Friday, July 10, 2020

Another Hoax is Proven to be True

Trump says that Russian financial support for the Taliban is a hoax. In and of itself, that should have been the moment where Mike Pence becomes president until next January. I mean, wow. That scandal still resonates, no matter how hard the media tries to ignore it happened.

So, when you're nobody's idea of a real Secretary of Defense, you end up saying things like this in public.
Secretary of Defense Mark Esper confirmed Thursday that he had been briefed on information regarding Russian payments to the Taliban, seemingly acknowledging that Russia's support for the militant group in Afghanistan is not a "hoax," as President Donald Trump has claimed. However, Esper also made clear that he has not seen intelligence that corroborates claims that American troops were killed as a result of the "bounty" payments, walking a delicate line between acknowledging a well-known threat and potentially clashing with the President.
Esper's comments came during a long-awaited appearance before the House Armed Services Committee, where lawmakers had their first opportunity to ask the defense secretary and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Mark Milley about their knowledge of intelligence on Russia offering bounties to the Taliban for killing US troops in Afghanistan.
It was clear that both men attempted to carefully navigate questions from lawmakers, but Esper admitted exercising particular caution while addressing inquiries about whether he had been briefed on the matter and when.
Responding to a very narrow line of questioning from Rep. Mike Turner, an Ohio Republican, Esper initially told lawmakers that he did not recall a briefing that included the word "bounty," but less than an hour later he clarified that answer when pressed by a Democratic member of the panel.
I think we're well past the point where Esper and Milley should resign. They've made fools of themselves by allowing members of the military to be used to terrorize Americans exercising their right to protest.  We're in that grey area where it just doesn't matter what they say or what the testify to because no sane person is going to either of them to do anything other than shine golf balls and fetch coats and gloves ever again. Esper pretending to make this about whether the word "bounty" was used is shameful.

In January, when Trump is, God willing, forced to leave office, the next president should immediately fire every Trump appointed official in existence. And then the generals and admirals must be removed as well. Milley should not be allowed to stay in his job because, well, one word. Bayonets.

The Russians were paying bounties on American service members. Trump probably didn't even know about it because he has a fetish for making sure Putin is happy with him. Esper and Milley should have told the so-called Gang of Eight and they should have made us aware of it. They didn't, and they've been covering it up, and it's an absolute disgrace, top to bottom.

Thursday, July 9, 2020

Yeah, I'm the Taxman

The Supreme Court delivered their (long overdue) decisions regarding Trump's tax returns this morning and it was a predictable shit storm of bad takes and questionable analysis. I think we need to start this off and go with what Neil Katyal has to say here:

I don't think anything else really needs to be added to this because we just don't know what is going to happen in New York with regards to Cyrus Vance and a sitting grand jury.  We need to take a "wait and see" approach here because of what Katyal says above. It was refreshing to see Judge Andrew Napolitano school the Fox News crowd as well.

The reality is, today's pair of decsions are a political debacle for Trump. The decision to not release his tax returns back in early 2016 like every other normal political candidate is now, finally, working its way through the courts. This should have disqualified him right from the start but, because the Republican Party is a broken institution full of complicit lunatics, they embraced the shattering of norms and customs that will likely cost them for the next twenty years or more.

You can call that a fatal mistake. It might not look like it because we've been following this relentless and tiring story for years. But that's also the mistake that Trump and his bad attorneys have been making. They never had an exit strategy from this scandal. They are caught and they know it.

Now, if Trump was smart, and we know from watching him that he is not, he'd dump his tax returns Friday afternoon and tell everyone to go to hell (he's really good at that). He won't. And the reason why is that he never should have run for president in the first place because he is (probably!) implicated in tax fraud and compromised by more than one foreign bank or power and now that carefully constructed house of flaming bullshit is collapsing all around him.

If Trump had won today, he would have gloated. He lost, and so he had a meltdown. The fear is not that Congress might get to see his tax returns. The fear is that he, and his worthless children, are going to be indicted in New York State for felonies upon felonies and sent to prison for crimes that a president cannot pardon.

President Trump is a crook. That's all he is. That's all he's ever been. He's a goddamned crook, and so are his offspring.

And, what's more--he's the guy running the country! Trump is supposed to set an example for other Americans so that they will pay their taxes and he has failed because the GOP represents a cult-like figure who believes that he is above the law. Trump is the antithesis of public service. But he's the guy who decides who will be hired to be the taxman along with all of the other public servants whose job it is to make him look good and run the government properly. I mean, it's crazy when you think of it and I hate to simplify things, but the one person who represents the government is exactly the person who can't even do a reasonable job of looking honest.

He's supposed to be above all reproach.

And yet, he's the crookedest of the crooked.