeks during the party’s precinct-level caucuses on Feb. 3.

And that suggests something else that may seem missing Tuesday night: a clear favorite. The well-respected Des Moines Register/CNN/Mediacom poll now has Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont leading in Iowa, but the average of polls nationwide and in other early voting states still shows a modest preference for former Vice President Joe Biden.

At this point, it is possible to imagine either emerging from the early voting states as a bona fide front-runner in time for Super Tuesday on March 3, when 14 states will vote, including delegate-rich California and Texas.

But it is also possible to imagine neither of them doing so, and thus to imagine Super Tuesday as a hodgepodge of conflicting results.

What’s on you reading and blogging list tonight?

 


Sunday Reads: Don’t bitch to us…

With all the bullshit lately about fucking Bernie Sanders…and since the one person who could stand up to tRump has/was left to drop out (Kamala)…to where we are seriously looking at a old white guy (Biden)…to wit, do we honestly think the elections are actually “secured” anymore (Putin)…

I feel that when tRump is re-elected, we here can tell all those news media assholes, BernieBros, Biden Shills, Tom Perez and the rest of the damn fools…

Hey! You listen to me, wacko.

See this fist?

I’m about ready to use…

that hatchet-face

of yours as a punching bag.

Now sit down and shut up!

Mole’s right, Peggy.

I am sick of listenin’

to your bitchin’.

The next time you feel a fit

comin’ on, go outside and bitch.

Bitch at the air.

Bitch at the trees.

But don’t bitch at us!

Gotta love John Waters Desperate Living!

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No shit…but in all seriousness, if tRump is re-elected, the USA will turn into a Mortville:

(Once you get past the roaches, you’ll see what I mean.)

Since this post is a total downer, let’s take a look at who died this year.

Now the video does not include, Sue Lyon Dies: ‘Lolita’ Star Was 73

She was 14 when Kubrick cast her as Lolita back in 1962. She was two years older than my mom.

More, “Gone but not forgotten…”

13 Trailblazing women:

Cokie Roberts, Toni Morrison. Gloria Vanderbilt.Getty Images/AP

From the NYT: In a Year of Notable Deaths, a World of Women Who Shattered Ceilings

Just a few tweets to round this thread up:

All I can say to this next tweet is…If only:

https://twitter.com/raising_hill/status/1210746457801625602?s=21

Oh yeah, this tweet reminds me:

Giuliani pals leveraged GOP access to seek Ukraine gas deal

Check it out, Nixon got something right:

And lastly:

This has been a difficult year, I miss my mama like crazy. Just wanted to get through all the sad depressing rehash of who we lost this year. Some I have left out on purpose. Can y’all guess who?

This is an open thread.

After I wrote this post, news of the latest anti-Semitic attack/hate crime in NYC:


Monday Reads: You Learn Something every Day

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Wandering Hotei, the happy Buddha monk, with his bag that never empties

Good Morning Sky Dancers!

It’s Monday and let’s hope it’s a good one for a change!   I learned about two new yuletide critters this week and now I’m deep in thought about the universal idea of St Nick/Santa Claus/Hotei and all those pre christianity yule practices of a holy guy that walks around with a big ol bag with an endless supply of good stuff.

In the Buddhist paean,  this would be Hotei, the Happy Monk, who is endlessly mistaken by hapless westerners as the Buddha.  He’s a type of Buddha but not the one that god centric folks think is some god substitute.  He isn’t. There’s no creator god anywhere in Buddhism.  We, are in fact, all made of Buddha nature and headed that direction so at this point there are endless Buddhas.  But, back to Hotei and his happiness and his sack that never empties out.   I’m not sure how he eventually wound up to be the statue whose belly you rub for good luck or why leaving gifts of oranges and things on him at an altar is supposed to help your gambling luck or provide you with showers of gold coins but I’ll leave that to the folks that study that.

I was drawn to Hotei/Budai as a kid and even have the two small statues my mother had in a shadow box sitting on my bookshelf.  I named one Zen and the other Buddha. Both still sport the child handwriting in blue pencil on the bottom with their names.  I’m not exactly sure how I came up with those names at that age, but I did.  There’s another Buddhist idea of a wish fulfilling jewel which is a lot like having your own personal wishing star that works.

I’m just amazed that many cultures have developed similar characters.  Some of many gods, some have no gods. and some have one god.  But, they all have the equivalent of a generous guy that travels around bestowing gifts.  It’s a universal myth seeming to spontaneously develop in many places or travelling by story and winding up entering another mythos.   American Santa Claus appears to be the latest emanation. I still have a partiality to Father Christmas or Pere Noel.  But, that’s me!

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Budai showed up around 916 a.d. and may be related to an actual wandering monk in China from around the period.  Us Westerners are more familiar with St Nick who may have been the role model for the modern Santa.  He was said to be Saint Nicholas of Bari who was an early Christian bishop in ancient Greece. He dates back to around 343.  So, it appears the legends of generous wandering holy men took hold and started spreading.  Many even connect the entire thing back to Saturn and some of the early Greek/Roman Gods. 

I’m just thinking we all need somebody good to pin our hopes on but we also seem to need an offset.  Sorta of a ying to Santa’s yang.  I found out that in Sweden Santa trots around on a yule goat (Julbocken) which is actually a pagan symbol connected to Thor but now is connected to the Nordic/Germanic St Nick. So, a goat is Santa’s helper in Sweden.  So, Santa may actually be based on Odin too and you may read that here.

And, thanks to Ann, I’ve discovered the Yule Cat of Iceland who has some connection to Krampus which has been my latest fascination with pagan yule festivities.  So, enjoy these pictures of the Yule Cat (Jólakötturinn) and be glad he didn’t visit your house this year. The Yule Cat appears to have shown up sometime during the 1600s and steals away children–like Krampus–if they’ve been horrid for that year.  Ah, isn’t religion grand!

There are actually a lot of monsters associated with Christmas/Yule.  Who knew?  Go read about 8 of them at that link and turn your yule into scary story event!

https://i2.wp.com/katzenworld.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2017/11/0f2119e1e3ba45a13b57b6b38a56ae14.jpg?resize=361%2C572&ssl=1

I’m surprised the Yule Cat didn’t get to Mar a Lago this year.  He’d have had a blast.

The death of Washington Post journalist Jamal Kashoggi and the way the Trumpist regime has enabled it continue to stain our country’s reputation.  Five men were sentenced to death in Saudia Arabia for his death but that’s not true justice. WAPO reports this today from Istanbul.

The verdicts came after a trial in Riyadh’s criminal court that lasted nearly a year and was largely shrouded in secrecy, with sessions closed to the general public. Human rights groups warned that the lack of transparency made the proceedings unfair, and increased the likelihood that senior officials could escape justice.

Diplomats from the United States, Turkey and several other countries were allowed to attend but told not to reveal details of the trial. Members of Khashoggi’s family also attended, according to Shalaan al-Shalaan, a spokesman for the Saudi public prosecutor.

In addition to the five people who received the death penalty, three more people were sentenced to jail terms totaling 24 years, Shalaan said. He did not name any of the convicted defendants. The death sentences must be confirmed by higher courts before they may be carried out, he said.

The CIA concluded last year that the crown prince had ordered Khashoggi’ s assassination, contradicting Saudi Arabia’s insistence that Mohammed had no knowledge of the plot. However, Saudi authorities said they were investigating the roles played by two senior aides to the crown prince in organizing and dispatching the team of agents who killed Khashoggi.

Shalaan said Monday that the two senior aides — Saud al-Qahtani and Ahmed al-Assiri — had been exonerated.

Nothing says Merry Xmas like a gloomy. melting snowman. Wait, maybe he's the ghost of Christmas past.

I’m thinking this may be a bit of agreement on Kushner and Trump’s part to let the Saudis go as long as they interfere in our elections. This Eli Clifton  headline really got me thinking today: “Purged Saudi Government-backed Twitter Accounts Urged U.S.-Led Regime Change in Iran, Deflected Responsibility for Khashoggi Murder.”  They seem to be joyously interfering a la the Russians in everything!

A review of comprehensive data tied to nearly 6,000 Saudi-linked Twitter accounts has found a manipulation campaign targeting its English language messages at President Donald Trump, urging regime change in Iran, whitewashing Saudi human rights abuses in Yemen, and deflecting responsibility for the murder of Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi away from the Saudi government.

Twitter announced on Friday that it had removed the accounts, saying they violated “platform manipulation policies.” Twitter also said the accounts were the “core portion of a larger network of more than 88,000 accounts engaged in spammy behaviour across a wide range of topics,” adding that “[r]igorous investigations by our Site Integrity team have allowed us to attribute these accounts to a significant state-backed information operation on Twitter originating in Saudi Arabia.”

The accounts, which produced and amplified more than 29 million tweets, were operated by Smaat, a social media marketing company based in Saudi Arabia. Twitter reported, “Our in-house technical indicators show that Smaat appears to have created, purchased, and/or managed these accounts on behalf of — but not necessarily with the knowledge of — their clients. We have permanently suspended Smaat’s access to our service as a result, as well as the Twitter accounts of Smaat’s senior executives. Smaat managed a range of Twitter accounts for high-profile individuals, as well as many government departments in Saudi Arabia.”

Smaat’s client list includes a number of Saudi government ministries and high-profile Saudi institutions, according to the company’s marketing materials. Smaat’s website was taken offline after Twitter made its announcement, but a promotional presentation, previously available on the website, listed as clients the Saudi Ministry of Commerce and Investment, Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman’s Vision 2030 economic development program, the Saudi Ministry of Health, Saudi Aramco, the Saudi Ministry of Finance, the Saudi General Entertainment Initiative, and Alwaleed Philanthropies, a charity overseen by Prince Al-Waleed bin Talal bin Abdulaziz al Saud. Alwaleed was actually an early investor in Twitter and owns more than three percent of the company.

You can read the rest of the analysis at Responsible Statecraft.   Marcy Wheeler has also been following the connection between George Nader and the Saudi Regime.  His testimony may be damaging to both the Trumpist regime and the Saudi.

Brad Heath spotted this Beryl Howell opinion granting George Nader’s request to get a copy of his own grand jury transcript.

We can be sure it’s Nader because of the details she includes: Someone currently jailed for crime with significant mandatory minimums charged using evidence from a phone seized in the Mueller investigation, awaiting trial early next year. The person provided testimony with immunity on four occasions in February and March 2018.

That all fits Nader and only Nader.

In my continuing interest in tracking the dregs of the Mueller investigation, several details are of interest. Howell describes that his transcript is 900 pages long. Several of the redactions suggest Nader may need the transcripts to craft a defense in potential additional charges, which would more obviously raise a need to consult the transcript and the limits of his immunized testimony. And, the government claims that Nader was asked “questions regarding ongoing investigations.”

That’s not surprising in the least. Nader’s testimony touched on so many crimes it is unsurprising some of them remain active investigations (note the attached picture, which shows Nader with Jared Kushner and Mohammed bin Salman.

The question is how he wants to use this transcript. It’s possible he needs it to argue that potentially pending charges against him are improperly based on immunized testimony (and as such wants to eliminate criminal exposure before making the best plea deal he can).  Or it’s possible he wants the transcript to be able to explain the risks any cooperation he’d offer would pose to powerful people.

Good Question.  And here’s some hope for the New Year!

I’m not sure you’ve been following this story but the Center for Public Integrity may have found a smoking gun.  Key portions are blacked out which likely means someone in Congress or the Press will have to move on this.

To learn more, Public Integrity in late September petitioned the Office of Management and Budget and the Defense Department for copies of their communications about the aid halt. But the Justice Department so far – in two document releases on Dec. 12 and 20 — has chosen to conceal key passages in those documents. And the federal district court judge overseeing the case, Colleen Kollar-Kotelly, on Dec. 18 set a schedule for reviewing Public Integrity’s appeal that makes a final determination of the request unlikely to occur before March.

According to some of those involved in the funding halt, officials were deeply worried from the outset that a delay even for a few weeks could make it hard to ensure all the money was spent by that Sept. 30 deadline. DOD Comptroller Elaine McCusker, for example, noted what she called “increasing risk of execution” in an email on Sept. 5 to the Pentagon’s top lawyer and policy officials, among others, meaning she was worried the money could not all be spent by the end of the month.

After robust internal discussions, she and other officials did their best to carry out the policy, temporarily, by ordering a series of short-term holdups in the funding, while affirming in writing that they still planned to disburse it soon.

They specifically undertook an unusual maneuver, stopping the disbursements by adding a rare footnote to spending documents for Pentagon operations and maintenance efforts, which declared the Ukraine funding in particular was being held up for a week at a time. Then, over a period of about seven weeks, they tacked the footnote again and again onto eight such documents, each time as a temporary measure.

An unnamed lawyer at OMB, not wanting to participate in what appeared to be an illegal funding policy, decided to quit, as did another OMB official, according to congressional testimony by Mark Sandy, the office’s deputy associate director for national security and a 12-year veteran at the agency. OMB spokespeople have disputed the account, saying the resignations were not over the policy.

Bottom line for this comes from Chris Murphy of Connecticut.  It kinda looks like a smoking gun to me!

I suppose the thing we should be very thankful for is that the entire remaining Trumpist players are not very bright but very very open and obvious.   How’s this for saying it’s not a ‘smoking gun’  but a ‘confession’?

So, yes Virginia! There is a Santa Claus! But, there are also Christmas monsters!  It also appears that we can add the Mar a Lago Swamp Monster to the list!

So, my final read recommendation is this from the UK Guardian: “Nancy Pelosi: the woman who stood up to Trump”.

It was not how Pelosi, who once said Trump was “not worth” impeaching, had hoped to end a year that began with her historic, second ascension to the speakership. Pelosi, the first – and only – woman ever to serve as Speaker of the House, would rather be remembered for legislative accomplishments – the Affordable Care Act above all – than for impeachment. But Trump, Pelosi said, left her “no choice”. She quoted Thomas Paine: “The times have found us.”

In the wake of Trump’s impeachment, however, Democrats believe there was perhaps no leader better suited to the times.

“She is, thank God, the exact right person in the right place at the right time,” said Leon Panetta, a former defense secretary and CIA director and a California native who’s known Pelosi for decades. “I’m not sure anybody else would have had the experience or capability to be able to do what she has done.”

“Donald Trump really has met his match with Nancy,” Panetta added.

Her grace under fire as speaker has earned comparisons to Sam Rayburn, the country’s longest-serving speaker, who died in 1961. One Democrat called her an “as good or better” legislative leader than Lyndon Johnson, who was a Senate majority leader before he was president.

And when the question is asked whether a female presidential candidate can beat Trump in 2020, the Democrats point to Pelosi, who “does it every single day”.

Even Senator Lindsey Graham, one of Trump’s fiercest defenders these days, is impressed. In an interview with CNN decrying the impeachment process, the South Carolina senator called it “quite a feat” that she was able to advance bipartisan legislation even as efforts to remove Trump cleaved the House – and the nation.

If there is a wish fulfilling jewel or a bag of endless gifts, I would like to ask it for one thing.  Impeachment for Pence and Trump followed by the Speaker of the House taking the Oval Office.  If I was really going to get greedy, I dream she goes back to her Speakership by resigning in favor of Hilary Clinton.

Isn’t great to have a dream during the longest night of the year?

What’s on your reading and blogging list today?

 


Frantic Friday Reads: Triggered Republican Snowflakes Scream Sweet Nothings to Trump All Day Long

Pablo Picasso Rose Period Painting Acrobat and Young Harlequin, 1905

Pablo Picasso, Acrobat and Young Harlequin, 1905

Good Morning Sky Dancers!

I’m going to borrow something from the Late Great John Lennon near the anniversary of his death by a crazed white guy looking for attention.  History is replete with crazed white guys looking for attention and today is no different.  So here it is!

“I got blisters on me fingers!” 

And why you ask?  It’s because I had to punch the mute button so many times yesterday during the Judiciary Committee’s Congressional Debate on Articles of Impeachment that I should also have carpal tunnel.  Just as Brett Kavanaugh sneered, cried, and screamed his way into the Kremlin Potted Plant’s favor, so did the Angry White Men on the bottom shelf of the dais all day and evening and night long yesterday.

Yes, the transition of the body that represents the people to an out and out circus is complete.  The debate yesterday featured a repetitive attack on “process” from the Republicans vs “what the president did is unconstitutional and against the rule of law” by the Democrats.  It came complete with clowns and verbal dagger throwing fit for Fox news sound bites.  The Republican part was designed for the Audience of One whose real claim to fame is the role of a  fake successful businessman on reality TV.

Ladies and Gentlemen, Send in the Clowns!

Yes. Nearly half of Congress has transitioned to the new reality TV world spewing propaganda goals as parroted by Fox News cut out personalities.  The gyrations of logic twisted into pretzel sentences was befitting of circus acrobats.

As a I write, Jerry Nadler is announcing that the House Judiciary passed the abuse of power and obstruction of Congress impeachment charges.  He looks exhausted. We’re all exhausted.  Trumpist Republicans and their cult leader live in the world of Abusers so, yes, we’re ALL exhausted.

 

Related image

Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec,At the Circus Fernando, the Rider, 1888

Historically and Constitutionally, this act is traditionally somber.  Yelling like it’s a sportsball match is inappropriate. Frankly, an entire set  of mothers should come get their sons and ground them to their basement bedrooms.  Shirtless Gym, Mai tai Matt, and lil Dougie should be first back to the nursery.

Kurt Bardella, NBC News THINK contributor, writes this: ” If there’s one thing we’ve seen consistently from Republicans during the past few weeks of congressional impeachment hearings, it’s yelling.”  Yes.  This is the new role of Congressional Republican white men in this Reality TV show designed for Fox News Viewers.

Perhaps Democratic Coalition’s Jon Cooper put it best when he tweeted Monday, “Why is Doug Collins always yelling?” CNBC’s Christina Wilkie pointed out a similar phenomenon, noting that Florida Republican Rep. Matt Gaetz was “yelling about whether the rules of the hearing are, in fact, the rules of the hearing.”

Indeed, in observing my former House GOP comrades over the many days of contentious House hearings, I am reminded of a scene from the classic Will Ferrell comedy “Anchorman,” where the famed (and fictional) Channel 4 News team angrily confronts its news director over the hiring of a female reporter. In the scene, several of the male journalists take turns yelling their opposition to the addition. Steve Carell’s character, Brick Tamland, isn’t really smart enough to have a critique but wishing to be included, he screams, “I don’t know what we’re yelling about!”

That pretty much sums up Republicans’ defense of their current leader. If they yell loud enough and long enough, what they say about the circumstances of this impeachment inquiry will become truth. Their calculation is that by yelling about anything and everything, the American people will either be convinced or at the very least so annoyed they’ll stop watching. To the GOP, yelling seems to be both a demonstration of strength and a deliberate effort to wear down Democrats and any other Americans who care enough to tune in.

Thus, the outrage that’s been on display these past few weeks hasn’t been spontaneous. This isn’t an indication of passion or righteous anger. It is the manifestation of a decadelong marketing strategy that has kept them in the driving seat of Congress for the better part of the Obama and the Trump administrations.

Degas: Miss La La

Miss La La at the Cirque Fernando, Edgar Degas,, 1879

So, this morning, the “Judiciary Panel Approves Impeachment Articles and Sends Charges for a House Vote”.  This was written by Nicholas Fando at the NYT. 

A fiercely divided House Judiciary Committee pushed President Trump to the brink of impeachment on Friday, voting along party lines to approve charges that he abused the power of his office and obstructed Congress.

After a fractious two-day debate steeped in the Constitution and shaped by the realities of a hyperpartisan era in American politics, the Democratic-controlled committee recommended that the House ratify two articles of impeachment against the 45th president. In back-to-back morning votes, they adopted each charge against Mr. Trump by a margin of 23 to 17 over howls of Republican protest.

The partisan result and the contentious debate that preceded it were harbingers of a historic proceeding and vote on the House floor, expected next week, to impeach Mr. Trump, whose nearly three-year tenure has exacerbated the nation’s political divisions. Mr. Trump, who insists he did nothing wrong, is now only the fourth American president in history to face impeachment by the House of Representatives for “high crimes and misdemeanors” and possible conviction and removal from office by the Senate.

Image result for famous paintings acrobats

Marc Chagall (1887-1985)
Les trois acrobates

Check out those adjectives grammar fans!!

These Articles will go to a full floor vote and then into the hands of Mitch McConnell. From Politico: “Republicans try to avoid an impeachment trial civil war.”

The party is uniting around a strategy that could quickly acquit President Donald Trump of articles of impeachment while giving them the opportunity to call witnesses later in the trial if Republicans and the president are not satisfied with how things are going, according to interviews with nearly a dozen Republican senators on Thursday.

Heading into the trial, Republicans’ plan would be to call no witnesses and simply allow House Democrats and then the president’s attorneys to make their case before the public. After that, the Senate would consider calling people either for live testimony or closed-door depositions.

 It’s a plan they believe will insulate the Senate GOP from pressure to call a host of controversial witnesses — which the caucus would struggle to do for political and procedural reasons alike — while putting Trump on track to be cleared before the end of January.

“The direction we appear to be headed is to let the House managers present their prima facie case which would mean no witnesses, to let the president’s counsel do the same thing,” said Sen. Roy Blunt (R-Mo.), a member of leadership. “And then to decide if there’s a reason to go forward from there.”

House Republicans and Trump have repeatedly urged the Senate GOP and its slim majority to summon the likes of Hunter and Joe Biden before the chamber in a spectacle they believe would bolster the president’s case. Senate Republicans have resisted the idea, warning they couldn’t cobble together the 51 votes needed to do so under Senate rules. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has also repeatedly cautioned his members against votes that divide the party ahead of a tough election year.

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Charles Demuth (1883-1935) Acrobats

Indeed, Repubicans think the show must go on when it comes to Joe Biden and the hapless Hunter.  The Clintons had plenty of years to work up thick skins but how will it impact Joe?  One of the key signals to this future came from Screaming Mimi MattGaetz.  This is from Vanity Fair’s Bess Levin.

All this week the House Judiciary Committee has been holding its own hearings as part of the impeachment inquiry into Donald Trump. As was the case with the the House Intelligence Committee proceedings, Republican lawmakers, lacking any credible defense of the president, have had to resort to floating insane conspiracy theories and taking sad, cheap shots that have immediately blown up in their faces. On Thursday, it was Representative Matt Gaetz of Florida’s turn.

Gaetz, a proud Trump supporter who started the rumor that George Soros was funding migrant caravans and who frequently speaks of the “deep state,” used his time this afternoon to go on a rant about Hunter Biden’s substance abuse problems. Moving to add an amendment to the articles of impeachment mentioning the former vice president’s son, Gaetz read a passage from a New Yorker article detailing an incident in which Hunter was in a crash while driving a rental car; according to the story, the Hertz rental officer on the scene said he found a crack pipe in the car and white powder residue. “I don’t want to make light of anybody’s substance abuse issues,” Gaetz said, convincing no one, “but it’s a little hard to believe that Burisma hired Hunter Biden to resolve their international disputes when he could not resolve his own dispute with Hertz rental car over leaving cocaine and a crack pipe in the car.”

Obviously, it would be slimy under any circumstances to make Hunter Biden’s substance abuse issues part of the conversation. But, incredibly, Gaetz chose to do so despite the fact that he has his own history of…being arrested for driving under the influence. Back in 2008, Gaetz was pulled over driving back from an Okalossa Island nightclub called Swamp after an officer clocked him going 48 in a 35 mile per hour zone. According to the officer, Gaetz, then 26, was driving a BMW SUV registered to his state senator father and fumbled for his license and registration, had bloodshot and watery eyes, and swayed and staggered while getting out of the car. Smelling alcohol, the officer asked Gaetz if he had been drinking, to which Gaetz said no, before admitting minutes later that he had, claiming it was only two beers. The officer reportedly twice conducted an eye test, which Gaetz failed. Gaetz refused field sobriety tests and a breath test and was arrested. Despite the fact that Florida law dictates his license should have been revoked for at least a year for refusing the breath test, Gaetz somehow got to keep his. Ultimately the charges were dismissed, and Gaetz later said that “I made bad decisions that resulted in an arrest, and that is sort of something that we all live with.”

Given his decision to air Biden’s dirty laundry, however, Democrats weren’t just going to let Gaetz shade someone else’s history of allegedly driving under the influence and move on.

Image result for images acrobats paintings

Two Acrobats,Ernst Ludwig Kirchner, 1932-33

This, undoubtedly, will be a taste of our future under the Big Tent.

So, our blog has been around about 10 years now and we’ve been through a lot together. It’s hard to believe that we’d end up watching impeachment hearings together.  This is my third time at this rodeo and probably for most of you also and this one just really really feels different.

Nixon was a seriously flawed man with a self esteem problem that caused him to do things he couldn’t do through force of personality or likability.  Clinton with his aw shucks who me personality used it to get what he wanted even though it was personal and problematic.  Trump is pure, raw, raging ID with more personality disorders than a circus has clowns.  Nixon’s chipping away at the rule of law and Clinton’s personal abuses look quite tame by comparison.

Trump has a chorus of screaming, angry white mean and a few tag along women behind his epic meltdowns and complete lack of character and morality.  His crimes are orchestrated by feckless enablers and ignored by Machivellian partisans who want to rewrite the Constitution without doing the work through the law making process.  No Republican appears to have the probity to bring about an ending that’s best for the country.

As with all things surrounding Trump, I’m not sure any of this will end up well.

What’s on your reading and blogging list today?


Sunday: Standing Ovation…

This weekend was the 30th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall.

I graduated high school in June of 1988, so this bringing down of the wall was a huge thing to live through. Seeing all these photos brings so much of the memories back.

Germany is trying to teach the orange turd (🍊💩) a lesson:

I don’t think it is going to work, not with tRump. For as you can see, 🍊💩 finally got his praise:

Of course the south loves tRump, just check out these “Blacks for Trump” …

Let’s get away from this asshole for a bit…

Give that thread and article a read through.

I will end it with this:

Check out some of the replies.

This is an open thread.


Things that go bump in the Night! (12 Democratic Candidates for President crowd onto a stage)

"Image: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.”

Image result for debate bingo card

 

The Debate will be hosted by CNN as announced by CBS:

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

 

Joe Heller Copyright 2019 Hellertoon.com

 

We will be live blogging tonight so join us!!!

 


Monday Reads: #CivilWarPotluck and other trumpist memes

Image result for images donald trump civil war  Good Afternoon Sky Dancers!

Well, all of you undoubtedly learned about the Shot Heard ‘Round the World that started the Battle of Concord and Revolutionary War.  There was the Assassination of Arch Duke Ferdinand which was the shot that started World War 1.  Now, we have the Tweet made fun of around Twitter that’s suggestion they’ll be another Civil War due to monumental “presidential harassment (i.e. impeachment) doesn’t  stop right now.  Yeah, I bet you can guess which moron threatened that.

“If we are to have another contest in the near future of our national existence, I predict that the dividing line will not be Mason’s & Dixon’s, but between patriotism and intelligence on one side, & superstition, ambition, & ignorance on the other.” Pres US Grant 1876  (h/t to Malcome Nance)

And a few other of the usual morons might be taking it seriously.  No, seriously.

Image It’s Monday Morning! And, The Root has the story via Monica Judge: “Donald Trump Warns There Will Be a Civil War If He Is Impeached.”

Donald Trump is shook.

You can tell the “president” is shook because every time he is, he starts flailing on Twitter, tweeting out whatever nonsense he can think of to put up a brave front—but his words usually belie that enormous front and reveal that deep down inside, he is afraid of whatever may be coming next for him.

In this particular instance, what comes next may, in fact, be impeachment hearings that could eventually lead to his ouster from office.

Sure, impeachment should have happened a long time ago, because nothing about this man says he should be sitting in the highest office in the land, but that is neither here nor there, at this point. We currently have members of the House actively calling for him to be unseated, and as the days pass it looks like the likelihood of that happening grows, so he is once again afraid and once again tweeting nonsense to try and “scare” the American people into keeping him in place.

And so, as it goes, on Sunday, Trump tweeted a quote from an evangelical Southern Baptist preacher who thinks Trump is the best thing to happen to the United States white bread—Robert Jeffress.

“If the Democrats are successful in removing the President from office (which they will never be), it will cause a Civil War like fracture in this Nation from which our Country will never heal,” Trump wrote, noting that it was a quote from a Jeffress. Jeffress made the statement during an appearance on Fox & Friends Weekend on Sunday.

Meanwhile, there’s some news from the Republicans that already left the building.  First up, Jeff Flake writing in WAPO: “Fellow Republicans, there’s still time to save your souls.”  What?  Those things were sold a long time ago to the Orange Demon..

We have learned from a whistleblower that the president has abused the power of his office to pressure a foreign government to go after a political opponent. A rough transcript of the telephone call has removed all ambiguity about the president’s intent. In light of these revelations, the House of Representatives has launched an impeachment inquiry and will likely be forwarding to the Senate at least one article of impeachment.

Compelling arguments will be made on both sides of the impeachment question. With what we now know, the president’s actions warrant impeachment. The Constitution of course does not require it, and although Article II, Section 4 is clear about remedies for abuse of office, I have grave reservations about impeachment. I fear that, given the profound division in the country, an impeachment proceeding at such a toxic moment might actually benefit a president who thrives on chaos. Disunion is the oxygen of this presidency. He is the maestro of a brand of discord that benefits only him and ravages everything else. So although impeachment now seems inevitable, I fear it all the same. I understand others who might have similar reservations. The decision to impeach or not is a difficult one indeed.

“Now for the easy decision. If the House decides against filing articles of impeachment, or the Senate fails to convict, Senate Republicans will have to decide whether, given what we now know about the president’s actions and behavior, to support his reelection. Obviously, the answer is no.

 

Image result for bad donald trump sculpture

There are also rumors of a Boltin’ Bolton from The Raw Story: “John Bolton will encourage the GOP to turn on Trump now that he’s reeling from impeachment: MSNBC panel.”

A panel discussion on the increasing fallout over Donald Trump’s Ukraine phone-call scandal led an MSNBC panel to conclude that former Trump White House insider John Bolton would likely work behind the scenes to get Republicans to turn on the president now that he is damaged goods.

Speaking with “AM Joy” host Joy Reid, journalist Gabriel Sherman noted Bolton has longtime ties to the GOP leadership who may be more sympathetic to his point of view than they are to Donald Trump’s.

“He’s a person with deep ties to the senior leadership across the Republican Party and he’s notoriously a foreign policy hawk,” Sherman explained. “The idea that Donald Trump was trading on Ukraine security to help his cause would be anathema to a person like John Bolton.”

“He has no love for this president and behind the scenes, I am certain that he is having conversations to push the Republican Party to break with Donald Trump,” he added.

Image result for cartoons Donald Trump civil war  Sounds like there’s a rebellion brewing in the party again but only among those who are not facing the electorate.   The SIXTH Republican congress critter from Texas has followed the stampeded out the door. 

Rep. Mac Thornberry (R-TX) announced his retirement Monday morning, saying that “the time has come for a change.”

“With over a year to go, I will continue to represent the people of the 13th District to the best of my ability,” he said in a statement. “Our nation faces many difficult challenges, and none of us can relax our efforts to meet and overcome them, whether at home or around the world.”

Thornberry is the sixth Republican congressman representing Texas to retire before 2020. However, whereas some, like Rep. Will Hurd (R-TX), are abandoning increasingly blue districts, Thornberry is leaving a seat open in a ruby-red, safe Republican hold. The 13th district went for President Donald Trump in 2016 by a whopping 80 percent, per the Cook Political Report. 

Timothy L O’Brien–writing for Bloomberg– shows all the problems now in the Donald’s Happy Meal; “Trump Hints at Civil War But He Launched a War on Facts. It’s not just the president’s phone calls to Ukraine that are a problem. Now there’s more.”

But it’s the opaque and overtly illicit material that we now know is hidden on that system, the use of which only became known thanks to a complaint filed by a Central Intelligence Agency whistle-blower, that is the stuff of presidential impeachment proceedings. The foundational disclosure, from the whistle-blower, was that Trump called Ukraine’s president in July and offered to connect him to his personal attorney, Rudy Giuliani, and Attorney General William Barr so they could jointly dig up dirt in Ukraine on a political opponent, former Vice President Joe Biden. That conversation, the whistle-blower said, got stashed away on the restricted NSC network – which the White House later confirmed.

On Friday night, the Washington Post disclosed that when Trump met with the Russians in the Oval Office in 2017, he went beyond slagging Comey and disclosing classified intelligence. He also told them “he was unconcerned about Moscow’s interference in the 2016 U.S. presidential election because the United States did the same in other countries.” That statement “alarmed White House officials” who decided a memo summarizing the meeting should be “limited to a few officials with the highest security clearances in an attempt to keep the president’s comments from being disclosed publicly.” It wasn’t clear if that memo was secreted on the NSC’s restricted network, but Congressional investigators can go ahead and find out.

CNN reported on Friday night that transcripts of sensitive calls between Trump and President Vladimir Putin of Russia were also limited to a select group in the Trump administration. CNN said it wasn’t clear if those transcripts were placed on the restricted network; the New York Times reported that they were. The Kremlin, unsurprisingly, said over the weekend that it would rather not see those transcripts made public. Congressional investigators should try to get a look at those conversations, too.

Apart from Trump’s staggering abuse of presidential power, one of the more troubling and pivotal disclosures from the whistle-blower’s complaint is that the White House systematically used the NSC network to hide his misdeeds. Doing so immediately turned that system into a Pandora’s Box of current and future woes for Trump and his White House. It also made those who managed the system, or who passed judgment on or had knowledge of the material that went into it – including witnesses and possible co-conspirators – into more than fair game for the Democrats running impeachment proceedings.

Meanwhile … what coulda shoulda been …

What’s on your reading and blogging list today?