Discuss: Political Madness All the Time

Lynna is your curator. How are you all holding up, America? Not well, I guess, since this is the hardest working thread ever. The frenzy is growing!

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  1. says

    Caroline Orr:

    A lot of Trump supporters are talking about civil war after the #ImpeachmentVote. It’s easy to laugh at the keyboard warriors in the mix, but there are definitely extremists using this opportunity to try to bring about social & political upheaval by issuing calls for violence.

    Keep in mind, too, that multiple Republican lawmakers have threatened that going forward with #impeachment would lead to civil war. This type of rhetoric absolutely emboldens extremists and other violent individuals.

    Per an Oct 2018 DOJ indictment, Russia’s Internet Research Agency directed its operatives to use impeachment to call for civil war:

    “Any attempt to remove Trump is a direct path to a civil war in the United States. Name those who oppose the president…”

    The DOJ cited an Aug ’17 article as the basis for Russia’s guidance re. using impeachment to call for civil war.

    Also in Aug ’17: Roger Stone warns if Congress tries to impeach Trump, “You will have a spasm of violence in this country — an insurrection — like you’ve never seen”

    Right-wing pundit Michael Savage’s Aug 2017 remarks about civil war/impeachment — which were used as guidance by Russia’s Internet Research Agency — were also amplified by Kremlin-aligned right-wing media the same month that Roger Stone was parroting this narrative.

    So the takeaway message here is that there are extremists who will try to use impeachment to call for violence, plus Republicans (esp. Trump) who will engage in stochastic terrorism — and we’re already seeing Russian propaganda outlets amplify those narratives.

    And here is an example of one of those Russian propaganda outlets [RT] pushing the impeachment/civil war narrative….

    Evidence and links at the link.

  2. says

    CNN – “Widespread protests across India despite bans on public gatherings”:

    Protests went ahead across at least 15 cities across India Thursday despite strict bans on public gatherings in several areas, raising the possibility of further violence and arrests.

    Public anger over a controversial new citizenship law considered by many to be discriminatory against Muslims continues to build across the country, with marches and rallies taking place across major cities such as the capital New Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata, Hyderabad and Chennai.

    On Thursday, telecoms company Vodafone India tweeted that its services had been suspended in several parts of New Delhi “as per the directive received from the government.” It comes amid reports in multiple local media outlets that the government ordered the suspension of mobile and data services in parts of the capital as protests got underway.

    Fueling the protests is nation-wide anger over the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA), which was signed into law last week. The law promises to fast-track Indian citizenship for religious minorities from three neighboring countries who arrived before 2015 — but not if they are Muslim.

    Critics say the law is unconstitutional as it bases citizenship on a person’s religion and would further marginalize India’s 200-million strong Muslim community.

    “What they’re doing is wrong. We oppose the CAA. We oppose not being allowed to protest. We are Indian and Muslim. We can be both. All religions can live in India,” said local resident Rubina Zafar.

    The Indian government has sought to quell any unrest over the law’s passing. Last week, authorities shut down the internet in four northeastern states after violent protests broke out. And a colonial-era law that prevents gatherings of four or more people — known as Section 144 — has been imposed in three areas.

    On Thursday, New Delhi police imposed Section 144 around the Red Fort ahead of the protest. The move came after police denied permission for the march on Wednesday.

    Organizers have called for people to gather regardless. “Section 144 being imposed by the police is an attempt to thwart our march. This will not deter us. We will gather there for our march,” Yogendra Yadav, founder of Swaraj Abhiyaan, a group that organized the march told CNN.

    The law has also been imposed in Bengalaru for two days from Thursday to prevent demonstrations, according to Bhaskar Rao, the city’s police commissioner.

    And a ban on public gatherings has also been rolled out across the entire state of Uttar Pradesh — India’s largest and most populous.

    Those marching say the government is using bans on public gatherings to muzzle the voices of Indian people.

    “This was to be a peaceful protest by citizens who wish to uphold the values of our Constitution. You have used a colonial-era law to suppress us and our voices,” India historian Ramachandra Guha wrote on his official Twitter account on Thursday.

    The restrictions come after ongoing protests against the citizenship law have turned violent in recent days, with police and protesters involved in street clashes.

    Hundreds of people were injured and dozens arrested on Sunday after police stormed a university campus in New Delhi, firing tear gas. And on Tuesday further violent clashes between protesters and police broke out in the district of North East Delhi.

    The widespread civil action comes a day after India’s Supreme Court refused to halt implementation of the citizenship law, though it will hear a raft of petitions that question the law’s constitutionality.

    “It hurts the spirit of India. We are going to fight this till the end,” said Abhishek Manu Sanghvi, a senior leader from India’s main opposition Congress Party on Wednesday.

    Many of the protesters are students. More re the citizenship act here in the previous iteration.

  3. says

    HuffPo – “Exclusive: Phrase ‘White Nationalists’ Cut From Measure To Screen Military Enlistees”:

    A measure in the National Defense Authorization Act meant to keep white nationalists out of the U.S. military no longer mentions “white nationalists” after the Senate quietly altered the text.

    The change, which has not been previously reported, could water down a House-passed amendment meant to address the threat of white nationalists in the military. The House language was specifically drafted to encourage screening for white nationalist beliefs in military enlistees. But the Republican-controlled Senate’s version of the massive military spending bill, which passed on Tuesday and went to President Donald Trump’s desk, instead requires the Department of Defense to study ways to screen military enlistees for “extremist and gang-related activity.”

    While it may seem like a minor tweak, the removal of the term “white nationalists” from the amendment text was concerning to Rep. Pete Aguilar (D-Calif.), who introduced the amendment in July after alarming reports about white nationalists in the U.S. military.

    Earlier this year, federal authorities arrested a Coast Guard lieutenant for allegedly stockpiling weapons in preparation for a terror attack. A series of HuffPost investigations also exposed 11 U.S. service members who had ties to Identity Evropa, a white nationalist group best known for helping organize the deadly 2017 “Unite The Rally” in Charlottesville, Virginia.

    Stripping the specific mention of “white nationalists” from the legislation could leave the door open for more white nationalists to join the military and could leave the U.S. military off the hook for what many critics say are lackluster efforts to screen enlistees for white nationalist beliefs.

    It’s not clear who approved the language change or why. Senators on the U.S. Senate Armed Services Committee, including Chairman Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.), did not respond to HuffPost’s requests for comment on the new language.

    Aguilar said the change indicates the Senate may not be taking white nationalism seriously.

    In a statement to HuffPost, he noted that white nationalists have “successfully enlisted in our military in order to gain access to combat training and weaponry.”

    Academics and law enforcement officials have long warned of the specific threat posed by white nationalists who join the military, where they receive combat training they can use to inflict violence on civilians. White supremacists have long been attracted to the U.S. military, and often for good reason. In the 1970s, for example, a Department of Defense directive allowed service members to join the Ku Klux Klan.

    Aguilar’s amendment to the NDAA this year sought to address this long-standing problem by requiring the Secretary of Defense to “study the feasibility” of screening for “individuals with ties to white nationalist organizations” during initial background investigations of enlistees.

    The amendment also requires the Department of Defense to study whether two FBI resources — the Tattoo and Graffiti Identification Program and The National Gang Intelligence Center — could aid the military in this effort.

    So Wikipedia has better procedures for tracking changes than the US Senate.

  4. says

    Olivia Nuzzi:

    Debbie Dingell has managed her public grief with all the grace in the world, but her pain has been visible. She wears her husband’s rings around her neck on a chain. She‘s teared up in front of reporters. It’s devastating to think that anyone would choose to make that pain worse.

    I wrote about Debbie Dingell, who told me earlier this year, “You know what I do? I miss John everyday, and I have really hard days, and you keep yourself so busy that you can’t feel.”

    Now I’m crying again.

  5. says

    Another Michigan representative – Paul Mitchell (Republican):

    John Dingell was a well-respected man & I consider Debbie a close colleague and friend. To use his name in such a dishonorable manner at last night’s rally is unacceptable from anyone, let alone the President of the United States. An apology is due, Mr. President @realDonaldTrump


    (More here.)

  6. johnson catman says

    re SC @ 7:

    An apology is due, Mr. President

    Expect The Orange Toddler-Tyrant to either double-down or to issue a “notpology” absolving himself of any animus or wrongdoing. Maybe even an executive order declaring John Dingell a traitor and Debbie Dingell a snowflake.

  7. says

    About Tulsi Gabbard voting “present” instead of voting for impeachment yesterday:

    In a surprise move, Rep. Tulsi Gabbard of Hawaii, a Democratic candidate for president, voted “present” Wednesday on both articles of impeachment charging President Donald Trump with abuse of power and obstruction of Congress. […]

    She was the only House member in either party to vote present.

    Although she had voted in favor of a resolution that moved the impeachment inquiry forward in October, she had not publicly said how she would on impeachment itself.

    NBC News link

    Commentary from Steve Benen:

    […] There have been three presidential impeachments in American history, and the Hawaii congresswoman is the first to ever vote “present.”

    Going into yesterday’s proceedings, Gabbard was not generally considered one of the House Dems whose vote was in doubt. In late September, for example, the long-shot presidential candidate said in a written statement, “If we allow the president to abuse his or her power, then our society will rot from top to bottom. We will turn into a banana republic, where people in positions of power — from the president all the way down to the traffic cop — will feel it’s O.K. to abuse their power with no consequences.”

    Evidently, after the case against Trump grew even stronger, and the evidence of presidential abuses became even more obvious, Gabbard changed her mind.

    Her “present” votes came roughly a week after the Hawaii lawmaker, who was close to qualifying for tonight’s Democratic primary debate, announced that she wouldn’t participate, even if she met the necessary thresholds.

    Gabbard cited “a number of reasons” behind her decision, though she didn’t identify any of those reasons.

    It was against this backdrop that Gabbard argued in a written statement last night that she was “standing in the center” with her impeachment vote, adding that she was dissatisfied with “tribal animosities that have so gravely divided our country.”

    Given her votes, her choice of words, and her apparent debate boycott, there’s renewed speculation this morning about the congresswoman launching a possible third-party presidential campaign, which could help divide the president’s detractors and improve Trump’s odds of winning a second term.

    In fairness, Gabbard has repeatedly said she would not pursue an independent candidacy. She also gave her word to the DNC that she would not run on a third-party ticket – a commitment the Hawaii lawmaker “reaffirmed” just last month.

    That, however, was before she withdrew from debate consideration for “a number” of unspecified reasons and chose not to support Trump’s impeachment.


    Russian bots and trolls are pushing pro-Gabbard propaganda. Russian TV features segments that tout her as if she were one of the top candidates. She is not. I don’t think she deserves anyone’s vote. I still think that Republicans and Putin are hoping that she runs as an independent in order to split the vote.

  8. says

    From Hair Furor’s speech at his rally last night in Michigan:

    “Now we’re doing it with a lot of other things. Uh, dishwashers, and uh, you know. I won’t tell you one of the things because every time I tell you they do a big number on it. You know the one I’m talking about, right? Sinks, right? Showers? And what goes with a sink and a shower?

    [Crowd chants, “A toilet!”]

    “Ten times, right? Ten times. [Trump does flushing motion while saying something that sounds like ‘bah, bop.’] Not me of course, not me, but you. You. But I never mention that.”


    Trump has mentioned that many times. He seems to have an obsession with flushing the toilet 10 ore 15 times.

    Trump also added that “women tell” him that contemporary dishwashers aren’t effective either. Trump was ranting about water regulations, though it was hard to discern that topic amidst his crazy pants performance.

  9. says

    Trump’s transactional version of his interactions with Debbie Dingell:

    Trump said he gave Dingell an “A-plus” memorial. “I gave him everything. I don’t want anything. I don’t need anything for anything,” Trump said. “She calls me up: ‘It’s the nicest thing that’s ever happened. Thank you so much. John would be so thrilled. He’s looking down. He’d be so thrilled. Thank you so much, sir.’ I said, ‘That’s OK, don’t worry about it.’

    “Maybe he’s looking up, I don’t know. I don’t know. Maybe,” Trump said to loud laughs and groans. “But let’s assume he’s looking down.”


    […] “Now I watch her ripping me as part of the Democrats Impeachment Hoax,” Trump added. “Really pathetic!”

    It was a reminder that in the Republican’s mind, everything is transactional. Trump approved Dingell’s funeral arrangements, which he believes entitles him to loyalty from Dingell’s family. Debbie Dingell may be a duly elected congresswoman, and she may have been polite to the president at a difficult time, but as far as Trump is concerned, she’s “pathetic” unless she shows her gratitude by siding with him on impeachment. […]

    It’s tempting to think Trump is succumbing to the pressure of being impeached, but the unfortunate truth may be that his comments were simply a reflection of the president’s true character. […]


    From Sam Stein:

    You just don’t meet too many people in life who consciously pick fights with widows by suggesting their husband is in hell.

  10. says

    Seven candidates running in the Democratic presidential race will be on the debate stage tonight.

    Senator Elizabeth Warren
    Senator Amy Klobuchar
    Mayor Pete Buttigieg
    Senator Bernie Sanders
    former Vice President Joe Biden
    Andrew Yang
    Tom Steyer

    […] The debate will begin at 8 PM ET and run for two and a half to three hours. Candidates will have a whopping 75 seconds to answer questions, with 45 seconds for rebuttals and follow-ups. The debate is hosted by PBS and Politico and will be moderated by Judy Woodruff, Amna Nawaz, and Yamiche Alcindor of PBS and Tim Alberta of Politico. You can watch it on PBS or CNN and stream it at PBS.org, PBS NewsHour, Politico.com, and CNN.com.

  11. johnson catman says

    re Lynna @ 14:

    He seems to have an obsession with flushing the toilet 10 ore 15 times.

    It is probably from personal experience because of his diet. Maybe, at his age, he should take a big dose of Metamucil every night. It might help his toilet problem.

  12. says

    The Trump administration is facing yet another lawsuit:

    Washington state attorney general Bob Ferguson has sued the Department of Homeland Security, Immigration and Customs Enforcement, and Customs and Border Protection over immigration sweeps in and around the state’s courthouses, stating that “the courthouse arrests are unlawful and unconstitutional,” cause “witnesses, victims, and others to refuse to enter courthouses,” and is “harmful to public safety” at large.

    Mass deportation agents have detained hundreds of immigrants in and around courthouses across 20 counties since 2017, Ferguson’s office said, some targeting people who were going to court to settle minor traffic infractions, or just to accompany a relative. But in some instances, agents have even “detained crime victims or those appearing in court to protect themselves against violence—for example, by seeking protection orders against abusers.” This has a chilling effect, Thurston County prosecutor Jon Tunheim said, according to Ferguson’s office.

    “Specifically, undocumented domestic violence victims have expressed to their advocates that they no longer feel safe reporting abuse to the authorities for fear of deportation,” he said. “This leaves them and their family at high risk of abuse. The perpetrators with legal status use that privilege as an additional control tactic against undocumented victims by consistently threatening to deport them and separate them from their children.”

    One report from earlier this year found that abusers have increasingly weaponized ICE against victims. According to Immigrant Defense Project’s ICE Out of Courts Coalition, “reports of alleged abusers threatening to call ICE to stop their victims from seeking help has skyrocketed by 78.6 percent since early 2017.” One advocate said according to the report that “[s]everal clients mentioned their abusers were directly using the news to instill fear in clients.” Another “client mentioned her abuser screamed at her during a violent incident ‘If Trump is president then I can do whatever I want.’” […]


    Ferguson’s office has filed 53 lawsuits against the Trump administration and has not lost a case.

  13. says

    UPDATE: The FSB has officially designated this a terrorist attack

    This date is not random for these shooters – Dec 19th is Putin’s annual presser (already happened) and Dec 20th in Russia is a national day recognizing security forces.

    Putin’s presser day isn’t a set date – so the Security Forces holiday is the more likely significant date and the presser is bonus. Right after the presser Putin went to the Kremlin and was giving a speech honoring the Security Forces holiday when the shooting occurred.”

  14. says

    Roger Stone wants to delay sentencing to sometime after March 9 (because his finances are too complicated). The govt objects.

    The claimed complexity of Stone’s finances are of interest given that Andrew Miller really didn’t want to be asked about his own financial ties to Stone.

    In addition to hacking etc etc, Stone was investigated for wire fraud too.

    Also remember that Stone has been claiming to be broke.

    His financial statement won’t be public, but it’d be interesting if his claimed financial woes end up being bullshit.”

    Something fishy here.

  15. a_ray_in_dilbert_space says

    Johnson Catman: ‘Maybe, at his age, he should take a big dose of Metamucil every night.”

    This reminds me of what Christopher Hitchens said of Jerry Falwell: “If you gave [Jerry] Falwell an enema he could be buried in a matchbox.”

  16. says

    NPR – “Scotland Seeks New Vote On Independence As U.K. Hurtles Toward Brexit”:

    The people of Scotland have already rejected the U.K.’s political agenda, Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon says — and now she wants them to vote in a public referendum on leaving the U.K. altogether. Sturgeon says she’s sending Prime Minister Boris Johnson a letter formally requesting that Scotland be allowed to hold a vote on its future.

    “Let’s assert our rights as an equal nation and partner,” Sturgeon told Scotland’s residents as she began the push for what’s widely being called #IndyRef2.

    Scotland held a landmark independence vote in 2014, when roughly 55% of voters chose to remain in the U.K. But Sturgeon says times have changed drastically since then — most notably, Scotland voted to remain in the EU in the 2016 Brexit vote. She also notes that in the U.K.’s recent general election, her pro-independence Scottish National Party had one of its best showings ever at the polls.

    “Scotland made very clear last week that it does not want a Tory government led by Boris Johnson taking us out of Europe and down a path that we haven’t chosen,” Sturgeon said.

    Sturgeon unveiled her bid for a new vote as Johnson triumphantly opened a new session of Parliament, which included a Queen’s Speech that focused on delivering on Johnson’s pledge to leave the EU by the end of January. But in the north, the SNP had similarly campaigned on a promise to seek a new vote on independence.

    “It’s fascinating that on this day you have a message of unity” in London, NPR’s Frank Langfitt reports, “and then up in Scotland, you have a message: ‘We want to vote to be able to leave.’ ”

    Johnson has said he’s against Scotland becoming independent. Countering that, Sturgeon says that if the U.K.’s central government forbids Scotland from voting, it will bolster her argument that the relationship is too one-sided. She vowed that the vote will happen despite Johnson’s resistance.

    Sturgeon says her party wants to hold the referendum sometime in 2020. She did not specify a date….

  17. says

    The Hill – “McConnell: Holding articles of impeachment gives Pelosi no leverage”:

    Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) says Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s (D-Calif.) strategy of holding articles of impeachment in the House rather than sending them to the upper chamber won’t put any pressure on him to agree to a rules package for the Senate trial.

    “It’s beyond me how the Speaker and Democratic leader in the Senate think withholding the articles of impeachment and not sending them over gives them leverage,” McConnell told reporters after criticizing the House impeachment effort in a lengthy floor speech.

    “Frankly, I’m not anxious to have the trial. If she thinks her case is so weak she doesn’t want to send it over, throw me into that briar patch,” McConnell added….

    Meanwhile,… “POTUS lawyers are looking at various options for proceeding if House doesn’t send articles of impeachment to the Senate. POTUS doesn’t want it to be left hanging that he was impeached and nothing was done by Republicans to defend him in the Senate.”

  18. lumipuna says

    (My original parody, inspired by Trump’s recent toilet flushing talks)

    Interior of the president’s Oval Office bathroom, sometime in summer 2019.

    Donald Trump sits on the toilet, sends out a couple tweets to pass time, and eventually defecates.

    He gets up and picks a copy of the Constitution. It’s a tough piece of paper, but there’s no alternative. Not if he wants to get through 2020. The toilet paper printed with photos of Joe Biden is out.

    Crumple. Wipe. Wipe. Wipe. Toss. Flush.

    The toilet sloshes and gargles. Most of the shit goes down easily, but the crumpled, soiled copy of Constitution persists, swirling on the water surface. Not again.

    After a few seconds, he flushes again. Now, the surge of the water seems much weaker. The Constitution just rolls lazily over in the toilet bowl, refusing to go down. Another flush. No result. It’s always like this, if you don’t succeed on the first try.

    Flush. No luck.

    Flush. The inside of the toilet keeps making a constant faint sound, like flowing water.

    Flush. A random thought circles at the edges of his mind.

    Flush. Maybe it would help to wait for some time, to make the next flush stronger?

    Flush. Eh, too late for that.

    Flush. He cannot control his impatience.

    Flush. Damn toilet.






    He finally gives up, leaving the soggy Constitution floating in the water. He pulls his pants and returns to the office.

    Time to call Bloomberg.

  19. tomh says

    @ SC #26
    Hehe, the longer Pelosi holds them back, the longer she lives rent-free in Trump’s head. Laurence Tribe is OK with not sending them at all, just keep investigating and bringing out more facts. Maybe the courts will enforce subpoenas, maybe they’ll force his taxes out in the open, who knows. There’s nothing to say they can’t add more articles, either. Heck, for Andrew Johnson, the House voted to impeach him and then a week later adopted 11 Articles of Impeachment.

  20. says

    Reposted from the previous chapter of this thread.

    I Watched OAN’s Unhinged Ukraine Impeachment Special So You Don’t Have To

    Right-wing TV channel One America News has released its full, three-part series meant to reveal the “real” Ukraine story, starring Rudy Giuliani and a host of allegedly corrupt Ukrainian officials.
    The three-hour-long, often disjointed special aims to debunk the facts behind the impeachment inquiry days before Congress votes on impeachment.

    At its core, the series tells a story in which Giuliani has been unfairly smeared for trying to open a good-faith investigation into so-called Ukrainian interference in the 2016 election. Along the way, the story goes, Giuliani stumbled upon head-spinning evidence that the Bidens are corrupt.

    OAN host Chanel Rion managed to throw in some additional allegations — culled in part from Ukrainian politicians fighting off corruption allegations of their own — that Schiff himself is personally corrupt due to his investments in Franklin Templeton-run mutual funds.

    The allegations don’t make sense, and frequently contradict themselves. Watching the series, it becomes clear that OAN failed to do basic research in numerous areas. For example, the documentary ties Ambassador Yovanovitch to the release of the so-called “black ledger,” a purported bribe ledger in Ukraine that named Paul Manafort, even though the document was made public months before she arrived at the post.

    Bolding is mine. I wanted to emphasize, by providing one detail, how misleading this documentary propaganda film is.

    More from the TPM article:

    […] Throughout the series, Giuliani repeatedly calls for Joe Biden to be prosecuted, and criticizes the Justice Department for not doing so while imagining what charges he would bring — and how — were he to be in charge of the Biden case. […]

    During a conversation with former Ukrainian general prosecutor Viktor Shokin in Kyiv, Giuliani also calls for the release of phone transcripts from conversations that Biden had with former Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko. […]

    The documentary bills itself as an attempt to “destroy Adam Schiff’s baseless impeachment case against President Trump” and “expose Biden family corruption in Ukraine.”

    […] At one point, Giuliani bemoans Biden’s ability to use his “office for bribery” while saying that the former Vice President appears to be immune from prosecution.

    At another point, one-time Ukrainian diplomat Andrii Telizhenko drops the name of the alleged whistleblower whose August 2019 disclosure wound up spurring House Democrats to open an impeachment inquiry, accusing the supposed tipster of being part of an elaborate Obama White House conspiracy to thwart Trump.

    So, yeah, Rudy also attempted to reveal the identity of the whistleblower.

    More from the article:

    But most of all, Giuliani and others use the allegations of corruption against Biden to justify Trump’s effort to withhold congressionally appropriated aid to Ukraine.

    Trump, the argument goes, was obligated to “investigate” allegations of corruption, given that, in the documentary’s extended cinematic universe, it was Biden who misused $1 billion in U.S. government funds to extort Ukraine into dropping an investigation of his son.

    […] They interviewed three Ukrainians in OAN’s D.C. office last month: Telizhenko, former Ukrainian MP and Mueller grand jury witness Andrii Artemenko, and Ukraine election commission chief Mykhaylo Okhendovskyy.

    During OAN’s trip to Europe, the network interviewed former Ukraine prosecutors general Yuriy Lutsenko and Shokin, as well as Ukraine MP Andrii Derkach.

    All of the Ukrainians interviewed had a grievance. They had lost something as a result of U.S. anti-corruption policy in Ukraine, or had a personal reason to oppose it. [snipped details]

    The OAN series provides a transparently self-serving forum for these aggrieved Ukrainians to make their case, frequently against the U.S. Embassy in Kyiv. Okhendovsky accuses the embassy of fabricating and releasing the “black ledger,” for example, while Lutsenko alleges that the embassy blocked his efforts to fight corruption in the country.

    […] The final minutes of the documentary are arguably the most intriguing.

    Rion tells the viewers that she has received hundreds of pages of documents and “text messages,” which OAN is working through.

    She adds that Giuliani was analyzing the information himself before briefing Trump, the Senate, and DOJ on his conclusions.

    […] The documentary is written in a surreal brand of stilted English. Rion comes up with bizarre monikers for different people involved, referring to Rep. Jerry Nadler (D-NY) at one point as an impeachment “stooge,” and former Ambassador Marie Yovanovitch as a “damsel in distress.”

    It only gets odder. Rion describes the tangled web of Ukrainian politics at one point as “transmogrifying into a self-licking ice cream cone,” and refers to House Democrats leading the impeachment inquiry as “gender-bent radicals.”

    Giuliani, in Rion’s words, was smeared as a “tin-foiled mad hatter” for his role in propagating conspiracy theories involving Ukraine.

  21. says

    SC @26:

    POTUS doesn’t want it to be left hanging that he was impeached and nothing was done by Republicans to defend him in the Senate.

    That certainly sounds like a position that would give Nancy Pelosi leverage.

  22. says

    “ELIZABETH WARREN The Rolling Stone Interview”:

    A year out from the election, head-to-head polling shows Biden beating Trump in some battleground states, and you losing to him. More than 40 percent of those who said they would support Biden but not you also said women who run for president “aren’t very likable.” What do you even do with that information?
    I think about the last three years, and the role that women have played in politics. Plain old electoral politics. Look, I went to Trump’s swearing in. I thought it was important. I know others decided not to. I come from a witnessing tradition: I wanted to see it with my own eyes. I wore my Planned Parenthood scarf wrapped around my neck to keep me warm, and watched as he was sworn in. I remember flying back to Massachusetts that night and thinking, “They could take away health care from tens of millions of people by next Friday.” The Republicans controlled the House, the Senate, and the White House. What have we got left? What are we going to do? And, chewing on that as I went to bed that night, got up early the next morning, and then went to the Women’s March and saw exactly what we could do. We could come together, and we could raise our voices, and we could make change. I spoke at the Women’s March on Boston Common and I realized: This is how we’re gonna do it.

    It’s women who have been in the fight for a long time, but it’s also women who are coming into the fight for the first time. And friends of women: men who were completely taken aback by what had happened in 2016. Do you remember the coverage on this? You have to really kind of go back and remind yourself. [After] the Women’s March, everyone says, “Well, yeah, but will they still be here in a month?” And the answer was: Yeah! Now there are more women who are in this, and more people who are turning it into action, not just a protest. You’re seeing all over the internet: You don’t like what’s happening? Get out there and run for office! If you don’t wanna run, find someone who does wanna run and go help ’em. Go volunteer! Go knock on doors. Be a campaign manager. And that’s what happened. And then we had the wins in Virginia in 2017, and rolled into 2018. Women have changed the political landscape. In Nevada, to see a women-majority state Legislature. And women responsible for the election of other women and of good, strong, progressive men. Sure enough, one of the first things that happens in the Nevada Legislature is gun-violence legislation passes. Real change. The wave of 2018 is about a changing democratic landscape. 2019 has given us the first stirrings of that. So the battle now becomes: Is America a democracy that is going to be run by the billionaires and the people who suck up to the billionaires, or are we going to be a democracy built on a grassroots movement, on people who engage and say my personal life is at stake here?

    But is there anything you can do to address that underlying dynamic?
    I do it every day. I go out and meet people every single day, and shake hands, and talk to people about the things that touch their lives. [I’ve met] more than one couple in the selfie line, where she says, “I dragged him here,” and then he says, “But I’m all in now.” I’ll take that.

    If you could implement only one of your plans, which one would it be?
    It’d be anti-corruption, because then everything else would change.

    Is there a specific piece—
    All of them, because that’s the thing with corruption: Money doesn’t make itself felt in Washington in just one way. It’s in hundreds of ways, and thousands of ways. It’s the obvious — around lobbying and the revolving door with Wall Street and with the defense industry — but it is also in very subtle ways. The United States Supreme Court has no rules of ethics, so justices can take freebie vacations with groups that will repeatedly appear in front of those same justices to argue cases. That is thinly disguised influence-peddling. Think of it like water that’s flowing everywhere. It’s not like you can say, “Oh, there’s one, and if you stop it here you’ll stop the whole thing.”…

    Much, much more at the link.

  23. says

    A closer look at the venting of methane gasses that contribute to climate change:

    […] a study on methane “super emitters” revealed something about the scope of the environmental threat represented by Donald Trump’s refusal to regulate methane release at wells. Not only are these sources making a significant and often unrecognized contribution to the climate crisis, but they can be difficult to find. […] pinpointing a specific well or storage facility is almost impossible without the kind of monitoring devices that the Trump Environmental Protection Agency is trying to eliminate.

    Or it is almost impossible most of the time. A brand-new paper in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences shows an example of a single well venting methane in a way that was not only highly visible, but almost unbelievable. As in, this single well released more methane in three weeks than most entire nations do in a year. So much methane that this single well, venting over a period of about 20 days, may have been a significant contributor to altering the climate.

    This particular super-duper emitter came from a fracking well in Ohio that blew during development in 2018. The emissions from the well were so strong that they became almost immediately visible to the Tropospheric Monitoring Instrument aboard the orbiting Sentinel-5P satellite. What that instrument saw indicated that the well was producing between 100 and 160 tons of methane every hour. The satellite doesn’t have information for the full period, but if that rate continued over the 20 days before the well was capped, one Ohio blowout released more methane into the atmosphere over that period than either Germany or the U.K. released during all of 2018.

    And this staggering, potentially world-altering in a very literal way event went more or less unnoticed. If it weren’t for the new instrument, and images taken both before and during the venting event, there would have been no way to quantify just how horrible a single well blowout can be, and how significant these events really are when compared to the amount of methane lost from pipelines, tanks, and in normal use.

    The authors of the paper use this incident to point out the effectiveness of their space-based instrument, and it certainly is effective. But it also reinforces the need to maintain monitors on each well, and to recognize the fantastic threat generated through fracking by levying massive penalties against companies who fail to regulate emissions.


    Video available at the link.

  24. says

    From Wonkette:

    House Democrats impeached Donald Trump yesterday, and Fox News is real mad. Everyone on that silly network thinks it’s so unfair. Republicans never impeached Barack Obama, and there was far more compelling evidence that he was black.

    Tucker Carlson couldn’t even get through Adam Schiff’s floor speech last night. He cut away, declaring, “That’s enough of that.” Carlson suggested viewers go online if they were interested in Schiff’s full remarks or real news in general. […]

    During her white power hour on Tuesday, Laura Ingraham called impeachment a “three-ring flop,” because it’s, you know, a circus.

    INGRAHAM: [Impeachment] has all of the feels of like a second-rate traveling circus that camps out in the old fairgrounds of your town, but then it never leaves. You have the jugglers, kind of half-baked jugglers, and kind of uneasy tightrope walkers.

    Wow. She took that metaphor further than anyone needed. She must’ve had high hopes for the circus as a child and was really disappointed. Maybe that was the turning point for her. Her soul shriveled up and died when she realized the “strong man” was wearing a padded suit.

    Last night, after the impeachment vote, Ingraham described Democrats as a bunch of liars and even worse actors. She pushed the popular right-wing fantasy that Democrats only impeached Trump because they couldn’t beat a president with an underwater approval rating who defames dead congressmen from swing states. […]

    This morning on “Fox & Friends,” Ainsley Earhardt dismissed impeachment as just “political.” Nothing gets past her. That was about all she could contribute because the men to her right and her other right kept talking over her. Pete Hegseth suffered a complete mental collapse on air. He acted like a child who’d just figured out Santa was a scam.

    HEGSETH: It’s all fake. The whole thing is fake. The investigation was fake. The trial was fake. Everyone knows what the outcome is going to be. The solemn nature, the sadness, the prayerfulness — it’s all fake. Everyone sees through it. […]

    The “fuck your feelings” crowd is really sensitive. They’re horrified that Democrats could on any level enjoy impeaching a corrupt and cruel president. Any public expression of pleasure over finally taking down their white whale reveals Democrats had it in for Trump all along. If they want Americans to believe impeachment was truly a last resort, they should only show somber regret, like Melania Trump on her wedding night. […]

    Republicans were especially pissed that Adam Schiff enjoyed a well-deserved nice dinner out on Tuesday. Trump might be content with Big Mac attacks but most people splurge a little when they finish a big project. […]

    Odds are firmly in Trump’s favor that he’ll remain in office because his personal Santa Baby, Mitch McConnell, is gonna stick a sham trial under the tree. […]

    We have no problem with our congressional “war fighters” celebrating Trump’s shame however they see fit.

  25. says

    Mike Pompeo Fires Ukraine Witness Because BAWK BAWK BAWK BAWK BAWK

    Walking garbage fire Mike Pompeo has outdone himself this time. Our secretary of State, a West Point graduate famed for his devotion to Christian values, just fired career public servant and Ukraine chargé d’affaires Bill Taylor to avoid a photo op. Oh, sorry, we mean that sniveling little coward dispatched his henchman Ulrich Brechbuhl to tell the acting Ukrainian ambassador to GTFO before the secretary’s plane touches down so there’s no danger of them getting their pictures taken together. […]

    The Wall Street Journal reports:

    Acting U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine Bill Taylor was instructed by a top aide to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to hand over responsibilities for his post just days before Mr. Pompeo plans to visit the Ukrainian capital, according to a person familiar with the situation […]

    Wouldn’t want to provoke President Pisspants by getting snapped standing next to the guy who testified that Trump held up aid to extort the president of Ukraine to gin up dirt on Joe Biden! Better that Bill Taylor, whom Pompeo personally convinced to come out of retirement in June to take over after Marie Yovanovitch got kicked to the curb, be unceremoniously shoved out of the door after 40 years of public service.

    Or perhaps Pompeo, who just got a new Twitter account devoted to the joys of rural life and appears to be heading back to Kansas for a Senate run, doesn’t want to be photographed with an actual, selfless public servant. In light of Pompeo’s disgraceful treatment of Yovanovitch and the rest of the career civil service employees at the State Department, the comparison to Taylor does not favor Mike Pompeo. […]


  26. says

    Guardian – “Syria faces winter crisis as bombs bring food, fuel and aid shortages”:

    Civilians in opposition-held Syria face a cold, hungry start to the winter with an intensified bombing campaign forcing thousands to flee their homes while fuel shortages threaten medical care and push up prices of food and transport.

    At least 90 people have been killed and 12,000 have fled the town of Maaret al-Numan in southern Idlib province after heavy bombing over the last week, local activists said. They fear the bombing campaign, which has included air strikes, barrel bombs and shelling, could be preparations for a ground offensive.

    Charities and hospitals are struggling to respond to the crisis because of soaring fuel prices, which have more than doubled in the area since early October.

    One hospital director said he had turned off heaters on his wards despite plunging winter temperatures to save fuel for ambulances and generators that power vital medical devices. Aid workers say they have had to cut back support for some of the internally displaced people in the region.

    “We have faced many barriers to our work over the last three years,” said Haytham Abu Husam, who lives in southern Idlib and works for a Syrian-run aid group there. “But none are on the scale of the current crisis.

    “We have continued despite countless risks, including targeting of humanitarian workers in Idlib, where many have been kidnapped and two killed in the last few months. Warplanes and helicopters haven’t left the skies. We didn’t stop our work despite all that, but if the fuel crisis continues, we would have to stop.”

    More than 3 million people are estimated to be living in Idlib, many of them refugees displaced from other parts of the country, as President Bashar al-Assad and his Russian and Iranian allies reclaimed areas that had been under rebel rule and opposition supporters fled.

    The long offensive has been marked by a willingness to violate international law by targeting civilian infrastructure, including hospitals, before the intensive bombing of the last week that hit busy markets and an olive oil processing plant, making it harder for families to buy food.

    For years, much of the fuel in Idlib had come from oil fields in north-eastern Syria, near Hassakah. Crude oil was trucked west along roads held by Kurdish and rebel forces to be turned into gasoline, diesel and fuel oil in makeshift refineries.

    But after the US president, Donald Trump, decided to abruptly abandon the US’s Syrian Kurdish allies, leaving Turkish forces to sweep into some areas they held, fighting closed the main trucking route.

    The situation has calmed again, but the crossing remains closed, said one trader who operates several 125-barrel tanker trucks but has not been able to make any runs since mid-October. “The clashes have eased and the situation is stable on both sides near Manbij now, so I don’t understand why the border is still closed,” he said.

    Complicating the situation, in late November activists said strikes by unidentified planes hit several of the refineries around north and north-east Aleppo, hampering any attempt to processcrude oil should it start to arrive again.

  27. says

    Commentary on Trump’s rally, from Wonkette:

    Donald Trump went to Battle Creek, Michigan, Wednesday night, holding one of his great big slob Nuremberg rallies while the House voted to impeach him.

    He used the occasion to rant and ramble for two hours, making it the longest rally he’s held since taking office. It was a fine party, with Trump treating the impeachment as a joke that will work out just great for him, and mocking Democrats as the worst humans possible. […]

    Trump also yelled about toilets and light bulbs, as one does at this festive time of year.

    Here’s the video, if any of you masochists want to watch [it] in its entirety, and if you actually do, we’d also be happy to refer you to counseling, because that shit’s not healthy:

    Video available at the link.

    More from Wonkette:

    Trump led off by proclaiming it “doesn’t really feel like we’re being impeached,” because he knows it’s all a mean joke and he’s never been held responsible for anything in his life, so why would this be different? He has people to take care of little irritations that get in his way, and this time it’s an entire political party that controls the Senate. […]

    He proclaimed yet again that he was once named Michigan’s Man of the Year, which never happened, but Trump thinks it did so it is now official reality. Protesters unfurled a banner, so Trump took the opportunity to call one of the protesters a “real slob” and a “disgusting person” […] Then he complained the security people failed to rough one of them up. […]

    This is at least the second time this month he’s complained that protesters were merely removed instead of getting the beatdown they so richly deserved. Expect more as the campaign continues, because the rage-addicted audience just eats that shit up.

    […] he had to explain that while the #MeToo movement means he never talks about anyone’s looks any more, “male or female,” that Adam Schiff sure is one funny-looking dude, and also a “pathological liar.” […]

    Ever the buzzkills, the “fact-based” socialists at Gizmodo’s Earther point out that no, efficient appliances don’t actually waste water, which you might gather from the word “efficient”:

    The EPA actually estimates using approved water- and electricity-conserving fixtures and appliances can save the average household $350 annually, a figure that presumably accounts for the occasional courtesy flush.

    But by god, everything in the old days was better, so we’re bringing back wasteful lightbulbs and big cars and toilets that never clog up […]

  28. says

    Wonkette has something to say about Tulsi Gabbard:

    […] On the one hand yes, Tulsi Gabbard supposes that Trump is bad. On the other hand, we don’t actually know who’s supporting Tulsi’s candidacy beyond Russian bots and Russian state TV, and they don’t support the impeachment of Trump, plus a lot of Gabbard’s pals like Tucker Carlson and Mike Huckabee don’t support impeachment […]

    So yes, she put on her robe and her wizard hat and … voted “present.”

    What a fucking coward. Like, no matter who she’s really trying to please here, and we honestly don’t know, what a fucking coward. Wanna be a MAGA troll Trump supporter, Tulsi? Fine do that. Wanna be an actual Democrat not really but kinda sorta at least for the purposes of convincing a couple of idiots in New Hampshire that you actually are a participant in the fight against this president? Then do that.

    But nope. She is “present.” Nancy Pelosi said to vote your conscience, and we guess Tulsi Gabbard, perhaps noticing that she didn’t particularly have one, couldn’t really follow that simple instruction. […]


  29. says

    I’m sorry but this is hilarious: “Scoop: Lawyers close to Trump are exploring whether Pelosi’s decision to temporarily withhold articles of impeachment from the Senate could mean that the president hasn’t actually been impeached.
    The case is largely rhetorical, but could provide WH and Senate Republicans leverage.”

    “The case is largely rhetorical” hahahahahahaha.

  30. says

    Oh, yeah, Putin weighed in on the impeachment of Trump:

    […] Putin was asked how U.S.-Russian cooperation would be affected by Donald Trump’s impeachment, to which the president responded with a short lecture on the separation of powers. “You phrase your question as if Trump’s presidency is coming to an end,” he said. “[The impeachment bill] still needs to go through the Senate where Republicans as far as I know have a majority. It’s unlikely they will want to remove from power a representative of their party based on what are, in my opinion, completely fabricated reasons.”

    Echoing U.S. Republican talking points, the Russian president said there was no evidence of “collusion” with Russia or “quid pro quo” with Ukraine, continuing: “The Democratic Party lost the previous election and they want to achieve their goals with other means.”

    Pause to throw up.

    Putin was also asked about widespread speculation that he will change the Constitution of Russia to stay on as president past 2024, when his current six-year term will end. The Russian Constitution limits the president to two consecutive terms. Putin said that the constitution is a “living document” that should “reflect the will of the people.” He said he would be open to removing the word “consecutive” from the document. […]


  31. says

    Stephen Wolf:

    Pennsylvania GOP just advanced a constitutional amendment that would effectively gerrymander the judiciary for the GOP by electing judges by district instead of statewide. Comes after the Dem PA Supreme Court struck down their congressional gerrymander

    This power grab would have to pass both chambers before & after the 2020 elections before it would require voter approval in a referendum. The Dem-majority PA Supreme Court is a key bulwark against GOP gerrymandering efforts, & this proposal could ensure GOP court majorities

    Hat tip to @AdamEichen for flagging this development

    Pennsylvania Republicans are using their gerrymandered majorities to try to pass yet another gerrymandering power grab, which is why it’s critical that Dems flip a legislative chamber in 2020 to stop this from succeeding

    This from yesterday is beautifully concise: “The GOP’s obsession with judges is part of a larger pattern: its reliance on undemocratic means to further its aims—the electoral college, Senate obstruction, voter suppression, foreign interference. They’ve lost confidence in their ability to pass legislation and win elections.”

  32. says

    Van Drew tells ⁦@realDonaldTrump⁩ that he has his undying support. He says the Republican Party is a better fit for him. Trump tells him he has his endorsement.”

    Picture of Van Drew at the WH atl.

    Some real talk about opportunist Jeff Van Drew:

    — He voted with Trump just 10% of the time.

    —He endorsed Cory Booker for president.

    —He called Stephen Miller a white supremacist three weeks ago. [He co-sponsored a resolution!]”

    Links to evidence atl.

  33. says

    Two podcast episode recommendations:

    Trump Inc. – “‘Corruption Is Our Achilles Heel'”:

    Glenn Simpson has a lot to say about business corruption and Russian influence in the U.S. In this episode, we speak to him. Simpson first came to these issues as an investigative journalist at The Wall Street Journal. In 2010, he co-founded Fusion GPS, a research firm. During the 2016 campaign, he began to research Donald Trump for two clients: first for a Republican opposed to Trump and then for a lawyer for Democrats.

    Fusion is most famous — or infamous — for hiring Christopher Steele, the former British spy who wrote the so-called Steele dossier. We asked Simpson about the dossier, about becoming a part of the story, and about the deposition of former national security aide Fiona Hill, who said that when it comes to Russia, “corruption is our Achilles heel.”

    Simpson is now the author, with Peter Fritsch, of the new book, “Crime in Progress: Inside the Steele Dossier and the Fusion GPS Investigation of Donald Trump.”

    Why Is This Happening? with Chris Hayes – “LIVE IN CHICAGO: The 400 Year Legacy with Nikole Hannah-Jones and Ibram Kendi”:

    In our third stop of the Fall tour, Nikole Hannah-Jones, the architect behind The 1619 Project, and Ibram Kendi, author of “How To Be an Antiracist”, join Chris Hayes to examine the 400 year legacy of slavery in America. Together they examine the sinister discrepancy between the history of this nation as it *was* and the history of this nation as we are taught it, and discuss what that history then demands from us in this moment.

  34. says

    Rojava Information Center – “Beyond the frontlines – The building of the democratic system in North and East Syria”:

    …The political system of North and East Syria, though widely misunderstood, has captured the attention of the world through its championship of women’s rights and democracy in the wake of the ISIS caliphate.

    The report is set to be the definitive work describing the political system in the words of those who are building it. ‘Beyond the frontlines’ explains the roles and responsibilities of the key institutions of governance, and locates them within their historical, cultural and ideological frameworks….

    Report (I haven’t read it yet) and links to other resources atl.

  35. johnson catman says

    re Lynna @ 40:

    Echoing U.S. Republican talking points, the Russian president said . . .

    I think whoever wrote that REALLY doesn’t understand that the talking points originated with Putin and the republicans are just reflexively parroting them.

  36. says

    John Hudson, WaPo:

    Scooplet: Top Indian official @DrSJaishankar abruptly canceled a meeting with senior members of Congress this week after U.S. lawmakers refused Indian demands to exclude @RepJayapal from the meeting. Jayapal has been critical of India’s policies in Kashmir

    “This only furthers the idea that the Indian government isn’t willing to listen to any dissent at all,” Jayapal tells me. Foreign Affairs Committee chairman Eliot Engel refused to hold the meeting without Jayapal so the Indians decided to walk.

    India’s shutdown of Kashmir’s internet entered its 134th day on Monday, making it the longest shutdown of its kind imposed in a democracy, according to the Internet advocacy group Access Now.

  37. says

    NEW: Former White House officials say they feared Putin influenced the president’s views on Ukraine and 2016 campaign”

    WaPo link atl – I don’t have access.

    One former senior White House official said Trump even stated so explicitly at one point, saying he knew Ukraine was the real culprit because ‘Putin told me.’”

    “Two other former officials said the senior White House official described Trump’s comment to them.”

  38. says

    johnson catman @46:

    I think whoever wrote that REALLY doesn’t understand that the talking points originated with Putin and the republicans are just reflexively parroting them.

    I think it is a feedback loop that works both ways.

  39. says

    Excerpts from the article mentioned in SC’s comment 48:

    Almost from the moment he took office, President Trump seized on a theory that troubled his senior aides: Ukraine, he told them on many occasions, had tried to stop him from winning the White House.

    After meeting privately in July 2017 with Russian President Vladi­mir Putin at the Group of 20 summit in Hamburg, Trump grew more insistent that Ukraine worked to defeat him, according to multiple former officials familiar with his assertions.

    Hmmm. Interesting timing.

    The president’s intense resistance to the assessment of U.S. intelligence agencies that Russia systematically interfered in the 2016 campaign — and the blame he cast instead on a rival country — led many of his advisers to think that Putin himself helped spur the idea of Ukraine’s culpability, said the officials, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to describe internal discussions.

    One former senior White House official said Trump even stated so explicitly at one point, saying he knew Ukraine was the real culprit because “Putin told me.”

    […] The Ukraine theory that has consumed Trump’s attention has now been taken up by Republicans in Congress who are defending the president against impeachment. Top GOP lawmakers have demanded investigations of Ukrainian interference for which senior U.S. officials, including the director of the FBI, say there is no evidence.

    Allegations about Ukraine’s role in the 2016 race have been promoted by an array of figures, including right-wing journalists whose work the president avidly consumes, as well as Rudolph W. Giuliani, his personal lawyer. But U.S. intelligence officials told lawmakers and their staff members this past fall that Russian security services played a major role in spreading false claims of Ukrainian complicity, said people familiar with the assessments.

    […] The Russian Embassy in Washington declined to address whether Putin told Trump that Ukraine interfered in the 2016 campaign, saying only that information about the two leaders’ conversations is available on the Kremlin’s website. […]

    Aides said they have long been confounded by the president’s fixation on Ukraine — a topic he raised when advisers sought to caution him that Russia was likely to try to disrupt future elections.

    “He would say: ‘This is ridiculous. Everyone knows I won the election. The greatest election in the world. The Russians didn’t do anything. The Ukrainians tried to do something,’ ” one former official said.

    Trump, the official said, offered no proof to support his theory of Ukraine’s involvement.

    “We spent a lot of time . . . trying to refute this one in the first year of the administration,” Fiona Hill, a former senior director for Europe and Russia on the National Security Council, told impeachment investigators in October. […]

  40. says

    Lynna @ #50, thanks! It amazes me that one of Trump’s “deliverables” was that the president of Ukraine, a country invaded, occupied, and at war with Russia, falsely state that his country was responsible for the crimes against the US committed by…Russia.

  41. tomh says

    Influential evangelical magazine says Trump should be ‘removed’
    By Sarah Pulliam Bailey
    Dec. 19, 2019 at 3:49 p.m. PST

    Christianity Today, the evangelical magazine founded by the late evangelist Rev. Billy Graham published a surprising editorial by its editor-in-chief on Thursday calling for President Trump’s removal. The magazine has been critical of Trump but not politically outspoken during his administration.

    The piece, which appeared to draw so many readers that the magazine’s website crashed briefly, was written by Mark Galli, who called Trump “a near perfect example of a human being who is morally lost and confused.”

    “The president of the United States attempted to use his political power to coerce a foreign leader to harass and discredit one of the president’s political opponents,” he wrote. “That is not only a violation of the Constitution; more importantly, it is profoundly immoral.”

    “Whether Mr. Trump should be removed from office by the Senate or by popular vote next election — that is a matter of prudential judgment,” the editorial said. “That he should be removed, we believe, is not a matter of partisan loyalties but loyalty to the Creator of the Ten Commandments.”

    But the editorial didn’t just call out Trump. It called out his devout Christian supporters.

    “To the many evangelicals who continue to support Mr. Trump in spite of his blackened moral record, we might say this: Remember who you are and whom you serve,” Galli wrote. “Consider how your justification of Mr. Trump influences your witness to your Lord and Savior.”

  42. says

    southpaw’s thread about the report @ #53. From there:

    “Finding #7: Representative Shea wrote the Biblical Basis for War and advocated the replacement of US democracy with a theocracy and the killing of all males who do not agree.”

    The US northwest has long been a bastion of rightwing zealotry and white supremacy. A number of pro-Nazi organizations found a welcoming environment there in the early years of WWII.

  43. johnson catman says

    re tomh @ 52:

    Christianity Today, the evangelical magazine founded by the late evangelist Rev. Billy Graham published a surprising editorial by its editor-in-chief on Thursday calling for President Trump’s removal.

    Interesting that they are not in lockstep with the bigot Franklin Graham, who loves him some Orange Toddler-Tyrant. He must not have editorial control of the magazine.

  44. says

    Vox – “This former governor pardoned a man convicted of raping a child. His reasoning was deeply flawed.”:

    Before he left office, former Kentucky Gov. Matt Bevin pardoned not one, but several men convicted of sexually abusing minors.

    And on Thursday, he defended one of these pardons by sharing intimate details about a child’s anatomy.

    Bevin pardoned Micah Schoettle, now 41, who had been convicted of raping a 9-year-old girl. The reason for the pardon, Bevin said, is that the girl’s hymen was intact.

    “If you have been repeatedly sexually violated as a small child by an adult, there are going to be repercussions of that physically and medically,” Bevin said in a local radio interview, according to the Louisville Courier Journal.

    But experts say that an intact hymen is in no way evidence that a child has not been raped; one study found that just over 2 percent of survivors in child rape cases had visible damage to the hymen, the Courier Journal reports. Moreover, the former governor was publicly talking about a minor’s sexual organs as a way to discredit her testimony about her sexual assault.

    Bevin was already facing heavy criticism for the hundreds of pardons he issued in the last days of his term, including at least two other men convicted of sexual abuse of children….

    The prosecutor in the case, Kenton County Commonwealth’s Attorney Rob Sanders, has asked for an investigation into the pardon, the Courier Journal reported.

    “Even the defense experts testified they would not expect to find an injury in the victim’s sexual assault exam,” he told the paper. “This was the subject of an eight-hour court hearing Matt Bevin obviously never watched.”

    But Schoettle is only one of the men convicted of child sexual abuse that Bevin pardoned. In fact, he was initially confused when his interviewer brought up the subject of a child rape case.

    “Which one, though? Because there were a couple of people that were accused of that whose sentences I commuted.”

    He also freed Dayton Jones, who was convicted of sexually assaulting a 15-year-old boy at a party; the boy sustained severe internal injuries. And he pardoned Paul Donel Hurt, who had been convicted of sexually abusing his 6-year-old stepdaughter.

    In Hurt’s case, Bevin cited the fact that in 2015, Hurt’s stepdaughter, whose name has not been made public, recanted her allegations. However, several judges declined to set aside Hurt’s conviction, the Courier-Journal reported, in part because of the role of Jefferson Circuit Judge Stephen Mershon in the recantation. Mershon presided over Hurt’s original conviction in 2001, but later began corresponding with Hurt and also contacted the stepdaughter.

    In 2016, one judge said that Mershon had “altered” the stepdaughter’s memory and used “judicial coercion and intimidation” to get her to recant. After Hurt’s pardon, Mershon was the one to pick him up from prison.

    These and other pardons have led Democrats and Republicans alike to criticize Bevin, with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell calling them “completely inappropriate.”

    …By making his inaccurate comments, Bevin may have discouraged sexual assault survivors from coming forward, for fear that they won’t “pass” some sort of physical test.

    He is no longer in office to continue making criminal-justice decisions in the state of Kentucky. But his words and their impact could linger long after his term is over.

  45. johnson catman says

    re SC @ 60: Well, I guess Matt Bevin showed those damn libruls in Kentucky after they so unceremoniously voted him out of office.
    re SC @ 61: Such a horrible situation for them. And for all the other victims of the criminals Bevin released in his hissy fit.

  46. says

    Twitter – “New disclosures to our archive of state-backed information operations”:

    Transparency is at the heart of everything we do at Twitter. That’s why we routinely disclose datasets of information operations we can reliably link to state actors.

    These datasets live in our public archive of state-backed information operations – the largest of its kind in the industry. First launched in October 2018, the archive has been accessed by thousands of researchers from around the world, who in turn have conducted independent, third-party investigations of their own.

    State-backed information operations originating in Saudi Arabia

    Today, we are sharing comprehensive data about 5,929 accounts which we have removed for violating our platform manipulation policies. Rigorous investigations by our Site Integrity team have allowed us to attribute these accounts to a significant state-backed information operation on Twitter originating in Saudi Arabia.

    These accounts represent the core portion of a larger network of more than 88,000 accounts engaged in spammy behaviour across a wide range of topics. We have permanently suspended all of these accounts from the service. In order to protect the privacy of potentially compromised accounts repurposed to engage in platform manipulation, and in response to researcher feedback requesting that we pre-filter unrelated spam, we have not disclosed data for all 88,000 accounts. In the interest of offering meaningful transparency, the dataset we are disclosing includes a representative, random sample of the fake and spammy accounts associated with this broader network.

    We have also shared information about this activity with our peer companies to enable investigations of related activity on their services, and the relevant law enforcement entities.

    Here are some additional distinct features of the accounts we’re disclosing today:

    – Our internal analysis shows the network was involved in various forms of platform manipulation, targeting discussions related to Saudi Arabia and advancing their geopolitical interests on the world stage. Primarily, accounts were amplifying messages favourable to Saudi authorities, mainly through inauthentic engagement tactics such as aggressive liking, Retweeting and replying. While the majority of the content from this network was in Arabic, a portion of it related to events relevant to Western audiences, including amplification of discussion around sanctions in Iran and appearances by Saudi government officials in Western media.

    – Our investigations have traced the source of the coordinated activity to Smaat, a social media marketing and management company based in Saudi Arabia. Our in-house technical indicators show that Smaat appears to have created, purchased, and/or managed these accounts on behalf of — but not necessarily with the knowledge of — their clients. We have permanently suspended Smaat’s access to our service as a result, as well as the Twitter accounts of Smaat’s senior executives. Smaat managed a range of Twitter accounts for high-profile individuals, as well as many government departments in Saudi Arabia.

    – Many of the accounts involved in the overall network employed third-party automated tools in order to amplify non-political content at high volumes. As a general matter, the use of automation to Tweet helpful content — like crisis response info or weather updates — is not a violation of our rules. However, this behaviour was, in part, strategically employed in an attempt to mask the overall platform manipulation originating from these accounts. These tactics made it more difficult for observers to identify political Tweets in the timelines of accounts, which mostly shared automated, non-political content.

  47. says

    TPM – “Trump Canceled Pompeo November Trip To Ukraine Just As Impeachment Was Heating Up”:

    President Trump personally intervened to cancel Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s scheduled stop in Kyiv in November at the last minute, just as new evidence about Rudy Giuliani and Trump’s role in the pressure scheme was boiling out into the open, the Daily Beast reported Friday.

    According to two U.S. officials and other people familiar with the matter who spoke to the Daily Beast, Trump worked in coordination with the State Department to pull the plug on the trip, partially because he didn’t want the bad optics of administration officials spending time in Ukraine during the investigation. That hasn’t stopped President Trump’s personal attorney from spending nearly a week in Ukraine, as the House was announcing its articles of impeachment against Trump, peddling more fabricated conspiracies about the Biden family.

    Most of the details of the trip were already planned when it was cancelled last minute, according to the Daily Beast. Pompeo also reportedly wanted to avoid visiting the embassy in Kyiv, where Bill Taylor is the top diplomat….

    Taylor is leaving his post in Kyiv and was reportedly told by State Department officials that he needed to be gone by the time Pompeo is scheduled to visit on January 3, according to the Daily Beast.

  48. says

    TPM – “Mick Mulvaney Expected To Leave White House After Senate Impeachment Trial”:

    Once the Senate finishes its impending impeachment trial, acting White House Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney is expected to leave his post, Politico reported.

    According to several aides and associates of President Trump who spoke to Politico, Trump’s been pressured from inside and outside the White House to find a replacement before his reelection campaigning kicks into high gear. A list of possible replacements has been making the rounds among Trump aides and allies for several weeks.

    According to Politico, Mulvaney’s control over operations is dwindling and he’s not in charge of the White House’s impeachment strategy.

    “He is there. I’ll leave it at that,” a Republican close to Trump told Politico. “He’s like a kid. His role at the dinner table is to be seen and not heard.”

    As Politico noted, Rep. Mark Meadows (R-NC), who announced his retirement this week, is widely believed to be in the running to replace Mulvaney,…

  49. says

    AP – “Pelosi: Power of gavel means Trump is ‘impeached forever’”:

    Nancy Pelosi promised as speaker she would “show the power of the gavel.”

    This year, she laid it out for all to see.

    The past week alone, the Democratic leader delivered a $1.4 trillion government funding package to stop a shutdown, pushed through the bipartisan U.S.-Mexico-Canada trade agreement, and passed her party’s plan to lower prescription drug costs. In between, she led a congressional delegation to Europe for the 75th anniversary of the Battle of the Bulge.

    And on Wednesday, she impeached the president.

    As the first year of Pelosi’s second stint as speaker draws to a close — she is the only woman to hold the office, and the first speaker in 60 years to reclaim the gavel after losing it — the California Democrat took stock of whether she fulfilled her campaign trail promise.

    “Donald Trump thinks so,“ Pelosi told The Associated Press during an interview Thursday at her office in the Capitol.

    ”He just got impeached. He’ll be impeached forever. No matter what the Senate does. He’s impeached forever because he violated our Constitution,” she said.

    “If I did nothing else, he saw the power of the gavel there,” Pelosi told the AP. “And it wasn’t me, it was all of our members making their own decision.”

    Not since an earlier era of leaders — like Sam Rayburn, whose name is on a building at the Capitol, or Newt Gingrich, who defined a political movement — has the House speaker wielded such influence.

    “She has governed with force and authority,” said Julian Zelizer, a professor of history and public policy at Princeton.

    Zelizer said Pelosi has accomplished with Trump what others have not, which is to build a coalition strong enough to hold the president accountable, through impeachment, while also muscling through big bills. This, on top of what she did during her first term in the office.

    “She is likely to go down in history as one of the most effective Speakers,” he said.

    The Republican leader of the Senate, Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, said Pelosi’s House isn’t accomplishing much because she is wasting time on impeachment.

    But she notes that it’s McConnell who calls himself the “grim reaper” in his Senate graveyard of House-passed bills he refuses to bring forward for a vote.

    “The time is not up,” Pelosi said Thursday, a reminder that all those pieces of legislation carry over to 2020, because Congress runs in two-year cycles and this session doesn’t conclude for another year.

    “As the election approaches, we would not want these to be election issues, we would like them to be accomplished legislation,” she said. “So they either pass the bills or pay a price for not passing bills.”…

  50. says

    Update to #s 53 and 54 above – Jason Wilson in the Guardian – “Republican Matt Shea ‘participated in act of domestic terrorism’, says report “:

    The Republican Washington state representative Matthew Shea “participated in an act of domestic terrorism against the United States” and represents a threat of political violence, according to a report produced for the Washington state legislature.

    Shea is a far-right figure who holds extremist Christian, nationalist and Islamophobic beliefs. The report said it had made the judgment over terrorism by his actions before and during an armed takeover and standoff at the Malheur national wildlife refuge in 2016 in Oregon.

    The report further contends that in a document entitled the Biblical Basis for War, Shea “advocated the replacement of US democracy with a theocracy and the killing of all males who do not agree”.

    In its conclusion, while commenting that Shea is not an “imminent direct threat … it is more probable than not that Representative Shea is likely to plan, direct and engage in additional future conflicts that could carry with them significant risk of bloodshed and loss of life”.

    It adds: “Representative Shea presents a present and growing threat of risk to others through political violence.”

    It says Shea “planned the 2016 takeover of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge; engaged in the conflict by directing Cows (Coalition of Western States) members and militias in support of the takeover; and traveled to Burns, Oregon, and met with refuge armed occupiers contrary to appeals and warnings from law enforcement and Oregon state elected officials”.

    The report implicates other Republican politicians from western states in Shea’s activities during the occupation.

    On the first day of the occupation, Shea circulated a “military style operations plan”, codenamed “Operation Cold Reality”, via encrypted email to Cows members. They included the Idaho state representative Heather Scott, the Nevada assemblywoman Michele Fiore, Shea associates Anthony Bosworth and Jack Robertson, and Anne Byrd, whose husband, Barry, is the pastor for the secretive, patriot movement-aligned Marble community church in Stevens county, Washington.

    Shea’s instructions to members of the network included directions to “conduct reconnaissance … collect intelligence on law enforcement and government operations … establish counterintelligence and counter-recon teams”. A major target was the federal Bureau of Land Management (BLM). Shea set out the goal of “putting pressure on federal, state and local officials to address BLM tyranny”, the report said.

    He continued to communicate with this network via email throughout the occupation.

    Bosworth later directly participated in the occupation of the federal facility under Shea’s instructions, where he “likely committed criminal acts” including the theft of surveillance cameras.

    The report further details Shea’s extensive participation in other militant patriot movement activities, including two more confrontations with the federal government – at Bunkerville, Nevada, and Priest River, Idaho.

    The report accuses Shea of participating in or condoning intimidation of political opponents, government officials, and minorities. The evidence for this includes chats between Shea and his associates first reported in the Guardian.

    It also alleges that Shea engaged in counter-surveillance of law enforcement agencies. At one point Shea emailed a “detailed extensive law enforcement confidential information laying out the command and control structure of Washington state law enforcement agencies”, including “rosters of local FBI joint terrorism taskforce (JTTF) agents, Swat team member lists complete with names and badge numbers and the joint harbor operations command (JHOC) building schematics”.

    Shea also engaged in militia training for “armed conflicts against federal, state and local governments”. He supported “the training of youth and young adults to fight a holy war”, as previously reported in the Guardian….

  51. says

    Guardian – “Brexit: parliament passes withdrawal agreement bill by 124 majority”:

    Parliament has passed a historic milestone towards leaving the European Union, backing Boris Johnson’s Brexit bill by a thumping majority of 124, a week after the Conservatives won a landslide victory in the general election.

    After comfortably passing its second reading by 358 votes to 234, the withdrawal agreement bill is on track to complete its passage through both houses of parliament in time to allow Britain to leave the European Union at the end of January.

    The clear support for the bill signalled a decisive break with the parliamentary gridlock that marked the past two years.

    The bill, which was published on Thursday, had been stripped of a series of promises the government had made previously in an attempt to get it through parliament before the election, including on workers’ rights.

    Johnson insisted Britain’s right to make its own decisions on these issues was a key benefit of Brexit. “We will take advantage of these new freedoms to legislate in parallel on the environment, on workers’ and on consumer rights,” he said.

    “The very essence of the opportunity of Brexit is that we will no longer outsource these decisions. With renewed national confidence, we will take those decisions ourselves and answer to those who sent us here.

    “This house should never doubt its ability to pioneer standards for the fourth industrial revolution, just as it did for the first.”

    Congratulations to all the British people who voted for their own disempowerment.

  52. says

    Update to #3 – Guardian – “India: largest protests in decades signal Modi may have gone too far”:

    …After a week of nationwide protests, some of the largest in India for almost four decades, Narendra Modi’s government had banned gatherings of more than four people in turbulent areas across the country in an attempt to quell dissent. But thousands of protesters – Hindu and Muslim, young and old, farmers, students and academics – were not to be stopped.

    On the streets of Delhi, Bangalore, Lucknow and elsewhere, demonstrators took to the streets in droves for peaceful protests in breach of the section 144 orders. Police responded with force, brandishing batons and rounding up all those participating in civil disobedience. More than 1,000 people were detained in Delhi, and in Bangalore police did not have enough buses to transport all those they had arrested. Police jails began to overflow.

    One arrest in particular prompted horror. Footage of India’s most eminent historian, Ramachandra Guha, being carted off by police officers went viral. He had been standing peacefully on a street in Bangalore brandishing a picture of Gandhi.

    “It’s the sign of a paranoid, insecure regime who can not deal with dissent in any way,” Guha said after he was released from detention. “We’ve had difficult times in our republic but this is one of the worst I’ve seen in my 60-year lifetime.”

    The unrest was sparked by the passing of citizenship law that many believe brazenly discriminates against Muslims and could tear apart the secular foundations of India.

    The law states that all Hindu, Christian, Jain, Buddhist and Sikh migrants who arrived from Bangladesh, Pakistan and Afghanistan before 2014 will be allowed to claim Indian citizenship. The same will not apply for Muslim immigrants.

    “This is how Modi ran Gujurat, with a completely iron fist,” said Guha. “They manipulated universities, they intimidated the media, threatened the judiciary – and they think they can extend that to all of India. This regime hates Muslims and now, more clearly than ever, it is exposed for what it is: authoritarian and sectarian and spectacularly bigoted.”

    When Modi came to power in 2014, his government began enacting what looked to many to be a Hindu nationalist agenda that aimed to recast India as a Hindu nation rather than a secular one as laid out in the constitution.

    For the first five-year term, this manifested mainly in sectarian rhetoric and the assertion that to be Indian was to be Hindu. But after Modi’s re-election in May, when he won a huge parliamentary majority, the agenda picked up the pace.

    The brazenness of the citizenship law has galvanised the masses in opposition in a way that public lynchings of Muslims, low-level sectarian violence and the Kashmir decision all failed to do.

    [Niraja Gopal Jayal, Jawaharlal Nehru University professor] said the demonstrations were part of “a battle for democracy, a battle for civil liberties, a battle for secularism and the plural character of Indian society.”

    For one of the first times since Modi came to power, his slick social media and spin operation has failed to shift the narrative in his favour. The diverse makeup of participants in the protests means Modi’s attempts to dismiss them as self-loathing liberals and hopeless cosmopolitans have been met with derision.

    “I think Modi and Shah had grown so over-confident, had grown so arrogant that they thought they could get away with it, because they were convinced they had consolidated the country around the idea of a Hindu majority nation, and the country and the media would go with them,” said Kapil Komireddi, the author of Malevolent Republic: A Short History of the New India. “But they did not bank on this outpouring of resentments that has accumulated over a long time.”

    Like many observers, Komireddi drew comparisons between this week’s unrest and the protests that preceded Indira Ghandi declaring a state of emergency in 1975 and suspending the constitution. “What we are living in now is already a kind of undeclared emergency, where in effect in many parts of India democracy has effectively been suspended by Modi’s government,” Komireddi said.

    Nonetheless, he remained optimistic about the sea change occurring across India in the wake of the citizenship act. “In 2014 India was the first democratic country to succumb to this wave of populism,” he said, “and now India will be the first country that will show the way to reclaim democracy from the clutches of these thugs.”

  53. tomh says

    In other words, come show the American people how batsh*t crazy you really are.

    Pelosi invites Trump to deliver State of the Union on Feb. 4

    House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) on Friday invited Trump to deliver the State of the Union address on Feb. 4, potentially during a Senate impeachment trial.

    The invitation comes amid uncertainty regarding the resolution of Trump’s impeachment. The House voted to adopt two articles Wednesday, but the Senate remains at partisan loggerheads over how to conduct the trial on his removal, and Pelosi has delayed forwarding the articles for trial until at least early next month.

    The delay raises the possibility that Trump could deliver the address while the trial is ongoing in the GOP-majority Senate. Feb. 4 is also the day after the Democratic caucuses in Iowa.

    Pelosi, in her letter to Trump, said she extended the invitation “in the spirit of respecting our Constitution.”

    “In their great wisdom, our Founders crafted a Constitution based on a system of separation of powers: three co-equal branches acting as checks on each other,” she wrote, adding that the address is meant to “ensure that balance of powers.”

    By Mike DeBonis

  54. says

    Shoutout to the Tories using the last few days before the holidays to remove the commitment to reunite child refugees (who’ve fled persecution and war zones) in Europe with their families in the UK. So Christmassy.

    [Bob Cratchit voice]
    It’s the last few days before Christmas, Mr Johnson. I was thinking maybe we could wheel out the big TV and put on a copy Shrek or it’s superior sequel Shrek 2, surely taking a massive shit on the rights of child refugees can wait till the new year?”

  55. says

    Followup to comments 52 and 57.

    More details from that editorial printed in Christianity Today:

    […] The facts in this instance are unambiguous: The president of the United States attempted to use his political power to coerce a foreign leader to harass and discredit one of the president’s political opponents. That is not only a violation of the Constitution; more importantly, it is profoundly immoral.

    The reason many are not shocked about this is that this president has dumbed down the idea of morality in his administration. He has hired and fired a number of people who are now convicted criminals. He himself has admitted to immoral actions in business and his relationship with women, about which he remains proud. His Twitter feed alone — with its habitual string of mischaracterizations, lies, and slanders — is a near perfect example of a human being who is morally lost and confused. […]

    The editorial was written by Mark Galli, who recently announced his retirement.

    Trump lied about the political leanings of the obviously conservative magazine:

    A far left magazine, or very ‘progressive,’ as some would call it, which has been doing poorly and hasn’t been involved with the Billy Graham family for many years, Christianity Today, knows nothing about reading a perfect transcript of a routine phone call and would rather have a Radical Left nonbeliever, who wants to take your religion & your guns, than Donald Trump as your Presiden. No President has done more for the Evangelical community, and it’s not even close. You’ll not get anything from those Dems on stage. I won’t be reading ET again!

    Commentary from Steve Benen:

    […] There was, to be sure, an enormous amount of nonsense packed into the pair of presidential tweets. Christianity Today, for example, is not, and has never been, a “far-left” publication. What’s more, Trump’s impeachment was about more than the July 25 call, which was not at all “perfect.” There are also no “radical” atheists, determined to take away anyone’s religion, running for the White House, and even if there were, if the president were removed from office, his replacement would be Mike Pence.

    But this was the line that stood out for me: “No President has done more for the Evangelical community, and it’s not even close.”

    Note, at no point in Trump’s response did he make any effort to defend his morality, character, or sense of right and wrong. Rather, the Republican’s instinct, once again, was to turn to a transactional model: he’s taken steps to make evangelical Christians happy, so he expects evangelical Christian publications to overlook his corruption – moral, political, legal, or otherwise. […]

    As the Washington Post’s Greg Sargent put it, “In an unwittingly self-revealing moment, Trump responded to the magazine’s indictment of his profound moral failings with an argument that is thoroughly transactional and megalomaniacal: How dare you criticize me, after all the power I’ve granted to your movement? You’re breaking our deal, and now you’re dead to me.”

    Exactly. The president seems to believe he’s bought the fealty of certain constituencies, and when he learns otherwise, he lashes out angrily.

    Unfortunately for Trump, however, in this case, he’s helped prove his critic correct. The Christianity Today editorial characterized the president as a deeply flawed man who is “morally lost and confused.” His response was practically a confession that the assessment is true.


  56. says

    Talk about delusional: Trump actually thought he might win the impeachment vote in the House. So did some of his lackeys.

    […] the White House’s Kellyanne Conway appeared on Fox News and assured viewers that the president had the upper hand. “You either have the votes or you don’t,” Conway said. “Guess what? A dirty little secret: They don’t have the votes.”

    A few hours later, the measure passed. In fact, it wasn’t close: 232 to 196. Democratic leaders did, in fact, “have the votes.”

    […] the president was reportedly under the mistaken impression that Pelosi & Co. didn’t have the votes, when the opposite was true.

    For Mr. Trump, the day after found him still a little shellshocked, according to people close to him. Despite the clear momentum behind impeachment among Democrats in recent weeks, some of Mr. Trump’s advisers tried to convince him — and themselves — that Speaker Nancy Pelosi did not have the votes and might not even bring the articles of impeachment to the floor […]

    I think this speaks to a larger problem for Trump and some on his team: they tend to remain in a self-satisfying bubble.

    They consume conservative media that tells the president what he wants to hear; they talk to conservative allies who do the same thing; and they too often assume there’s little difference between what they hope will happen and what is likely to actually happen.

    It’s why Trump was surprised when House Democrats easily reclaimed the House majority after the 2018 midterms, and it’s apparently why the president was taken aback when Pelosi had the votes to impeach him. […]


  57. says

    Mitch McConnell breaks all the irony meters:

    The House’s vote yesterday was not some neutral judgment that Democrats came to reluctantly. It was the pre-determined end of a partisan crusade… Long after the partisan fever of this moment has broken, the institutional damage will remain…. A political faction in the lower chamber have succumbed to partisan rage.

  58. says

    Follow up to comments 4, 6, 7, 9, 11, and 12.

    Debbie Dingell did not, as Trump claimed, call the president. He called her.


    That fact makes Trump’s sneering imitation of Debbie Dingell calling him even more egregious. Video at the link.

    I didn’t call him. He called me, to tell me he was lowering the flags. And that meant a lot. John Dingell earned his burial at Arlington Cemetery because he’s a World War II veteran, [the] longest-serving member in the Congress. He loved our country.

  59. says

    Yep, that’s the Nancy Pelosi we know and respect:

    On Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell suggesting she was “too afraid” to deliver a “shoddy work product” to the Senate, Pelosi said: “Oh pfft,” according to Politico. “Fear is never a word used with me. You should know right away. … I’m never afraid and I’m rarely surprised.

    […] Some of them [Republicans] don’t believe in the Constitution. … They didn’t act upon it, they acted completely against it. They believe in Donald Trump.”

    “[…] if you win (a Senate seat), you’re going to serve in the minority under a Democratic president. You may want to spend more time with your family.”

  60. says

    Well, Trump did achieve something: “Federal Workers Less Likely to Report Corruption After Attacks on Whistleblower, Poll Finds”

    In the months since a whistleblower in the US intelligence community sounded the alarm about the Ukraine scandal, the president has taken every opportunity to attack the anonymous individual. Trump has said the whistleblower should be investigated “for fraud” and has called on media outlets to expose the whistleblower’s identity. Perhaps not surprisingly, that rhetoric seems to be having a chilling effect on other federal workers’ willingness to report corruption within the federal government.

    According to a new poll conducted by the Government Business Council, the research arm of Government Executive, one-in-three federal workers say they are now less likely to “report an act of perceived wrongdoing to the appropriate authorities” because of the attacks on the whistleblower by Trump and his allies. Specifically, 19 percent said they are now “much less” likely to report wrongdoing, and 15 percent responded that are “somewhat less” likely to do so. The good news is that half of respondents said that Trump’s attacks would have no impact are their willingness to expose malfeasance, and 16 percent said they were now more likely to blow the whistle. […]

    but it’s still a pretty big deal that more than a third of respondents said the president’s intimidation tactics would make them less likely to report corruption. […]


  61. says

    George Conway, a conservative attorney and White House counselor Kellyanne Conway’s husband, created a new nickname for […] Trump that went viral Tuesday […]

    “An Update on IMPOTUS (IMpeached President Of The United States),” Conway, a frequent, and often fiery critic of the president tweeted Thursday night. […]

  62. says

    From Hillary Clinton:

    .@JohnDingell was everything that Trump is not—a true public servant and statesman in a way this president knows he can never be.

    I’m so proud of what @DebDingell has done to carry on John’s work in Michigan and Bill and I are standing with her today.

  63. says

    The abandoned asylum seekers on the US-Mexico border

    Thousands of asylum seekers remain at risk in Mexican border towns, waiting for humanitarian aid.

    Mere feet from the US-Mexico border, thousands of asylum seekers have been forced to live in squalid conditions in some of the most dangerous parts of Mexico. They are under threat from drug cartels and dependent on American volunteers for even the most basic necessities.

    The humanitarian crisis is happening in plain sight, but they’re still waiting for desperately needed aid. Some migrants are lucky to find housing in shelters, hotels, or rooms for rent, but for more than 5,000 others, only tents and tarps, some held up by only sticks and stones, stand between them and the elements, even as temperatures drop below freezing. […]

    As populations swell, both the US and Mexico have left thousands in the camps without basic necessities like clean drinking water and warm clothes — and at risk for extortion, kidnapping, and rape at the hands of cartels and other criminal actors.

    Trump administration officials have dismissed media reports of the dangers facing migrants waiting in Mexico. The US has continued to send aid to Mexico — $139 million in 2018 — but otherwise, advocates haven’t seen any evidence of a US presence on the Mexican side of the border administering aid to migrants. […]

    The Mexican government has deployed its National Guard and military to help improve security in some of the border cities, and has also opened a small number of municipal shelters, but is doing little else to protect the migrants who have been relegated to makeshift tent settlements for now.

    Nor has the United Nations filled the growing need for humanitarian aid along the border. Its agencies dealing with refugees and migrants, which depend on US dollars to operate throughout the world, are in a delicate political position: The United States, which wrote many of the laws governing the treatment of asylum seekers, now appears to be breaking them.

    UN agencies are working on improving capacity […] but haven’t delivered aid to the encampments. […]

  64. says

    Oh, FFS. Tulsi Gabbard is not going away, she seems to be auditioning for a Fox News gig.

    From The Hill:

    ENJETI: Pelosi has said they may not even transmit the articles of impeachment to the Senate if they don’t think that process is fair. Does that make it a blatantly political statement from the beginning? If they don’t end up sending that, what message does that send about this entire process.

    GABBARD: I was surprised to hear that. You can’t kind of just shift and change and make up the rules as you go along. If you’re going to pursue this process, you’ve got to let it play out the whole way through.

    From Wonkette:

    […] Sweet Christ. Pelosi isn’t playing Calvinball. She’s playing hard ball. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has outright stated that he plans to hold a sham trial. He was as open about his evil scheme as a loose-lipped, overly confident Bond villain. Pelosi rightly believes there’s no sense sending over articles of impeachment if the GOP Senate is just gonna roll them up and smoke fat doobies. Maybe Gabbard wants a clearly rigged process to end with Trump’s acquittal and subsequent gloating tour. It’s not the first time her desires haven’t aligned with those of most Democrats. […]

    If this were Lauren Underwood, Sharice Davids, or any Democrat with a brain in their heads, they wouldn’t have accepted Enjeti’s ridiculous “when did Pelosi stop beating the Constitution?” question. They would bring up McConnell’s public statements. They’d mention how Lindsey Graham refuses to hold Trump accountable for so much as a parking ticket. Democrats aren’t making impeachment “political.” They’re trying desperately to keep Republicans from shamelessly politicizing the process. We know Gabbard was present for the impeachment hearings, but did she even listen to Adam Schiff? It seems like all she can do is “both-sides” us to death.

    GABBARD: I think the hyper-partisan nature that we’ve seen throughout this whole thing. This is not just on part of the Democrats — you see on those who are defending Donald Trump, you see a blind loyalty to their party’s leader.

    Oh, thank you so much, Tulsi. It’s so big of you to admit that it’s not just Democrats who suck. Republicans have abandoned their constitutional duties in service of short-term political gain, but Democrats are using “extreme language.” It really concerns Gabbard that Democrats are “basically accusing the president of treason without actually saying the word.” Gee, I think calling the president a traitor outright is what would actually qualify as EXTREME! Democrats just laid out the damning case against Trump. […]

    Gabbard choosing to vote “present” for articles of impeachment because she doesn’t like Democrats is a true abdication of her constitutional duty. It’s also curious behavior from a Democratic presidential nominee. She’s running around cosplaying as Bartleby the Scrivener but she’s really just a Republican asset.


  65. says

    From Wonkette:

    Hey! You know what’s great for our economy? Jobs! More specifically, jobs that allow people to earn a living wage! And you know what is great for everyone? Doing what we can to not murder the planet so we don’t all drown or die in fires! Because that would be unpleasant.

    On Friday morning, the lefty think tank Data for Progress released a study showing that Elizabeth Warren’s plan for a Green New Deal would create a whole shitload of jobs while saving the environment, because multitasking is awesome.

    – 5,400,000 jobs over a ten year mobilization as a result of direct federal investment in new and existing clean industries and implementation of green technologies.

    -10,600,000 likely new jobs over a ten year mobilization due to strategic support for U.S. renewable manufacturing and export-oriented economic policy, assuming each federal dollar invested yields an additional 1.5 in exports and induced private-sector activity.

    Check it out!

    See the link for the details in the chart.

    […] Warren’s plan includes a tenfold increase in the $200 million a year we currently spend on job training and apprentice programs, focused on jobs related to clean energy. More importantly, she plans to partner with unions to work out these training and apprentice programs to ensure that those who go through them come out with a solid union job. The only reason manufacturing jobs started paying a living wage was because of unions and the labor movement and you can’t just “bring manufacturing back to the United States” and expect it to pay much more than minimum wage without them.

    She also plans to invest heavily in green public transportation, making current public transportation systems more efficient and offering grants to areas lacking in public transportation options. Not only does this help reduce pollution, but it also makes it a whole lot easier to not even own a car — which, let me tell you, saves a whole lot of money.

    And, naturally, she’s got all kinds of plans for infrastructure: roads, water, construction of homes, buildings and schools. She’s got plans to create a Green Bank and a Green Victory Bond program. She’s got plans on top of plans!

    Now, if you are the sort of practical person who hears about idealistic plans like this and wants to know “But can we afford it?” while literally never asking the same question about war or bailouts for rich folks, you’re gonna want to know what the price tag is on this. It is $3 trillion, in total. But it’s also expected to generate $10.7 trillion. And those people generating that money are going to pay more in taxes than they would otherwise and they’re going to be able to have disposable income with which to spend money on goods and services, and then the people offering those goods and services are going to also pay taxes and have more money to spend on goods and services they need, and so on and so on and so on. The fact is, we can’t afford not to. […]

  66. johnson catman says

    re Lynna @85: Yahbut all those plans don’t have a great name like “Trickle-Down (aka peed upon)”. And what about the rights of rich people to take all of their extra money totally out of the economy and squirrel it away in some offshore tax-haven? And think of the poor military contractors who won’t have a trillion dollars to play with.

  67. says

    Update to #22 – “NEW: Federal prosecutors put in writing why they oppose Roger Stone’s request for a one-month delay — currently Feb. 6 — before Judge Jackson hands down a sentence for the long-time Trump adviser.”

    Filing at the link.

  68. says

    Update to #87 – “Roger Stone secured a partial win Friday when a federal judge agreed to postpone his February sentencing for two weeks because of a slowdown in paperwork tied to the longtime Donald Trump adviser’s finances.”

    He was asking for a delay of a month and got two weeks. I still think he’s up to something or trying to hide something. It was a weird motion.

  69. says

    Ashley Feinberg in Slate – “Pete Buttigieg’s Campaign Says This Wikipedia User Is Not Pete. So Who Is It?: Tracking down the editor who tracks every move the South Bend mayor makes.”

    I love this paragraph:

    Taken together, Streeling’s preoccupations seem to be the sorts of preoccupations that might consume a person like Peter Paul Montgomery Buttigieg. Indeed, the fact that Streeling’s interest in Buttigiegiana extends so far back makes it hard to believe there could be some wholly independent other person who cared so much about such an obscure political figure.

  70. says

    SC @89, not only did Trump publicly thank Putin for his support, but Trump’s lawyer Rudi Giuliani appeared on Russian TV to promote the Ukraine scam.

    […] Trump found his ultimate supporter in his claims that he was completely right to extort Ukraine—Vladimir Putin. Trump presented a statement from Putin as proof that his impeachment was a “witch hunt.” And apparently an imaginary witch hunt, as Trump posted later tweets claiming he had not “really” been impeached.

    […] Putin loves how Trump is weakening America, defending Russia, and attacking Ukraine. As The Independent reports, Russian state TV was also too happy to repeat an interview that Rudy Giuliani did for alt-Reich outlet OAN. Because the message that Trump and Giuliani are putting out is one that doesn’t just give Trump an excuse to squeeze Ukraine for investigations, but also one that exonerates Putin, repudiates the universal conclusion of U.S. intelligence agencies, and places the blame for hacking DNC email on Ukraine and Hillary Clinton.

    […] Trump told White House staffers he “knew” that Ukraine, not Russia, was behind DNC hacking because “Putin told me.” So Trump is now claiming innocence over his involvement in extorting an investigation into a conspiracy theory, by citing the man who convinced him of the conspiracy theory.

    Excerpts from Giuliani’s OAN interview, in which he supported both the theory that Hillary Clinton hired Ukrainian hackers to pretend to be Russians and steal emails from the DNC as part of an elaborate plot to set up Trump’s impeachment before he was ever elected, were run on Russia-1 on Friday.So were statements from Giuliani in which he claimed to have evidence of multiple “crimes” committed by Joe and Hunter Biden.

    Journalist Rachel Maddow previously referred to OAN as “paid Russian propaganda,” after which she was sued for $10 million. However, Maddow wasn’t making up facts. She was reporting on a Daily Beast story showing that OAN reporter Kristian Brunovich Rouz was also a reporter for the Kremlin-owned Sputnik wire service. Maddow is seeking dismissal of the suit.


  71. says

    Michigan steel mill closure announced two days after Trump told Michigan crowd ‘steel is back’

    Donald Trump, Wednesday in Michigan: “Look what I’ve done for steel. I mean, the steel is back. We taxed all the dumb steel coming in from China and other places, and US steel mills are doing great — they’re expanding all over the country, and they were gonna be out of business within two years the way they were going.”

    Friday, CNN reported that US Steel is closing its Great Lakes Works mill near Detroit, with a loss of 1,500 jobs. The company will shift steel production to a mill in Gary, Indiana, and will also continue making sheets of steel outside of Pittsburgh and in Arkansas.

    Trump’s steel tariffs did briefly give the industry a boost, but obviously things are not going so well recently, and 1,500 workers are getting some terrible news for the holidays, though the facility won’t close until spring.

  72. says

    The Trump Administration Just Made it Even Harder for Private Insurance Companies to Cover Abortion

    It will affect millions of Americans covered under the Affordable Care Act.

    The Trump administration is adding an extra bureaucratic hassle for insurance companies providing coverage for abortions—a move critics say will discourage insurers from covering abortions and make it harder for people to obtain them.

    […] It requires insurance providers on the Affordable Care Act marketplace to give two separate bills to consumers whose plans cover abortions: one for their regular premium and one for a special abortion coverage premium. […]

  73. says

    We have more documents … finally … related to the freeze of aid to Ukraine:

    Newly released documents from the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) and the Pentagon provide further insight into the timeline regarding the White House’s freezing of congressionally-approved aid to Ukraine.

    A federal judge last month ordered the two agencies to hand over records regarding the withholding of military aid as part of a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request filed by the Center for Public Integrity. The center published the documents late Friday and is also in the midst of a lawsuit to have the documents unredacted.

    According to the documents, shortly after […] Trump’s now-infamous July 25 phone call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, White House aides were tasked with halting the $391 million of military aid.

    […] documents contain emails sent by senior White House official Michael Duffey. Duffey, a Trump appointee, works through the OMB and is responsible for overseeing national security money.

    “Based on guidance I have received and in light of the Administration’s plan to review assistance to Ukraine, including the Ukraine Security Assistance Initiative, please hold off on any additional DoD obligations of these funds, pending direction from that process,” Duffey wrote to OMB and Pentagon officials on July 25.

    “Given the sensitive nature of the request, I appreciate your keeping that information closely held to those who need to know to execute direction,” Duffey added.

    The freeze of the aid apparently raised eyebrows at the OMB and other government agencies, with many worried that the delay of aid would make it hard for the assistance to go through before Sept. 30, the end of the fiscal year.

    For example, Department of Defense Comptroller Elaine McCusker mentioned in a Sept. 5 email what she called an “increasing risk of execution.”

    On Sept. 11, Duffey informed McCusker that the aid was being released. McCusker, through email, asked Duffey what caused the holdup. The first part of Duffey’s response is redacted, but he went on to say that he was “glad to have this behind us.” […]

    The Hill link

    Why the redaction in Duffey’s response? I hope the lawsuit to have the documents unreacted succeeds.

  74. says

    This One Footnote Proves the Latest Obamacare Ruling Is Pure Partisan Hackery

    Some scholars want the inappropriate passage removed. Here’s why it should stay.

    […] Both judges ruled on Wednesday that a key component of Obamacare—and perhaps the entire law—is now unconstitutional. Elrod (a George W. Bush appointee) and Engelhardt (a Donald Trump appointee) bashed the Affordable Care Act by parroting urban legends about its supposed threat to the republic. In the third footnote of an opinion that Engelhardt joined in full, Elrod suggested that the ACA’s passage was a “fraud”:

    Some opponents of the ACA assert that the goal was not to lower health insurance costs, but that the entire law was enacted as part of a fraud on the American people, designed to ultimately lead to a federal, single-payer healthcare system. […]

    This tangent is extraordinary for four reasons. First, it’s utterly gratuitous, wedged into an overview of the ACA as if to tip off lower courts that they should evaluate the law with a jaundiced eye. Second, it credulously peddles a conspiracy theory with no basis in fact—that Democrats sought to use the ACA as a Trojan horse for single-payer health care. Third, Elrod cites a former Tea Party congressman, Kerry Bentivolio, who is best known for supporting the impeachment of Barack Obama without evidence of an impeachable offense and promising to hold a hearing on “chemtrails.” […] Fourth, Elrod exaggerates Jonathan Gruber’s role, asserting that he “assisted in crafting the legislation.” In reality, Gruber ran economic models but did not help to draft the bill.

    And yet Elrod wasn’t finished. In case readers didn’t get the idea, she tossed in another footnote on the next page that says “opponents of the ACA” argue that it “goes too far in limiting individuals’ freedom to choose healthcare coverage.” To bolster this proposition, Elrod cited former Republican Rep. Darrell Issa, who “argued that one of the ‘false claims’ that the Obama administration made in passing the Act” was that if you like your doctor or health care plan, you can keep them. Elrod and Engelhardt aren’t just hostile toward the ACA. They view it as a power grab, achieved under false pretenses to strip away “individuals’ freedom.” Is this a judicial opinion or a Breitbart comment section?

    Some scholars are now arguing that the “fraud” footnote is so inappropriate that it should be struck from the opinion altogether. [snipped details]

    […] Elrod’s opinion is overt partisan nonsense. But I hope she and Engelhardt decide to keep it in.

    […] In a perverse way, it is refreshing to see judges abandon any pretext of neutrality and embrace their inner Fox News commentators. […]

    First of all, since nobody is injured by a zeroed-out mandate, nobody has standing to sue. (What is the government going to do? Tax the uninsured for zero dollars?) Second, the notion that Congress turned the mandate into a “command” when it sought to rescind the duty to purchase health insurance is mind-boggling, counterfactual claptrap. Third, even if the mandate were now somehow unconstitutional, why should any other provision fall with it? When Congress zeroed out the penalty in 2017, it plainly determined that the ACA could function without it.

    But you need not wade through Elrod’s 62-page opinion or even grasp the technical details of these arguments to recognize that they are garbage. You need only read Footnote 3 to know that everything to come will be bad-faith judicial legislating. With the footnote in place, we are freed from the obligation to pretend that this opinion is anything more than a purely political act poorly disguised as legal judgment.

  75. says

    Trump administration demanded Democrats strip Ukraine aid language from spending package.

    The language would have required the White House to release Ukraine defense aid quickly.

    Washington Post link

    Senior Trump administration officials in recent days threatened a presidential veto that could have led to a government shutdown if House Democrats refused to drop language requiring prompt release of future military aid for Ukraine, according to five administration and congressional officials.

    The language was ultimately left out of mammoth year-end spending legislation that passed the House and Senate this week ahead of a Saturday shutdown deadline. The White House said President Trump signed the $1.4 trillion package Friday night.

    The Ukraine provision was one of several items the White House drew a hard line on during negotiations to finalize the spending legislation, according to the officials, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss the developments. It would have required the White House to swiftly release $250 million in defense money for Ukraine that was part of the spending package. […]

    Attempting to prevent the White House from withholding Ukraine aid again, House Democrats tried to insert language in this week’s spending package that would have required the White House Office of Management and Budget to sign off on and release Pentagon funding for Ukraine within 45 days. But as talks on the budget package reached their conclusion in the days ahead of the impeachment vote, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and White House legislative affairs director Eric Ueland made clear that the Ukraine provision was among a handful of absolute non-starters for Trump. […]

    So, my conclusion is that Trump is still running his extortion/bribery scheme to withhold aid from Ukraine … either that or he fully intends to run the same scheme again.

  76. says

    Under secret Stephen Miller plan, ICE to use data on migrant children to expand deportation efforts.

    Washington Post link

    The White House sought this month to embed immigration enforcement agents within the U.S. refugee agency that cares for unaccompanied migrant children, part of a long-standing effort to use information from their parents and relatives to target them for deportation, according to six current and former administration officials.

    Though senior officials at the Department of Health and Human Services rejected the attempt, they agreed to allow Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents to collect fingerprints and other biometric information from adults seeking to claim migrant children at government shelters. If those adults are deemed ineligible to take custody of children, ICE could then use their information to target them for arrest and deportation.

    The arrangement appears to circumvent laws that restrict the use of the refu­gee program for deportation enforcement; Congress has made clear that it does not want those who come forward as potential sponsors of minors in U.S. custody to be frightened away by possible deportation. But, in the reasoning of senior Trump administration officials, adults denied custody of children lose their status as “potential sponsors” and are fair game for arrest.

    The plan has not been announced publicly. It was developed by Stephen Miller, President Trump’s top immigration adviser, who has long argued that HHS’s Office of Refugee Resettlement is being exploited by parents who hire smugglers to bring their children into the United States illegally. The agency manages shelters that care for underage migrants who cross the border without a parent and tries to identify sponsors — typically family members — eligible to take custody of the minors. […]

  77. says

    A woman told police she rammed a teen with her car because the girl was “a Mexican.”

    Authorities suspected a hit-and-run when an SUV struck a teenage girl in Iowa earlier this month. The driver veered onto the sidewalk and sped off without trying to help the 14-year-old, officials said, leaving the victim with an array of injuries that kept her out of school for a week.

    On Friday, Clive Police Chief Michael Venema said Nicole Marie Poole Franklin, 42, had confessed to being behind the wheel. Then, Venema said, she went a step further. Franklin reportedly told investigators she’d run over the teenager intentionally because she was “a Mexican” — a startling acknowledgment that has prompted local advocates to push for a hate crime charge on top of an attempted-murder charge.

    Addressing reporters about the Dec. 9 incident, Venema said Franklin went on to make a “series of derogatory statements about Latinos” after confessing to the crime. The chief said it was now clear that Franklin had made a determination about the girl’s ethnicity before ramming her. […]

    Washington Post link

    Sigh. JFC.

  78. says

    A Trump reelection aide was caught on tape admitting that the GOP has relied on voter suppression.

    Justin Clark, one of President Donald Trump’s top reelection aides, was caught on tape telling powerful Republicans in Wisconsin that though the Republican party has “traditionally” used voter suppression tactics to win in swing states, this year, the party will go on the offensive due to relaxed Election Day rules. […]

    “Traditionally it’s always been Republicans suppressing votes in places,” Clark said. “Let’s start protecting our voters. We know where they are. … Let’s start playing offense a little bit. That’s what you’re going to see in 2020. It’s going to be a much bigger program, a much more aggressive program, a much better-funded program.” […]

    The election day rules Clark referred to is the 2018 lifting of a consent decree, put into place in 1982 after the DNC sued the RNC for intimidating black voters in a New Jersey governor’s race by stationing off-duty police officers with “National Ballot Security Task Force” armbands near the polls.

    In the recording, Clark said that Trump supports the planned offensive push.

    “We’ve all seen the tweets about voter fraud, blah, blah, blah,” Clark said. “Every time we’re in with him, he asks what are we doing about voter fraud? What are we doing about voter fraud?’ The point is he’s committed to this, he believes in it and he will do whatever it takes to make sure it’s successful.”

    Voter fraud, a virtually nonexistent problem in the United States, is frequently cited by Republicans as an excuse to increase the difficulty of the voting process.

    TPM link

  79. says

    Tulsi Gabbard is not doing her current job:

    Based on her statements, her attacks on the party and other candidates in debates, and her vote of “present” on the articles of impeachment against Trump, it’s easy to conclude that Representative Tusli Gabbard isn’t much of a Democrat. But, as it turns out, she’s also not much of a representative. That’s because, as the Associated Press reports, Gabbard has missed 88.7% of House votes over the past three months.

    It’s not unusual for candidates out on the campaign trail to miss some votes in Congress. But in general, candidates will go to extreme measures to be present when major legislation is being considered or big votes are on the line. It’s not unusual to see candidates making a red-eye flight back to Washington to cast a vote, only to board another plane that afternoon to head for a battleground state.

    Gabbard apparently can’t be bothered with such trivia. Having already announced that she’s not running for re-election to her House seat, Gabbard seems to believe she’s free to ignore that seat, leaving her constituents unrepresented while she demonstrates her “independence” … and her openness to an third-party bid designed to slice away Democratic votes.

    All of this makes it to seem like voting “present” really was a big deal for Gabbard. Because the vote she’s cast over 120 times in just three months is “not present.” Not present, not working, not concerned about collecting her congressional salary while running up her brand ID. […]


  80. says

    From Jane Lynch:

    Hello everyone. Billionaires in wine caves have as much right to say who gets to be president as waitresses in diners and plumbers in my bathroom. Class warfare is ugly, @ewarren Thanks for listening everyone.

    From Wonkette:


    Jane, Ms. Lynch, whatever I can call you here, I used to be a diner waitress.

    I assure you that, in my time working in this diner, I got a lot of things. I got hair that smelled like grease, I got three dollar tips from people who sat in a booth all day drinking bottomless cups of coffee, and I got into trouble for spraying sparkly fabric spray on my work t-shirt to jazz it up a little.

    One thing I did not get, however, were any politicians rolling in to say “Hey Robyn! Can I get two eggs over easy, hash browns, wheat toast, sausage gravy and your vote! If so, I’ll make you Ambassador to France!” or “Hey Robyn! If you can bring me a club sandwich, I will vote to end the Iraq War or close the School of Americas or clean up Superfund sites or establish a maximum wage or eliminate sweatshops and child slavery or bring back full time nurses at the schools in your city or get the city to give up some money to fund warming shelters for the homeless people living in this blistery tundra instead of blowing a ton on a stupid ferry to Toronto that’s going to go out of business in a few years, or whatever else it is that you are on about in this, the year 2002!”

    I did not, for the record, get invited to any wine caves either. In fact, I did not know what a wine cave even was until this week and I’m still not sure I totally understand it. Apparently it’s not even a real cave! […]

    As a waitress in a diner, all I really had was the ability to vote and protest and write and go to town halls and what have you. Even today, I can’t really do much more than that. Billionaires in wine caves can do all of that too, but they don’t really have to on account of the fact that they can just donate a shit ton of money to a candidate’s PAC and then ask for something in return.

    For a very long time, we’ve had a situation in this country that allows rich people to have way, way, way more of a say than “diner waitresses” or the plumber in your bathroom. Not just in terms of who gets elected president or governor or senator or congressperson, but in terms of what those people do once they are elected. That is what Elizabeth Warren was trying to explain.

    And when that happens, when people like me see someone running for office, getting lots of money from corporations and rich people and then subsequently voting for things that help them and hurt us, it’s hard to not feel some kind of way about that. They might, like me, feel really angry about it, and they might, like most people, just become really jaded and solipsistic about the whole process.

    This isn’t, frankly, about inciting a class war, it’s about preventing one.

    I don’t know how familiar you are with the Marxist rules of history, but the gist of them is that people can only handle so much hopelessness and misery before a revolution starts looking real good. This is why many nations, including our own, have implemented social programs in response to a rise in revolutionary activity. Otto von Bismarck implemented national healthcare in Germany in hopes of quelling a rise in socialism, and our own New Deal served a similar purpose.

    And let me tell you, Elizabeth Warren’s rhetoric about billionaires is a lot less likely to incite a class war than dismissive comments about “diner waitresses” or “the plumber in my bathroom.”

    Right now, people in this country are absolutely sick and tired of rich people being able to buy political influence. We don’t trust the system and we have no reason to. Until we do, holding private fundraisers for billionaires in wine caves is going to be a bad look. No one needs Elizabeth Warren to tell them that.

    Additionally, people don’t need her in order to notice that we have people who have more money than they or their children could possible spend in their lifetimes and also children with “student lunch debt,” the most appalling phrase I’ve ever heard in my life. People aren’t just going to not notice that they can’t afford their insulin. People aren’t going to not notice that bankers who should have gone to jail got bailed out instead, while they’re drowning in student debt or medical debt. And they’re not going to not notice the fact that people with a lot of money also tend to get a lot of their needs tended to by the politicians that take that money. […]


  81. KG says

    I’ve been more or less taking a week off politics following the UK election – now picking up the threads. Of course I’m both disgusted and alarmed at the triumph of Alexander Boris de Pfeffel Johnson and the phalanx of hard right ideologues around him, but it was no surprise – I never credited the hopeful idea that 2017 would repeat itself, and we’d get another surprise hung Parliament. The questions now are what Johnson will try to do, and how he should be opposed. But to discuss these, it’ll be useful to note a few points about the election outcome.
    1) A majority of those who voted, voted for parties opposed to Johnson’s Brexit deal, and committed to a second referendum (with the somewhat absurd exception of the Liberal Democrat leader, Jo Swinson, saying they would revoke Article 50 immediately if they got an overall majority, which everyone knew they wouldn’t). The “Full Results” table here shows that adding the Labour, LibDem, SNP and Green vote gets you just past 50% – adding in Plaid Cyrmu, Alliance, SDLP and Scottish Greens take it near to 52%. As in Trump’s case, Johnson is in power because of an undemocratic electoral system.
    2) Nonetheless, his victory does show that there is a very considerable minority in the UK that is content to vote for a corrupt, bigoted, narcissistic and probably psychopathic* proven and shameless liar, surrounded by swivel-eyed glibertarians and nativists. Shame on every last one of them.
    3) The large exit poll near the end of the article linked above indicates that this large minority is largely made up of older and less educated people (the two of course are causally related, levels of education having risen over time). Remarkably, 65% of women aged under 25 voted Labour and only 15% Tory (this is one of the few places where there’s a big gender difference, among men of that age the corresponding figures are 46% and 28%.
    4) By contrast social class as defined (I think) in the 1950s, tells you little about how someone was likely to vote (the Tories did a bit better among the “C2DE” “working classes” (manual workers, the unemployed and pensioners), but it’s a much less marked pattern than those of age and education.
    5) Still, it shows Labour has lost its traditional hold on these groups. Just one aspect of a disastrous election for Labour – their only consolation, the strong youth vote.
    6) In Scotland, the Tories lost 7 of their 13 seats – all to the SNP – and got just 25% of the vote. The SNP got 45%, and 48 seats, up from 35. Labour lost all but one of theirs, the LibDems lost the seat of their leader (now their ex-leader!) Jo Swinson – but a clear majority voted for parties opposed to Brexit in any form.
    7) In Northern Ireland the “D”UP lost two seats, both they and Sinn Fein lost votes, while the SDLP (“moderate nationalists” i.e. never associated with terrorists), and the neither-unionist-nor-nationalist Alliance gained. This is probably to do with a prolonged disputer between the “D”UP and Sinn Fein paralyzing Stormont, the Northern Ireland Assembly.

    OK, I’ll come back to the questions for the future, probably tomorrow.

    IAMAPsychiatrist , so i’m not under any obligation not to diagnose Johnson without ever having met him! My opinion is based on that of Max Hastings, the conservative newspaper journalist and editor, who was Johnson’s boss: he has said he does not believe Johnson cares for anyone but himself, and that he cannot distinguish truth from lies in either his public or private life.

  82. says

    Center for Public Integrity with more about the documents discussed @ #94 – “Trump Administration officials worried Ukraine aid halt violated spending law”:

    …On Friday, in 146 pages of new documents provided to the Center for Public Integrity under a court order, the Justice Department blacked out – for the second time – many of the substantive passages reflecting what key officials at the Pentagon and the Office of Management and Budget said to one another.

    But considerable evidence is still available that those at key institutions responsible for distributing the Ukraine aid worried the halt potentially violated a 45-year-old law written to keep presidents from ignoring the will of Congress, according to public statements and congressional testimony

    That law, known as the Impoundment Control Act, says that once Congress appropriates funds – like the Ukraine assistance – and the president signs the relevant spending bill, the executive branch must spend those funds. A president cannot simply ignore Congress’s direction, no matter how inconvenient or unappealing that instruction might be. If funds are withheld or shifted elsewhere, this cannot be done in secret, and Congress must approve.

    But Trump’s decision to stop the aid was not announced, and no formal notification was ever sent to Congress….

    Without a clear justification or any broader effort to gain congressional support, the officials overseeing the expenditure of the funds started hunting for legal guidance as soon as the order to halt the aid was given. When Trump’s political appointees told career officials not to worry, they still did.

    “There was a report,” OMB director Mick Mulvaney told reporters at a press conference on Oct. 17, “that if we didn’t pay out the money it would be illegal, it would be unlawful.” He said it was “one of those things that has a little shred of truth in it, that makes it look a lot worse than it really is” because what he regarded as the deadline for spending the money did not fall until the end of September – two and a half months after Trump’s initial order.

    To learn more, Public Integrity in late September petitioned the Office of Management and Budget and the Defense Department for copies of their communications about the aid halt. But the Justice Department so far – in two document releases on Dec. 12 and 20 — has chosen to conceal key passages in those documents. And the federal district court judge overseeing the case, Colleen Kollar-Kotelly, on Dec. 18 set a schedule for reviewing Public Integrity’s appeal that makes a final determination of the request unlikely to occur before March.

    According to some of those involved in the funding halt, officials were deeply worried from the outset that a delay even for a few weeks could make it hard to ensure all the money was spent by that Sept. 30 deadline….

    After robust internal discussions, …officials did their best to carry out the policy, temporarily, by ordering a series of short-term holdups in the funding, while affirming in writing that they still planned to disburse it soon.

    They specifically undertook an unusual maneuver, stopping the disbursements by adding a rare footnote to spending documents for Pentagon operations and maintenance efforts, which declared the Ukraine funding in particular was being held up for a week at a time. Then, over a period of about seven weeks, they tacked the footnote again and again onto eight such documents, each time as a temporary measure.

    An unnamed lawyer at OMB, not wanting to participate in what appeared to be an illegal funding policy, decided to quit, as did another OMB official, according to congressional testimony by Mark Sandy, the office’s deputy associate director for national security and a 12-year veteran at the agency. OMB spokespeople have disputed the account, saying the resignations were not over the policy.

    Others at OMB and the Pentagon meanwhile tried to organize a campaign inside the government to lobby Trump to let the assistance program proceed. They wrote memoranda to their bosses, held meetings to plot strategy and tried to persuade some of Trump’s cabinet-level appointees to approach him directly about it. But a discussion with Trump in mid-August by then-National Security Adviser John Bolton failed to persuade Trump to let the aid resume, and there is no record of other high-level officials such as Secretary of Defense Mark Esper or Secretary of State Mike Pompeo confronting Trump about it.

    The deferral order signed by Sandy – using language worked out with the advice of legal counsel at the Pentagon and OMB — stated that the rationale for the holdup was to “to allow for an interagency process to determine the best use of such funds.” But no such reexamination of the Ukraine spending plan was actually under way, according to key officials, other than frantic meetings aimed at getting the flow of funds started.

    The law that states funds must be spent once they are appropriated was approved in June 1974 and reluctantly signed by President Richard Nixon four weeks before he resigned in response to allegations that he had abused his power, obstructed justice and displayed contempt of Congress in connection with the Watergate scandal – allegations similar to those levelled against Trump.

    Nixon had provoked congressional ire in part by frequently holding back expenditures that lawmakers had ordered be spent on programs to protect the environment and other matters – amounting to as much as a fifth of some accounts, often without any announcement. So Congress spent two years drafting the Impoundment Control Act, which allows spending to be withheld for only three reasons – to provide for “contingencies,” to achieve savings from increased efficiencies, or as mandated by a particular law. The act also bars a deliberate holdup of spending until the end of a fiscal year, according to 2018 decision by auditors at the U.S. Government Accountability Office. And it said no funding could be delayed for more than 45 days without Congress’s approval.

    The timing of the Ukraine aid holdup – coming just before the end of the fiscal year on Sept. 30 – opened to door to the funds’ potential expiration. This made everyone nervous, according to interviews, documents, and congressional testimony.

    By the time the aid halt came up for renewal on July 31, Duffey had removed Sandy’s authority and placed himself in charge of signing a series of additional, temporary orders with the same language – an unusual substitution of a political appointee for a career employee as the approver of a routine decision related to OMB’s disbursement of funds.

    These orders provoked alarm, Sandy testified, because each additional delay heightened the risk that the funds would not be spent before end of the fiscal year, a circumstance that would violate the law….

    Some of the defense contractors involved in providing the aid also became alarmed at the absence of any clear policy guidance about the halt or its origins. In an email apparently sent on August 26 to Eric Chewning, the chief of staff to the Secretary of Defense, for example, L3Harris Technologies’ vice president for government relations complained that “we’ve engaged with OMB to understand the issue but have been told there are larger policy issues involved here. The impact of holding this case and allowing the funding to expire is extremely serious for us as the communications devices have been built and are ready to ship.”

    Chewning’s reaction to the email was blacked out by the Justice Department in the documents provided to Public Integrity. The documents also make clear that Secretary of Defense Mark Esper was fully briefed by aides about the aid halt ten days earlier. But his comments about it, as well as what they told him, were blacked out by the administration in the documents….

    Much more atl.

  83. says

    SC @105, “the Justice Department blacked out” … that’s right, William Barr, Trump’s lackey who heads the Justice Department, may have had a hand in blacking out the most damning bits.

  84. says

    Also from SC’s post #105, “no such reexamination of the Ukraine spending plan was actually under way.” That’s right, Trump’s lackeys came up with a bogus explanation. They didn’t even bother to do the CYA thing and actually make a show of reexamining spending in Ukraine.

    Incompetent as always, they are also incompetent when it comes to committing crimes.

  85. says

    From KG’s comment 102: “he cannot distinguish truth from lies in either his public or private life.” That may be the Boris Johnson trait that makes him most like Trump.

  86. says

    Another Democrat doing the right thing:

    hough he’s arguably one of the most endangered Democratic senators in the upcoming 2020 elections, Sen. Doug Jones (D-AL) said on Sunday that his fragile position won’t affect his vote in the Senate impeachment trial of President Donald Trump.

    ABC News “This Week” host Martha Raddatz pointed out to Jones that GOP strategists believe a vote to convict Trump would doom the Democratic senator in a ruby-red state that voted overwhelmingly for the President in 2016.

    “Are you worried about that?” Raddatz asked.

    Jones shook his head.

    “I took an oath as a U.S. senator,” the Alabama Democrat said. “I’m going to take another oath, and that’s where my duty is.” […]

    TPM link

  87. says

    Impeachment has been a messaging disaster for the White House. Why won’t the press say so?

    The impeachment of Donald Trump was always going to be a messaging war, and on paper it should have been a rout for Republicans. With his Twitter megaphone reaching more than 60 million followers, Trump should have been able to use his uniquely digital White House bully pulpit to sway the nation’s opinion. He should have been able to use his regular mass rallies to convince voters that he did nothing wrong. He should have benefited from the nearly $20 million the Republican Party and aligned super PACs have spent on anti-impeachment television ads over the past two months. (“A rigged process. A sham impeachment. No quid pro quo.”) He should have benefited from Fox News, which functions as a blind cabal of cable television loyalists, to effectively spin GOP impeachment talking points.

    But despite all that mass media firepower, Trump and the White House have utterly failed to move the public opinion needle on impeachment over the past few months, as one-half of the country remains committed to driving him from office. It’s even worse than that in terms of GOP messaging, because the percentage of Americans who support impeachment has actually increased 15 points since late summer, a huge bump given how polarized this country is.

    […] Why, once again, is the news media giving the GOP a pass and insisting it’s Democrats who face the burden?

    Part of the phenomena may stem from long-running media belief that Trump is some sort of extraordinary media manipulator who runs circles around Democrats when it comes to messaging and shaping public opinion. […] Impeachment has highlighted, once again, how Trump struggles to reach voters outside of his base, and how his messaging and communication skills are extremely limited. […]

    So why has the press relentlessly stressed that it’s Democrats who have to convince the country about impeachment? Why did so much of the media coverage suggest Democrats did not generate huge impeachment momentum during the hearings, and therefore they had failed? […]

    where were the articles about how Republicans haven’t been able to “use the hearings to sway public opinion”? […]


  88. says

    North Korea Is about to blow up Trump’s supposed top foreign policy win.

    North Korea is reportedly set to test a missile capable of carrying a nuclear warhead to American shores in coming days, a threat that undermines what […] Trump has touted as a key diplomatic accomplishment.

    According to multiple reports, American military and intelligence officials expect North Korea to test an intercontinental ballistic missile that could reach the United States. North Korea has pledged to unveil a “Christmas gift” if no progress is made on lifting sanctions the UN imposed on North Korea in late 2016.

    In a June 2018 agreement announced at a meeting in Singapore between Trump and Kim Jong-un, the third generation autocratic leader of North Korea, the communist state pledged to “work toward complete denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula.” But North Korea did not commit to a timeline for getting rid of its nuclear weapons. […]


  89. says

    Minnesota voter sues over Trump-only GOP primary ballot:

    A Minnesota voter is challenging the Republican-submitted primary ballots that only include […] Trump as a candidate, the StarTribune reported.

    Jim Martin, a small business operator from Lake Elmo who is registered as an independent, filed the legal challenge ahead of the state’s March 3 primary. The suit says he didn’t want to participate in a “Soviet-style” election where political parties decide who is on the ballot. […]

    “This is a very stupid system and it is unconstitutional because political party chairs shouldn’t be in control of who is on the presidential primary ballot,” Erick Kaardal, Martin’s attorney, said, according to the newspaper. […]

    Chairwoman Jennifer Carnahan of the Republican Party of Minnesota stood by her choice to exclude other candidates saying her responsibility is to get the president reelected, according to the newspaper. […]

    The Minnesota Supreme Court is scheduled to hear the case Jan. 9, but the Minnesota GOP worries that they would not be able to change the ballots in time for early voting on Jan. 17 […] The state Supreme Court denied a petition from the Secretary of State and Attorney General’s Office to expedite the decision to allow time to prepare ballots. […]



  90. says

    Uh, yeah, Trump may have dealt the final blow to Tulsi Gabbard by praising her:

    Then she [Hillary Clinton] said Tulsi Gabbard is a weapon of Russia. And they lost all credibility because you know that Tulsi Gabbard — and I give her respect. She didn’t vote the other day [for impeachment]. I give her a lot of respect, because she knew it was wrong. But I don’t know, but I know one thing. She is not an agent of Russia.

    Trump, the most infamous liar on the planet, says Gabbard is not a Russian agent. Actually, Clinton said Gabbard is a Russian asset, not “agent,” and there’s a difference.

    Usually, the opposite of whatever Trump says is the the truth.

  91. says

    Two years later, the Republican tax plan still looks like a failure.

    Exactly two years ago yesterday, Donald Trump put his signature on his most significant legislative accomplishment, making the Republican Party’s massive package of tax breaks law. […]

    none of what Republicans said about their tax cuts came true. The plan isn’t paying for itself; it’s not boosting economic growth; it didn’t fuel private-sector hiring; it didn’t help GOP candidates in the 2018 midterms; and it wasn’t the biggest tax cut of all time.

    Meanwhile, progressive critics of the Republican plan said the corporate beneficiaries of the tax breaks would use their windfalls on priorities such as stock buybacks. That, among other Democratic predictions, turned out to be right.

    It’s against this backdrop that the Washington Post’s Catherine Rampell welcomed the GOP plan into its “terrible twos,” noting that the toddler’s parents seem unconcerned that it is “way behind on nearly all its developmental milestones.”

    Like most starry-eyed parents, the progenitors of this policy believe it can do no wrong. In fact, they’re keen on giving it a baby sibling soon: Trump’s economic advisers have floated yet more plutocratic tax cuts, with various proposals to slash capital gains and corporate income taxes. Trump’s co-partisans on Capitol Hill say they’re ready to help.

    The Trump tax cuts may be failing to deliver on key promises. But on at least one developmental milestone – the terribleness of those “terrible twos” – this toddler has proved precocious.

    Rampell’s point about the tax plan’s possible “sibling” is of particular interest, because it was just two weeks ago when acting White House Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney said another corporate tax break is a top priority for Trump if Americans reward him with a second term.

    It was, to my mind, a subtle concession that the first corporate tax break didn’t work […]

    Indeed, it was just a couple of weeks ago when the Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy released the results of a detailed study that found of the Fortune 500 companies, about 400 paid an average tax rate of about 11% – roughly half of the current rate of 21% – thanks to a series of loopholes and giveaways Republicans made no effort to address.

    Plenty of corporate giants didn’t pay any federal taxes last year at all.

    Team Trump looks at results like these and concludes not only that the United States needs yet another corporate tax cut, but also that Trump and his agenda have transformed the Republican Party from “the wine and cheese party” to the “beer and blue jeans party.”

    It’s like living in a Lewis Carroll story.


  92. says

    Grasping at straws:

    Lawyers close to […] Trump are exploring whether House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s decision to temporarily withhold articles of impeachment from the Senate could mean that the president hasn’t actually been impeached. […]

    The White House legal theory, according to a person familiar with the legal review, is that if Trump has been officially impeached, the Senate should already have jurisdiction. Backers of the theory would argue that the clause of the U.S. Constitution that gives the Senate “the sole Power to try all Impeachments” indicates that the impeachment isn’t formalized until the House reported the charges to the upper chamber.

    Bloomberg News link


    […] Noah Feldman, a Harvard law professor, has made the argument that in order for the president to have been formally impeached, the House must transmit articles of impeachment to the Senate for a trial. It’s a bit like saying an NFL team didn’t really win the Super Bowl when the clock hit zero at the big game, but rather, when the league gives the team the Lombardi trophy.

    There are a variety of reasons to be skeptical of the pitch, not the least of which is the Constitution’s language that explicitly says the U.S. House “shall have the sole Power of Impeachment.”

    […] Politico reported this morning on some new legal filings from the Justice Department:

    The Justice Department [aiyiyiyi! William Barr is grasping at straws for Trump] is arguing that the House’s votes last week to impeach President Donald Trump undercut lawmakers’ ongoing court case demanding testimony from former White House Counsel Don McGahn.

    In a brief filed early Monday morning with a federal appeals court, DOJ lawyers acknowledge that the House’s approval of two articles of impeachment – focused on Trump’s alleged effort to withhold aid from Ukraine and his blockade of the House’s inquiry – do not render the legal fight over McGahn moot.

    However, the Justice Department attorneys said the House Judiciary Committee’s decision to move forward with the impeachment vote means there’s no longer urgency to resolve the House’s case.

    There is, of course, an ongoing dispute over McGahn’s possible testimony, […] The matter is currently before a federal appellate court.

    […] the Trump administration argued, in effect, that there’s no rush on addressing the underlying legal question, since the House has already impeached the president, as part of the same dispute in which McGahn’s testimony was sought.

    Laurence Tribe, Noah Feldman’s colleague at Harvard Law, noted the other day that Team Trump can’t have it both ways, arguing that Trump both has and hasn’t been impeached. […].


  93. says

    Yikes. Bad news. The Republican National Committee is headed into the 2020 presidential campaign with $63 million in the bank. The Democratic National Committee has only $8.3 million.

  94. says

    Fact check: The Trump campaign falsely suggested that Rep. Jim Clyburn called for Trump’s hanging.

    […] “The number 3 House Democrat, James Clyburn, just said this about President Trump: ‘Hang him!’ This hatred and anger is out of control,” the campaign’s “war room” tweeted along with a video clip from Clyburn’s Thursday interview with CNN’s John Berman on “New Day,” […]

    The clip was soon rocketing around pro-Trump social media — as prominent Trump allies tweeted more explicit versions of the campaign’s insinuation that Clyburn had proposed Trump’s execution.

    But the very clip the campaign tweeted shows the campaign was taking Clyburn’s remarks far out of context.

    Facts First: Clyburn did use the words “hang him,” but this was not a call to hang Trump or anyone else. Rather, Clyburn was saying that Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s comments in favor of Trump’s acquittal on articles of impeachment, in advance of a Senate trial, have shown that McConnell is “not going to be impartial” in running the proceedings — just as if it would show bias if someone with the “reverse” perspective had said in advance of a trial, “Let’s give him a fair trial and hang him.'”

    The full context
    Clyburn, the House Majority Whip, told Berman that House Democrats should not send their articles of impeachment to the Senate until they confirm that McConnell will hold a fair trial rather than run a “kangaroo court.”

    Clyburn said that, if it were up to him, it is possible Democrats would never transmit the articles of impeachment. He said McConnell’s previous comments about coordinating with White House lawyers on the trial have made clear that McConnell is not impartial.

    “If he doesn’t come around to committing to a fair trial, keep those articles here. So — keep it as long as it takes,” Clyburn said. “If you know, and he’s told you, what he’s gonna do, he’s just — almost like, ‘Let’s give him a fair trial and hang him.’ I mean, it’s the reverse of that.”

    Clyburn could perhaps have made his point more clearly, but it was abundantly clear that he was not calling for Trump’s execution.

    Nonetheless, the Trump campaign’s tweet was retweeted more than 7,000 times by the end of the day.

    In their own tweets, some of Trump’s prominent allies made the campaign’s dishonest framing of Clyburn’s remark even more incendiary. Charlie Kirk, executive director of the conservative student group Turning Point USA, tweeted to his 1.4 million followers: “A leading Democrat lawmaker just called for the public execution of our President. And the media says Trump is dividing America?” Kirk’s tweet generated more than 15,000 retweets. [snipped more examples of conservatives promoting dishonest framing of clyburn’s remarks.]


  95. says

    Oh, FFS.

    With an odd lie about the FBI, House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, a Republican from California, stoops even lower:

    [Justice Department Inspector General Michael Horowitz] found that the FBI’s Russia investigation was legitimate, fully justified, and untainted by political bias. As his report makes clear, some of the more ridiculous conspiracy theories – such as the idea that a nefarious “deep state” was trying to “spy” on Team Trump – have no basis in reality.

    And yet, there was [McCarthy] appearing on Fox News yesterday, sharing a very different interpretation of the report’s findings. In fact, it appears the California Republican hasn’t read the Justice Department report at all, preferring instead to make stuff up that he hopes will help Donald Trump.

    “Well, if you pause for one moment and you read this I.G. report by Horowitz, here’s the FBI, they broke into President Trump – at the time, candidate Trump’s – campaign, spied on him, and then they covered it up.

    “It is a modern-day Watergate. And you’ve got Democrats who aren’t willing to even look into that. That is the area that we should be looking in. It’s a modern-day coup, the closest this country’s ever came to.

    “But the only way you can compare this to is Watergate. They broke into his campaign by bringing people into it. They had been trying to cover it up for the whole time. Now the question rises, just like Watergate, who knew? When did they know it? And how high did this go up?”

    As political lies go, this can fairly be described as hopelessly bonkers. McCarthy pointed to a report from the Justice Department’s inspector general that simply does not say what he claims it says. He’s accusing the FBI of engaging in misconduct that did plainly not occur in reality.

    […] After repeating ridiculous falsehoods on Fox News yesterday, he used his social-media account to promote the aforementioned quote, as if he were proud of his lie. Donald Trump himself retweeted the clip soon after […]

    It’s an extension of a pernicious approach to the public discourse: what’s true is irrelevant, what matters is what politicians can get people to believe.

    […] #KremlinKevin began trending on Twitter overnight, though it’s worth noting for context that Kevin McCarthy’s obvious lies about the FBI appear to have originated in Republican circles, not in Moscow.


  96. says

    House Democrats call for investigation into border officials giving asylum-seekers fake court dates

    A young Honduran asylum seeker waits with her family on the international bridge from Mexico to the United States on December 09, 2019 next to the border town of Matamoros, Mexico. They were waiting to be taken across by U.S. officials to an immigration court hearing in Brownsville, Texas. […] Immigrant families seeking asylum are now required by the U.S. government to stay in Mexico as part of the Trump Administration’s “Remain in Mexico” process for people legally seeking political asylum in the United States.

    A letter spearheaded by members of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus and signed by dozens of additional House Democrats is demanding that the Department of Homeland Security Office of Inspector General open an investigation into a recent report that U.S. border officials have blocked asylum-seekers who have been waiting in Mexico under Trump policy from reentering the U.S., even after they’ve won their cases.

    […] In at least one instance, officials even issued an asylum-seeker a fake immigration court date as part of their effort to prolong his wait in Mexico. […]

    The members wrote, “The fact that federal government officials are putting people at risk and forcing refugees who have been granted asylum to remain in Mexico is unacceptable. CBP officials are allegedly providing fraudulent documents to refugees who have already been adjudicated as needing protection in an effort to dissuade them from staying in the country. Even CBP Acting Commissioner Mark Morgan recently stated, ‘that [fake documents] shouldn’t be happening.’ We need immediate answers about these practices.”

    Asylum-seeker Francisco won his case […] But when he presented his court documents at a U.S. port of entry several days after the ruling, his attorney said, he was instead given a fake court date for January and blocked. […]

    Just this month, a Salvadoran man who had been forced to wait in Mexico for four months was kidnapped and murdered. “They sent us back,” his widow told The New York Times. “We said Tijuana was really dangerous, there was a lot of crime but they didn’t listen to us. They said that they couldn’t do anything because those were Trump’s orders.” […]

  97. says

    Saudi Arabia’s death sentence for five people connected to the killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi is drawing criticism from several sources, but not, of course, from White House.

    […] a senior administration called the sentencing an “important step.”

    “This is an important step in holding those responsible for this terrible crime accountable, and we encourage Saudi Arabia to continue with a fair and transparent judicial process,” the official said.

    The response was an outlier among the international community, which blasted Riyadh for its opaque justice system and failing to hold senior officials accountable for Khashoggi’s 2018 murder.

    “Bottom line: the hit-men are guilty, sentenced to death. The masterminds not only walk free. They have barely been touched by the investigation and the trial,” Agnes Callamard, the United Nations special rapporteur who investigated Khashoggi’s death, tweeted Monday. “That is the antithesis of Justice. It is a mockery.”

    Khashoggi, a Washington Post columnist critical of the Saudi government, was killed and dismembered in 2018 by a hit squad while at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul.

    The CIA has reportedly concluded that Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman ordered the killing, though Saudi officials have denied he had any knowledge of the plot. […]

    “This verdict is a whitewash which brings neither justice nor the truth for Jamal Khashoggi and his loved ones,” Lynn Maalouf, Amnesty International’s Middle East research director, said in a statement.

    “The verdict fails to address the Saudi authorities’ involvement in this devastating crime or clarify the location of Jamal Khashoggi’s remains,” Maalouf continued, […]

    Turkey, meanwhile, said the verdict “falls short.”

    “The fact that important aspects such as the fate of Mr. Khashoggi’s body, the masterminds of the murder and any local collaborators remain in the dark is a fundamental lapse of justice and violates the principle of accountability,” Turkish foreign ministry spokesperson Hami Aksoy said in a statement. […]

    “This is not justice, it is a farce,” Sen. Jack Reed (D-R.I.), the ranking member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, said in a statement. “Giving the death penalty and prison sentences to a few of the lower level individuals who were apparently involved in this heinous crime while failing to hold those responsible for ordering, supervising, masterminding and covering up the murder is an appalling attempt to sweep aside the truth.”

    Reed also blasted the Trump administration for “aiding and abetting this cover up” and Trump for repeatedly calling the press “the enemy of the people.”

    “This sentencing will not stop us from speaking out about Mr. Khashoggi’s killing. We will continue to press his case and demand truth and justice,” Reed added. […]

    House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff (D-Calif.), meanwhile, called the sentence a “continuation of the Kingdom’s effort to distance Saudi leadership” from Khashoggi’s killing.

    “This was a premeditated murder, not a ‘snap decision’ or rogue operation,” Schiff tweeted. […]


  98. says

    More WTF? moments courtesy of Rudy Giuliani.

    […] Trump’s personal attorney Rudy Giuliani said he is “more of a Jew” than George Soros, a major Democratic donor and Holocaust survivor.

    Giuliani claimed in a New York Magazine interview published Monday that ousted Ambassador to Ukraine Maria Yovanovitch is “controlled” by Soros.

    “He put all four ambassadors there,” he reportedly said. “And he’s employing the FBI agents.”

    [Rudy] called the billionaire an “enemy of Israel” and a “horrible human being.”

    “Don’t tell me I’m anti-Semitic if I oppose him,” he said. “Soros is hardly a Jew. I’m more of a Jew than Soros is. I probably know more about — he doesn’t go to church, he doesn’t go to religion — synagogue.”

    NBC News followed up with Giuliani to ask about the comments, to which he responded “I’m more Jewish than half my friends.” […]

    “The anti-Semitic conspiracy theories and false allegations espoused by Rudolph Giuliani and his cronies are aimed at fomenting hatred, undermining democracy, as well as distracting from the impeachment process and the critically important national security and constitutional questions before Congress,” she [Soros’ Open Society Foundations spokeswoman Laura Silber ] said.

    Jonathan Greenblatt, the CEO of the Anti-Defamation League, said Giuliani’s comments were “baffling and offensive,” in a statement to The Hill. He requested the attorney apologize and take back his comments.

    “Let’s be crystal clear: Mr. Giuliani is not the arbiter of who is Jewish and who is not, or what is anti-Semitic and what is not,” he said. “For decades, George Soros’ philanthropy has been used as fodder for outsized anti-Semitic conspiracy theories insisting on Jewish control and manipulation of countries and global events.” […]


  99. tomh says

    Now you’re talking!

    House Democrats say in court filings that new impeachment charges are possible

    The House said in court filings Monday that more impeachment charges against President Trump are possible based on the testimony they are seeking from his former White House counsel and grand jury material they want to review from the investigation into Russian election interference.

    “The Committee is continuing to conduct its inquiry into whether the President committed other impeachable offenses,” attorneys for the House Judiciary Committee wrote. “The Committee’s investigations did not cease with the House’s recent impeachment vote.”

    That assertion was made in response to an argument from attorneys for the Department of Justice that the impeachment vote has undercut the rationale behind the House’s demands.

    “It is far from clear that the Committee…will have any further role in the impeachment process at all,” they wrote. “The Committee has referred articles of impeachment to the House; the House has approved those articles; once the articles are transmitted to the Senate, the next steps are for the Senate to determine.”

    The dueling memos came in two separation-of-powers lawsuits pending at the federal appeals court in Washington. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit next week will review the two cases in back-to-back hearings.

    In the first case, House Democrats are asking the court to enforce a subpoena for Donald McGahn, who lawmakers have said is the “most important” witness in whether Trump obstructed justice in special counsel Robert S. Mueller III’s investigation of Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election.The second case involves the House’s effort to gain access to certain secret grand jury material from Mueller’s probe.

    The Republicans will have a fit, but it’s perfectly legit. They can keep adding on articles until Trump’s head explodes.

  100. says

    More good news, (well, semi-good news), to add to tomh’s comment 125: Even trumpian lickspittle Lindsey Graham has his doubts about Rudy Giuliani’s wild claims.

    Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) warned on Wednesday that if Rudy Giuliani, President Trump’s personal lawyer, is going to publicly suggest a “cover-up” involving the Bidens and Ukraine “then I hope you know what you’re talking about.”

    Graham’s comments come after Giuliani took a trip to Ukraine this month and met with a host of former and current officials as part of an effort to unearth more dirt on Trump’s political rivals, including 2020 presidential candidate Joe Biden.

    Trump’s efforts to get Kyiv to announce investigations into the Biden family and unfounded accusations that Ukraine interfered in the 2016 elections are at the center of Democrats’ impeachment efforts against him.

    “I don’t know what Rudy’s got, but I’m going to send him a letter. If you’re going to go on national television and tell the country that you’ve found evidence of a cover-up, then I hope you know what you’re talking about,” Graham told reporters.

    “I like Rudy a lot, but we’re going to have to watch what we say,” he added.

    Graham has invited Giuliani to testify before the Senate Judiciary Committee over his concerns about corruption in Ukraine. He reiterated on Wednesday that Trump’s lawyer has an “open invitation” before the panel he chairs.

    “If he comes, you gotta be willing to ask questions about your conduct. It’s just not good for the country to make these accusations on cable television without them being tested,” Graham added. […]


  101. says

    Followup to comment 113.

    John Bolton spoke out regarding Trump’s failed negotiations with North Korea:

    We say that it’s unacceptable for North Korea to obtain nuclear weapons, but that’s more rhetorical than a real policy at this point. The risk to US forces & our allies is imminent & more effective policy is required before NK has the technology to threaten the American homeland.


  102. says

    Giuliani Says New York Prosecutors Are ‘A**holes’ If They’re Investigating Him

    TPM link

    […] “If they’re investigating me, they’re assholes. They’re absolutely assholes if they’re investigating me,” he said, referencing the ongoing probe into two of his business associates who were recently arrested for campaign finance violations and were involved in his Ukraine pressure scheme.

    “If they are, they’re idiots,” he continued. “Then they really are a Trump-deranged bunch of silly New York liberals.” Giuliani claimed he didn’t actually know if he was being investigated by the SDNY, only that investigators had asked his two associates — Lev Parnas and Igor Fruman — for documents relevant to him and “any actual or potential payment” to or from Giuliani. It still remains unclear how broad the scope of the SDNY’s probe into Parnas and Fruman will be. The two helped connect Giuliani to several high profile Ukrainian officials while he was in the country trying to peddle fabricated dirt about the Biden family and the 2016 election.

    “If they think I committed a crime, they’re out of their minds,” he said of the SDNY before making this stunning admission: “I’ve been doing this for 50 years. I know how not to commit crimes. And if they think I’ve lost my integrity, maybe they’ve lost theirs in their insanity over hating Trump with some of the things they did that I never would’ve tolerated when I was U.S. Attorney.” […]

    “It’s a terrible thing to say because it will get the Southern District all upset, but I know why they’re all upset,” Giuliani said. “Because they’ve never done anything like me since me. They haven’t done an eight years like I did since I left being U.S. Attorney. Nothing close.”

    From the readers comments:

    One of the things you learn about dementia is that, as it accelerates, the same shit that was always inside the person comes out, as the filters erode. With Rudy, it’s the spite and corruption.
    “Giuliani Says New York Prosecutors Are ‘A**holes’ If They’re Investigating Him”
    So said every perp in time immemorial.
    The profile mostly notably describes Giuliani in all of his unhinged might — he had his fly unzipped during the interview, he let drool fall out of his mouth while he spoke, at one point, he fell into a wall and kept walking as if it never happened.
    Here’s the Daily News opening graf:

    In an unhinged, alcohol-fueled interview published Monday, Rudy Giuliani railed against “a–hole” prosecutors in New York, claimed he’s “more of a Jew” than George Soros, spun outrageous conspiracy theories about Ukraine, fell into a wall and forgot to zip his fly.

    O.M.G. Fly unzipped. Drool leaking from the corners of his mouth. Falling into a wall. Two Bloody Marys with no food. Three unsecured phones, two open in view of a reporter and one left behind in the car. By the president’s lawyer. By a cyber-security expert. Let me just say, I have been a reporter for more than three decades. And when we interview You, we notice everything. We case You, and, if we are talking to You in your environment, we’re sizing that up, too, looking for bits and bobs that tell the story of You. But, the journalist doesn’t dump everything from the recording or the pad into the story. And often, if it’s really not related to story, we can hold back an embarrassing detail or two. For her to put all of this in, it must have been absolutely stunning to witness in person. Now imagine if Trump were covered this way by the mainstream press. He’d truly be on his way out.

  103. says

    Not only does Donald Trump believe he hasn’t been impeached—he also thinks he can be unpeached

    […] Before the House interviewed a single witness or sought its first document, it passed House Resolution 660 laying out all the rules under which its inquiry would take place. On the Senate side, McConnell has done nothing. There are no rules, no promises, no hint of what would happen should Pelosi turn over the articles—other than McConnell’s promise that he’s working closely with the White House to turn the whole thing to Trump’s advantage.

    Meanwhile, Trump is maintaining what may be the most delusional position of the entire impeachment by claiming that he has not really been impeached at all. As CNN reports, Trump is leaning into a comforting “technical argument” that insists he’s not really impeached until McConnell says he’s impeached. Which McConnell isn’t going to do. The White House is actually considering a lawsuit in an attempt to force Pelosi’s hand, allowing the process to be ended on the terms that Trump likes best.

    But there’s more than that. What’s really got Trump jazzed going into the holidays is the idea that he could perform a reversal of the whole process and sue the House of Representatives to undo the whole thing. The White House is pondering a lawsuit that would insist that Pelosi’s withholding of the articles is a political action, and that the whole impeachment itself is invalid.

    The idea that the Supreme Court might swoop in to genuinely reverse Trump’s impeachment might seem both ludicrous and unconstitutional—because it is. But ludicrous and unconstitutional is Trump’s favorite thing. […]

  104. says

    Delusional Trump talking about Nancy Pelosi:

    She hates the Republican Party. She hates all of the people that voted for me and the Republican Party and she’s desperate.

    She got thrown out as Speaker once before. I think it’s going to happen again. She’s doing a tremendous disservice to the country, and she’s not doing a great job. And some people think she doesn’t know what she’s doing.

    Delusional Trump talking about Mitch McConnell:

    We’re in a very good position. Ultimately that decision is going to be made by Mitch McConnell. He has the right to do whatever he wants. He’s the head of the Senate.

    People remember they [Democrats] treated us very unfairly. Now they come to the Senate and they want everything.

    We have a perfect case. They have no case.

    Now we have the majority and it’s up to Mitch McConnel. They want Mitch McConnell to do wonderful things for them. He’s going to do what he wants to do, very smart guy, very good guy, and a very fair guy. But they treated us very unfairly and they want fairness in the Senate.

    Trump is on vacation at Mar-a-Lago. He is doing what he usually does when he is supposedly not on vacation. He is watching Fox News. He is tweeting about segments he sees on Fox News. He is retweeting pro-Trump commentary from Fox News.

  105. says

    From Wonkette:

    Donald Trump had his ass impeached last week […] Where’s our Senate trial? We might have to wait a spell, because we’re currently at what the pundits call an “impasse.” House Speaker Nancy Pelosi stuck her stilettos in the articles of impeachment, refusing to send them to the Senate unless Mitch McConnell agreed to a real, live trial instead of the Pinocchio proceedings he’d boasted about on Fox News.

    This is tough for the GOP-controlled Senate. It’s not prepared for non-sham activities. McConnell’s Senate is really only good for sitting on beneficial legislation and churning out unqualified, right-wing hack judges. Lindsey Graham whined yesterday that Pelosi had gone mad with power and was trying to run the Senate. […]

    Republicans can try to bait her, but she ain’t budging. It’s like last year’s government shutdown when Pelosi stood her ground and ate Trump’s lunch with chopsticks. Pelosi’s position hasn’t changed since Wednesday.

    The House cannot choose our impeachment managers until we know what sort of trial the Senate will conduct.

    President Trump blocked his own witnesses and documents from the House, and from the American people, on phony complaints about the House process. What is his excuse now?

    […] A real fight surprised the hell out of McConnell. During an appearance yesterday on “Fox & Friends,” the majority leader declared he hadn’t “ruled out” witness testimony during the Senate trial.

    MCCONNELL: What we need to do is listen to the arguments. Have a written questioning period, and then decide whether we need witnesses or not.

    It’s safe to assume McConnell’s decision will lean heavily toward “not.” Trusting McConnell is a fool’s proposition. But Pelosi is holding onto her leverage. She didn’t release the articles but she released the hounds. Now Republicans will have to justify themselves, without fully controlling the situation, until at least early into 2020.

    Keep in mind that Republicans never wanted an impeachment trial. Now they’re reduced to begging Pelosi to send the articles to the Senate. She’ll have them painting her fence for them next.

    CBS News correspondent Marc Liverman reported on the impeachment standoff yesterday, and anchor Ann-Marie Green asked him about new emails revealing how Trump tried to screw over Ukraine for his own ends. Green asked Liverman, “How are the Democrats spinning it and how is the White House spinning it.” Gonna stop Green right here. It’s not about dueling “spins” but what the emails actually prove, which is Trump’s obvious guilt. The media is gonna “both sides” us to an early grave. Maybe Pelosi should do their jobs, as well.

  106. says

    From Robin Wright, writing for The New Yorker:

    On Monday, the authoritarian kingdom of Saudi Arabia sentenced five operatives to death for the grisly murder and dismemberment of the Washington Post journalist Jamal Khashoggi, at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul, in October, 2018. Another three men were dispatched to jail; three more were acquitted.

    The outcome was, in the words of human-rights experts with whom I spoke after the verdict was announced, “typical Saudi justice.” The trial was held in secret. The government’s evidence was never publicly released. The convicted were never named, even in the verdict. And the few diplomats allowed to attend the trial had to swear that they would not disclose any details or identities.

    Most strikingly, the three men widely believed to be ultimately responsible for Khashoggi’s murder—including the powerful crown prince, Mohammed bin Salman, his close adviser, Saud al-Qahtani, and the former deputy head of intelligence, Ahmed al-Assiri—got off scot-free. “This is not a surprise. It is true to form,” Sarah Leah Whitson, the executive director of the Middle East and North Africa division of Human Rights Watch, told me. “The Saudis are compounding their stream of laughable lies with a laughable verdict.” […]

    The U.N.’s report, released in June, concluded that “every expert consulted finds it inconceivable that an operation of this scale could be implemented without the Crown Prince being aware, at a minimum, that some sort of mission of a criminal nature, directed at Mr. Khashoggi, was being launched.” But, in announcing the verdict, the Saudi deputy public prosecutor, Shalaan al-Shalaan, declared that the investigation showed that “the killing was not premeditated. The decision was taken at the spur of the moment.” Last year, the Republican-led Senate passed a resolution—notably, with unanimity—blaming the crown prince for the Khashoggi murder, despite pushback from the White House. […

    Adam Coogle, a Saudi specialist at Human Rights Watch, noted that the prosecutor’s office is under the direct supervision of the royal court, so there is no meaningful independence from top Saudi leadership. “It appears that this entire investigation and trial was done at least in part to shield top leaders from accountability,” he told me. […]

    More at the link.

  107. Akira MacKenzie says

    Lyanna @ 133

    The trial was held in secret. The government’s evidence was never publicly released. The convicted were never named, even in the verdict. And the few diplomats allowed to attend the trial had to swear that they would not disclose any details or identities.

    No really, we executed them all right. We executed Khashogi’s murders good and hard! The didn’t know what hit them. Where are the bodies? Errrrr… Well, we buried them already? What were their names? Ummmm… (looks around desperately) Ali… Doe. Mohammed…. err… Smith, Mohammed Smith! Akbar Jones… he was the ring leader. Ummmm… Bob… yes, just “Bob!”

  108. says

    Akira, right. How do we know if anyone actually was executed for that crime?

    Considering that this is the Saudis that we’re talking about here, it’s more likely that they paid everyone concerned to shut the fuck up forever and ever. Then they gave a few guys the option of living far far away.

  109. says

    Trump talked some more about giving pardons to his lickspittle lackeys:

    During a brief Q&A with reporters yesterday Donald Trump was asked whether he planned to pardon Roger Stone, a longtime Republican operative who was recently convicted on seven criminal counts, including making false statements to federal investigators, obstruction, and witness tampering. The president answered that Stone wasn’t involved in his campaign “in any way,” except for the time in which he worked for Trump’s campaign.

    But that’s not all Trump said.

    “I think it’s very tough what they did to Roger Stone, compared to what they do to other people on their side. I think it’s very tough. I think it’s a very tough situation that they did something like that. […]

    “I’ve known Roger over the years. He’s a nice guy. A lot of people like him. And he got very — he got hit very hard, as did [former White House National Security Advisor Michael Flynn] and as did a lot of other people. They got hit very, very hard. And now they’re finding out it was all a big hoax. They’re finding out it was a horrible thing. It was — we were spied on — my campaign was spied on.”

    Trump continued to ramble for a while, insisting that Stone’s prosecution was “very unfair,” and the case against Flynn, in which he pleaded guilty, was also “very unfair.”

    […] Trump added, “And now we found out they’re a bunch of dirty cops…. These were dirty people. These were bad people. These were evil people.”

    To an unsettling degree, nearly everything [Trump] said was gibberish. There’s no evidence of prosecutorial wrongdoing, for example, in the Stone or Flynn cases. There’s no evidence of the FBI “spying on” his campaign operation […]

    There’s no evidence of “dirty cops” at the FBI, and there’s no evidence that “it” — the president didn’t exactly say what “it” referred to — was “all a big hoax.” […]


  110. says

    Campaign news, as summarized by Steve Benen:

    Joe Biden’s presidential campaign picked up an endorsement this week from Rep. Tony Cardenas (D-Calif.), who also chairs the Congressional Hispanic Caucus’ political arm. The former vice president now has 23 endorsements from U.S. House Democrats, roughly double the totals from Sens. Elizabeth Warren and Cory Booker, who have 11 each.

    Michael Bloomberg’s presidential campaign distanced itself from a vendor over the holiday break after learning that it used prison labor to make phone calls on behalf of the former New York mayor.

    […] Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) is on track tomorrow to become the first major 2020 presidential candidate to make stops in each of Iowa’s 99 counties. Former Maryland Rep. John Delaney (D) has done the same thing, though polling suggests the former congressman is not yet in a competitive position.

  111. says

    China is investing in diplomacy as Trump continues to alienate just about everyone in the global diplomatic community. China is winning. Trump is losing.

    The Associated Press reported the other day on China’s increased investment in diplomacy, as Beijing hopes to exploit the opportunity the Republican White House created.

    Now the Chinese even have the world’s biggest diplomatic arsenal to draw from. China’s diplomatic network — including embassies, consulates and other posts — has overtaken that of the United States, according to the Lowy Institute, a Sydney-based think tank. Beijing has 276 diplomatic posts worldwide, topping Washington’s declining deployment by three posts, the institute found.

    China’s growing diplomatic presence comes as Beijing is trying to expand its international footprint in places like resource-rich Africa or the strategic South China Sea, and to compete economically with Western countries, including with its much-ballyhooed Belt and Road Initiative that seeks to expand Chinese economic clout in places like Africa and Asia.

    This isn’t a dynamic in which China is scrambling to keep up with the United States; it’s actually one in which China is making gains while the United States, under Trump’s leadership, is deliberately retreating. In practical terms, the Trump administration is shrinking its diplomatic footprint while abandoning international agreements, condemning international institutions, and rejecting the very idea of a rules-based world order. […]

    As [Trump] alienates Latin America, for example, China is strengthening its ties in the region. While Trump expresses his contempt for the European Union, he’s also pushing China and the EU closer together. Even in the Middle East, Xi Jinping told members of the Arab League that China would like to form a strategic partnership to become “the keeper of peace and stability in the Middle East, the defender of equity and justice, promoter of joint development, and good friends that learn from each other,” ([…] the rhetoric came with a pledge of $23 billion in loans and aid.)

    And when Trump rejected the climate crisis as a “hoax” he’d prefer to ignore, it was Xi Jinping who appeared at the World Economic Forum in Davos, where he presented his country “as a defender of economic globalization and an exemplar of international cooperation on issues like climate change.”

    […] Is America at risk of abdicating its international leadership role to China?”

    Beijing is asking the same question, and it likes the apparent answer.


  112. says

    This is an excerpt from an exchange Trump had with reporters after his video teleconference with U.S. troops deployed abroad, (Trump could not, or would not, answer a question about Putin and Ukraine):

    Q: Sir, what did President Putin say to you that convinced you that the Ukraine interfered in the 2016 election?

    TRUMP: What did he say to me?

    Q: Yes.

    TRUMP: About what?

    Q: What did President Putin say to you when you met?

    TRUMP: You’re putting words in somebody’s mouth. Who are you referring to? Me? I never said anything about it. I never said a thing about it. All right, any other questions?

  113. says

    News related to one Republican senator, Lisa Murkowski, who is not onboard when it comes to Mitch McConnell’s plans to hold a potemkin trial:

    Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, said Tuesday she was “disturbed” that Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell would engage in “total coordination” with the White House regarding the upcoming Senate trial of President Donald Trump.

    In an interview with Anchorage’s local NBC affiliate KTUU broadcast Tuesday, Murkowski — who earlier in the year refused to defend Trump from the Democrats’ impeachment inquiry — said McConnell’s comments “has further confused” the impeachment process. […]

    NBC News link

  114. says

    Rachel Maddow took a closer look at Stephen MIller’s obvious racism (and Miller’s white supremacy).

    The video is about 5 minutes long. Stephen Miller condemned himself. In his own words he shows himself to be a white supremacist. Miller’s attitudes are absolutely disgusting.

  115. says

    Officials Who Spoke Out Against Trump Continue To Pay The Price

    […] an uptick of angry tweets from Trump sends armed security officers to the whistleblower’s side to protect him from threats while on his way to and from work at the CIA.

    Bill Taylor, top diplomat in Ukraine, has opted to step down in January rather than try to continue his job as Rudy Giuliani impresses upon Ukrainian officials his lack of standing with the President. By stepping down early in the month, Taylor is also sparing Secretary of State Mike Pompeo from having to appear beside him during a January trip to Kyiv.

    Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman, a National Security Council official, has continued to work in the White House since his testimony. But Trump and his allies have smeared him as being in cahoots with the whistleblower to undermine the President, calling him “vindictive Vindman.”

    Fiona Hill, former top Russia adviser at the White House, has become a favorite target of far-right media, and has consequently received abusive phone calls, some of which have scared her young daughter. Alex Jones, the right-wing troll who runs InfoWars, has advocated for her to be punished for her testimony, adding a misogynistic flourish: “indict the whore.” […]

    The article is by Kate Riga, writing for Talking Points Memo.

  116. says

    Mitch McConnell is focused on being reelected:

    Sen. Mitch McConnell strong-armed $914.2 million in federal spending and tax breaks for Kentucky into the recently passed omnibus spending bill — and is making sure Kentuckians know about it.

    Almost a billion dollars!

    In the midst of his reelection fight against leading Democratic challenger and veteran Amy McGrath, McConnell touted his Bluegrass state bounty […]

    “I saw a commercial from my likely opponent indicating that I was all that was wrong with Washington,” he said. “So I have a question for her here as we go into the new year: In what way would Kentucky have been better off without any of these items that I put in the year-end spending bill?”

    Some of those items are pension benefits for coal miners, tax breaks for spirit distilleries and a new veterans medical center. McConnell claimed “direct responsibility” for those perks at the press conference.

    McGrath has proved herself an adept fundraiser so far, and McConnell is battling unpopularity in his home state. However, he’s running to secure his seventh term in the Senate — a savvy and cautious politician, he has overcome his own lack of popularity many times before. And this Christmas gift to his state will likely help.


  117. says

    What Trump was thinking about and tweeting about on Christmas Day, and today:

    Why should Crazy Nancy Pelosi, just because she has a slight majority in the House, be allowed to Impeach the President of the United States? Got ZERO Republican votes, there was no crime, the call with Ukraine was perfect, with “no pressure.” She said it must be “bipartisan..

    …& overwhelming,” but this Scam Impeachment was neither. Also, very unfair with no Due Process, proper representation, or witnesses. Now Pelosi is demanding everything the Republicans weren’t allowed to have in the House. Dems want to run majority Republican Senate. Hypocrites!

    The Radical Left, Do Nothing Democrats said they wanted to RUSH everything through to the Senate because “President Trump is a threat to National Security” (they are vicious, will say anything!), but now they don’t want to go fast anymore, they want to go very slowly. Liars!

    Nancy Pelosi’s District in California has rapidly become one of the worst anywhere in the U.S. when it come to the homeless & crime. It has gotten so bad, so fast – she has lost total control and, along with her equally incompetent governor, Gavin Newsom, it is a very sad sight!

    “Nancy Pelosi has no leverage over the Senate. Mitch McConnell did not nose his way into the impeachment process in the House, and she has no standing in the Senate.” Brad Blakeman. Crazy Nancy should clean up her filthy dirty District & help the homeless there. A primary for N?

    Despite all of the great success that our Country has had over the last 3 years, it makes it much more difficult to deal with foreign leaders (and others) when I am having to constantly defend myself against the Do Nothing Democrats & their bogus Impeachment Scam. Bad for USA!

    Merry Christmas to you too, Hair Furor.

  118. tomh says

    Why millions of Americans — including men — will get a separate bill for abortion coverage starting in June
    By Ariana Eunjung Cha
    Dec. 26, 2019

    If you are one of the 3 million Americans who bought health insurance on an Affordable Care Act state exchange, you may be surprised to open up the mail this summer and find two separate monthly bills.Under a new rule finalized by the Department of Health and Human Services in December, insurers are now required to issue a separate invoice for the amount of your premium that they attribute to abortion services. So you’ll get one bill for abortion services and another for the rest of your insurance coverage.

    HHS Secretary Alex Azar said in a statement that providing separate bills is “an essential step” in remedying that issue [That the ACA already requires insurers to itemize abortion coverage separately but some insurers don’t do so.] “The separate billing requirement fulfills Congress’ intent and reflects President Trump’s strong commitment to preventing taxpayer funding of abortion coverage,” he said. [Federal funding for abortion has been illegal since 1976, when Congress passed a measure now known as the Hyde Amendment]

    Jacqueline Ayers, vice president for government relations for the Planned Parenthood Federation of America, said the rule is an effort to make legal abortion more difficult to access: “This rule won’t just require separate payments, it further splits off abortion from other reproductive health care and puts up massive barriers to access.”

    Insurers protested that the administrative requirements are burdensome. Medical groups said the rule could lead health insurance companies to drop coverage of abortion and cause people to lose coverage if they get confused and do not pay both bills.

    A Kaiser Family Foundation analysis published in December 2018, when a draft rule was published, said it would probably result in some insurers deciding to eliminate abortion coverage.

    The insurance industry has said the changes would create huge burdens for them, including changing their billing software, managing double the payments and dealing with confusion from customers. HHS wrote that the total cost to insurers, exchanges and enrollees would reach $546.1 million in 2020 and then stabilize at $232.1 million in 2021, $230.7 million in 2022 and $229.3 million in 2023 and subsequent years.

    Those costs will inevitably get passed on to consumers in some form, whether via an increase in premiums, deductibles or co-pays or changes to coverage and doctor networks.

  119. says

    Trump’s latest upset with Canada is that the CBC clipped out 14 seconds of him from Home Alone 2. It’s all that mean Trudeau’s fault. Except for the fact that the Canadian government doesn’t micromanage CBC’s content. And the cut was made in 2014, when Stephen Harper was in charge.

  120. johnson catman says

    timgueguen @ 146: Oh, that is FUNNY! Apparently, the whole world is against him, and he cannot stand for that! If I never heard (or saw) his whiny-ass rants again, I would be just fine with that.

  121. says

    Team Trump’s rhetoric about light bulbs gets even dimmer

    From Trump, who harped on the subject at a rally last week:

    We’re even bringing back the old light bulb. You heard about that, right? The old light bulb, which is better. I say, why do I always look so orange? You know why, because of the new light, they’re terrible. You look terrible.

    It’s Trump’s use of tanning beds and makeup that actually has the word “orange” it that makes him look like a mango, even in natural light.

    From the official White House Twitter feed:

    If you like your lightbulbs, you can keep your lightbulbs! The Obama Admin tried to limit Americans to buying more-expensive LED bulbs for their homes – but thanks to President @realDonaldTrump, go ahead and decorate your house with whatever lights you want.

    As Steve Benen noted, maybe the only good news here is that we are not talking about toilets.

    More from Steve Benen:

    […] Trump’s light bulb decision represents a major step backwards for U.S. energy policy. The Washington Post reported that this one misguided change, according to consumer research, will “boost energy costs by $14 billion a year and generate 38 million tons of carbon dioxide annually.”

    A report in The Hill added that the administration’s new rule “will increase U.S. electricity use by 80 billion kilowatt hours over the course of a year, roughly the amount of electricity needed to power all households in Pennsylvania and New Jersey, according to an analysis by the Appliance Standards Awareness Project.”

    […] the policy Trump is undoing pre-dates the Obama era.

    […] One of the provisions, co-authored by Rep. Fred Upton [in 2007], dealt with light-bulb standards intended to spur innovation, lower costs, and improve energy efficiency.

    The parties worked together on this, the bill passed, and policy did exactly what it was intended to do.

    […] Soon after Barack Obama became president, the Republican posture on the issue shifted. Suddenly, the Bush/Cheney energy bill was a classic example of Big Government using authoritarian tactics to “ban” popular sources of light.[…]

    light bulbs became a culture-war issue. It no longer mattered whether the policy was working – because in a post-policy party, the efficacy of governance is irrelevant.

    […] the Republican administration is engaged in an elaborate trolling exercise that will increase electricity usage at a time when we need to be doing the opposite.

  122. says

    Russia, China, Iran plan joint naval drills in Gulf of Oman

    […] Wu said that China is using its Xining guided-missile destroyer in the exercises. Iranian armed forces spokesman Brigadier General Aboldazl Shekarchi said that the drills are meant to improve “international commerce security in the region” and “fighting terrorism and piracy,” and would “stabilize security” in the region. Because what will make the region feel more secure than knowing Russia and China are teaming up with Iran there? […]

  123. says

    Sex stereotypes work against female political candidates who are viewed as too aggressive:

    […] voters often want a leader who is perceived as aggressive, but aggression in women can also be perceived as threatening. Harris was known for her direct, prosecutorial style and Bauer said that her identity as a woman of color may have put her in an even tighter bind. “Black women are often stereotyped as angry or militant,” Bauer said. It’s hard to isolate exactly why Harris’s plunge in the polls was so dramatic and decisive, she added, but “if there was a negative reaction to her attack on Biden at the debate, those stereotypes may have played a role.” […]

    Bauer’s newest study showed that voters generally hold female candidates to a higher standard than men, which reinforces other work indicating that although women do tend to win at the same rate as men, they’re often more qualified than their male counterparts. … a study by Tessa Ditonto, a political scientist at the University of Durham, showed that when participants received a piece of information indicating a woman was less competent, her support fell dramatically — but there was no similar impact for men. “It speaks to the idea that voters tend to be more uncertain about women candidates,” Ditonto said.


    “For women to get the right kind of experience to be taken seriously, they have to behave like men,” Bauer said. “But then that behavior is often scrutinized and criticized more harshly than it would be in a man, because it runs counter to what our stereotypes of a woman should be.”

    FiveThirtyEight link

  124. says

    Netanyahu promises U.S. recognition of Israeli settlements

    Desperate much?

    Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu promised to deliver U.S. recognition of Israeli settlements in the West Bank and Jordan Valley if his party secures a majority in national elections slated for March, he announced Thursday in a victory speech after winning the primary contest for leadership of his political party.

    Netanyahu, who is under indictment for charges of bribery, fraud and breach of trust, touted his relationship with the U.S. and President Trump while celebrating victory in retaining leadership over the Likud political party.

    “In the years ahead we will deliver more achievements that could have only been dreamed of,” Netanyahu said in his speech, according to The Jerusalem Post.

    “We will set our final borders, bring about American recognition for Israeli control over Jordan Valley, the Dead Sea and our sovereignty over every settlement in Judea and Samaria,” he said, using the biblical terms to refer to the West Bank. […]

    Netanyahu also promised to “obtain a defense pact with US that will ensure Israeli freedom to act, we will defeat Iran and achieve a peace pact with Arab countries.” [….]

  125. says

    More details are emerging about one of the men that Trump pardoned:

    A group of Navy SEALS who accused their platoon leader of war crimes have spoken out in never-before-seen footage obtained by The New York Times.

    According to a trove of leaked Navy materials, members of SEAL Team 7 described Special Operations Chief Edward Gallagher in grim terms, calling him “freaking evil,” “toxic” and a “psychopath.”

    “You could tell he was perfectly OK with killing anybody that was moving,” Special Operator 1st Class Corey Scott, a medic in the platoon, told investigators during Gallagher’s trial on war crimes, including murder, according to the report.

    In the leaked video interviews, SEAL Team 7 members described seeing Gallagher targeting civilians, including a 12-year-old child, and fatally stabbing a wounded captive with a hunting knife.

    Gallagher was ultimately acquitted by a military jury in July of murder charges but was demoted after being convicted of posing for a photo with the ISIS captive’s body. However, he was ultimately spared all punishment after President Trump intervened in November and restored his rank. […]

    The Times reports that in the video interviews with investigators, “three SEALs said they saw Chief Gallagher go on to stab the sedated captive for no reason, and then hold an impromptu re-enlistment ceremony over the body, as if it were a trophy.”

    “I was listening to it, and I was just thinking, like, this is the most disgraceful thing I’ve ever seen in my life,” Special Operator 1st Class Craig Miller stated.

    Social media posts from earlier this week showed Gallagher meeting Trump and first lady Melania Trump at Trump’s Mar-a-Lago estate in Florida. Gallagher appeared to give the president a folded, black-and-white ISIS flag. In an Instagram post, Gallagher described the flag as a gift to the president from his time in Mosul, Iraq.

    The leaked materials published by the Times also included thousands of text messages exchanged between platoon members, revealing some hesitancy to come forward about Gallagher for fear of retribution and threats of violence.

    “Tell the truth, don’t lie or embellish,” one member told the others in a group text in 2017, when they first reportedly tried to report the chief. “That way, he can’t say that we slandered him in any way.”


  126. tomh says

    @ #151
    “we will defeat Iran and achieve a peace pact with Arab countries.”

    As the ancient Roman, Tacitus, said, “They make a desert and call it peace.”

  127. says

    From Wonkette:

    […] Andy and Anne Lee are dairy farmers in Berkshire, New York — the Real America, upstate part of the state — and they’ve seen their income decline significantly in recent years, mostly due to a steep drop in milk prices but it’s been made a lot worse by Donald Trump’s trade wars.

    The story is a sympathetic slice-of-life portrait of a family struggling to get by, focusing mostly on Anne’s attempts to keep her family fed on a very tight budget. She reluctantly makes a first-ever trip to a food pantry — in another town, hoping she won’t be recognized — and even applies for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), aka food stamps, though she’s so worried about the shame of it, and doesn’t want to tell Andy about either. She’s struck by the irony of it all, telling reporter Annie Gowen, “We’re supposed to be feeding the world, and we can’t even put food on our own table,” and saying she’d told Andy, “This is what need feels like.”

    And yes, of course they both voted for Trump, and still support him. He’s doing the best he can to fix things. Like cutting SNAP benefits by 14 percent, eliminating benefits for three million people (a third of them children), and for good measure taking away free school lunches for half a million kids.

    The story points out that rural New York’s dairy farms were already hurting before Trump took office, due to overproduction of milk worldwide, and the fact that Americans just aren’t drinking milk like they used to. Federal stats show the state has lost over 1,100 dairy farms since 2012, and then on top of that, there are the retaliatory tariffs on milk put in place by Mexico and China, which have resulted in losses of $125 million to New York farmers.

    The Lees have gotten a very small slice — $4,100 in 2019 — of Trump’s bailout payments to farmers hurt by the trade war, and they appreciate the help, although Anne says it didn’t do a lot to offset the $4,000 per month decline in their income from milk. And the story points out that the $28 billion bailout program doesn’t seem to be aimed at helping peons like the Lees anyway. The bailout program

    has been criticized for benefiting large operations over family farms. A study by the nonprofit Environmental Working Group found that 60 percent of the money that flowed to New York state went to the top 10 percent of farmers.

    But the Lees are still behind Trump. They voted for him in 2016, because he’s totally on their side:

    Like many farmers, they think their taxes are too high, their creeks and streams are over-regulated and that
    Trump still has their best interests at heart.

    “We’ve had unfair trade for years and years. Somebody had to fix it, and he’s trying to fix it,” Anne said.

    “I know a lot of people don’t like it but, you know, this was going to have to happen in order to make U.S. products become more competitive,” said Andy. “It’s going to hurt for a while.”

    […] I don’t have any illusions that Democrats would win their votes by trying to convince them their prospects would be a lot brighter if they had universal healthcare or free college for their kids, although yes, those would definitely be good things for all families. To win elections, those of us on the leftish side of the political divide need to focus on getting our own communities and allies to the polls, and not go chasing after white rural voters who may never come any closer to a Democrat than being interviewed by reporters from New York and Washington. […]

    Lots of us have had trouble making rent or putting food on our families, and maybe that’s a place to start talking.

  128. says

    Handlers Keep Trump From Tweeting Out Whistleblower’s Name, PLEASE CLAP

    President Hot Garbage is out there trying to get the whistleblower killed again. The Washington Post reports that this poor civil servant needs an armed escort to get to work, and Donald Trump is ramping up his attacks, retweeting his howler monkey campaign account as it links to a Washington Examiner article naming the guy they think started it all. […]

    this all started with a tweet from Tennessee Republican Senator Marsha Blackburn, none-too-subtly implying that Alexander Vindman, a Jewish man who immigrated from Ukraine at age 3, earned a Purple Heart in Iraq, and still walks around with shrapnel in his body, was somehow unethical because he was alarmed over Trump’s treasonous shakedown call of Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy. […]

    The whistleblower’s attorney Mark Zaid responded with a call for Blackburn to be removed from the Senate Whistleblower Caucus, since she clearly has no respect for the whistleblower protection statute.

    To which the verified @Trumpwarrroom account run by the Trump 2020 campaign — “This account punches back 10x harder,” LOL — responded with a tweet linking to the Examiner article, screeching, “It’s pretty simple. The CIA ‘whistleblower’ is not a real whistleblower!” In reality, the Examiner article says nothing of the kind, since reporter Kerry Picket thinks she’s doing A REAL JOURNALISM and only reporting FACTS. But in FACT, not even Sean Hannity, much less any actual journalistic outlet, is publishing the alleged whistleblower’s name. Pickett put it right in her headline, because in FACT she’s a filthy hack.

    But being a filthy hack takes you far in the Trump administration. Here’s the president of the United States of America tweeting out a link to her hit piece. […]

    Vanky and White House Counsel Pat Cipollone […] advised him not to leak the whistleblower’s name. But sources were “genuinely shocked the president hadn’t already rage-tweeted the name or blurted it out to the cameras, given his massive fury at the individual.” Because minimal restraint from the leader of the free world is genuinely shocking at this point in our long national nightmare.

    Maybe the most alarming part of this is that we’d never have noticed Trump’s efforts to out the whistleblower if it weren’t for the Beast pointing it out. We’ve become so inured to the firehose of crazy coming out of the White House that this craven attack on a civil servant doesn’t even register any more. Who can pick out one acid raindrop in a monsoon, right? And yet, we must notice every poisonous raindrop. […]


  129. says

    Trump is dangerous:

    When Germans were given a choice between five world leaders and asked who poses the greatest threat to world peace, one person came out on top of all others. And it wasn’t even close. A bit more than four-in-10 Germans said in a poll that President Donald Trump was the most dangerous of the five, according to a YouGov survey. The next in line, North Korea’s Kim Jong Un came a distant second at 17 percent, followed by Russia’s President Vladimir Putin and Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei at 8 percent each. China’s Xi Jinping came in last with 7 percent. […]


  130. says

    What Happened When Trump Reshaped a Powerful Court

    For the 5th Circuit, 2019 was an experiment in extreme right-wing jurisprudence.

    [Trump]] has appointed 133 district court judges, 50 appeals court judges, and two Supreme Court justices—meaning about one-fifth of the nation’s federal trial judges, and one-fourth of its federal appellate judges, are Trump appointees. […] for a glimpse of where the judiciary is heading if Trump wins a second term, Americans can look to the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. A traditionally conservative bench, the court has been newly reshaped by Trump—and quickly got to work translating right-wing priorities into legal doctrine […]

    The 5th Circuit’s descent into lawlessness did not happen by accident. Senate Republicans would not let President Barack Obama fill several seats on the court, allowing Trump to reshape it after taking office. […]

    Trump didn’t flip the court—it already had a majority of GOP appointees—but he neutralized the influence of moderate conservatives. […]

    In 2019, the conservative majority went on a rampage. In December, the court ruled that Obamacare’s individual mandate had become unconstitutional in an overtly partisan decision, and suggested that the rest of the law may have to fall, as well.

    […] The court granted immunity from civil suit to prison guards who locked an inmate in two filthy cells for six days. These cells, including the floor and the faucet, were covered in “massive amounts” of feces. The inmate, who was completely naked, was forced to sleep in feces and could not eat or drink because excrement contaminated everything. He sued the guards, who laughed and taunted him as he suffered, for subjecting him to cruel and unusual punishment in violation of the Eighth Amendment.

    The 5th Circuit granted the guards immunity. In Smith’s opinion, the court held that an inmate’s right not to be locked in a feces-covered cell for six days was not “clearly established,” so the guards could not have known they were violating the Constitution. […]

    To be fair, the 5th Circuit issued a few decent decisions that did not shield law enforcement officers from lawsuits brought by victims who alleged unconstitutional conduct. (This shield is called “qualified immunity.”) But these modest decisions—which merely allowed victims to make their case to a jury rather than nixing their lawsuits altogether—provoked the ire of the court’s far-right flank.

    James Ho, a Trump judge whose opinions resemble Rush Limbaugh’s most incoherent rants, accused the majority of enabling mass shootings when it withheld qualified immunity from cops who apparently shot an innocent man to death. […] The facts were horrific: Officers shot the victim from 100 yards away because he was holding a toy cap gun and allegedly looked like a suspect in pursuit (probably because they were both black.) When the victim didn’t die immediately, the officers electrocuted him with a stun gun until he expired. According to Ho, the victim’s family should not be allowed to sue the officers. In fact, Ho has suggested—joined by two colleagues—that no one should be able to sue officers for constitutional violations when they engage in illegal violence.

    It should not be surprising that this court cut back on protections against double jeopardy, permitting prosecutors to retry a defendant on an issue of fact that a jury has already decided in his favor.

    Or that the court curbed Americans’ right to protest in a decision involving DeRay Mckesson, a Black Lives Matter activist. During one demonstration that Mckesson helped lead against police brutality, a protester threw a hard object at an officer that hit him. The officer then sued Mckesson, even though he’d done nothing to incite violence. In shocking ruling, the 5th Circuit approved the lawsuit, holding Mckesson was liable for any violence committed by any protester at his demonstration. This decision is a frontal attack on the First Amendment, subjecting activists to crippling damages by making them liable for the conduct of people they can’t actually control. It radically alters free speech law, suppressing dissent and threatening to bankrupt civil rights groups.


  131. says

    Money rules, a Catholic church tale: “Ousted cardinal gave more than $600,000 to powerful clerics, including 2 popes”

    A Washington Post investigation has found that Theodore McCarrick sent checks over nearly two decades, according to church ledgers, as the Vatican failed to act on claims he had sexually harassed young men. This year he became the first cardinal known to be defrocked for sexual abuse.

    Washington Post link

    […] Starting in 2001, McCarrick sent checks totaling more than $600,000 to clerics in Rome and elsewhere, including Vatican bureaucrats, papal advisers and two popes, according to church ledgers and former church officials.

    Several of the more than 100 recipients were directly involved in assessing misconduct claims against McCarrick, documents and interviews show. It was not until 2018 that McCarrick was removed from public ministry amid allegations of misconduct decades earlier with a 16-year-old altar boy […]

    The checks were drawn from a little-known account at the Archdiocese of Washington, where McCarrick began serving as archbishop in 2001. The “Archbishop’s Special Fund” enabled him to raise money from wealthy Catholic donors and to spend it as he chose, with little oversight, according to the former officials.
    McCarrick sent Pope John Paul II $90,000 from 2001 to 2005. Pope Benedict XVI received $291,000, most of it a single check for $250,000 in May 2005, a month after he was elevated to succeed the late John Paul.

    […] The checks from McCarrick’s fund add a new dimension to a scandal over how he rose to the highest levels of the U.S. Catholic Church and remained there despite complaints of misconduct that reached the Vatican as early as 2000. A Post investigation earlier this year found that another cleric, a McCarrick ally who was a bishop in West Virginia, also gave cash gifts to influential clergy in the United States and at the Vatican while facing allegations of sexual misconduct and financial abuses. […]

  132. says

    Trump wants to jack up fees for naturalization and DACA renewals.

    The Trump administration is seeking to jack up naturalization fees from $640 to $1,170 and Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals renewal fees from from $495 to $765, in a move that will no doubt price out many. In one unprecedented move, the administration also wants asylum-seekers to pay a $50 fee, which would make the U.S. one of the few countries to charge applicants to seek protection. But there is something we can do about this.

    The administration must hold a public comment period on this proposed rule before it can be implemented, so this is our chance to speak loudly and oppose this plan that advocates believe could price out hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of immigrants. Already, more than 15,000 comments have been submitted regarding the proposed rule […]

    “I am against the proposed changes to the fee schedule,” read one recently submitted comment. “It is obviously meant to create a fee barrier for those who are entitled to benefits but unable to access them.” Regarding the proposal to charge asylum-seekers to seek protection, the commenter wrote, “it is cruel, it is inhumane to ask people who flee everything with nothing on their backs to come up with money.”

    Absolutely. As Democratic House members said in their letter to the administration, “The American dream should be available to all those who aspire to it, regardless of wealth or income.” The public comment period for this proposed rule is open through Dec. 30.

    If you wish to leave a comment:
    The deadline is December 30.

  133. says

    Russia announced today that it will not renew its support of the arms embargo on Iran (that’s the embargo approved by the United Nations) when it expires in October. This means that advanced weapons can soon be sold to the Islamic Republic. The weapons sold to Iran could include modern jet fighters and submarines.

    […] This end of Russian support for the embargo could mean Iran will be able to fulfill its weapons wish list for the first time in decades. Among weapons it would like to acquire, according to a Defense Intelligence Agency report, are Su-30 fighters, Yak-130 trainers, and T-90 tanks. Russia has recently expanded its arms sales throughout the Middle East, pitching advanced weaponry to just about any nation with the cash.

    When Donald Trump announced last year that the United States was leaving the multilateral nuclear accord with Iran and would reimpose economic sanctions, he vowed to negotiate a new, much better pact to replace what he labeled the “horrible, one-sided” 2015 agreement put together by the Obama administration, Iran, and five other nations after 20 months of intense talks. That new, better pact obviously is nowhere to be seen. While the old one is still technically in force, it gets more tattered every day, and nobody, including U.S. allies France, Britain, and Germany, seriously believes it can be restored. […]

    Things didn’t have to be this way. If instead of taking the U.S. out of the nuclear agreement, Donald Trump had used it as a springboard to negotiating additional agreements limiting, for instance, Iran’s ever-more sophisticated missile development, the situation might have been much calmer. Such additional negotiations were, in fact, what many soft-power advocates of the Obama administration had hoped would emerge from the nuclear agreement. Instead, as in so many other policy arenas, domestic and foreign, the Trump regime will be leaving the next president with a perilous mess that might have been avoided.


  134. says

    Freeing immigrants held in ICE detention … some people are taking action that works:

    A San Diego immigrant bond fund has helped free nearly three dozen immigrants from federal immigration custody this year, including one man who had been detained for more than a year. The San Diego Union-Tribune reports that Jose had been in Immigration and Customs Enforcement custody for 13 months when he became one of the 34 people helped by San Diego Immigrant Rights Consortium’s Borderlands Get Free Fund.

    If the federal government decides that a detained immigrant is even eligible for bond (the Trump administration has destructively sought to make this more and more difficult to access), it can be extremely cost-prohibitive, going into the thousands of dollars. This leaves immigrants detained away from their families and communities for lengthy amounts of time. This bond fund has sought to stop that.

    […] Other efforts across the country have also helped free immigrants from ICE custody.

    This past November, immigrant rights advocacy group RAICES, in conjunction with National Bond Network, paid bond for 200 people in more than 41 immigration jails across 20 states, totaling $2.1 million. “It’s ridiculous that people are coming to this country to seek safety, and they’re having to pay these outrageous amounts of money,” RAICES’ Blake Vera told CNN. “We’re stepping in to eliminate that financial obstacle.”

    […] “I believe my life is like a lot of other people who try and find stability on a day-by-day basis,” Jose told the Union-Tribune. “I’m very grateful to the United States for allowing me to live a calm life.”


  135. says

    What are women worth in Texas?

    Texas has the highest rate of uninsured women in the country, and one of the highest death rates for pregnant women and new mothers. ProPublica and Vox just spent past eight months going through all of the data and reports, reviewing medical records and talking to providers and women and family members to determine how those two factors interact, particularly for women of color.

    What they found was a lot of heartbreaking stories and “a system of staggering complexity, riddled with obstacles and cracks, that prioritizes babies over mothers, thwarts women at every turn, frustrates doctors and midwives, and incentivizes substandard care.” One expert, Eugene Declercq, professor of community health sciences at Boston University School of Public Health, calls it “the extreme example of a fragmented system that cares about women much more in the context of delivering a healthy baby than the mother’s health in and of itself.”

    Here’s one example: Brittney Henry, just one of the women who makes up the 40% of post-partum deaths that occur six weeks or more after giving birth. A few weeks after she had her fourth child, Henry had a heart attack, one of the most dire of complications possible following birth. The 28-year old had a stent put in and got the necessary prescriptions, covered by pregnancy Medicaid. But pregnancy Medicaid only lasts a few months after birth, and when it ended for Henry, it was fatal. Without insurance, she could not keep up with her medications. Five months after giving birth, Henry collapsed and died before a neighbor could bring her to the emergency room.

    Texas is the stingiest of all the states when it comes to Medicaid eligibility. A “single mother with two children only qualifies if she earns the equivalent of 17 percent of the federal poverty level or less—$230 to $319 per month, depending on who’s doing the calculation.” Pregnant women are eligible for coverage at 198% of the federal poverty level—$3,520 a month for a family of three—but that pregnancy Medicaid only applies as long as they’re serving as a vessel for the all-important fetus. Alison Stuebe, a professor of obstetrics and gynecology at the University of North Carolina School of Medicine says that reflects the screwed up pro-life attitude not just in Texas, but in society. “If a woman’s value is 198 percent of the federal poverty level when she’s pregnant and 17 percent of the federal poverty level when she’s not, that means we’re saying a nonpregnant woman is worth 91 percent less than a pregnant woman.”

    Medicaid expansion in the Affordable Care Act was supposed to have prevented that from happening—all people at 198% of poverty would have been eligible, but Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts couldn’t let that happen. His very political choice to make Medicaid expansion optional for the states has resulted in this: dead women. […]

    This could be different. The U.S. could join the rest of the advanced economies of the world and provide universal health care. Instead, we have a system in which women are four times more likely to die from complications of childbirth than in comparable countries. We have a maternal death rate that is growing—113% in the past three decades. It’s time for that to change. And it’s time for women to have as much worth in our society as their offspring.


  136. says

    “The Internet’s Most Repulsive Men Are Throwing A ‘Make Women Great Again’ Convention And Oh My God It’s So SAD”

    Coming this May, to a convention center of some kind in Orlando, Florida, the most repulsive and least self-aware men on the entire internet will come together to finally teach women a lesson.

    A lesson in how to be the women of their dreams.

    Yes! For the low, low price of $1,999 a ticket ($999 a ticket and a plus one if you act now!), you can learn all of the secrets to reeling in the kind of man who sits on YouTube all day whining about how women aren’t all barefoot and pregnant anymore. Men like Stefan Molyneux, Mike Cernovich, and organizer Anthony Dream Johnson who claims he is the 1st President of the Manosphere, along with a bunch of other creepy dudes […]

    The conference is called The 22 Convention, and features the tagline “Make Women Great Again.” According to the website, it is “destined to be the mansplaining event of the century.”

    Oh boy!

    What I have learned, just from this website, is that allllllll of the women today are extremely unhappy because feminism told us that we had to be men and were not allowed to be feminine!

    Hiding under a mask of fake progress, feminism today has become a radical assault on all forms of positive femininity – you know, the one hard coded into your DNA. Through an onslaught of anti-feminine propaganda spanning generations, women today have been pushed to act like men and DENY their own feminine nature. This has left millions of women feeling unhappy, confused, frustrated, and hopeless. At The 22 Convention, you will learn the truth that unhealthy militant feminists have been hiding from you your entire life.

    […] In their sad little YouTube fantasy lives, we’re all sitting around pining for them and going “Oh why oh why did we choose to work when we could have been barefoot and pregnant and married to a man who YouTubes all day about how much he hates women?”

    […] The conference plans to teach women all kinds of important things. For instance, did you know that instead of having careers and lives, we could just be baby factories?

    For decades, feminism has derided women who want to prioritize motherhood and family. Shamed them, mocked them, ridiculed them as servants of some mysterious patriarchy boogeyman. These clever manipulations were designed to weed you out of the gene pool and forever prevent you from embracing the sacred responsibility and adventure of motherhood […] Our speakers will teach you how to have as many babies as your heart desires with the time you have left and bounce back to amazing health and wellness without extreme diets or stress. […]

    […] But let’s move on… to the “no fat chicks” part of the seminar (go ahead and skip over this if you’re not in a mindset to hear a bunch of fat-shaming bullshit). […]

    Over 80 million women in America today are overweight or obese. These epidemic level numbers are no secret in spite of endless hyper-fit photoshop pictures of Instagram celebrities at ridiculously low body fat levels. Nevertheless, being sick and obese (a recognized disease in modern medicine) is not beautiful. Taking good care of your body is beautiful in process and outcome. Men admire healthy, fit women. They are after all sizing you up for reproduction, and your decisions will be passed on to your children through the choices you make via epigenetics. At The 22 Convention, you’ll learn how women have been lied to about “body positivity” and what you can do about it right now.


    […] This has nothing, of course, to do with health. It doesn’t even have anything to do with what they or anyone is sexually attracted to. It’s that they are real mad about the idea of women feeling good about themselves without express permission from them. That shit makes them feel important. They desperately want to think women give a fuck about what they think, and it hurts them that we do not.

    Anyway, onto the part where they want us to be feminine, debt-free (I assume this means no college) virgins with no tattoos. […]


  137. says

    “It Is Impossible For The Impossible Whopper To Turn Anyone Into A Woman”

    Over the last week or so, right-wingers have been all in a dither over the Burger King Impossible Whopper and not for any reason that could be considered normal. You see, on Christmas Eve, an article titled “DOCTOR: Burger King’s ‘Impossible Burger’ Has 18 Million Times More Estrogen Than Regular Whopper” sent shockwaves through the wingnut-o-sphere, resulting in a whole lot of panic regarding some evil Burger King plot to turn everyone into women through burger HRT.

    No, really.

    They’re putting estrogen in our meat and turning our freakin boys feminine.

    […] The article, by the way, was published by a site called National File, which also recently published such super normal-sounding articles as “BLUEPRINT: Communists Takeover Towns in NC, VA; Plan to Flip South Blue”; “Boer Girl Sends Plea to Pompeo to Investigate South Africa”; and […]

    The doctor in this case is Dr. James Stangle, a South Dakota veterinarian who wrote an article in a poorly edited livestock trade publication asserting that the Impossible Whoppers would cause men to grow breasts. Or “boobs,” as the good doctor put it.

    Via Tri-State Livestock News:

    Now, let’s compare the estrogen hormone in an impossible whopper to the whopper made from hormone implanted beef. The impossible whopper has 44 mg of estrogen and the whopper has 2.5 ng of estrogen. Now let me refresh your metric system. There are 1 million nanograms (ng) in one milligram (mg). That means an impossible whopper has 18 million times as much estrogen as a regular whopper. Just six glasses of soy milk per day has enough estrogen to grow boobs on a male. That’s the equivalent of eating four impossible whoppers per day. You would have to eat 880 pounds of beef from an implanted steer to equal the amount of estrogen in one birth control pill.

    First of all.

    If you are eating four Impossible Whoppers or four Possible Whoppers a day, more boobage is gonna be the least of your health problems. Odds are if a cisgender man does acquire breasts from eating four Impossible Burgers, it almost definitely will not be because of the soy in the burger.

    Second. No one is drinking six glasses of soy milk, either. There have been a few reported cases of cisgender men with some minor hormonal changes as a result of drinking a positively absurd amount of soy milk (3 quarts a day, in one case), but the “effects” reversed as soon as they stopped doing that.

    Third … it’s just not a thing. It’s not. Look at the entire continent of Asia, where they have been eating soy-based foods since forever. They seem to be doing pretty okay! Lots of other non-soy based foods also contain phytoestrogens — red wine, garlic and olive oil for instance. […]

    The “estrogen” in food products is different from the kind you would get from the birth control pill or from hormone replacement pills. It’s not estrogen, it’s something called “isoflavones.” Most research on the subject of isoflavones and estrogen has been conducted on rats, which, you know, are not human beings — and it has shown that if there are any effects, they are largely positive. For instance, they may prevent prostate cancer and protect against bone loss in aged rats. Also, while wingnut armchair scientists love to claim that diets rich in soy are somehow resulting in cisgender men becoming less “manly,” research has shown that male monkeys who consume diets rich in isoflavones actually experience increased aggression.

    Fourth. No one is being legally required to eat an Impossible Whopper, never mind being forced to eat four of them a day. Like, if you do not want one, you don’t have to eat one. You can still order a regular Whopper, as it is still on the menu […] There is literally no need for this panic, even if it were true.

    Because I am not a scientist and you have no reason to trust me, allow me to present the results of a study showing that increased isoflavone intake does not “feminize” human men. It does not reduce their testosterone, it doesn’t affect their semen, it does not lead to increased risk of erectile dysfunction […]:

    In contrast to the results of some rodent studies, findings from a recently published metaanalysis and subsequently published studies show that neither isoflavone supplements nor isoflavone-rich soy affect total or free testosterone (T) levels. Similarly, there is essentially no evidence from the nine identified clinical studies that isoflavone exposure affects circulating estrogen levels in men. Clinical evidence also indicates that isoflavones have no effect on sperm or semen parameters, although only three intervention studies were identified and none were longer than 3 months in duration. Finally, findings from animal studies suggesting that isoflavones increase the risk of erectile dysfunction are not applicable to men, because of differences in isoflavone metabolism between rodents and humans and the excessively high amount of isoflavones to which the animals were exposed.

    […] Shockingly enough, this is not even the grossest iteration of this particular conspiracy theory/extreme misunderstanding of everything. Back in October, a bunch of neo-Nazis claimed that the Impossible Burger was to weaken all the white Christian males for the purpose of … trying to take over the world?

    This whole thing, really, has far less (nothing, in fact) to do with any understanding of science than it does with right-wing idiots wanting there to be some scientific explanation for people, particularly other men, disagreeing with them. […] Thus, the incessant screaming about “soyboys.” […]


  138. says

    Trump’s stock market rally is very good, but still lags Obama and Clinton
    Washington Post link

    U.S. stocks are closing out a terrific year and […] Trump loves it. He’s bragged about the stock market hitting record highs six times this week alone on Twitter.

    On Friday, be boasted “Trump stock market rally is far outpacing past U.S. presidents,” and he vowed that the “BEST IS YET TO COME!” […] He often likes to claim this is the “best” or an “unprecedented” scenario, even when that is not the case.

    While the stock market has performed well under Trump, it is not an unprecedented performance. Trump’s stock market returns still lag behind Obama and Clinton at this point in their first terms.

    The Dow Jones industrial average has gained about 45 percent since Trump was sworn in nearly three years ago. The Dow was up about 53 percent at this point in Obama’s presidency and a whopping 57 percent in Clinton’s early years in office. How much credit presidents deserve for market gains — or losses — remains a big debate, but Trump points to the stock market frequently as a barometer of how he’s doing as president. […]

    Graphs and additional information available at the link.

  139. tomh says

    Trump retweets a post naming the alleged whistleblower
    By Colby Itkowitz
    Dec. 28, 2019

    President Trump retweeted a post naming the alleged whistleblower who filed the complaint that became the catalyst for the congressional inquiry that resulted in his impeachment by the House of Representatives.

    On Friday night, Trump shared a Twitter post from @surfermom77, who describes herself as “100% Trump supporter,” with his 68 million followers. That tweet prominently named the alleged whistleblower and suggested that he had committed perjury.

    Trump and his allies claim the law does not forbid disclosing the identity of the whistleblower. Federal laws offer only limited protection for those in the intelligence community who report wrongdoing, and those in the intelligence community have even fewer protections than their counterparts in other agencies.
    Attorney Stephen Kohn, an expert in whistleblower protection laws, said this circumstance is unprecedented given the president’s unique duty to protect the confidentiality of intelligence agency whistleblowers.

    In the whistleblower protection act that covers the intelligence community, Congress gave the president enforcement authority to protect the whistleblower because of the sensitivity of what that person could be revealing.

    “The paradox is that it was the president’s duty to protect this person,” Kohn said. “It’s inconceivable that he not only doesn’t do it, but violates it.”

    The Twitter feed for Surfermom77, who identifies herself as “Sophia” on the social media site, is a daily stream of pro-Trump and anti-Democrat memes and propaganda. In 2016, the account shared the false conspiracy theory that President Obama was Muslim.

    In the days after Christmas, Trump retweeted more than a dozen posts from users affiliated with QAnon, the conspiracy theory that there is a “deep state” secretly plotting to take down Trump. The FBI has identified QAnon as a potential domestic terrorism threat.

    Isn’t it reassuring that Trump’s trusted adviser is “surfermom77”.