Wednesday Reads: Boom, Boom, Boom

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The only people on this debate stage who have won every single election that they've been in are the women. We need a candidate who will excite all parts of the Democratic Party, bring everyone in, and give everyone a Democrat to believe in. That's my plan—and that is why I’m going to win. #DemDebate

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(Hopefully you can see that video clip.)

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Elizabeth Warren at tonight's #DemDebate, on whether a woman can beat Donald Trump.

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It is so good, I had to post it twice!

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Women can win. #demdebate

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Oops! I’m dropping f-bombs again! #justanotherday #excuseme #fbomb #fbombmeditation

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Worrisome Democracy breaking out around China #china #lunarnewyear #lunarnewyear2020

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Now back to my favorite imaginary segment on Fox News, “What if Obama did it.” • #fauxnews #foxnews #trump #tuckercarlson #thanksobama #obama #barackobama #foxnewsisntnews #politicalart #instaart #instaartist #votethemout #grabthembytheballot #obamas #dumptrump #lockhimup #notmypresident

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Day 1089: Please oh please put this tumbleweed-skinned dust mummy lawyer front and center at the trial. #asteriskpresident #trumpcrimefamily #magaisformorons #thedailydon

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Democratic Candidates Immediately Descend Into Violent Pandemonium Without Cory Booker’s Message Of Love

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Increasingly Unwell Harvey Weinstein Arrives To Court As Jar Of Ashes

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A cartoon by @dsipress. #NewYorkerCartoons

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Sanders Campaign Doubles Down With New Ad Warning Americans They’ll Never Be Able To Hear A Female President Over The Sound Of Her Vacuum

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Day 1088: To the world’s most eminent fabulist, everything is “imminent”. #cowardlylyin #dumptrump #trumpcrimefamily #presidentfulldiaper #magaisformorons #thedailydon

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Take a look at that thread above and the comments, disgusting.

In relation to this:

I don’t know about you all, but I believe Ambassador Yovanovitch life was in danger.

Here are the docs:

Meanwhile,

I wish Kamala hadn’t dropped out, she was the best.

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Many tree species live for hundreds of years; others, including the sequoias, survive for thousands. Bristlecone trees, like those in California’s Ancient Bristlecone Pine Forest, can last almost indefinitely. For millennia, the bristlecones have remained resistant to fire, harsh weather and soil conditions, and insect threats. “I get a chill from standing next to something that’s been living in the same place for 5,000 years,” one scientist said. “We can’t begin to comprehend the mechanisms of birth and death on that scale.” Minute changes in the tree-ring record make bristlecones an exceptionally useful source of data about changing conditions on earth, and that data shows that the trees have also survived hot spells: in 4000 B.C., during the mid-Holocene period, the earth was about one degree Celsius warmer than it is today. But it is on track to get hotter than that. Can these ancient trees, which John Muir once described as “irrepressibly and extravagantly picturesque,” withstand climate change? Read more at the link in our bio. Photographs by Jordana Meilleur/Alamy; Jason Bazzano/Alamy; Robert Rosenblum/Alamy; Dennis Frates/Alamy

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Love. Just so much love. To you. You who’s reading this. ❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️

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This is an open thread.


Tuesday Reads: Pelosi Is Winning On Impeachment, But Russia Is Still Helping Trump.

By Félix Edouard Vallotton

Good Morning!!

Lots of tweeting about Trump and Melania at the LSU-Clemson game yesterday. Melania wore some kind of raincoat that looked like it was made out of garbage bags. More people are starting to notice Trump’s odd standing and walking issues.

See more tweets at Raw Story: Internet speculates about Trump’s strange gait at Clemson vs LSU championship.

There was disagreement about whether Trump or Melania released the other’s hand, but Melania looks angry. Some people suggested she was digging her fingernails into his hand before he let go. Watch and see what you think.

 

Enough gossip, there is also breaking news on impeachment. CNN: Pelosi sets up floor vote as soon as Wednesday to name impeachment managers and send articles to the Senate.

Speaker Nancy Pelosi indicated that that the House will vote Wednesday on a resolution to name the impeachment managers for the Senate trial of President Donald Trump and transmit the articles to the chamber, two sources told CNN on Tuesday.

Pelosi told her Democratic colleagues Tuesday morning at a closed-door meeting on Capitol Hill that she won’t announce impeachment managers during that meeting, according to a source familiar with the remarks. Last week, Pelosi told Democrats she planned to discuss plans for sending over the articles of impeachment, which she’s held following a vote last month.

By Belinda Del Pesco

House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer said on Monday night that the House vote to name the impeachment managers “could be” on Wednesday, adding that the Senate has “practical problems” if they were to move sooner since three Democratic senators are participating in the presidential debate.

After a several week delay to formally send the articles, Pelosi’s move will kick the impeachment fight officially into the Senate’s court, where Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is readying a resolution of his own to set out the rules of the trial.

It looks like Pelosi’s decision to hold onto the articles for a few weeks is paying off. The New York Times: Republicans Rule Out Outright Dismissal of Impeachment Charges.

Senate Republicans indicated on Monday that they would not seek to summarily dismiss the impeachment charges against President Trump, proceeding instead to a trial with arguments and the possibility of calling witnesses that could begin as soon as Wednesday.

Dismissal was always a long shot given Republicans’ narrow control of the Senate, but it was the subject of renewed discussion after Mr. Trump said on Sunday that he liked the idea put forward by some conservatives as a way to deny the House’s case the legitimacy of a trial. Other Republicans had signed on to a resolution that would have dismissed the House’s impeachment articles if they were not promptly brought to trial.

In interviews, rank-and-file senators and party leaders made clear on Monday that even if they wanted to pursue dismissal, the votes simply were not there to succeed — at least not at the outset of the trial. They did not rule out considering a motion to dismiss the charges of abuse of power and obstruction of Congress after opening arguments from both sides.

“Our members generally are not interested in a motion to dismiss,” said Senator Roy Blunt of Missouri, a top Republican leader. “They think both sides need to be heard. They believe the president needs to be heard for the first time in a fair setting.”

By Henri Lebasque

Mitch doesn’t have the votes for dismissal anymore. The Washington Post: Top Senate Republicans reject Trump’s renewed call for immediate dismissal of impeachment charges.

On Monday, senior Republicans said immediate dismissal could not win approval in the chamber, where Republicans hold a 53-seat majority. And even some staunch Trump allies argued that the president’s legacy would benefit from a robust trial.

“I don’t think there’s any interest on our side of dismissing,” said Sen. Roy Blunt (R-Mo.), the fourth-ranking GOP senator. “Certainly, there aren’t 51 votes for a motion to dismiss.”

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) has said that he wants the trial — only the third impeachment of a president in U.S. history — to follow the format used 21 years ago in the trial of President Bill Clinton. In that case, the Senate approved a resolution that would have allowed the Senate to vote to dismiss the charges.

But senior Republicans signaled Monday that they are not inclined to include such a provision in the resolution that will kick off Trump’s trial, perhaps as soon as Thursday….

Another GOP senator, speaking on the condition of anonymity to discuss legislation that is not yet public, also said the inclusion of a provision to dismiss is unlikely.

Even the White House now admits there are going to be witnesses, according to CBS News: White House expects GOP defections on calling witnesses in Senate impeachment trial.

Senior White House officials tell CBS News they increasingly believe that at least four Republicans, and likely more, will vote to call witnesses. In addition to Senators Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, Susan Collins of Maine, Mitt Romney of Utah and possibly Cory Gardner of Colorado, the White House also views Rand Paul of Kentucky as a “wild card” and Senator Lamar Alexander of Tennessee as an “institutionalist” who might vote to call witnesses, as one official put it.

By Edouard Vuillard

Last week, Collins said she was working with a “fairly small group” of GOP senators to allow new testimony, adding that her colleagues “should be completely open to calling witnesses.” Romney has expressed an interest in hearing from former national security adviser John Bolton, who has said he would testify under subpoena. Murkowski said last week that the Senate should proceed as it did during the 1999 Clinton impeachment trial.

Gardner and Alexander have both said the Senate trial should be fair and impartial. Paul has said the president should be able to call his own witnesses, including the whistleblower whose complaint about Ukraine sparked the impeachment inquiry in the first place.

More on Rand Paul from Politico: Republicans face reckoning on impeachment witnesses.

Republican Sen. Rand Paul offered a warning to his colleagues as they began debating whether to hear from witnesses like John Bolton in President Donald Trump’s imminent impeachment trial.

“Don’t think you can just vote for Bolton and not the witnesses Trump wants,” Paul told senators at a party lunch last week, according to two attendees and two people briefed on the meeting. He advised that incumbent senators’ conservative base would be enraged if vulnerable lawmakers were seen as undercutting Trump.

The blunt advice from Paul laid bare the GOP’s perilous task in handling Trump’s impeachment trial in an election year, all while the president delivers stage directions on his Twitter account. Trump over the weekend first requested that House Intelligence Chairman Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) and even Speaker Nancy Pelosi appear as witnesses, then argued a few hours later that the trial should be dismissed summarily before it begins….

By Patrick Bornemann

The GOP has tried to stay focused on its game plan to shut down Democratic hopes of locking in witnesses at the outset of the trial, but it’s become increasingly clear the party will face an internal reckoning during the trial as it defends its Senate majority and faces a president who demands complete loyalty.

In other news, The New York Times broke this stunning story last night: Russians Hacked Ukrainian Gas Company at Center of Impeachment

With President Trump facing an impeachment trial over his efforts to pressure Ukraine to investigate former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. and his son Hunter Biden, Russian military hackers have been boring into the Ukrainian gas company at the center of the affair, according to security experts.

The hacking attempts against Burisma, the Ukrainian gas company on whose board Hunter Biden served, began in early November, as talk of the Bidens, Ukraine and impeachment was dominating the news in the United States.

It is not yet clear what the hackers found, or precisely what they were searching for. But the experts say the timing and scale of the attacks suggest that the Russians could be searching for potentially embarrassing material on the Bidens — the same kind of information that Mr. Trump wanted from Ukraine when he pressed for an investigation of the Bidens and Burisma, setting off a chain of events that led to his impeachment.

The Russian tactics are strikingly similar to what American intelligence agencies say was Russia’s hacking of emails from Hillary Clinton’s campaign chairman and the Democratic National Committee during the 2016 presidential campaign. In that case, once they had the emails, the Russians used trolls to spread and spin the material, and built an echo chamber to widen its effect.

Then, as now, the Russian hackers from a military intelligence unit known formerly as the G.R.U., and to private researchers by the alias “Fancy Bear,” used so-called phishing emails that appear designed to steal usernames and passwords, according to Area 1, the Silicon Valley security firm that detected the hacking. In this instance, the hackers set up fake websites that mimicked sign-in pages of Burisma subsidiaries, and have been blasting Burisma employees with emails meant to look like they are coming from inside the company.

By Ethel Sands

Russia is still listening to what Trump wants them to do. And don’t forget, they could also have planted fake information to be released at appropriate times. They did that in 2016 when they hacked John Podesta’s emails.

At The Washington Post, former ambassador to Russia Michael McFaul warns: Be prepared to fight a dangerous new wave of disinformation during the Senate trial.

In a matter of days, U.S. senators will be exercising one of their most solemn constitutional duties as they take part in the second phase of the impeachment process. When they do so, they — and the rest of us — should take heed of Hill’s warning. By now it should be amply clear that Russian-style disinformation tactics, whether employed by Russians or Americans, represent a major threat to American democracy.

Russian President Vladimir Putin and his proxies deploy several methods of disinformation to strengthen their power and influence. The first is to deny facts. For instance, Putin initially denied that Russian soldiers had seized control of Crimea in February 2014, denies Russian involvement in the shoot-down of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 in July 2014, and denies any Russian interference in the 2016 U.S. presidential election.

A second tactic is to deflect attention from the facts, also known as “whataboutism.” When criticized about Crimean annexing Crimea, Putin’s media shoot back, what about Kosovo? Or New Mexico? When criticized about civilian casualties from Russian military intervention in Syria, Kremlin defenders retort, what about Iraq, Vietnam or Hiroshima? When confronted with evidence of Russian meddling in U.S. elections, the Russian standard refrain is, you do it all the time.

By Harold Knight

A third practice is the dissemination of lies. Russian state media once asserted that President Barack Obama and former Islamic State leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi embraced the same ideology. I may be more sensitive than most about this tactic, because when I was serving as U.S. ambassador to Russia, Kremlin media outlets accused me of fomenting revolution against Putin’s regime; perhaps most disgustingly of all, a video was circulated suggesting I was a pedophile. When Putin met with President Trump in July 2018 in Helsinki, the Russian president again lied about me, claiming I had broken Russian law while working in the White House.

Read the rest at the WaPo.

More stories to check out, links only:

The Daily Beast: Warren and Sanders’ Famous Friendship Finally Ices Over.

Business Insider: Trump needed to show Soleimani was an imminent threat to assassinate him — and could be in dangerous legal territory now he’s abandoned the argument.

The Daily Beast: Jitters at MSNBC as Brass Eyes Moving Chuck Todd and Talks to Shep Smith.

NPR: Here Are The Lawyers Who Will Defend President Trump Against Impeachment.

The Washington Post: Trump retweeted Pelosi in Muslim garb. The White House made it worse.

NBC News: Muslim groups denounce Trump retweet of fake Pelosi-Schumer photo.

Courthouse News Service: Trump Campaign Adviser Pleads Guilty to Child Porn, Sex Trafficking.

The Daily Beast: U.S. Embassies Were Never Told of Supposed Soleimani Threat Because It Didn’t Exist: Officials.

So . . . what else is happening? What stories are you following today?


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.

Image result for political cartoon trump liar liar

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: S-T-O-M-P-E-R

Just dial #STOMPER!

Innit about time we had a #tRumper hotline?

At least there is this bit of news:

This as well:

And then there is this story on a train:

This is an open thread.


Lazy Caturday Reads

P.D. James

Good Afternoon!!

For quite awhile now I’ve been distracting myself from the horrors of the daily news cycle by reading thrillers and detective stories. I’ve even read some “cozy” mystery series featuring cats. You might be surprised how many mystery authors are also cat lovers. So I decided to illustrate this post with some of those writers with their cats.

Unfortunately, the Trump crises march onward without pause and I can’t ignore them completely. Here’s what’s happening this morning.

At Vanity Fair, Gabriel Sherman reported some troubling evidence of Trump’s “mental decay”: You Won’t Believe What Trump Said About His Middle Name.

On this week’s episode of Inside the Hive, Vanity Fair special correspondent Gabriel Sherman, who was attending the Globes for his show, The Loudest Voice, relayed a story that sums up the Trump presidency and the mess we’re currently living in. Standing near the bar, Sherman ran into Frank Luntz, the Republican pollster, and the two started chatting. Sherman asked Luntz when he last saw the President. “Last week, at the White House Christmas party,” Luntz said. Sherman asked what the two men talked about, to which Luntz replied that he had asked Trump what his middle initial “J” stands for. “Genius,” Trump responded.

Why aren’t DC political reporters calling more attention to Trump’s cognitive decline the way they glommed all over Hilary’s weakness from pneumonia in 2016? I recall much more reporting on Reagan’s forgetfulness than we’ve seen about Trump’s obvious symptoms of dementia.

Are Trump’s lies getting more outrageous too? It’s difficult to tell, but I think they are. Either it’s due to his cognitive issues or he’s simply realized that he can get away with anything. For an example see this story in The Washington Post: Trump now claims four embassies were under threat from Iran, raising fresh questions about intelligence reports.

Louise Penny

President Trump said on Friday that a senior Iranian general killed by a U.S. drone strike had been planning attacks on four U.S. embassies, a claim made to justify the decision but that was at odds with intelligence assessments from senior officials in Trump’s administration.

Trump and his top advisers have been under intensifying pressure from lawmakers in both parties to share more details about the intelligence they say showed Qasem Soleimani, the head of Iran’s elite Quds Force, was planning imminent attacks against U.S. personnel in the Middle East….

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.” [….]

But a senior administration official and a senior defense official, speaking on the condition of anonymity to discuss classified information, said they were only aware of vague intelligence about a plot against the embassy in Baghdad and that the information did not suggest a fully formed plot. Neither official said there were threats against multiple embassies.

Read more details at the WaPo link.

Patricia Highsmith and Aurora the Queen of Cats

Jonathan Chait at New York Magazine: Trump’s Rationale for Killing Soleimani Is Falling Apart.

When the administration shared its intelligence with select members of Congress, many of them came away unimpressed, if not outright disgusted. Rep. Gerry Connolly described the presentation as “sophomoric and utterly unconvincing.” Even Republican Senator Mike Lee, heretofore an unquestioning Trump supporter, called it the worst briefing, at least on a military issue, he’s seen in the “nine years [he’s] been here.” This is the equivalent of a person who owns 14 house cats reporting that they walked out of the theater halfway through Cats.

Exactly what the administration said, or failed to say, remains classified. But the administration’s public explanations have hardly added clarity. Trump’s initial remarks did not mention any new threat to a U.S. embassy. The next day, he said, “We did it because they were looking to blow up our embassy,” presumably in Baghdad. Last night, at a rally in Toledo, he expanded the threat to “embassies,” multiple. In a new interview with Fox News, he has specified the threat as being to four embassies. Oddly, these details seem not to have been included in the briefing to Congress, which raises the question of why information is too classified for members of the U.S. government, but low-level enough to share with the Fox News audience….

Other ancillary details have made the case look more questionable still. Trump reportedly told associates he acted in part to placate Republican Senators whose support he needed to shape the Senate impeachment trial. The Washington Post reports today that, on the same day as the Soleimani strike, another American mission attempted, but failed, to take out a different Iranian commander in Yemen, where Iran is involved in a civil war. This seems like a strange coincidence if the second target was also linked to an imminent threat to the U.S. “This suggests a mission with a longer planning horizon and a larger objective, and it really does call into question why there was an attempt to explain this publicly on the basis of an imminent threat,” Iran scholar Suzanne Maloney told the Post.

Ruth Rendell

Some background on the Iranian leader targeted in Yemen from the Post story mentioned above: On the day U.S. forces killed Soleimani, they targeted a senior Iranian official in Yemen.

On the day the U.S. military killed a top Iranian commander in Baghdad, U.S. forces carried out another top-secret mission against a senior Iranian military official in Yemen, according to U.S. officials.

The strike targeting Abdul Reza Shahlai, a financier and key commander in Iran’s elite Quds Force who has been active in Yemen, did not result in his death, according to four U.S. officials familiar with the matter….

The State Department offered a $15 million reward last month for information leading to Shahlai and the disruption of the Revolutionary Guard’s financial mechanisms. The announcement said that Shahlai is based in Yemen and has a “long history of involvement in attacks targeting the U.S. and our allies, including in the 2011 plot against the Saudi ambassador” at an Italian restaurant in Washington.

U.S. officials have alleged that Shahlai, born around 1957, is linked to attacks against U.S. forces in Iraq, including a sophisticated 2007 raid in which Iranian-backed militiamen abducted and killed five Americans troops in the city of Karbala.

In a news conference last year, the U.S. special representative for Iran, Brian Hook, said the United States remains “gravely concerned by his presence in Yemen and potential role in providing advanced weaponry of the kind we have interdicted to the Houthis,” who continue to battle a Saudi-led coalition for control of Yemen.

Iran has provided support and training to the Houthi rebels in their fight with the coalition led by Saudi Arabia, Iran’s regional foe.

It is unclear why the operation did not succeed. The State Department and White House declined to comment.

Rita Mae Brown

Who knows what the Trump gang is up to, but I’ll bet it has something to do with Saudi Arabia, since they are the ones running the war in Yemen. One thing we can be sure of: it’s all going to come out eventually, and it will be ugly.

The Washington Post reported yesterday that Nancy Pelosi may send articles of impeachment to the Senate next week:

Speaker Nancy Pelosi announced Friday that the House will consider a resolution next week to appoint impeachment managers and transmit articles of impeachment to the Senate, setting the stage for a historic trial of President Trump.

Her announcement, in a letter to Democratic colleagues, came shortly after the House ended its workweek without taking a vote on the matter. As recently as Thursday, Pelosi (D-Calif.) had continued to insist that Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) should release a resolution laying out rules of a trial before the articles are transmitted.

Also at the Post, George Conway and Neal Kaytal have some strategic suggestions: How Pelosi should play her impeachment cards.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) has announced that she plans to transmit the articles of impeachment to the Senate, but that does not mean she has lost in the seeming standoff with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) over whether to call witnesses at the Senate trial. McConnell has said “there’s no chance the president’s going to be removed from office” and “there will be no difference between the president’s position and our position.” In response, Pelosi still has cards in her hand — if she plays them — because the House approved two articles of impeachment against President Trump.

Lilian Braun Jackson

The first article of impeachment effectively charges the president with shaking down Ukraine; the second impeaches him for his unprecedented obstruction of Congress. That gives the speaker room to maneuver. She could choose to tweak her announcement and send only the second article, on obstruction, for trial. Or she could transmit them both — along with a House-approved provision advising the Senate that if it fails to obtain adequate witnesses and documents, the House will reopen the investigation into Article I and subpoena that material itself.

Separating the two articles — our preferred approach — would make perfect sense. When it comes to the second article, all the evidence about Trump’s obstruction is a matter of public record. There’s nothing more to add, so the second article is ripe for trial. But as to the first, although there is plenty of evidence demonstrating Trump’s guilt, his obstruction has prevented all of the evidence from coming to light.

Since the House voted to approve the articles of impeachment last month, new revelations of Trump’s involvement have emerged, including emails showing that aid was ordered withheld from Ukraine 91 minutes after Trump’s supposedly “perfect” phone call with President Volodymyr Zelensky. Trump’s former national security adviser, John Bolton, has said he is willing to testify before the Senate if subpoenaed, and Bolton’s lawyer has said he has new information, yet McConnell has balked at assurances that Bolton would be called.

How can one conduct a “trial” without knowing this evidence? As lawyers, we have never heard of a trial without witnesses.

Read the rest at the WaPo.

Ann Rule

More stories to check out, links only:

AP: White House considering dramatic expansion of travel ban.

Buzzfeed News: The Trump Administration Has Been Preparing To Expand The Travel Ban, Documents Reveal.

CNN: Why Trump’s changing Iran story is costing him support in Congress.

The Washington Post: Trump angered by House ally’s [Matt Gaetz] push to limit his authority on Iran.

The Daily Beast: Hannity Appears to Threaten to Give Out GOP Senators’ Phone Numbers if They Allow Impeachment Witnesses.

The Guardian: How to dump Trump: Rick Wilson on Running Against the Devil.

ProPublica: We Found Major Trump Tax Inconsistencies. New York’s Mayor Wants a Criminal Investigation.

The American Independent: Wisconsin dairy farmers suffer massive blow thanks to Trump’s trade war.

The Daily Beast: Bloomberg Spent $200 Million and Isn’t on Track to Score a Single Delegate.

 


Frenetic Friday Reads: Everything’s a Mess

Frenetic spray painted bird by L7M (street art)

Good Morning!!

It feels as if the world is in a permanent state of chaos, and much–though not all–of the mess can be laid at the feet of Trump and his GOP cult.

For example, if Trump had not impulsively ordered the assassination of Iranian General Soleimani, this would not have happened and 176 people would still be alive. The New York Times: Video Shows Ukrainian Plane Being Hit Over Iran.

Video verified by The New York Times appears to show an Iranian missile hitting a plane near Tehran’s airport, the area where a Ukrainian jet crashed on Wednesday, killing all 176 people on board.

As investigators work to determine an official cause of the accident, the video offered new clues about the crash, which came hours after a violent confrontation between Iran and the United States. American and allied officials on Thursday said they believed an Iranian missile had accidentally brought the plane down.

A small explosion occurred when what appears to be a missile hit the plane above Parand, a city near the airport, but the plane did not explode, the video showed. The jet continued flying for several minutes and turned back toward the airport, The Times has determined. The plane, which by then had stopped transmitting its signal, flew toward the airport ablaze before it exploded and crashed quickly, other videos verified by The Times showed.

Joan Miró Danseuse-Créole, 1978

Visual and sonic clues in the footage also matched flight path information and satellite imagery of the area near where the plane crashed. The satellite images were taken on Thursday and provided to The Times by Maxar Technologies, a space technology company.

Trump’s foreign policy is a chaotic disaster, Fareed Zacharia writes at The Washington Post: Trump does not have a foreign policy. He has a series of impulses.

CNBC: Iraqi PM tells US to start working on troop withdrawal.

Iraq’s caretaker prime minister asked the U.S. secretary of state to start working out a road map for an American troop withdrawal from Iraq, his office said Friday, signaling his insistence on ending the U.S. military presence despite recent moves to de-escalate tensions between Iran and the U.S.

Adel Abdul-Mahdi made the request in a telephone call with Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Thursday night, his office said in a statement. He also told Pompeo that recent U.S. strikes in Iraq were an unacceptable breach of Iraqi sovereignty and a violation of the two countries’ security agreements.

The Iraqi leader asked Pompeo to “send delegates to Iraq to prepare a mechanism to carry out the parliament’s resolution regarding the withdrawal of foreign troops from Iraq,” according to the statement.

“The prime minister said American forces had entered Iraq and drones are flying in its airspace without permission from Iraqi authorities and this was a violation of the bilateral agreements,” the statement added.

By Gladys Nilsson

At Vanity Fair, Nick Bilton describes how Iran could hit the U.S. with cyberattacks: “That’s Where Things Really Get Scary”: Gaming Out An Iranian Cyberattack.

While several possible scenarios could manifest from the latest Donald Trump-led global conflict, including everything from things blowing over (unlikely) to World War III (also unlikely, but possible), the skirmish that is most probable, and the one Americans should be most worried about, would take place in cyberspace. The potential for an army of computers to produce deadly results is very real. Power grids could be shut down for days, or weeks, or indefinitely. The stock market could be knocked offline or sent into free fall by hackers. Water supplies could be poisoned; driverless cars could be used like battering rams or to mow down Americans en masse; simple corporate espionage could tank the economy. A tad dramatic? Sure. All very possible scenarios? Absolutely.

The Iranian hornet nest Trump just kicked has been training for a digital skirmish for years, according to a former State Department official I recently spoke with. As the Department of Homeland Security warned in a bulletin on Saturday, “Previous homeland-based plots have included, among other things, scouting and planning against infrastructure targets and cyber enabled attacks against a range of U.S.-based targets.” The agency noted that “Iran maintains a robust cyber program and can execute cyber attacks against the United States. Iran is capable, at a minimum, of carrying out attacks with temporary disruptive effects against critical infrastructure in the United States.”

With these kinds of attacks, the death toll could far outweigh that of typical warfare. As Ambassador Henry Cooper, the former director of the U.S. Strategic Defense Initiative and a preeminent expert on missile defenses and space weapons, has said, a successful attack on the American power grids could shut down the “U.S. electric power grid for an indefinite period, leading to the death within a year of up to 90% of all Americans,” or 297 million.

Yikes! Head over to Vanity Fair to read the rest.

Frenetic Lines, by Karine Molloy

Thanks to Trump, Mitch McConnell, and GOP Senators, election security is questionable at best.

The New York Times:  ‘Chaos Is the Point’: Russian Hackers and Trolls Grow Stealthier in 2020.

The National Security Agency and its British counterpart issued an unusual warning in October: The Russians were back and growing stealthier.

Groups linked to Russia’s intelligence agencies, they noted, had recently been uncovered boring into the network of an elite Iranian hacking unit and attacking governments and private companies in the Middle East and Britain — hoping Tehran would be blamed for the havoc.

For federal and state officials charged with readying defenses for the 2020 election, it was a clear message that the next cyberwar was not going to be like the last. The landscape is evolving, and the piggybacking on Iranian networks was an example of what America’s election-security officials and experts face as the United States enters what is shaping up to be an ugly campaign season marred by hacking and disinformation.

American defenses have vastly improved in the four years since Russian hackers and trolls mounted a broad campaign to sway the 2016 presidential election. Facebook is looking for threats it barely knew existed in 2016, such as fake ads paid for in rubles and self-proclaimed Texas secessionists logging in from St. Petersburg. Voting officials are learning about bots, ransomware and other vectors of digital mischief. Military officials are considering whether to embrace information warfare and retaliate against election interference by hacking senior Russian officials and leaking their personal emails or financial information.

Yet interviews with dozens of officials and experts make clear that many of the vulnerabilities exploited by Moscow in 2016 remain.

Read the rest at the NYT.

Wassily kandinsky, Composition VII (1913)

The Washington Post: The Cybersecurity 202: Voting vendors, security pros still far apart on protecting 2020 election.

Voting machine companies and cybersecurity advocates are still miles apart on what it will take to secure 2020 against Russian hackers. 

During a nearly three-hour congressional hearing yesterday, security advocates sounded alarm bells about possible election hacks, warning machines in use today can be easily compromised. Companies, meanwhile, mostly defended the status quo.

At one point, the chief executive of Hart InterCivic, one of three major companies that control more than 80 percent of the voting machine market, even defended selling paperless voting machines that can’t be audited and that top security experts and the Department of Homeland Security have warned are far too vulnerable in an era when elections are being targeted by sophisticated Russian hackers…

The divisions highlighted how, despite three years of surging congressional attention to election security since Russia’s 2016 hacking efforts, there has been almost no government oversight of voting machine makers themselves.

House Administration Committee Chair Zoe Lofgren (D-Calif.) opened the hearing noting that “there are more federal regulations for ballpoint pens and magic markers than there are for voting systems” — quoting Lawrence Norden, director of the Election Reform Program at New York University’s Brennan Center for Justice.

David Koloane, Johannesburg

Don’t forget what Trump has done to Puerto Rico. The Washington Post: Hit by devastating earthquakes, Puerto Rico still waiting on billions for hurricane relief.

As Puerto Rico weathers devastating earthquakes, the island is still waiting on more than $18 billion in federal funding that was designated after hurricanes that struck more than two years ago. On Thursday, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) accused the Trump administration of acting unlawfully in withholding the money and called on officials to “cease and desist that illegal activity.”

The holdup has continued past a congressionally mandated deadline last fall for more than $8 billion of the aid to be officially announced. As aftershocks continued to shake the U.S. territory after a 6.4-magnitude earthquake Tuesday morning, Democrats sought to refocus attention on the delayed hurricane aid, while questioning whether the federal government will give Puerto Rico what it needs to recover this time.

“I think it puts a considerable burden on the administration to show good faith,” said Rep. David E. Price (D-N.C.), pointing to President Trump’s history of criticizing Puerto Rico and moving to slow the disbursement of money. “And in this case, good faith involves not just responding to this latest disaster, but cleaning up from the previous one as well.”

An ongoing dispute over Puerto Rico could also become an issue in the presidential election. Residents of Puerto Rico cannot vote in federal elections, even though they are U.S. citizens, but many live and cast ballots in Florida, a critical swing state.


Thursday Reads: What does it mean when the prevailing cooler heads are in Iran?

Good Afternoon Sky Dancers!

I continue to be gobsmacked by exactly how lawless the Trumpist regime has become. Fortunately, Iran decided to signal what it could do to US bases with a warning shot at US Troops rather than providing a full show of force.  The second and third order conditions are now playing out.  It appears that an Iranian missile may have accidentally taken down that Ukrainian commercial airliner killing all on board.

This is the latest from Newsweek on what may be the first tragedy in the fog of war in the latest hostilities between the two nations.

Ukraine International Airlines Flight 752, a Boeing 737–800 en route from Tehran Imam Khomeini International Airpot to Kyiv’s Boryspil International Airport, stopped transmitting data Tuesday just minutes after takeoff and not long after Iran launched missiles at military bases housing U.S. and allied forces in neighboring Iraq. The aircraft is believed to have been struck by a Russia-built Tor-M1 surface-to-air missile system, known to NATO as Gauntlet, the three officials, who were not authorized to speak publicly on the matter, told Newsweek.

One Pentagon and one U.S senior intelligence official told Newsweek that the Pentagon’s assessment is that the incident was accidental. Iran’s anti-aircraft were likely active following the country’s missile attack, which came in response to the U.S. killing last week of Revolutionary Guard Quds Force commander Major General Qassem Soleimani, sources said.

U.S. Central Command declined to comment on the matter when contacted by Newsweek. No reply was returned from the National Security Council or State Department.

Of the 176 people on board, 82 were Iranian, 63 were Canadian and 11 were Ukrainian (including nine crewmembers), along with 10 Swedish, seven Afghan and three German nationals. None survived.

Image result for images vintage photos winter scenes

The Senate is getting anxious to deal with Trump’s impeachment.  Here are some of the latest headlines.

Allan Smith / NBC News:
Top House Democrat: ‘Time to send’ articles of impeachment to Senate

Some Democrats in the House and Senate have joined Republicans in recent days in saying it’s time for Pelosi to send the articles to the Senate.

After initially saying in an interview Thursday morning that he thought Pelosi should submit the articles, Rep. Adam Smith, D-Wash., backtracked, tweeting that he “misspoke.”

The initial comments from Smith, chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, came as several Democratic senators this week called on Pelosi to send the articles to Senate Majority Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., so the impeachment trial can begin.

“I understand what the speaker is trying to do, basically trying to use the leverage of that to work with Democratic and Republican senators to try to get a reasonable trial, a trial that would actually show evidence, bring out witnesses,” Smith told CNN. “But at the end of the day, just like we control it in the House, Mitch McConnell controls it in the Senate.”

 

Image result for images vintage photos winter scenes black americans

The sticking point continues to be allowing witnesses to Testify that were blocked from testifying before the House.  Also, if the Republicans will be able to force the country to go down the Biden/Ukraine conspiracy theory by bringing both Bidens in and subjecting them to the Benghazi treatment

Paul Rosenzweig / The Atlantic:
Trials Are for Evidence 

There was no pre-impeachment criminal investigation of Trump’s efforts to compel Ukraine to pursue the alleged corruption of his political opponent. There were no lawyers and FBI investigators interviewing witnesses. There was no grand jury—merely the cumbersome House-committee process. That process didn’t last nine months; it lasted less than three. Rather than produce tens of thousands of documents, the White House and the executive branch withheld almost all those subpoenaed by the House. Likewise, rather than eventually allowing executive-branch witnesses to testify, the White House stonewalled the House inquiry: President Trump successfully frustrated the House’s efforts to hear from witnesses like former White House Counsel Don McGahn and former National Security Adviser John Bolton. And of course, President Trump never told his side of the story under oath.

So, unlike with Clinton, the Trump impeachment investigation is incomplete. Far from being given an exhaustive record on which to make a determination, the Senate has received only part of the story from the House. The Senate is not in the position of wondering whether, for example, John Bolton was truthful in what he has said already. Rather, if he is called to testify, the Senate will hear what he has to say for the first time. The process now isn’t about credibility; it’s about establishing facts.

Senator McConnell’s proffered analogy to the Clinton impeachment is ill-considered, if not disingenuous. While the Senate might, with some justification, have thought that the evidence was complete and that no witnesses were necessary to decide the Clinton matter, it cannot reasonably make the same claim now. Though the analogy of a House impeachment to a grand-jury indictment is rather strained, it does carry a bit of truth: The House has found sufficient evidence to start an impeachment trial, and it is up to the Senate now to conduct a more in-depth inquiry—a trial. Trials are for hearing evidence. That task lies before the Senate.

Clearly, Speaker Pelosi is not impressed by McConnell’s posturing to date.

And, members of both Houses are not impressed with the briefing by the Trumpist regime on the assassination of Soleimani.

Greg Sargent / Washington Post:

GOP senator who erupted over Iran briefing shares awful new details

If President Trump made the decision to assassinate the supreme leader of Iran, would he need to come to Congress to get authorization for it?

The Trump administration won’t say.

That remarkable claim is now being made by a Republican senator — Mike Lee of Utah. He offered it in a new interview with NPR, in which he shared fresh details about why he erupted in anger on Wednesday over the briefing Congress received from the administration on Iran.

As you know, Lee’s comments went viral Wednesday after he ripped into the briefing given to lawmakers about Trump’s decision to assassinate Maj. Gen. Qasem Soleimani.

Lee, echoing the complaints of many Democrats, blasted the briefing on the intelligence behind the assassination as the “worst” he’d ever seen. He also fumed that officials refused to acknowledge any “hypothetical” situations in which they would come to Congress for authorization for future military hostilities against Iran.

Now, in the interview with NPR’s Rachel Martin, Lee has gone into more alarming detail. Lee reiterated that officials “were unable or unwilling to identify any point” at which they’d come to Congress for authorization for the use of military force.

Image result for images vintage photos winter scenes

Trumpist Regime officials warned Congress to not ask too many questions and not to debate war powers.  This is really surreal since the Constitution is clear on this.   It’s just another pretzel we find ourselves in over the Constitutionality of a lawless president and the people protecting him.

On the eve of a House vote Thursday, Defense Secretary Mark Esper urged Congress not to debate limits to President Donald Trump’s power to strike Iran because doing so might embolden Tehran and hurt U.S. troops, multiple sources tell ABC News.

The suggestion by Esper, in a classified briefing for lawmakers on Wednesday, enraged some members, including Utah Republican Sen. Mike Lee, who swiftly marched to the television cameras following the 75-minute briefing to declare it “insulting.” Lee said the briefing felt like being told to be “good little boys and girls and run along and not debate this in public.”

“I find that absolutely insane,” he said.

Related image

Pence is now justifying holding information back from even the Gang of Eight which is virtually unprecedented. The rationale?  Congress might compromise methods and sources.  That’s rich coming from  the shadow of the man whose speech just–and once again–presented highly classified information on sonic weapons under development.

Vice President Mike Pence responded Thursday to lawmakers, including Republicans, who criticized the lack of information shared by the Trump administration during classified congressional briefings on the killing of Iranian Gen. Qassem Soleimani, saying the intelligence was too sensitive to share.

On NBC’s “TODAY,” Pence told Savannah Guthrie that the administration could not provide Congress with some of the “most compelling” intelligence behind the administration’s decision to kill Soleimani because doing so “could compromise” sources and methods.

“Some of that has to do with what’s called sources and methods,” Pence said. “Some of the most compelling evidence that Qassem Soleimani was preparing an imminent attack against American forces and American personnel also represents some of the most sensitive intelligence that we have — it could compromise those sources and methods.”

Pence said “those of us” who were made aware of the intelligence “in real time know that President Trump made the right decision to take Qassem Soleimani off the battlefield.” He added that Soleimani “was planning imminent attacks against American forces.”

In killing Soleimani, leader of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, the Trump administration said it launched the attack because of intelligence that showed Soleimani was planning “imminent” attacks on U.S. personnel. But the administration has yet to make public the evidence behind that assertion and, according to Democratic and two Republican senators, it did not detail that intelligence in a classified setting on Wednesday.

Trump–in a scrum today–mentioned it was because of attacks on the Baghdad Embassy even though it was clear all of that was coming from Iraqi proxies and there is still no real evidence of any actual bigger plans of an attack.

This increasing looks likes Benghazi reaction formation. He doesn’t want to be seen by any one in the same light as Clinton or Obama seriously overreacts at anything that might leak up to what he perceives as their weakness. However, his January speech definitely showed his continual physical and mental decline.

So, I really am revisiting more of those things that I assumed would remain as characteristics of our nation. Clearly, we are not in the position of claiming to be the temperament and thoughtful nation.  Maybe it’s because I finally got used to the No Drama Obama model where we sometimes took what seemed like ages to arrive at actions and policy. Now, it’s totally a shoot from the hip of a psychologically and neurologically challenged individual surrounded by End Times Nutters who lie the majority  of the time.  Fact Checking that speech gave us peek Pinocchio numbers. It’s a very long list.  Sit down with a good cup of coffee.

Anyway, I have to prep for a Financial Engineering class I teaching starting next Wednesday so I need to switch from the real weapons of mass destruction to the financial ones (h/t to Warren Buffet). It is quite math and a bit like teaching physics so it’s that too.  My hair will be totally gray by the end but at least it’s all good students from seniors to mbas to doctoral students so there’s that.  AND, it’s back on the ground at my old University so I will have a G/A.  Yippie!

What’s on your reading an blogging list today?