Tuesday, April 23, 2019

Speaker Pelosi Urges Caution on Impeachment as Some Democrats Begin to Push

Mod: Personally I think Donald should be hauled out the White House and thrown in a Washington DC holding pen with the rest of the common criminals, but that is just my opinion. And you know what those are usually worth. Unfortunately the world is a far more politically complex place.

Pelosi Urges Caution on Impeachment as Some Democrats Begin to Push (The New York Times link): Speaker Nancy Pelosi, confronting a Democratic divide over the findings of the special counsel, urged her caucus on Monday to hold off impeaching President Trump for now, even as she denounced the “highly unethical and unscrupulous behavior” that she said had dishonored his office.

Her comments, outlined in a letter to House Democrats on Monday and a subsequent conference call with them, seemed designed to increase support for the investigations already begun, rather than impeachment. But the conference call exposed the persistent divisions that Ms. Pelosi is trying to bridge, as several Democrats questioned the cost of not beginning the impeachment of Donald J. Trump.

The release last week of the report by the special counsel, Robert S. Mueller III, threw to Congress the fate of his investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election and Mr. Trump’s efforts to interfere with it. Some House Democrats are convinced that impeachment proceedings would be doomed to fall short of removal from office and therefore would only help the president politically. Others argue that failing to impeach would effectively signal to this president and his successors that serious misdeeds will be tolerated by a legislative branch fearful of political consequence.

Ms. Pelosi tried to convince her colleagues that they have tools to hold Mr. Trump to account without impeaching him. Underscoring Ms. Pelosi’s approach, the Democrat-led Judiciary Committee announced as the call began that it had subpoenaed Donald F. McGahn II, the former White House counsel and one of the central figures of Mr. Mueller’s report, to appear at a public hearing in late May. The hearing, the committee’s chairman told colleagues, would be the first in a series of public sessions showcasing possible obstruction of justice, abuses of power and corruption in the Trump administration.

Representatives Suzanne Bonamici of Oregon and Steve Cohen of Tennessee raised another possibility: voting to censure the president, the people on the call said.

“We have to save our democracy. This isn’t about Democrats or Republicans. It’s about saving our democracy,” Ms. Pelosi told the 172 members who participated in the 87-minute conference call, keeping the possibility of impeachment alive. “If it is what we need to do to honor our responsibility to the Constitution — if that’s the place the facts take us, that’s the place we have to go.”


Monday, April 22, 2019

Poll: Attorney General William Barr didn't fool anyone with his cover up except Republicans

Mod: Disgraced Atty Gen'l Fudge Barr is getting crushed in the press now, and rightly so. But what makes his infamy even more deserved is just how ineffectual his attempts to cover-up Trump's crimes seem today.

Poll: Attorney General William Barr didn't fool anyone with his cover up except Republicans (Daily Kos link) Nearly 6 in 10 Americans still think Donald Trump obstructed justice, according to a newly released AP-NORC poll. Despite Attorney General William Barr's four-page cover up and Trump's weeks-long "total exoneration" tour, fully 58 percent of the nation thinks Trump interfered with the Russia investigation, while 40 percent do not believe that.

In other words, GOP voters and Trumpies believed Barr, but the rest of the population saw Barr's partisan ploy for exactly what it was. In fact, a Civiqs poll last week found that 53 percent of voters think Trump’s Justice Department is deliberately “trying to conceal” information from Robert Mueller’s original report.

Among Republicans, 10 percent more now say Trump is free of wrongdoing (65 this month vs. 55 percent last month) than before Barr issued his report; and 10 percent fewer Republicans say Trump did something unethical, 27 percent, down from 37 percent pre-report.

Other findings:

- 61 percent say the Justice Department has shared too little of Mueller’s report with the public, which suggests that Barr's ploy mostly backfired among everyone but Republicans; 55 percent also say more of the Mueller report should be shared with Congress.

- 53 percent want Congress to continue investigating (45 percent do not).

Trump's job approval rating is 39 percent approve vs. 60 percent disapprove in the poll, nearly unchanged since before the report. Importantly, that means that on the eve of at least some of Mueller’s report finally being released, Trump got no real bump from the Barr report—that's a bad sign for Trump.

Attorney General William Barr's pathetic performance (Chicago Tribune link): The attorney general of the United States is supposed to serve the interests of the American people, not the president. But in his briefing on the Mueller report, William Barr sounded like Donald Trump’s personal lawyer.

The president could hardly have been better served if he had written Barr’s statement himself. Notable in the statement was a significant departure from the carefully parsed conclusion in his March 24 letter summarizing the findings of special counsel Robert Mueller. Then, Barr quoted the report: “The investigation did not establish that members of the Trump Campaign conspired or coordinated with the Russian government in its election interference activities.” Thursday, Barr went further, saying, “There was no evidence of Trump campaign ‘collusion’ with the Russian government’s hacking.”

It’s one thing to say the investigation didn’t confirm that something occurred, as Barr’s letter said, and another to say there is “no evidence” that it occurred. The phrase “no evidence” was conspicuously absent from the March 24 letter. If Mueller indeed found “no evidence” of collaboration, why didn’t Barr say so then? Today he appeared to be overstating something he was previously careful not to overstate.

Barr also went to great lengths to defend the president’s furious fulminations against Mueller and his obvious attempts to influence testimony by those connected with him and his campaign. Though “the president was frustrated and angry” at the investigation, Barr averred, in the end he “fully cooperated” with the probe.

Well, cooperation is in the eye of the beholder. Trump refused to submit to an interview with Mueller. Most investigative targets resent being investigated. And why does Barr praise him for doing what any other citizen would be legally obligated to do? The obvious answer: because he is trying to serve the president’s needs and interests.

One thing we’ve learned in the past two years is how hard it is to take a job in this administration without behaving like a Trump lackey. Thursday, Barr had a chance to demonstrate rigorous impartiality and independence. Instead, he ensured that like so many others, he will leave his office with his reputation seriously damaged.


Sunday, April 21, 2019

The Mueller report shows we don't have a cunning criminal in the Oval Office - we have a narcissistic imbecile

Mod: The Mueller Report has generated a lot of negative press for Trump. And, of course, he has reacted in his usual off the hinges kind of way. I'm pretty sure it is time we started seeing this as comedy. 

The Mueller report shows we don't have a cunning criminal in the Oval Office - we have a narcissistic imbecile (The Independent link): It’s worse than we thought; on balance, the Mueller Report appears to paint the US president as the perfect idiot, along with members of his team who did Putin’s bidding unbeknownst to them.

The special counsel ends his report with the following, somewhat chilling, conclusion: “While this report does not conclude that the president committed a crime, it also does not exonerate him.”

It goes on to say: “The evidence we obtained about the President’s actions and intent presents difficult issues that prevent us from conclusively determining that no criminal conduct occurred.”

The Mueller team concludes that they eventually decided not to reach any legal conclusions in large part because of the difficulties they faced in gathering evidence regarding the president’s actions and the intent behind those actions, as well as questions of fairness and complex US constitutional law issues.

Robert Mueller lays out the myriad difficulties that he and his team faced in gathering evidence for the investigation, including: lies to his investigators and to Congress, the admissibility of evidence, legally privileged information, the invocation of the Fifth Amendment in interrogations, etc. A seemingly impossible task for even the best team.

While the Mueller Report established that the Trump Campaign was aware of and, at times, knowingly accepted assistance from the Russian government in the 2016 presidential campaign election interference scheme, their actions did not necessarily rise a level that would meet the federal criminal definition of a “conspiracy”, or there was not enough evidence to sustain a conviction for federal campaign-finance offences.

Or, in the alternative, there just wasn’t the evidence to establish the conspiracy. This appears to be, by and large, because Trump and many of his team members were being played by the Russians and Wikileaks, unbeknownst to them. While Trump himself was being dog-walked by his staffers and family members.

I think the biggest takeaway from the report isn’t that Trump is some mastermind criminal, rather that an entire nation was duped by a team of Russian hackers that pried open our religious, racial and political fault lines and set us against one another like fighting chickens.

Russian hackers played on the ignorant, self-serving and lazy way we use social media, and the human being’s natural tendency to believe what one wants to believe and try to convince others of the same. We click “like” without reading, we share articles and infographics without investigating. We have been pawns in Vladimir Putin’s game of chess, and that goes from the average person in US town using social media to the president of the United States of America and his closest team members.

Let this report be a lesson to all Americans, and non-Americans alike – beware of what you read; beware of what you share. We are truly living in a dystopian society where words on a screen are taken at face value, unquestioned and repeated mechanically and systematically. Our incapacity to read critically is quite literally under attack.

So, I leave the question to my readers: is it not worse that the US president seems to have been merely a pawn in Putin’s chess game to influence US elections, along with much of the American public? Would it really have been more satisfying to find out that Trump Sr and /or members of his team actively conspired (as a legal term of art) to influence the US election results and interfere with the FBI’s investigation of alleged election interference?

I fear this outcome is much worse than having a cunning criminal sitting in the Oval Office. I fear having a narcissistic imbecile in the Oval Office is considerably more dangerous for all of us.


Saturday, April 20, 2019

All the News that gives Trump Fits: The New York Times Prints 'I'm Fucked' on Front Page

Mod: An actual truth from Donald Trump. And thanks to Robert Mueller he still is.

Trump approval drops 3 points to 2019 low of 37% after release of Mueller report: Reuters/Ipsos poll (Reuters link): The number of Americans who approve of President Donald Trump dropped by 3 percentage points to the lowest level of the year following the release of a special counsel report detailing Russian interference in the last U.S. presidential election, according to an exclusive Reuters/Ipsos public opinion poll. The poll, conducted Thursday afternoon to Friday morning, is the first national survey to measure the response from the American public after the U.S. Justice Department released Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s 448-page report that recounted numerous occasions in which Trump may have interfered with the investigation.

According to the poll, 37 percent of adults in the United States approved of Trump’s performance in office, down from 40 percent in a similar poll conducted on April 15 and matching the lowest level of the year. That is also down from 43 percent in a poll conducted shortly after U.S. Attorney General William Barr circulated a summary of the report in March.

In his report, Mueller said his investigation did not establish that the Trump campaign had coordinated with Russians. However, investigators did find “multiple acts by the President that were capable of exerting undue influence over law enforcement investigations.” While Mueller ultimately decided not to charge Trump with a crime, he also said that the investigation did not exonerate the president, either.


Friday, April 19, 2019

Trump Roast: The Obstruction Case Against Trump that Barr Tried to Hide

Mod: It is now clear that Mueller has written an instruction manual for Congress on how to impeach Trump for obstruction of justice. This despite all of the previous deceptive lip flap from Fudge Barr. In the end Trump was sunk by his own big stupid mouth, and has now left himself to the uncertain mercy of the United States Congress.

The Obstruction Case Against Trump that Barr Tried to Hide (Politico.com link): For nearly a month, the American public has been under the impression, thanks to a four-page "summary" by Attorney General William Barr, that Robert Mueller could not decide whether President Donald Trump had obstructed justice because of “difficult questions of law and fact.” Barr suggested that the special counsel, after 22 months of investigation, simply couldn’t make up his mind and left it to his boss to decide.

Now that we have seen almost the entire report of more than 400 pages, we know Barr intentionally misled the American people about Mueller’s findings and his legal reasoning. As a former federal prosecutor, when I look at Mueller’s work, I don’t see a murky set of facts. I see a case meticulously laid out by a prosecutor who knew he was not allowed to bring it.

Mueller’s report detailed extraordinary efforts by Trump to abuse his power as president to undermine Mueller’s investigation. The case is so detailed that it is hard to escape the conclusion that Mueller could have indicted and convicted Trump for obstruction of justice—if he were permitted to do so. And the reason he is not permitted to do so is very clear: Department of Justice policy prohibits the indictment of a sitting president.

Mueller still could have reached a conclusion regarding obstruction of justice, but he believed it would be unfair to reach a conclusion that Trump could not rebut in court. How do we know this? Because Mueller says it. If he had reached a conclusion that Trump obstructed justice, Mueller wrote, Trump could not go to court to obtain a “speedy and public trial” with the “procedural protections” afforded to a criminal defendant by the Constitution.

Though Mueller determined there was no “collusion” between the Trump campaign and the Russian government, he makes clear that proving obstruction does not require the existence of such an underlying crime. There are many reasons, including fear of personal embarrassment, to explain why the president might have tried to impede the special counsel’s investigation. “The injury to the integrity of the justice system is the same regardless of whether a person committed an underlying wrong,” Mueller wrote. Moreover, Mueller’s team “found multiple acts by the President that were capable of exerting undue influence over law enforcement investigations.”

But Barr hid these inconvenient facts.

Mod: The rest of the article is available at the link.


Thursday, April 18, 2019

The Hill: Why William Barr Should Resign

Mod: A little anticipation here. But Fudge Barr should resign no matter what he puts out today. His partisan enabling Trump's obstruction of justice has already done enough damage to this country.

Why William Barr should resign (The Hill link): After Attorney General William Barr releases his redacted version of the report from special counsel Robert Mueller on Thursday, he should resign. His blatant partisanship disqualifies him from continuing as the chief law enforcement officer of the United States. Neither Congress nor the public will trust that he has been objective and fair in what he has decided to make public of the report, nor will they believe that he can handle any further issues surrounding wrongdoing by President Trump with integrity.

Let us consider the record of Barr in his short time as attorney general in this administration. After two years of constant attacks by Trump on the Justice Department and special counsel for investigating the possible collusion between the campaign and Russian interference in the 2016 election, Barr could have been a breath of fresh air as an attorney general who would firmly stand up for the rule of law. Instead, he just joined in the attacks, calling for yet another investigation into FBI actions during the campaign and releasing a biased summary of the special counsel report.

However, according to Barr, Mueller refused to exonerate Trump on charges of obstructing justice. Barr overruled that determination after only a few short days of examining the two year investigation into the issue and concluded that Trump did not obstruct justice. Barr claimed that the refusal by Mueller to come to a conclusion on the criminal liability for obstruction “left it up to” Barr to reach a conclusion. But that cannot be true. The refusal by Mueller to exonerate Trump was not an invitation for Barr to annul the determination of the special counsel.

Instead, Barr took it upon himself to exonerate the president. He did so on the flimsy, if not incredible, ground that the president did not intend to obstruct the Russia investigation. Let us not forget that Barr argued that a president could not obstruct justice in an unsolicited memo that he sent to the White House and the Justice Department in what many have viewed as an undisguised attempt to win the nomination for attorney general.

By exonerating Trump, Barr brazenly violated the spirit and purpose of the special counsel regulations. The point of those rules, and the special prosecutor statute they replaced, was to take the political Justice Department out of prosecutorial decision making when a president was involved, precisely because presidents should not be investigating themselves. Yet Barr, appointed by Trump, injected himself along with politics smack into that decision, doing what would be expected of anyone beholden to the president. That was wrong and unforgivable.

With respect to the Mueller report, Barr has said that he wants to be as transparent as possible, but his actions, or rather the lack thereof, belie his words. One of the items that Barr intends to edit out of the Mueller report before making it public is grand jury material. Barr could have, and should have, tried to obtain a court order. This act was done during the Watergate investigation by the special prosecutor, permitting him to turn the grand jury material over to the House Judiciary Committee. But Barr has stubbornly, and without explanation, refused to seek any such order.

Similarly, the summary of the special counsel report released by Barr was seriously flawed, as many others have noted. While claiming that Mueller could not establish Trump campaign collusion with the Russians sufficient to prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt, we do not know the level of evidence on this subject that Mueller did find. Just as important, we do not know how much the efforts of Trump to interfere with the special counsel investigation undercut the ability of Mueller to prove a case.

Furthermore, Barr announced that he was going to investigate “spying” on the Trump campaign by the FBI. Even though Barr admitted he had no evidence of any spying, he was eager to give credence to this claim that Trump and his allies use by finding fault with the counterintelligence investigation that Mueller eventually took over. Barr would not even wait for the independent and nonpartisan Justice Department inspector general to finish his investigation of some of the same FBI behavior.

Looking back at another day when the Justice Department was under assault, we can see how far our country has fallen under Trump and his new attorney general. During Watergate, two attorneys general, John Mitchell and Richard Kleindienst, were convicted of crimes arising out of their relationship with Richard Nixon. Those three dragged our federal system of justice and its reputation for professionalism into the mud.

In response, when Gerald Ford succeeded as president after Nixon resigned, he picked a nonpartisan and highly regarded lawyer, Edward Levi, to head the Justice Department. Levi, a Republican, won the respect of both Democrats and Republicans, and restored the national faith that the rule of law could be reestablished. Barr could have followed in the footsteps of Levi. It is a tragedy that he has so quickly chosen not to.

Elizabeth Holtzman served four terms in Congress as a representative from New York. She was on the House Judiciary Committee during Watergate.


Wednesday, April 17, 2019

U.S. District Court Judge Reggie Walton: Barr sowing public mistrust with Mueller report handling

Mod: I think a fair interpretation of Judge Walton's words here is that a lot of people think Fudge Barr is attempting to cover Trump's big ass.

Judge: Barr sowing public mistrust with Mueller report handling (POLITICO link): Attorney General William Barr has created public distrust about whether the Justice Department is committed to sharing as much as possible about the Russia probe's findings, a federal judge said on Tuesday.

“The attorney general has created an environment that has caused a significant part of the public … to be concerned about whether or not there is full transparency,” U.S. District Court Judge Reggie Walton said during a hearing Tuesday afternoon on a Freedom of Information Act suit demanding access to a report detailing the findings of special counsel Robert Mueller.

Walton, an appointee of President George W. Bush, did not elaborate on what actions or statements by the attorney general have generated those perceptions.

Democrats and other critics have faulted Barr for adding his own conclusions favorable to President Donald Trump into a letter sent to Congress last month summarizing the top-line findings of the report. In addition, Barr has warned that he plans to make redactions to the report on grounds such as privacy and grand jury secrecy, prompting more complaints.

Mod: Trump gets off on the suffering of others. That now includes wishing death on those who oppose him.

Trump predicts Bernie Sanders or Joe Biden will die in 2020: 'May God rest their soul' (Raw Story link): President Donald Trump lashed out at former Vice President Joe Biden and Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) on Tuesday night.

Trump attempted to nickname the two Democratic Party frontrunners. “I believe it will be Crazy Bernie Sanders vs. Sleepy Joe Biden as the two finalists to run against maybe the best economy in the history of our country (and many other great things),” Trump tweeted.

“I look forward to facing whoever it may be,” he claimed, despite trailing both in the polls.

“May God rest their soul,” Trump cryptically added.

The first lady doesn't wear a hijab.
Ilhan Omar: Muslim lawmaker sees rise in death threats after Trump tweet (BBC News link): One of the first ever Muslim members of the US Congress has said that a tweet by President Donald Trump has led to an increase in threats against her life.

Minnesota's Ilhan Omar said the threats were sparked by "violent rhetoric," accusing Mr Trump of stoking right-wing extremism. "It has to stop," she added.

It comes after Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi announced a new "security assessment to safeguard" the lawmaker. The tweet showed Ms Omar talking to a US-Muslim group about the 9/11 attacks.

On Monday Mr Trump stepped up his attacks against Ms Omar, calling her "out of control".


Tuesday, April 16, 2019

White House Freaking Out After Being Briefed On Mueller Report, Believe “There Is Significant Concern”

Mod: The thing with Trump is you need to be prepared for the distractions. He's not going to want anyone to focus on any Mueller revelations. That is, of course, should Fudge Barr allow anything real to get out. Expect something stupid to come down within the next 48 hours.

White House Freaking Out After Being Briefed On Mueller Report, Believe “There Is Significant Concern” (DC Tribune link): It’s been nearly a month since Special Counsel Robert Muller concluded his Russia investigation and Attorney General Bill Barr released a measly 4-page and heavily partisan summary in an attempt to pacify the American public as well as members of Congress. However, the quick coverup by the Attorney General did very little to please anyone and actually raised more concerns than it provided answers. In fact, Congressional Democrats are still demanding the release of the report in its entirety.

The entire country has been left nervously wondering about the delay of the report’s release, and it’s looking like the White House has been pushing for the contents to remain out of the public eye because they’re worried about what’s in it.

ABC‘s John Karl tweeted, “The White House has been briefed on the Mueller report and ‘there is significant concern on the president’s team about what will be in this report,’ and ‘what worries them most is what Don McGahn told the special counsel.'”

McGahn previously served as an attorney for the president and just spoke out on his time within the White House last week, evidently causing those that still remain there to freak out a bit.

“I spent the last couple of years getting yelled at. And you may soon read about some of the more spirited debates I had with the president,” the attorney hinted.

Apparently, those that still work within the White House are pretty shaken up about the prospect of their inner workings being aired like dirty laundry — President Trump included.

Some have even speculated that Trump has been acting especially erratic and asshole-ish the last few days in an attempt to distract the public from the Mueller report. The Week even speculated that Donald is “purposefully escalating his language… expressly to enliven his base of supporters and to enrage his political rivals and the news media.”

Regardless of how panicky the White House is, they best get themselves prepared — a redacted version of the Mueller report is set to be released on Thursday, whether they like it or not. Wonder how they feel knowing everything is soon to come crashing down around them?

Mod: Speaking of distractions, it looks like some Trump overseas supporters do have a theory about the Notre Dame fire in France.

Conspiracy Theorists Blame Jews, Muslims For Notre Dame Fire (The Forward link): As the Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris became engulfed in fire on Monday, conspiracy theorists quickly got to work - blaming the blaze on Jews.

French police quickly said they were treating the fire as an accident, possibly linked to the church’s renovation work. But despite - or perhaps because of - that statement, online bigots quickly got to work. Many pointed a finger at the Rothschilds, the banking dynasty of Jewish heritage who have been central to anti-Semitic conspiracies for centuries. French President Emanuel Macron once worked at a Rothschild-owned bank. Others tried to link the incident to other church fires that had occurred throughout the country in recent weeks.

Mod: You have to wonder what Dianne knows.

Donald Trump will resign 'soon', says top Democrat Dianne Feinstein (The Independent link): Donald Trump is going to “get himself out of office soon”, a leading Democratic senator has claimed.

Dianne Feinstein suggested the President would quit before he was potentially forced out of office after anti-Trump protesters in Los Angeles demanded to know why more wasn’t being done by Congress to remove him from office.

“We know he is breaking the law every day," a protester asked the 83-year-old political veteran. "He has obvious dealings with Russia. There’s so many things he’s doing that are unconstitutional. How are we going to get him out?”


Monday, April 15, 2019

Commentary: The 45th President of the U.S. is Poisoning His Nation

Mod: Probably the best analysis of our national crisis that I have read so far this month. Check it out, right?

Commentary: The 45th President of the U.S. is Poisoning His Nation (The Salt Lake Tribune link): Reports indicate that refugees at the U.S. southern border could reach the 1 million mark this year, and the Trump administration has no plan to address this crisis. No plan at all. Other than to tell Mexico to solve the problem by intercepting these fearful, exhausted and impoverished people, and to close the door to any asylum seekers without respect to American law, this president has done nothing but rant about his own failures both privately and publicly.

Now most recently, he has fired Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen because she wouldn’t break the law any further while continuing to carry out policies contrary to anyone’s standard of decency. It is not hyperbole to say that the nation, through its top executive, has cast aside law and order in favor of despotism. The problem is that this president is not even a good despot.

Trump’s remaining leadership team, including Stephen Miller (who bears the title of “senior advisor to the president”) has no plan to assist him with these crises. By ceasing aid to the northern triangle nations, countries such as Venezuela and El Salvador will continue to fail their citizenry and internal crime will prevail, even following those who flee to El Norte. To what extent that will continue to erupt or expand within America by its own festering citizenry, is as yet undetermined.

Recently from Politico:

"Last week, as Trump threatened once again to shut down the border …  Miller held a conference call with immigration activists to explain the administration’s position and answer questions. He has told allies that the administration is out of ideas about how to stem the migrant tide at the border, according to an internal source involved with these conversations.”

Thinking people should understand this as a threshold moment for this presidency and the nation. Even though many would turn away and resume their convenient, middle-class lives and say, “I understand that they’re tired and they’re poor, they’re running from war lords and very well-organized crime, but the U.S. economy is doing pretty well under Donald Trump and an uncontrolled flood of immigration could ruin that,” seeming to indicate that if the door is shut, the problem will go away.

Except that it won’t.

As the president stimulates and endorses internal and international unrest, he is simultaneously destabilizing his own government by side-stepping a Congress meant to provide checks and balances to his reign. Many of the senior posts within his administration remain unfilled, or when his act requires another contestant to administer his whims and take the blame for more failures, he appoints an “acting” chair, absolved of any public oversight via Senate confirmation.

These indicators of a failed and noxious presidency are there for all to see in the numerous, careening accounts that reach our subsequent awareness and conversations. The nation’s White House reality show now approaches a political primary season and ultimately a ballot to be cast for the future of a once-great nation. Could America’s political parties offer up an antidote to this writhing agony? Will the courts be able to provide further relief to a nation stricken by the conspicuous consumption of political venom and heinous misdeed? More importantly, how or will the nation emerge from all of this social pathology?


Sunday, April 14, 2019

Jim Bakker Says God Will Punish You For Making Fun Of Him

Mod: Donald Trump will occasionally threaten to sue people who laugh at him, but apparently Jim Bakker believes he has a higher litigator.

Jim Bakker Says God Will Punish You For Making Fun Of Him (Huffington Post link): Jim Bakker has had it with his critics.

The disgraced televangelist is demanding that “mean people in America” who make fun of him stop watching his show, which is essentially an infomercial for his doomsday food mixed with predictions about an impending apocalypse. He’s warning that there will be dire consequences for those who continue to watch and mock.

“If you don’t want to hear it, just shut me off,” he said in a clip from Friday’s show posted online by Right Wing Watch. “Especially you folks that monitor me every day to try to destroy me. Just go away. You don’t have to be there. You don’t have to hear it.”

Then he fired off his warning:

“One day, you’re going to shake your fist in God’s face. And you’re going to say, ‘God, why didn’t you warn me?’ He’s gonna say, ‘You sat there and you made fun of Jim Bakker all those years. I warned you, but you didn’t listen.’”

Bakker was a staple of the 1980s televangelist circuit, building a Christian TV, theme park and resort empire worth $180 million. But it all came crumbling down when he resigned in shame after a sex scandal and eventually served four years in prison for fraud.

Today, he hawks survivalist food and other prepper supplies to help Christians survive an upcoming “tribulation” period that will supposedly last for several years.


Saturday, April 13, 2019

141 Times: Why Is Trump Suddenly Playing Dumb About Julian Assange? “I know nothing about WikiLeaks”

Mod: For the next few months the world is going to be talking about all the military secrets Assange leaked, with the help of the Russians; while Trump twists himself into a pretzel trying to convince his fruit loops base that he never said anything about Assange or Wikileaks. Good luck with that, Donny!

Ignoring his record, Trump pretends to know 'nothing' about WikiLeaks (MSNBC.com link): WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange was taken into custody today in London, where he was wanted for skipping bail in 2012. He'll likely face criminal charges in the United States, and the Justice Department has already charged Assange with computer hacking crimes.

And while this will obviously be a major international story in the coming months, it's worth pausing to appreciate just how amazing Donald Trump's response to the developments was this afternoon.

President Donald Trump said Thursday that he knows "nothing about WikiLeaks" hours after the arrest of the organization's founder, Julian Assange, and two-and-a-half years after he frequently cited its information dumps about Hillary Clinton during the 2016 campaign.

"I know nothing about WikiLeaks," Trump told reporters at the White House, where he met with South Korean President Moon Jae-in. "It's not my thing." That the American president was able to say this with a straight face was unsettling -- because he does know WikiLeaks, and throughout his 2016 campaign, it was very much his thing.

In fact, Trump mentioned WikiLeaks more than 100 times in just the final month of the 2016 campaign, according to Factbase. Many of those times, he expressed admiration for its work. "This WikiLeaks stuff is unbelievable," he said once. "Boy, I love reading those WikiLeaks," he said another time. Yet another time: "Oh, we love WikiLeaks. Boy, they have really -- WikiLeaks! They have revealed a lot."

There's a reason Trump's denial today was literally unbelievable. This was, however, very much in line with the president's style. As regular readers know, whenever anyone in Trump’s orbit runs into trouble, the White House turns to the first page in its playbook: pretend the president doesn’t know the people or entities he obviously knows.

video link
When Paul Manafort was indicted, for example, Trump’s former campaign chairman became some random staffer “who played a very limited role for a very limited amount of time.” When White House National Security Advisor Michael Flynn was forced to resign in disgrace, Team Trump decided he was “a former Obama administration official” who did some “volunteer” work for the president. Carter Page was described as someone Trump “does not know.” George Papadopoulos was dismissed as a “coffee boy.” Trump World even tried to downplay its association with Cambridge Analytica, the Trump campaign’s favorite data firm.

Roger Stone, naturally, became little more than "somebody who’s been a consultant" for dozens of Republicans.

It's a foolish and unpersuasive game, but it's clearly one of Trump's favorites. The Republican's opinions on nearly everything are guided by their utility to him personally.


Friday, April 12, 2019

Profile in Cowardice: Sean Hannity deleted all of his references to Julian Assange, WikiLeaks on Twitter

Mod: Orwellian cable news phony Sean Hannity apparently believes it is possible to change the present by destroying all records of the past. He's deleted Twitter references to his one time man-love object Julian Assange.
Sean Hannity seems to have deleted all references to Julian Assange, WikiLeaks on his Twitter (The Week.com link): In just two years, Fox News host Sean Hannity went from inviting Julian Assange to fill in for him on his radio show to scrubbing all references to the WikiLeaks founder from his Twitter stream.

Assange was arrested Thursday in London, where he's been living in the Ecuadorian embassy in order to avoid extradition to Sweden and then, he feared, the United States. Hannity told Assange in a 2017 interview that he believed "every word he says," because "nothing he has published has ever been false."

Over the years, Hannity devoted several positive tweets to Assange and WikiLeaks, but observant Twitter users like Matthias Reynolds discovered on Thursday they are all gone. Hannity does have one related tweet still up: A link to a story on his website about Assange's arrest.

The Washington Post's Aaron Blake argues this could all just be a coincidence, saying Hannity's cleansing of all things pro-Assange and WikiLeaks "appears to have taken place as part of a mass deletion — not in response to Assange's arrest today."

Tweets about Assange and WikiLeaks may have gotten the boot, but Hannity did elect to keep about eight million references to Jussie Smollett, Hillary Clinton's emails, and "collusion delusion."