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Tuesday, September 17, 2019

A whiny little baby bully

by digby

And I'm not (just) talking about Corey Lewandowski:

President Donald Trump insisted on Tuesday that 2020 Democratic candidate Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) did not, in fact, have 20,000 people attending her rally in New York City Monday night – and that even if she did, it’s not a big deal.

According to a pool report, Trump downplayed the crowd size at Warren’s rally in Washington Square Park, which her campaign estimated to be about 20,000 people–the senator’s biggest rally to date.

“Number one, she didn’t have 20,000 people,” Trump told reporters, per the pool report. “And number two, I think anybody would get a good crowd there.”

“Anybody that can’t get people standing in the middle of Manhattan in the most densely populated area of the country…anybody could do that,” he also said.

Trump, notoriously sensitive over the size of his own crowds, then claimed he gets crowds “in areas that nobody’s ever seen crowds before.”

Ok Trumpie. You get the biggest crowds. Whatever...

How embarrassing for her.


Trump in California

by digby

People are making fun of Trump, the alleged populist, for this tweet:

That should cure a lot of economic anxiety in the rural heartland. But there was method to his madness. Trump was prepping for tonight in Beverly Hills:

President Trump has tweeted thousands of times since taking office, using the social media site to spread slogans, praise allies, condemn opponents, critique the media, issue pardons, fire Cabinet members and, among other things, threaten nuclear war.

One topic that he just can't quit is California. Trump, who lost the state by more than 4 million votes in 2016, is returning Tuesday to raise money for his reelection campaign from supporters in San Francisco, San Diego and Beverly Hills.

To mark the occasion, The Times compiled everything the president has tweeted about the Golden State, its policies and politicians.
These California greedheads think they can buy clean air in the private sector for just themselves apparently:
The Trump administration is expected on Wednesday to formally revoke California’s legal authority to set tailpipe pollution rules that are stricter than federal rules, in a move designed by the White House to strike twin blows against both the liberal-leaning state that President Trump has long antagonized and the environmental legacy of President Barack Obama.

The announcement that the White House will revoke one of California’s signature environmental policies will come while Mr. Trump is traveling in the state, where he is scheduled to attend fund-raisers in Los Angeles and Silicon Valley.

The formal revocation of California’s authority to set its own rules on tailpipe pollution — the United States’ largest source of greenhouse emissions — will be announced Wednesday afternoon at a private event at the Washington headquarters of the Environmental Protection Agency, according to two people familiar with the matter.

They are literally trying to kill us. And their own children.

Quote of the decade

by digby

Guess who:

“We’ve been fighting against an imperial presidency for five and a half years,” he said in June 2016, after Trump had captured the nomination. “Every time we go to the floor and push back against an overreaching president, we get accused of being partisan at best and racist at worst. When we do it against a Republican president, maybe people will see that it was a principled objection in the first place. So we actually welcome that opportunity. It might actually be fun, being a strict-constitutionalist congressman doing battle with a non-strict-constitutionalist Republican president.”

Bill Kristol? David Frum? George Will, maybe?

Nope. That's Mick Mulvaney, White House chief of staff and top sycophantic bootlicker to Donald J. Trump.

This raises a question: what kind of people are this? How are they justifying this to themselves? Do they wake up in the middle of the night sweating and shaking, realizing that they have sold their sould to this con man?

I doubt it. They were full of shit then and they are full of shit now. We have Trump to thank for finally and irrevocably revealing the void at the center of the "conservative movement" that preened and strutted for years, claiming they were the avatars of bedrock American principles. There was nothing there, ever. We can move on now.

"Their 9/11" didn't kill anyone

by digby

I'm not one for overwrought demands that everyone observe the sacredness of tragedy but this is just offensive:
A top State Department official told Congress Monday evening that the Saudis view the massive attack on their oil infrastructure as their 9/11, according to two congressional sources.

After a national security meeting this morning, President Donald Trump told reporters that it was “looking” like the attack over the weekend emanated from Iran but that the U.S. would wait for Saudi to conduct an investigation into the strikes.

Brian Hook, the Trump administration’s special representative for Iran, made the 9/11 during a telephone briefing on Capitol Hill about the administration’s latest thinking on the attack. Hook communicated the reaction from Riyadh and said Secretary of State Mike Pompeo would be headed to the country soon. Several individuals on the call said Hook’s update was thin, but said the administration had made available to lawmakers intelligence about the attack that they could review under a classified setting.

CNN first tweeted that Hook told Congressional staffers that the Saudis view this as “their 9/11.”

Sure, that's fine. And I'm sure Donald Trump is very sorry for their loss. Of oil. But please:

The 9/11 reference, made less than a week after the 18th anniversary of the attack which killed over 3,000 Americans, came despite the uncomfortable fact that 13 of the 19 hijackers who attacked the U.S. on that day were Saudi citizens. Last week, the Trump administration pledged to reveal the name of a Saudi official investigated by the FBI for a possible role in the 9/11 attacks.

One of these is not "corruption"

by digby

That New York Times headline is misleading. Just because Trump callssomething "corrupt" doesn't mean it is:

Senator Elizabeth Warren stood beneath a marble arch in New York City, telling a crowd of thousands that she would lead a movement to purge the government of corruption. Not far from the site of a historic industrial disaster, Ms. Warren described Washington as utterly compromised by the influence of corporations and the extremely wealthy, and laid out a detailed plan for cleansing it.

“Corruption has put our planet at risk, corruption has broken our economy and corruption is breaking our democracy,” Ms. Warren said Monday evening. “I know what’s broken, I’ve got a plan to fix it and that’s why I’m running for president of the United States.”

Only a few hours later, on a stage outside Albuquerque, President Trump took aim at a different phenomenon that he also described as corruption. Before his own roaring crowd, Mr. Trump cast himself as a bulwark against the power not of corporations but of a “failed liberal establishment” that he described as attacking the country’s sovereignty and cultural heritage.

“We’re battling against the corrupt establishment of the past,” Mr. Trump said, warning in grim language: “They want to erase American history, crush religious liberty, indoctrinate our students with left-wing ideology.”

You see, "corrupt establishment of the past" which wants to "erase history etc." is not "corruption." That's just an expression Stephen Miller came up with.

Warren's speech attacked actual corruption.

Highlights of the crazy

by digby

If you're taking a break at work today check out these highlights from the latest speech by the leader of the most powerful nation on earth:


Maybe it's the gender balance?

by Tom Sullivan

Image: Sean McMinn/NPR

The damage wrought on this republic by men desperate to hang onto their little slices of power will take decades to repair. First, they have to be stopped. Their defeats in what is left of democracy must be overwhelming. Humiliating would be a plus. But since that requires them to possess shame and some sense of dignity....

Eugene Robinson this morning considers any of the Democratic candidates on the stage last Thursday capable of leading the effort. Defeating Donald Trump might be the easiest part. Rebuilding trust in the three branches of government systematically undermined by this administration and its lapdogs in Congress will take skills no president has yet been called on to muster, save perhaps Lincoln.

The executive branch is riddled with corruption and incompetence, its policy mechanisms turned inside out, Robinson laments:

One of the most underreported stories about the Trump administration is its basic incompetence. Perhaps Trump’s biggest con of all was convincing his supporters that he was some sort of business wizard with a genius for management. In truth, the Trump Organization was a mom-and-pop family business that he repeatedly micromanaged to the brink of collapse. He is doing exactly the same with the government of the United States.

The White House itself is less like “The West Wing” than “Game of Thrones.” Courtiers vie for the favor of the Mad King, unable or unwilling to perform normal duties for fear of risking Trump’s ire. Usually, the White House is a place where information from outside sources is synthesized and digested so the president can make the best possible decisions. Under Trump, the flow is reversed — his whims, however ill-informed or contradictory or just plain loopy, are tweeted out and must be made into policy.
By appointing acting heads of executive branches, the acting president ensures they have no power carry out their roles. Trump has purged or driven off "competent, dedicated professionals" who once ran the various departments. Trump wants staff as set dressing, Anthony Scaramucci told the Washington Post. He wants sycophants who look the part.

Even worse, Robinson explains, is restoring a functioning Congress rendered "all but impotent" with help from Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.). Not to mention Republicans packing the courts with fringe ideologues and undermining any sense American courts will render equitable judgments for decades to come.

Again, while the Beltway follies get top billing, the damage being done by right-wing rule in the states is also deep and lasting. The willingness to set aside democratic procedures, undermine the judiciary and enact measures to silence dissent go beyond recent headlines from North Carolina, writes Alan Greenblatt at The American Prospect:
Their willingness to preempt the democratic process matters not only for North Carolina. As Harvard scholars Steven Levitsky and Daniel Ziblatt point out in their 2018 book How Democracies Die, states—and in particular North Carolina—demonstrate what the end of democracy could look like on a national scale.

“This is a big warning sign,” says Alexander Hertel-Fernandez, author of State Capture, a new book examining conservative dominance in the states. “It’s definitely consistent with North Carolina being at the forefront of this erosion of democracy.”
University of North Carolina Professor of Political Science, Andrew Reynolds, wrote on the issue in December 2016 as Republicans attempted to strip power from Governor-elect Roy Cooper (a Democrat). A recent Electoral Integrity Project ranked North Carolina "alongside authoritarian states and pseudo-democracies like Cuba, Indonesia and Sierra Leone." Reynolds continues, "When it comes to the integrity of the voting district boundaries no country has ever received as low a score as the 7/100 North Carolina received. North Carolina is not only the worst state in the USA for unfair districting but the worst entity in the world ever analyzed by the Electoral Integrity Project."

Coming soon to a male-dominated, Republican legislature near you.

Image: National Council of State Legislatures

Building things, repairing things, improving life for the people they ostensibly represent seems a skill beyond their capacity. Men like Trump, McConnell and their allies are too busy hoarding wealth and power. But breaking things? They're hell at breaking things. Even this tattered but enduring democracy. Maybe it's the gender balance?

Sarah Connor : Fucking men like you built the hydrogen bomb. Men like you thought it up. You think you're so creative. You don't know what it's like to really create something; to create a life; to feel it growing inside you. All you know how to create is death and destruction...

Monday, September 16, 2019

The Dotard and Little Rocket Man

by digby

The surreality is unending:

It has become Donald Trump’s anecdote of choice for world leaders. At the last two G7 summit meetings — which bring together the heads of government of Germany, France, Italy, Japan, Canada, the UK and the US — the president has launched into the same lengthy monologue about what a “great guy” Kim Jong Un is.

The story got its latest outing at last month’s summit in Biarritz, France, as the world leaders were gathered around the table for the formal meeting. When the discussion turned to North Korea — which had spent much of the month firing short-range ballistic missiles into the Sea of Japan in a serious threat to stability in the region — Trump went off on a tangent, spending some 10 minutes rambling about his great relationship with Kim, leaving the other G7 leaders mostly speechless, three sources with direct knowledge of the discussions told BuzzFeed News.

All the leaders — apart from new British prime minister Boris Johnson, who was making his G7 debut — had heard Trump tell the exact same story the same way the last time they all gathered round the summit table, in Canada last year.

Central to Trump’s bizarre riff is the series of “Little Rocket Man” tweets the president directed at Kim two years ago.

When Trump first met Kim, in Singapore in June last year, the two men talked about the tweets that Trump had posted in 2017, nicknaming the North Korean leader “Little Rocket Man.”

In Trump’s retelling, during a back-and-forth exchange about the name-calling the two men had engaged in over many months before the meeting in Singapore — “You called me fat… and then you called me this,” — Kim asks Trump why he’d called him that.

“Don’t you know Elton John? It’s a great song,” the president, who is a big fan of the British musician, says.

To which Kim responds, “But you called me ‘little.’”

Then comes Trump's punchline: “That’s what he didn’t like!”

Trump repeating the same anecdote about Elton John and a brutal dictator to a bemused set of world leaders sounds like the latest Twitter joke about America's president — just another Gorilla Channel moment on the blurry edge of panic and dark humor.

But Trump's G7 soliloquy is not a parody. And it captures a more serious truth of the Trump administration: the president, viewed from afar as a dangerous buffoon by his liberal critics, often elicits a similar response from other world leaders who deal with him up close.

The real-life outbursts behind the closed doors of a high-level summit are not very different to what people see on his Twitter feed. While one source dryly described the ramblings on Kim as “very entertaining,” they're laughing at him, not with him, and it is behavior like this that has dramatically undermined the president’s global political power at a time when the US is trying to build support for action against China and Iran.

Trump’s words and views about Kim in private are not too dissimilar to those he has expressed many times before in public, another G7 source noted.

The president has consistently praised the North Korean dictator and has often adopted warm words to paint their relationship. He even justified North Korea’s recent missile tests.

After firing John Bolton, his national security adviser, last week, Trump told White House reporters that Kim "wanted nothing to do with” Bolton. “I don’t blame Kim Jong Un,” the president said.

But a source emphasized the absurdity of Trump departing on a strange tangent in the middle of serious G7 discussions to wax lyrical about Kim.

Trump described Kim as “brutal” but at the same time explained “what a great guy he was,” the source recalled. Trump then went on to tell the other leaders how Kim had risen to power aged only 25 in a difficult environment.

“He is so fascinated with him,” a source said. “He has a childish fascination with brutality,” they added, before speculating that in part this was possibly a convoluted way for Trump to express how tough he was in dealing with Kim.

His remarks had no coherent thread or real purpose, according to the source.

Johnson, the UK prime minister, briefly tried to engage, the source said. “The other leaders just sat back, and didn’t know what to say.”

I don't know how much long term harm this has done to our country but I'm sure it's substantial.  After all it's clear to leaders around the world that our president is mentally unbalanced, psychologically unfit and monumentally ignorant. If he somehow get re-elected I can't imagine what will happen. 

Almost half of the US is certifiably batshit crazy for thinking this man is a successful, intelligent person. And the rest of the country and its leadership is, so far, completely ill-equipped to deal with it. Even winning in 2020 will prove that tens of millions of Americans still love the man, which indicates something is very, very wrong with America.

We still have the most powerful military on earth but it's inevitable now that the rest of the world is going to arm up. Clearly, we cannot be trusted to be responsible and we are too powerful to ignore.

About that Intelligence whistleblower --- this is very, very bad

by digby

This is a confusing and bizarre story but I think it may be one of those escalations that could wind up being an important moment.

Talking Points Memo lays out the story:
What’s there to hide?

That’s what a congressional panel investigating a potentially urgent whistleblower complaint from the intelligence community wants to know.

On Friday, House Intelligence Committee chair Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA) accused acting Director of National Intelligence Joseph Maguire of withholding a “credible” whistleblower complaint — made by someone within the intelligence community — from Congress.

But nobody apart from a few select people knows what it is that the anonymous tipster alleging.

Schiff took the unusual step on Friday of publicizing the situation, which, according to Schiff, had been roiling behind the scenes for weeks.

And, what’s more, Congress appears to have only learned of the whistleblower’s existence after Intelligence Community Inspector General Michael Atkinson deemed the complaint of “urgent concern” and sent a letter to Congress informing it of the situation.

The allegation could suggest a breach of federal statutes, and Schiff’s decision to publicize the matter suggests the situation is an urgent one.

“This is unheard of,” former House general counsel Charles Tiefer told TPM. “The intelligence community normally feels absolutely obliged to furnish the demands of the intelligence committees.”

It’s not clear what the subject of the whistleblower complaint is, though a close reading of letters accompanying a subpoena that Schiff sent to the DNI on Friday demanding whistleblower-related records suggests that it may implicate people outside of the intelligence community itself.

The timeline of the whistleblower complaint has been swift.

According to Schiff’s letter, the whistleblower first sent a “disclosure intended for Congress” to the Intelligence Community’s Inspector General on Aug. 12.

That triggered a two-week deadline for Atkinson to review and assess the complaint.

At the period’s end — on Aug. 26 — Atkinson purportedly reached his conclusion, finding that the whistleblower had made a credible allegation that met a legal standard of “urgent concern.” He then submitted a copy of the disclosure and “accompanying materials” to acting Director of National Intelligence Joseph Maguire, beginning another seven-day countdown to the deadline for Maguire to forward the information to the congressional intelligence committees.

This is where things get hairy. Schiff alleges that Maguire’s office has withheld the complaint from Congress, disregarding the law.

And in fact, according to Schiff’s letters, the House only became aware of the disclosure through another somewhat mysterious occurrence. All the Committee says about this is that, on Sept. 9, the Intelligence Community Inspector General sent the committee a letter notifying the House that the whistleblower complaint existed.

In his letter, Schiff praised Atkinson.

“The Committee also deeply appreciates IC IG Michael Atkinson’s upstanding and principled handling of this matter, and fully expects that he and all members of his staff will also be protected from any reprisal or threat of reprisal for bringing this matter to the attention of the Committee, as Mr. Atkinson is required to do,” Schiff wrote.

It remains unclear whether the Senate Intelligence Committee — the other congressional intelligence committee — was informed of the situation. A spokeswoman for the committee did not return TPM’s request for comment.

The intel community watchdog’s letter launched an escalating battle between Schiff and the DNI. One day later, on Sept. 10, House Intel demanded that Maguire produce a full copy of the whistleblower complaint, the inspector general’s evaluation of the complaint, and any communications about the complaint between the national intelligence director’s office and “other Executive Branch actors including the White House.”

Schiff writes that on Friday — Sept. 13 — Maguire replied, denying Schiff’s request. That evening, the Intelligence Committee chair blew open the situation with a public press release, and spent part of Sunday on CBS’s Face The Nation discussing the issue.

Neither Schiff’s office nor that of the DNI returned requests to make Maguire’s Sept. 13 letter publicly available.

But Schiff’s description of Maguire’s reasons for refusing the request add to the mystery.

A letter accompanying the Sept. 13 subpoena states that the DNI believes the whistleblower complaint “concerns conduct by someone outside of the Intelligence Community” and that it “involves confidential and potentially privileged communications.” Schiff also wrote in the letter that the DNI’s office “consulted the Department of Justice about the complaint” and that it refused to confirm or deny whether White House attorneys had worked on the issue, or whether the subject of the complaint went to an “area of active investigation” by the Committee.

From these facts, Schiff concluded that “the serious misconduct at issue involves the President of the United States and/or other senior White House or Administration officials.”

Tiefer, the former House general counsel, told TPM that “House Intelligence routinely obtains far more sensitive intelligence than this.”

“This whistleblower complaint is not ‘sources and methods,'” he said. “In fact, it is a document expected eventually to be made public by the court system.”

The nature of the complaint remains unclear, as do the specifics of what the DNI believes the privilege issues implicated in the whistleblower disclosure may be.

The DNI did not return a request for comment.

The situation follows on a brazen strategy by the Trump administration to stonewall congressional subpoenas at virtually every turn, and is playing out as another whistleblower drama — involving potential misconduct in how the IRS is treating Trump’s taxes — unfolds in the shadows.

The Intelligence Community Inspector General’s office declined to comment. A spokesman for Schiff did not return a request for comment.

Congressional oversight, Inspector Generals and whistelblowers and the press are the ordinary mechanisms we have  devised to ensure that a rogue president can be restrained. They are not working.

The constitution laid out another one: impeachment.

Do the Democrats really believe that if they institute official impeachment hearings and the president continues to obstruct this way that a majority of the country will not see what he is doing?  That the impeachment process might just stop some of these people from doing this?

I don't know, but there is a case to be made to the American people that Trump is acting like a doctator answerable to no one. I don't think they know that now. Impeachment would reveal it in a systematic way.

Everybody knows that the Saudi Oil Company ARAMCO was trying to offer a big IPO, right? 

by digby

And its plans have been seriously derailed?  The following report takes at face value that the Houthis launched the attack because they took credit for it. But other reporting suggests that the attacks were launched from Iran.

It's the rest of the story that interests me.
Saudi Aramco’s best-laid IPO plans just suffered a drone strike. In the last few weeks, the world’s biggest oil producer had seemed to be getting its stalled listing back on track by identifying a new chairman and naming a squadron of investment bankers to oversee a Riyadh stock offering. Saturday’s air attacks by Iran-aligned Houthi rebels, which knocked out over half Saudi’s national oil output, upend that.

The strikes on Aramco’s Abqaiq and Khurais facilities are a major escalation of previous Houthi drone launches, which were mostly directed at Saudi energy infrastructure and airports. Abqaiq alone processed 50% of the company’s 10 million barrels per day crude oil production in 2018. Aramco’s maiden international bond prospectus in April identified the facility as critical for its financial condition.

The world’s oversupplied oil market has some scope to absorb a short-term shock. Developed economies’ oil stocks are above five-year averages, and the combination of a global economic slowdown and increased output by other countries means the Organisation of the Petroleum Exporting Countries is currently set to produce 1 million barrels per day more than is required to balance the market in 2020, Morgan Stanley analysts reckon. Even before the attacks, the cartel had faced pressure to consider deepening production cuts in place since 2016.

Yet while Saudi might welcome a coordinated reduction, it certainly won’t like Saturday’s massive and involuntary unilateral disruption, which Reuters reported on Sunday could take weeks to fix. Aramco might have to draw on the Kingdom’s 188 million barrels of reserves to maintain exports of 7 million barrels per day that mostly go to Asia.

The best case is that Aramco’s vaunted operational efficiency enables it to restore full production rapidly. In that scenario the $10 a barrel spike in oil prices that consultant Rystad expects might even help bump up the company’s stock market value, which Breakingviews calculates will fall well short of its desired $2 trillion. Yet the latest dramatic evidence of Aramco’s vulnerability, and the possibility of regional reprisals by the volatile Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, make it almost certain that international investors will apply a higher discount rate to its future earnings. That could make renewed impetus around the IPO look premature.
You also have to wonder how many people may have made some money on oil futures ...

Let's not forget that Trump put the world in this position.

If Iran did this, it was a very, very provocative move. They hit Saudi Arabia where it hurt in more ways than one. And they knew they were dealing with a US president who is too dumb to respond in any coherent way. The problem with that is that his incoherence could lead to something very, very bad.  Let's hope not.

Whatever happens a war in the middle east whether Trump gets involved or just furiously wanks and tweets in the middle of the night is a very dangerous situation for the entire planet.

Taking it to Trump

by digby

It didn't get much press at the time but Trump's sister, a federal judge, retired shortly after that NY Times story about the family's tax fraud was published, effectively ending an official investigation into the family finances.

Elizabeth Warren cleverly uses this case as an example of one reform she is proposing. It's a bold move both politically and substantively:
In a Medium post published Monday, the Massachusetts Democrat proposes closing the loophole that “allows federal judges to escape investigations for misconduct by stepping down from their post.”

In outlining the idea, Warren specifically references a case involving Trump’s sister Maryanne Trump-Barry, whose retirement brought an abrupt end to an investigation into her role in various tax schemes of the family and potential fraud therein.

“Under my plan, investigations will remain open until their findings are made public and any penalties for misconduct are issued,” Warren writes in the post.

In spotlighting the Trump-Barry case, Warren becomes the first Democratic presidential candidate to take an overt shot at the president’s sister. But Trump-Barry isn’t the only judge that Warren cites as a basis for her ethics policy. The senator also cites allegations of sexual misconduct against the former appeals court judge Alex Kozinski and how a probe into the allegations was scuttled when he resigned.

Nor is the proposal dealing with federal judges the lone plank in the new policy. The proposal is one of many in a larger package that includes banning “lobbyists from making political contributions” and “from bundling donations or hosting fundraisers for political candidates." It would also ban senior officials and members of Congress from serving on for-profit boards and prohibit courts from using sealed settlements to conceal evidence in cases involving public health and safety. Collectively, the program is ambitious in its scope. But it would face hurdles to its passage. Warren is attaching it to her current ethics bill which requires congressional approval in order for enactment.

It's more than just a shot aross Trump's bow:

The timing of Warren’s proposals is politically intriguing, however, as it comes as reports of new sexual misconduct allegations surfaced against Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh. Warren, as well as many of her 2020 Democratic opponents, said on Sunday that they believed the new revelations warranted impeachment of Kavanaugh, something that several progressive groups have been pushing as well.

In laying out her new ethics pledge, Warren says that the proposed closing of loopholes could apply to situations like Kavanaugh’s, as she noted that a judicial conduct panel dismissed a number of ethics complaints against Kavanaugh in August, citing their lack of authority over Supreme Court justices.

“Our federal court system only works if the American people have faith that it is neutrally dispensing fair-minded justice without bias or personal interests interfering in judicial decisions,” Warren writes. “If we want the American people to believe this, we need some serious judicial ethics reforms.”

The release of it precedes a speech Warren will deliver in New York City on Monday night near the site of the 1911 Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire, continuing a pattern for the 2020 contender of introducing policy tied to the historical struggles of workers.

O'Rourke on guns, Sanders on Medicare for All, Warren on this among other plans from the all the candidates --- I like this aggressive spirit. We are long past the point at which it makes sense to split the difference and be "moderate."

Years ago I used to write about my own theory of politics and I think we're starting to see it play out:

Friday, April 13, 2007


I have long had a rather simplistic belief that American political power was properly seen as a tug-of-war rather than a pendulum. For decades, the left was sort of holding on to the rope with one hand, checking out the scenery, enjoying the fruits of the New Deal and tolerant social change and forgetting that they had to put all their weight into the game or the other side would pull them completely over the center line. The 1994 Republican Revolution jerked me awake and I watched in horror for the next decade. Over that period many more liberals woke up to the fact that we were no longer standing firmly on our side of the line anymore. I realized that the "third way" stance the Democrats had taken during the late 80's had been a brief tactical success, but a long term strategic mistake. In the tug of war, you simply can't rely on the other side, particularly when its infused with revolutionary fervor, to stop pulling once you reach the "middle."

Marginalizing Fox is an important step in the process but it's going to take a sustained effort. I've been watching the right for too long to believe they are doing anything but taking a breather right now. It is a very, very big mistake to ever let up on the rope. The Bush administration has been a massive laboratory experiment in what goes wrong when the Democrats make a huge strategic error and the media completely fails in its duty. We really can't let this happen again.

12 years later maybe the party has finally caught on?

Lie o' the week

by digby

President Trump lashed out Sunday night at the news media for reporting that he would meet with Iranian leaders with “no conditions” — something Trump has said on camera at least twice and that senior administration officials repeated to reporters just last week.

In fact, Trump said as much during a June 23 appearance on NBC’s “Meet the Press” after host Chuck Todd asked if he had a message to deliver to Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, Iran’s supreme leader, about his country’s potential development of a nuclear weapon.

“You can’t have a nuclear weapon. You want to talk? Good. Otherwise you can have a bad economy for the next three years,” Trump said.

“No preconditions?” Todd asked.

“Not as far as I’m concerned. No preconditions,” Trump replied.

July 30, 2018:

Asked about a potential meeting with Iranian President Hassan Rouhani, Trump said: “I believe in meeting. I would certainly meet with Iran if they wanted to meet. I don’t know if they’re ready yet.”

“I’m ready to meet anytime they want to,” Trump added. “No preconditions. If they want to meet, we’ll meet.”

And then these two guys just last week:

The problem is that his people will never see that. Fox won't show it. Talk radio won't play the tape. Their bubble is pretty impermeable.

Still, it's good to keep the record straight. Trump is lying. As usual.

Impeachment and political reform must be at the top of the agenda or nothing else will change

by digby

My Salon column this morning:

The ABC/Univision Democratic debate last week ran a bit more smoothly than the previous two, even managing to squeeze in a decent discussion on climate change and Afghanistan policy. These events are always more theater than substance, particularly with so many people on the stage. But early debates in the primary season are where engaged partisan voters outside the early states get a chance to see the larger field of candidates and develop a sense of where the party's center of gravity is in the current election cycle.

It's pretty clear that all these candidates have ambitious agendas, most of them are much more progressive than any Democratic platform was just a decade or so ago. And contrary to D.C. conventional wisdom, these platforms aren't just a jumble of policies on the liberal wish list. It's clear from the passion and energy these candidates exude, regardless of where they fit on the party's ideological spectrum, that they recognize that the entire system is failing rapidly.

To ensure that the next generation has any kind of a chance, we will require a massive reform effort the likes of which we haven't seen in decades. All this will have to be done under the intense pressure of growing global instability and the existential crisis of climate change. This country has dealt with acute crises in the past, but this may be the most complicated set of problems we've ever seen. And all these challenges are related and will have to be dealt with holistically.

So while this election is first and foremost about ending the surreal Donald Trump presidency, he is a consequence of all those other issues, not the cause. Those challenges will still be there after he's gone and they will require innovative and courageous action.

The candidates have different ways of approaching this monumental challenge. You have Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren endorsing fundamental, systemic economic reform. Coming at it from a different progressive angle, we saw former Rep. Beto O'Rourke offering up bold action on guns and immigration. In between are various levels of progressive commitment from incrementalists like former Vice President Joe Biden, Sen. Amy Klobuchar and South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg to mainstream liberalism from Sens. Cory Booker and Kamala Harris.

There is a growing consensus among Democrats that this country must finally face up to the racism that still permeates its culture and institutions if it wishes to maintain some fragment of its lofty ideals about freedom and equality. They are all committed to dealing with climate change on a massive scale to meet the scope of the problem.

The field will be winnowed before too long as the money runs out and the energy flags. It's still early. But barring something highly unlikely happening over the next few months, the next Democratic nominee and leader of the party was on stage last Thursday night. For all of their big plans and bold ideas, I was surprised that with the exception of one exchange about the elimination of the filibuster, there was no talk of necessary political reform at all. And none of them found a way to bring up the single most important issue that is currently roiling the Congress: whether or not to impeach the current president.

The good news is that in response to a series of questions by the New York Times, the candidates do seem to be prepared to take bold steps to rein in presidential power, even if it hasn't come up much in the debates. It's unusual for any politician to entertain giving up the trappings of power and one would expect that the presidential candidates will have to have their feet kept to the fire on this. But the abuse of office under Trump, including the blanket use of "executive immunity" and the groundless evocation of "national emergencies," among many other examples, show the extent to which Congress has abdicated its own power in recent decades, counting on the good judgment and integrity of the president to guide policy. The inherent weaknesses of the system are being tested under Trump as never before.

Here's how the New York Times reported this:
Democratic presidential candidates broadly agree that President Trump has shaken the presidency loose from its constitutional limits and say that the White House needs major new legal curbs, foreshadowing a potential era of reform akin to the post-Watergate period if any of them wins next year’s election.

The necessary reforms around national security will likely be more complicated, but are vital. The twin disasters of Vietnam and Iraq should have been enough to propel needed changes but it's now clear to anyone that it is only by sheer luck that we have avoided a major catastrophe under Trump. That could change at any moment.

If there was ever a time for the presidential candidates to step up and show some leadership on the issue of impeachment it was at last week's debate. It came up once during the second debate in July, but the current state of play in Washington is so muddled and chaotic that it calls for some outside leadership. House Democrats are running around arguing semantics, some so obviously trying to have it both ways that it would be laughable if it weren't so serious.

Bill Barr's Department of Justice is disingenuously refusing to hand over grand jury documents from the Mueller report, citing the House's muddled messaging, and specifically House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's repeated statements that they are not in the midst of an impeachment investigation. Meanwhile Judiciary Committee chair Jerry Nadler, D-N.Y., is clearly pushing from the other direction, taking the first official procedural steps toward an impeachment inquiry last week. The party is all over the place and it couldn't have picked a worse time.

I realize that none of the candidates vying for the 2020 nomination want to step on congressional toes. But House Democrats are making a hash of this. Impeaching Trump is the first step in the major reform agenda that will be necessary to deal with this complex set of challenges. And the Democrats' eventual candidate will have a lot to lose if the House doesn't follow through.

You know that Trump will run on the message of Democratic fecklessness and his own survival superpower. "They couldn't find anything wrong! I am too strong for them!" The way things are going, more than a few of those famous swing voters might just conclude that he's right.

Update: Coincidentally, Warren released a comprehensive political reform plan this morning:
In 1958, the National Election Survey first asked Americans a simple question: Do you trust the government to do the right thing most of the time? That year, 73% of Americans said yes.

In 2019, that number is just 17%. Five out of every six Americans do not trust their government to do the right thing.

Why have so many people lost faith in government?

It’s true that right-wing politicians have spent a generation attacking the very idea of government. But it’s also true that these days, our government doesn’t work for most people. Sure, it works great for the wealthy and the well-connected – but for everybody else, it doesn’t.

It doesn’t work because big insurance companies and hospital conglomerates put profits ahead of the health and well-being of the American people, and dump piles of money into political campaigns and lobbying efforts to block any move toward Medicare for All.

It doesn’t work because big oil companies that have concealed climate studies – and funded bought-and-paid-for climate denial research – bury regulators in an avalanche of shady, bad-faith pseudoscience and then spend freely on influence peddling in Congress to make sure nothing like a Green New Deal ever sees the light of day.

It doesn’t work because giant pharmaceutical companies want to squeeze every last penny out of the people who depend on their prescriptions, while their army of lobbyists suffocates reform any time there’s a discussion in Congress on drug pricing.

Universal child care. Criminal justice reform. Affordable housing. Gun reform. Look closely, and you’ll see – on issue after issue, widely popular policies are stymied because giant corporations and billionaires who don’t want to pay taxes or follow any rules use their money and influence to stand in the way of big, structural change.

Make no mistake about it: The Trump Administration is the most corrupt administration of our lifetimes.

Foreign nations, like Saudi Arabia, funnel money into Trump’s pockets by spending freely at his hotels.

Trump's tax bill is a $1.5 trillion giveaway that primarily helps large corporations and wealthy Americans. Half of the total registered lobbyists in Washington worked on issues involving the word “tax” the year the bill was written – that’s eleven lobbyists for every member of Congress. And when the members of Congress who championed it lost their elections, they got juicy gigs in the lobbying industry themselves.

Trump’s Supreme Court Justices were hand-picked by right-wing extremist groups that spent millions on television ads – first to hold open a Supreme Court seat in the Obama Administration, and then to pressure the Senate to rubber stamp their candidates of choice, even when it meant ignoring serious sexual assault charges to ram through the confirmation.

Trump’s pick to lead the Environmental Protection Agency was a climate denier with ties to Big Oil – and when he was forced to resign after a slew of ethics violations, Trump replaced him with a former coal lobbyist.

Our nation’s ambassadors are a who’s who of Trump’s biggest donors and Mar-a-Lago members.

And that’s just the tip of the iceberg.

But these problems did not start with Donald Trump. They are much bigger than him – and solving them will require big, structural change to fundamentally transform our government.

That’s why I’ve released plans to fight Washington corruption. A plan to make sure that no president is above the law. A plan to tackle defense contractor coziness at the Pentagon. A plan to ban private prisons and expand oversight, transparency, and enforcement for all contractors hired by the federal government. In Congress, I’ve previously advanced wide-ranging anti-corruption legislation.

But we must go further.

Today, I’m announcing a comprehensive set of far-reaching and aggressive proposals to root out corruption in Washington. It’s the most sweeping set of anti-corruption reforms since Watergate. The goal of these measures is straightforward: to take power away from the wealthy and the well-connected in Washington and put it back where it belongs – in the hands of the people.

My plan lays out nearly a hundred ways that we can change our government to fix this problem – from improving public integrity rules for federal officials in every branch of government to ending lobbying as we know it, fixing the criminal laws to hold corrupt politicians to account, and ensuring our federal agencies and courts are free from corrupting influences.

And I'm just getting started.

That's what I'm talking about.  Read on for the specifics. 


About that Trump economy...

by Tom Sullivan

A homeless camp in Oakland, California. Photo by NeoBatfreak via CC BY-SA 4.0

Nearly 50,000 United Auto Workers members are on strike this morning after management and labor could not agree on terms for a new four-year contract, CNN reports:

The union's 46,000 hourly workers walked out at 31 GM factories and 21 other facilities, spread across nine states, mostly in the center of the country.

The strike started at 11:59 pm on Sunday. It's the largest strike by any union against any business in the United States since the last strike at GM in 2007.
The acting president will be so pleased it is happening on his watch, in his economy.

GM's decision to close down its Lordstown, Ohio and Hamtramck, Michigan facilities is also an issue, with the union pushing GM to convert the sites to manufacturing electric vehicles. The hiring of temporary workers as part of a two-tiered wage system is also up for negotiation.

The International Brotherhood of Teamsters pledged to support the strike by refusing to deliver completed vehicles to dealerships.

"We clearly understand the hardship that it may cause," said UAW Vice President Terry Dittes. "We are standing up for fair wages, we are standing up for affordable quality health care, we are standing up for our share of the profits."

Decent pay and affordable quality health care remain elusive for a lot of Americans.

So does housing. The acting president has a plan for that. He has his people looking into relocating homeless Americans from the streets of major cities to government-run facilities "to get that whole thing cleaned up." By what legal authority he could act is unclear. But don't worry. "Senior administration officials" are not considering forced relocation at the moment.

"We’re not rounding people up or anything yet," one official told the Washington Post.

Paul Waldman ponders just who would do the rounding-up, "The FBI? Federal marshals? The military?" He writes:
Let’s back up for a moment. Homelessness is a long-standing and extremely challenging problem, and although the overall number of homeless people is slightly lower than it was a few years ago, there are cities that have seen significant increases in recent years. The main culprit is housing costs, which in many places make it unaffordable to live unless you’re earning a high salary. For example, the median rent on a one-bedroom apartment in San Francisco is a ludicrous $3,600 a month, or more than $43,000 a year just for rent. A job making the California minimum wage of $12 an hour would make you about $24,000 a year before taxes or any other expenses.

What has the Trump administration done about this problem? If the answer was “nothing,” that would be a blessing, because the truth is that the administration’s policies amount to a concerted effort to push more people toward homelessness.

They have tried to sabotage the Affordable Care Act and throw poor people off Medicaid. They have proposed huge cuts to the Department of Housing and Urban Development, which would have included cutting funds for repair of public housing along with raising rents for those living there. They have waged a multi-pronged effort to slash safety net programs that keep people from falling into desperate poverty, of which homelessness can often be a consequence. They have attempted to kick immigrant families out of public housing.
With 6 in 10 Americans expecting a recession and his approval rating slipping, the acting president is showing signs of panic. He needs another wedge issue to stimulate his base.

Enter Fox News.

Media Matters observed in June that Fox had begun portraying cities run by Democrats as crumbling pictures of Third-World decay about the time the acting president declared Baltimore “a disgusting, rat and rodent infested mess.”

Given recent health department citations of Donald Trump's restaurants, infestation is something he might actually know something about. Also, writes Waldman, studies link conservative leanings with heightened sensitivity to "stimuli meant to invoke disgust, like bodily fluids or insects," something also "associated with foreigners and other out-groups." It is both a natural response from the germophobe-in-chief and a natural hook for keeping the Trump base jacked up should the economy falter and his numbers trend down.

But rounding up the homeless is a particularly authoritarian as well as anti-capitalist solution to homelessness in an economy Trump brags is booming. Instead of government action, weren't churches prescribed to take up that slack? Aren't there mega-ones in red states that could hold thousands? Or simply give the homeless Trump Jobs if the Trump Economy is what he says it is and the Trump Tax Cut is working as advertised.

Sunday, September 15, 2019

A Village conversation in perpetuity

by digby

Still ridiculous after all these years. Here's Chuck Todd and Claire McCaskill on Meet the Press today:

CHUCK TODD: I tell you, this is tricky. Claire, I want to show you some poll numbers here. Among Democrats, the mandatory buyback program is extraordinarily popular, mandatory. This has surprised a lot of people. It's got 74% support. Now look at it among Independents, and you start to see a declining support for it. But it's basically one to one, among independents. Now, look at it among Republicans, two to one, essentially, against it, which gives you an overall support number of 52%/44%.  
This, to me, seems to be the trap for Democrats, if you will. This is extraordinarily popular. And it's growing in popularity. And it may be a case where the public's ahead of the politicians. But you've been in that Senate. Are Chris Coons and Pat Toomey right about this?
What? A popular policy that is becoming more popular by the day --- one that will literally save lives --- is a "trap" for Democrats?

Of course it is:

SENATOR CLAIRE McCASKILL: Well, this is really what you started with. There's two things here. Do we want to get things done and reassure the American people that their democracy works? Or do we want to continue to be inspirational only, with policies that, frankly, are not realistic, in terms of the way our government's set up? They're not going to get done...

Well sure. There's nothing that will reassure people that democracy works than to ensure that popular programs aren't enacted.

And you wonder why people are so cynical about government. Todd shows that a huge majority of Democrats and a majority of the country at large think the government should buy back all these semi-automatic rifles to get them off the streets. It's a policy that is popular and getting more popular every day.

But that just means the Democrats who want to enact this policy are falling into a trap if they do it. Because it's "unrealistic." So, never mind, don't even try, just let the blood run through the streets.

This is your Village conventional wisdom at work and it has a much larger effect than people realize. You have the conservative media with no holds barred partisan warfare and the rest of America has ... this. Sure they're critical of Trump's behavior and that's terrific. But it's clear they have not changed their view that "America is a conservative country" and the liberal/left of the Democratic party are a bunch extremists who are out of touch with Real Americans.

It's always 1980 in Washington DC.



by tristero

NO. Just NO:
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.) on Sunday urged President Trump to endorse House-passed gun measures and pledged to join him for a “historic signing ceremony at the Rose Garden” if the legislation is passed. 
The Democratic leaders said in a joint statement that they spoke with Trump by phone Sunday morning at their request, 200 days after the House passed H.R. 8 and H.R. 1112. The two measures, which would expand federal background checks for gun purchases and transfers, represent the first major firearm restrictions to advance in a generation. Trump has threatened to veto both measures.
First, there will not be expanded background checks for the simple reason that Trump would be handing Pelosi and Schumer a victory — and it doesn't work that way.

Second, assuming I'm wrong (and God, I hope I am and there are expanded background checks soon), why on earth would Schumer and Pelosi want to pose with Trump in the White House? All it would do is split the Democratic base.

Third, if Trump somehow agrees to expanded background checks, he will only do so if he can tie it to  a law requiring all schoolteachers be issued firearms. Or something else equally idiotic.

Fourth, if somehow this whole thing goes forward (it won't but just saying), I guarantee that Trump will hog all the credit, claim the expanded checks were his idea, and trash Schumer and Pelosi.

And I'll stop there. This so much wrong with this, and nothing, nothing, that is right about it. Pelosi and Schumer should be spending their time figuring out how to remove Trump, not try to reason with him.

I'll say it again. Given his atrocious record of appeasement towards Trump and other extreme right Republicans, as a New Yorker, I will never cast a vote for Chuck Schumer again. Perhaps AOC or Letitia James can be enticed to run for Senate, or someone else with their level of awareness of what Trump is and also what he represents.

Maybe if the Border Patrol leadership didn't lick Trump's boots with such vigor, they wouldn't have these problems

by digby

The New York Times reports that some Border Patrol agents don't like their jobs much these days. With the kitchen workers spitting in their food and having to cage children and all it's not much fun. People don't like them.
For decades, the Border Patrol was a largely invisible security force. Along the southwestern border, its work was dusty and lonely. Between adrenaline-fueled chases, the shells of sunflower seeds piled up outside the windows of their idling pickup trucks. Agents called their slow-motion specialty “laying in” — hiding in the desert and brush for hours, to wait and watch, and watch and wait. 
Two years ago, when President Trump entered the White House with a pledge to close the door on illegal immigration, all that changed. The nearly 20,000 agents of the Border Patrol became the leading edge of one of the most aggressive immigration crackdowns ever imposed in the United States. 
No longer were they a quasi-military organization tasked primarily with intercepting drug runners and chasing smugglers. Their new focus was to block and detain hundreds of thousands of migrant families fleeing violence and extreme poverty — herding people into tents and cages, seizing children and sending their parents to jail, trying to spot those too sick to survive in the densely packed processing facilities along the border.
They asked for it, Remember? This was March of 2016:
Calling Donald Trump "the only candidate who actually threatens the established powers that have betrayed this county," the National Border Patrol Council endorsed the New York businessman for president on Wednesday. 
The NBPC says it has never endorsed a presidential candidate in the primaries. But in a statement, it says it is "breaking with past practice." Trump has made immigration a key part of his campaign for the GOP nomination, repeatedly promising to build a wall along the U.S. border with Mexico, and to force the Mexican government to pay for it.
I'm sorry it's unpleasant for them now. But it's been deadly for the people they've been incarcerating, people many of them seem to truly hate:
Earlier this year, the disclosure of a private Facebook group where agents posted sexist and callous references to migrants and the politicians who support them reinforced the perception that agents often view the vulnerable people in their care with frustration and contempt.
Interviews with 25 current and former agents in Texas, California and Arizona — some conducted on the condition of anonymity so the agents could speak more candidly — paint a portrait of an agency in a political and operational quagmire. Overwhelmed through the spring and early summer by desperate migrants, many agents have grown defensive, insular and bitter.
The president of the agents’ union said he had received death threats. An agent in South Texas said some colleagues he knew were looking for other federal law enforcement jobs. One agent in El Paso told a retired agent he was so disgusted by scandals in which the Border Patrol has been accused of neglecting or mistreating migrants that he wanted the motto emblazoned on its green-and-white vehicles — “Honor First” — scratched off.
“To have gone from where people didn’t know much about us to where people actively hate us, it’s difficult,” said Chris Harris, who was an agent for 21 years and a Border Patrol union official until he retired in June 2018. “There’s no doubt morale has been poor in the past, and it’s abysmal now. I know a lot of guys just want to leave.”
They should. And they should blow the whistle on the toxic culture that pervades CPB and ICE.  Nobody with a heart should ever participate in something like this:
By and large, the agency has been a willing enforcer of the Trump administration’s harshest immigration policies. In videos released last year, Border Patrol agents could be seen destroying water jugs left in a section of the Arizona desert where large numbers of migrants have been found dead.
Some of those who worked at the agency in earlier years said that it had changed over the past decade, and that an attitude of contempt toward migrants — the view that they are opportunists who brought on their own troubles and are undeserving of a warm welcome — is now the rule, not the exception. 
Who can we thank for that?


Trump jumped on the immigration bandwagon when he got into politics seriously with the birther movement and paid Sam Nunberg to listen to talk radio and tell him what they were all saying. Those people above along with others in hate radio made the anti-immigration movement what it is today.
The Border Patrol was established in 1924. Early agents were recruited from the Texas Rangers and local sheriff’s offices. They focused largely on Prohibition-era whiskey bootleggers, often supplying their own horses and saddles. Though horseback units still exist, the culture of the agency bears little resemblance to its past. 
It has become a sprawling arm of Customs and Border Protection, the country’s largest federal law enforcement agency, which is responsible for 7,000 miles of America’s northern and southern borders, 95,000 miles of shoreline and 328 ports of entry. On a practical level, the Border Patrol’s hubs along the Mexican border, known as sectors, operate in some ways as fiefs. 
In border cities, sector chiefs become household names, delivering annual State of the Border speeches. In the 1990s, an El Paso sector chief, Silvestre Reyes, used his popularity to win a seat in Congress.
Guess who primaried Reyes and kicked him out of congress?

Beto O'Rourke.

The CBP agents love them some Trump:
Mr. Trump “said it to us, he said it in public, ‘I’m going to consider you guys, the union, the subject-matter experts on how we secure the border,’” said Mr. Harris, the former agent and Border Patrol union official from Southern California who retired last year. “We had never heard that from anyone before.”
That's mainly because we don't have cops making the law in this democratic country. Or, at least, we didn't used to. That's not their job.
The private Facebook group, which was created in 2016 and had more than 9,000 members, became a forum for agents to vent about the increasingly thankless nature of their jobs and the failure of successive administrations to fully secure the border. 
Some agents who were members of the group said the tone of the posts shifted after Mr. Trump’s election, becoming raunchier and more politically tinged. A post mocked the death of a 16-year-old migrant while in custody at a Border Patrol station in Weslaco, Tex., with an image reading “Oh well.” A member used an expletive to propose throwing burritos at two Latina congresswomen.
Why wouldn't it have gotten worse after Trump was elected. The whole damned country has gotten worse.

The union says it was just some bad apples of course. Blowing off steam, no doubt:
In some ways, though, the posts reflected a culture that was long apparent in parts of the agency. For years, the Border Patrol has quietly tolerated racist terminology. Some agents refer to migrants as “wets,” a shortened version of “wetbacks.” Others call them “toncs.” 
Jenn Budd, a former agent of six years who is now an outspoken critic, said a supervisor at her Border Patrol station in California had explained the term “tonc” to her: “He said, ‘It’s the sound a flashlight makes when you hit a migrant in the head with it.’” 
Josh Childress, a former agent in Arizona who quit in 2018 because the job had begun to wear him down, said the Facebook posts hinted at a deeper, darker problem in the agency’s culture. “The jokes are not the problem,” he said. “Treating people as if they aren’t people is the problem.”
It is the problem and it goes all the way to the top "joker" who calls these people animals and terrorists.

The rest of the story is worth reading. They talked to a lot of people and it's clear that some of them are extremely unhappy with what's happening in the agency. Many of them feel trapped because it's a secure middle-class government job that gave them a way out of poverty.  Those agents are being failed by their Trump cultist leadership. The rest are co-conspirators.


All because selfish boys need their killing toys

by digby

America is now a war zone all because a bunch of insecure morons have to have their toys. And yes, to them the AR-15 is just a toy. It's fun. They aren't mass killers themselves. They are probably responsible gun owners. And that makes them accomplices to the lunatics and extremists who are mowing people down in Walmarts and synagogues. Because they don't need these guns for anything but their own image  and they're not going to use them for anything other than struttingaround like Rambo or getting some kicks at the range. They don't need them. They just want them.

So we all have to walk around in fear and hundreds of people have to die because of their shallow selfishness.

Yes, Kavanaugh did it. And yes, they covered it up.

by digby

The New York Times published an excerpt of a new book about the Kavanaugh confirmation which alleges that the FBI failed to interview at least 25 witnesses. It turns out that there was credible corroboration for one of the charges (shoving his penis in women's faces in college) which was offered to the FBI.

Apparently, the president and his accomplices abused their power egregiously. Surprise!

The president responded this morning by abusing his power some more:

When Kavanaugh appeared before the committee that day to respond to Christine Blasey Ford's testimony, he showed himself to be a hardcore partisan bully with the temperament of a 14-year-old boy with serious adjustment problems. Other Republicans revealed themselves to be the same. Let's not forget hat they all vigorously kiss the ring, every single day, of a man who is on tape bragging about grabbing women by the pussy and is credibly accused of rape and assault all the way into his 50s.

They are all Brett Kavanaugh.

Crooks and Liars captured one of the discussions of the article on the Sunday Gasbag shows this morning:

Rather than defend the fact that the FBI and his committee obviously failed to do their jobs and properly investigate these allegations, Cruz lashed out at Democrats for calling for Kavanaugh's impeachment and dismissed the reporting by the Times as just another liberal witch hunt from the "far left" that's out to get poor Kavanaugh.
STEPHANOPOULOS: One of the big issues we’re going to talk about now with Republican Senator Ted Cruz of Texas. Senator Cruz, thank you for joining us this morning. And I -- and I do want to get to guns but first, that breaking news I spoke with Senator Klobuchar about, Justice Kavanaugh. You’re a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee as well. What do you make of the new revelations from The New York Times, the calls from your fellow Texan Julian Castro to impeach Justice Kavanaugh?
SEN. TED CRUZ (R-TX): Well, George, good morning, good to be with you. I read that The New York Times article this morning. You know, I gotta say, they apparently spent 10 months with undercover reporters trying to track down every person that went to school with Justice Kavanaugh 30 years ago. You know, it's an amazing level of reporting trying to just really dig up any dirt they can on the guy. I think that follows up with -- with the rather shameful circus we saw during the confirmation hearing, where -- where they took allegations, they sat on them, they didn't make them public, they revealed them at the 11th hour.

And you know what, the Judiciary Committee did what we should have done. We held a hearing, we -- we invited the principal witness to testify, we’ve heard it, the American people heard it and at the end of the day, the American people made a judgment that -- that the evidence wasn’t there, the corroboration wasn't there, and -- and I think this article just shows the obsession with the far left, with -- with trying to smear Justice Kavanaugh by going 30 years back with anonymous sources. It -- it -- it really is another sign of how --

STEPHANOPOULOS: You say the --

CRUZ: -- nasty and divided the time is today.

STEPHANOPOULOS: You say the corroboration isn’t there but one of the points the article makes is that 25 witnesses weren’t even interviewed by the FBI and a named -- a person named who is making allegations wasn’t interviewed by the FBI at all. That’s part of their point, that it wasn’t an adequate investigation.

CRUZ: Well, to be clear, the -- the -- the allegations the Senate Judiciary looked at and considered were the allegations from Dr. Ford, the allegations of sexual assault, that the committee rightly said if this happened, this is a serious allegation and -- and we scheduled a hearing, we invited Dr. Ford to testify. We actually gave Dr. Ford the opportunity to testify in private if she preferred. Amazingly enough, she testified at the hearings. Her lawyer never passed that on to her. She said she didn't want to be in that public hearings, but -- but her lawyers apparently kept that a secret. And -- and what you saw is you really saw the Democrats I think taking advantage of Dr. Ford and turning it into a circus.

You know, we saw a Spartacus moment in the middle of it, which showed how ridiculous the entire proceeding was. But at the end of the day, we listened to the evidence, we listened to all of the potential corroborating witnesses for Dr. Ford, the FBI interviewed them, examined them. Their testimony did not corroborate her allegations and the American people had a chance to look Judge Kavanaugh in the eye -- now Justice Kavanaugh -- and hear his explanation. And at the end of the day, I think this is The New York Times just -- just -- just being bitter enders.

And you know what, I bet you the next Democratic debate, they'll all be saying impeach Kavanaugh, impeach Trump. There's nobody they don't want to impeach. And at some point, they just have to let the anger go and recognize that the democratic process actually moves on. And I think it's time for them to do that.

Kavanaugh's crimes, aside from the lying to the committee (which may actually be the result of drunken blackouts rather than dishonesty) were long in the past. Trump, on the other hand, is committing crimes left and right, abusing his power, corruptly using his office for personal gain and betraying the country. If they won't impeach him, they surely won't impeach Kavanaugh.

In fact, if they don't get off the dime, I'm afraid that we can take impeachment out of the constitution, at least for Republicans. (Democrats, of course, will be impeached for the smallest infraction. They were already planning the impeachment of Hillary Clinton before the election.)

I'm watching people on TV talking about prosecuting Trump after he leaves office. I think that it's possible the State of New York or California might prosecute him for state crimes. But we're already hearing that the new president will have to "bind up the nation's wounds" so a federal prosecution is probably off the table. And the fact that the congress was unable to impeach the president will weigh heavily on that decision. After all, if they couldn't do it, maybe the whole thing was a witch hunt anyway. Why would prosecutors go out on a limb when the US Congress didn't really try to make a case? Especially when they have the Mueller Report that clearly and unambiguously lays out the cover-up?

If the Democrats don't impeach, the idea of Trump being held accountable by the legal system is unrealistic. He will get aways with it. And he will be a hero to tens of millions of Americans for doing it. Just like Brett Kavanaugh.

Crooks and Liars Nicolle Belle did a nice analysis of everything that was wrong with the New York Times' headline and story, about this which is a scandal in itself.