Good Morning Sky Dancers!
Well, the Iran Situation is turning into the usual Trumpian Clusterfuck. And, this is what some Dems on Facebook. etc want in his place:
The concern, as articulated by his Democratic rivals and a wave of harsh online commentary, is that Biden sees contemporary America through a distorting haze of nostalgia.
I watched the Battle for Winterfield again last night. I can’t seem to get enough of the haunting “Night King” composition by Ramin Djawadi. I also keep looking for Arya to creep up behind what passes for our President these days with something that vaporizes him. Plus, there’s Joe imploding as he usually does to a chorus of but he’s our only hope. Voters of American, if Joe Biden is your answer you are asking the wrong damned question! The Grampa Simpson take is from politico and the keyboard of John F. Harris.
As thunderbolts crash around him, Joe Biden is facing an urgent question: What exactly is the rationale for his presidential candidacy?
The answers given by Biden sympathizers usually are rooted in character and personal history. Here is a decent man who has lived long and seen a lot, through setbacks and tragedy, and knows enough to understand and defend the timeless virtues that are so absent but also so needed in modern Washington. Late in life, the man and moment are in harmony at last for a heroic final chapter.
I’m sorry but Biden’s record in Congress and his habit of serially plagiarizing others, his treatment of Dr. Hill, and his damn inability to apologize for being totally insensitive to the feelings of others is disqualifying. A decent man does none of those things. A decent man realizes when what he says and does hurts others intentionally or not and he freaking APOLOGIZES and he makes amends and he works to never EVER do it again!
The hope is that voters will embrace Biden as a kind of American Churchill.
The past 24 hours raise, not for the first time, a more painful possibility: Grampa Simpson is running for president.
“There’s not a racist bone in my body,” Biden bristled indignantly on Wednesday evening. But that wasn’t the primary concern about a 76-year-old’s paean to his youthful past, in which conscientious senators like himself supposedly could work productively and with “civility” even with segregationists like James Eastland and Herman Talmadge.
The concern, as articulated by his Democratic rivals and a wave of harsh online commentary, is that Biden sees contemporary America through a distorting haze of nostalgia, that his values and assumptions were shaped by the last generation or even the one before that, that after many years in public life he still lacks the self-awareness or self-discipline to wonder whether modern voters will find his vagrant ruminations about the past as interesting or relevant as he does.
I’m not voting for fucking Joe Biden and I’m not going to be bullied into it or pleaded into it or kumbayah’d into it. Not going to do it. Wouldn’t be prudent at this juncture.
Biden, during 48 years on the national scene, has never had an especially strong ideological profile: He’s been a reasonably centrist Democrat for all of them. When he has deviated it was usually in right-leaning directions, as with his opposition to forced busing for integration in the 1970s or his support for expanding crimes covered by the death penalty in the 1990s.
Or his treatment of women and his real views on Abortion rights.
This history means that the most likely answer to the “why Biden” challenge will rest on character. The evidence of the past couple days—redundant to evidence amassed over several decades—is that if voters are going to embrace Biden’s character they must also embrace or overlook his penchant for the cringe-worthy remark. And realize that often the most cringey remarks will flirt with racial themes.
And misogynist and handsy. And yeah, totally ignoring any one at any time when it’s inconvenient for him.
Now, about the problem of Trump and his inability to have a cogent thought, any kind of strategy, and finding good people that can do that for him. This is the headline I woke up to from the NYT: “Trump Approves Strikes on Iran, but Then Abruptly Pulls Back.” Sort’ve sounds like a headline made for an impotent, senile old man doesn’t it? Only this one is not just playing with himself. He is the Commander and Chief and that should make all of us very afraid. Did some bad men shoot down your unmanned toy?
Yes he charged forward and then pulled out. Brave Brave Sir Donald! Dumb Dumb Sir Donald! This piece is written by the usual suspects: Michael D. Shear, Eric Schmitt, Michael Crowley and Maggie Haberman.
President Trump approved military strikes against Iran in retaliation for downing an American surveillance drone, but pulled back from launching them on Thursday night after a day of escalating tensions.
As late as 7 p.m., military and diplomatic officials were expecting a strike, after intense discussions and debate at the White House among the president’s top national security officials and congressional leaders, according to multiple senior administration officials involved in or briefed on the deliberations.
Officials said the president had initially approved attacks on a handful of Iranian targets, like radar and missile batteries.
The operation was underway in its early stages when it was called off, a senior administration official said. Planes were in the air and ships were in position, but no missiles had been fired when word came to stand down, the official said.
There’s no adult in charge of the Pentagon right now. WTF? Why even think about this unless John Bolton is sitting on your shoulder whispering sweet war diatribes in your ear?
AND THEN THERE WERE THREE: Reps. Sean Casten (Ill.), Katie Porter (Calif.) and Tom Malinowski (N.J.) are three Democrats who knocked off Republicans to win their seat in 2018 and take back the House majority. As of this week, they’re also now all in favor of initiating impeachment proceedings against President Trump, despite the potential electoral consequences.
- “I didn’t run for Congress to impeach the president” is becoming a common disclaimer for those members who are hesitant to launch formal impeachment proceedings against the president.
- Trickle effect: The momentum for impeachment keeps growing as slowly, more Democrats come out in favor of an official inquiry because they are defending their oversight function under the Constitution. That despite House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s (D-Calif.) firm opposition to formal impeachment proceedings.
- The tally: Seventy-three lawmakers are now in favor of beginning impeachment proceedings, per a running list being kept by my colleagues J.M. Rieger, Amber Phillips and Kevin Schaul.
These are a lot for a person with a sound mind to deal with but I can’t even begin–and wouldn’t want to be there–to wander through the mind of Dotard Donald. You order your military on a mission and THEN you worry about fucking casualties? If this doesn’t move the impeachment meter, we’ve got no hope for the republic.
President Trump ordered an attack on Iran on Thursday in retaliation for the downing of a surveillance drone in the Strait of Hormuz but called the operation off just before it was due to occur because it would have caused extensive casualties, he said Friday.
In a series of morning tweets, Trump said he called off strikes on three Iranian sites minutes before they were to be launched because he was informed of the likely loss of life among Iranians.
“We were cocked & loaded to retaliate last night on 3 different sights when I asked, how many will die,” Trump tweeted. “150 people, sir, was the answer from a General. 10 minutes before the strike I stopped it.”
Such a death toll was “not proportionate to shooting down an unmanned drone,” Trump wrote, adding: “I am in no hurry, our Military is rebuilt, new, and ready to go, by far the best in the world. Sanctions are biting & more added last night. Iran can NEVER have Nuclear Weapons, not against the USA, and not against the WORLD!”
Trump’s Friday morning tweets appeared to gloss over the fact that he was the one, as commander in chief, who had ordered the retaliation against Iran in the first place.
Iran said Friday the United States had “no justification” for a retaliatory strike and vowed to respond “firmly” to any U.S. military action.
Look. Old white men have been making bad decisions and failing upwards for way too long. They’ve been using the rest of us and ignorning what it does to us on the way.. Today just really reminds me of why it’s necessary to look for a leader that knows what it takes to face a complete uphill battle and still get there. It’s time for a different brand of leadership. I’m tired of being scared to death by ego and sheer incompetence.
What’s on your reading and blogging list today?
Listen to this haunting background to the peak of the Battle for Winterfall and enjoy the work of this very talented musician and composer.
Good Morning Sky Dancers!
I guess now’s as good as any time to discuss the roadmap to impeachment. I don’t know about you but I’m more than ready to start the roadtrip. Let’s start with moving forward by looking back with The New Republic’s Matt Ford and his interview with an assistant to the Judge that decided that sitting presidents can’t be indicted while said Judge was writing the memo.
It’s a weird story that Rachel Maddow has covered because it links directly to Spiro Agnew. Her podcast, Bag Man, took on the legacy of Agnew and how his criminality impacted the approach to Nixon‘s removal. So, why can’t sitting presidents be indicted? Why can’t we just lock him up instead of letting him rot out here with unidicted co-conspirator status? Should we revisit the Dixon memo?
Robert Mueller made a surprising assertion last month about the limits of his power. In his report on Russia’s interference in the 2016 election and President Trump’s potential obstruction of the investigation, the special counsel explained that Justice Department policy effectively prevented him from charging Trump with a crime while in office. But in his surprise press conference in May, he went even further. “[The report] explains that under long-standing department policy, a president cannot be charged with a federal crime while he is in office,” he said. “That is unconstitutional. Even if the charge is kept under seal and hidden from public view—that too is prohibited.”
This remains an open legal question, despite Mueller’s unequivocal assertion. The Constitution itself is silent on the matter, and no court has ever ruled otherwise because no sitting president has ever been indicted. Mueller’s nod to “long-standing department policy” likely was a reference to the so-called Dixon memo, a 1973 Office of Legal Counsel opinion in which Assistant Attorney General Robert Dixon concluded that there were multiple practical and constitutional hurdles that made it effectively impossible. “The spectacle of an indicted president still trying to serve as chief president boggles the imagination,” Dixon wrote.
That memo’s primary purpose, however, was not to conclusively decide whether a president could be indicted while in office. While it’s commonly assumed that the memo came about during the Watergate scandal, it instead sprang from the Justice Department’s efforts to prosecute Vice President Spiro Agnew in a tax-evasion case. Agnew argued that he was only subject to impeachment by Congress, and Attorney General Elliot Richardson asked Dixon to write an opinion on the question.
To understand the Dixon memo’s unusual origins and its continuing impact, I spoke with J. T. Smith, an attorney who worked as Richardson’s executive assistant during the Watergate scandal. Smith was present at the creation, so to speak, of the Justice Department’s policy on indicting a sitting president. He told me that if Richardson “had the benefit or detriment we have of the behavior of this particular White House, he almost certainly would say it’s high time this whole matter get revisited.”
The Dixon memo was FOIA’d last year. Here’s a link to the memo itself along with the letter acknowledging the FOIA request. So here’s the Judge’s assistant’s direct response to if the Dixon Memo should be revisited.
Did you happen to see Mueller’s press conference the other day, where he said outright that it would be unconstitutional to indict a sitting president?
I saw that, and I’m not clear why he said it. It’s one thing to say that it is Justice Department policy, long standing, that a sitting president should not be subject to criminal process, but he sort of surprised me when he characterized it as being unconstitutional. Because the Dixon memo of 1973, I think, ends up on grounds that are policy-based more than Constitution-based, and indeed, the Dixon memo says that the Constitution doesn’t squarely address the topic.
This bit of wiggle has allowed Trump and his current AG to say, basically, nothing to see here when there is plenty to read there if any one would take the time to read the Mueller Report or listen to the folks that have.
As leader of the House of Representatives, she has quite a bit of sway. She is the top elected Democrat in Washington. And she decides what bills her chamber votes on. The lawmakers in the House and Senate actually running for president — 11 in all — just get to vote.
So it’s notable that under her leadership, the House hasn’t voted on any big-government policy package championed by the Bernie Sanderses and Elizabeth Warrens of the world.
In May, the House voted on seven health-care bills designed to bandage Obamacare now that the Trump administration is trying to kill it by a thousand cuts. Not a single one of those bills would establish universal health care, even though Medicare-for-all is a defining policy debate of the 2020 presidential primary. Five of the seven senators running for president support a Medicare-for-all bill.
She also hasn’t allowed a vote on the Green New Deal, a plan to tackle climate change with Roosevelt-era-style government-funded jobs, despite the fact that many 2020 candidates support some aspect of the plan. And she’s held off her party from taking the first steps to impeach President Trump even though 67 House Democrats — and a number of presidential candidates — want to.
Pelosi’s logic is simple. She’s not thinking about the Democratic primary.
She believes the battle for her House and the White House next November will be waged in communities that voted for President Trump in 2016 such as in Rep. Elise Slotkin’s Lansing, Mich., district or in Georgia where Rep. Lucy McBath got narrowly elected last year or in Iowa, where Rep. Abby Finkenauer is campaigning to stay elected after knocking off a Republican member of Congress. All three represent districts that voted for Trump in 2016 in states Trump won. None of them support impeachment of Trump.
You can tell all of this talk of impeachment is getting to Trump. His tweets over the weekend were some of his most unhinged screeds to date. He also spoke to the many reporters questioning him on the topic.
The ABC interview with Stephanopolous was shown in Full on Sunday and Trump’s state of mind was on full display. His usual “no collusion, witchhunt” rant seemed particularly hollow this weekend. He’s fired a group of his pollsters and is undoubtedly flipping out about the latest poll showing the public’s move Impeachment Inquiry Curious. This is from The Hill.
The report cited more than 100 contacts between the Trump campaign and Russia but said there was insufficient evidence to conclude there was a conspiracy. Investigators also did not make a determination on whether Trump obstructed justice, with Mueller saying it was because a sitting president cannot be prosecuted.
In the same interview, Trump waved off a letter in which more than 1,000 federal prosecutors said he would have been indicted for obstruction were he not a sitting president, saying the signatories were “politicians” and “Trump haters.”
His interview was broadcast as a poll from NBC News and The Wall Street Journal found that support for impeachment hearings had increased 10 points since May, to 27 percent. The increase was largely driven by Democrats, 48 percent of whom now favor impeachment, up 18 points from last month.
The new poll found that the number of Americans who believe Congress should continue to investigate whether there is sufficient evidence to hold impeachment hearings fell 8 points to 24 percent.
A Fox News poll released Sunday, meanwhile, found that that 50 percent of respondents said they believe the Trump campaign coordinated with Russia, up 6 points from March. Forty-four percent of respondents said they don’t believe there was collusion.
Half of that poll’s respondents favored impeachment, with 43 percent supporting impeaching and removing Trump — a 1-point increase from March — and 7 percent endorsing impeachment but not removal, compared to 48 percent who opposed impeachment. The same survey found that 56 percent of respondents said it was “not at all” likely that Trump will eventually be impeached.
The surveys come amid increasing chagrin from the progressive wing of the Democratic Party over Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s (D-Calif.) hard line against impeachment proceedings.
Heather Cox Richardson–writing for The Guardian–makes “The historical argument for impeaching Trump.” It’s a run down of all the times Republic Presidents pushed the envelope on the imperial presidency.
The question of impeaching Donald Trump is about replacing the toxic partisanship of today’s Republican party with America’s traditional rule of law. It has become a constitutional imperative.
Since Richard Nixon, Republican presidents have pushed the envelope of acceptable behavior under the guise of patriotism, and Democrats have permitted their encroaching lawlessness on the grounds of civility, constantly convincing themselves that Republicans have reached a limit beyond which they won’t go. Each time they’ve been proven wrong.
Nixon resigned in 1974 because his attempts to cover up his involvement in the Watergate burglary made his obstruction of justice clear. Republican leaders warned Nixon that if the House of Representatives impeached him, the Senate would convict. Republican congressmen of the time believed in the rule of law.
Gerald Ford’s subsequent pardon of Nixon was perhaps given in that spirit: when the law rules, it permits mercy. But the absence of a humiliating public exposure of Nixon’s participation in Watergate, and the lack of a permanent bipartisan condemnation, gave Nixon loyalists cover to argue that he wasn’t guilty of crimes. Instead they claimed Nixon had been hounded out of office by outlandish liberals determined to undermine him and the country.
Ever since, Republican extremists have employed this rhetoric whenever they break the law or erode constitutional norms.
When Ronald Reagan’s administration was exposed for having illegally sold arms to Iran to raise money covertly for the Contra rebels fighting the Nicaraguan government, Reagan acknowledged that the evidence was damning – yet defended the principle behind the scheme. Reagan’s successor, George HW Bush, pardoned the six leading figures of the Iran-Contra affair because, he said, “whether their actions were right or wrong”, they were motivated by “patriotism”. The investigation into their actions was “a criminalization of party differences”.
Quite a rundown, isn’t it? Well, put that in light of the Trumpian window.
The same Republicans who had threatened to impeach Hillary Clinton remained silent when, immediately after his surprise victory, Trump refused to abide by laws about emoluments or nepotism, openly profiting from the presidency and filling the White House with personal relatives. They continued to remain silent when Trump fired the FBI director, James Comey, who was investigating Russian interference in the 2016 election, then pointedly pardoned Scooter Libby, saying he was “treated unfairly”. They did not protest in February 2019 when the Trump administration openly defied the law by refusing to give Congress a required report on Saudi involvement in the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi.
By May of this year the White House was refusing to honor any congressional subpoenas on the grounds that “it’s very partisan – obviously very partisan”, as Trump told the Washington Post.
When the House committee on ways and means demanded Trump’s tax returns under a law that leaves no wiggle room, Steven Mnuchin, the treasury secretary, nonetheless refused to deliver them, saying he saw no “legitimate legislative purpose” for such a request. An attempt by the executive branch to dictate to the legislative branch, the only branch of the American government that has the unilateral power to make law, is shocking, but Republicans stayed quiet. They also stayed quiet when Trump used declarations of national emergency to override laws passed by Congress, and on Monday the Trump White House asserted in court that Congress had no authority to determine whether the president has committed crimes.
Yet only one congressional Republican – Michigan’s Justin Amash – has called for impeachment.
Special counsel Robert Mueller, investigating Russian interference in the 2016 election, provided ample evidence that the president should be investigated for obstruction of justice in his attempt to quell the Russia investigation by firing Comey and urging aides to lie. At the same time, Mueller reminded Americans that the constitution charges Congress with presidential oversight. Indeed, under current Department of Justice policy, a sitting president cannot be indicted; congressional oversight is the only way to rein in a lawless president.
It’s a long, thoughtful essay. You should read it all. Yes, one Republican has called for impeachment still and yes, there’s that pesky Dixon Memo again.
But back home in Michigan, many people who know Amash say they’re not surprised at all by his willingness to go against his own party — even if that decision costs him his seat in Congress.
“Five-year-old Justin Amash was a lot like 39-year-old Justin Amash is like,” says Jordan Bush, who first met Amash when they were in kindergarten.
Bush says Amash is diligent and intentional. Someone who doesn’t bend his principles.
Other longtime friends echo similar sentiments. In high school, Amash became known for always finishing his homework, even if it meant his friends had to wait to hang out. Amash eventually went on to become valedictorian.
Amash’s parents are both immigrants. His mother is originally from Syria. His father, Attallah, came to the United States in 1956 as a Christian refugee from Palestine.
“Justin just always had a keen sense of what was at stake in terms of what governments do or don’t do, how much they interfere, how much they limit themselves,” says Jessica Bratt Carle, who got to know Amash in high school.
By the time Bratt Carle and Bush got to know the Amash family, they had built a successful family business, which they still own.
“I think a lot of that work ethic,” Bush says, “largely comes from his father.”
When Justin Amash got elected to Congress, Bush served in his district office. He says he saw the same person there that he did in kindergarten.
“Justin is the least surprising representative in Congress once you have an understanding of how he views his role,” Bush says.
That role, according to Bush, is to uphold the Constitution and protect individual liberty.
Amash is known as one of the more libertarian members of Congress. Some have speculated Amash could even dump the Republican Party to run as the presidential candidate for the Libertarian Party. Amash has not ruled out that move.
But for now, he remains in the Republican Party, despite his many disagreements with party leadership.
When the 448-page report by former special counsel Robert Mueller was released to the public in April, Amash initially gave no comment. He posted on Twitter that he would read the report “carefully and completely” before saying anything.
And for nearly a month, Amash said nothing.
Then, in a string of tweets posted on May 18, Amash gave his conclusions from the report.
He said the report showed President Trump engaged in impeachable conduct and that Attorney General William Barr intentionally misled people about what’s in the report.
So, if you’d like cunning political commentary and a laugh to cheer you up then you should watch John Oliver whose commentary includes that impeachment talk is “effective hospice care” when a family with a father who died peacefully once they told him he Trump was impeached. But, there’s more than that … watch the clever comedian talk about Nancy Pelosi too.
With a national conversation underway about the possibility of impeachment, John Oliver discusses whether the benefits outweigh the potential risks.
And believe me, we all could use a good laugh at Trump’s expense in these times.
Impeachment in no way Guarantees the removal of a President.
With that, I’ll leave you to think on it and discuss. What’s on your reading and blogging list today?
The image above is from the town of Blue Ridge GA…as a White dead soldier is driven home…
USMC Sgt. Christopher J. Lockett died last week at a U.S. facility, but military officials have not yet offered more details.
Tuesday, his body was flown into Atlanta and driven in a solemn procession to Murphy. Hundreds lined Highway 515 in Fannin County, waving flags and showing their respect for the fallen hometown hero.
The people lining the streets are “tRump supporters,” in every sense of that description.
I do not want to diminish this man’s death, in any way, but I want to point out the hypocrisy…the difference in respect given this white soldier compared to other soldiers of color (killed in the line of duty)…as well as their gold star families.
Lest we forget:
The parents of Capt. Humayun Khan…
And the entire incident that occurred with the widow of U.S. Army Sergeant La David Johnson…
The widow of Army Sgt. La David Johnson, one of the four U.S. soldiers killed in a military operation in Niger earlier this month, says President Trump’s condolence call only made her feel worse.
I started to write this post for Wednesday…but decided to hold it for today. I don’t know why, but it would appear like fate:
Some high school young men from a private Catholic school in Kentucky had been encouraged to attend an anti-abortion “March for Life” near the Lincoln Memorial in Washington D.C. on Friday. Nearby, Native Americans were rallying for their rights.
Vietnam Vet Nathan Phillips saw a mean crowd of white teens in Trump’s red “Make America Great Again” caps harassing four African American young men. He was beating his drum and chanting, and came forward, drawing the attention of the young thugs, realizing the danger, he said.
They then mocked and taunted him, doing a bad sing-along of his chant, and then one of the teens, an unbearably smug look on his face, planted himself in Phillips’s way and trapped him in the ugly crown of Mean Boys. They were chanting “Build the Wall.”
Nathan Phillips gave a chilling interview about the incident to CNN, in which he expressed fear about where the United States is going. Remember, Phillips risked his life for a country that had treated his people like crap, stealing their land, putting them on reservations, forbidding them to practice their religion, and occasionally massacring them.
Hannah Arendt spoke of the banality of evil, of the way in which boring routine bureaucracy had been deployed by the Nazis to commit unspeakable crimes against humanity.
What struck me from looking at those young men was that she could have perhaps even more usefully spoken of the stupidity of evil.
How stupid do you have to be to chant “build the wall” at a Native American whose people were here at least 13,000 years ago before the European undocumented migrants showed up in their lands?
How stupid do you have to be to chant “build the wall” at African-Americans whom white slavers kidnapped from their homes in Senegal and Nigeria and Angola and transported here against their will?
How stupid do you have to be as a Catholic not to know that anti-immigrant slogans like “Build the Wall” and “Make America Great Again” are the descendants of the racist slogans (such as “Keep America American”) that white Protestants of the 19th century ‘Know Nothing’ secret society chanted at Catholic immigrants from Ireland and Italy and Germany just before they burned down Catholic churches?
How stupid do you have to be to insist on a fetus’s right to life but to endanger the life of an elderly Vet by putting him into a bottleneck in the midst of an angry mob?
How stupid do you have to be to think that “Make America Great Again” could possibly mean anything when chanted by chickenhawk young men at a Vet who risked his life for this country?
How stupid do you have to be not to realize that the people Trump wants to keep out of the United States by building his idiotic, cruel and ineffective wall are for the most part Catholics?
Nathan Phillips said he is afraid for where the country of going because of the wave of hatefulness sweeping the country.
He is too polite to blame Trump for our collective national two minutes hate, but I’m not. This incident was Trump’s fault.
Mean boys in high school acting out evil may be a bit banal as well. But if Nathan Phillips is apparently afraid that hatred is contagious, I am afraid that stupidity might be an infectious disease.
The following are various tweets about this…another fucking disgusting episode in The tRump Chronicle of Shit.
This is an open thread….
Good Morning Sky Dancers!
Putin’s puppet is in New Orleans today visiting the folks at the Farm Bureau’s convention whose idea of clean water and vague climate change concern pretty much lines up with the party of greed and irrationality. Yes we like clean water! Who doesn’t! But we don’t need no stinking regulations! Yes we like animals! We kill them all the time including those pesky things on the overrated Endangered Species Act list. And what, us? Cancer causing chemicals? That sounds like a lot of hippie BS to us.! Lots of folks here will be protesting. I’m wondering if any of the farmers attending will have awoken to the need for preparation H yet. If not, they’ll need it by the time they sit through whatever mishigas he spews.
So, the media is finally waking up to the notion that we have a Russian Potted Plant in the oval office. Yeah, like a former Secretary of State running for President telling them wasn’t enough. But, oops there it is!
From Max Boot at WAPO: we get this opinion piece: “Here are 18 reasons Trump could be a Russian asset”. There’s a fairly long list but here’s the top few points.
— Trump has a long financial history with Russia. As summarized by Jonathan Chait in an invaluable New York magazine article: “From 2003 to 2017, people from the former USSR made 86 all-cash purchases — a red flag of potential money laundering — of Trump properties, totaling $109 million. In 2010, the private-wealth division of Deutsche Bank also loaned him hundreds of millions of dollars during the same period it was laundering billions in Russian money. ‘Russians make up a pretty disproportionate cross-section of a lot of our assets,’ said Donald Jr. in 2008. ‘We don’t rely on American banks. We have all the funding we need out of Russia,’ boasted Eric Trump in 2014.” According to Trump attorney Michael Cohen’s guilty pleaof lying to Congress, Trump was even pursuing his dream of building a Trump Tower during the 2016 campaign with the help of a Vladimir Putin aide. These are the kind of financial entanglements that intelligence services such as the FSB typically use to ensnare foreigners, and they could leave Trump vulnerable to blackmail.
— The Russians interfered in the 2016 U.S. election to help elect Trump president.
— Trump encouraged the Russians to hack Hillary Clinton’s emails on July 27, 2016 (“Russia, if you’re listening”), on the very day that Russian intelligence hackers tried to attack Clinton’s personal and campaign servers.
— There were, according to the Moscow Project, “101 contacts between Trump’s team and Russia linked operatives,” and “the Trump team tried to cover up every single one of them.” The most infamous of these contacts was the June 9, 2016, meeting at Trump Tower between the Trump campaign high command and a Kremlin emissary promising dirt on Clinton. Donald Trump Jr.’s reaction to the offer of Russian assistance? “If it’s what you say I love it especially later in the summer.”
— The Trump campaign was full of individuals, such as Carter Page, George Papadopoulos, Paul Manafort, Rick Gates and Michael Flynn, with suspiciously close links to Moscow.
From Strobe Talbott at Politico: “It’s Already Collusion. We don’t need news reports to tell us that Trump is giving Putin what he wants. Take it from this longtime Russia hand: It’s staring us in the face.”
America’s 45th president has accused his twelve predecessors, going back to Harry Truman, of making Uncle Sam “a sucker of the world.” In place of that legacy, he is shutting down America’s global franchise while building up literal and virtual walls.
In Europe, Trump has made it vastly easier for Putin to bury the Gorbachev-Yeltsin concept of partnership with the West and roll back what he sees as its incursion into Russia’s sphere of domination. Instead of shoring up key Atlantic allies, Trump is bullying and belittling them, thereby making them even more vulnerable to the rise of right-wing nationalists who now have a booster and exemplar in Trump.
Trump has an affinity for dictators—as he himself reportedly acknowledged only this week during a lunch with senators, “I don’t know why I get along with all the tough ones and not the soft ones.” He actually does know why: He’s a wannabe. He envies their unchecked power, use of intimidation and penchant for operating in secret, apparently because he doesn’t trust the advisers and agencies who work for him.
This weekend’s Post article zeroed in on the Trump-Putin “one-on-one” last July in Helsinki, without aides or note-takers. Gross, the State Department interpreter, was the only American other than Trump who knows what was said, and she is under wraps. Whatever Trump told his own staff afterward, it would be likely what he wants people to believe, especially if he is hiding something. Take his claim that he “couldn’t care less” if his conversation with Putin became public for what it is worth: nothing. What’s more telling was the smug look on Putin’s face and an uncertain one on Trump’s after the meeting.
The Russian interpreter, in any event, would have probably transcribed the tête-à-tête from memory and notes immediately after the meeting. Putin, moreover, is a skilled interrogator who would have back-briefed his inner team. As a result, the Russian side has yet another advantage in its handling of Putin’s admiring would-be friend.
Tom Nichols from USA Today writes this: “All signs point the same way: Vladimir Putin has compromising information on Donald Trump”.
For apparently the first time in history, the president of the United States himself was the subject of a counterintelligence investigation. This means that his ties to a hostile power were significant enough to overcome the high bar the FBI would have to clear to investigate any American for possibly being influenced or compromised by another country — much less its own chief executive.
We have also learned that the president has gone to extraordinary lengths to conceal his discussions with an enemy foreign leader not only from intelligence and foreign policy figures in his own administration, but even from the senior officials of his own Oval Office. It should go without saying that he has tried, in this area as in so many others, to wall himself off from congressional oversight.
The president himself is always a reliable barometer of the importance of such revelations, and his panicky tweeting and a subsequent bizarre interview on Fox News(where else?) suggest that these reports are indeed bombshells.
The president’s enablers are dismissing all of this as just more of a Deep State conspiracy set in motion by an FBI aggrieved by the firing of James Comey. The enraged Trump opponents who call themselves the Resistance are convinced that this is evidence not only of Russian influence, but of a Manchurian Candidate who is now the Red President.
The Deep State story is nonsense. The Mole in the Oval image, meanwhile, is too extreme — but not as crazy a theory as it was a year or two ago. The president clearly has something to hide. As I have written many times over the past two years, it is highly unlikely that there is any innocent explanation for the remarkable frequency and depth of the Trump coterie’s interactions with Russia for some 30 years, and especially during the campaign.
While Trump is not an “agent” of the Russian Federation (too many people use this kind of language without knowing what it means to counterintelligence officials), it seems at this point beyond argument that the president personally fears Russian President Vladimir Putin for reasons that can only suggest the existence of compromising information.
This is Tara Palmari from ABC News: “Interpreter from Trump-Putin summit may be forced into congressional spotlight. Only one American was a firsthand witness to Trump’s summit with Putin.”
But a senior Democratic aide on the House Foreign Affairs Committee said a new report in The Washington Post has “changed the calculus.” It describes the president going to extraordinary lengths to conceal details of his conversations with Putin, including moves Trump allegedly took to seize notes from the interpreter at a meeting he held with Putin in Hamburg.
“This raises a new host of questions,” the aide said. “We’re looking into the legal implications of that and we’ll discuss our options. Our lawyers are sitting down with intel committee lawyers to hash it out.”
Trump denied Saturday that he was trying to conceal details from the meeting.
“I’m not keeping anything under wraps,” Trump told Fox News. “Anybody could have listened to that meeting, that meeting is up for grabs.”
Brett Bruen, who served as the White House director of global engagement from 2013 to 2015, said the move to interview Gross would be unusual but is within the scope of Congress’ oversight authority.
“I don’t ever recall an interpreter being subpoenaed — I don’t see how they wouldn’t be subjected like anyone else who is a government employee or contractor,” said Bruen, who served on President Barack Obama’s National Security Council staff.
The congressional transcripts obtained by CNN reveal new details into how the FBI launched the investigation into Trump and the discussions that were going on inside the bureau during a tumultuous and pivotal period ahead of the internal investigation and special counsel Robert Mueller’s appointment.
Republicans view the officials’ comments as evidence that top officials at the FBI were planning all along to investigate Trump and that the probe wasn’t sparked by the Comey firing, according to a Republican source with knowledge of the interviews.
While the FBI launched its investigation in the days after Comey’s abrupt dismissal, the bureau had previously contemplated such a step, according to testimony from former FBI lawyer Lisa Page.
Peter Strzok, the former FBI agent who was dismissed from Mueller’s team and later fired over anti-Trump text messages, texted Page in the hours after Comey’s firing and said: “We need to open the case we’ve been waiting on now while Andy is acting,” a reference to then-acting FBI Director Andrew McCabe.
Page was pressed on the meaning of the message in her interview with congressional investigators, and she confirmed that the text was related to the Russia investigation into potential collusion.
Page told lawmakers the decision to open the case was not about “who was occupying the director’s chair,” according to a source. While FBI lawyers limited her answers about the text, she said the text wasn’t suggesting that the case couldn’t be opened with Comey as director.
“It’s not that it could not have been done,” Page told lawmakers. “This case had been a topic of discussion for some time. The ‘waiting on’ was an indecision and a cautiousness on the part of the bureau with respect to what to do and whether there was sufficient predication to open.”
The Epoch Times has Lisa Page’s interview here. You’ll remember that Trump was itching to get Page and Strzok fired and succeeded. After all, they were adulterous and said a few nice things about Hillary!
Included in the transcripts provided to us is information suggesting Brennan was aware of the so-called Steele dossier in early August 2016, and that he included information regarding the dossier in a briefing given to then-Sen. Harry Reid (D-Nev.).
Other key points in Page’s testimony before Congress:
• The FBI appears to have considered investigating President Trump for obstruction of justice both before and after FBI Director James Comey was fired.
• Page says the DOJ refused to pursue “gross-negligence” charges against Hillary Clinton over her use of a private email server to send classified information.
• FBI agent Michael Gaeta, head of the Eurasian Crime Squad, who received the dossier from former MI6 spy Christopher Steele in July 2016 is referred to in the transcript as Steele’s handler.
• The FBI maintained a previously unknown verification file for the Steele dossier. Congressional investigators didn’t previously know of its existence.
• John Carlin, the head of the DOJ’s National Security Division, was kept abreast of the FBI’s investigative activities through contact with then-Deputy FBI Director McCabe.
• Page worked directly for DOJ official Bruce Ohr for at least five years and had met his wife, Nellie, once.
• The role of FBI agent Jonathan Moffa and DOJ official George Toscas may have been greater than initially assumed.
I personally believe a lot of reticence to do anything to Trump by Republicans has to do with this Betsy Woodruff headling: “Kremlin Blessed Russia’s NRA Operation, U.S. Intel Report Says. When Maria Butina and Alexander Torshin brought NRA bigwigs to Moscow, it wasn’t a rogue mission. It was OKed from the very top, according to a report reviewed by The Daily Beast.” Republicans have literally gone from fearing reds under beds to being co-opted by by them. McConnell was the biggest recipient of laundered Russian money and held the purse strings for its dispersal.
The Kremlin has long denied that it had anything to do with the infiltration of the NRA and the broader American conservative movement. A U.S. intelligence report reviewed by The Daily Beast tells a different story.
Alexander Torshin, the Russian central bank official who spent years aggressively courting NRA leaders, briefed the Kremlin on his efforts and recommended they participate, according to the report. Its existence and contents have not previously been reported.
While there has been speculation that Torshin and his protegée, Maria Butina, had the Kremlin’s blessing to woo the NRA—and federal prosecutors have vaguely asserted that she acted “on behalf of the Russian federation”—no one in the White House or the U.S. intelligence community has publicly stated as much. Senior Russian government officials, for their part, have strenuously distanced themselves from Butina’s courtship of the NRA, which she did at Torshin’s direction.
The report, on the other hand, notes that the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs was fine with Torshin’s courtship of the NRA because the relationships would be valuable if a Republican won the White House in 2016.
This should give you plenty of reading before we hear from Michael Cohen testifying before Congress. (updated)
Here’s what you need to know about Cohen’s committee appearance:
What day: The hearing is set for Thursday, Feb. 7.
What time: House committee hearings usually begin between 9:30 a.m. ET and 10 a.m. ET. The time for Cohen’s hearing has not been announced. Check back here for updates.
What channel: The hearing will be broadcast live on cable news channels.
What’s on your reading and blogging list today?
Live from NOLA Convention Center!!!!
^My New Year’s Wish ^
Now for some interesting tweets:
Regarding the Kelly interview this morning:
And I want to end with this:
And what is with all this Beto shit! Stacy Abrams ran a hell of a campaign…and came damn close to winning, even with all the possible illegal voter suppression that Kemp succeeded in achieving while acting as Secretary of State and running for Governor. She has a future ahead of her, but like Harris…she is a black woman.
This is an open thread…
Hey, I thought up the post’s title before I saw that tweet…referring to tRumps “squrriel’s nest toupee”…but before we get to a few links on the Orange Turd’s Paris trip, take a look at this thread.
As I said, that thread deserved the full treatment. For serious.
So what has happened today?
Now, here are several tweets for your review:
In honor of Armistice Day, (yesterday) …
Also, a new recording:
The soundscape of the Great War must have been devastating: constant artillery bombardment, rifle shots, fighter planes buzzing overhead and the screams of soldiers encountering gas. But we don’t actually know quite what the World War I sounded like. Magnetic tape didn’t exist yet and recording technology was in its infancy, requiring sound to be mechanically produced using a needle and soft wax or metal. Taking such machines into the field was not practical.
Still, there were people on the front recording. Special units used a technique called “sound ranging” to try and determine where enemy gunfire was coming from. To do so, technicians set up strings of microphones—actually barrels of oil dug into the ground—a certain distance apart, then used a piece of photographic film to visually record noise intensity. The effect is similar to the way a seismometer records an earthquake. Using that data and the time between when a shot was fired and when it hit, they could then triangulate where enemy artillery was located—and adjust their own guns accordingly.
At least one bit of that “sound ranging” film survived the War—the film recording the last few minutes of World War I when the guns finally fell silent at the River Moselle on the American Front. As Richard Connor at Deutsche Welde reports, part of a new exhibit called Making a New World at London’s Imperial War Museum uses those graphic sound waves to recreate the moment the Armistice went into effect and the guns fell silent.
As part of a celebration to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the end of the war, the museum commissioned the sound production company Coda to Coda to use the film strip of the guns firing away at 10:58 A.M. on November 11, 1918, then going silent when the clock strikes 11, the symbolic moment politicians determined the war would end, to try and recreate what that instant may have sounded like.
More information at the link.
Here is where you can hear the recording:
That link is to the direct Coda to Coda website, it plays the full one minute of the last sounds of WWI.
The Facebook link below does not play the full recording.
One hundred years later, the absence from the orange asshole mouth fuckwad, is overwhelming:
(Hey, the point is he is there in the fucking rain. And he was there on Saturday.)
I guess Putin was the reason he was late?
Read some of the responses to that tweet.
I guess tRump finally did show up for the dinner…coming into the event through the back door…WTF?
You can see all the dignitaries photos, on the red carpet etc., at that Daily Mail link above.
A few more articles:
This is an interesting interview:
Last surviving prosecutor at Nuremberg trials says Trump’s family separation policy is ‘crime against humanity’ | The Independent
The lawyer said it was “painful” when he heard about how the Trump administration had separated more than 2,000 children from their families after they had crossed the US-Mexico border.
Video at the link.
Can you fucking believe this shit?
All 50 states, the District of Columbia, and the federal government impose criminal liability on correctional facility staff who have sexual contact with people in their custody. These laws recognize that any sexual activity between detainees and detention facility staff, with or without the use of force, is unlawful because of the inherent power imbalance when people are in custody. Yet, one immigration detention center is trying to avoid responsibility for sexual violence within its walls by arguing that the detainee “consented” to sexual abuse.
E.D., an asylum-seeker and domestic violence survivor from Honduras, was sexually assaulted by an employee while she was detained with her 3-year-old child at the Berks Family Residential Center in Pennsylvania. At the time of the assault, E.D. was 19 years old.
She filed suit against the detention center and its staff for their failure to protect her from sexual violence, even though they were aware of the risk. The record in the case, E.D. v. Sharkey, shows that her assailant coerced and threatened her, including with possible deportation, while the defendants stood by and made jokes.
Although the employee pled guilty to criminal institutional sexual assault under Pennsylvania law, the defendants contend that they should not be liable for any constitutional violations. Their argument rests in part on their assessment that the sexual abuse was “consensual” and that they should be held to a different standard because the Berks Family Residential Center is an immigration detention facility rather than a jail or prison.
Read the rest of this disturbing case at the link.
Some updates on the California killer:
And lastly, these few articles that have a tie-in…civil war.
n the 158th year of the American civil war, also known as 2018, the Confederacy continues its recent resurgence. Its victims include black people, of course, but also immigrants, Jews, Muslims, Latinos, trans people, gay people and women who want to exercise jurisdiction over their bodies. The Confederacy battles in favor of uncontrolled guns and poisons, including toxins in streams, mercury from coal plants, carbon emissions into the upper atmosphere, and oil exploitation in previously protected lands and waters.
Its premise appears to be that protection of others limits the rights of white men, and those rights should be unlimited. The Brazilian philosopher of education Paulo Freire once noted that “the oppressors are afraid of losing the ‘freedom to oppress’”. Of course, not all white men support extending that old domination, but those who do see themselves and their privileges as under threat in a society in which women are gaining powers, and demographic shift is taking us to a US in which white people will be a minority by 2045.
More of course, at the link.
Those racist will tell you, the Civil War was strictly over the question of “state’s rights”:
Acting attorney general Matthew Whitaker said he believed states have a right to nullify federal law, CNN reports. In a campaign speech for his GOP primary run for Iowa Senator, Whitaker touted the need for states to have “political courage” to nullify federal laws. “Now we need to remember that the states set up the federal government and not vice versa. And so the question is, do we have the political courage in the state of Iowa or some other state to nullify Obamacare and pay the consequences for that?” Whitaker said in response to a question at a September 2013 campaign speech. “The federal government’s done a very good job about tying goodies to our compliance with federal programs, whether it’s the Department of Education, whether it’s Obamacare with its generous Medicare and Medicaid dollars and the like… But do I believe in nullification? I think our founding fathers believed in nullification. There’s no doubt about that.” According to a Des Moines Register columnist, Whitaker reportedly made similar remarks about nullification in April 2014 but said he didn’t believed states would do it.
I swear that Whitaker looks like a skinhead/Nazi.
And….at last we come to this:
- The Russian media has published more than 30 articles in the past few days suggesting that America could devolve into a civil wardue to the 2020 election.
- Stories that seek to undermine faith in Western democracy among Russian audiences are a staple of the Russian media, much of which is state-controlled.
- The source for these articles was an opinion piece published by conservative commentator Niall Ferguson, who references a “cultural civil war” but concludes that civil war is not imminent.
- This type of coverage in the Russian media highlights the challenge of contending with information that is distorted to the point of inaccuracy but is not explicitly fake.
The Russian media is obsessed with the American civil war. No, not the one that erupted in 1861 over the secession of the South — the civil war that’s coming with the next US presidential election.
tRump’s 30% are just hateful enough…and armed enough, to actually do something crazy like start a war.
This is all I have for today…btw….Tomorrow is my brother’s birthday, he would have been 48 years old. I miss him so fucking much.
This is an open thread.
We can turn this shit around!
Hey, I know…that is a little too positive, coming from someone like me…but even I have to grasp at some rays of hope. Yesterday, on my way to practice I took a picture of the sunset. It made me think of the future, in this way:
I said a little prayer, may this setting sun be the last of “tRumpian unaccountability”…and will tomorrow’s morning sun bring hope for our democracy.
That image of Tank Girl, it is morning…she is having tea and putting on her boots…preparing herself for the day’s ass kicking. We can turn this shit around! Let’s see what comes from winning the House?
Meanwhile, in Georgia:
As of 8:45 this morning, only 75,386 votes separate Kemp and Abrams…
The Democrat Stacey Abrams, a black woman, made a valiant effort to win the governor’s race in Georgia, one of the original 13 states, whose commitment to human bondage ensured that the U.S. Constitution would treat slavery with kid gloves. A state that was part of the Confederacy. A state scorched by Union General William Tecumseh Sherman in the Civil War. A state that refused to accept the outcome of that war, treating its black residents as second-class citizens—if that—until the federal government forced its hand, a century later, with the Voting Rights Act. She tried to write a new narrative for this state.
Although Abrams has not yet conceded, citing uncounted ballots, it looks as though the other side has won, and the narrative is the same as ever. Abrams didn’t have to fight just an electoral campaign; she had to fight a civil-rights campaign against the forces of voter suppression.
Indeed, I can’t quite bring myself to say that Abrams “lost,” because there’s an asterisk next to her Republican opponent’s victory.
Brian Kemp, who billed himself as a “Trump conservative,” refused to step aside as Georgia’s secretary of state; he ran for governor of a state while overseeing the elections in that state. Former President Jimmy Carter, a Georgian with much experience monitoring elections abroad, stressed that this conflict of interest ran “counter to the most fundamental principle of democratic elections—that the electoral process be managed by an independent and impartial election authority.” Kemp had no intention of relinquishing a post he has held since 2010, and often wields as a weapon to cull Georgia’s electorate. He understood that he would need every trick in the book because he was up against a woman who, in addition to serving as the minority leader of the state’s House of Representatives from 2011 to 2017, founded a formidable voter-registration organization, the New Georgia Project.[…]Under Kemp, Georgia purged more than 1.5 million voters from the rolls, eliminating 10.6 percent of voters from the state’s registered electorate from 2016 to 2018 alone. The state shut down 214 polling places, the bulk of them in minority and poor neighborhoods. From 2013 to 2016 it blocked the registration of nearly 35,000 Georgians, including newly naturalized citizens. Georgia accomplished this feat of disfranchisement based on a screening process called “exact match,” meaning the state accepted new registrations only if they matched the information in state databases precisely, including hyphens in names, accents, and even typos.[…]Days before the deadline to register for the November election, the Associated Press reported that Kemp had put 53,000 applicants on hold due to exact-match problems. An analysis of Kemp’s records found that 70 percent of those applicants were black. (Georgia is roughly 32 percent black.) Separately, the Georgia chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union found that some 700 absentee-ballot applications and almost 200 absentee ballots were rejected by county officials due to a law mandating that the signatures on absentee applications and ballots visually match the signatures on file. Thus, poor penmanship was added to the list of crimes that can lead to disenfranchisement in Georgia.[…]
In the end, it looks like Kemp won. It’s impossible to know if his attempts to restrict the franchise are what pushed him over the line. But if the Georgia race had taken place in another country—say, the Republic of Georgia—U.S. media and the U.S. State Department would not have hesitated to question its legitimacy, if for no other reason than Kemp’s dual roles as candidate and election overseer. Of course, there were other reasons. As of this morning, he led by about 75,000 votes; more than 85,000 registrations were canceled through August 1 of this year alone.
Stacy Abrams is vowing not to concede until all votes are counted. I think she should demand a recount…as well.
This is a good thread to round up the tRump effect:
From down along this thread:
This piece of shit is gone:
On that note, here are a few cartoons:
I think Boston Boomer had this in one of her post, but it is so good I have to repeat it:
I wonder what the rest of today will bring?
See you in the comments…this is an open thread.