Sunday, December 30, 2018

Everything is About to Get Less Awful




Last night, I almost wrote a very typical post about what a monster this asshole Kurt Schlichter is but I lost the plot and moved on.

Not caring about others is typical of the conservative mindset. They pride themselves on indifference to others. If you complain, you’re a snowflake or worse. If you call them on it, they retreat into their bankrupt ideology and their low-grade sociopathy. But if one of them drops dead, sees a severe reversal in fortune, or experiences life as we know it, well, you’re a monster if you don’t automatically rush to their aid. Poor creatures.

I don’t know how to live without some measure of consideration for others, and I don’t know how to care about people who celebrate their indifference to human suffering, so I leave it at that. Nothing Schlichter has to say about anything will ever matter again because he is incapable of living in a society where we’re supposed to have empathy and understanding. Writing about him is a fool’s errand because he wants you to condemn him, challenge him, or engage in a “debate” about the issues.

Yeah, to hell with that.

The road ahead should really be about how the Democratic Party saves this country from itself and from Trump. Those who shit on what this country used to be about are largely irrelevant now that a handful of prominent Democrats have the power of the subpoena and can investigate the vast corruption that has engulfed the Federal government. They are going to watch everything they tried to build unravel before the unflinching stare of the rule of law. I don’t care how many judges Trump throws out there, it won’t be enough.

In a few days, everything gets less awful.

Friday, December 28, 2018

Only a Republican Can Be Commander in Chief




If any Democratic president had done any of these things, the wing nut outrage machine would have been launched into high orbit by now:

On his trip to Iraq this week, President Trump exposed the faces of members of U.S. Navy SEAL Team 5, possibly putting them in danger, an expert said.

During his surprise post-Christmas visit to troops in Iraq, his first trip to a combat zone since he was sworn in last year, the president and First Lady Melania Trump entered the dining hall Wednesday at the Al-Asad base west of Baghdad to greet about 100 troops.

U.S. Navy Lt. Cmdr. Kyu Lee told Trump he is the chaplain for SEAL Team 5. Lee later said Trump told him, "Hey, in that case, let’s take a picture."

The ensuing photos and video revealed the presence of the special operations forces, something some experts have said is generally frowned upon if not verboten in war zones.

However, the Office of the Secretary of Defense said in a statement that no rules were violated.

"The special operators voluntarily participated in this open press event," the secretary's public affairs arm stated. "There was no security violation."

Retired U.S. Navy Admiral James Stavridis addressed the matter Thursday on "MSNBC Live with Hallie Jackson."

"It's important he's a SEAL," Stavridis said of the chaplain. "That's a part of the force that is historically supposed to be very, very cloistered, very much in the shadows. If it wasn't a SEAL, it wouldn't be a big deal. Navy SEAL, that surprised me."

First of all, ignore what the Office of the Secretary of Defense is saying because that is clearly a statement from someone who has been told not to embarrass Trump. The double standard here is incredible, and when senior members of the military, who are not beholden to the cult of Trump tell you this is out of the ordinary, believe them.

The media is complicit in allowing Republicans like Trump to be old white men who are incompetent at their jobs and terrible in the role of Commander in Chief. As long as he looks like the stereotypical GOP Big Daddy in Charge of Everything, they’re fine with the images and the commentary they get because they’re feeding off the singular abomination that is Trump in public with other people.

Come on. They should be excoriating Trump for politicizing his appearances in Iraq and Germany and for waiting almost two years to visit the troops in the field, and good for Fox News for actually pointing this out (although, not enough, of course). We really have to examine how the media portrays a president who refuses to acknowledge any of our customs and traditions while violating operational security basics and signing campaign materials.

The 2020 election is going to hinge on whether Trump can continue to manipulate the media, get tons of positive coverage of his nearly-human activities, and use the military as props. If we allow him to do these things, we’re sunk.

Wednesday, December 26, 2018

Trump is Firmly Against the Arts in America




Trump refuses to acknowledge American culture and the arts because these institutions are out of step with his mindset and his agenda. There will be no popular play that lionizes Trump’s hatred of immigrants and his vicious diatribes against those who oppose him, unless, of course, it runs on Fox News. As we enter his third year of pretending to be a president who serves all of the American people, it’s no wonder that the arts are feeling like they are in the midst of a dry era:

President Trump skipped the Kennedy Center Honors in 2017, publicly stating that he wished to avoid marring the celebration with a "political distraction." A year later, his absence at the event -- held earlier this month, and now being televised on CBS -- merely reinforces the disconnect between the commander in chief and key ceremonial aspects of America's cultural life.

The Kennedy Center tribute joins other touchstones -- like NBA championship teams visiting the White House -- that have fallen by the wayside since Trump's inauguration. And while such matters aren't necessarily important in the bigger scheme of things, it does feel as if there's a donut hole at the center of all this pomp and circumstance.

Perhaps more than most, the Kennedy Center has always been a kick in that respect, seeing Washington luminaries get in touch with their inner fan, dancing and singing along (often poorly, but so what?) during rousing tributes to stars in various artistic fields.

This year's music-centric honorees offer a fair amount of opportunity for such good vibrations, with the showiest segments devoted to Cher, Reba McEntire and the creators of "Hamilton," joined by jazz saxophonist Wayne Shorter and composer Philip Glass.

Even with Trump's absence, both sides of the political aisle were well represented, just based on who the cameras find in the crowd. Attendees included soon-to-be House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Senators Amy Klobuchar and Jeff Flake, and Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts.

Members of Trump's cabinet, including Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross and Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin, were also on hand, with a conspicuous shot of the latter during the "Hamilton" tribute, which -- given Alexander Hamilton's contributions to monetary policy -- felt like somebody's idea of an inside joke.

There were so many great honorees this year and last year, and it’s a shame that he couldn’t lend the prestige of the office to their ceremonies. However, nothing could be more at odds with Trump’s agenda than honoring Cher, who, during the Iraq War, used her celebrity to deliver badly-needed specialized headbands for soldiers so that they could hopefully avoid traumatic brain injuries. Trump couldn’t even show up this year for Reba McEntire, whose fans probably voted for him. I doubt very much that Trump even know who half of them were, given his disconnect with American culture.

During the Bush years, the one area he could count on for support was found in the Country Music establishment. Trump won’t even honor them, much less deign to spend time with the stars of that genre. He is too toxic for them, save a few of the artists who simply don’t count on ever selling downloads or concert tickets outside of the Deep South. Kid Rock and Ted Nugent are about the extent of his crossover appeal outside of Country.

The diversity of American popular culture guarantees that there will always be a Kanye West who will support Trump in some favor; someone will always be contrarian enough to show him the respect he does not show to them. I can’t imagine what the movies will look like, or how Trump will be depicted for the next fifty years. Anyone who shows him as thoughtful or caring will not be taken seriously. He has already cemented his legacy as a buffoon, and that’s how he will be shown from now on.

Sunday, December 23, 2018

Chris Cuomo Blames Both Sides When Republicans Do Evil Shit




When Trump decided to shut down the government, he did it because it was the wrong thing to do to Federal workers. It wasn’t part of any policy strategy and it wasn’t about saving taxpayers any money—he did it because it was specifically evil to people who work for the government. Immoral and unconscionable as well.

Chris Cuomo was quick to go on CNN and deflect criticism of the network by saying that “both sides” needed to come together.

Really? Which side is led by Trump? Which side still controls all three branches of government? The Democrats don’t take control of the house until January.

Who shut down the government? Trump.

Who believes that spending $5 billion dollars on a fake wall with metal slats is wasteful? Democrats.

Anyone who says “both sides” are at fault here knows that’s a con game. It allows whoever says it to be able to come back later and say, “I’m not biased, I go after both sides!” Cuomo is a useful idiot in that he just refuses to drop any pretense of being a so-called journalist. He even has the gall to tell “both parties” to “do your damned jobs.” As if that were possible at a time when the president can’t even function normally in public.

We live in an age where Fox’s propaganda is so bad it makes everyone else pretend to be more centrist and more middle of the road than they need to be. You’re never going to get anything out of Cuomo beyond this childish view that the party that isn’t in power can somehow dictate how things will work.

Democrats don’t own this shutdown. It’s Trump shutdown number three. It’s as simple as that. But Cuomo can’t hammer that home and inform people that this is the case. He has to look impartial.

It’s a huge pant load, though, because Trump and the Republicans are flirting with the devil and trying to destroy this country. No one ever says, “hey, maybe the GOP should stop being so extreme.”

At no point in our history would any Democrat would have been allowed to lead this country the way Trump has. All of these national security Republicans and all of these law and order conservatives are doing backflips every day, some right in front of Cuomo on his show, in order to escape the inevitable accountability that is coming in November of 2020.

Tuesday, December 18, 2018

Acting Like a Nut




The inside scoop from Gabriel Sherman at Vanity Fair is that Trump is driving everyone crazy and he’s “acting like a nut.”

Really?

Donald Trump plans to head to Mar-a-Lago for a 16-day Christmas vacation starting Friday—and West Wing officials, remembering previous sojourns, are on edge at the prospect of the president spending two weeks unsupervised. As the Robert Mueller loop tightens around the president, his erratic behavior is causing alarm among his most senior staff. “The staff is fed up he’s acting like a nut. They can’t get him to stop tweeting,” a former official said.

Trump still has the ability to compartmentalize, and his mood has yo-yoed. Last night, he was jovial at a White House Christmas party attended by Don Jr. and Kimberly Guilfoyle, Ryan Zinke, Scott Walker, Chris Christie and Diamond and Silk. “He truly lives in separate worlds,” another former official observed. Trump’s advisers, however, recognize the precariousness of the current political moment. In one sign of the discontent in the West Wing, Communications Director Bill Shine has told friends that he’s thinking about signing a month-to-month lease for his Washington apartment, according to a source. “Bill is very frustrated,” a person familiar with his thinking said.

Trump’s freewheeling search to replace John Kelly as chief of staff unnerved Ivanka and Jared Kushner, three sources briefed on the discussions said. Trump, who was annoyed at Kushner after Kushner’s pick, Nick Ayers, turned down the job, told people he was seriously considering Citizens United president David Bossie. Kushner told people that giving Bossie the job would empower Bossie’s friend and co-author Corey Lewandowski,a longtime Kushner nemesis. (Last week, Bossie and Lewandowski met with Trump at the White House, a source said.) Bossie is also an ally of Steve Bannon, another Kushner enemy. “Jared got Steve Mnuchin and his buddies to tell Trump no way,” a source briefed on the discussions said. With few candidates available or willing to take the job, Kushner pushed Trump to name budget director Mick Mulvaney chief of staff. “They announced it as ‘acting’ but he’s chief. They only did that so if he and Trump hate each other they have an off-ramp,” the source said.

This is one of those stories that should infuriate people. This shit is not a game. It’s life or death. The President has troops on the battle field right now, a world wide military that is protecting our interests, an entire government here at home that is supposed to keep us safe, whether it is through monitoring our transportation systems, the food we eat, our environment, how people are cared for, the Veteran’s Administration, and on and on.

He’s making a few overpaid people who will never work in a respectable job again a little nuts? Hell, we’re all along for that ride, and it has been the two absolute shittiest years since the end of the Vietnam War.

Think of the collective hit that the country has taken since January 20, 2017. The toll on good people has been enormous. The fear that this madman has instilled in everyone who cares about foreign policy is without parallel—no one this unstable, including Nixon, has ever been allowed to lead this country for as long as Trump and do as much damage to our standing in the world. Whether we’re talking health care, encouraging actual Nazis to kill people, throwing babies in jail, setting up remote concentration camps for immigrants seeking political asylum, the willful destruction of planet, the coarsening of the way we talk to one another, or the way we live in this society—the Trump years are a malevolent trip down batshit crazy lane.

This Christmas, wish them all to hell. That’s where we’re living, Goddammit.

Monday, December 17, 2018

Rudy Giuliani is the Worst Lawyer in America




Donald Trump is the Stumblebum in Chief, and he has the worst lawyer in America working for him:

President Donald Trump's lawyer Rudy Giuliani suggested on Sunday that Trump had spoken with his former attorney Michael Cohen past January 2016 about a Trump Tower in Moscow.

On ABC's "This Week," Giuliani seemed to reference Trump's written responses to special counsel Robert Mueller, saying the conversations about the proposed Moscow project might have gone as far as the tail end of the general election period.

"According to the answer that he gave, it would have covered all the way up to November of -- covered all the way up to November 2016," Giuliani said. "Said he had conversations with him -- but the President didn't hide this." 

Asked about the difference between that comment and the previous claim that Trump's discussions about the project ended in January 2016, Giuliani said, "Until you actually sit down and answer the questions and you go back and you look at the papers and you look at ... you're not going to know what happened." 

When asked to clarify his remarks, Giuliani said to CNN later Sunday that Trump told Mueller's team he spoke to Cohen about the proposed Moscow project but did not specify exactly when those conversations took place.

We are watching legal malpractice being played out in real time. Giuliani keeps moving the goalposts around and he keeps revealing what we already know—Trump used the help of the Russians to deceive the American people and steal the 2016 presidential election. His antics are designed to accustom the American people to criminal behavior and some really light treason. I don’t know how this is all going to work out, but anybody who pays Giuliani for actual legal services from now on is a fool.

Thank God They Left Google+ Alone




The 2020 Election is coming up, and a new Senate report says that virtually every social media platform has been infiltrated with Russian accounts designed to attack our democracy:

The Senate Intelligence Committee has been advised that social media companies might have provided the "bare minimum" amount of data to aid the panel's investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential election, according to a person familiar with a report commissioned by the committee.

The committee hired an online intelligence firm to review data on Russian social media accounts that posed as American accounts. The data, much of which has not yet been made public, was provided to lawmakers by Facebook, Twitter and Google, which owns YouTube. 

New Knowledge, the firm hired by the committee, tracks online disinformation. In its report to lawmakers, the firm said that the social media companies could have provided more valuable data to the committee and also could have presented it in a more accessible format. 

The firm advised lawmakers that there are likely more Russian accounts that the social media companies failed to identify, according to person familiar with the report.

Oh, there are tons of them on all of the social media platforms, except Google+, of course, which technically shouldn’t even exist anymore. There are Russians acting up on Facebook and Twitter as we speak because the people who track the bots that spread pro-Trump bullshit never sleep.

The first thing we do is, we regulate the living hell out of these platforms. We have to protect our way of life and we have to put the screws to every single Russian troll. They are manipulating our elections and they are spreading disinformation everywhere.

Oh, except on Google+, of course. Nobody bothers with that anymore.

Saturday, December 15, 2018

Elizabeth Warren is Too Female to be President




When the media says that Senator Elizabeth Warren is being “divisive,” what they really mean is that she’s too female:

What's the biggest beef against Sen. Elizabeth Warren, who is considering a run for president against Donald Trump?

It's that she's "too divisive," an argument put forward by her hometown newspaper, the Boston Globe, in a widely discussed editorial last week urging her not to run for president. It sparked both public rebukes of the paper and some private nods of agreement from Democrats as they begin to consider in earnest what kind of person their party should put up against Trump in 2020:

A fighter, a friendly face or some combination of both?

"Democrats will be looking for someone who can float like a butterfly and sting like a bee," said Matt Sinovic, the executive director of Progress Iowa. "The nominee will have to point out Trump's many (many) failures and lies in a compelling way, fire up the base — all while reaching persuadable voters as well."

Warren is probably overqualified to be president, so let’s clear that up right now. She understands the law, she knows economics and she knows how Washington D.C. works. She is miles ahead of any Republican anywhere in terms of being able to lead this country effectively. But, what’s happening here is tragic. She is being discounted because she’s a woman. And, let’s be clear that, in no uncertain terms, there is a wide swath of people who won’t accept anyone but Bernie Sanders and they’re ready to burn everything to the ground if he doesn’t get the nomination.

In the era of Trump, how in the hell could anyone be more “divisive?” I don’t understand that at all.

Thursday, December 13, 2018

Karen McDougal Has Been Telling the Truth All Along




I’ve always thought that this was a rather stunning picture—it’s Trump with his third wife, his daughter, and his mistress, and three other women. Karen McDougal is on the far right of this image and, for some reason, we’re not really talking about how she has been telling the truth all along.

Back in March, and I know that seems like a lifetime ago, she revealed details of her relationship with Trump that should have sent shockwaves through the country. Instead, it was just another news item that went past us in a flash and was gone:

Karen McDougal confirmed to CNN in an interview on Thursday that she had a 10-month sexual relationship with Donald Trump before he was President, saying they were together "many dozens of times." 

"I can tell you we saw each other a minimum five times a month, up to bigger numbers per month," the former Playboy model told CNN's Anderson Cooper.

She said they were together "many dozens of times," and when asked by Cooper if they were intimate, she responded in the affirmative.

McDougal's comments came just days after she filed a lawsuit against American Media Inc., the publisher of The National Enquirer, to seek an end to a contract with the company that she said had sold away her rights to tell her story under false circumstances.

The agreement signed in 2016 and the alleged affair more than a decade prior came to light in a Wall Street Journal report shortly before the election. Representatives for Trump have denied an affair occurred.

Today we learned that AMI did indeed “catch and kill” McDougal’s story. Unlike the whole situation with Stormy Daniels, which was transactional and brief, Trump’s relationship with McDougal was more substantive, as evidenced above.

I still can’t figure this out, though. How can the evangelical right reconcile what is now settled fact, proven in a court of law, backed up with affidavits and testimony, and still think of Trump as a holy or righteous man? The hypocrisy is staggering. In the America that I grew up in, this is not how a Godly man is supposed to act in public. Someone somewhere has done lost their mind.

In 2016, I highly doubt whether the revelation from Daniels would have made a difference in the outcome of the election, which was already being thrown by the involvement of Russia’s efforts to use sophisticated analytics to target American citizens and bombard them with anti-Hillary Clinton propaganda via Facebook that they then believed to be truthful. I think that if McDougal had come forward, she would have had far more credibility given the fact that there is likely more evidence of an affair between the two of them. Somewhere, there are likely documents that prove she was with Trump “many dozens of times.”

Anyone who attacked McDougal’s credibility should apologize, of course. She seems to have been the only person on Earth who wanted to have sex with Trump without demanding money first. Does she need help? Is there anyone who can explain that without being grossed out?

The whole thing still baffles me.

Wednesday, December 12, 2018

Madam Speaker




Trump tried to distract people by attacking Nancy Pelosi, and he missed the mark, badly:

In his first two years in office, President Trump operated without a clear check on his power. With his party controlling both houses of Congress, he issued demands from his bedroom in the form of early-morning tweets, and legislative leaders got in line. He rarely was personally confronted about his untruths and misstatements. And he mostly ignored congressional Democrats, choosing to spar instead with journalists.

That all came to a crashing halt Tuesday. In an extraordinarily heated public fight with the nation’s top two Democratic leaders, the combustible president confronted for the first time the enormity of the challenge he will face over the next two years: divided government.

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), the likely next speaker, and Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.) called out Trump’s falsehoods. They exposed him as malleable about his promised border wall. They lectured him about the legislative process and reiterated to him that he lacked the votes to secure the $5 billion he seeks for the wall.

This is a momentous day because Nancy Pelosi is, once again, the only woman to hold the position of Speaker of the House. That makes her, by elected position, the most powerful woman in our nation’s history (notwithstanding the esteemed Edith Wilson, who was, in effect, POTUS for well over a year).

It wasn’t just a beat-down delivered by Pelosi and Schumer; it was the execution of a demonstration that Trump is unfit to lead. Really, any Republican who understands governance and leadership should freely admit that Trump tried to stage-manage a confrontation and ended up looking like he should have been placed under the care of a physician so that his mental health could be evaluated.

Trump’s cognitive decline brings into sharp focus the fact that he needs to be looked at. Really, that wasn’t the performance of a toddler today. It was a cry for help from a deranged individual who commands neither facts nor respect.

Tuesday, December 11, 2018

Never Let Them Forget What They Did to America




The self-serving aspect of this revelation makes me want to barf:

Republicans on Capitol Hill are also growing anxious.

“And there is some understanding, I think, inside the White House of just how dark it may be getting, especially in terms of conversations — private conversations — that people there are having with Republicans on the Hill who are starting to be concerned,” Stokols reported.

“Republican lawmakers who are — have a huge role to play in this if it goes forward — are starting to tell me privately, some of them, that, you know, if there’s obvious evidence, the bottom is going to fall out,” he explained.

“They’re not going to be able to stand by this White House and that’s a looming problem for the president,” he concluded.

Trump may even face a greater threat from the Southern District of New York investigations.

“It’s much harder to stop what’s happening in that office as opposed to with the special counsel’s investigation,” Stokols noted. “This train has left the station, there’s really nothing that this White House can do about it.”

Republicans are not “all of a sudden” deciding to abandon Trump. They’re waiting for the green light to do so. They have no loyalty to him—they only have their fear of Trump’s rabid-dog base. They are laying the groundwork for the media to give them a pass on the last two years of insanity and lawlessness.

At any time, three or four Republican Senators could have stopped the president’s agenda. They failed, repeatedly, to do what was right. You have McCain and his symbolic no vote to save Obamacare, and you have Lisa Murkowski deciding not to be horrible. The rest have knuckled under to a man who endears no love and who acts transactionally in all matters. Once Trump has nothing they want, the GOP will abandon him, and the media will pretend it is because they love America.

Nothing could be further from the truth.

Sunday, December 9, 2018

A Smooth Running Machine




The guy that Trump wanted to take over as White House Chief of Staff has bailed and is going to get out of town ahead of the horrific shit show that is sure to follow.

Wasn’t it Trump who claimed everything was a “smooth running machine” just a few months ago?

We are about to enter two years of unmatched instability and political infighting. Everything promises to grind to a halt. Our government is loosely divided now and the only thing that stands between us and oblivion are a handful of Democrats who know how to fill out the forms in order to subpoena someone. Anyone who says they know what’s going to happen next is lying and anyone who refuses to stick around and watch gets a pass.

What the hell is in store for us? I have no idea.

Saturday, December 8, 2018

What About Sean Hannity?




As we track our way through these developments with Michael Cohen, keep it in the back of your mind that Sean Hannity was his other major client:

President Donald Trump's former lawyer Michael Cohen has provided significant assistance to special counsel Robert Mueller's investigation, including details about contacts between Trump aides and Russia, according to court documents released Friday.

But federal prosecutors in New York still recommended that Cohen receive a stiff prison sentence for his "extensive" criminal conduct, and were bitterly critical of what they called his "greed and the desire to live an opulent and lavish lifestyle."

Mueller's office said Cohen gave federal investigators "relevant and useful" information about his contacts with people connected to the White House as late as this year, according to a sentencing memo the office filed.

The memo says Cohen also offered a detailed account of the effort to build a Trump Tower in Moscow while Trump’s presidential campaign was gaining steam and gave Mueller’s team valuable information about “certain discrete Russia-related matters core to its investigation" that he learned from Trump Organization executives.

The court papers reveal for what appears to be the first time that Cohen was in contact with the Trump White House last year and this year, although it does not disclose what was discussed during that contact.

Cohen was involved in significant criminal conduct and was the lynchpin between Trump and the Russians. How does this not taint Hannity?

The symbiotic relationship between Donald Trump and Fox News can make it difficult to discern where the Trump administration ends and the network begins. But yesterday’s revelation in Manhattan federal court, that Trump’s lawyer Michael Cohen’s three-person client roster includes Sean Hannity, was shocking, even to those inside Fox News. “What the fuck? This is the most embarrassing thing I’ve ever seen,” one staffer told me. “This is bad,” another Fox staffer said. “It violates every rule of journalism.”

It was a surreal moment inside Fox as the news broke and producers scrambled to make sense of the developments. Hannity, according to sources, had not informed senior Fox News executives about his undisclosed relationship with Cohen, so the network was basically flying blind. Adding to the chaos, Hannity was in the middle of hosting his afternoon radio show, and weighed in live on air without clearing his response with Fox’s notoriously controlling public-relations department. His opaque, have-it-both-ways explanation—that he wasn’t really a Cohen client, and that he merely consulted him informally about “real estate,” while still maintaining that attorney client privilege applied—did little to stop Fox journalists from speculating about just what, exactly, Cohen did for Hannity.

We have only known about the Cohen-Hannity relationship since April of this year. It seems like a lifetime ago, but this was a pretty important development in our understanding of how Cohen took care of his “clients.” Could there be a separate criminal case working its way through the Southern District of New York that involves something Hannity was involved in? Is that what Cohen refused to cooperate with?

When does the shoe finally drop? When does Fox News realize that having Hannity on the air every night is a major liability given his relationship to Cohen?

I’m guessing the shoe won’t drop. There will be an avalanche of outrage, and the facts will be ignored.

Friday, December 7, 2018

Mark Harris Owes Money to the Guy that Steals Elections




How brazen is it to actually pay money from your campaign to a guy who has made a career out of steal elections by way of destroying ballots and committing election fraud?

You'd have to be a Republican running for Congress to be this stupid:

The campaign of North Carolina Republican Mark Harris still owed more than $53,000 after last month's election to a consulting firm at the center of an absentee ballot effort that has sparked allegations of fraud and could trigger a new House election, new filings show.

More than $34,000 of Harris' debt to Red Dome Group centered on a "reimbursement payment for Bladen absentee" work and other election efforts, according to a post-election report Harris' campaign filed late Thursday with the Federal Election Commission.

Red Dome hired Leslie McCrae Dowless, a veteran political operative, to work on the get-out-the-vote operation on Harris' behalf. Dowless, who pleaded guilty to federal insurance fraud in 1992, is now at the center of state and local investigations probing whether absentee ballots were used to alter the results in Bladen County, where Harris won 96% of the absentee vote.

Dowless has denied any wrongdoing in comments to The Charlotte Observer. He has not responded to CNN requests for comment.

Right there on the post-election report, Harris and his campaign identified the work being done as “absentee work.” That’s a Louie Gohmert level of stupid right there. How much do you want to bet that $54,000 never gets paid and that Mark Harris never serves in Congress again? If this was 2016, the whole thing would have been papered over. With Nancy SMASH! in charge, I think we’re going to see a new outcome.

Wednesday, December 5, 2018

Parlous

[caption id="" align="alignnone" width="600.0"]  Michael Flynn & Robert Gates, Trump Tower, 2016  Michael Flynn & Robert Gates, Trump Tower, 2016 [/caption]


I was reading this article today and this comment by former Defense Secretary Robert stood out as a typo until I actually looked up the word “parlous.”

Gates, who most recently served as secretary of defense under Presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama, recounted Mr. Bush's restraint in crucial moments in history like the fall of the Berlin Wall. 

"What he understood that very few of his critics understood was that [Soviet leader Mikhail] Gorbachev's position in Moscow was relatively parlous at that time. And the concern that he had was that if he celebrated too much, it could serve as a provocation to the conservatives in the Soviet Union who were still powerful, the KGB, the army, and the party," Gates said.

I thought the word was supposed to be ‘perilous’ but, no, the better word here is ‘parlous’ and that’s when I realized that I do not recall ever being introduced to the word.






So, there you have it. One Republican praising another with a word I didn’t know. I have no idea how obscure it is, but I honestly don’t think I’ve come across it and really understood what it meant until now.

Oh, and the photo above is Gates hanging out with Michael Flynn in Trump Tower back in 2016. I wonder if he would describe Trump’s legal status as being particularly parlous right now.


Michael Flynn Sang Like a Canary




What was it that convinced General Michael Flynn to roll over on Donald Trump and give 19 separate interviews to Robert Mueller’s investigators? Was it the fact that Trump can’t stop turning on everyone around him when things get tough? Was it the fact that Trump didn’t promise him a pardon? Was it the fact that Flynn was promised at least a few years in jail for lying to the FBI?

At the heart of all of this was the fact that Flynn was not a bright man, and he was up to monstrous things:

Special Counsel Robert Mueller disclosed more details Thursday of former national security adviser Michael Flynn’s efforts to cover up the extent of his ties to the government of Turkey while he was a top official on President Donald Trump’s campaign and transition.

The documents specifically state that a key component of Flynn’s work for Turkey involved the government’s efforts to remove from the U.S. a Turkish cleric living in Pennsylvania. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan accuses the cleric, Fethullah Gulen, of orchestrating a failed coup against him in July 2016. Flynn began working for Turkey about a month later.

Federal prosecutors said in the court filing, which refers to Gulen, though not by name, that Flynn’s decision not to disclose that he was aiding the Turkish government "impeded the ability of the public to learn about the Republic of Turkey's efforts to influence public opinion about the failed coup, including its efforts to effectuate the removal of a person legally residing in the United States."

Turkey, being a NATO ally, should really be at the forefront of those relationships we have to re-evaluate in the post-Trump era. How do we continue to deal with them in light of what Erdogan and his government are obsessed with?

But Flynn? This guys was Trump’s first pick for National Security Advisor. Full stop. And he sang like a canary, and he must have babbled uncontrollably the first time they put a microphone in front of his face.

Wow.

In and of itself, this would have sunk any normal administration in the modern era, and it would have forced any other president to resign in disgrace. Think about that for a moment—this one guy, and this one scandal, and everything that we know so far about how he was able to make it into the White House and take this critical, sensitive national security position—that would have been enough to destroy any other president, especially if they were a Democrat.

All of the horrible people who surrounded George W. Bush were no where near as criminal or as venal and corrupt as Flynn, and that’s saying a lot. None of them—as far as we know—were actually working with Turkey and were completely and utterly compromised in the way that Flynn was. The closest you could get was how Nixon worked with the North Vietnamese to scuttle the peace talks in the waning days of the Johnson Administration. That’s as close as I can get to a comparison.

Underlying all of this, I would imagine that Flynn wore a wire (I have no idea if he did or not) and Flynn has mental health issues we may not be privy to. I suspect that there was something that made him snap and end up gravitating towards Trump after he was fired as the head of the Defense Intelligence Agency, but I don’t know. How else could you explain any of this?

Again, what a scandal. What a time to be alive.

Tuesday, December 4, 2018

The Shadow Rulers of the VA




When we are unpacking all the bizarre, cripplingly corrupt aspects of the Trump Regime in twenty years, this is going to be a much bigger story than it is right now:

Newly released emails about the three Trump associates who secretly steered the Department of Veterans Affairs show how deeply the trio was involved in some of the agency’s most consequential matters, most notably a multibillion-dollar effort to overhaul electronic health records for millions of veterans.

Marvel Entertainment chairman Ike Perlmutter, West Palm Beach physician Bruce Moskowitz and lawyer Marc Sherman — part of the president’s circle at his Mar-a-Lago resort in Florida — reviewed a confidential draft of a $10 billion government contract for the electronic-records project, even though they lack any relevant expertise.

In preparing the contract, the agency consulted more than 40 outside experts, such as hospital executives, according to the records, which were released under the Freedom of Information Act. The Mar-a-Lago trio were listed among those experts. Perlmutter, a comic book tycoon, appears on the list between representatives from the University of Washington Medical Center, Intermountain Healthcare and Johns Hopkins University.

But none of the three men has served in the U.S. military or elsewhere in government, and none of them has expertise in health information technology or federal contracting.

The list is one of hundreds of newly released documents about the so-called Mar-a-Lago Crowd’s sway over VA policy and personnel decisions. The records show them editing the budget for a government program, weighing in on job candidates and being treated as having decision-making authority on policy initiatives.

These are the people who want to privatize the VA and, essentially, eliminate the very idea that we should care for veterans at all. Once this agency’s mission has been privatized, that’s it. No more standards of care. No more covenant between the country and the people who fight our wars. No reason whatsoever to hold ourselves accountable. When you privatize government responsibilities, you hand everything over to the bean counters who will say, well, it’s too expensive to cover your service disabled injury after twenty years, so that entitlement has to be eliminated.

That’s what they want. They want to privatize it so they can shrink it and make it go away. They want to take away the rights of veterans to actually have health care. This will save billions, of course, and it will be passed on to a for-profit series of entities who will be able to deny coverage whenever they want.

Is it wrong of me to think jail is too good for the Trumpanistas?

Monday, December 3, 2018

Bernie Sanders is Here to Help Re-Elect Donald Trump




Bernie Sanders has a very low opinion of the Democratic Party and he will continue to make this known well into the 2020 presidential election cycle:

An insurgent underdog no more, Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders is laying the groundwork to launch a bigger presidential campaign than his first, as advisers predict he would open the 2020 Democratic presidential primary season as a political powerhouse.

A final decision has not been made, but those closest to the 77-year-old self-described democratic socialist suggest that neither age nor interest from a glut of progressive presidential prospects would dissuade him from undertaking a second shot at the presidency. And as Sanders’ brain trust gathered for a retreat in Vermont over the weekend, some spoke openly about a 2020 White House bid as if it was almost a foregone conclusion.

There’s a lot of money to be made from dividing the left and helping Trump get re-elected. I’ll bet the checks are already flowing into his campaign. Would you believe that Jeff Weaver is back on board as well?

“This time, he starts off as a front-runner, or one of the front-runners,” Sanders’ 2016 campaign manager Jeff Weaver told The Associated Press, highlighting the senator’s proven ability to generate massive fundraising through small-dollar donations and his ready-made network of staff and volunteers.

Weaver added: “It’ll be a much bigger campaign if he runs again, in terms of the size of the operation.”

Amid the enthusiasm — and there was plenty in Burlington as the Sanders Institute convened his celebrity supporters, former campaign staff and progressive policy leaders — there were also signs of cracks in Sanders’ political base. His loyalists are sizing up a prospective 2020 Democratic field likely to feature a collection of ambitious liberal leaders — and not the establishment-minded Hillary Clinton.

Instead, a new generation of outspoken Democrats such as Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren, New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker and California Sen. Kamala Harris are expected to seek the Democratic nomination. All three have embraced Sanders’ call for “Medicare for All” and a $15 minimum wage, among other policy priorities he helped bring into the Democratic mainstream in the Trump era.

So, despite the fact that the Democratic Party ran on healthcare in 2018 and won at least 40 seats in the House, it’s still not “progressive” enough for Sanders and his supporters. Despite the fact that we had a slate of great candidates who lost because of systemic voter suppression, it’s still not good enough. And, despite the fact that we’re running against a criminal enterprise dressed up in the false legitimacy of the presidency, there’s no desire to shut off the grifting so we can take back the country.

The Democratic National Committee, and the party as a whole, had better wake up to the threat Sanders poses. He is operating on two fronts—one, he wants to denigrate the party and reduce it to where it was after Reagan and Bush and, two, he wants to fundraise like crazy so that he can starve it of funds. This is an existential threat to not only Democrats but also to democracy in America.

There will always be an insurrection from the left against the Democratic Party. Smart people know this, and they know how to prepare for the primary season ahead. Anyone who enters the race and fails to have a plan to deal with Bernie and his supporters is committing political malpractice.

I don’t know if he really wants things to get so bad that Americans blindly turn to overt socialism or if he just wants to obtain some form of payback for what he perceives to be a number of slights. I do know this—ignore what Sanders is doing at your peril.

Saturday, December 1, 2018

George Herbert Walker Bush 1924-2018




Everyone is lauding the classy, dignified manner in which George H. W. Bush surrendered the presidency on January 20, 1993. What they should remember is how Bush pardoned people on his way out the door because that’s exactly what Trump is going to do unless he is removed from office.

WASHINGTON, Dec. 24 -- Six years after the arms-for-hostages scandal began to cast a shadow that would darken two Administrations, President Bush today granted full pardons to six former officials in Ronald Reagan's Administration, including former Defense Secretary Caspar W. Weinberger.

Mr. Weinberger was scheduled to stand trial on Jan. 5 on charges that he lied to Congress about his knowledge of the arms sales to Iran and efforts by other countries to help underwrite the Nicaraguan rebels, a case that was expected to focus on Mr. Weinberger's private notes that contain references to Mr. Bush's endorsement of the secret shipments to Iran.

In one remaining facet of the inquiry, the independent prosecutor, Lawrence E. Walsh, plans to review a 1986 campaign diary kept by Mr. Bush. Mr. Walsh has characterized the President's failure to turn over the diary until now as misconduct.

Decapitated Walsh Efforts

But in a single stroke, Mr. Bush swept away one conviction, three guilty pleas and two pending cases, virtually decapitating what was left of Mr. Walsh's effort, which began in 1986. Mr. Bush's decision was announced by the White House in a printed statement after the President left for Camp David, where he will spend the Christmas holiday.

Mr. Walsh bitterly condemned the President's action, charging that 'the Iran-contra cover-up, which has continued for more than six years, has now been completed.'

Mr. Walsh directed his heaviest fire at Mr. Bush over the pardon of Mr. Weinberger, whose trial would have given the prosecutor a last chance to explore the role in the affair of senior Reagan officials, including Mr. Bush's actions as Vice President.

'Evidence of Conspiracy'

Mr. Walsh hinted that Mr. Bush's pardon of Mr. Weinberger and the President's own role in the affair could be related. For the first time, he charged that Mr. Weinberger's notes about the secret decision to sell arms to Iran, a central piece of evidence in the case against the former Pentagon chief, included 'evidence of a conspiracy among the highest ranking Reagan Administration officials to lie to Congress and the American public.'

The prosecutor charged that Mr. Weinberger's efforts to hide his notes may have 'forestalled impeachment proceedings against President Reagan' and formed part of a pattern of 'deception and obstruction.' On Dec. 11, Mr. Walsh said he discovered 'misconduct' in Mr. Bush's failure to turn over what the prosecutor said were the President's own 'highly relevant contemporaneous notes, despite repeated requests for such documents.'

The notes, in the form of a campaign diary that Mr. Bush compiled after the elections in November 1986, are in the process of being turned over to Mr. Walsh, who said, 'In light of President Bush's own misconduct, we are gravely concerned about his decision to pardon others who lied to Congress and obstructed official investigations.'

In an interview on the 'McNeil-Lehrer Newshour' tonight, Mr. Walsh said for the first time that Mr. Bush was a subject of his investigation. The term 'subject,' as it has been used by Mr. Walsh's prosecutors, is broadly defined as someone involved in events under scrutiny, but who falls short of being a target, or a person likely to be charged with a crime. In the inquiry into the entire Iran-contra affair, a number of Government officials have been identified as subjects who were never charged with wrongdoing.

The lawlessness of the Trump Regime was made possible by the hundred-plus convicted felons who served in the Reagan Administration and the way Bush left office. Yeah, yeah—rest in peace. Many, many untold thousands and thousands of people are dead in Central America because of what Bush and his ilk got away with.