Sunday Sum Up: Quo Vadis?

Good Afternoon Sky Dancers!

It’s Persian New Year!  Yesterday was National Puppy Day!  I’ve been looking at all kinds of things to find some distractions but I still fell empty and wanting from my nearly 2 year relationship with Robert Mueller.  I can’t help asking what does this break up mean?  Is it really over?  Where do we go from here?

I appear not to be alone in my search for clues and answers.  So, here it is … the morning list of reads of what’s next  or entering the next phase of throwing the entire Trump/Kushner family syndicate in jail and out of the White House.

 

!Oh, and this:

Plus, mmm this:

Continuing on ..

and, for your consideration …

Well, go read and get back to me …

JJ should be back this week.   And, this is an open thread, no, really it is …

Meanwhile, here are some puppies to celebrate National Puppy Day a day late!!!

And read all about Nowruz (Persian New Year) here.

 


Ides of March Reads

It’s Mueller Friday Sky Dancers!

And it’s the Ides of March!  Who needs to beware today?

Let’s start with this from Reuters: “Mueller, in U.S. court filing, says multiple probes continue” and asks for a sentencing delay for Rick Gates.  I imagine he’s cooperating on the Trump inauguration scam but it’s just a guess on my part.

 The U.S. Special Counsel’s Office on Friday asked a court to delay sentencing for U.S. President Donald Trump’s former deputy campaign chairman, Rick Gates, amid “ongoing investigations” stemming from the Russia investigation.

In a filing with the U.S. District Court in Washington, U.S. Special Counsel Robert Mueller cited Gates’ continued cooperation with multiple probes and asked permission to update the judge on the case again by May 14.

“Gates continues to cooperate with respect to several ongoing investigations, and accordingly the parties do not believe it is appropriate to commence the sentencing process at this time,” Mueller’s team said in the court filing.

Gates is probably the one person who is still in the best position to spill a lot of beans in a lot of areas.  He was active during and past the campaign and transition.  This is from the AP via ABC News.

Gates is a central figure in special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation of Russian election interference and possible coordination with the Trump campaign. But he is also helping federal authorities in New York who are looking into Trump’s inaugural committee as well as lobbying on behalf of foreign interests by prominent Washington insiders.

The joint filing by Mueller’s office and Gates’ attorneys comes amid signs the Russia investigation is winding down. But it’s unclear if Friday’s delay is an indication that Mueller may submit his confidential report soon or if it’s related to the status of the other investigations.

The filing asked for another 60 days to update U.S. District Judge Amy Berman Jackson on whether Gates can proceed to sentencing. The judge granted the request later Friday.

Gates pleaded guilty last year to conspiracy and false statement charges related to Ukrainian lobbying and political consulting he carried out with former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort, who has been sentenced to more than seven years in prison.

Gates helped the government in obtaining a trial conviction of Manafort last year. Prosecutors have noted that he continues to provide information about Manafort’s time on the Trump campaign, though neither man has been charged with any crimes related to Russian election interference.

Still, Mueller prosecutor Andrew Weissmann, who led the Manafort case, told a federal judge earlier this year that a meeting Gates attended with Manafort in August 2016 went to the “heart” of the Russia investigation. The meeting at the Grand Havana Room cigar club in New York was with Konstantin Kilimnik, a longtime Manafort associate who the FBI says has ties to Russian intelligence.

Prosecutors have not revealed exactly what piqued their interest in the meeting, though court papers show it involved a discussion of a possible Russia-Ukraine peace plan.

Separately, federal prosecutors in New York are investigating the Presidential Inaugural Committee, where Gates served in a senior role. Investigators are looking into whether foreigners illegally contributed to the committee, which raised $107 million for Trump’s inaugural events, and how that money was spent.

The same office is also investigating lobbying for Ukraine in which Gates was involved.

Another mass murder by white nationalist terrorists shocks the world.

Yesterday, New Zealand became a site of right wing white nationalist terror.  There were mass shootings at Muslim Mosques that have taken many lives. A video from the attacks has been streaming on the internet and is said to be from an attacker.

Facebook, where a man claiming to be the attacker livestreamed footage of the shootings, removed the original video about an hour later, but by that time copies of the footage had started to circulate across other social media sites.

Facebook’s community standards explicitly ban “individuals engaged in mass murder” from having a presence on its network, and the company has deleted the account associated with the suspect. But eight hours after the attack videos were still live, obscured behind a warning that they may “show violent or graphic content” but not deleted.

Traditional news outlets have taken starkly different positions. MailOnline’s version of the story features an autoplaying clip of 18 seconds of the suspect’s livestream, showing him leaving his car, weapon in hand, cutting it as he enters the front door of Al Noor mosque on Deans Avenue. There was a version of the clip autoplaying on its homepage.

The Sun took a similar approach. A spokesman for the paper told the Guardian: “We recognise that in the aftermath of horrific events such as these there will be sensitivities around reporting, and we take those responsibilities seriously.

“We have thought long and hard about how much of the easily available material currently on social media we should host on our site in order to shed light on this barbarous attack and the twisted ‘motive’ behind it. We have not published any video which depicts any act of actual violence, nor have we published or linked to the hate-filled manifesto.”

On the Mirror’s website, a longer clip of the same video led the story, showing the same footage of the attacker entering the mosque, cutting over the footage of the attack, and resuming the clip as the gunman walks back out of the building towards his car. That video was removed following inquiries from the Guardian, and the paper’s editor later apologised, saying “It is not in line with our policy relating to terrorist propaganda videos.”

A Fox News Analyst has found bottom on what not to say about an attack of this magnitude.  No thoughts and prayers from the Fox propaganda lair. This is from the Daily Beast.

Fox News analyst Walid Phares called Friday’s white nationalist terrorist attackin Christchurch, New Zealand, that killed 49 people and injured 40 others, “very understandable” on a “political level.” Phares said that New Zealand has now joined countries fighting terrorism “on all sides” adding, it’s very understandable what (the shooter) was trying to do on a political level, obviously it’s horrific and should be condemned completely on the action level.” Earlier in the segment, Phares called the horrific attack “pure evil, more than that it’s successful pure evil.” “Unfortunately New Zealand now has joined the community of probably 100 countries that are fighting terrorism from any side and all sides, mosques, churches have been attacked by extremists on all sides.” Phares is an author and right-wing political pundit. He worked for the Republican presidential campaigns of Mitt Romney in 2012, and President Donald Trump in 2016.

The primary attacker has left a manifesto which can be found on The Daily Mail.  The DM also shared the first person footage of the attack.

The Daily Mail’s website uploaded the Christchurch mosque attacker’s 74-page “manifesto”, allowing readers to download the entire document just hours after the massacre on Friday which left at least 49 people dead.

The Mail was one of several British news outlets which defied requests from New Zealand police on Friday not to spread the terrorist’s first-person footage, which had been repeatedly shared across social media platforms in the wake of the attack.

The latest news is that there are 49 confirmed dead.  Four suspects have been arrested to include one woman.

KEY POINTS:
• 49 confirmed dead in ‘terrorist’ shootings at two Christchurch mosques
• Seven died at Linwood, 41 at mosque near Hagley Park
• Four people initially arrested, including one woman
• Man, 28 due in court tomorrow charged with murder
• One of the gunmen livestreamed shooting at Al Noor Mosque in chilling 17-min video

Forty-nine people have been killed and 48 more hurt after mass shootings at two Christchurch mosques in the worst terror attack on New Zealand soil.

Nour Tavis said he was in the front row of the Al Noor Mosque in Deans Ave with his friend when the shooting started. At first they did not know what the noise was.

“Then we heard screaming … everyone panicked,” he said. “There was shooting and shooting and shooting … people were running and all of a sudden you saw them fall.”

Tavis saw someone smash a window and jump out. “It was the only way to escape,” he said. “I followed.”

As he and others ran for cover the shooting carried on inside the mosque.

The questions now start about where these folks are getting their inspirations.  Here’s some speculation from WAPO’s James McAuley.  The sources is the main suspect’s manifesto.

Before embarking on a deadly shooting rampage Friday targeting Muslim worshipers in Christchurch, New Zealand, the suspected gunman — a 28-year-old, self-styled “regular white man from a regular family” — posted a 74-page manifesto on Twitter.

The sprawling, angry text sheds some light on the motivation behind an attack that killed 49 Muslims during Friday prayers and wounded dozens of others. Among other things, that suspect — who Christchurch police say posted the manifesto and whom they have since charged with murder — wrote that a trip to France in 2017 convinced him that the country was under “invasion” by “nonwhites.”

“The final push was witnessing the state of French cities and towns. For many years I had been hearing and reading of the invasion of France by nonwhites, many of these rumors and stories I believed to be exaggerations, created to push a political narrative,” the suspect wrote.

“But once I arrived in France, I found the stories not only to be true, but profoundly understated,” he continued. A significant detail is that the suspect titled his manifesto “The Great Replacement,” a clear reference to the title of a 2012 book by right-wing French polemicist Renaud Camus.

In that book, Camus expounds on the “theory” that Europe’s white majority is being replaced by nonwhite North African and sub-Saharan African immigrants, many of whom are Muslim.

The “great replacement” has been a battle cry of the French far right, even after immigration arrivals into Europe fell significantly after their peak in 2015. In the words of Marion Maréchal, granddaughter of convicted Holocaust denier Jean-Marie Le Pen and a darling of the American far right, the idea perfectly corresponds to reality.

Unsurprisingly, the shooter also finds inspiration in the current occupant of the US White House.  I am fully ashamed of this.  This is from Salon and the keyboard of Chauncey DeVega.

Words are weapons. Those weapons can be lethal.

The president of the United States gives both permission and encouragement for public’s behavior, values and norms. This is true both in the United States and around the world. He or she is that powerful.

Earlier on Friday, a 28-year-old white man who appears to have described himself as “an actual fascist” entered two mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand, armed with assault rifles and killed at least 49 people, injuring many 20 others. New Zealand authorities also report that the attacker had placed two explosive devices on his vehicle, which apparently did not detonate.

In an especially gruesome contemporary twist, the gunman apparently streamed parts of the terror attack live on Facebook. Although that feed and other accounts apparently associated with the shooter have been taken down, the New York Times reports that both the 17-minute video and a manifesto apparently posted by the shooter have been widely disseminated on social media.

Three men and one woman have been taken into custody by New Zealand law enforcement, who have since said that one of those people is likely not involved. At this writing, reports suggest that the 28-year-old man, who by his own account was born and raised in Australia, may have been the sole shooter.

hat man appears to have posted his hate-filled manifesto online before the attack. In it, he rages against “Islamic invaders” who are “occupying European soil,” and specifically writes that he used guns to commit this massacre in order to call attention to debate about the Second Amendment in the United States. The alleged mass murderer also wrote that he had donated money to American white supremacist organizations, and quoted the “14 words” pledge often used by white supremacists and neo-Nazis.

According to various reports, the alleged terrorist specifically cited President Trump as an inspiration. His online manifesto praises Trump as “a symbol of renewed white identity and common purpose.”

Friday’s massacre appears to be another example of what is known as “stochastic terrorism” or “scripted violence.” It is also another case study in how right-wing terrorists, with no official group affiliation, can be radicalized online

Stephen A. Crockett Jr.–writing for The Root– leaves us with this lede. “New Zealand Mosques Shooting Suspect Called Trump a ‘Symbol of White Supremacy’ and Claimed He Was Just a ‘Regular White Man’ Ensuring a ‘Future for My People’ “

The suspected gunman who killed dozens of worshippers inside two New Zealand mosques is an Australian man who reportedly posted a 74-page manifesto that called Donald Trump as a “symbol of white supremacy” before the shooting .

According to Yahoo News, the alleged killer who live-streamed the attack identified himself as Brenton Tarrant. He claimed that he was motivated by “far-right extremism he saw in the United States to carry out the attack at Al Noor Mosque.”

The shooting left 49 people dead inside two mosques. Some 41 people were killed inside Masjid Al Noor mosque in central Christchurch while several more were killed inside Linwood Masjid Mosque.

The suspect was captured and has been charged with murder. Three other people are also being held in custody, Yahoo News reports.

Someone using the username ‘Brenton Tarrant 9’ posted footage of the attack that “shows the gunman firing 205 times on men, woman and children and stopping only to reload his weapons.”

The last few years have put the worst of our country on display.  It is out there inspiring the worst of humanity.  Not a day goes by that I do not wonder what type of hell realm beings find inspiration in this atrocious lump of air brushed flesh.  Well, we see at least one of them today.  It’s at this point where you know that thoughts and prayers can never be enough.

What’s on your reading and blogging list today?


Frantic Friday Reads: Epic Choices

Good Afternoon Sky Dancers!

We’re having another one of those mega news drop days so this thread will be a bit disjointed. However,chaos whispering is the rule of day for media.  It doesn’t seem to be rule of the day with the various Trump corruption, collusion, and constitution-breaking investigations plodding ever forward.  Paul Manafort chose poorly in the Grail search.  Even if does get to sip from the chalice of Pardons by Trump the Pretender, he’ll get the cold, dank dungeon from the State of New York.

“New York Has Prepared Paul Manafort Charges If Trump Pardons Him” is posted by Bloomberg Politics and written by Greg Farelle.

New York state prosecutors have put together a criminal case against Paul Manafort that they could file quickly if the former chairman of Donald Trump’s 2016 campaign receives a presidential pardon.

New York County District Attorney Cyrus Vance Jr. is ready to file an array of tax and other charges against Manafort, according to two people familiar with the matter, something seen as an insurance policy should the president exercise his power to free the former aide. Skirting laws that protect defendants from being charged twice for the same offense has been one of Vance’s challenges.

Manafort was convicted of eight felonies, pleaded guilty to two more and is scheduled to be sentenced next month for those federal crimes. Prosecutors working for Special Counsel Robert Mueller have recommended as long as 24 years, a virtual life sentence, for the 69-year-old political consultant.

The president, who has bemoaned Manafort’s treatment at the hands of Mueller, said in November that he has not ruled out a pardon. He has frequently talked of his broad pardon power, possibly extending even to himself, and acted to liberate two political allies previously.

Divvying out transgressions was an obvious strategy by those conducting the central DOJ investigations.  There was an overriding concern that it was just a matter of time before a Trump administration lackey would try to shut the entire operation down. We’ve learned a lot about that since the release of Andrew McCabe’s book.  Phillip Bump argues–for the Washington Post–that the Manfort report has been slowing writing itself in a series of indictments and page turns along the way.  Be sure to check out his graphic on the “product’ of the Mueller probe which consists of the stack of already filed indictments and guilty pleas.  It’s actually from Marcy Wheeler who has been doing a great investigative job herself.

President Trump has benefited enormously from the frog-in-hot-water nature of special counsel Robert S. Mueller III’s investigation into his campaign and possible overlap with Russian efforts to influence the 2016 election.

Imagine if, instead of Mueller releasing new public indictments as he went along, leveraging criminal charges to obtain more information from the targets of his probe, he instead had kept his information private. Imagine if he and his lawyers had been working in quiet for 20 months, submitting expenses to the Department of Justice and suffering the president’s tweeted ferocity.

And then, after all of that, they suddenly produced a dozen indictments and plea deals running into hundreds of pages, detailing former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort’s illegal and questionable financial dealings, those of his deputy Rick Gates, full details of Russia’s alleged efforts to influence social media and to steal electronic information from Democratic targets and detailed a half-dozen people who admitted to lying to federal investigators.

Imagine if that had landed with a thud on the attorney general’s desk.

Yeah, but I’m still waiting for Don Jr’s turn in the handcuffs and I shall have it!  I will admit that watching Roger Stone get his comeuppance is mildly thrilling.  There is some speculation that a final “tell all” will happen during the next court sessions for Manafort.  He is due in March for the Virginia sentencing. This is from Katelyn Polentz reporting for CNN. The sentencing memo is due today to the DC District.

It is the last major requisite court filing in Mueller’s longest running case, a sprawling prosecution of the former Trump campaign manager that led investigators to gather exhaustive information about his hidden Cypriot bank accounts, Ukrainian political efforts in Europe and the US and into Manafort’s time on the 2016 presidential campaign.
Prosecutors are set to outline all facts they believe the judge should consider at his sentencing, now set for March 13. That will likely include Manafort’s criminal business schemes, his attempt to reach out to key contacts after his arrest and the lies he told to prosecutors and a grand jury after he agreed to cooperate with the Mueller investigation.
Often, in filings like these, prosecutors will pull together a complete retelling of the defendant’s crimes, convictions and cooperation. Details about Manafort’s cooperation have been especially guarded by prosecutors, since his interviews are a significant part of Mueller’s investigation into Russian influence in the 2016 presidential election.
Prosecutors will also likely suggest a range the judge could give him in prison time.
The memo Friday will cover the two charges Manafort pleaded guilty to in September, conspiracy against the US and conspiracy witness tampering, which he committed after he was arrested by trying to reach out to former colleagues.
At the time of his plea, he also admitted to a litany of money laundering and foreign lobbying crimes that encompassed his work for Ukrainian politicians and other clients over several years. Co-conspirators, Manafort said, were his long-time colleagues Rick Gates, who is still cooperating with Mueller, and Konstantin Kilimnik, whom prosecutors say is connected to Russian intelligence and who is at the heart of their inquiry.
The memo will also likely cover his and Kilimnik’s alleged contact with potential witnesses in his case after Manafort’s October 2017 arrest, and his lies about his interactions with Kilimnik in 2016 and other topics.

arthurRepresentative Adam Schiff–chair of the House Intel Committee–has written an “open” letter to Republicans. It’s been published by WAPO.

This is a moment of great peril for our democracy. Our country is deeply divided. Our national discourse has become coarse, indeed, poisonous. Disunity and dysfunction have paralyzed Congress.

And while our attention is focused inward, the world spins on, new authoritarian regimes are born, old rivals spread their pernicious ideologies, and the space for freedom-loving peoples begins to contract violently. At last week’s Munich Security Conference, the prevailing sentiment among our closest allies is that the United States can no longer be counted on to champion liberal democracy or defend the world order we built.

For the past two years, we have examined Russia’s interference in the 2016 election and its attempts to influence the 2018 midterms. Moscow’s effort to undermine our democracy was spectacularly successful in inflaming racial, ethnic and other divides in our society and turning American against American.

But the attack on our democracy had its limits. Russian President Vladimir Putin could not lead us to distrust our own intelligence agencies or the FBI. He could not cause us to view our own free press as an enemy of the people. He could not undermine the independence of the Justice Department or denigrate judges. Only we could do that to ourselves. Although many forces have contributed to the decline in public confidence in our institutions, one force stands out as an accelerant, like gas on a fire. And try as some of us might to avoid invoking the arsonist’s name, we must say it.

I speak, of course, of our president, Donald Trump.

Trump continues to have a devastating impact on our Country and all aspects of life and law. There is a lot of concern about what he will do in Vietnam while being tricked by the North Korean Dictator.  Eliana Johnson of Politico writes this:  “Trump aides worry he’ll get outfoxed in North Korea talks President Trump is excited to meet Kim Jong Un in Hanoi. Others fear he’ll give too much away.

The push for a second summit came almost entirely from the president himself, according to current and former White House officials — but Trump remains undeterred. He has gushed about the “wonderful letters” he has received from Kim, as well as the “good rapport” he has developed with the North Korean leader and the enormous media coverage the event in Vietnam’s capital is likely to attract. Trump even bragged, in a phone call Tuesday with South Korean President Moon Jae-in, that he is the only person who can make progress on denuclearizing the Korean Peninsula, according to a person briefed on the conversation, and complained about negative news coverage he has received.

Inside the administration, concern about the upcoming summit has come from predictable skeptics, including national security adviser John Bolton, a longtime opponent of diplomacy with North Korea, but also from unexpected corners. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, the man charged with leading the negotiations, has expressed frustration to allies about the lack of diplomatic progress and voiced concern that his boss will get outmaneuvered, according to a source with direct knowledge of the conversations. Other top officials, such as former Defense Secretary James Mattis, simply worked to keep as much distance from the negotiations as possible.

“There is not optimism in the administration,” said Ian Bremmer, founder and president of the Eurasia Group. “Pompeo is deeply skeptical that we are going to get anything of substance on denuclearization from Kim Jong Un, and Pompeo believes the North Koreans are just playing for time.”

Jared’s busy heading off to the middle east to push through more bad policy but gee, his fortunes have suddenly taken off.

Kushner Cos., the family real-estate company of President Trump’s son-in-law and senior adviser Jared Kushner, said it has acquired a portfolio of rental apartments for $1.1 billion in the firm’s largest transaction in more than a decade.

The purchase comes less than a year after the company unloaded a Manhattan office tower at 666 Fifth Avenue to Brookfield Asset Management Inc. in a deal that valued the property at about $1.25 billion.

The earlier transaction, in which Brookfield leased the office building for 99 years, relieved Kushner Cos. of $1.1 billion in debt due this year. That liability had been hanging over the firm and had raised questions about whether Kushner Cos. had the means to transact any large deals.

The acquisition of more than 6,000 rental apartments in Maryland and Virginia from the private-equity firm Lone Star Funds is the clearest sign yet that Kushner Cos. is re-emerging after that period of uncertainty.

The firm, headed by Jared Kushner’s father, Charles Kushner, has faced increased scrutiny over potential conflicts of interest since Mr. Trump took office and Jared Kushner and his wife, Ivanka Trump, began working in the White House.

So that’s happening here, while this is going on in the MENA region.  This is from the UK Independent. “Trump administration ‘pushing Saudi nuclear deal’ which could benefit company linked to Jared Kushner. Congressional report cites ‘abnormal acts’ in White House regarding proposal to build reactors in kingdom.”

Senior Trump administration officials pushed a project to share nuclear power technology with Saudi Arabia over the objections of ethics officials, according to a congressional report, in a move that could have benefitted a company which has since provided financial relief to the family of Jared Kushner.

Citing whistleblowers within the US government, the report by the Democrat-led House oversight and reform committee alleges “abnormal acts” in the White House regarding the proposal to build dozens of nuclear reactors across the kingdom.

The committee on Tuesday opened an investigation into the allegations, which include concerns over whether White House officials in the early months of the Trump administration sought to work around national security procedures to push a Saudi deal that could have financially benefited close supporters of the US president.

According to the report, the nuclear effort was pushed by former national security adviser Michael Flynn, who was fired in early 2017 and is awaiting sentencing for lying to the FBI in the Russia investigation.

Derek Harvey, a National Security Council official brought in by Flynn, continued work on the proposal, which has remained under consideration by the Trump administration.

Susan Glasser–writing for the New Yorker– analyzes Trump’s Foreign Policy and its correlation with flattering Trump the Pretender. “Audience of One: Why Flattery Works in Trump’s Foreign Policy” is the lede.

Slavishly praising Trump in public, of course, is a signature tactic of his advisers and others who seek his favor. This week, though, Presidential flattery as a tool of foreign policy seemed particularly prominent. In Japan, a mini political uproar broke out when a newspaper reported that Prime Minister Shinzo Abe had secretly nominated Trump for the Nobel Peace Prize, at Trump’s request. (Abe, who eagerly flew to New York for a Trump Tower session only days after the 2016 election, did not deny the reports.) Among Trump’s men in Munich, the performance of Vice-President Mike Pence, who has always been an especially avid practitioner of public boss-praising, stood out. He admiringly mentioned President Trump at least thirty times in his Saturday address to the conference (far more attention, tweeters quickly pointed out, than the vice-chairman of the Chinese Communist Party, who spoke later, gave to his boss). In a separate appearance meant to honor McCain, Pence paused for applause after he uttered his usual boilerplate line, “I bring greetings from the President of the United States.” Even in a room that included a couple dozen Republican members of Congress, Graham among them, no one clapped. Not surprisingly, the video of the moment, which the Pence and Trump biographer Michael D’Antonio described to me as “self-emasculating,” went viral on Twitter, a perfect metaphor at an annual forum that has, for decades, both celebrated and ratified America’s leadership in the West.

This wasn’t just a matter of a speech that flopped, though. This latest dance of the Republicans overseas was a reminder of why the bipartisan effort to convince the rest of the world that America’s commitments are unchanged, even under its America-First President, just doesn’t work. The U.S. may be the world’s leading power, but its foreign policy has become contorted, and essentially overtaken, by the toxic court politics of Trump. There’s a reason, after all, for all that over-the-top flattery, and it’s not just that Graham and Pence are particularly brazen in their use of this political art. Telling the truth in public can have real consequences in Trumpworld, and those who surround him are under no illusions about it. Just this week, reports continued to emanate from the White House that Trump was considering firing the director of National Intelligence, Dan Coats, whose sin was to have testified truthfully about the contradictions between Trump’s foreign-policy assumptions and the conclusions of Trump’s own intelligence agencies.

Contrast his standing with that of Lindsey Graham, whose public obsequiousness once again appears to have paid off. By this Thursday evening, Graham’s office was sending out a delighted press release, headlined “Graham Applauds Trump Decision to Leave Troops in Syria,” as wire services reported that the President had apparently conceded to lobbying by Graham and others, deciding to leave around two hundred troops in Syria after the April pullout. At least for now. But there was no ambiguity in Graham’s praise for the modest move. “Well done Mr. President,” his statement concluded.

But of course there’s an element of fatal self-absorption to it all. In Washington, it’s as if the city is permanently turned inward on the escalating distractions of the Trump Presidency, the investigations that threaten him, and the Democratic political contest to defeat him. Meanwhile, the rest of the world wonders what to make of a President who chides his closest allies and speaks warmly of its foes. There are real consequences to this; new survey data from the Pew Research Center found that Europeans are now more likely to trust Russian President Vladimir Putin and China’s leader Xi Jinping than Trump in world affairs, and by a significant margin.

Well, that’s enough torture for every one today.  Meanwhile, let’s wait for  that sentencing memo and see what it brings!

I’d like to shout out some love to JJ whose Mom had to enter the hospital with a severe drug interaction and is hopefully doing better.  We love you JJ!!!!

What’s on your reading and blogging list?


Friday Reads: Scoring points with the lives of Federal Workers

Good Afternoon Sky Dancers!

There’s nothing more despicable in a pol than scoring political points by wrecking the lives of public servants. The Federal Budget discussion by KKKremlin Caligula has increasingly become shows of strength based on wrecking lives.  Nothing could be more true than today’s sociopathic display by Cadet Bonespurs on the government shutdown despite agreement within Congress to avoid that outcome.  Trump owns this.

Today’s headlines show the abject callousness of the Sociopath-in-Chief.  Via Truthout:  “Trump Administration Suggests Unpaid Federal Workers Do Odd Jobs to Cover Rent.”   Scoring political points from your ever shrinking base by creating stress in peoples’ lives is perhaps the most callous action by a President that only bows to pressure by despots and prefers all others just carry on. The most outrageous things recently have been his inferences that it’s workers that are democrats that have been furloughed and so, who cares?  And, that most federal workers support the wall.

With the partial government shutdown expected to extend into January with no funding agreement in sight, the Trump administration suggested on Thursday that the hundreds of thousands of unpaid federal workers who have been furloughed could do odd jobs and chores for their landlords to help cover rent.

In a tweet on Thursday, the U.S. Office of Personnel Management (OPM)—led by Margaret Weichert, whom President Donald Trump picked to head the agency in October—offered a Word document featuring sample letters purportedly aimed at helping unpaid federal workers negotiate with landlords, mortgage companies, and creditors amid the government shutdown, which was caused by Trump’s demand for $5 billion in border wall funding.

“I will keep in touch with you to keep you informed about my income status and I would like to discuss with you the possibility of trading my services to perform maintenance (e.g. painting, carpentry work) in exchange for partial rent payments,” reads the sample letter to a landlord.

Thursday that there has been no progress toward reopening the government—meaning the shutdown that has left hundreds of thousands of workers without pay will continue into the new year.

“There are countless stories of families’ holidays being upended by Trump’s obstinance causing the shutdown, as so many of them live paycheck-to-paycheck. Then OPM comes through with this tone-deaf tweet telling them to check with their ‘personal attorney,’” progressive activist Jordan Uhl noted, highlighting the federal workers’ personal accounts of how they have been harmed by the lapse in government funding.

“It’s shameful,” journalist Celeste Pewter wrote of the fact that workers are being forced to “appeal to the goodwill of creditors, landlords, and mortgage companies” to get by.

Illustration by Max Burbank at The Villager

Yes, Ebeneezer Trump did not get a visitation from any spirits except those from his rumored Adderall abuse.  What is the Democratic Party Strategy? This is analysis at Politico by Rachel Bade and John Bresnahan.  

House Democrats — increasingly convinced they’re winning the shutdown fight with President Donald Trump — are plotting ways to reopen the government while denying the president even a penny more for his border wall when they take power Jan. 3.

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and her top lieutenants are considering several options that would refuse Trump the $5 billion he’s demanded for the wall and send hundreds of thousands of furloughed federal employees back to work, according to senior Democratic sources.

While the strategy is fluid, House Democrats hope to pass a funding bill shortly after members are sworn in. They believe that would put pressure on Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) to follow suit. And they’re confident that their political leverage will only increase the longer the shutdown lasts — a notion that some GOP leaders privately agree with.

Indeed, the specter of a lengthy shutdown could hurt Trump’s already damaged image more than it would Democrats — especially because he claimed ownership of the crisis two weeks ago. Democrats believe the shutdown battle — combined with the volatility in financial markets and special counsel Robert Mueller closing in on Trump — exacerbates the appearance of a cornered president acting out of his own political self-interest instead of the needs of the American public

I kinda got a kick out of this analysis from The Villager.  This is from the pen of Max Burbank.

At this festive time of year, I find myself wondering just how certain major power players square their moral values with the widely accepted standards embodied in the Christmas classics.

Does Mitch McConnell figure Mr. Potter’s big mistake in “It’s a Wonderful Life” was not running for Senate and using raw legislative power to crush George Bailey under his boot like a Socialist roach?

Does Paul Ryan role-play King Moonracer from the Rankin/Bass version of “Rudolph,” establishing an Ayn Randian objectivist paradise on the Island of Misfit Toys, furtively pleasuring himself while imagining stripping Charlie in-the-Box and Spotted Elephant of Obamacare?

When the specter of Richard Nixon is standing right behind Trump, doing his best Marley’s Ghost imitation by rattling the chains he forged in life and moaning about how all mankind should have been his business, Trump is all, like, “Where the hell is my Diet Coke? I hadda push the button twice!”

“No, NO!” Nixon wails. “I’m Marley. You’re Scrooge! Metaphorically! Don’t you get it?”

“Not me,” says Trump. “Scrooge might have been rich, but he didn’t live rich. I got my own courses to play golf on every weekend. I get two, maybe three scoops of ice cream on the most beautiful piece of chocolate cake you’ve ever seen in a restaurant with my name in big letters on the door! I don’t need a change of heart.”

It has got be downright hard to be a Republican at Christmas. It must require a mental à la carte menu featuring choice helpings of cognitive dissonance, mental compartmentalization, deep-seated selfishness, evil, and side dish of good old American “I don’t give a crap.”

So, since he’s already basically shut down the Federal Government, he’s moving on to shutting down the Southern Border.  Notice, he doesn’t seem to have a problem with those huge number of Visa-overstaying Canadians.   But, he does have a problem with the Brown people seeking asylum to the south despite the huge numbers of Americans that don’t feel the border wall is a priority.

Is shutting down a 1,954 mile border even possible?  If so, will we start seeing boat lifts into the Gulf South ala the old Cuban days?

This is from The Hill.  And, wouldn’t that just blow up his NAFTA thingie? And just what we need, a good boat lift into Brownsville, Texas!

President Trump on Friday threatened to “close the Southern Border entirely” if Democrats do not agree to provide money to “finish” building a wall on the Mexican border.

Trump made the threat as a partial government shutdown enters its seventh day with no end in sight.

The shutdown began on Saturday after Democrats rejected demands from Trump that $5 billion be included for the wall in a measure to keep the government open.

“We will be forced to close the Southern Border entirely if the Obstructionist Democrats do not give us the money to finish the Wall & also change the ridiculous immigration laws that our Country is saddled with,” the president tweeted.

He also criticized past presidents and Congresses over the nation’s current immigration laws.

“Hard to believe there was a Congress & President who would approve!”

Reuters reports in its poll that more Americans blame Trump than the Dems for the current shutdown. That usually doesn’t play well in any political cycle.

More Americans blame President Donald Trump than congressional Democrats for the partial U.S. government shutdown, according to a Reuters/Ipsos poll released on Thursday, as the closure stretched into its sixth day with no end in sight.

Forty-seven percent of adults hold Trump responsible, while 33 percent blame Democrats in Congress, according to the Dec. 21-25 poll, conducted mostly after the shutdown began. Seven percent of Americans blamed congressional Republicans.

The shutdown was triggered by Trump’s demand, largely opposed by Democrats and some lawmakers from his own Republican Party, that taxpayers provide him with $5 billion to help pay for a wall that he wants to build along the U.S.-Mexico border. Its total estimated cost is $23 billion.

Again, we ask in vain, “Wasn’t Mexico supposed to pay for this thing Trumplets?”.  And, they want us to pay for it given the tax break that just went to the Richies and the Corps?  We’re not doing a great job of living pay check to pay check here in the land of the indebted as it is.  We all don’t have rich, slum lord dads and Russian oligarchs to bail us out.  This is from Danielle Paquette at WAPO>

What do professors, real estate agents, farmers, business executives, computer programmers and store clerks have in common?

They’re not immune to the harsh reality of living paycheck to paycheck, according to dozens of people who responded to a Washington Post inquiry on Twitter.

They’re millennials, Gen Xers and baby boomers. They work in big cities and rural towns. They’ve tried to save — but rent, child care, student loans and medical bills get in the way.

National data on the paycheck-to-paycheck experience is flimsy, but a recent report from the Federal Reserve spotlights the prevalence of extra-tight budgets: Four in 10 adults say they couldn’t produce $400 in an emergency without sliding into debt or selling something, according to the 2017 figures.

The partial government shutdown, which began last Friday and is temporarily halting pay for some 800,000 federal workers, has touched off a heated discussion on Twitter about what it means to get by in the United States. (President Trump warned this closure could “last a very long time” if Congress doesn’t meet his demands for billions of dollars for a border wall.)

Even brief income lapses can spell disaster for some households.

“My husband is a Park Ranger in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, and he had to sign his furlough papers,” one woman tweeted. ”We have a 4 yr. old and a 4-month-old, and we don’t know when his next check will come. Mortgage is due, Christmas 2 days away.”

“Broke my lease to accept new fed job for which I have to attend 7 months of training in another state,” another Twitter user said. (He later deleted the tweet). “Training canceled with shutdown. Homeless. Can’t afford short(?)-term housing/have to work full-time for no pay/returning Christmas presents.”

But never fear!  There’s always taxpayer money for the ‘right cause’.  This is from The Rolling Stone: “Taxpayers Are Subsidizing Mar-a-Lago’s New Year’s Eve Party Despite Trump’s Shutdown. The president doesn’t seem to care about the 800,000 workers who won’t be receiving paychecks during the government shutdown.” Ho Ho Ho!  Whose the ho?

Though Trump’s decision to shut down the government may keep him in Washington for the holidays, it won’t keep taxpayers from footing a heavy portion of the bill for Mar-a-Lago’s New Year’s Eve party. As was noted by Quartz this week, government spending data shows that the Secret Service paid Grimes Events & Party Tents Inc. of Delray Beach, Florida, $54,020 on December 19th for “TENT RENTAL FOR MAL.” An employee of the company confirmed to Quartz that it is providing tents for the annual for-profit bash at Trump’s “Winter White House” in Palm Beach.

Americans chipping in to help Trump and the Palm Beach elite turn over their calendars isn’t unique to this year. The Secret Service spent just over $26,000 on an array of accessories for Mar-a-Lago’s New Year’s Eve party in 2017, which was attended by both Trump and Melania. Though it’s never not going to be a conflict of interest when the president has taxpayers subsidize a for-profit party at his private club, $54,000 for tents feels especially egregious given that the government is currently running under a partial shutdown that has deprived approximately 800,000 federal workersof their paychecks.

Ever feel like we get scrooged every day?  Which brings me to this.

From Dylan Scott at VOX: “Why the government shutdown is good legal news for Trump. The president’s lawyers cited the government shutdown to win a delay in the emoluments case against him.”

President Donald Trump is using the government shutdown to try to force Democrats to fund his Mexican border wall. But there is another, more personal benefit for the president that he probably won’t be mentioning anytime soon: An important appeal in the lawsuit over foreign payments to his Washington, DC, hotel and other businesses has been put on hold.

Trump is being sued by the District of Columbia and Maryland because they say he is violating the Constitution’s “emoluments” clause, which forbids federal officials from accepting emoluments, a term for gifts or payments for services or labor from foreign governments or US states.

The states have won several important procedural decisions, but federal attorneys have filed a number of appeals to slow them down, most notably seeking a freeze on any further discovery — like subpoenas the states might pursue to get information on foreign officials’ stays at the Trump International Hotel in DC.

Now the Justice Department lawyers representing Trump have secured a delay in the ongoing appeals. They cited — wait for it — the current government shutdown, now in its sixth day.

Grifters gotta grift.  Am I right?

So, let’s look forward to the New Year’s and this news from CNN: ‘House Democrats scooping up staff, lawyers to power Trump investigations.”

The House Judiciary Committee is looking for a few good lawyers.

A recent committee job posting reviewed by CNN asked for legislative counsels with a variety of expertise: “criminal law, immigration law, constitutional law, intellectual property law, commercial and administrative law (including antitrust and bankruptcy), or oversight work.”
The House Oversight and Government Reform Committee needs lawyers, too, posting jobs for “executive branch investigative counsel.”
The advertisements give a window into the Democratic recruiting that’s ramped up ahead of the party gaining subpoena power for the first time in eight years when it takes over the House in January.

While Democrats publicly talk up their interest in focusing on legislative priorities like health care and voting rights — not to mention ending the ongoing partial government shutdown — they are quietly preparing for what will likely be the largest congressional investigation of a sitting president in recent memory. Party leaders and committee chairs have spent months ironing out potential targets, from President Donald Trump’s taxes and business dealings to the conduct of current and former Cabinet members.
To handle all this investigative work, House Democrats are expected to double the number of their staffers. Though they can’t officially hire anyone until the new Congress is seated, plans are well underway, with House members saying that candidates — especially those with specific investigative skills, from money laundering to contracting — are coming from all directions.

I don’t know about Santa, but I do believe in Mueller and his lawyers.  I also am pretty sure those wise men and women on the horizon are bearing gifts of Congressional subpoenas.   Let’s all be merry about that!

So, what’s on your reading and blogging list today?

 


Friday Reads: When Black Friday Comes …

It’s Friday! And Mueller is Coming! He’s an even better holiday guest than Santa!

Today’s news in traitors includes crazy conspiratorial nut Jerome Corsi. Yes! Another domino falls and brings us closer to the Cretin holding the White House hostage. From WAPO and really hot off the presses: “Stone associate Jerome Corsi is in plea negotiations with special counsel, according to a person with knowledge of the talks”. Stone and Dumb Junior cannot be too far behind. Too borrow a turn of phrase, “I love it!”.

Conservative writer and conspiracy theorist Jerome Corsi is in plea negotiations with special counsel Robert S. Mueller III, according to a person with knowledge of the talks.

The talks with Corsi — an associate of both President Trump and GOP operative Roger Stone — could bring Mueller’s team closer to determining whether Trump or his advisers were linked to WikiLeaks’ release of hacked Democratic emails in 2016, a key part of his long-running inquiry.

Corsi provided research on Democratic figures during the campaign to Stone, a longtime Trump adviser. For months, the special counsel has been scrutinizing Stone’s activities in an effort to determine whether he coordinated with WikiLeaks. Stone and WikiLeaks have repeatedly denied any such coordination.

Stone has said that Corsi also has a relationship with Trump, built on their shared interest in the falsehood that President Barack Obama was not born in the United States.

David Gray, an attorney for Corsi, declined to comment, as did a spokesman for Mueller. Stone declined to comment on Corsi’s plea negotiations. An attorney for Trump declined to comment.

The deal is not yet complete and could still be derailed. Last week, Corsi said his efforts to cooperate with prosecutors had broken down and that he expected to be indicted on a charge of allegedly lying. He described feeling under enormous pressure from Mueller and assured his supporters that he remains supportive of the president.

In a webcast and a series of interviews, Corsi said he had spoken to prosecutors for 40 hours and feared that he could spend much of the remainder of his life in prison.

After two months of interviews, Corsi, 72, said he felt his brain was “mush.”

“Trying to explain yourself to these people is impossible . . . I guess I couldn’t tell the special prosecutor what he wanted to hear,” he added.

Meanwhile, His Lazy and Greediness is costing us money which is going directly into the pockets of the Trump Family Crime Syndicate.

Krampus is coming and he better bring a lot of sacks and cages! A lot of discussion has been held in the media about the idea of collusions being an actual crime as compared to something along the lines of conspiracy. Here’s an interesting take from Sidebars blog. There’s a lot of legal wonky goodness here.

Is collusion a crime? Since the beginning of special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation, allegations of “collusion” have dominated the debate. President Trump regularly claims there was “no collusion” with the Russians seeking to influence the 2016 presidential election. His attorneys and other supporters also have repeatedly argued that even if collusion took place, that would not be criminal. But last week, in a case brought by Mueller, a federal judge upheld the legal theory under which “collusion” may indeed be a crime.

I’m not sure how the term “collusion” became so central to discussions of the Mueller investigation. It really should be banned altogether. (I know, I know — this from the guy who just wrote a blog post with “collusion” in the title, right? But hey, I can’t unilaterally disarm.) All it does is breed confusion and lead to diversionary arguments about whether collusion is criminal.

It’s true there is no criminal statute titled “collusion.” But as I’ve noted in several places (here and here, for example) the relevant crime is conspiracy under 18 U.S.C. 371. Collusion refers to an agreement with others to achieve some improper end. In criminal law, we call that a conspiracy – a partnership in crime. And the breadth of the federal conspiracy statute makes it particularly well-suited for cases like Mueller’s probe of Russian interference with the election.

Title 18 Section 371 prohibits conspiracies to commit an offense against the United States, which means a conspiracy to commit any federal crime. But it also broadly prohibits conspiracies to defraud the United States “in any manner or for any purpose.” For nearly a century the Supreme Court has held that conspiracies to defraud the United States include conspiracies to impair, obstruct, or defeat the lawful functions of the federal government through deceit or dishonesty. This is true even if the actions of the conspirators are not independently illegal, and even if the government is not deprived of any money or property.

In this post in the summer of 2017, I argued Mueller could use this theory to charge that individuals who agreed to work together to interfere with the election through deceptive and dishonest methods conspired to impair, obstruct, or defeat the function of the Federal Election Commission to administer a fair and honest election. This legal theory would apply not only to Russians but also to any members of the Trump campaign or other Americans who worked — or colluded — with them. And it applies whether or not the actions taken by the co-conspirators are otherwise illegal; in other words, the “collusion” itself can be the crime

So, this outing out to burn like a yuletide bonfire by the Mississippi. Here’s hoping it works on the Ptomac too! I even get to quote Page Six which I believe is unique for me. I do not plan to read the book but it should be an interesting topic on the pundit circuit. Page Six presents: “National Enquirer editor writing book about ‘Trump and his women’”

The National Enquirer’s long-held secrets about Donald Trump may be about to get substantially less secret.

Page Six is told that the longtime executive editor of the tabloid, Barry Levine, is penning a book for Hachette about the president.

A source says that the book will look into “Trump and his women,” although other insiders tell us that it could be more wide-ranging, even looking at the formerly cozy relationship between the Enquirer’s owner, David Pecker, and Trump. That said, it’s unclear exactly what Levine’s contract with the Enquirer would allow him to reveal about Pecker.

Of course, Pecker has been at the center of an investigation into alleged hush money payouts made to Karen McDougal and Stormy Daniels — who both claim to have had affairs with Trump while he was married to First Lady Melania Trump. In August, Pecker was granted immunity in the probe.

Either way, Levine — who left the Enquirer in 2016 after 17 years — will have plenty of previously unreported material for the tome.

In its reporting on the relationship between Pecker and Trump, the Wall Street Journal wrote in June, that, “Tips about Mr. Trump poured into the tabloid after his television show ‘Celebrity Apprentice’ took off in 2002, but the Enquirer turned away stories that could paint him in a bad light, two former American Media employees said,” adding, “Barry Levine … reminded them that Mr. Pecker wouldn’t allow it, these former employees said.” No impediment now exists.

Let’s watch those fundi preachers swallow this.

The Guardian has an exclusive interview with Hillary that’s worth a read: “US media must ‘get smarter’ to tackle Trump, says Hillary Clinton”. Well, again, she speaks the truth to idiots.

Hillary Clinton has criticised the US media over its coverage of Donald Trump, calling on the press to “get smarter” about holding to account a president who is a master of diversion and distraction.

In an exclusive interview with the Guardian, Clinton also offered a stinging rebuke of the Republican party’s base, saying it had become enthralled by the president’s “insults and attacks and entertainment and spectacle”.

“The Republican party has collapsed in the face of Trump,” she said.

Clinton also criticised Trump’s repeated attacks on the press, behaviour she suggested had echoes of authoritarian and fascist political leaders who erode faith in facts and evidence. She said Trump had proved himself skilled at “tweeting and insulting and dominating the news cycles” and said he was too often left unchallenged by the press.

“I believe that where we are now in the political cycle is that the press does not know how to cover these candidates who are setting themselves on fire every day, who are masters of diversion and distraction,” she said.

The former Democratic presidential nominee specifically called out CBS 60 Minutes over its interview with the Trump last month for not asking the president about a major New York Times investigation into alleged tax dodging in his family real estate empire.

“I have a high regard for 60 Minutes and for Lesley Stahl who’s a terrific journalist,” Clinton said, before noting there was “not a single question” about the New York Times story

“So at some point, the press has to get smarter because that’s basically how most voters get their information,” she said, adding that often the quest for “balance” resulted in facts being relegated in favour of opinion.

“If you’re into both-side-ism – so, you know, on the one hand this, and on the other hand that – really there’s no factual basis, there’s no evidence, there’s no record. Everybody lies, everybody gilds the lily. It doesn’t really matter. That just opens a door to somebody like him.”

Is this the beginning of the end? Is the Mueller investigation getting active publicly so we can get a good hint at when our national nightmare ends?

The odds are high that special counsel Robert Mueller will soon announce dramatic news that will escalate our national discussion of the Russia scandal to red-hot levels of intensity that may well compel Congress to begin a serious discussion of impeachment.

Three critical matters were long obvious to informed observers of the Russia investigation. First, Mueller was well aware of the possibility that President Trump would attempt to execute a “Saturday Night Massacre” attack against him and the Russia investigation shortly after the midterm voting was concluded.

Second, Mueller has used the “silent period” during the midterm campaign to advance the investigation assertively without public discussion, under the radar of the media until now. Third, the issues of obstruction of justice and abuse of power are far more grave than is generally realized.

If it is true that Trump aggressively pushed for criminal prosecution of his political opponents and that then-White House counsel Donald McGahn had to intervene, keep in mind that McGahn has spent dozens of hours cooperating with Mueller and his team.

The quiet period for Mueller will soon end. Recently, Mueller and lawyers for Paul Manafort agreed to seek a delay in filing court documents that would detail Manafort’s cooperation with the investigation until next Monday.

In other words, in a few days, there will almost certainly be publicly known major news that will give the court and the American people a much clearer idea of exactly how Manafort has been cooperating with Mueller.

It is very possible, and in my view likely, that there have already been indictments issued and plea bargain agreements reached that for now remain under seal, which will be unsealed and announced in the coming days and weeks.

Trump attempting to name Matthew Whitaker as acting attorney general can be seen as a desperate last-ditch effort by Trump — which is ultimately doomed to fail — to derail the Mueller investigation.

This speculation is written for HuffPo by BRENT BUDOWSKY. And here’s one from The Atlantic that tries to explain why so many white women vote themselves into second class citzenship so people of color may be put down to 3rd class citizenship.

Okay, Here we go … wtf is wrong with them? And this is by Katha Pollitt.

For almost three years now, reporters have been begging tired farmers and miners eating their pancakes at Josie’s Diner in Smallville, Nebraska, to say they’ve seen the light. They never do. White evangelical women sneaking away from the Republican Party make for a good story—but they didn’t stop Ted Cruz from getting 81 percent of the white evangelical vote in Texas.

After Trump took the White House, and even after political scientists and pollsters figured out that many Trump supporters were not out-of-work Rust Belters but just your basic well-off Republicans, there was an orgy of self-criticism among Democrats and progressives. Somehow, those voters were our fault; we had neglected them, disrespected them, not felt their pain. The important sociologist Arlie Hochschild wrote a whole book about right-wingers in the Louisiana bayous who rejected curbs on the oil and gas industry that was destroying their way of life and instead blamed their problems on others (people of color, immigrants, women) “cutting in line.” In Strangers in Their Own Land, Hochschild called on us to climb the “empathy wall.” The unstated implication was that liberal condescension—not Trumpers’ racism, say—is the problem.

Another version of this idea is to call on progressive white women to convert other white women who support Trump. Nobody calls on white men to convert white men, because everyone assumes that’s impossible, but for some reason, white women who hate abortion and taxes and Obamacare, who want to “build the wall” and “lock her up,” are supposed to be pliable—and it’s the duty of liberal white women to expiate their own racism by bringing them around. It reminds me of the time years ago when a group of Nation interns came back after spending a weekend at a conference of Evangelical women. They beat themselves up about how those women weren’t feminists; again, it was all our fault.

The assumption is that we have the right ideas; we just haven’t been conveying them persuasively enough to win the other side over. But let me ask a question: When was the last time someone persuaded you to change your worldview? I have written this column for over 20 years, and I doubt I’ve brought more than a handful of people to my way of thinking. So far as I know, the converts were mostly young people who hadn’t given the matter much thought or were leaning that way already. Mostly, what changes people’s minds about important convictions is experience: something new and unusual that shakes their settled views. One of the evangelical Beto fans profiled by the Times was moved by her time meeting with a family separated at the border; it could just as easily have been new friends, a religious experience, falling in love, a charismatic teacher, or being surrounded by people with different beliefs.

Of course, people do change their minds, but probably not after being proselytized by someone they barely know (or, in the case of family, know all too well). You won’t get far inviting your Trumpie co-worker out for coffee so you can politely suggest she’s a racist, or giving your Trumpie cousin a hard time about her Facebook posts at a baby shower.

So why is it so hard to believe that white women who voted for Trump are mostly as fixed in their views as you are? They voted for him for dozens of reasons: to fit in with their family and community, to preserve or gain status, to piss off the libtards, to ally with their menfolk, to keep MS-13 from killing their children, to bring back jobs stolen by Mexico and China, to keep taxes low and black children out of their schools, or because it’s what Jesus wants. You may think their beliefs are bigoted and ill-informed and illogical—which they are. You may marvel that women who think the polite and scandal-free Barack Obama is the Antichrist can believe that foul-mouthed, abusive Donald Trump is God’s instrument, like King David. What you are not going to do is make them see it differently by reminding them that at least 15 women have accused Trump of a range of sexual offenses.

Calling them out as racist, xenophobic foot soldiers of the patriarchy isn’t going to make a dent. Just as you don’t want to be the obedient wife of some porn-addicted Christian bully, they don’t want to be a slutty baby-killer like you. I’m not saying that, given enough time and a pleasing, patient personality—you’ve got one of those, don’t you?—you couldn’t eventually bring one or two around. But is this a good use of your energies?

Go read the rest. It’s full of holiday joy and good advice. I was especially glad to see this as I’ve been called out to “make inroads” as if I haven’t tried in my 40 plus years of committed feminist work. Believe me, when Phyliss Schafly came out of that orange smoke from the trap door with her green make up and cackling, I was as surprised as any other woman just wanting to live her life. I fought them in the 80s and 90s. I tried talking to them in the 80s and 90s and some where in the mid 90s I gave up and decided to spend the rest of my life in liberal enclaves where I just don’t have to deal with them so all these younger women asking me to talk to them can just shove it. I got Kate Millett and Bette Friedan to talk to each other after years of throwing shade at each other in a bar in West Omaha. I consider that my last best diplomatic moment. So, bookmark Katha’s article and send it to any one that’s trying to talk you into creating a bridge that will go no where.

The deal is there are more of us than them. There are more of us coming up all the time and less of them. Just organize and outvote them. Pay attention to judicial appointments and gerrymandering in your state and fight that. Don’t engage in building a bridge to no where.

Have a good long weekend of stuffing yourself with leftovers! And remember, It’s Mueller Time!!!

What’s on your blogging and reading list today?


Monday Reads: The New Badge of Honor

Hokusai Great Wave Off Kanagawa by Katsushika Hokusai. Block print 1832.

Good Morning Sky Dancers!

I finished grading for the summer sessions and have moved towards preparation for the Fall. Fall is always a time of new beginnings for some one in education although it’s generally seen in terms of the harvest for every one else. Maybe it’s always been that way for me because I’m an election day baby. And, I await this Election Day, baby … not for the cake but for the Blue Wave that will come if we keep at it, vote, and bring others with us.

Paul Waldman–writing for WAPO-argues that we’re entering “the most intense and dangerous period of the Trump presidency”. There certainly has been a lot happening with the investigation of Trump Campaign cronies and their connections to financial crimes and Russia. There is certainly peak interest in the number of high level intelligence officials and members of old administrations both warning us of the dangers of this regime and wearing attacks–twitter-based or otherwise–by D’oh Hair Furor as Badges of Honor. What can we expect other than further chaos and descent into an Orwellian dystopic authoritarian grab for our nation’s wealth and rule of law?

Over the past year and a half, life in politics has often felt like an ongoing circus in which the madness never ceases. But for all that, the next 11 weeks could be the most intense and consequential of Donald Trump’s presidency.

Let’s begin with a report in the New York Times that the case against Michael Cohen, Trump’s former personal lawyer, might be coming to a head:

Federal authorities investigating whether President Trump’s former personal lawyer and fixer, Michael D. Cohen, committed bank and tax fraud have zeroed in on well over $20 million in loans obtained by taxi businesses that he and his family own, according to people familiar with the matter.

Investigators are also examining whether Mr. Cohen violated campaign finance or other laws by helping to arrange financial deals to secure the silence of women who said they had affairs with Mr. Trump. The inquiry has entered the final stage and prosecutors are considering filing charges by the end of August, two of the people said.

There’s a serious possibility that Cohen will cooperate with prosecutors in order to obtain leniency, and there’s no telling what he might be able to reveal about the Trump Organization, the president himself and the president’s children, with whom he worked closely. The company has a history of deals with questionable characters in questionable circumstances, including many that went south amid accusations of misconduct. If Cohen chooses to sing, he might have a thick libretto to work from.

Needless to say, if Cohen were to implicate the president or his family in some kind of criminal wrongdoing, it would be a political earthquake. But even if he doesn’t cooperate, if he is indicted in the coming weeks, that would itself be a serious blow to Trump’s presidency. Even if much of what Cohen is accused of doesn’t have to do directly with his former boss, it would contribute to the growing impression that Trump is a corrupt man who surrounds himself with other corrupt men.

A list follows of all the significant dates coming between now and November that includes the Manfort trials, the Omarosa Tapes, the Kavanaugh fight, more security clearance revenge removals, and a lawsuit in Texas designed to take down the entire Affordable Care Act.

It’s going to be a bumpy ride but hopefully we’ll all be surfing a big beautiful blue wave by then.

By the way, this surfer from Brazil just rode an 80 foot wave into the record books. I’m hoping it’s a great omen!!

Paul Gauguin 1889 La Plage au Pouldu

As for the new pride in being a Drumpf Twitter target, Watergate’s John Dean has decided “it’s an honor”. –Via Axios

President Trump tweeted this morning: “The failing @nytimes wrote a Fake piece today implying that because White House Councel Don McGahn was giving hours of testimony to the Special Councel [sic], he must be a John Dean type “RAT.” But I allowed him and all others to testify — I didn’t have to. I have nothing to hide.”

What we’re hearing: This afternoon, I called up said “RAT,” John Dean, to get his take. Dean was Richard Nixon’s White House counsel and heavily involved in the Watergate cover-up before he became a key witness for the prosecution.

“I am actually honored to be on his enemies list as I was on Nixon’s when I made it there,” Dean told me. “This is a president I hold in such low esteem I would be fretting if he said something nice.”

The most invasive and lasting legacy of this abomination may come from his coordinated takeover of the Judiciary staged by the nasty Mitch McConnell. This is via Rolling Stone’s Andy Kroll.

On the campaign trail, Trump told evangelicals and other wavering Republicans they had no choice but to vote for him: “You know why? Supreme Court judges, Supreme Court judges.” He talked about judges nonstop and even released a list of 21 potential Supreme Court picks that he had gathered with the help of the Federalist Society and the archconservative Heritage Foundation. He would enter office with the most judicial vacancies since Bill Clinton — largely thanks to Republican filibustering of Obama’s nominees — and his administration has filled those vacancies as fast as possible.

As of this writing, Trump has put 26 new judges onto the appellate courts, more than any other chief executive at this point in the presidency. He has also nominated over 100 district-court judges and gotten 26 of those picks confirmed. These judges are overwhelmingly young, ideological and now set to serve lifetime appointments. And then, of course, there’s Justice Neil Gorsuch, Trump’s first pick for the Supreme Court, and Judge Brett Kavanaugh, the president’s second Supreme Court nominee, who stands a strong chance of confirmation. “Whatever anyone wants to say about President Trump, he was very explicit about which judges he wanted, and he’s gone about appointing them,” says Michael Gerhardt, a law professor at the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill. “He made a promise and they’re keeping it.”

What unites these judges is the radical legal doctrine of originalism — that the text of the Constitution should be understood only as it was intended when written more than 230 years ago. Originalism was long seen as a fringe philosophy; taken to its logical extreme, an originalist reading of the Constitution could mean a country without same-sex marriage, federal child-labor laws or the Americans With Disabilities Act. Today, however, originalism is the dominant legal philosophy on the right and the litmus test for any judge appointed by President Trump.

That’s in large part due to the influence of Leonard Leo, who sat in the front row for McGahn’s speech. An owlish 52-year-old lawyer and operative, Leo is the executive vice president of the Federalist Society, where he has played a pivotal role grooming a generation of conservative lawyers and supplying dozens of names to the White House for judicial vacancies. (He has advised on the past three successful Republican picks for the Supreme Court.) “Our opponents of judicial nominees frequently claim the president has outsourced his selection of judges,” McGahn said. “That is completely false. I’ve been a member of the Federalist Society since law school, still am, so frankly it seems like it’s been in-sourced.”

Behind all the chaos and upheaval of the Trump administration, McGahn, Leo and Republican leaders including Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell have steadily filled the courts with future Clarence Thomases and Antonin Scalias. In Donald Trump, they have found the perfect vehicle for executing a judicial takeover. “We’re now looking at the possibility of as many as three Supreme Court vacancies and more than 200 lower-court seats to fill just in these next few years,” Leo said last year. “We are at this unique point in history.”

Louis Valtat The Red Rocks of Agay, 1910

This may usher in a Dark Ages that will last several generations. But the on-going attack on former and current members of the intelligence and federal law enforcement community is the headline story this week. How dangerous is the confrontation between KKKremlin Caligula and Brennan? Lawfare explores the answer.

President Trump’s revocation of former CIA Director John Brennan’s security clearance brings together in an unfortunate way two pathological trends in the Trump era, and highlights the conundrum of the former intelligence official who wishes to speak out against the president’s attacks on the Russia investigation and the intelligence community more generally.

The first trend is the politicization of intelligence. Through the 1970s, the intelligence community used its domestic surveillance powers to commit two kinds of abuses. FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover, for example, engaged in political abuse when he served political masters by spying on disfavored Americans (such as suspected communists, political dissidents and antiwar protesters) for political ends. And he engaged in sabotage when he used secret intelligence to further his or the FBI’s institutional interests at the expense of elected officials, sometimes to influence policy. Hoover’s key sabotage mechanism was to leak or threaten to leak secretly collected information about government officials or their friends and family either to enhance his power over the official or to achieve some other political end.

Ever since the domestic intelligence abuses by Hoover’s FBI and other agencies came to light in the 1970s, the intelligence community has been governed by a “grand bargain”: It was allowed to continue to surveil domestically in the homeland but became subject to legal restrictions on the collection, analysis, and dissemination of intelligence information; strict reporting requirements to Congress; intra-executive monitoring by lawyers and inspectors general; and judicial oversight. The grand bargain went a long way toward eliminating political abuse and, to some degree, also the sabotage. As Benjamin Wittes and I explained last year, the intelligence community’s compliance with the grand bargain helped bolster trust in it and its own legitimacy, which it needs to operate in secret, as national security requires, to protect the nation.

Since the beginning of the Trump presidency, the grand bargain, and the de-politicization of the intelligence community it was supposed to guarantee, have been under fierce assault from many quarters. The story begins with Russian meddling in the 2016 election, followed by the appropriate but inevitably politically fraught counterintelligence investigation of a Republican presidential campaign by a Democratic administration. As Wittes and I wrote, the investigation invariably “entered the dangerous land of surveillance related to politics,” and from the beginning it “spelled trouble for a community that wants, and needs, to stay clean of politics.”

In that unfortunate context came the main cause of the intelligence community’s difficulties: President Trump’s unceasing and increasingly heated charges that the investigation of Russian meddling is in fact politically motivated—attacks that sought to destroy intelligence community credibility. A string of unfortunate events—especially the unusual, so-called “Steele dossier” and Peter Strozk’s seemingly biased texts—gave the president’s mostly irresponsible charges a patina (or more) of credibility in many quarters. And Rep. Devin Nunes, the chairman of the House intelligence committee, churned this and other information in usually misleading and almost always norm-breaking ways that had the effect of further diminishing trust in the intelligence community.

The Manneporte (Étretat);Claude Monet,1893, oil on canvas

It’s not that the intelligence community and the FBI hasn’t had a history of overstepping rational boundaries and is sore need of reform. It’s that blowing up the entire apparatus may not be the appropriate response.  This isn’t for reform, however. It’s for obstruction of justice and self-preservation as the Trump Family syndicate comes closer to the precipice offered by the Mueller Investigation.

The big loser in all of this is intelligence community trust, on which we all depend for our safety. And the main cause is our institution-destroying president, who sees political advantage in attacking the intelligence community. Trump seems to realize that the more vile his personal attacks and the more norm-defying his actions, the more likely he is to invite a norm-defying response that lends credibility to the basis of his original attacks. He also seems to realize that in pursuing his goal of crushing these institutions, he wins if the objects of his attack are silent or if they respond—a point that applies as well (as I noted last year) to the media.

It’s likely Trump wants them out of the way as he snuggles closer to Russia and Autocracy. His rate of toxic tweets sure indicates a sense of panic.

MW Turner (1775–1851), Bell Rock Lighthouse (1819), water colour and gouache with scratching out on paper

E J Dionne (WAPO) argues that we are “slouching towards autocracy ” today.

With the exception of a few Republican elected officials at the periphery, Congress has worked to enable Trump’s abuses (witness the behavior of California Republican Rep. Devin Nunes to undercut special counsel Robert S. Mueller III’s investigation) and to minimize the outrageousness of his conduct.

When Trump revoked former CIA director John Brennan’s security clearance in retaliation for Brennan’s criticism of him (and, as Trump confessed in a Wall Street Journal interview, because he objected to Brennan doing his job in 2016 by probing connections between Trump’s campaign and Russia), the response from most Republicans was pathetic.

Trump’s actions were an abuse of presidential power far beyond anything Republicans used to complain about bitterly during President Barack Obama’s term. They are aimed directly at intimidating critics and interfering with a legitimate investigation. Where was House Speaker Paul D. Ryan on the issue? When Trump first threatened the security clearances of his critics last month, Ryan (R-Wis.) shrugged it off and said Trump was “just trolling people.” We still await a robust response from party leaders now that the president has shown he had more than “trolling” in mind.

And long before Trump ran for office, Republicans were eager to change the rules of the game when doing so served their purposes, as Michael Tomasky argued last week in the Daily Beast. Consider just their aggressive voter-suppression efforts and their willingness to block even a hearing for Merrick Garland, Obama’s nominee to replace Justice Antonin Scalia.

The list of ominous signs goes on and on: Trump invoking Stalin’s phrase “enemies of the people” to describe a free press; the firing, one after another, of public servants who moved to expose potential wrongdoing, starting with then-FBI Director James B. Comey; Trump’s effusive praise of foreign despots; his extravagantly abusive (and often racially charged) language against opponents; and his refusal to abide by traditional practices about disclosing his own potential conflicts of interest and those of his family. Add to this the authoritarian’s habit of institutionalizing lying as a routine aspect of governing, compressed into the astonishing credo Rudolph W. Giuliani blurted out on NBC’s “Meet the Press” on Sunday: “Truth isn’t truth.”

This is not business as usual. Yet our politics proceeds as if it is. Slowly, Trump has accustomed us to behavior that, at any other recent time and with just about any other politician, would in all probability have been career-ending.

Naruto Whirlpool Awa Province; Utagawa-Hiroshige-1853 woodblock print

And the Monday Twitler Outbursts continue to subvert justice …

President Trump on Monday referred to lawyers working for special counsel Robert S. Mueller III as “thugs” and accused them of trying to affect this year’s elections, further ramping up his rhetoric against prosecutors probing Russian interference in the 2016 U.S. presidential election.

In morning tweets, Trump called Mueller “disgraced and discredited” and said his team of prosecutors is “a National Disgrace!”

The tweets were the latest in a spate of complaints in recent days from the president about a probe into whether his campaign coordinated with Russia during the 2016 election and whether Trump has sought to obstruct the investigation.

In Monday’s outburst, Trump continued to attack a New York Times report over the weekend that White House lawyer Donald McGahn had participated in at least three interviews with Mueller’s team that spanned 30 hours.

“Anybody needing that much time when they know there is no Russian Collusion is just someone looking for trouble,” Trump asserted.

I’m gearing up to train on making calls for Flip the House and I’m not sure where in the country it will be but whatever the state, the county, the district I know I want to be part of the Blue Wave.

What’s on your reading and blogging list today?


Friday Reads: Kompromat AmeriKKKan style

Good Afternoon Sky Dancers!

I seriously do not know how much more of this bulldozing our way of life and our Constitutional Democracy that I can take. I watched Rachel Maddow unfurl the parade of Russian Oligarchs that attended the inauguration. I listened to how bad it’s going with North Korea after that summit which basically was a big splash by a fat orange ass cannonballing into a pool too deep for his bad swimming skills.  It was such a big show of nothingness but propaganda coups for the NK state and its worst human rights record on the planet. They didn’t take KKKremlin Caligula seriously at all.   From CNN: “Satellite images show North Korea upgrading nuclear facility”.  Yeah. Stopped him alright with the talk of a Trump Hotel on NK beaches.

I also watched Malcom Nance refer to him as a Spy Master’s wet dream while outlining all the things he could give away and blow up in Helsinki in a Putin tete a tete. Nance think he’s a willing Russian asset because all of his foreign policy statements or twitters or blurts at rallies are basically kremlin worded and sanctified.  I’ve pretty much accepted that Trump probably wants to dump NATO and start a Dictators club to replace it.

And, I now am of full belief that Trump and the Republican Party used Russian campaign donations and as much dirty tricks as the Russians could muster to stage a coup. Nance believes he’s stoking a civil war now.

This man is stoking civil war, he’s stoking violence

The retirement of Justice Kennedy is just too perfect.  Kennedy just wrote some bizarre narrative on the Muslim ban extolling executive power which was as odd and rambling as his statements the last few days.  He was fully staffed up to go in October.  It was weird even by Republican appointees to SCOTUS weird.

Then, I read this on the NYT: “Inside the White House’s Quiet Campaign to Create a Supreme Court Opening”.  Yeah, yeah, some of it is how things usually work. BUT, anything handled by this White House is always way outsides most boundaries of constitutionality, law, protocol, humanity, etc.  So, I got to this part and gulped.

One person who knows both men says there is an affinity between Mr Trump and Mr Kennedy. This is not obvious at first glance. Mr Kennedy is bookish and abstract, whereas Mr Trump is abrasively direct.

But they had a connection – one Mr Trump was quick to note in the moments after his first address to Congress in February 2017. As he made his way out of the chamber, Mr Trump paused to chat with the justice.

“Say hello to your boy,” Mr Trump said. “Special guy.”

Mr Trump was apparently referring to Mr Kennedy’s son, Justin. The younger Mr Kennedy spent more than a decade at Deutsche Bank, eventually rising to become the bank’s global head of real estate capital markets.

During Mr Kennedy’s tenure, Deutsche Bank became Mr Trump’s most important lender, dispensing well over $1bn (£761m) in loans to him for the renovation and construction of skyscrapers in New York and Chicago at a time when other mainstream banks were wary of doing business with him because of his troubled business history.

About a week before the presidential address, Ivanka Trump had paid a visit to the Supreme Court as a guest of the elder Mr Kennedy. The two had met at a lunch after the inauguration, and Ms Trump brought along her daughter, Arabella Kushner.

Deustche Bank was the only real bank outside Russian mobsters that would touch Trump and his toxic business deals associated with his proclivities to take the money and run via bankruptcies.  It’s also awash with the darkest of dark money.  This 2017 investigative report gives you the idea of the kinds of laundering services they offer. It’s a 2017 BuzzFeed article.

The German giant processed hundreds of millions of dollars of suspicious transactions into the US for a Cyprus bank awash with dirty money linked to the Kremlin, Syrian chemical weapons, organised crime, and ISIS.

You cannot find something Trump does without uncovering about a gazillion Kremlin connections at the same time.    A Josh Marshall writes “As many of you will remember, Deutsche Bank isn’t just any bank.”

As I noted in the first post I wrote about Trump’s ties to Russia and Vladimir Putin back on July 23rd, 2016, by the mid-90s, every major US bank had blackballed Donald Trump. as the Times put it in 2016, “Several bankers on Wall Street say they are simply not willing to take on what they almost uniformly referred to as ‘Donald risk.’” None would do business with him. With one big exception: Deutsche Bank.

Deutsche Bank of course is not actually an American bank. But it has a major business in the US. And it was the bank’s effort to gain a bigger foothold in the US that seems to have been behind the special relationship with Trump.

As The Financial Times put it last year, in the middle 1990s, Deutsche was looking for a foothold in the US and “the bank saw a niche in serving rich developers who had hit a few bumps along the way, such as Harry Macklowe and Ian Bruce Eichner, both celebrated owners and losers of New York real estate.” Donald Trump fit the bill to a tee.

Deutsche also had its own problems with money laundering, particularly money laundering tied to Russia. Days after Trump became President, New York State announced a $425 million fine Deutsche Bank had agreed to pay over a $10 billion Russian money laundering scheme, one of many investigations the bank is still embroiled in.

So, it gets more elucidating after the background.

When I first read the Times story I wasn’t sure whether the younger Kennedy, whose title was Managing Director and Global Head of Real Estate Capital Markets, would have been someone to actually make loans to someone like Trump as opposed to overseeing more complex or synthetic efforts like mortgage backed securities and such. But it turns out he definitely was. The FT says Kennedy was “one of Mr Trump’s most trusted associates over a 12-year spell at Deutsche.” A review of Kennedy’s bio suggests those twelve years were 1997 through 2009 – key years for Trump.

Kennedy was one of the few bankers to accurately predict the 2007/08 mortgage backed securities meltdown and made an astonishing amount of money for Deutsche Bank by shorting mortgages starting in 2006. As Crain’s New York put in 2010, “in just the first half of 2007, [Kennedy’s group’s] bet generated as much as $540 million in revenue for Deutsche Bank as subprime mortgages fell apart, according to Bloomberg News, and the wager proved even more lucrative as the rot spread.”

Kennedy left Deutsche Bank at the end of 2009, apparently because post-financial crisis regs on over-risky bets by banks were making it difficult for him to operate. He left to found LNR Property LLC with partner Toby Cobb, which would become a big player in the distressed-commercial-property space.

Alex Shephard writing for TNR believes “Trump’s relationship with Justice Kennedy sounds shady in this new report”.  I’ll say.

Last year, the Financial Times reported that Kennedy’s son was “one of Mr Trump’s most trusted associates over a 12-year spell at Deutsche.”

Oh, really.

Then, there’s this about a Trump-Kennedy “back channel” from Shane Goldmacher at Politico from a few months back.  Where ever Trump is there are Russians, shady, deals and likely Kompromat.  There’s another son.  Now read this knowing we had a spontaneous outburst the other day about a “Space Force” and reanimating NASA.

One back channel is the fact that Kennedy’s son, Justin, knows Donald Trump Jr. through New York real estate circles. Another is through Kennedy’s other son, Gregory, and Trump’s Silicon Valley adviser Peter Thiel. They went to Stanford Law School together and served as president of the Federalist Society in back-to-back years, according to school records. More recently, Kennedy’s firm, Disruptive Technology Advisers, has worked with Thiel’s company Palantir Technologies.

In fact, during the early months of the Trump administration, Gregory Kennedy has worked at NASA as a senior financial adviser as part of the so-called “beachhead” team. Both Kennedy boys were spotted at the White House last month for the administration’s St. Patrick’s Day celebration (Justice Kennedy is Irish Catholic). In February, Ivanka Trump attended oral arguments of the Supreme Court with her daughter. She was a guest of Justice Kennedy.

The White House has also closely monitored retirement chatter by tapping into the network of former Kennedy clerks, a group that includes Gorsuch himself. Some in the legal world viewed Gorsuch’s selection — he would be the first Supreme Court clerk to serve alongside a former boss — as an olive branch to Kennedy that, should he retire next, his seat would be in reliable presidential hands.

Those close to Trump’s judicial-selection process stress that they’re not pressuring Kennedy to hang up his robe, only seeking to put him at ease.

But as they wait for a decision they cannot control, White House officials have already set in motion plans to fill the more than 100 lower court vacancies, including more than 10 percent of the crucial seats on various U.S. Courts of Appeals, in a bid to tug America’s courts in a more conservative direction for decades to come.

Also, there’s my personal observation that Kennedy–during his announcement–didn’t look like he was all that excited. He looked resigned to it more than into the idea of spending time with the wife and fly fishing or what ever. Don’t forget that hearing yesterday when House Republicans appeared ready to tank Mueller and dump Rosenstein.

A battle has raged for weeks between President Donald Trump’s conservative allies in the House of Representatives and the Department of Justice over documents related to the Russia investigation — egged on by tweets from the president himself.

Now, on Thursday, that battle escalated with a vote by the full House of Representatives on a resolution to insist the DOJ comply with the House subpoenas and other document requests by July 6. The resolution passed along party lines, 226 to 183 votes.

Lawmakers put on hold a contentious House Judiciary hearing with Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein and FBI Director Christopher Wray — where GOP lawmakers were grilling them about those subpoenas — to take the vote.

The resolution is nonbinding, but it will effectively put every House member on record on where they stand in this feud — with the Justice Department, or with the president and his congressional allies who have tried to discredit special counsel Robert Mueller’s probe.

It could also set up a showdown over the fate of deputy attorney general Rod Rosenstein, who oversees Mueller’s investigation, and who Trump has reportedly considered firing.

Rep. Mark Meadows (R-NC), the House Freedom Caucus chair leading the charge against the DOJ, said Wednesday that “contempt and impeachment” of Rosenstein “will be in order” if he continues to refuse to hand over documents congressional Republicans want. Republican committee chairs like Rep. Devin Nunes (R-CA) are also on board, and so far, they’ve been backed by Speaker Paul Ryan too.

The DOJ maintains it is complying with subpoenas, but that it also has an obligation to protectthe ongoing investigation and its confidential sources. That response hasn’t satisfied House leaders — and it plays into the main gist of their allegation, which is that the DOJ and FBI are trying to protect themselves and prevent oversight into potential misconduct.

It was ugly all over.  Democrats have a lot of fronts that have been opened in the war to stop this nasty blend of theocracy and fascism.  HuffPo outlines the current strategy in the Senate to stop Trump’s vile SCOTUS plans.  While the religious nutter base wants to outlaw abortion and stop any more rights headed towards any one but white straight christians, Trump wants a justice that will block any attempts to oust him or jail him. Remember what Roy Cohn taught Trump:  “I don’t want to know what the law is, I want to know who the judge is”.

During a judiciary committee hearing Thursday, Sen. Cory Booker (D-N.J.) noted that a challenge to the investigation could very well end up before the Supreme Court at some point ― potentially creating a conflict of interest for a president who has asked nonpartisan officials for their loyalty.

“If we’re not going to thoroughly discuss what it means to have a president with this ongoing investigation happening, who is now going to interview Supreme Court justices, and potentially continue with his tradition of doing litmus tests, loyalty tests, for that person, we could be participating in a process that could undermine that criminal investigation,” Booker said. “I do not believe this committee should or can in good conscience consider a nominee put forward by this president until that investigation is concluded.”

Trump is moving us closer to his ideas and Putin’s goals of a US Tinpot dictatorship including rewriting the mission statement at the Pentagon.  It’s not so much “to deter” as  “to employ lethal force”.  Trump’s limp dick sure needs  some help thinking it’s strong.

Life in Trump’s American continues to be disheartening.  We know no that they actually started grabbing kids at the border earlier but it was not fully ramped up until recently.

The government was separating migrant parents from their kids for months prior to the official introduction of zero tolerance, running what a U.S. official called a “pilot program” for widespread prosecutions in Texas, but apparently did not create a clear system for parents to track or reunite with their kids.

Officials have said that at least 2,342 children were separated from their parents after being apprehended crossing the border unlawfully since May 5, when the Trump administration’s “zero tolerance” policy towards migrants went into effect.

But numbers provided to NBC News by the Department of Homeland Security show that another 1,768 were separated from their parents between October 2016 and February 2018, bringing the total number of separated kids to more than 4,100.

More than 1,000 children were separated between October 2016 and September 2017, and 703 were separated between October 2017 and February 2018, according to DHS.

It’s unclear how many of those 1,768 children were separated after President Donald Trump’s inauguration in January 2017. NBC repeatedly asked DHS for comprehensive data, but the agency declined to provide month-by-month figures, did not provide data prior to October 2016 and did not supply any numbers for March and April 2018.

This is truly outrageous!

You can add crimes against humanity to that list too.  The more you crack the eggs open, the more Russians, dark money, and crimes you find.  I want my country out of this now.

What’s on your reading and blogging list today?