Thursday, February 28, 2019

Michael Cohen hearing was the perfect metaphor for the maggot-eaten rotting corpse of the GOP under Trump

Mod: The real fear the GOP has now is knowing that everything Cohen said yesterday is true. After all, look at who he worked for.

The Michael Cohen hearing was the perfect metaphor for the maggot-eaten rotting corpse of the Republican party under Trump (The Independent link): Today the president finally made it to Vietnam (his bone spurs must have healed) but Trump’s second meeting with Kim Jong-un was far from the central focus on the day. 8,756 miles away, the president’s ex-lawyer and fixer Michael Cohen gave his second day of testimony but his first day of public testimony. To say it was a circus is greatly disrespectful to circuses. Circuses bring joy. No one got joy from today’s circus.

Before the insanity started there was a warm-up act that involved one of the most icky Freedom Caucus clowns, Representative Mark Meadows—who immediately demanded a postponement using congressional rule 9F, which states that witness testimony needs to be received 24 hours in advance. Democrats quickly moved for a vote that they won and Meadow’s motion was tabled. Then, apparently seeing that that tactic wasn’t working, a panicked-looking Jim Jordan interrupted Representative Meadow and went full insane conspiracy theorist by accusing CNN of being in cahoots with Michael Cohen.

“You know who had this material before all the members of the committee?” Jordan seethed. “CNN had it before we did. CNN had [it] before we did.”

And that was when the hearing finally started.  A deflated-looking Michael Cohen glumly hung his head but read an extremely compelling opening statement that included the usual assertion that the president was a cheat, conman and a racist; and then unusual assertion that “he was a presidential candidate who knew that Roger Stone was talking with Julian Assange about a WikiLeaks drop of Democratic National Committee emails”.

This caused Jim Jordan to have what can only generously be described as an epileptic Tucker Carlson-style rage seizure; this time he called Cohen both a “fraudster” and a “convicted felon.” It’s almost as if Jim forgot that Michael Cohen was the president’s lawyer and fixer for 10 years.

There were many moments of epic failure for House Republicans during the whole charade. One of the more pathetic was when Congressman Mark Meadows brought Eric Trump’s wedding planner Lynne Patton to stand behind him so that the American people could see that Donald Trump was not a racist because his second son’s wedding planner is black. This is a few steps more pathetic than the “I can’t be racist because I have a black friend” defence. It’s also the most relevant Eric Trump has ever been. Another extremely questionable moment came when Representative Gosar (who is most famous for being a dentist and having his six siblings campaign for his opponent) presented an enormous sign that said “Liar Liar pants on fire.”  At one point Gosar backed up what his sign was proclaiming by adding: ”You’re a pathological liar. You don’t know truth from falsehood.”

Cohen responded, “Are you referring to me or the president?”

Then there was Rep Carol Miller from the state of West Virginia, who launched into an endless tirade about what a waste of time this hearing was, thus wasting everybody’s time.

But the more Republican members of Congress harassed and berated Michael Cohen, the more Michael Cohen seemed like a broken man desperate for redemption. One could clearly see the dark circles under his eyes, the shame in his affect, the sorrow in his voice. It’s hard to feel sympathy for the man who harassed journalists and paid off porn stars, but it’s possible that the GOP Congressional morons may have achieved it. There was something uniquely ridiculous about watching Rep Meadows and Rep Jordan scream at the president’s lawyer combined with numerous, lesser-known representatives wasting their five minutes complaining that the hearing shouldn’t have happened in the first place.

Perhaps the Cohen hearing was the perfect metaphor for the maggot-eaten rotting corpse that the Republican party under Trump has become, filled with grandstanding and incompetence but still trying desperately to spin a completely unspinnable narrative, to whistle like the boy alone in the dark, to keep themselves from the realisation that Trumpism is doomed and with it the future of the party they hold so dear.

Wednesday, February 27, 2019

Let Them Eat Fake: Ivanka Says People Want To Pull Themselves Up By Their Bootstraps ... "Like Me!"

Mod: Cactus Jon said it best: "3rd generation inheritance child talks about the value of hard work and not being given something. They really have murdered satire haven't they?"

Ivanka Trump: People Don't Want To Be Handed Jobs—They Want To Pull Themselves Up By Their Bootstraps Like Me (Vanity Fair link): Ivanka Trump comes from a long line of assholes who confuse inheriting money with hard work. For years, her father, Donald Trump, has claimed to be a self-made man when, in fact, he received hundreds of millions from his dad, beginning with $200,000 a year in today’s dollars at age three. Fred Trump also bailed his son out of a number of historically dumb business decisions, including somehow bankrupting a casino. Ivanka and her brothers Don Jr. and Eric have only ever worked for Daddy, or started crappy companies with his money.

Ivanka’s husband, Jared Kushner, has taken a similar path, using his convict father’s cash to buy and destroy a newspaper, and working for the family business, where he probably would’ve been fired were it not for his ties to the boss. The First Daughter and her spouse have, of course, been employed at the White House for the last two years as senior advisers to the president, roles they’re not remotely qualified to hold. They also collect millions of dollars a year for doing nothing. Yet, according to Princess Purses, a government proposal to guarantee every American a job is a terrible idea that no one should support.

In an interview with Fox News that will air on Sunday, Ivanka was asked what she thought about Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s Green New Deal, specifically the part of the plan that ensures “a job with a family-sustaining wage . . . to all people of the United States.” What would she say to “people who will see that offer from the Democrats . . . and think, ‘Yeah, that’s what I want’”? host Steve Hilton wondered.

To which the heiress, who has literally been handed everything her entire life thanks to federal housing subsidies her grandfather received from the government, responded:

“I don’t think most Americans, in their heart, want to be given something. I’ve spent a lot of time traveling around this country over the last four years. People want to work for what they get. So, I think this idea of a guaranteed minimum is not something most people want. They want the ability to be able to secure a job.”

Like her father, Ivanka’s comments often need to be translated from their original Trump to be remotely comprehensible, and here, it’s not totally clear what the hell she’s talking about. A federal-jobs guarantee would, of course, not preclude people from obtaining employment on their own, and if people “want to work for what they get,” they’d be in luck, since, outside of corrupt family businesses and lemonade stands that involve forcing your chauffeur and bodyguard to buy all of your product, jobs usually involve working.

Michael Cohen just dropped a nuke that could spell impeachment for Trump (Washington Press link): President Donald Trump’s convicted former personal lawyer and fixer Michael Cohen is set to testify before Congress over the next few days, and his confession is going to open up a whole new can of worms for our perpetually embattled president.

CNBC News reports that the former Trump Organization vice-president is planning to tell Congress that President Trump broke the law while in office, along with important information about Trump’s financial statements. Cohen is expected to provide evidence of alleged criminal conduct by Trump since he became president, NBC News said. In addition to his testimony, Cohen will reveal information about Trump’s financial statements, according to NBC, citing a source who declined to be named.

Axios is reporting that this evidence is entirely new and has only been unearthed in the past 48 hours, and will prove that Trump constantly lies about the value of his wealth and assets he actually owns to both the public and his business partners, among other things.

Mod: Coverage of this momentous news events begins at 7AM this morning. Try CSPAN.

Tuesday, February 26, 2019

Trump Appears To Have Committed Multiple Campaign Finance-Related Crimes

Mod: It ain't just collusion, baby. Whatever it takes to get him out of there works for me. Michael Cohen testifies before Congress tomorrow.

Trump Appears To Have Committed Multiple Campaign Finance-Related Crimes (Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington link): There is compelling evidence that President Trump may have personally committed up to eight criminal campaign finance and related offenses while running for president and during his first year in office, according to a report released today by Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW).

In a new report, A Campaign to Defraud, CREW combs through the facts behind these apparent crimes, based on admissions by two of President Trump’s likely co-conspirators and news reports, detailing how criminal law can already be applied to publicly known facts. Most of President Trump’s potential violations are related to illegal campaign contributions meant to cover up evidence of Trump’s affairs with two women, preventing voters from learning the truth about his behavior ahead of the election, though at least one continued well into his first year in office. 

The eight criminal offenses, including seven felonies, potentially committed by Trump include:

Causing American Media Inc. (AMI) to make and/or accepting (or causing his then lawyer Michael Cohen to accept) an unlawful corporate contribution related to Karen McDougal.

Two instances of causing Cohen to make and/or accepting an unlawful individual contributions related to Stephanie Clifford and February 2015 online polling.

Two instances of causing Donald J. Trump for President LLC’s failure to report contributions from AMI and Cohen related to McDougal and Clifford.

Causing Donald J. Trump for President LLC to file false reports with the Federal Election Commission (FEC).

Making a false statement by failing to disclose liability to Cohen for the Clifford payment on his 2017 public financial disclosure form.

Conspiracy to defraud the United States by undermining the lawful function of the FEC and/or violating federal campaign finance law related to “hush money” payments, false statements, and cover-ups of reimbursement payments to Cohen made by the Trump Organization.

“There has already been significant attention to the President’s possible exposure for obstruction of justice, but it is deeply troubling to discover that he also may have been personally involved in a whole other set of criminal offenses for causing or accepting illegal campaign contributions and then covering up those payments,” said CREW Executive Director Noah Bookbinder. “These potential offenses highlight a concerted effort by the President and those around him to deprive the American people of information relevant to making informed election decisions, severely eroding public trust.”

While violations of the Federal Election Campaign Act can be penalized with civil fines, more serious offenses such as unlawful campaign contributions or expenditures in excess of $25,000, made knowingly and willfully, are felonies punishable by up to five years in prison. Trump’s conduct appears to have been part of a deliberate effort to manipulate public opinion and to prevent damaging information about his past from coming to light and thus may trigger criminal penalties.

“The apparent personal participation of the President in a conspiracy to conceal key measures taken to support his candidacy should be a matter for careful consideration by prosecutors, Congress, and the American people,” said Bookbinder.

Mod: Link to the full report here.

Monday, February 25, 2019

For Anti-Human Trafficking Crusader Ivanka Trump, Robert Kraft Could Make Things Awkward

Mod: Sometimes the rank phoniness and hypocrisy becomes so obvious that you just can't help but laugh.

For Anti-Human Trafficking Crusader Ivanka Trump, Robert Kraft Could Make Things Awkward (The Mercury News link): As a senior White House advisor, Ivanka Trump has made fighting forced human labor and sex trafficking one of her signature initiatives. In an op-ed in the Washington Post in November, President Trump’s daughter called human trafficking, whose victims reportedly number 25 million children and adults worldwide, an “evil.”

Ivanka Trump also wrote that all governments have “a moral obligation” to stop these “heinous crimes.” She touted the “strong action” taken by President Trump to combat human trafficking and explained how he was bringing “the full force” of the U.S. government to this issue. She said her father did so by signing an executive order directing federal law enforcement “to prioritize dismantling the criminal organizations behind forced labor, sex trafficking and involuntary servitude.”

Fast forward to Friday when Ivanka Trump’s claims that the Trump administration cares about human trafficking faced scrutiny.

That’s because authorities in Florida announced that one of President Trump’s longtime friends, New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft, had been charged in a sprawling human-trafficking and prostitution investigation.

Police said the billionaire Kraft, 77, was charged with two counts of soliciting another to commit prostitution, stemming from two separate visits to the Orchids of Asia Day Spa in Jupiter, Florida, the Daily Beast reported. Authorities said a video obtained as evidence showed the Patriots owner in a sex act at the spa.

While the solicitation charges themselves are misdemeanors and Kraft was among two dozen male customers implicated in the probe, the Daily Beast and other outlets said the charges are part of a larger crackdown on five massage parlors in two counties in Florida where women were used for suspected human trafficking and prostitution.

Sheriff William Snyder in Martin County, Florida, where one of the day spas is located, said at a press conference Friday that the women were victims, coming to the United States from China under the guise of having legitimate jobs in the day spas, the Palm Beach Post reported. The women instead were expected to perform sex acts on men who visited the storefront spas, and were confined to the businesses, eating and sleeping there when they were not working.

Multiple men who visited the Orchids of Asia Day Spa in Palm Beach County told police they paid the spa’s manager, Lei Wang, to have women perform sex acts on them, the Palm Beach Post reported. Wang and the spa’s owner, Hua Zhang, have both been arrested in connection with the case. Under state and federal law, human trafficking is defined as “soliciting, recruiting, harboring, transporting or otherwise obtaining another person to exploit him or her for labor, domestic servitude or sexual exploitation,” the Palm Beach Post said.

Mod: More at the link. 

Sunday, February 24, 2019

Leave Bob Kraft Alone: Trump's Heart Bursting With Sympathy After "Orchids Of Asia" Prostitution Sting

Hopefully nobody took a knee
Mod: Maybe Patriots owner Bob Kraft only did business with the "Orchids of Asia" day spa to help needy young immigrant women find their way in America? Be best, people.

Leave Bob Kraft Alone: Trump's Heart Bursting With Sympathy After Prostitution Sting (Vanity Fair link): The president is “very sad” about charges filed against Patriots owner Robert Kraft, who he wants you to know has denied everything.

It’s been a big week for individuals connected to Donald “All the Best People” Trump and sex trafficking. On Thursday, a judge ruled that the president’s Labor secretary, Alexander Acosta, broke the law when he allowed billionaire Jeffrey Epstein to sign a plea deal that was concealed from victims, who might’ve taken issue with Epstein’s mere 18-month sentence for literally running an international sex ring. (The White House has said Acosta did the “best” job he could on the case and has done a “great job” as Labor secretary, and that the Epstein business—which involved dozens of minors—happened “a long time ago.”) And on Friday, some not-great news befell the president’s very favorite N.F.L. owner:

Not Bob's daughter.
Robert Kraft, a longtime friend of President Trump and owner of the New England Patriots, faces charges in a prostitution sting connected to Florida spas, police said Friday.

Kraft, 77, is facing two charges of soliciting prostitution, police in Jupiter, Florida, said during a news conference. Two instances of Kraft at the Orchids of Asia Day Spa were caught on video, they said. Kraft was one of 25 people facing charges in the incident.

Kraft—whose spokesperson “categorically” denied that he “engaged in any illegal activity”—goes way back with Trump, frequently paying visits to Mar-a-Lago, which is conveniently located just 22 miles from the Orchids of Asia Day Spa. Still, you might expect President Law and Order to come down pretty hard on his buddy boy, considering he’s previously encouraged police to rough people up during arrests, questioned the need for due process, and vocally called for five teenagers to be executed before they went to trial for a crime it turned out they did not commit.

Except, of course, he’s only gung-ho about prosecuting people to the fullest extent of the law when said people are immigrants, minorities, women, or some other group with whom he can’t relate. When it comes to fellow septuagenarian billionaires and/or white people who’ve pledged their loyalty to him, it’s all innocent until proven guilty, and even then it’s not clear we can trust the courts!

Mod: Bonus content.

Donald Trump, Robert Kraft, and Jeffrey Epstein: it’s all coming out now (link).

Saturday, February 23, 2019

Trump Wins 2018 "Rubber Dodo Award" For Biggest Contribution To Trashing America's Natural Heritage

Mod: The Nobel Prize might be a bridge too far for Donald, but there are other awards for him to achieve. So much winning!

Trump Wins 2018 "Rubber Dodo Award" For Biggest Contribution To Trashing America's Natural Heritage (IFL Science link): The 2018 Rubber Dodo Award – awarded to the person or group who has most aggressively sought to destroy America's natural heritage or drive species extinct – has been announced, and there are no prizes for guessing who won because who else could it be?

Yes, that’s right, President Donald J Trump, the man in charge of protecting the United States, has done more in the last 12 months to destroy the natural heritage of the US than any other person, as voted by the people, announced award founders, the Center for Biological Diversity (CBD).

“From wildlife to public lands to climate, Trump has wrecked, poisoned and polluted our environment on an unprecedented scale,” said CBD executive director KierĂ¡n Suckling. “There’s never been a president with such a vicious approach to slashing protections for water, wildlife, lands, and oceans.”

So, what has he done to deserve the award? Where to begin? The CBD lists the slashing of more than 2 million acres from the Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante national monuments in Utah, opening up Alaska’s National Petroleum Reserve to drilling after the Obama administration expanded protections to make it off-limits, and ramping up offshore drilling in most coastal states (though Florida, home of his Mar-a-Lago golf club, is strangely exempt).

His dubious ability to appoint leaders to the various US agencies designed to protect the environment also came under fire. From coal lobbyist Andrew Wheeler as head of the Environmental Protection Agency (Trump’s previous appointment, Scott Pruitt, famously resigned due to numerous scandals), to gas and oil lobbyist David Bernhardt leading the Department of the Interior (his predecessor Ryan Zinke, also resigned after numerous “ethics investigations"), and ardent Endangered Species Act opponent Susan Combs heading up its Wildlife and Parks department.

They also listed his anti-science stance, his climate change denying (or inability to even understand it), his attempts to repeal long-standing wildlife protections, from the Endangered Species Act to removing wolf protections in all 48 contiguous states, increasing logging on public lands, relaxing existing rules on air pollution, clean water, coal emissions, fuel emissions, methane emissions, and attempting to silence scientific research.

Trump’s greed and ignorance know no bounds, and it’s having a profound effect on the natural world,” Suckling said.  

He’s in good company. Past recipients of the ignoble accolade include last year’s winner, Ryan Zinke, who pushed through the aforementioned shrinking of the two national monuments – the biggest rollback in US history – to allow access for uranium mining lobbyists. In 2016, it was Congressman Rob Bishop (R-UT), who is leading the charge to repeal the Endangered Species Act (“He is so far outside the mainstream that even Donald Trump has rebuked him for his positions,” Suckling said at the time). Other years have seen Monsanto, the Koch brothers, Senator James Inhofe (yes, the guy who took a snowball onto the Senate floor to “prove” climate change isn’t real), and Sarah Palin all win the trophy.

Only one question remains. How the hell did Scot Pruitt escape this dubious honor?

Friday, February 22, 2019

Trump Shuts Down Nuclear Weapons Treaty with Russia Putin then Threatens America With Nuclear Showdown

Mod: Everything Trump does helps to strengthen the hand of Vladimir Putin. The article below details yet another example. So I have to ask you. Is it treason yet?

Putin to U.S.: I'm ready for another Cuban Missile-style crisis if you want one (Reuters link): Russian President Vladimir Putin said Russia is militarily ready for a Cuban Missile-style crisis if the United States wanted one and threatened to place hypersonic nuclear missiles on ships or submarines near U.S. territorial waters.

The Cuban Missile Crisis erupted in 1962 when Moscow responded to a U.S. missile deployment in Turkey by sending ballistic missiles to Cuba, sparking a standoff that brought the world to the brink of nuclear war.

More than five decades on, tensions are rising again over Russian fears that the United States might deploy intermediate-range nuclear missiles in Europe, as a landmark Cold War-era arms-control treaty unravels.

Putin's comments, made to Russian media late on Wednesday, follow his warning that Moscow will match any U.S. move to deploy new missiles closer to Russia by stationing its own missiles closer to the United States or by deploying faster missiles or both.

Putin detailed his warning for the first time, saying Russia could deploy hypersonic missiles on ships and submarines which could lurk outside U.S. territorial waters if Washington now moved to deploy intermediate-range nuclear weapons in Europe.

"(We're talking about) naval delivery vehicles: submarines or surface ships. And we can put them, given the speed and range (of our missiles)... in neutral waters. Plus they are not stationary, they move and they will have to find them," Putin said, according to a Kremlin transcript.

"You work it out: Mach nine (the speed of the missiles) and over 1,000 km (their range)."

Mod: More analysis at the link.

Thursday, February 21, 2019

Justice Department preparing for Mueller report as early as next week

Mod: So will Bill Barr go down in history as the collaborator who attempted to enable Trump's treason? Because that is what he will be if he refuses to release Mueller's report.

Justice Department preparing for Mueller report as early as next week (CNN link): Attorney General Bill Barr is preparing to announce as early as next week the completion of special counsel Robert Mueller's Russia investigation, with plans for Barr to submit to Congress soon after a summary of Mueller's confidential report, according to people familiar with the plans.

The preparations are the clearest indication yet that Mueller is nearly done with his almost two-year investigation. The precise timing of the announcement is subject to change.

The scope and contours of what Barr will send to Congress remain unclear. Also unclear is how long it will take Justice officials to prepare what will be submitted to lawmakers.

But with President Donald Trump soon to travel overseas for a summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, Justice officials are mindful of not interfering with the White House's diplomatic efforts, which could impact the timing.

The Justice Department and the special counsel's office declined to comment. Barr has said that he wants to be as "transparent" as possible with Congress and the public, "consistent with the rules and the law."

Under the special counsel regulations, Mueller must submit a "confidential" report to the attorney general at the conclusion of his work, but the rules don't require it to be shared with Congress, or by extension, the public. And, as Barr has made clear, the Justice Department generally guards against publicizing "derogatory" information about uncharged individuals. As a result, one of the most pressing questions Barr will face in the coming weeks is the extent to which Mueller's findings should be disclosed to Congress.

Bezos Says Amazon Drones Ready to Deliver Mueller Report to Every American Household (Borowitz Report link): According to Bezos, Amazon has been planning the Mueller delivery mission for months, quietly building its drone fleet from a meagre two hundred to well over three million. “Amazon will be doing same-day delivery of Mueller’s report the day it is released, free of charge, to both Prime and non-Prime households,” Bezos said. “This is our way of giving something back.”

News of the offer sent the Mueller report zooming to No. 1 on Amazon’s best-seller list within minutes.

According to the Amazon site, customers who shopped for the Mueller report also shopped for “Crime and Punishment,” by Fyodor Dostoyevsky.

Wednesday, February 20, 2019

Trump Corruption Scandal Du Jour: Donald Trump rushing to sell Saudi Arabia nuclear technology

Bow Down Donny
Mod: Here is how it works. Traitor Don forks sensitive American nuclear technology over to his Saudi benefactors, who then in turn order nuclear power plants from companies that Trump cronies control. All with no Congressional oversight. Sweet!

Donald Trump rushing to sell Saudi Arabia nuclear technology  - Experts worry tech transfer will allow Saudi Arabia to produce nuclear weapons, contributing to Middle East arms race (Al Jazeera link): Experts worry tech transfer will allow Saudi Arabia to produce nuclear weapons, contributing to Middle East arms race. The administration of President Donald Trump is bypassing the United States Congress to advance the sale of US nuclear power plants to Saudi Arabia, despite concerns it would violate US law guarding against technology transfers, according to a new report by a congressional committee.

Security analysts worry the technology would allow Saudi Arabia to produce nuclear weapons in the future, potentially contributing to an arms race in the Middle East.

US legislators are concerned about the stability of Saudi leadership under Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (MBS) because of the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi and the war in Yemen.

Multiple unnamed "whistleblowers" have come forward to warn about White House attempts to speed the transfer of highly sensitive US nuclear technology to build new nuclear power plants in Saudi Arabia, according to the staff report by the House Oversight and Reform Committee.

"The whistleblowers who came forward have warned of conflicts of interest among top White House advisers that could implicate federal criminal statutes," Representative Elijah Cummings, the Democrat chairman of the committee, said in a letter to the White House on Tuesday.

The committee is investigating efforts by US nuclear power companies to win Trump administration approval to build nuclear power plants in Saudi Arabia and other Arab countries.

Mod: Much more at the link.

Tuesday, February 19, 2019

Donald Trump 'May Have Committed Treason,' National Security Expert Warns

Mod: I can't remember anyone saying something like this about Gerald Ford.

Donald Trump 'May Have Committed Treason,' National Security Expert Warns (Newsweek link): National security expert Malcolm Nance said on Monday that President Donald Trump's tweets, actions and response to ongoing investigation surrounding him and his 2016 presidential campaign are leading many to question whether he is a traitor.

"Rhetorically, the president of the United States cannot go around tweeting about people who are investigating his activities as being treasonous because we may have that as a fact at the end of this," Nance said on MSNBC. "The president of the United States may have committed treason."

Earlier in the interview, Nance criticized Trump for attacking his own intelligence and law enforcement officials.

"These phrases, 'taking down an elected president', 'a bureaucratic coup' — this is Donald Trump's characterization of what the patriots at the FBI and the Department of Justice, who were defending the Constitution of the United States, using their sworn positions to identify a threat to the United States and who were confronted by the fact that we had a candidate for president of the United States, now president of the United States, who may, in fact, have been an asset or an agent of a foreign power," the national security expert said.

Retweeting a clip of his appearance later, Nance wrote the caption : "The words Treason and Traitor are now being mainstreamed. It took almost 3 years but we are not even halfway through the looking glass."

Nance's comments came in the wake of an explosive interview by CBS News 60 Minutes with former FBI Acting Director Andrew McCabe, who was pushed out by Trump in January 2018. McCabe explained that following Trump's decision to fire his boss James Comey, he ordered an investigation into whether the president had obstructed justice.

He also claimed that Trump clearly stated that he trusted Russian President Vladimir Putin's assessment of North Korean capabilities over that of his own intelligence agencies.

Mod: More at the link.

Monday, February 18, 2019

Today's Original Post Has Completely Disappeared From My Site

This morning's post has been 86'd for reasons I do not know. I have never experienced that kind of attention here before. These days I crosspost my musings to a lot of different sites, including a few ridiculously popular Facebook pages. Here is a screenshot from earlier this morning of one of them.

That promised link is no longer operative. If you click on it now you get this unhappiness:

Not quite sure why this happened. Hope I didn't upset anyone. I can tell you it had some serious momentum, and was well on its way to breaking through to a very large audience. I'll let you know if I hear anything.

In the meantime, here is an interesting graphic making the rounds today. The Master and his obedient orange dog.

As a patriot, you should probably be very concerned at the site of a clearly subservient American president being walked out of a private meeting by the leader of a hostile foreign state.

Sunday, February 17, 2019

Trump follows up ’emergency’ declaration with 3-day luxury getaway

Mod: The real national emergency in the war against gangs, drugs and terrorism is apparently taking place at Mar-a-Lago. After all, if this truly is an emergency, shouldn't the president be deeply involved? At all times?

Trump follows up ’emergency’ declaration with 3-day luxury getaway ( link): Given that Trump says there’s a “national emergency” taking place on our southern border, you’d think he would spend the weekend at the White House monitoring the situation to ensure Americans’ safety.

You’d think that, but you’d be wrong.

Trump is instead following up his national emergency declaration — which he hopes will allow him to raid funds Congress appropriated elsewhere to pay for his vanity border wall that nobody wants — by flying down to Florida on the taxpayer dime for a weekend at his ostentatious Mar-a-Lago resort.

One single trip to Mar-a-Lago, located on the ritzy island of Palm Beach off the east coast of the Sunshine State, costs taxpayers roughly $3.4 million, according to a Government Accountability Office report from early February.

Given that Trump has taken 19 trips to Mar-a-Lago during his presidency, that means he’s spent at least $64.6 million in taxpayer cash on those vacations, according to the Washington Post.

While he’s there, Trump is likely to hit the links — which he does frequently, despite previously pledging to voters that he wouldn’t golf because he would be so busy being president he wouldn’t have the time.

In fact, Trump has spent 168 days at Trump-branded golf properties during the first two years of his presidency, according to NBC News, which tracks Trump’s golf habits. Golfing and hobnobbing with wealthy Mar-a-Lago club owners sure doesn’t sound like something a president would do in a national emergency situation.

But leave it to Trump to give the American people even more evidence that his national emergency declaration was a total sham.

Saturday, February 16, 2019

Bordering On Madness: Trump’s Bizarre, Rambling Announcement of a National Emergency

Mod: The certifiable madman in the White House took his race war border fantasies to new depths yesterday. Just one more in a seemingly endless series of fake Trump events that are both dangerously detached from reality and an embarrassment to our country.

Trump’s Bizarre, Rambling Announcement of a National Emergency (The Atlantic link): After failing for two years to persuade Congress to fund a wall on the southern border, President Donald Trump on Friday said he will declare a national emergency and reallocate some $8 billion to build the wall through executive fiat. Trump announced the move in a rambling, free-associative appearance in the White House Rose Garden that was more MAGA rally than presidential announcement.

Even by the standards of this president, his remarks were confusing, untruthful, and often off topic, with strange ad-hominem attacks on other politicians and sharp exchanges with reporters. Despite claiming that the nation faces an acute crisis that requires immediate attention, the president meandered through a long preamble about trade deals and North Korea. When he finally got to the point, he struggled to stay focused.

“We’re going to be signing today and registering national emergency,” he said. “And it’s a great thing to do, because we have an invasion of drugs, invasion of gangs, invasion of people, and it’s unacceptable. And by signing the national emergency, something signed many times by other presidents, many, many times, President Obama, in fact, we may be using one of the national emergencies that he signed having to do with cartels, criminal cartels. It’s a very good emergency that he signed … And what we really want to do is simple. It’s not like it is complicated. It’s very simple. We want to stop drugs from coming into our country. We want to stop criminals and gangs from coming into our country. Nobody has done the job that we have ever done.”

Yet Trump also undermined his own case for the national emergency, effectively saying the declaration was all about political expediency.

“I can do the wall over a longer period of time. I didn’t need to do this. I would rather do it much faster,” the president said, an astonishing acknowledgment that could come back to haunt him in court. Read: What the president could do if he declares a national emergency

It was one of the least coherent appearances Trump has made in a presidency noted for its incoherence. Yet the circus in the Rose Garden threatened to distract from a major policy announcement.

During a briefing Friday morning, acting White House Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney said that Trump would take $600 million from a Treasury Department forfeiture fund, $2.5 billion from a Defense Department counter-drug fund, and another $3.6 billion from Pentagon military-construction money. Only the construction funds require an emergency declaration. Trump will not take money from disaster-relief funds, an idea that had been discussed.

The move is sure to draw legal challenges, and might not take effect exactly as Trump described. But the fact remains that the president has declared a national emergency in order to save face with anti-immigration members of the conservative media and his base, having been roundly defeated in a joust with Congress over funding. In essence, the president has created a new crisis to get himself out of a previous crisis—which he also created. And the timing of Trump’s announcement, after months of equivocating and congressional debate, hardly supports the idea of an acute crisis.

CBS Goes With 'The Price Is Right' Over Conclusion Of President Trump's Emergency Speech ( link): National emergency on the border? In one network’s news judgment, it was more important to say, “Come on, down!

CBS coverage of President Donald Trump’s televised address on his national emergency declaration ended 21 minutes before its conclusion, as the eye network opted to return viewers to game show The Price Is Right. All of the other broadcast and cable news networks carried the declaration and press conference on Friday afternoon to its conclusion.

The Trump announcement from the Rose Garden of the White House was delayed from its original 10:30 AM eastern time start. Trump said he was declaring the emergency “because we have an invasion of drugs, invasion of gangs, invasion of people.”

CBS News reported that the White House assured the network Trump’s speech would be no longer than eight minutes. But Trump started at 1:10 PM and finished at 2 PM.

Friday, February 15, 2019

Conservative Washington Examiner Trashes Trump's Border Wall "National Emergency" In 100 Words

Mod: Maybe this is the world's record for succinctness in an editorial from a newspaper that you can find on Google News? Whatever the case, I think this means they really do mean it.

Why, in 100 words, Trump is wrong to declare a national emergency (Washington Examiner link): We are a constitutional republic which grants Congress the power of the purse. This ensures democratically supervised expenditure of the people's money.

Congress has said no to President Trump's border wall, and democratic authority matters. And by declaring a national emergency on a domestic policy issue in the traditional preserve of Congress, which makes this different than most other national emergencies, "future President Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez" now has a remit to bypass Congress to get her "Green New Deal."

In short, this is good short-term politics for Trump, bad long-term politics for Republicans, and a bad precedent for the nation.

Mod: Nancy Pelosi gives an example of how Trump's "national emergency" could set an interesting precedent for a future president from her party.

Pelosi Shames Trump: Why Don’t You Declare Gun Violence a National Emergency? ( link): Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi reacted to the announcement that Trump will declare a national emergency at the border by asking, on the first anniversary of the gun massacre in Parkland, Florida, why he doesn’t declare gun violence a national emergency. At her weekly press conference Thursday, Pelosi was asked about Trump’s intention to declare a national emergency in order to secure funds for the border wall that Mexico was supposed to pay for.

“It’s important to know that when the president declares this emergency, first of all, it’s not an emergency, what’s happening at the border,” Pelosi said, and repeatedly blasted Trump for “doing an end-run around Congress.”

“Because if the president can declare a National Emergency on something that he has created as an emergency, an illusion that he wants to convey, just think of what a president with different values can present to the American people,” Pelosi continued.

“You want to talk about a National Emergency? Let’s talk about today,” she said. “The one-year anniversary of another manifestation of the epidemic of gun violence in America. That’s a national emergency. Why don’t you declare that emergency, Mr. President? I wish you would.”

“But a Democratic president can do that, a Democratic president can declare emergencies as well. So the precedent that the president is setting here is something that should be met with great unease and dismay by the Republicans,” Pelosi concluded.

The speaker was later asked if she would want to see a Democratic president declare a national emergency in order to enact gun laws, and she clarified that she would not.

“No I’m just saying if president could do that, if you want to go down that path, then let’s look at what really is a national emergency,” Pelosi said. “I’m not advocating for any president doing an end-run around Congress. I’m just saying that the Republicans should have some dismay about the door that they are opening, the threshold they are crossing.”

Mod: It will all likely be tied up in the courts for years, anyway.

National emergency will be blocked by courts temporarily, DOJ warns White House (ABC News link): The Justice Department has warned the White House a national emergency declaration is nearly certain to be blocked by the courts on, at least, a temporary basis, preventing the immediate implementation of the president's plan to circumvent Congress and build the wall using his executives powers, ABC News has learned.

However, a senior White House official tells ABC News that the administration is confident it could ultimately win the case on appeal. Lawyers at the White House, the Department of Homeland Security and at the Pentagon have been working for weeks to iron out different options the president would have to obtain funds for his border wall.

By declaring a national emergency at the border, the president could potentially free up billions of dollars to begin work on construction of a southern border wall. Much of that money would be pulled from the Department of Defense.