Nel's New Day

November 26, 2019

Impeachment Worsens for DDT Despite False Defenses

Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) pardoned his turkey and left town for Mar-a-Lago, but the impeachment inquiry goes on. The House Judiciary Committee holds its first hearing about the impeachment inquiry on December 4, and Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) and his lawyer have been invited to attend and question witnesses. They have until December 1 to respond.

Last week, DDT said he seriously considered answering written questions about the inquiry, and he has complained about what he perceived as House leaving him out of the process. His excuse for blocking all current and past aids and officials from subpoenaed testimony and documents is to protect future presidents. Using documents from the White House’s office of Management and Budget, the House Budget Committee prepared a timeline showing that the military aid was withheld while DDT pressured Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky. Details about the committee’s report is here.

Mark Sandy, the only OMB official to testify in the impeachment inquiry, said that two OMB officials resigned over concerns about DDT’s freezing the aid to Ukraine. One who worked in the legal division disagreed with OMB’s decision because of the Impoundment Control Act limiting the executive branch from changing congressional spending decisions. Sandy said he also expressed concerns about OMB following the law so DDT’s political appointee signed the documents holding up the money for Ukraine.

In other testimony, Sandy said that acting chief of staff Mick Mulvaney emailed him on July 12, telling him that DDT ordered a freeze on Ukraine’s military aid. EU Ambassador Gordon Sondland also testified that DDT told him and other administration officials to keep pressure on Ukraine. In addition to holding the money so that it would not be released before the end of the fiscal year, DDT also refused to give Congress a formal rescission notice which would provide the reason for withholding congressionally approved funds.

DDT’s private lawyer Rudy Giuliani has also gotten into more trouble. When he met with Zelensky’s top aid in August during a trip to Madrid with Lev Parnas and Igor Fruman, Giuliani stayed with Venezuelan energy executive Alejandro Betancourt López in a luxurious estate, purchased through money laundering and bribery. A month later, Giuliani helped represent López in a meeting with the head of DOJ’s criminal division and other federal attorneys, arguing that he should not face criminal charges for his $1.2 billion money-laundering case in Florida. According to the complaint, López and other top officials of the state-owned oil company conspired with business leaders and bankers to steal from the Venezuelan company and launder the money through Florida real estate.

Giuliani has other problems. In late 2018, Judith Nathan’s court filings in her divorce from Giuliani stated that he paid Maria Rosa Ryan, his also married mistress, $286,536 over six months. In that time, he also spent $447,938 on activities “for his own enjoyment” and $165,165 on travel.

A judge has ruled that Don McGahn, former White House top lawyer, must testify to Congress about his time with DDT. In a scorching decision, U.S. District Court Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson said that McGahn cannot hide behind DDT’s false claim of “absolute immunity.” House Democrats will move closer to new testimony concerning Robert Mueller’s evidence about obstruction of justice if the appeals don’t block them. Jackson wrote that DDT is not a king and doesn’t have unchecked powers. According the ruling, no one is above the law.

Jackson’s opinion can help the impeachment inquiry investigation because it removes DDT’s claim of absolute immunity. Former national security adviser John Bolton and his deputy Charles Kupperman have suggested that they will obey subpoenas if a court so orders. Acting chief of staff Mick Mulvaney also said he would go to court to see if he had to testify. Other officials may decide to disobey DDT’s orders to ignore subpoenas with this court ruling. Executive privilege may still allow witnesses who refuse to answer questions.

In recent protection for DDT, Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) wants an investigation into Joe Biden and son Hunter. He tweeted:

“If a Republican was in the same position, they’d certainly be investigated!”

Several people, including Sen. Sean Maloney (D-NY), is taking Graham up on his offer. Maloney responded that he was delighted “to talk about how the kids of powerful people benefit from their parents’ officeholding,” including “Donald Trump Jr., Eric, Jared and Ivanka.” Others chimed in with names such as Andrew Giuliani, Sarah Huckabee Sanders, the Bush offspring, and Bill Barr’s daughter and son-in-law.

Anti-impeachment advocates are pleased by a recent CNN poll showing that only half the country thinks that DDT should be not only impeached by the House but also removed from office by the Senate. In 1998, the highest polling to remove Bill Clinton from being president was 29 percent, and the House GOP majority voted to impeach that year. Twenty percent more of the population think that DDT should be removed. The percentage of people wanting Richard Nixon removed didn’t climb to 57 percent until the Supreme Court ordered him to give up his audio tapes. 

Only recently have a few documents about DDT’s actions toward Ukraine begun to dribble out. Republicans, many of them terrified to cross DDT, repeat Russian propaganda even when some Fox news hosts correct them. They continue to stand by their false defenses for DDT’s criminal actions of bribery and extortion. 

1. Trump’s July 25 call with Ukraine’s president was appropriate.—Rep. Brad Wenstrup (R-OH)

2. There was no quid pro quo.—Rep. Michael McCaul (R-TX) although all the testimony to the House disagreed

3. The July 25 call was inappropriate but not impeachable.—Rep. Mac Thornberry (R-TX) who also said that DDT commits these kinds of actions all the time 

4. Trump was expressing his opinion on the July 25 call.—Sen. Kevin Cramer (R-ND)

5. Even if there was a quid pro quo, it wasn’t a “corrupt” quid pro quo.—Sen. John Neeley Kennedy (R-LA) who also echoes Russian propaganda arguing points.

6. Even if there was a quid pro quo, this happens in foreign policy.—Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) who ignored that the “quid pro quo” was for DDT’s personal benefit and not for that of the United States

7. Trump was unaware of the quid pro quo.—Rep. Mark Meadows (R-NC) although the testimony showed he is wrong

8. Trump is incapable of a quid pro quo.—Sen. Lindsey O. Graham (R-SC), a position that he got from the Wall Street Journal editorial board

9. Trump’s public call for Ukraine and China to investigate the Bidens was not serious.—Sen. Roy Blunt (R-MO) although DDT didn’t say he was “joking”

10. Interpreting Trump’s actions amounts to “differences of opinion.”—House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA)

11. The whistleblower complaint was based on hearsay.—Graham, despite all the first-hand testimony

12. The whistleblower complaint was inaccurate.—House Minority Whip Steve Scalise (R-LA), despite testimony from people who heard the July 25 call

13. The whistleblower has a political bias.–Scalise

14. The whistleblower is part of the “deep state.”—Sen. Josh Hawley (R-MO) although the intelligence IG declared it credible.

15. The impeachment inquiry is a secret and unfair process.—Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL) about the process passed by Republicans in 2015

16. Trump has no due-process rights.—Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) although impeachment does not guarantee these rights and DDT hasn’t been charged with anything

17. Ukraine said there was no pressure.—Rep Jim Jordan (R-OH) about a country afraid of not receiving vital aid

18. Ukraine did not agree to any investigations.—Jordan ignoring the facts

19. Ukraine did not know the security aid was held up.—Jordan, disproved by testimony and documents

20. Ukraine ultimately got the security aid.—Scalise refuting the fact that attempted actions are impeachable

21. Impeachment is a coup d’etat.—McCarthy about constitutional procedures

22. Democrats wanted to impeach Trump as soon as he was inaugurated.—Rep. Michael R. Turner (R-OH) lying about the fact that a majority of House Democrats didn’t support impeachment until after the July 25 call

23. Sondland never directly heard Trump mention Ukrainian security aid.—Turner, despite Sondland’s testimony that there was a quid pro quo

24. It’s the media’s fault.—Rep. Devin Nunes (R-CA), ignoring DDT’s actions

25. It’s Obama’s fault.—Sen. Ron Johnson (R-WI) although President Obama gave Ukraine hundreds of millions of dollars in military support 

26. DDT told Giuliani to run a shadow policy team because he’s “ a great crime fighter” and a “friend.”—DDT  

DDT said he fired Marie Yovanovitch as ambassador to Ukraine because she “wouldn’t hang my picture in the [U.S.] embassy [in Ukraine].” Her legal team explained, “The Embassy in Kyiv hung the official photographs of the president, vice president, and secretary of state as soon as they arrived from Washington, D.C.” A report in 2017 stated that pictures of DDT and Pence weren’t being displayed because the Government Publishing Office did get images from the White House. The White House said that DDT and Pence hadn’t decided when to sit for the portraits.

The two major “fake” defenses: the impeachment isn’t fair, and DDT isn’t impeachable.

November 5, 2019

Impeachment Evidence Piles Up

Congressional testimony is creating a disastrous picture of extortion by Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) as four transcripts have been released and Gordon Sondland, ambassador to the European Union, reversed earlier testimony to admit the existence of a quid pro quo. He now admits that he told one of Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky’s advisers that “resumption of U.S. aid would likely not occur until Ukraine provided the public anti-corruption statement that we had been discussing for many weeks.” Earlier, Sondland had said that the only quid pro quo was Zelensky’s invitation to the White House. Bill Taylor, the acting U.S. ambassador to Ukraine, had testified that Sondland warned Zelensky aide Andrey Yermak that the security assistance “would not come” unless Zelensky openly promised an investigation into Burisma, an energy company where Hunter Biden had held a board position.

Today, Congress released transcripts from Sondland and Kurt Volker, former U.S. special envoy for Ukraine. Parts of these transcripts:

Sondland: He suggested that the quid pro quo “doesn’t sound good” and is probably illegal. His original statement claimed that he didn’t know in May that the Giuliani’s attempt for Ukraine to investigate Joe and Hunter Biden although the media widely announced this at that time.

Volker: Undercutting Sondland’s testimony, Volker said Giuliani pushed “debunked” conspiracy theories, that Giuliani’s intent was for quid pro quo, including an investigation into the Bidens, was obvious. Giuliani gave DDT the idea that Ukraine was out to get him, according to Volker’s conversation with DDT who told Volker to talk to Giuliani. And Giuliani has announced that he works for DDT who is directing the Ukraine operation. Volker also testified that he sent a Ukrainian official DDT’s script for Zelensky to read, a statement that included an investigation into the energy company that employed Hunter Biden and a conspiracy theory about Ukraine’s interfering in the 2016 U.S. election on behalf of Hillary Clinton. Volker said:

“I agreed with the Ukrainians they shouldn’t [issue a statement mentioning the Bidens and 2016], and in fact told them just drop it, wait till you have your own prosecutor general in place.”

Before the release of the transcript, Republicans claimed that his testimony was good for DDT. The transcripts don’t show anything positive for the GOP and DDT’s argument. Transcripts from both men indicate that they believe DDT wants the investigations into the Bidens for only his personal benefit.

The first two transcripts from the impeachment inquiry emerged yesterday, testimonies of former Ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch and former Michael McKinley, former senior adviser to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo. 

Yovanovitch: DDT forced her out of her job in May and called her “bad news” during his July 25 phone call with Ukraine president Volodymyr Zelensky. She also she felt threatened by DDT’s comments that “[Yovanovitch is] going to go through some things” and was warned about “nervousness” in the White House endangered her “security.” She also reported concerns expressed by Ukrainian Interior Minister Arsen Avakov about the danger of Ukraine being forced into U.S. domestic politics. (Ukrainian defense official Oleksandr Danyliuk expressed concern to Yovanovitch’s replacement, William B. Taylor, about Zelensky being used as a “pawn” for Trump’s reelection campaign, according to Taylor’s testimony.) Yovanovitch said Ambassador to the European Union Gordon Sondland urged her to tweet her support for DDT to help save her job. https://thehill.com/homenews/house/468910-five-takeaways-from-the-first-trump-impeachment-deposition-transcripts   She expressed concern and confusion about DDT’s private secretary Rudy Giuliani pressuring Ukraine to investigate Joe Biden and his son Hunter and the unfounded involvement of Ukraine in the U.S. 2016 election interference.  

Yovanovitch also testified that two people from Florida, Lev Parnas and Ignore Fruman, wanted her removed as ambassador for their personal business reasons. Giuliani was Parnas’ lawyer, and both men were indicted last month. Acting assistant secretary of state Philip Reeker told Yovanovitch after she returned in May that Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said he “was no longer able to protect her from President Trump.” When she asked Pompeo for a statement of support, he denied her request because because it could be “undermined” by DDT “with a tweet or something.”

McKinley: He defended Yovanovitch’s tenure and spoke out against DDT’s efforts to “procure negative political information for domestic purposes” and “what appears to be the utilization of our ambassadors overseas to advance political objectives.” He said that he also resigned because of Pompeo’s refusal not to publicly support Yovanovitch after the July 25 call. Four senior officials wanted to issue a statement of support, but Pompeo blocked it even after he had three conversations with Pompeo. [Pompeo said (lied?) to ABC that McKinley never asked for this statement of support.] McKinley also agreed with George Kent that officials asked to testify in the impeachment inquiry were bullied by the State Department to not give testimony. Although McKinley did not oversee Ukrainian issues and didn’t hear the July 25 call, he agreed that DDT’s political allies politicized the State Department as over testimony alleged. He cited Gordon Sondland and Kurt Volker. In 47 years working for the State Department, McKinley said he had never seen the agency involved in getting damaging information about the president’s political opponents. 

Pompeo has a serious issue with his undying loyalty to DDT over his employees and his responsibilities. As CIA director, Pompeo knew the evidence about Russian hackers interfering in the 2016 election on behalf of DDT and testified in support of that conclusion in 2017. Now Pompeo supports DDT’s investigation into the conspiracy theory that Ukraine, not Russia, attacked the DNC to help Clinton, not DDT. He was the one who helped DDT and Giuliani to oust Yovanovitch with false accusations. State Department officials have been talking to congressional offices for months about the hold on Ukraine military aid, an attempt to cut $4 billion of foreign aid, and DDT’s arms sales to Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates. Testimony against him described his “culture of harassment and impunity.” Like DDT, Pompeo prioritizes his personal ambitions over the United States’ national interests.  

Breaking with DDT and Giuliani, Lev Parnas now plans to talk to congressional investigators looking into impeachment, perhaps because DDT said he didn’t know him although their photos together go back at least five years. Yet DDT “signed off” on the lawyer for Parnas and his associate Igor Fruman, the same lawyer who had defended Paul Manafort. Parnas has fired that lawyer in exchange for new ones who said that Parnas will comply with a congressional subpoena. Parnas knows Giuliani’s actions in Ukraine to support DDT and the ways that illegal foreign donations are laundered to DDT and the GOP.

Jennifer Williams, a senior adviser to VP Mike Pence, will probably testify in Congress this week. She was one of the people listening to DDT’s July 25 call with Zelensky when DDT asked for a “favor” in return to releasing the military aid and requested that Zelensky work with AG Bill Barr and Giuliani on investigations into the Bidens.

DDT is openly asking Republicans to doctor the transcripts of the testimonies. He tweeted that they “should give their own transcripts of the interviews to contrast with Schiff’s manipulated propaganda. House Republicans must have nothing to do with Shifty’s rendition of those interviews.”

An under-reported and truly bizarre piece of the impeachment inquiry comes from DDT’s and conservatives’ conspiracy theory about emails centering on CrowdStrike. The House GOP campaign organization uses this California cybersecurity company to protect its sensitive data and has no plans to change. Yet DDT and some House Republicans accuse CrowdStrike—with no evidence—of conspiring with Democrats in the 2016 election in a Ukrainian-backed intelligence operation to hurt DDT’s winning the White House. DDT still maintains that the hacked DNC server is hidden in Ukraine. Continuing to hire CrowdStrike shows that the GOP knows that the conspiracy theory is wrong, yet Republicans continue to blame CrowdStrike for election interference.  

Continuing the conspiracy theory about Ukraine’s involvement in the 2016 election, Giuliani met last week with a theory perpetrator, former Ukrainian diplomat Andriy Telizhenko. In spite of congressional investigations, it appears that soliciting Ukraine to investigate Biden and other Democrats hasn’t stopped, and some Ukrainian lawmakers are still looking into their conspiracy theory about a government campaign to smear Paul Manafort as part of taking down DDT in 2016. In his shadow foreign policy operation to damage DDT’s rivals, Giuliani had met with Telizhenko other times. Telizhenko had worked for Ukrainian businessman Pavel Fuks, a potential partner in DDT’s unsuccessful attempt to build a hotel in Moscow.

Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) may represent the GOP approach toward an impeachment trial in the Senate: he won’t be reading the transcripts and called the probe “a bunch of BS.”  

White House Press Secretary Stephanie Grisham wrote in a statement, “Both transcripts released today show there is even less evidence for this illegitimate impeachment sham than previously thought.” It’s a delusion. The transcripts show a quid pro quo, Ukrainian knowledge about it, and DDT directing the extortion scheme.  

October 24, 2019

Barr’s Criminal Inquiry: No Crime, Just Distraction

Six days ago, the State Department determined no systemic or deliberate mishandling of classified information by department employers in emails sent to former secretary of state Hillary Clinton’s private computer server. The report, going back nine years and interviewing 130 people, was quietly made public on a Friday evening and reported in the back pages of major newspapers after several years of investigation by numerous agencies and Congress. Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) frequently called on his rallies to chant “lock her up” after Michael Flynn initiated the words at the 2016 RNC when DDT became the GOP presidential candidate. In a review of 33,000 emails, the report found 38 current or former employees “culpable” of violating security procedures, but no material had been marked classified until after they had been sent. The vast majority of people “did their best to implement [security policies].”

Despite common security lapses by DDT’s own administration, he continues to attack Democrats with Clinton’s emails and maintains that a server in Ukraine is hiding her emails. The impeachment inquiry into DDT shows that his officials and personal lawyer pressuring Ukraine to pursue investigations that politically benefit DDT used private phones and cell apps to communicate their efforts.

The completion of the report seemed to be a hiatus of meaningless investigations into Democrats—until tonight. In what appears to be an attempt to distract the media from evidence against DDT revealed within the impeachment inquiry, Bill Barr (left), attorney general and DDT’s fixer, opened a criminal inquiry into the DOJ Russia investigation. John Durham, Barr’s prosecutorial puppet supposedly leading the inquiry, may now subpoena for witness testimony and documents, impanel a grand jury, and file criminal charges. 

A criminal inquiry requires only a “reasonable indication” that a crime has been committed, a much lower standard than the probable cause required to obtain search warrants. The decision is not reviewed by a court. The DOJ does require “an objective, factual basis for initiating the investigation; a mere hunch is insufficient.” Without the criminal description, Durham could only voluntarily interview people and examine government files. Some witnesses have refused voluntary interviews.

Barr has typically used his position as a place to protect DDT and fight his enemies since his appointment at the beginning of 2019, but the criminal inquiry is a new low. The situation is unusual as the DOJ conducts a criminal inquiry into the DOJ, using Durham because of the prosecutors’ respected reputation. The DOJ Inspector General typically conducts management reviews, but he cannot empower a grand jury, which may be Barr’s aim. 

In May, Barr claimed that conversations with intelligence and law enforcement led him to think that the FBI acted improperly, if not unlawfully. DDT gave Barr extraordinary powers to declassify intelligence secrets for his initial review, meaning that he can make public documents or information from the CIA and the FBI over their objections.

The FBI investigation into Russian interference began in July 2016 after the Australian government gave information to the FBI that a DDT campaign adviser had been approached with an offer of stolen emails that could damage Clinton’s campaign. At first, the agency didn’t use CIA information but moved forward in August 2016 when John O. Brennan, CIA director at that time, shared intelligence with then FBI director Comey. The CIA provided more evidence to the FBI in early 2017 that Russia tried to get DDT elected. During his investigation, Robert Mueller obtained convictions or guilty pleas from several DDT associates and indictments of over two dozen Russians because of their wide-ranging interference scheme.

According to DOJ guidelines, the FBI “has the authority and responsibility to investigate all criminal violations of federal law not exclusively assigned to another federal agency. Under “Investigations”:

“(1) A general crimes investigation may be initiated by the FBI when facts or circumstances reasonably indicate that a federal crime has been, is being, or will be committed. The investigation may be conducted to prevent, solve, and prosecute such criminal activity.”

Barr’s micro-managing of Durham’s inquiry including trips to Italy to get help from its officials to support a conspiracy theory, that the Italian government helped set up the DDT campaign adviser who was told in 2016 that the Russians had damaging information that could hurt Clinton’s campaign. Italy’s Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte of Italy said that his country’s intelligence services had no such role in the Russia investigation. Barr’s trip, circumventing protocols, followed DDT’s bidding in what should have been an independent inquiry, and Barr made a second trip to Italy with Durham. DDT also called Australian prime minister Scott Morrison, pressuring him to help Barr gather information that discredits the Robert Mueller investigation. 

Earlier, Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) caused diplomatic difficulties by sending letters to leaders of Britain, Italy and Australia, urging them to help “investigate the origins and extent of foreign influence in the 2016 election.” With no evidence, Graham declared that an Australian former diplomat was involved in the supposed plot to take down DDT. Australia’s ambassador to the United States, Joe Hockey, rejected Graham’s description of the role of the diplomat, Alexander Downer. DDT worsened the situation by accusing other countries of a wide foreign plot against him.

Durham’s investigation thus far includes interviews with over two dozen former and current FBI and intelligence officials about possible anti-DDT bias among officials working on the Russia investigation and a possible abuse of power in seeking the court order for a wiretap on DDT’s campaign official of interest. Another question is whether CIA officials tricked FBI into opening the Russia investigation. In rejection of the conspiracy theory that the Russian investigation was to block DDT’s election, a former official pointed out that the FBI openly investigated Clinton’s private email server but hid the counterintelligence investigation into DDT’s campaign.

Acting chief of staff Mick Mulvaney tied Durham/Barr’s inquiry to Ukraine last week, and Durham admitted that he has interviewed private Ukrainian citizens. The DOJ did not give a reason. Most of the people involved in the opening of the Russia investigation have not been interviewed, possibly because Barr is waiting for a criminal inquiry. As this criminal inquiry opens, the DOJ inspector general is finishing his inquiry into the FBI’s conduct during the early time of the Russia investigation including the application for a warrant to wiretap the campaign official.

Thus far, Barr has not clarified what crime Durham is investigating or when the criminal inquiry began. DDT has accused the FBI officials who opened the case of treason, defined as “only in levying War against [the U.S.], or in adhering to their Enemies, giving them Aid and Comfort.”

The New York City Bar Association has asked Attorney General William Barr to immediately recuse himself from any matters pertaining to DDT’s Ukraine scandal because of Barr’s conflict of interest as head of the DOJ. The tipping point of the concern came from Barr’s refusal to recuse himself in the DOJ’s review, also improper, of the whistleblower complaint regarding DDT’s “July 25, 2019 telephone call to request the Republic of Ukraine to investigate Mr. Trump’s allegations of Ukrainian interference in the 2016 U.S. elections and former Vice President Biden and his son.”

Barr got his job as AG by writing an unsolicited memo stating that Mueller’s investigation was “fatally misconceived” and criticized the lack of partisan “balance” on his team. The memo also praised DDT’s firing of Comey and, during his confirmation hearings, refused to recuse himself from the Russia investigation despite these opinions. Getting the AG job, Barr followed through with his commitment to protect DDT from Mueller’s investigation with an erroneous—one could say biased—synopsis of Mueller’s report followed by dragging his heels until he released a heavily redacted version of the report because of criticism from the usually taciturn Mueller.

The report showed DDT’s wrongdoing, but by then Barr’s “no collusion” repetition had taken root with people who ignored the actual report. Not until DDT’s flagrant quid pro quo with Ukraine extorting the president for the congressionally-approved military aid. In May, Barr testified “I don’t know” to Sen. Kamala Harris’ (D-CA) question about whether anyone at the White House had “hinted” that he should open an investigation, the one that is now a criminal inquiry.

In other support for DDT, Barr argued for the addition of a citizenship question to the 2020 census to undercount immigrants and deny communities of federal resources for the next ten years. Barr also has the same obsession to discriminate against individuals and groups with the unconstitutional excuse of “religious liberty.” His focus is to illegally expand DDT’s power through politicizing his own office, to shield DDT’s friends, and to prosecute his enemies. Instead of an independent agency of justice, the DOJ has become a reign of terror guided by the authoritarian leader of the United States.  

September 25, 2019

DDT Joins Netanyahu, Johnson under Fire

Dictator Donald Trump calls himself a dealmaker, but his offers look like a “mob shakedown,” to use the words of Sen. Chuck Schumer (R-NY). In his hatred for President Obama, he tore up U.S. deals with foreign governments on climate, denuclearization, trade, etc. DDT’s lackluster speech before the UN repeated in almost monotone his position of “America First,” rejecting any cooperation with slowing down the climate crisis or negotiating with any democratic countries throughout the world. Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez lamented that the U.S. had put into question the positive “international agreement reached with the Iranian regime … for the peace and security of the world” and that DDT had declared his former EU allies as national security threats to put tariffs on their exports. DDT has succeeded in standing alone: Sánchez echoed German and French leaders to move away from the U.S. superpower, intensified by “the new position of this U.S. administration.”  

While DDT pushes his isolationist position, he wants the world to join him against Iran to stop countries from circumventing his harsh sanctions. By endorsing “patriotism over globalism,” he rejects any international law supporting the ideals of democracy and human rights, claiming that nationalism and sovereign rights are the best practice. While DDT presented himself as the leader of “religious freedom,” he rejects any religion except fundamentalist Christianity. He described only Iran and China as his enemies, but human rights are much worse in his personal allies of Saudi Arabia, Russia, North Korea, and Egypt. Even the State Department admits that Saudia Arabia has no freedom of religion, but DDT wants the Saudi money. Because the focus of the UN summit was Climate Action, he spent only 14 minutes sullenly viewing the proceedings (above)

Today, however, was largely focused on DDT’s telephone call with Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky and the whistleblower complaint about the possibility that DDT violated a number of laws. DDT told Zelensky that the U.S. had been “very, very good” to Ukraine before he asked Zelensky to work with AG Bill Barr and lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, to “look into” Joe Biden, DDT’s political opponent. Following Zelensky’s comment about buying Javelins from the U.S., DDT asked Zelensky “to do us a favor though.” After Zelensky expressed willingness to make an investigation, DDT offered to invite him to the White House, something that he had refused to do since Zelensky’s election in May.  

DDT’s also asked Zelensky to look into the cybersecurity company CrowdStrike that investigated Russia’s cyberattacks on the DNC with DDT’s assumption that someone in the Ukraine has a non-existent “missing” server from the DNC that can exonerate Russia’s involvement. DDT also claimed that Hillary Clinton’s emails might be located in Ukraine.

Pretending that the call is about stopping corruption in Ukraine before DDT releases funding appropriated by Congress for Ukraine to fight Russian aggression, DDT ignored a letter sent to four congressional committees in May of this year. Undersecretary of Defense for Policy John Rood “certified that the Government of Ukraine has taken substantial actions to make defense institutional reforms for the purposes of decreasing corruption [and] increasing accountability.” Instead, DDT’s reference to “corruption” is only domestic, focused at a campaign opponent.

Today’s events after DDT released his version of the Zelensky telephone call:

  • Following yesterday’s unanimous Senate vote for DDT to release the whistleblower complaint, 421 House members voted in favor of the resolution. Two Republicans—Louis  Gohmert (TX) and Thomas Massie (KY)—voted present.
  • DDT released the complaint to both House and Senate Intelligence Committees. It includes not only concerns about DDT’s covert extortion on the telephone call but also the way that the White House mishandled records of the communications. According to the whistleblower, other witnesses exist.
  • Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) failed to pass a resolution denouncing an impeachment inquiry by a vote of 231 Democrats and one Independent opposed against the 193 GOP members in favor.
  • Jerrold Nadler (D-NY), chair of the House Judiciary Committee, called on Barr to recuse himself from DOJ involvement in the Ukraine scandal because DDT “dragged the Attorney General into this mess.”
  • The White House accidentally emailed talking points to defend DDT to Democratic members of Congress and their staff their talking points to defend DDT. Once the mistake was discovered, the White House asked Democrats to return the email.
  • DDT concluded his day with another rambling, largely monotone speech that repeated his “witch hunt” claim from the Mueller investigation.
  • At the end of DDT’s press conference with Zelensky, he said that Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), elected by the membership until January 2021, is no longer the Speaker of the House and claimed that she isn’t “interested in guns and gun protection and gun safety.” The House has passed three major gun safety bills that GOP Majority Senate Leader Mitch McConnell (KY) refuses to allow on the Senate floor.
  • Zelensky didn’t know that his side of the conversation would be made public.
  • DDT called Zelensky last April to work with Giuliani on investigations.
  • The whistleblower complaint has been declassified and available for the public, probably tomorrow.
  • Tomorrow, Congressional members will see the complete report from the Inspector General with corroborating information.

Sources reported that Acting Director of National Intelligence Joseph Maguire, in the job for fewer than six weeks, threatened to quit if DDT forces him to stonewall Congress during tomorrow’s testimony regarding a whistleblower complaint about DDT. Maguire got the job after DDT refused to allow DNI’s deputy director, Sue Gordon, into the senior position. As a Michigan congressman, Maguire leaked sensitive information like a sieve. [Note: both Maguire and DDT denied that Maguire offered to resign.] Maguire is scheduled to appear before both House and Senate Intelligence Committees tomorrow.

With beauty in the eye of the beholder, Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) followed DDT’s talking points and scoffed at the accusation that the released transcript of DDT’s conversation with Zelensky was extortion and called it a “nothing burger.” On the other hand, Sen. Mitt Romney (R-UT) called the memo “very troubling.” Instead of being a verbatim transcript of the 30-minute telephone call from a recording, the selective five-page summary that DDT released supposedly comes from notes and memories of officials in the Situation Room, and a cautionary note explains that a number of factors “can affect the accuracy of the record.” Readers can look at the summary and make their own decisions about the content.

David Nakamura wrote that DDT went from “America First” to a “me first”:

“At a gathering of world leaders in New York this week, President Trump decamped to one of his own properties, complained that the Nobel Peace Prize is rigged against him, feuded with a 16-year-old Swedish climate activist—and, on Wednesday, defended himself against the disclosure that he had asked a foreign leader to investigate a political rival…

“Trump repeatedly trashed Biden, suggesting it was the former vice president who had inappropriately pressured Ukrainian officials to help his son’s business dealings—despite evidence to the contrary.

“Meeting with Zelensky on Wednesday, Trump also faulted former president Barack Obama for allowing Russian-backed forces to invade and occupy the Crimea region of Ukraine. A day earlier, in his 37-minute address to world leaders in the United Nations’ distinctive green-marbled chambers, Trump made no mention of Russia’s malign behavior, including Moscow’s interference in the 2016 presidential election.

“’What we’re seeing in the [Ukraine] transcript is that he is clearly putting his own interests over the interests of the United States,’ said John Bellinger III, who served as a lawyer on the National Security Council under President George W. Bush. ‘There are so many things he could have talked about, such as Russian interference in Ukraine, but all Trump wants to talk about is investigating a political rival.’

“As [Zelensky] pressed him to visit the country, Trump reflected on his time as the owner of the Miss Universe pageant. ‘We had a winner from Ukraine,’ Trump said, ‘and we got to know the country very well in a lot of different ways.’”

The House needs to investigate DDT’s behavior because Barr refuses to do so from the DOJ.

In other parts of the world:

Israeli President Reuven Rivlin gave Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu 28 days to form a governing coalition of 61 parliament members. Netanyahu has only 55 at this time, and the question is whether he can pick up six from the other 65 who may be dug in against him. Without a position as prime minister, Netanyahu can be prosecuted for bribery, fraud, and corruption.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson was in New York City when the UK Supreme Court unanimously ruled that his suspension of Parliament until October 14 was illegal because his action frustrated its ability to “carry out its constitutional functions.” Parliament is back and furious because Johnson won’t follow the law to find a deal before the UK leaves the European Union. Johnson’s opposition immediately called on him to quit, but he promised that the UK will not be a part of the EU after Halloween. The court’s ruling shows that the executive does not have unfettered power. Last week, the EU rejected three proposals for alternative arrangements to Brexit, and it will consider a fourth this week.

Three world leaders: Israel’s Netanyahu is terrified, UK’s Johnson is bullying, and U.S.’s DDT is deflated.

January 24, 2019

Shutdown Bills Fail; House Investigates Kushner

Day 34 of government shutdown: Both of today’s Senate bills designed to reopen the government failed when neither one met the 60 votes necessary. In a 51-47 vote, Sens. Mike Lee (R-UT) and Tom Cotton (R-AL) voted against their party in opposing the measure proposed by Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) to get his $5.7 billion for 200 miles of wall, and Sen. Joe Manchin (D-VA) supported DDT’s bill with the wall. The second bill from Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY) to open the government with a continuing resolution until February 8 had one more supporting vote, 52-44, with GOP Sens. Susan Collins (ME), Murkowski (AK), Cory Gardner (CO), Lamar Alexander (TN), Johnny Isakson (GA) and Mitt Romney (UT) joining Democrats.

Billionaire Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross said that he doesn’t understand why federal employees without paychecks don’t get loans instead of using food banks. He claimed that financial institutions just give them loans against “the 30 days of pay that people will be out.” Ross added that even if these 800,000 people never got their pay, they’re “about a third of a percent on our GDP. So it’s not like it’s a gigantic number overall.”

DDT, another billionaire, had a peculiar reaction to Ross. He thought that Ross was accurate in his assertion that federal employees, either furloughed or working without pay, don’t need to get emergency help from homeless shelters and food pantries because—drum roll!—grocery stores will give these paycheck-less people food without paying for it. He said:

“Local people know who they are. Where they go for groceries and everything else. If you have mortgages, mortgagees, the folks collecting the interest and all of those things, they work along. That’s what happens in times like these. They know the people. They’ve been dealing with them for years, and they work along.”

Two months ago, DDT was telling people that they needed IDs to buy a box of cereal.

Republicans are getting so desperate that they are yelling at VP Mike Pence. In a private meeting two days ago, several senators harangued Pence, who said that the White House was working on a strategy to reopen the government and that they should not vote for the Democrat-offered bill that got six GOP votes today.  Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX) said they gave Pence an “earful” because “we’re all hearing from our constituents who are working for no pay.” Other members criticizing Pence included GOP Sens. Mitch McConnell (KY), Lisa Murkowski (AK), John Boozman (AR), Johnny Isakson (GA), and Jerry Moran (KS). Two of them voted for the Democratic-supported bill.

Fly at your own risk during the shutdown is the message from representatives of air traffic controllers, pilots, and flight attendants. Making things worse, they report that the FAA “has frozen hiring and shuttered its training academy, so there is no plan in effect to fill the FAA’s critical staffing need.” Certification requires two to four years, and the U.S. has the fewest number of air traffic controllers in 30 years.

According to CEOs, DDT is hurting business with the shutdown and low immigration with lack of investment in research and development, education, and entrepreneurship. The National Science Foundation has not issued any grants for over a month, and government researchers in agencies such as NOAA, the EPA, and the U.S. Geological Survey don’t get paychecks. Hundreds of postdoctoral fellows don’t get their stipends. Loss of immigration is destroying U.S. innovation.

In a “what if” piece, Rachel Maddow suggests a “Worst Case Scenario” in which Russia’s Vladimir Putin is behind the government shutdown. At one time, this idea would be too far-fetched, but Robert Mueller’s investigation has found hundreds of links with DDT’s campaign; ties with Russia and national security adviser John Bolton, Maria Butina, the NRA; threats against Michael Cohen’s family to keep him from testifying; and Oleg Deripaska’s Belarusian escort, who claimed to have information about DDT, was returned to Russia and may be in early states of poisoning. Putin wanted interference in the presidential election to cause chaos within the United States.

Now federal agency employees who were called back to work without pay—TSA agents, meat inspectors, prison guards, IRS workers, etc.—are starting to walk off their jobs, adding to the impact of jobs not being done by furloughed employees. Imagine if people can no longer trust safety in flying, food, and water and from crime while not receiving their tax refunds in addition to millions losing income from the missing paychecks for 800,000 federal employees. DDT is behind the shutdown and shows little urgency in reopening the government. He is also the focus of the biggest criminal and counter-intelligence investigation of any sitting U.S. president.

DailyKos has ideas for what a U.S. leader following Putin’s strategy could do to weaken the United States:

  • Relax sanctions on Putin and his oligarchs to give them more money.
  • Antagonize U.S. allies.
  • Polarize the U.S. with ugly divisive rhetoric.
  • Attack U.S. institutions, especially the judiciary, and replace the leadership with his cronies.
  • Pull the U.S. out of multinational trade and security alliances.
  • Excessively praise Putin.
  • Implement irrational economic trade sanctions to weaken U.S. economy.
  • Use excessive measures to conceal communications with Putin.
  • Consistently repeat Putin’s propaganda talking points.
  • Shut down the U.S. government for a ridiculous rationale and continue to cripple the U.S. with huge political, security, social, and financial damage.

Two years ago, this scenario would have seemed impossible. Now some might like to think it’s improbable, but every DDT action makes the proposition appear more likely.

Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC), new chair of the Judiciary Committee, has an answer for the crisis facing many people in the U.S. during the shutdown: investigate Hillary Clinton’s email server, specifically the FBI’s handling of the situation and the FISA warrant application targeting DDT’s campaign adviser Carter Page. The FBI investigated Page after the possibility that he conspired with Russia’s involvement in the 2016 election. Graham believes that the FBI was “in the tank” for her campaign and accused them of a double standard in the agency’s handling of the two presidential campaigns. In actuality, he’s right: the FBI helped swing the election to DDT by publicizing non-existent problems with Clinton and hiding real investigations into DDT.

Sen. Dick Durbin (D-IL) laughed at Graham’s plans and compared them to the ”thrilling days of yesteryear.” Durham said:

“This is going to be like the History Channel, it turns out. Instead of taking a look at the current issues, Lindsey Graham wants to go back and answer important questions about the Bermuda Triangle and Hillary Clinton.”

Durbin added that Graham may want to investigate Jimmy Carter next. Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI), a judiciary committee member, joked that Graham might want to “investigate Benghazi some more.”

The House Oversight Committee plans an investigation into “grave breaches of national security at the highest levels of the Trump Administration” with the focus on White House handling of classified information, including DDT’s son-in-law Jared Kushner. Over 130 political appointees in DDT’s office lack permanent security clearances as of 2017, include Kushner and DDT’s daughter Ivanka.

The House committee has even more grist for its mill since the revelation that Kushner’s application for a top secret clearance was rejected by two career White House security specialists because of FBI concerns about possible foreign influence on him. Overruling this decision from an investigation, the specialists’ supervisor, Carl Kline, approved the clearance. In unprecedented behavior, Kline, a DDT appointee, repeated this overruling 30 times despite unfavorable information on each of the applicants. Sources indicated that “the Trump White House attracted many people with untraditional backgrounds who had complicated financial and personal histories, some of which raised red flags.”

Kushner, who had to redo and correct his application clearance 40 times, received questions about foreign contacts, travel, and meetings as well as his family’s business. After Kline gave Kushner secret and top secret clearances, Kushner went to the CIA seeking a higher that allows him to access “sensitive compartmented information” that includes transcripts of intercepted foreign communications and CIA source reporting. Kline even stopped credit checks on security clearance applicants.

The CIA reviewed Kushner’s materials and questioned even the “top secret” clearance giving Kushner access to material that would cause “exceptionally grave damage” to national security if disclosed to adversaries. Officials are questioning whether the White House overruled the CIA refusal for the SCI clearance. A year ago, WaPo reported that officials in at least four countries—United Arab Emirates, China, Israel, and Mexico—talked about how they could manipulate Kushner though his lack of policy experience, financial difficulties, and business arrangements.

The House needs to work fast!

October 30, 2018

Voters: ‘Don’t Take the Bait’

Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) came up with a new diversion today. He doesn’t want people to notice that the Republicans plan to get rid of pre-existing conditions on health plans and eviscerate Social Security and Medicare. He doesn’t want people to notice that the national debt is ballooning and the deficit is rapidly increasing because he is giving money to the wealthy and big business that he had promised to use for help to the other 80 percent. And he certainly doesn’t want people to know—right before the midterm elections—that they will suffer from his new policies. His strategy is to tell them that he is taking care of the non-existent immigration problem.

Today he told today that he plans to sign an executive order to overturn an amendment to the U.S. Constitution to strip people in the United States of their citizenship. The Fourteenth Amendment that specifically stated that almost everyone born in the U.S. automatically becomes a citizen was to erase the Supreme Court’s ruling in Dred Scott v. Sandford that blacks are “regarded as beings of an inferior order, and altogether unfit to associate with the white race either in social or political relations, and so far inferior that they had no rights which the white man was bound to respect.” The 14th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution reads:

“All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the state wherein they reside.”

People are “subject to the jurisdiction” of the U.S. if they are bound by its laws. Removing citizenship to children of undocumented immigrants would make these children immune to U.S. law altogether: the federal government could not arrest, detain, or deport them.

A decision in United States v. Wong Kim Ark (1898) gave a “limited exemption” that excluded children of members of Indian tribes, children born of alien enemies in hostile invasion and occupation, and children of diplomatic representatives of a foreign state—the latter two already exempted from citizenship by earlier law. Wong Kim Ark, a laborer, was born in the United States to “persons of Chinese descent, and subjects of the emperor of China.” The Supreme Court ruled that he was a citizen.

DDT’s appointee to the federal bench, Judge James Ho, may be the most conservative person to reach that position via DDT. His first judicial opinion ruled all campaign contribution limits unconstitutional, railed against the Affordable Care Act on an originalist basis, and laments—in his terms—the “moral tragedy of abortion.” Even this judge firmly from the lunatic fringe agrees with the 14th Amendment and not DDT. Or at least he did in 2011.

Even a racist Supreme Court rejected the idea over a century ago; the question is what the current GOP Supreme Court will do. Is allowing a president to arbitrarily overturn the constitution a bridge too far for Chief Justice John Roberts?

Republicans fought President Obama in any change of federal immigration law. That, however, may not block DDT’s power over immigration policy. They will probably agree with DDT that his position on citizenship is good campaign fodder.

Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) is back to cozying up with his buddy DDT with his announcement that he will introduce a bill to replicate DDT’s executive order for ending birthright citizenship. Success for Graham requires two-thirds majorities in both congressional houses and ratification by three-fourths of the states. DDT has announced—wrongly, as usual—that an act of Congress can overturn the constitution and maybe even an executive order can accomplish that goal. Despite DDT’s lies, most countries in the Western Hemisphere, including Mexico and Canada, have forms of birthright citizenship.

VP Pence followed his claim that “we all cherish” the 14th Amendment by saying:

“The Supreme Court of the United States has never ruled on whether or not the language of the 14th Amendment subject to the jurisdiction thereof applies specifically to people who are in the country illegally.”

Axios, which tries to give the appearance of a mainstream internet media source, is in DDT’s pocket. That’s the reason that DDT gave Axios’ Jonathan Swan his press release about his new non-existent plan to change the constitution with an executive order. Like Chuck Todd on Meet the Press, Swan passively nods to every crazy GOP idea designed to hurt people. DDT delivers his wacko message, and Swan says, “Exactly.” Swan did tell DDT that his plan is “very much in dispute.” No, it is completely unconstitutional. But Swan tweets:

“Excited to share with you the first snippet from our interview with President Trump yesterday, ahead of the launch of Axios’ HBO show this Sunday evening.”

For Swan, it’s all about the ratings through enabling DDT, not the horrifying possibilities of DDT’s plan.

Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) urged voters not to “take the bait.” She added:

“He’ll say anything before the election. Don’t take the bait. Focus on ending the hate. Hug a kid. Be nice to someone you don’t know or agree with. And vote. Please vote.”

Klobuchar is right about not being distracted and being sure to vote. DDT uses his craziness to club people over the head with his immigration distractions. At the same time, he encourages white supremacy throughout the United States and puts everyone of color into great danger. He promotes his racist hatred to incite violence and killing, to reinstate the white genocide of the 19th century in the United States and promoting the election of only Republicans who will protect no one except wealthy white people.

The FBI concluded a year ago that white nationalists are as threatening to the U.S. as ISIS and that the threat of white nationalists will only grow. White supremacists have carried out three times as many attacks in the United States as people associated with ISIS, but the government holds no congressional hearings on white nationalist attacks. For the first 20 months after his inauguration, DDT protected and supported white nationalists; this past month he moved forward to declare that he is one of them by calling himself a “nationalist.” DDT has affiliated himself with white supremacists to help them drive everyone of color out of the United States. He follows his belief that he can do anything he wants without losing any support.

DDT claims that his self-identification of “nationalist” isn’t racist, yet his speech excoriating people of color overcomes this false claim. He also claims that he has nothing to do with any of the increasing violence in the nation; people are just doing it on their own without attention to his words, according to DDT. If his words mean nothing, why does he keep talking? Why does he keep attacking women and people of color? Because he loves the control and knows that some of the people will follow his “dog-whistles” to commit violence in his name.

If you want to protect democracy, if you want to keep the United States from being an armed battleground where no one is safe either inside or outside homes, don’t be discouraged by the GOP voter suppression that tries to keep everyone except the Republican base from casting ballots.

Vote! (And the deadline is November 6, no matter what Republicans tell you.)

October 1, 2018

Lindsey Graham Sets His Sights On Becoming First Lady

[A blog post from two women who have been friends for seven decades.]

A blogger wrote in 2017: “There is a certain wisdom that comes with age and Helen Philpot and Margaret Schmechtman show that they still got it. Helen and Margaret have been friends for more than 60 years and aren’t afraid to tell you their views on anything.” References go back ten years in such sources as Forbes and Atlantic.

[From Helen]: Margaret, did you know that women currently make up more than half the population in the US, but we are represented by a Congress made up of 80 percent men? Oh, and honey, it gets worse. Among other countries we are ranked 104th in the world when it comes to female representation in government. Five places behind Saudi Arabia! Hell, we’re almost 40 spots behind Iraq… Yes. You heard me: BEHIND IRAQ.

How long before men realize that women are their equals? After last week, we can probably make the argument that we are more than equal. Everyone of those GOP Senators expected an overly emotional, erratic and maybe even hysterical witness… and let me tell you Brett Kavanaugh did not disappoint. If I were Brett, I’d be worried that The Donald might now try to grab his pussy. Christine Ford managed to stay calm and respectful for 4 hours.   Brett couldn’t last 2 minutes before he came undone.  And speaking of undone, Lindsey Graham deserves an award for Best Actor in a Supporting Role for his portrayal of Donald Trump’s new girlfriend.  Move over Stormy Daniels. Hurricane Graham has arrived.

To be clear, Brett Kavanaugh is indeed innocent until proven guilty.  And it’s not search and destroy like Kavanaugh and Trump want us to believe.  It’s about making sure the truth comes out. Afterall, if there is nothing to find, then it doesn’t matter how hard you search.   When a woman finds the courage to speak about sexual assault, she deserves to be heard. And hearing her means taking the time to fully investigate in hopes of uncovering the truth.  And if that means men need to be a little scared, so be it. We women have been living scared all our lives. If you are worried for your sons, I have one piece of advice for you. Teach them to respect women.  Problem solved.

But I don’t even know why I am wasting my time writing this.  For the love of God, Republicans just elected a man who was videotaped bragging about assault. Are we really surprised they think a calendar showing exercise workouts during the 80’s is proof enough of innocence? If you are a Republican woman, I hope you are paying attention. It doesn’t matter how accomplished, how intelligent or how credible you are. You will be ignored, dismissed and even smeared if you stand between a Republican man and his path to power… regardless of what evidence you have or don’t have.  If it happens in their teens, it’s boys will be boys, and if it happens as adults, it’s just locker room talk.  Evidently Republicans are just fine electing men who sexually harass and assault women.

Honestly, how do Lisa Murkowski and Susan Collins sleep at night? It’s been almost thirty years since the Anita Hill testimony, and we women continue to be ignored about sexual harassment, assault and rape at the hands of powerful men. There have been 52 total women in the United States Senate since its establishment in 1789.  And one of those women simply served for one day.  Until 2001, the most common way for a woman to become a US Senator was to be appointed following the death or resignation of a husband or father who previously held the seat.  Today there are 21 female Senators – 16 Democrats and 5 Republicans… well 6 depending on which column you place Lindsey Graham. Quite frankly, he lacks the humanity to be in either. Imagine how differently things could be if there were 50.

The late Governor Ann Richards liked to say, “Life isn’t one thing after another.  It’s the same damn thing over and over again.”  Well, I am tired of fighting this fight over and over again.  This November we have more women than ever running for elected office, and I for one plan to vote for them early and often. I mean it. Really.

Notes:

Note from Margaret – I think your humor missed the mark when you called Lindsey a girl.

Note from Helen – I called him Trump’s girlfriend which is very different.

Note from Margaret – Well.

Note from Helen – look up satire in your dictionary.

Note from Margaret – under H you might find hypocrisy.

Note from Helen – exactly my point. I’m sending pie.

Note from Margaret – second to the last paragraph, dear.

Note from Helen – I stand corrected and edited. I’m sending two pies. Howard’s favorite.

September 27, 2018

Brett Kavanaugh: Anita Hill Redux

Twenty-seven years after Clarence Thomas, accused of sexual misconduct, was confirmed for the Supreme Court, the GOP-controlled Senate Judiciary Committee held another anti-woman Supreme Court nominee hearing, this one featuring Brett Kavanaugh and Christine Blasey Ford, who accused Kavanaugh of sexual assault. The day began with Ford’s statement, followed by questions from Democratic judicial committee members and Rachel Mitchell, sex crimes prosecutor for Maricopa County (AZ), the “female”—Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s (R-KY) words—hired to ask questions from 11 white male senators on the committee. For the first time in history, these GOP senators hired someone to ask their questions for a better photo-op.

Ford began the ten-hour day with her opening statements specifically describing what Kavanaugh had done to her. She explained the attack in clear language despite a quavering voice. Asking questions for the GOP senators, Rachel Mitchell tried to poke holes in her testimony in the five-minute increments allotted her instead of to GOP senators, asking about drinking or drugs at the event (Ford had neither), mistaken identity (Ford said she was “100 percent” sure that it was Kavanaugh), Ford’s appearance, the timing when she first raised her story and who she told, any donors to her efforts such as paying for the polygraph and lawyer fees.

Fox network’s Chris Wallace pronounced the hearings a “disaster” for Republicans after the first half hour, and NYT White House correspondent Maggie Haberman reported that sources close to DDT said “it was a mistake” to have a sex crimes prosecutor ask questions of Ford instead of GOP lawmakers or another outside counsel. Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) raged that Ford “seems credible.”

Committee Chair Chuck Grassley (R-IA) repeatedly defended his committee’s handling of the Kavanaugh confirmation and criticized Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), the ranking Democrat on the panel, for not telling Republicans immediately of Ford’s letter to her making allegations against the nominee. Feinstein has explained that she promised Ford privacy, that she made the letter public after a media leak and Ford’s permission.

During the recess between her testimony and Kavanaugh’s part of the hearing, Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) raged “that Democrats are never subjected to accusations of sexual misconduct, and warned them that if Kavanaugh fails, Republicans will gin up false accusations against future Democratic nominees to even the score. Wow.”

In his 2015 autobiography Graham wrote about his prosecutions of rape cases in his 2015 autobiography:

“I learned how much unexpected courage from a deep and hidden place it takes for a rape victim or sexually abused child to testify against their assailants.”

By 2018 Graham has reversed any sense of decency as demonstrated in his attacks against Ford and the Democrats. When a woman came up to him during a recess at the hearings and said she had been raped, he said, “I’m so sorry…you needed to go to the cops.”

 (Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images)

Kavanaugh’s 45-minute rambling, self-aggrandizing opening was directed with fury at Democrats and the “left,” possibly in an effort to please DDT. Instead of neutrality that he had early bragged about, he disparaged the process and expressed anger at the Democrats, claiming that their attacks came from anger at DDT and Hillary Clinton’s electoral loss, calling it “revenge on behalf of the Clintons.”  Conservative Jennifer Rubin wrote that “the angry thing is suggesting that he can get out of control. Not a good connection. His roommate said he got ‘aggressive and belligerent.’ YIKES.”

Kavanaugh almost cried throughout the remainder of his opening, behavior that would have been described as “hysterical” if he were a woman. He refused to answer Sen. Diane Weinstein’s (D-CA) question about why he didn’t ask the FBI to look into the allegations, beginning a repeated answer to questions from other Democrat senators. Kavanaugh continually emphasized how he drank beer and how much he likes beer, excusing his behavior because everyone did it. He couldn’t say how much he drank but said that it was legal because the drinking age was 18. According to Maryland law, the age for legal drinking changed to 21 when Kavanaugh was 17.

To questions about Mark Judge from Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-VT), Kavanaugh hedged before he talked about his wonderful personal characteristics, taking up most of Leahy’s five minutes despite attempts to question him. Leahy pointed out that GOP committee chair Chuck Grassley (R-IA) allowed Kavanaugh to filibuster. Earlier, Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX) had said that Judge was “credible” because he had testified under oath and that he didn’t need to testify before the committee because of that testimony.

Sen. Dick Durbin (D-IL) told Kavanaugh that he could save his family name and immediately ask for an FBI investigation, leading to Grassley’s temper tantrum about process before Kavanaugh declared that the FBI “don’t reach conclusions.” Kavanaugh clearly does not want an FBI investigation.

 (Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images)

Graham’s screaming fit after Durbin’s questioning, likely to please DDT, removed any possibility of his becoming a statesman. He lied about Democrats getting an FBI investigation by going to the Republicans and continued to attack Democrats, telling Kavanaugh that he would not get a fair process—and much more. His fury gave the rest of the GOP senators to speak for themselves as they delivered speeches about how horrible the accusations were and how wonderful Kavanaugh is and Rachel Mitchell never spoke again.

Continuing to lose any Supreme Court justice presence, Kavanaugh asked Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) if she had ever blacked out while drinking—twice—after she asked him that question. He never answered her question, but he did half-way apologize when he came back from break. Earlier he has asked Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI), “Do you like beer, Senator, or not? What do you like to drink?”

Sen. Orrin Hatch’s (R-UT) voice broke in anger during his speech before he asked a few questions. Kavanaugh’s answers were brief, with none of the filibustering done to avoid questions from Democrats, although his folded arms demonstrated a defensive posture. When Sen. Chris Coons (D-DE) followed with questions about forgetting or becoming combative while drinking, Kavanaugh reverted to becoming defensive. His filibustering when Coons asked about descriptions of Kavanaugh’s drinking by Dr. Elizabeth Swisher and Kavanaugh’s freshman Yale roommate James Roche. Again Kavanaugh refused any investigation.

When Sen. Mazie Hirono (D-HI) asked Kavanaugh about descriptions of him as a “sloppy drunk,” Kavanaugh continued filibustering. Sen. Cory Booker (D-NJ) was better at moving Kavanaugh along when Booker asked about Kavanaugh’s political animus and got him to say that he didn’t think that this problem extended to Ford. Booker also got in the statement that Ford’s friend, who didn’t remember the party, still believes Ford’s accusations.

Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA) asked Kavanaugh if he had taken a polygraph test; he said no but that they weren’t admissible in federal court. She also pinned him down on whether he would ask the White House for an FBI investigation. In response to his filibustering, she said, “I’ll take that as a ‘no’ and move on.”

Sen. John Kennedy (R-LA) finished by asking Kavanaugh if he believes in God and then asked him if any of the allegations were true. Kavanaugh believes in God and denies any of the accusations. His innuendo smeared Ramirez.

A recurring lie from Grassley was that no Democrat had asked for an FBI investigation. Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) finally corrected him, pointing out that Grassley had refused the request from the Democratic senators, Ford, and others to investigate the allegations. For the first time, the judiciary committee, under GOP control, has refused to have any investigation. Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) reiterated blame for Feinstein in not telling the others about Ford’s accusation, and Feinstein explained the confidentiality of the situation. In response, Cornyn accused Feinstein of leaking the information to the press.

Republican Jon Meacham called today’s hearing “the triumph of mindless tribalism over the truth.” Kavanaugh, already a sitting judge on the Washington, D.C. Circuit Court, completely failed to display the temperament of a judge with a lifetime position. Even if he fails to get the Supreme Court plum, he’ll stay on the other court, able to impose his hysterical, raging behavior on anyone who appeals to that court and wielding his power against Democrats and other progressives.

Charlie Baker (MA), Larry Hogan (MD) and John Kasich (OH) have called on the Senate to delay the Kavanaugh nomination and investigate the three allegations, but Grassley plans to vote on confirmation in committee tomorrow.

Sarah Huckabee Sanders lied to Savannah Guthrie on the Today show about accusers refusing to testify before the judicial committee. Every named accuser has offered to testify under oath but, except for Ford, were refused or ignored. Both Deborah Ramirez and Julie Swetnick could not get responses from any GOP committee members.

DDT claims to be delighted about Kavanaugh’s testimony, but the GOP is already losing the support of women.

Women’s support for Kavanaugh is also weakening, down to 27 percent. And that was before today’s hearing.

Yesterday’s lesson to 1,202 public school students at Soddy-Daisy High School from its athletic director/assistant principal Jared Henley in his morning “Helping of Helsley” public announcement about the “no athletics shorts” policy on the day before the Ford/Kavanaugh hearing:

“If you really want someone to blame, blame the girls. Because they pretty much ruin everything. They ruin the dress code, they ruin … well, ask Adam. Look at Eve. That’s really all you really gotta get to, OK. You can really go back to the beginning of time. So, it’ll be like that the rest of your life. Get used to it, keep your mouth shut, suck it up [and] follow the rules.”

Today was a sad day for everyone in the United States—except for those who want a Supreme Court justice who thinks that DDT is above the law. Hensley “lesson” was actually for women–and anyone else who wants justice if the GOP puts Kavanaugh on the Supreme Court: “Get used to it, keep your mouth shut, suck it up [and] follow the [GOP] rules.”

September 1, 2018

DDT: Week 84 – A Few of His Problems

As the Republicans work to support Russia, they are joining Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) in his attack on FBI agent Bruce Ohr. Rep. Devin Nunes (R-CA) traveled to London to dig up dirt on both Ohr and Christopher Steel, the British former agent who wrote a dossier on DDT, but officials at MI6, MI5, and GCHQ wouldn’t talk with him. Nunes finally managed a meeting with Prime Minister Theresa May’s deputy national security advisor, Madeline Alessandri. Ohr has been instrumental in fighting Russian organized crime for almost three decades, perhaps the reason that DDT wants to get rid of him because Ohr raised concerns about oligarch Oleg Deripaska named in contacts between DDT’s associates and Russia.

DDT might have been better off leaving Ohr alone. When Congress required Ohr to testify, he said that he learned from Christopher Steele that “Russian intelligence believed it had Donald Trump ‘over a barrel.’” DDT continues to claim that the Steele dossier was responsible for the FBI investigation into his Russian problem, but memos from both the GOP and Dems prove that the FBI had started the investigation earlier about Russian contacts of former DDT campaign foreign policy adviser George Papadopoulos before they had the Steele dossier. Ohr was not the original source of information. Ohr testified that DDT campaign aide Carter Page had met with more senior Russians official that Page admitted. DOJ officials Jeff Sessions and Rod Rosenstein had moved him from director of the Organized Crime and Drug Enforcement Task Force, according to Ohr, because it concerned White House meetings and interactions.

The Republicans who wanted to surveil everyone in the United States are now criticizing Ohr because of his surveillance tactics.

Democratic members of the House are asking committee chairs to review how GOP representatives got correspondence between Ohr and Steele and why they failed to go through appropriate channels to introduce the emails, notes, and text messages into the official record before reading them out loud in the hearing. Jerrold Nadler (D-NY) and Elijah Cummings (D-MD) said that this information appears to have been cherrypicked by Devin Nunes (R-CA), excluding the complete correspondence. Nadler and Cummings also want “an immediate bipartisan meeting” with the DOJ to review “whether any ongoing investigations or human sources may have been compromised.”

Nunes is only one of many prominent Republicans to use the conspiracy-laden Big League Politics website using Q-Anon false theories for fundraising, some of the candidates violating campaign finance law. The website is being used to harass innocent small business by accusing them of operating child-sex trafficking rings, like the “Pizzagate” conspiracy against Hillary Clinton and a Washington, D.C. restaurant. Recent vicious targets include the Portland (OR) beloved Voodoo Doughnut. Respondents have posted maps of the chain’s locations with Portland’s plumbing locations, local schools, public transit, and airports to suggest ways that children are smuggled in and out of the stores. One member wrote, “Small submarines arent (sic) out of the realm of possibility.” The police say that they cannot do anything about the persecution, some of it generated by a former Breitbart News reporter.

Natasha Bertrand has tied together the threads of DDT’s targeted FBI and DOJ officials in his relentless attacks on people he depicts as dishonest “Democrats.” He depicts Ohr, Lisa Page, Peter Strzok, Andrew McCabe, and others who have had extensive experience in investigating money laundering and organized crime, especially connected to Russia. DDT’s big fear is that Robert Mueller’s team is expert in finding fraud, racketeering, money laundering, and other financial crimes. The article is well-worth a read, especially to see DDT’s connections to the crimes.

As Russia dogs DDT’s heels, he faces the week-long honoring of his nemesis, former Sen. John McCain (R-AZ). After his death at the age of 81, McCain got his final wishes—DDT did not attend his funeral and two former presidents, George W. Bush and Barack Obama, gave eulogies. DDT tried to minimize McCain’s death with the petty act of lowering the flag for only a day, but public backlash forced him to raise it again. He noticeably ignored his aides who wanted him to send out a statement about McCain being a hero while he continued his vendetta against the man who spent over five years in a Vietnam prison camp while he dodged the draft with four deferments and a bout of bone spurs. On the campaign trail, DDT called McCain a loser because he was imprisoned during the Vietnam War. “I like people that weren’t captured,” DDT said. He started his criticism of McCain in 1999 as this video shows.

Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders may be collateral damage from McCain’s death. DDT supposedly joked that she was “having a nervous breakdown” because of the way she looked at him when he refused to answer whether McCain would have been a better president than President Obama. “I don’t want to comment on it,” DDT said. “I have a very strong opinion.” He left town for a campaign rally in Indiana before McCain’s body arrived in Washington, D.C. for a memorial service and then went to his Virginia resort to play golf during McCain’s funeral in Washington, D.C. today.

Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) may be breaking up with DDT, McCain’s replacement after McCain’s illness became terminal, because Graham criticized DDT’s handling of his former friend’s death. Graham said:

“It bothers me greatly when the president says things about John McCain. It pisses me off to no end, and I let the president know it, And the way he handled the passing of John is just — it was disturbing.”

Graham did invite DDT’s daughter and son-in-law, Ivanka and Jared, to the funeral.

McCain’s death hasn’t slowed down Robert Mueller’s investigation into Russia and DDT. Paul Manafort’s next trial, postponed for a week until September 24, follows rumors of a possible plea deal for the second set of charges before he was convicted last week, but the two sides couldn’t work out a deal. Mueller has also received more time to decide whether to retry Manafort on the ten charges from the last trial after one person created a hung jury on these charges.

W. Samuel Patten, a Washington consultant who advised a Ukrainian political party and worked with a co-defendant of Paul Manafort, pleaded guilty to failing to register as a foreign lobbyist while working on behalf of a Ukrainian political party. Patten’s partner, Konstantin Kilimnik, Patten’s partner and former Manafort employee, has been indicted for witness tampering in Manafort’s case and links to Russian intelligence. Patten also worked at the Oregon office of Cambridge Analytica’s parent company, SCL Group, to target voters in the 2014 general election. As part of his plea, Patten admitted that he steered an illegal foreign donation to DDT’s inauguration from a Ukrainian businessman.

DDT’s latest comment about Sessions, who he has tried to separate from his Senate allies with incessant complaints, is that he won’t fire him until after the general election, perhaps to avoid the appearance of obstruction of justice. Sen. Bob Corker (R-TN) said, “My sense is the fix is in,” but  Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) still isn’t convinced, maybe worrying about his ability to get another AG confirmed. Donors are also complaining about Sessions and Deputy AG Rod Rosenstein, saying, “They haven’t represented … us well.”

DDT’s shiniest new distraction from his problems comes from his promise of a new trade deal with Mexico to replace NAFTA. The kickoff was a bit awkward when technology failed him in his conference call with Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto by and at his signoff when he told the president that “a hug from you would be very nice.” DDT is rushing the deal because progressive president-elect of Mexico, Andrés Manuel López Obrador, takes over December 1. The clock is ticking, but the two-nation agreement may not be able to replace a three-nation trade pact, and Congress must agree.

Canada has been more reluctant, especially after DDT disparaged Canada and threatened the country with 25 percent tariffs on cars and auto parts exported from the U.S. The U.S. may be the loser because Canada is the #1 destination for U.S. products shipped abroad and the trade with Canada supports over 8 million U.S. jobs, many of them in the new “red” states. Canada also is unique because the U.S. doesn’t have a trade deficit with Canada. If the initial deal doesn’t include Canada, the U.S. will have trouble including the country later.

Most of the suggested pieces of DDT’s deal come from either NAFTA or the Trans Pacific Pipeline, but the name is new so that DDT can claim it as his own. He’ll just have to hope that people don’t see the drastic increases in prices from the deal and his tariffs if he wants to use it for getting people to vote for Republicans.

More DDT disasters later.

June 22, 2015

Racist Media Shields Racist Killers

 

Conservative faith was front and center last week as every announced and some potential GOP presidential candidates—except Donald Trump—spoke at the Faith & Freedom Coalition’s Road to Majority Summit last week. Especially notable was Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL), who managed to completely ignore the killing of nine black people by a white 21-year-old in the Charleston (SC) church on the previous day. To boost his B+ rating with the NRA, however, he reassured his audience that “if I am president of the United States, we will appoint justices and we will have an attorney general who will protect our second amendment rights.”

Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) did allude to the tragedy by saying that “it appears to be racially driven,” but by Friday he told an audience that Texas defines gun control as “hitting what you aim at.” The next day he said, “There’s a famous saying, praise the Lord and pass the ammunition. There is a reason why the Second Amendment is right after the First.”

Another horrifying response to the white man killing nine black people because of his racist beliefs was a segment on Meet the Press that interviewed three black murderers who expressed regrets in killing someone. Host Chuck Todd described the program “color-blind” and concluded that “passing a law isn’t going to change the culture.” Fortunately, columnist Eugene Robinson was on a panel and told Todd that the video didn’t fit the discussion:

“Right now, we’re talking about a horrific crime committed by a white man, we’re talking about the search for two escaped murderers who are white men.”

The men in the video said they had no intention of killing anyone whereas the killer in Charleston carefully planned his murders of black people. Todd defensively concluded his post by saying, “Meet the Press should make all viewers uncomfortable at some point or we are not doing our job.” His continuation of the stereotype of associating blacks, and not whites, with murderers shows that he fails to understand the white culture of guns in the United States.

In a white wash of the Charleston killer, NBC ran a story of how his relatives saw him as a “sweet kid” who became “painfully shy.” Media consistently projects this image of white kids while presenting black children as thugs. To the media, a white killer is known as a “lone wolf” who lose his path while blacks are born bad or have such bad families that its natural that they would be criminals. Bill Reilly calls the problem “black people’s rejection of education.” While Freddie Gray, alleged to have an illegal switchblade, died during a rough ride to the police station, the white killer of nine people in a Charleston (SC) church was politely returned to Charleston on a private plane after cops gave him a Burger King hamburger. Vanessa Baden Kelly wrote, “I am black and I’ve come to believe we are more violent than others by watching the news [although] 83% of white murder victims are killed by white people.”

After the killer openly announced his racism, conservatives had to drop their idea that the tragedy was a “war on Christianity” and move to another spin. The Fox network blames the killings on the nation’s “cultural diversity.” Frequent Fox guest Rev. Jesse Lee Peterson said on Newsmax that President Obama is at fault because he said that racism still exists in the United States.

After the killer’s words destroyed Sen. Lindsey Graham’s (R-SC) argument that the killer was prejudiced against Christianity, Graham said, “I just think he was one of these whacked out kids. I don’t think it’s anything broader than that.” About the Boston bomber of 2013, Graham had said:

“[Dzhokhar Tsarnaev], in my view, should be designated as a potential enemy combatant and we should be allowed to question him for intelligence gathering purposes to find out about future attacks and terrorist organizations that may exist that he has knowledge of, and that evidence cannot be used against him in trial. That evidence is used to protect us as a nation.”

Both killers are U.S. citizens, but the Boston bomber is a Muslim. What a difference a religion and 3,000 miles make.

The Charleston killer reported that he was influenced by a website from the Council of Conservative Citizens that lists Black on White murders. The name states “citizens,” but Southern politicians, primarily Republican, have been involved with the group with some still in office. The CCC is a renewal of the White Citizens Councils, formed a half century ago to fight school desegregation. Now it spreads false information while funding GOP candidates such as Sen. Tom Cotton (R-AR) and Gov. Scott Walker (R-WI).

Racist billboard

The killer didn’t come out of nowhere. His worldview of racism, white supremacy, and fear of blacks is popular as shown by this billboard. The words come from white supremacist Robert Whitaker’s Mantra that has inspired racial killings, including 77 people in Norway in 2011 and heavily promoted by Timothy Gallagher Murdock on White Rabbit Radio. The Charleston killer’s manifesto is greatly in alignment with the Fox network and other conservatives:

“Blacks were the real racists [in school].”

“It was obvious that Zimmerman was in the right.” (Like many other white people tutored by the Fox network and other conservative media, the stalker and killer of Trayvon Martin is a hero.)

“Black people view everything through a racial lense.” (He quotes Fox and other conservatives who accuse blacks of playing the “race card.” He continues, “The … reason is the Jewish agitation of the black race.”)

“We are told to accept what is happening to us because of ancestors wrong doing, but it is all based on historical lies…”

“Segregation was not a bad thing. It was a defensive measure.” (The killer sees segregation as a way “to protect us from them…. Not only did it protect us from having to interact with them, and from being physically harmed by them, but it protected us from being brought down to their level.”

“I have read hundreds of slaves narratives from my state. And almost all of them were positive.” (The killer believes that slaves thought they were better off in slavery. Rancher Cliven Bundy, who refuses to pay the government for feeding his cattle, was supported by Fox and a number of lawmakers—at least until he stated that black people have less freedom after they are no longer slaves.)

Two subjects that conservatives cannot address in the United States are racism and guns. Following the killings in the Charleston church, President Obama called on the country to take action against mass murders. On the Fox network, Tucker Carlson indicated that the president is a hypocrite because he’s protected by armed people after he said that guns aren’t killing people and that people need guns to save lives. Fox News contributor Jehmu Greene pointed out that his comments were offensive and asked if he was comparing armed Secret Service people to the person who walks into a church and kills nine people. She asked, “Is that literally where we are as a country, to compare that [the president] shouldn’t have protection?” Carlson stuck to his opinion that he shouldn’t be exempt from disarming—a position that President Obama has never taken.

Greene replied:

“The president did not say guns are inherently bad. The president is saying we’ve had this conversation too many times and there is something we can do about it. There was something we could do about it after Newtown, there was something we could have done about it after Columbine.”

Charleston (SC) Mayor Joseph P. Riley, Jr. (D) said yesterday on CNN’s State of the Union:

“It is insane: the number of guns, and the ease of guns in America. It just doesn’t fit with the other achievements of this country. It’s a small- really small group, well-funded–that keeps this issue from being appropriately addressed.”

If people cannot control themselves with guns, then they must be controlled to protect other people. Those who oppose any kind of gun control need to learn that they are destroying the United States.

It is a sad commentary on media in the United States when the best commentary came from the Comedy Channel. Everyone should read the words of Jon Stewart on The Daily Show the day after the killings when he stopped his comedy to talk about the tragedy of the Charleston killings.

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